Co-ordination on cross-border threats to health - Germany supports improvements on the EU level

Viruses and bacteria do not stop at borders. Therefore, the EU Member States must join forces to control cross-border threats to public health in a co-operative effort. To further enhance this co-operation, the European Commission had, in December 2011, submitted an EU legislative proposal. Following intensive negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, this proposal led to a draft decision that the European Parliament adopted as early as 3 July 2013. Today, this legally binding decision was approved without amendments by the Council of the European Union - the representation of the Member States - and will take effect throughout the European Union in November 2013. This will improve the crisis management structures for addressing serious cross-border threats to public health on the EU level. Specifically, measures were adopted to better co-ordinate preparedness planning, mutual early warning mechanisms and co-ordination in the event of a crisis. 

This legislative act leads to better crisis management structures in public health on the EU level. Throughout the negotiations, the Federal Government actively and intensively pushed for structures that will allow efficient monitoring, early warning and co-ordination both ahead of and during cross-border health threats. Also, the Health Security Committee that, until now, only was an informal structure, has been given a legal basis. Thanks to this, the EU Member States will be able to co-ordinate their measures for the prevention and control of  public health threats of biological, chemical, environmental or unknown origin even better than they have done so far.

Daniel Bahr, former Federal Minister of Health

In an effort to more intensively coordinate their preparedness planning for cross-border health threats, the Members of the European Commission will regularly report on the state of cross-sectoral national planning every three years and discuss it in the Health Security Committee. The existing early warning and response system for communicable diseases will be expanded to include health threats of chemical, environmental or unknown origin so that Member States receive timely alerts on a mutual basis. In the event of a crisis, the existing EU agencies or the Commission will support the Member States in assessing the threat at hand.

The Commission will ensure that public health measures will be coordinated on the EU level with other mechanisms already in place, for instance in the areas of food and medicinal products. Avoiding duplication of work, this approach frees valuable resources that can be optimally deployed where they are needed to respond to a crisis.