Ursula von der Leyen wants to learn lessons from the corona crisis and strengthen the role of the EU. She also announced impulses in migration and labor policy, and the EU is to have an anti-racism officer. EU should receive more resources and responsibilities in health policy.
EU should receive more resources and responsibilities in health policy
The European Union was largely unprepared for the corona pandemic, and during the crisis there were tensions between the member states. EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen therefore proposes a stronger concentration of responsibilities at European level. “For me it is clear: we have to create a stronger European health union, it is time,” said von der Leyen in her first address on the State of the European Union.
Specifically, the Commission head proposed expanding the powers of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). In addition, a new EU agency for biomedical research and development is to be set up. Europe also needs strategic storage capacities for pharmaceutical products.
Von der Leyen called on the European Parliament to negotiate more funds for the “EU4Health” health program. “We must strengthen our preparedness and crisis management in the event of cross-border threats,” said von der Leyen in front of the European Parliament in Brussels.
Basically, one has to talk about the competences in matters of health, which are currently mainly with the member states. That is a worthwhile and urgent task for the planned conference on the future of Europe.
Global health summit planned in Italy
In addition, she will propose a global health summit in Italy next year, said von der Leyen. She will issue the invitation together with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who will chair the G20.
We need to ensure that the EU is better prepared for future crises and can react to cross-border health threats. Von der Leyen again praised the achievements of doctors and nurses in the corona crisis and affirmed that Europe, after initial selfishness, has rediscovered the value of common ground.
However, the pandemic also showed how fragile and vulnerable the world and the European community of values are. People wanted to leave this uncertainty behind. You are ready for a fresh start. “Europe must now show the way to turn this uncertainty into new strength,” said von der Leyen.
New impulses in migration and labor policy planned
In addition to the corona crisis, the head of the Commission also addressed the EU’s climate goals and migration policy, especially with a view to the Greek island of Lesbos and the burned down refugee camp Moria. She called on EU members to compromise and said that a solution could be found “without giving up our principles”. The pictures from Moria had “painfully demonstrated to us that Europe must act together here”.
After years of bitter disputes among the EU states, the EU Commission wants to present new reform proposals next Wednesday, which EU states and the European Parliament will then have to negotiate. This is a “humane and humane approach”, said von der Leyen.