German Health Minister Jens Spahn called for the strengthening of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and for «becoming more independent from China» on the production of medicine and masks in an informal meeting with the EU 27 health ministers on Thursday.
The video conference was chaired in Berlin by Spahn and the health ministers of the other two countries presiding the EU Council, Marta Temido from Portugal and Tomaz Gantar from Slovenia.
«Strengthening the EU is our goal in this crisis, in this pandemic. We want to use the Council Presidency as an opportunity. The EU [Council] presidency is an opportunity to strengthen Europe, to strengthen health policy in Europe,» said Spahn, stressing that the measure «will also help the smaller countries in particular.»
«It is about becoming more independent from China, from other countries and regions, especially when it comes to medicines, protective masks. It should not be up to China to decide whether we have enough protective masks for our doctors and nurses in Warsaw, Lisbon or Berlin or whether we have enough medicine. That is why we want to talk about how we can strengthen production in Europe too,» the German minister added.
The EU plans to give ECDC more powers by creating a «Health Task Force», which can provide preparatory support to the Member States in managing health crisis. The task force should also include a uniform EU-wide electronic reporting for flagging possible health threats in real-time.
In order to expand the ECDC, the EU Commission is set to present a legislative proposal before the end of the year.