Politics

First European Parliament’s COVID committee meeting reveals broad scope of topics ahead – EURACTIV.com

The first assembly of the European Parliament’s new COVID-19 committee (COVI) on Thursday (12 May) didn’t result in any concrete outcomes however revealed the broad vary of matters MEPs want to handle within the quest to gather classes learnt from the pandemic.

At the primary COVI assembly, Chair Kathleen van Brempt welcomed Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, reassuring her that this may be simply one in every of many invites for her to debate with committee members.

“We are still very close to the crisis, so policymakers and experts who were there during the crisis, such as you Mrs Commissioner, are still in office. Today there are only seven health ministers in our member states who were in office at the beginning of the crisis. We will need all that expertise.” Brempt mentioned throughout her opening assertion.

The Parliament greenlighted the brand new particular committee in March 2022  tasked with overseeing classes discovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and making suggestions for the long run. As with different particular committees, the COVID-19 committee has been granted an preliminary mandate of 12 months, which will be extended if MEPs discover it crucial.

Kyriakides declared her “full cooperation and support” to the committee’s work and kicked off the assembly by summarising the challenges encountered in pandemic administration. These included an absence of preparedness and the fragility of nationwide well being methods to the present standing of the pandemic and {the catalogue} of recent well being initiatives put forth by the Commission.

The Commissioner hailed the EU’s Vaccine Strategy from June 2020 as a “turning point” and mentioned that “the success of this strategy was an existential question for our Union.”

“I do not even want to imagine a situation where some large member states may have had access to vaccines, while others did not, [and what that] would have meant for the future of the EU,” the commissioner mentioned and proceeded to reward the EU Digital COVID certificates, the EU4Health Programme and, in fact, the Health Union initiatives together with the set-up of HERA.

“We must tackle these crises together. Europe is our safe harbour in the storm. Public health is no exception. I believe, collectively, we have learned this after a difficult beginning. The real test, however, will be the next crisis,” Kyriakides concluded.

Following the commissioner’s remarks, the controversy changed into a whirlwind of matters by MEPs associated to a broad vary of points surrounding the pandemic response.

New particular committee on COVID-19 elects chair

Socialist MEP Kathleen Van Brempt was elected at a constitutive assembly on Tuesday (19 April). She will head up the work of the European Parliament’s new particular COVID-19 committee, with the aim of higher getting ready the EU for future pandemics.

Concerns about how the EU establishments dealt with the pandemic

Several MEPs addressed the persisting vaccination gaps throughout the Union and the necessity to keep alert for a possible future wave of infections.

Greek centre-right MEP Stelios Kympouropoulos, European People’s Party (EPP), highlighted the necessity to shut these vaccination gaps and step up work to detect new variants. Fellow liberal MEP Véronique Trillet-Lenoir requested what steps the Commission plans to take to combat the inequality in entry to vaccination throughout the Union.

In her reply, Kyriakides reiterated the warning that there could possibly be a sudden enhance in COVID-19 infections once more, which implies we needs to be able to act and reintroduce earlier measures to curb future waves of the pandemic. She additionally reassured MEPs that work is ongoing to get extra folks vaccinated.

“I have visited a number of member states in order to [assess] the situation, and I can say that there is no one size fits all,” she mentioned.

“The ECDC [European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control] has been on the ground in the member states where they have faced problems with the low vaccine uptake [in order] to work with their experts to address this issue,” Kyriakides added.

Other matters concerning the Commission’s administration of the pandemic had been raised, corresponding to the extent of transparency surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines contracts and the variety of vaccines bought.

MEPs approve new particular committee on COVID-19

A brand new particular committee to supervise classes discovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and make suggestions for the long run has been greenlighted by the European Parliament on Thursday (10 March).

To cope with the implications of pandemic measures

Apart from how the EU establishments and companies handled the pandemic, most of the debates in COVI will centre across the implications of the various measures and restrictions throughout EU member states to curb the pandemic.

“Persons with chronic or other critical diseases had their main treatments delayed or suspended. It is something we need to reflect on,” Kympouropoulos mentioned. Later within the debate, Trillet-Lenoir made an analogous level highlighting the delays in prognosis and therapy for most cancers sufferers.

Socialist MEP Sara Cerdas introduced up the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on girls, mentioning larger dying charges and worse long-term penalties of infections with COVID. To this, Kyriakides assured members that it’s essential to “make sure we use everything possible to close the gaps that have been made even wider because of COVID”.

Other matters highlighted had been the worsening psychological well being throughout the continent, the lack of biodiversity worldwide – which is believed to have been a part of the reason for the COVID-19 pandemic – and the rising proof that air high quality may have worsened the unfold of COVID-19 and different respiratory ailments.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]




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