- commends the European Commission's swift creation of HERA, but reminds the importance to preserve democracy and health equity. The EESC is particularly concerned by the very limited role given by HERA to the European Parliament, regional authorities, health insurance bodies and civil society organisations, including social partners, such as trade unions representing workers in the health sectors, as well as public health, patient and equality organisations, service providers and not-for-profit infrastructure and non-commercial research institutions. The EESC believes that these stakeholders must be given an active role in the work of HERA;
- asks the Commission to ensure that the European Parliament, social partners and civil society organisations are involved in HERA’s Board and Advisory Forum in a meaningful way and calls for the creation of a subgroup of the Advisory Forum on an equal footing with the joint industrial cooperation forum. The EESC and the Committee of the Regions should have a seat in this subgroup;
- recommends that more attention be paid to ensuring full transparency with regard to the funds allocated and spent by and through HERA, open contracting and the possibility for civil society to be involved in the oversight of the financial aspects of the authority;
- feels that HERA should ensure better coordination of communication campaigns related to prevention and response to public health emergencies, including by targeting people who are the most at risk, and by working with local authorities, including in relation to education and training on science and vaccination;
- considers that HERA must play an important role in global action against cross-border health threats and pandemics and asks the Commission to lead an open debate at European level on a temporary TRIPS voluntary waiver, which would apply to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests, in order to enable global vaccine production to be ramped up and costs reduced to ensure access for people across the world;
- recommends that, during the 2025 review, the Commission consider transforming HERA into an independent public authority outside the Commission, through a legislative procedure involving the European Parliament as co-legislator, and after consultations with civil society organisations, including social partners;
- asks the Commission to ensure that the financial efforts made to finance HERA do not lead to lower investment in other objectives of the EU4Health programme, in particular the Cancer Plan.
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.