The European Commission (EC) is creating its first ‘rescEU’ stockpile of essential medical equipment to support nations through the coronavirus pandemic.
The stockpile – which will include equipment such as ventilators, protective masks, vaccines and lab supplies – will be hosted by one or several EU member states. The hosting state will be responsible for procuring the equipment.
Janez Lenarčič, commissioner for crisis management for the EC, said: “The EU is taking action to get more equipment to member states. We are setting up a rescEU stockpile to rapidly get the supplies needed to fight the coronavirus.
“It will be used to support member states facing shortages of equipment needed to treat infected patients, protect health care workers and help slow the spread of the virus. Our plan is to move ahead without delay.”
The EC will finance 90% of the stockpile, and its Emergency Response Coordination Centre will manage the distribution of the equipment to ensure it goes where it is needed most.
A budget of €50m has proposed for the stockpile, of which €40m is subject to the approval of the budgetary authorities.
EC president Ursula von der Leyen said: “With the first ever common European reserve of emergency medical equipment, we put EU solidarity into action. It will benefit all our member states and all our citizens. Helping one another is the only way forward.”
Under the EU’s Joint Procurement Agreement, member states are also in the process of purchasing personal protective equipment, respiratory ventilators and items necessary for coronavirus testing.
“This coordinated approach gives member states a strong position when negotiating with the industry on availability and price of medical products,” the EC said.
Earlier this week, the EC set out guidelines for priority green lanes for freight to keep supplies of essential goods flowing during the pandemic.