European Commission proposes intensified cooperation on combating health threatsThe European Commission proposes combating cross-border threats to health increasingly by common measures of the EU. The Commission submitted its proposal for a related decision in December 2011. The Commission's proposal reduces the member states' powers in connection with crises where swift decision-making and actions can be needed. The government of Finland decided on 2 February to submit a communication regarding the matter to Parliament.
The proposed decision aims to regulate the monitoring and combating of serious health threats and preparedness planning related to them. Those threats can be for instance communicable diseases, other biological or chemical threats, or threats deriving from the effects of climate change, such as heat waves, cold spells and storms.
The proposed decision concerns joint procurement of vaccines and continuous monitoring of communicable diseases, establishment of an early warning system and coordination of responses to threats, joint temporary public health measures approved by the Commission, and joint crisis communication. The member states would be obligated to report to the Commission about their preparedness planning and security of supply in health care. The proposal also includes rules for communicating personal data to the early warning system.
If the European Parliament and Council will adopt the Commission's proposal, the decision involves delegating national decision-making and implementing powers to the Commission. According to the Commission's proposal, threats to the entire population in the member states could be combated jointly, if necessary disregarding the national legislation. A member state should consult other member states before undertaking public health measures to combat a health threat.
The government of Finland supports developing the EU's common crisis preparedness so that it will be based on voluntary cooperation and exchange of information. The Commission's proposal is considered to delay and weaken regional and local risk management and crisis communication.
The government is of the opinion that the cooperation and reporting taking place at present with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is enough. On the other hand, a specific model is needed for the EU for combating chemical threats.More information:
Olli Haikala, Director for Preparedness Affairs, tel. 09 160 73214