It is time for Belgium to carry some weight in the European pandemic debate

8 April 2021

“To watch without criticism is to be absent.” MPs Anneleen Van Bossuyt, Kathleen Depoorter and Frieda Gijbels are urging the De Croo government in a resolution to give all the details about the European failure in the coronavirus pandemic. “What Europe puts in place now will determine the further resolution of this health crisis and how future pandemics are handled.”

To say that the European Union’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been a success is an understatement. People in the US are glad that they are not experiencing “European conditions”, and China and Russia are using the crisis to sow discord. The federal government must insist on getting all the details at the European level. That is why Anneleen Van Bossuyt, Kathleen Depoorter and Frieda Gijbels are submitting a resolution asking the government to weigh up a few European painful areas, and they are making proposals as to how things can be improved.

The MPs are asking the government in particular to take the right steps at the European level in the coming weeks and months to streamline and coordinate the fight against the virus, to initiate adequate aftercare and to look to the future with an open mind.

Kathleen Depoorter: “Increase production instead of panic reactions”

According to Kathleen Depoorter, the European approach to vaccination can by no means be called a success. “Denying or condoning that does not help. We must dare to cite the mismanagement of the vaccine campaign and, where necessary, exert pressure to ensure that the doses now actually reach the public and quickly. We see the solution mainly in ramping up production and emergency authorisation processes for innovative medicines. Not through panic reactions, such as the threat of an export ban. That will only have a negative impact on the EU’s foreign reputation and encourage our pharmaceutical sector to look elsewhere for their production.”


Anneleen Van Bossuyt: “Better cooperation with respect for the division of competences”

MP Anneleen van Bossuyt insists that the new actions of the European Commission should be carried out in close consultation with the Member States. “For some, it means moving quickly, having as little participation as possible from the Member States and acting unilaterally. However, centralisation without respect for Subsidiarity A principle that states that the lowest possible level at which a government is (still) effective is the most appropriate level from which to govern. It is for this reason that only the powers that a lower authority cannot exercise or cannot exercise well are allocated to a centralised or higher authority, and vice versa. The idea behind this is that political decisions are best made and executed as closely to the citizens as possible. subsidiarity or the division of competences between the Union and the Member States is a dead end. Better cooperation and coordination can also be achieved without transferring even more powers to Europe.”

Plans for a European health union

Europe has clearly developed an ambition in the field of public health during the crisis, Anneleen Van Bossuyt notes. “This can be seen in the plans for a true European health union. The EU’s healthcare budgets alone have already increased tenfold in a very short time, and now it wants to adopt regulatory measures everywhere. We are asking the government to conduct a thorough analysis of all these plans to assess the impact on our own health system and to apply the brakes if they go too far. Healthcare is still a story of people, and policies must be conducted as closely as possible to the citizen and not dictated from afar by the EU. Each health system has its own characteristics, and it is up to the Member States to determine how they want to develop their welfare state.”

Frieda Gijbels: “Work on a pandemic strategy after COVID-19”

At the same time, we must now also work on a debate on the future after COVID-19. This country must be proactively European with a real concrete vision on open strategic autonomy, raw materials and, above all, a business-friendly transformation for “Research and Development” and the production of medicines and medical devices. Unfortunately, the coronavirus will probably not be the last health crisis that we will face. It is therefore essential to draw the right conclusions as quickly as possible and to carry out reforms that will give our institutions and businesses a chance to get back on their feet as quickly and efficiently as possible. Frieda Gijbels: “In this context, it is also important from now on to evaluate the EU’s pandemic preparedness projects on their merits on a regular basis and to draw the necessary conclusions from this.”

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