Press remarks by Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič on boosting the RescEU medical reserve

Good afternoon, everybody.

As you are aware, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed some serious vulnerabilities in how the international community responds to global emergencies.

One of the most striking issues to arise at the start of this health crisis related to the limited availability of personal protective equipment and other vital medical supplies worldwide.

This situation was shared by many countries, including our Member States.

If you recall the state of play at the end of February, most Member States had limited stockpiles and struggled to provide the necessary supplies for their own needs or for others who asked for assistance.

In response, the European Commission quickly undertook a series of steps to ensure that no Member State would ever fall behind in the same manner again.

First, in March, we established a new rescEU life-saving medical equipment reserve.

Through this reserve, 520,000 units of FFP2 and FFP3 protective facemasks have already been delivered to Italy, Spain, Croatia, Lithuania, as well as North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

With winter approaching and coronavirus cases increasing throughout Europe, it is crucial that we continue to build up our stocks. These are professional masks, intended for first responders (medical staff, civil protection teams, police).

In this view, I am happy to inform you that Denmark, Greece, Hungary and Sweden have joined Germany and Romania as host states of the rescEU medical stocks.

With 100% financial support from the European Commission, 6 EU Member States are now in the process of building a common European stockpile of life-saving  equipment and other vital medical supplies.

These reserves are to be distributed throughout the European Union at times of medical emergencies or when national health systems are simply overwhelmed.

Second, in June, the European Commission put forward a targeted proposal to strengthen the European Union’s crisis management system, including the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism.

The objective of this proposal is to provide the European Commission with more tools to support Member States as they seek to prepare and respond to complex disasters.

This proposal will also help strengthen the European Response Coordination Centre.

This proposal aims at the following.

Firstly – better preparedness by creating a rescEU strategic reserve at EU-level, plus the possibility for the Commission to directly procure capacities. Fact is namely that civil protection is a Member State’ competence. The European Commission plays a supportive role.

Secondly – faster response as to once a disaster strikes, we are ready to respond immediately by disposing a logistical capacity to ensure timely transport and delivery of assistance.

And thirdly – improved risk management and planning for high impact emergencies, through the development of EU resilience goals.

For clarification, it is important to note that these strategic capacities will be supplementary to those of the EU Member States.

Nevertheless, they should be strategically pre-positioned in such a way as to ensure the most effective geographic coverage in response to an emergency.

With the increased number of host states, rescEU is stepping up a gear.

With these new measures as well, we will be much stronger in fighting this pandemic as well as prepared for possible others in the future.

In view of the July EUCO agreement that has topped the total budget for the UCPM at €3 billion, I also count on the Council’s and Parliament’s continued support in this endeavor.

With that, I am happy to take a few questions.


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