Pandemic spurs EU to seek more preparation, coordination

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is proposing plans to improve the preparedness and coordination of its 27 member nations in the event of a future public health emergency like the coronavirus pandemic.

When COVID-19 struck European countries with varying intensity during the spring, the EU found its ability to organize a common response lacking since the bloc’s policies largely left members to their own devices.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that the “pandemic has highlighted the need for more coordination in the EU, more resilient health systems, and better preparation for future crises.”

The commission laid out a series of proposals to reinforce surveillance across borders, streamline data reporting and to boost the powers of EU agencies like the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Medicines.

Von der Leyen also wants to see the creation of a Health Emergency Response Authority by the end of next year.

“The pandemic taught us that we save more lives when we work together,” she said.

The 27-nation EU’s total confirmed death toll in the pandemic is nearing 200,000.

The European Commission proposal now goes to the member countries and the European Parliament for consideration.

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