The European Commission President made the remark at the 2020 State of the European Union address. Europe is dealing with an uptick of coronavirus cases, raising fears of a second wave. It is also addressing the displacement of thousands of refugees due to a major fire at a migrant camp in Greece.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has suggested creating a ‘European Health Union’ as she was delivering remarks at the 2020 State of the European Union address.
“The people of Europe are still suffering,” von der Leyen said in her first annual address, noting that the pandemic had underscored the need for closer cooperation. “For me, it is crystal clear — we need to build a stronger European Health Union…And we need to strengthen our crisis preparedness and management of cross-border health threats.”
The EU chief also announced plans to convene a global health summit in Italy in 2021.
“It is clearer than ever that we must discuss the question of health competences. And I think it is an urgent task to do this for the conference on the future of Europe. And finally, because it was a global crisis we need to learn global lessons. This is why along with [Italian] Prime Minister [Giuseppe] Conte and the Italian G20 presidency next year, I will convene a global health summit next year in Italy. This will show Europeans that our Union is there to protect them all,” she said.
Von der Leyen’s address to MEPs comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the European continent into a deep recession caused by the economic impact of lockdown measures, which varied greatly among the nations of the bloc.
In July, the EU member states agreed to a deal to create an $869 billion COVID-19 economic recovery fund after four days of negotiations.
Europe was one of the epicentres of the pandemic in April. However, the European countries have gradually been emerging from their lockdowns since May. Nevertheless, some new restrictions were introduced after several European nations started reporting a surge in cases.