The Covid-19 crisis required a strong response from the European Commission, which resulted in the establishment of the “European Health Union”. This should enable the EU to respond better to future public health crises through various regulations, three of which were adopted by the Council on 24 October 2022.
The Covid-19 crisis made Member States and the European institutions aware of the need to consolidate the EU’s health safety framework in order to better protect European citizens. In total, four regulations have been adopted, the first of which has been implemented since March 2022. This is the Regulation on the extended mandate of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Three other regulations have just been adopted by the Council:
- The Regulation on Serious cross-border health threats which aims to improve preparedness planning and a more integrated surveillance system, while improving the possibilities for joint action at European level to combat health threats.
- The Regulation on the extension of the mandate of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which will be responsible for issuing recommendations to Member States on preparedness for health threats, will host a network of laboratories of excellence and will set up a European task force for rapid response to epidemics.
- The Emergency Framework Regulation to provide extra powers to the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), which will be able to establish a Health Crisis Management Board to coordinate the provision of medical countermeasures, the activation of “Fab EU” facilities, emergency research and innovation plans and access to emergency funding.
These new provisions complete the European Health Union and provide a powerful legal framework to improve the EU’s capabilities in the key areas of prevention, preparedness, surveillance, risk assessment, early warning and response. These regulations will enter into force in November 2022.