BRUSSELS, Belgium — Representatives of the EU Council and the European Parliament concluded a political deal to renew the mandate of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). With this updated mandate the EU aims to strengthen the ECDC’s work in the areas of surveillance, early warning, preparedness and response.
The ECDC is an EU agency tasked with supporting the EU in its efforts to fight infectious diseases through epidemic intelligence, scientific advice and training activities among other things.
“While another wave is hitting us hard we need to look ahead and plan for the future. This pandemic has shown that we need better insights into cross-border health threats, up-to-date action plans and more coordination. A stronger mandate for the ECDC is another step in that direction.” ~ Janez Poklukar, Slovenian minister for health
Assistance with preparedness and response planning
The updated and stronger mandate provides for the establishment of an EU Health Task Force to assist local responses to the outbreak of disease, the provision of expertise to EU countries and the European Commission, for instance in the development, examination and updating of preparedness plans. The ECDC will also be tasked with the development of digital platforms for epidemiological surveillance.
Closer WHO coordination and stronger data protection provisions
The Council and parliament negotiators agreed among other things:
- To better align and coordinate recommendations and actions with the World Health Organization in order to ensure coherence and complementarity;
- To strengthen data protection provisions. Personal data will not be processed or communicated except in cases where strictly necessary for the fulfilment of the mission of the ECDC.
Background and next steps
The provisional political agreement now has to be approved by both institutions before the formal adoption procedure is launched.
This planned update of the ECDC mandate is part of a broader European Health Union package. In addition to a stronger ECDC mandate it includes a greater role for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and a draft law on cross-border health threats. All three proposals were put forward by the European Commission on 11 November 2020. On 16 September 2021, the Health Union package was supplemented by a proposal for the establishment of a Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).