Tuesday

22nd Oct 2019

EU states to step up Ebola screening in west Africa

  • The UK is to raise the prospect of checks at EU airports at next week's sumit (Photo: SuperJet International)

EU countries have agreed to step up Ebola screening at airports in west Africa but not in Europe, despite a British appeal.

“All the ministers who spoke want to increase screening at point-of-exit in the [affected] African countries”, EU health commissioner Tonio Borg said in Brussels on Thursday (16 October) after a meeting with 21 EU health chiefs.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“The [European] commission will undertake an immediate audit of screening systems in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to check their effectiveness and to reinforce them if necessary”.

He noted that the move will help victims of the virus as well as making Europe more secure.

“It’s also important for individuals because if they are diagnosed they can be treated immediately”.

The UK earlier this week introduced its own checks at Heathrow airport and plans to extend them to Gatwick airport and to Eurostar trains in the coming days.

France and the Czech Republic are following suit, but Belgium, which operates direct flights to the African region, has declined to do so.

The office of British PM David Cameron on Thursday said he will call on EU states to take similar measures at a summit in Brussels next week.

“There was a discussion regarding screening across Europe and the prime minister made clear other countries needed to do more and introduce their own checks if we are to strengthen protection”, his office said in a statement.

But for his part, Borg said he has no legal mandate to back Cameron’s call. “I have no right to order member states to do this. It’s their sovereign right”, he said.

He added that the “informal” meeting did not lead to legally binding decisions. “I don’t even have a document [on what we agreed]”, he noted.

The health ministers also called for a set of other measures.

The commission is to draw up “common protocols” on an information campaign for travellers and for EU states’ information sharing on infected passengers.

The campaign is to include leaflets and a new website on how to spot symptoms and where to turn for help.

But there is no plan for a common EU “database” on tracing the movements of infected travellers for now.

The EU executive will also hold a “workshop” on “best practices on infection control” inside Europe.

It is to sign an accord with the US on using its planes to evacuate infected European health workers and it will look into EU “joint procurement” of medical supplies for Africa.

Borg noted that for all the “hundreds” of people who are going back and forth to west Africa there has so far been just one case of Ebola transmission inside Europe.

The case involves a Spanish nurse who treated a priest who died of Ebola after returning from Africa.

Spain has also put 21 other people in quarantine as a safety measure.

The Italian health minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, added: “It’s important to contain panic spreading among European citizens … to explain there is no risk of an epidemic in Europe: We have good hospitals, good systems, good doctors to treat people”.

EU envoy sheds light on weird US diplomacy

Remarks to Congress by the US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, have shed light on the unusual nature of American diplomacy under president Donald Trump.

Macron warned on danger of Balkans veto

France's veto on North Macedonia enlargement will endanger the Serbia-Kosovo peace process, a senior EU official has warned, but diplomats do not expect Macron to change his mind.

EU countries to halt arms sales to Turkey

EU states have agreed to stop arms sales to Turkey over its invasion of Syria, marking a nadir in relations with their Nato ally. In response, Ankara mocked the decision as a "joke".

News in Brief

  1. MEPs criticise Juncker over climate and tax policies
  2. Juncker defends commission record on Greek crisis
  3. Croatian MEP criticises EU parliament for trusting Šuica
  4. Brexit is waste of time and energy, says Juncker
  5. Abortion and same-sex marriage become legal in Northern Ireland
  6. Germany wants internationally controlled zone in Syria
  7. EU parliament refuses to debate Catalonia
  8. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. MPs vote on Johnson's latest push for Brexit deal
  2. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  3. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  4. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  5. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  6. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls
  7. EU leaders spent just 12 minutes on climate
  8. Crunch Brexit vote in UK This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us