The objective of the own-initiative opinion is to provide EESC's input into the discussions and future actions in regard to emergency preparedness, especially focusing on the impact on businesses.
COVID-19 - Sustaining EU Preparedness and Response: Looking ahead - Related Opinions
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In this opinion, the EESC presents its view on the Commission's proposal establishing the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority. (HERA), whose mission is to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to transnational health emergencies. The EESC welcomes this initiative but is concerned by the very limited role given by HERA to the European Parliament, regional authorities, health insurance bodies and civil society organisations and recommends their stronger involvement by adapting HERA structure and ensuring greater transparency with regard to the funds allocated and spent by and through HERA.
Trade Policy Review - An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy
The Commission proposes a new pharmaceutical strategy for Europe. It is a patient-centred strategy that aims to ensure the quality and safety of medicines, while boosting the sector’s global competitiveness. The EU needs to make sure that patients have access to high-quality, effective and safe medicines. It will foster patient access to innovative and affordable medicines. It will support the competitiveness and innovative capacity of the EU’s pharmaceutical industry.
The opinion, presenting EESC's position on the four proposals of the Health package published by the European Commission in November 2020, supports and welcomes these initiatives but draws the attention on some elements.
- The EU and Member States should ensure that everyone has equal access to quality, well staffed, well equipped health and social services. This is particularly important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which has deepened existing inequalities.
- Special attention in future EU policies should be given to healthcare workers and the need to improve working conditions, including pay, recruitment and retention, as well as their health and safety.
- The new EU health package should be combined with the roll-out of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), particularly its principles 12, 16, 17 and 18 and the Action Plan on the EPSR. It should also be part of achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.
In September 2020, the European Commission presented the Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials, which also contains the 2020 List of Critical Raw Materials.
Global supply chains (GSC) are key and complex in economic activities across the world and in global trade. Economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship are also contested by evidence of negative implications for working conditions as well as for sustainability in some supply chains.
The COVID-19 crisis has unveiled the serious downfalls related to highly fragmented and undiversified supply chains. It exposed the vulnerability of workers' health and safety, and it highlighted violations of human rights. Trade will have to play a key role in promoting a sustainable economic recovery. However, stronger instruments need to deliver on a socially and environmentally responsible business, trade and investment agenda.
GSC need to become more resilient, diversified and responsible, and ambitious actions need to ensure they contribute to a fairer economic and social model, based on sustainability and decent work.
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