“The Guardian’s investigation on the lack of European coordination in response to the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 does not surprise us” – says Federico Anghelé, director of The Good Lobby in Italy – “and only confirms what we have been denouncing for some time. The European Union and its member states have not been able to act together in the face of the announced risks of a global pandemic, leaving Italy alone to be the first to respond to the severe consequences caused by the spread of the virus”.
The Guardian’s reconstruction of the muddled emergency coordination process attempted by the Commission, corroborated by the statements of the European Commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarčič, underlines how the EU Member States were unprepared to respond to the crisis. Moreover, it shows how the current European structure is unsuitable for coordinating the necessary unified response to a virus that knows no borders and that certainly does not stop in the face of national protectionist barriers.
The European health crisis management body, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), can only provide recommendations to states. Therefore, it could not prevent many states – including Germany and France – from reacting by taking unilateral decisions such as closing borders, preventing the free movement of goods and stopping the circulation of health care equipment that could have been better distributed to treat and save the lives of many people.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, The Good Lobby has underlined the seriousness of this situation, calling for immediate coordination of the Health Ministers of the European countries, through a petition signed by over 9000 European citizens and through various letters sent to the Health Ministers, the European Commissioner for Emergency Management and the European Commissioner for Health.
This action has helped to stimulate the delayed European coordination of emergency response, which has clashed with the slow pace of European bureaucracy and, above all, with the lack of health expertise of the Union.
“It is urgent that we prepare for possible future scenarios and the resurgence of the pandemic, which, unfortunately, is now spreading widely in the Balkan countries. We need an appropriate economic recovery plan to cope with the crisis and a European Union of health, as required by our campaign,” says Alberto Alemanno, founder and director of The Good Lobby. “Conceding health competencies to the Union is the only sensible choice to limit the damage of crisis scenarios of this magnitude and also corresponds to the desire of a growing slice of the European population, as reported by Commissioner Lenarčič.“