European Commissioner on Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides has said that in order to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic close collaboration and coordination are absolutely essential and has asked MEPs to work towards the conclusion of negotiations about the European Health Union.
“What we are seeing in the last few weeks is a worrying large increase of the number of COVID-19 cases across Europe,” she said addressing the plenary of the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, on Monday evening.
“We all know and we can all see that Europe is now in the middle of yet another wave,” she added.
Kyriakides sent a “very clear message on the role of vaccines because the evidence is clear: Vaccination works and remains the most effective tool we have to keep people safe.”
There is no doubt, she pointed out, “that they are effective against severe disease, and hospitalisation and protect against loss of life.”
Even, she said, with the dominant Delta variant with its increased transmissibility and severity, adding that this is backed by all our scientific evidence.
But, the European Commissioner noted, “we are now facing a pandemic mainly driven by the unvaccinated,” adding that the rising numbers are unfortunately fuelling vaccine hesitancy.
She stressed that “we all need to take a firm stand against this. And the Honourable Members of this Parliament can play an important role in this effort.”
Kyriakides informed MEPs that “we have already reached out to those countries most severely affected, who are also have the lowest vaccine uptake.”
“We are offering direct support, together with ECDC, to help them combat misinformation and boost vaccine uptake, and welcome your help and collaboration in your countries,” she said.
Kyriakides further noted that “we need to avoid fragmentation, and for this strong coordination is key.”
This is why, she said, “we are currently preparing an update of the Council Recommendations related to free movement within the EU.”
She explained that the proposal, to be adopted this week, will promote and acknowledge the important role of EU Digital COVID Certificate that travellers nowadays carry, adding that the Commission will also update the recommendation on travel into the EU from around the world.
She stressed that “close collaboration and coordination are absolutely essential – at every step of this journey.”
Kyriakides spoke of European Commission proposals in the context of the European Health Union, such as to make the Health Security Committee stronger and sought the support of MEPs in passing new regulation fast.
“It is together that we can ensure that the EU is better prepared for the future,” she said.
“We need to reach political agreement on all the European Health Union proposals as soon as possible,” she noted.
That, she said, “is the surest way to build a Union that is better prepared, more resilient, and more responsive in the face of future crises.”