The EU will mobilize € 220 million ($ 340 million) to fund transfers of COVID-19 patients from one country to another, to relieve hospitals overburdened by the second wave of the pandemic, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Thursday.
To facilitate these transfers, States
must share accurate and real-time data by means of a platform set up at European level, she indicated during a press conference following a videoconference summit bringing together the Twenty-Seven.
Good use of funds requires good information, she stressed. These data, gathered from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, will identify the capacities in intensive care units.
Struggling with an outbreak of contamination across the continent, Heads of State and Government have been called on by Brussels to better coordinate their health responses.
We will launch a platform to bring together experts who provide advice to national governments, to share best practices, harmonize scientific recommendations and avoid sending conflicting messages, insisted Ms. von der Leyen.
She called for strengthening the interoperability of national tracking applications: three have already been connected to the
gateway system established by Brussels to link them together, and 19 applications are expected to follow. Fifty million Europeans have already downloaded such programs.
Another priority discussed during the virtual summit: freedom of movement, undermined in the spring, at the start of the pandemic.
Keep borders open
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on her counterparts not to close their borders.
For Germany, a country in the middle of Europe, it is important that the borders remain open, that the economy continues to function and that we fight the pandemic together, she said, according to a statement from Berlin.
We learned the lessons of the first wave, when the instinct at the start of the crisis was to close the borders, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, told the press.
At the intra-European borders, Brussels proposes that
reserved lanes for the transport of goods, until then limited to road freight, extend to rail, air and river transport.
This is a good step forward to protect the single market, commented Ursula von der Leyen.
The Commission also intends to facilitate essential travel by setting up
by the end of the year a single European form. It calls for the harmonization of quarantine rules, such as the mutual recognition of tests.
European leaders have also agreed to better coordinate their vaccine strategies. Ms von der Leyen signaled that future vaccines would be available to all states
at the same time and under the same conditions, depending on the size of their population.
To do this, the Commission asks the States to provide their national plans so that it can ensure that the necessary infrastructure is well planned.
While waiting for the vaccines, the European Union is counting on a campaign
massive of tests, thanks to the generalization of new rapid tests. One hundred million euros ($ 155 million) have been earmarked by the EU to purchase and deliver these so-called antigenic tests.
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