Magazine article European Social Policy

Informal Health Council : Commission Pushes Solidarity against Swine Flu

Magazine article European Social Policy

Informal Health Council : Commission Pushes Solidarity against Swine Flu

Article excerpt

Member states gave permission, on 6 July, to the European Commission to set up a legal consortium for joint public procurement - under the Directive on public procurement - of vaccines against swine flu (influenza type A/H1N1) for those member states that have not concluded pre-purchase agreements. France, Cyprus, the Netherlands, the UK and Sweden are among the countries that already have signed contracts to receive swine flu vaccines. The informal Health Council, meeting on 6-7 July in Jonkoping, did not give its consent to the establishment of EU-wide priority groups, despite attempts to that effect by Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. The ministers will meet again during an extraordinary Health Council in October, where Vassiliou expects the member states to agree on priority groups for vaccinations. "For us it is very important to decide on the EU risks groups," Vassiliou argued.

The discussion on how the EU should respond to the swine flu pandemic was "considerably lengthy and heated," according to Sweden's Minister for Public Health, Maria Larsson. Certain countries - among them the Netherlands and the UK - did not show much interest in sharing vaccines and defining EU-wide priority groups and gave "blunt" responses to the Commission's requests. According to Larsson, while opinions differ on how best to react to the pandemic, "there is a strong will to cooperate". She said that "We have to coordinate and follow the World Health Organisation's advice. Although the responsibility for this is mainly national, we have to make the necessary preparations and take viable steps". …

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