Additional €7.7 billion may be needed to prepare EU for next pandemic
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Additional €7.7 billion may be needed to prepare EU for next pandemic

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Another €7.7 billion may be needed to help the European Union deal with the coronavirus and to prepare for future pandemics, Members of the European Parliament said on Wednesday.

The Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, made up of 80 Members of the European Parliament, voted in favour of raising the EU’s budget for health care from €1.7 billion, as proposed by the Special European Council on 21 July, to €9.4 billion. The Commission officials downplayed then the cuts in the proposal, in particular the cut of the funding of the health programme, which was not explained.

According to the MEPs, “COVID-19 has shown that the EU is in urgent need of an ambitious EU health programme to ensure that European health systems can face future health threats”.

74 MEPs voted in favour of the proposal, with five voting against and one abstaining.

With the vote, the MEPs demonstrate their with for the EU4Health programme to be fully funded and implemented in the coming seven years. The “ambitious” programme will help to “enhance health promotion” and “make health systems more resilient across the EU”.

“The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the need for well-defined and adequately-financed health instruments,” Parliament’s rapporteur Cristian-Silviu Buşoi said following the vote.

Buşoi stated “it will be crucial to increase funding for the EU4Health Programme to €9.4 billion”, in order to “have the capacity to deal with future pandemics and health threats, and to make our health systems more resilient”.

The European Parliament and the European Council are currently negotiating the EU’s budget plan for the next seven years. Health care is part of this budget, as well as a €750 billion corona recovery fund.

Last week, negotiations ended early after the European Parliament walked out. Both parties will need to agree on a budget plan before it can be implemented.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times