The coronavirus emergency has clearly highlighted the limited tools the European Union can rely on when it comes to fighting the spread of a deadly and previously unknown virus. The terrible tragedy caused by COVID-19 has also shown how little member states alone can do to fight back against the pandemic. For this reason, in a letter sent to the Presidents of the European Commission, European Council and the Croatian Presidency the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament call for the urgent creation of a European Health Union.
S&D president, Iratxe Garcìa, said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed our health systems to the limits. Tragically, doctors, nurses and all medical staff have been put under huge stress, working in extremely difficult conditions and with limited resources all across Europe. This can never be allowed to happen again. Health is our most precious public good and we have to guarantee that each and every European has access to quality health services. For this, European solidarity is key. It is time to set up a European Health Union. If not now, when?”
S&D vice-president responsible for health, Heléne Fritzon, commented:
“Healthcare systems are the competence of member states but this crisis has shown us how damaging it can be to have underfunded healthcare systems and different healthcare capacities across the EU. We need well-funded and equally accessible healthcare systems in every member states, and that is why we are calling for stress tests of every national healthcare system and minimum European standards for quality healthcare systems. We also need stronger European health agencies. It’s time to set up a European Health Union. If not now, when?”
S&D spokesperson in the environment committee, Jytte Guteland, added:
“All citizens have the right to access high-quality, affordable and equal health care. Europe needs a Health Union, based on solidarity and cooperation. To this end, we call on the Commission to propose common European minimum standards on the basis of stress tests carried out by member states of their healthcare systems, to evaluate their ability to handle pandemics. The EU should also have a stronger role in procuring, stockpiling and distributing essential equipment and medicine, not only in times of crisis but also when we have essential new treatments that all of Europe needs access to. It’s time to have a European Health Union. If not now, when?”