European health unit?

For one of the things that the COVID pandemic has served is to realize that almost There is no common European health policy. Of the 26 countries that make up the European Union, if we discount the United Kingdom, which started the Brexit process in February of this year, there have been 26 different responses to the pandemic. These have varied greatly, from strict confinement, as in Spain or Italy, to denial, seeking herd immunity as has happened in Sweden.

But things have gone much further. At the height of the pandemic in Europe, that is, during the months of March and April, there has been real competition between the different states of the Union for the purchase of masks, the obtaining of diagnostic tests, or the purchase of ventilators, among many others. Not to mention that most European countries have noticed strategic dependency in the sanitary industry with respect to Asia and more specifically to China, in many basic aspects. It seemed that there was no company capable of manufacturing respirators, masks and the most basic sanitary materials in this area of ​​the world when they were really needed.

It is necessary to avoid dependence on China to obtain medical supplies

But the fact is that reality seems to be going the other way. The European Union, which has been champion of liberalizing measures such as the movement of capital and the common market, the trafficking of people without borders between countries, thanks to the Schengen area, etc., has also seen how the virus has given us a cure of humility and it has circulated freely from one country to another without worrying about the health systems or the individual policies of each state.

A great mistrust

He European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) carried out a study, published a few days ago, interviewing 11,000 people from 9 countries of the Union, including Spain. Although there are differences between the countries of northern and southern Europe, it seems that distrust of health authorities and experts appointed by them to control the pandemic is widespread. Spain is one of the countries where there is the most mistrust, according to the survey, with a rate of 79%. Two thirds of Europeans believe that the crisis shows the need for greater cooperation between EU countries. By the way, the pandemic has hardened the judgment of Europeans towards China, Russia or the United States, whose image has deteriorated considerably in the last three months.

The 'coronabonos'

When I say 'almost' I mean that there is a common health policy in the EU. Although with very few budgetary resources. Between March and June 2020, The EU has strengthened the three pillars of its health policy: development of an ambitious public health program –EU4Health-, which has multiplied by 25 the budget allocated to common health. It increases its authority in the regulation of medical products, to avoid embarrassing events in the collection of material or drugs by different countries in times of health crises, and it has also changed its fiscal policy in a direction more favorable to health policies. In fact, the issue of “coronabonos” is being negotiated to finance a fund close to 800,000 euros to mitigate the economic and health effects of COVID. It seems that in the end, the Europe of health may emerge stronger from the crisis, although it is still far from unifying the health systems of each country.

Protect our industries

Another important aspect that the European authorities must take charge of is that of monitor the ownership of strategic industries in sanitary and non-sanitary matters. It is only necessary to remember, for example, that the mythical German automotive company Mercedes-Benz is already in Chinese hands and in March there was controversy over the alleged attempt to buy a major German laboratory related to the COVID vaccine by Donald Trump. It seems that the pandemic we are experiencing will end up changing almost everything, at least hopefully it will be for the better in coexistence with our neighbors.

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