The leaders of France, Germany and four other member states on Tuesday said Europe had fallen short against the coronavirus outbreak and urged Brussels to consider ways to better prepare for the next pandemic.
They added that Europe’s chaotic response to the coronavirus outbreak, in which 184,256 people have died, has “raised questions about the EU’s preparedness for pandemics and underlined the need for a Europe-wide approach,” especially against a potential second wave of the virus.
In a letter and policy paper addressed to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, the leaders said: “We hope that the paper can serve as an inspiration for fruitful, further discussions at European level on how to ensure the EU’s preparedness for future pandemics.”
The letter was signed by France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, Spain’s Pedro Sanchez, Belgium’s Sophie Wilmes and Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen.
It was the clearest attempt yet by the bloc’s most powerful leaders to spur the EU executive to find ways to fix the disunity displayed in the crisis, especially in its earliest days.
As the global outbreak first took hold, member states privileged national responses by shutting borders, hoarding medical supplies and waving through major spending plans regardless of EU rules.
The letter put a special emphasis on the shortages of desperately needed medical supplies that were felt unevenly across the EU as the virus made its way across the continent.
“Understanding the shortcomings is essential,” the policy paper insisted.
“These include a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devices, critical medicines, and vaccines,” the paper said.
The leaders also pressed Brussels to streamline data across the bloc so that rates of infection and other key figures matched from one country to the other.
Common procurement and better cooperation on maintaining critical stocks was another field the leaders urged the commission to study.
The 27 leaders of the European will be holding virtual talks on June 19 to discuss the fallout of the crisis.
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