Saturday

27th Nov 2021

MEPs worry over lack of common Covid-19 criteria

  • Delivery of face masks from US to Italy in May 2020 (Photo: nato.int)

MEPs have raised concerns about the lack of test coordination and a lack of standardised Covid-19 criteria among EU member states.

"There is no common risk-criteria, no common modality for counting cases, no common cross-border testing strategy and no common protocol for monitoring asymptomatic patients," said the head of the Renew Europe group, MEP Dacian Cioloş, on Wednesday (2 September), in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Cioloş urged member states to put in place "a real European health policy" to fight the coronavirus - warning how "harmful" the lack of coordination was at the beginning of the pandemic.

"We need more coordination. Harmonisation is difficult, but it is necessary," MEP Peter Liese (European People's Party) told reporters on Wednesday, saying Covid-19-related measures need to be based on scientific advice and not on political aspects.

Green MEP Jutta Paulus, for her part, said that European citizens are "getting confused" since there are different protocols in different member states that are continuously changing.

In Austria, for example, the quarantine period lasts 10 days, while in the rest of the member states is two weeks.

Meanwhile, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that the priority should be given to the harmonisation of test-capacities and methodologies.

For the ECDC, testing is considered one of the main parameters which indicate infection levels.

But there are differences in the testing capacity and methodologies among member states - resulting in a lack of a harmonised reporting.

While some EU countries are carrying out 173 tests per 100,000 population, others do more than 6,000.

"Member states have recognised that the situation is not good and they are currently discussing how to harmonise some criteria, [but] harmonisation should go now into the testing," the director of ECDC, Andrea Ammon, told MEPs from the parliament's environmental and health committee.

Additionally, she also urged member states to increase innovative and digital solutions, which are particularly necessary for surveillance and contact tracing.

Colour-coding

EU ambassadors discussed on Wednesday a proposal, based on ideas from the German EU presidency, that includes a common criterion on the epidemiological risks and 'colour-coding' of risk areas, as well as a joint approach on measures on returning from travel - like testing and quarantine.

Earlier this year, the European Commission established the 'ReOpen-EU' website dedicated to inform citizens about the restrictions in place in different EU countries.

During the past few weeks, the number of coronavirus infections in the EU has drastically increased in some member states.

Spain, Luxembourg, France, Croatia and Malta currently have the highest rate of new Covid-19 infections in the EU - followed by Romania, Austria and the Czech Republic.

"While many countries are now testing mild and asymptomatic cases, which has resulted in increased case reports, there is a true resurgence in cases in several countries as a result of physical distancing measures being relaxed," the EU virus-alert agency said in its last risk assessment.

Opinion

How Covid-19 is changing the European Union

The past six months of Covid-19 response have changed the EU, but has it learnt the lessons for the crises left to come - migration, conflict, and a second wave?

EU unveils plan to counter second Covid-19 wave

The EU Commission unveiled on Wednesday a set of guidelines to strengthen the bloc's response to a potential future surge of coronavirus infections - and warned a simultaneous seasonal-flu plus Covid-19 outbreak would place a considerable strain on health systems.

EU unveils Covid-19 'colour-code' travel zones

The European Commission has unveiled recommendations, including common criteria for member states on coronavirus epidemiological risks and harmonised 'colour-coding' of risk regions.

EU waters down Covid-19 traffic-light travel zones concept

EU countries are set to adopt a 'traffic-light' colour-coding system for coronavirus-affected areas. But member states will have the possibility to set their own strategies, on negative Covid-19 tests or different quarantine periods, for orange and red zones.

News in Brief

  1. Covid variant: EU to block travel from southern Africa
  2. France and UK seek EU help on Channel migrants
  3. New Swedish PM who resigned after 7 hours gets second chance
  4. Belgium to decide on Friday on Covid measures
  5. UK rings alarm on new Covid strain in South Africa
  6. Turkish police use tear gas at women's rights march
  7. Poland calls for more Nato troops
  8. Ex-Navalny aide leaves Russia

Surge of infections triggers new restrictions, despite vaccination

The spike in Covid-19 infections is prompting some EU governments to introduce lockdown measures and restrictions for the unvaccinated. Meanwhile, travel operators are calling for coordination and a common approach for booster doses and valid certificates.

Central Europe struggles with new Covid-19 wave

A new wave of Covid-19 infections has been sweeping through central Europe, where the vaccination rate is generally below the EU average - partly due to low trust in institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Belgium goes into three-week 'lockdown light'
  2. MEPs list crimes of 'Kremlin proxy' mercenaries
  3. EU to open up 'black box' of political ads
  4. Can the ECB solve climate change and inflation on its own?
  5. EU set to limit vaccine certificate to nine months
  6. Surprise coalition in Romania without former Renew's Ciolos
  7. This 'Black Friday' is a turning point in corporate accountability
  8. West struggling to show strength on Ukraine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us