3 April 2020
By Elaine Murphy
“The European Union, and its member states, being dependent on third-countries to protect the health and wellbeing of its citizens is simply not acceptable,” said Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher.
Kelleher was commenting as the COVID-19 pandemic shines a light on the Union’s and indeed Member States’ flaws in securing and deploying medical equipment, medicines and other important services in a time of crisis.
“While there are many major pharmaceutical and medical devices companies located in the European Union, many of the core Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) are actually produced outside of the Union and shipped back when needed.
“This works fine outside of crises. However, the last few weeks have shown Europe’s weaknesses.
“We need to incentivise pharma companies to bring back their API production to inside the Union. This is good from a public health point of view but also an economic and jobs point of view.
“Additionally, the fact that the EU was also required to obtain Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from outside the Union’s borders demonstrates a weakness in our internal supply chains.
“The EU, while not trampling on each member state’s right to run their health services, must collectively ensure that, no matter the crisis, and no matter the location within the Union, we all have ample supplies of PPE and other crucial health care equipment.
“While of course our primary concern must be the health of our citizens, we need to look ahead and find solutions to these problems to avoid the same scenario happening again in the future.
“A threat like, or similar, to Covid-19 will happen again. Whether it be a wide spread health crisis, such as this, or a natural disaster affecting only one part of the EU, more crises will come. All we can do is prepare better.
“If the European Union wants to be a global power, it needs to start acting like one. That means having the means and the wherewithal to protect the health of its citizens,” concluded Kelleher.