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EU Council agrees on emergency framework for medical countermeasures

European Health Ministers will meet on Friday via videoconference to discuss sharing of best practices for managing coronavirus crisis
The Council of European Union. Photo: @EUCouncil/Twitter

Brussels, Dec 20 (MNN) The EU Council has reached a political agreement on a new law to facilitate purchase of medicines, vaccines and raw materials, activate emergency funding and enable monitoring of production facilities whenever a health crisis hits.

Slovenia Health Minister Janez Poklukar said that the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines at EU level was a success.

“With today’s agreement we are paving the way for EU countries to join up to ensure they have the medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to protect their citizens,” he added.

The Council regulation will help establish a Health Crisis Board to coordinate and integrate actions related to crisis-relevant medical countermeasures at EU level.

The regulation sets up monitoring mechanisms and enables procurement and purchase of countermeasures.

It also stipulates how to activate EU FAB facilities – a network of ever warm production capacities for vaccines and medicines manufacturing – as well as emergency research.

The Health Crisis Board, which coordinates at EU level the supply of and access to medical countermeasures, will be co-chaired by the Commission and the member- state holding rotating presidency of the Council.

Member-states also decided that the Commission should consult the Board before taking action.

When it comes to the purchases of medical countermeasures and raw materials, the member-states may mandate the Commission to act as a central purchasing body.

Wherever the Commission intends to conclude a contract, it must inform the participating member-states. They also have the opportunity to express their comments on the draft contracts — which the Commission should take into consideration.

On September 16, 2021, the European Commission launched a European Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).

HERA is expected to ensure the development, production and distribution of medicines, vaccines and other medical countermeasures like gloves and masks etc.

In addition to the launch of HERA, the Commission also proposed a Council regulation on the emergency framework regarding medical countermeasures. It constitutes the legal basis for crisis activities in the event of an emergency.

On the basis of the agreement, the final text (following technical adjustments) will be submitted to the Council for adoption in the first months of 2022.

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