The EU's ability to cope with cross-border health threats such as the 2011 E. coli outbreak should be improved by a draft law amended by the Public Health Committee. MEPs backed plans to provide EU-wide early warning of all such threats and inserted a provision enabling member states to club together to buy vaccines.
"This legislative proposal, subject to the co-decision procedure, is a first. Unanimously requested by health ministers, it will enable us to fill a legislative gap. We shall thus extend the current coordination mechanism for transmissible diseases to all biological, chemical or environmental health threats" said rapporteur Gilles Pargneaux, whose text was approved with 52 votes in favour, none against and 6 abstentions.
An existing EU structure, the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS), set up in 1998 for communicable diseases, would be strengthened, and its scope extended to all cross-border threats to health, to allow for an EU-wide coordination and response. MEPs also included human zoonotic infections (which can be transmitted from animals to humans), and say that EU member states must also coordinate their communication campaigns in the event of a crisis.
The EWRS, hosted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) aims to help to identify, during a health crisis, the nature of the threat, how it is spreading, how fast and widely.
The draft legislation will be put to a plenary vote in November in Strasbourg.
Wednesday October 10, 2012/ European Parliament/ European Union.