Every evening at 8pm a tribute to our caregivers, women and men, resonates across borders. Their courage and determination in the service of the common good is recognised as windows open and applause reverberates, composing a single hymn across the continent.
On the front line of this pandemic, sometimes poorly equipped, these everyday heroes will have paid a heavy price themselves, which we will not forget.
In solidarity with each other, often bypassing Member States and Europe and taking advantage of social networks and modern means of communication, Italians, Spaniards, French, Germans, Portuguese... learned from each other, shared their experiences, confronted their practices, united in a common goal: defeating this virus.
We, the signatories of this letter, are both elected representatives to the European Parliament as well as healthcare professionals: more than others, we knew that, despite the difficulties, the commitment of our colleagues on the front line would be flawless.
More than others, we have suffered from our inability to support, and assist them in our role as political leaders.
“The pandemic has revealed not only the inadequacies of our national healthcare systems, but also the lack of European coordinated action in public health”
The pandemic has revealed not only the inadequacies of our national healthcare systems, but also the lack of European coordinated action in public health.
Although health policy is mostly within the competences of Member States, Europe has finally reacted, both to support the healthcare and the economy, to help defeat the epidemic and mitigate its consequences through unprecedented measures. But this is not enough.
Faced with a transnational threat, which has been growing for several months, Europe has given citizens the feeling of a lack of anticipation, coordination and protection.
The war of the masks, the plea for help that remained unaddressed at the beginning, the retention of medical equipment, the divergent containment strategies, the unilateral border closures… So many cuts made to the European pact that binds us and to the values that underpin it.
From all of this, we must learn lessons. The European Union was initially formed to bring peace to a continent. Today it must extend this original purpose by being a continent which protects all its citizens.
Facing the viruses and the health care plagues that will threaten us in the future, European proactivity must be the first of the vaccines and cures, capable of preventing and containing the future health crises.
Tackling the impact of aging population and neurodegenerative diseases, the inclusion of physical and mental handicap, are for instance among the first challenges that our societies will face and these challenges know no borders.
The European Parliament must place health and solidarity at the heart of its agenda with a dedicated body.
“In close collaboration with all health stakeholders, this European Parliament body can play a coordinating role when necessary, with expertise, agility and a response capacity”
It doesn't matter the name or the shape that this structure will take: what matters is giving it the means to carry out its action in an autonomous, visible and permanent way, starting with the immediate challenges of the Corona crisis.
It will be up to us not only to embody European solidarity and health sovereignty, but also to reflect concretely on the mechanisms enabling a community response to the major public health challenges.
In close collaboration with all health stakeholders, this European Parliament body can play a coordinating role when necessary, with expertise, agility and a response capacity.
It will therefore have to quickly elaborate recommendations in the area of health governance: the recasting and coordination of European agencies, cross-border cooperation, patient transfers, the circulation of medical equipment, the relocation of the production of essential medical goods, protective equipment, medical devices, active ingredients, medicines, without dodging the question of the "fair" price, and finally, promoting joint research and coordination in developing new treatments and/or vaccination, starting with the Coronavirus.
In case the therapy and/or vaccine is developed in a third country, we need to ensure that it is also available in Europe.
“This crisis, by its magnitude, by its deadly impact, must be the occasion for a fresh start and the opportunity to progress united for the future of our continent”
This crisis, by its magnitude, by its deadly impact, must be the occasion for a fresh start and the opportunity to progress united for the future of our continent.
In reaction to this unprecedented pandemic, governments worldwide have made the health of their people an intangible priority. This universal consciousness, which places life above everything, is a powerful weapon to shape the contours of a better future.
We, as healthcare professionals and deputies representing the people of Europe, owe our colleagues and fellow citizens more than just fine words: it is up to us to give concrete expression to the solidarity and health cooperation necessary for their just protection, by giving them a place and new visibility in the European Parliament.