The European Union will have a new office from next year to better prepare the European bloc in response to the covid pandemic for further crises. The European Commission today unveiled details of a forthcoming health authority called HERA, which will protect EU countries from a recurrence of the severe effects of coronavirus infection. Brussels wants to set aside a billion euros (25.5 billion crowns) a year for its operation over the next six years.
Last year, the union faced criticism for its slow response to the first wave of the pandemic. The Commission therefore came up with proposals in the autumn to strengthen the common health policy. In addition to increasing the volume of joint purchases of medicines or expanding the powers of the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), it has also initiated the creation of a new crisis body.
“HERA is another building block of a stronger health union and a big step forward for our crisis preparedness,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said today.
The Office will be responsible for gathering information, assessing risks and modeling possible problem developments in cooperation with the health authorities of the Member States. It will also support the development of drugs and vaccines against the diseases that will be threatened with its spread. His task will also be to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to ensure sufficient production capacity. The commission was criticized for the lack of vaccines during the launch of the joint EU vaccination against covid-19.
In the event of a crisis, HERA will be able to activate emergency measures, including funding for the acute purchase of medicines, protective equipment or raw materials.
The Commission has already launched a trial run of the office, and is due to become fully operational in the first quarter of next year.