The Covid-19 pandemic has modified all the things. In Europe as nicely. Earlier than this nightmare ends (and, sadly, we’re not there but!) we’ve to construct on the teachings learnt and create one thing new and optimistic out of this this dramatic expertise. This was the message of the decision for a European Well being Union that we launched on Could ninth – seventieth anniversary of the Schuman Declaration – with the “New Europeans” group of the previous Labour MEP Roger Casale.
We’re happy that the concept has been introduced up by the President of the European Fee, Ursula von der Leyen in her Speech on the State of the Union on September sixteenth, additionally in mild of the World Well being Summit which will probably be organized in 2021 by the Italian Presidency of the G20.
Additionally, whereas Member States are struggling to deal with the second wave of an infection, it’s reassuring to see that at the very least the European Fee is growing a coordinated technique to make sure one of the best effectiveness of future vaccines. Solely united and decided we are going to overcome this tragedy.
In spite of everything, it was Columbus’ egg: in the course of the compelled lockdown that radically reworked our lives, it was fairly simple to assume how the European Union would have resisted solely by way of a bottom-up mannequin of renewal, as an alternative of specializing in the illusory closures of partitions, quotas and duties in opposition to the invasions of viruses, migrants and underpriced merchandise. Such mannequin ought to have been based mostly on the wants that unite us, the values during which we acknowledge ourselves and the synergies that emerge whereas working collectively.
A mannequin for Europe
Docs advised the “One Well being” mannequin proposed by WHO because the method that might have allowed to organically hyperlink the prospects of a well being reform on a continental foundation to the extra normal transformation of our society required by local weather change and the seek for sustainable, inexperienced, honest and digital improvement. We must always not select between well being or local weather, solidarity or innovation, sectoral reforms or general paradigm shift: “Win-win? Sure, we are able to!”.
It’s an general package deal, constructed on a exact imaginative and prescient and synergies. But, it should be defined and assimilated. Primum vivere, deinde philosophari. The wager then turns into reconstructing by way of our survival intuition, stimulated as soon as extra by the pandemic. It turns into attempting to shake off the existential discomfort of an atomizing complexity which dismays us and infrequently makes us slaves of charlatans, who communicate on to our emotionality with hypocritical messages which are too straightforward to know.
Allow us to begin as an alternative from the rediscovery of well being as a “world public good”, which may represent the premise for a renewed social contract the place the European demos can rediscover its widespread id, made – from the Beveridge Plan onwards – of a common well being care. When confronted with a illness, “nobody should be left behind”. Here’s a elementary step on which we have to make most readability: the hypothetically future European Well being Union could be based mostly on the reform of the Treaties signed by sovereign nation states however it ought to most significantly deal with the rights and duties of particular person European residents, no matter their passports and id playing cards.
Therefore, the decision to Ursula von der Leyen: we can’t communicate of a “European Well being Union” solely amongst Governments and Parliaments. The matter should the truth is develop into one of many major pillars of the introduced Convention on the Way forward for Europe, as a widespread process of session and planning for a typical future.
The decision exactly goals at addressing the challenges rising from the pandemic and the teachings learnt in numerous areas: well being, in fact, but additionally economics, subsidiarity, training, citizenship and exterior relations. Solely the mix of such reflections with the ensuing motion plans will handle to relaunch the “European venture” Coronavirus appeared to hit, due to unbelievable unintended penalties (bare and in scattered order within the face of the evil, now as an alternative extra cohesive and decided to not repeat comparable experiences).
Relating to well being, the European Union theoretically possessed – already at the start of the pandemic – the instruments for a propulsive position. As a substitute, we’ve written darkish and demeaning pages of selfishness, hypocrisy and disorganisation, which definitely didn’t honor the bonds solemnly enshrined within the European Treaties. It is sufficient to learn Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which expressly prescribes that “motion by the Union, which shall complement nationwide insurance policies, shall be directed in direction of enhancing public well being, stopping bodily and psychological sickness and illnesses, and obviating sources of hazard to bodily and psychological well being. Such motion shall cowl the battle in opposition to the foremost well being scourges, by selling analysis into their causes, their transmission and their prevention, in addition to well being data and training, and monitoring, early warning of and combating severe cross-border threats to well being.” One might presumably not be clearer! If Covid-19 will not be a “main scourge”, what could be?
The Solidarity clause in Article 222, level 1(b) of the TFEU ought to be recalled as nicely: “The Union shall mobilize all of the devices at its disposal, together with the navy means put at its disposal by the Member States, to … to offer help to a Member State on its territory, on the request of its political authorities, in case of pure or man-made catastrophe”. Such clause seems to have been used to activate a European coordination of emergency provides to China. Nonetheless, when the Italian Everlasting Consultant to the European Union invoked the identical clause to obtain emergency masks and ventilators, the identical mechanism instantly stopped functioning. It’s subsequently clear how Europe turned deaf ears and introduced up all of the attainable crimson tape to Italy, whereas generously distributing nearly the identical items to the opposite finish of the world.
The required means
Fortunately, winds have now modified. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s Easter speech was stunning: “Germany can’t come out of this disaster robust and wholesome if our neighbors are usually not robust and wholesome too. This blue flag will not be right here by probability. Thirty years after the Unification of Germany, seventy-five years after the top of the struggle, we Germans are usually not solely referred to as upon, we’re obliged to solidarity! […]. After this disaster we will probably be one other society. We do not wish to develop into a fearful, distrustful society. We will, as an alternative, be a society with extra belief, extra respect, and extra optimism”. To place it merely, coronavirus is no person’s fault, and we can’t proceed to battle in opposition to each other: we’re all in the identical boat and we should not let it’s overturned.
As Mario Draghi clearly acknowledged in 2012 to defend the euro, we should do “no matter it takes”. However 4 years have handed between the Lehman Brothers disaster and the declaration of the Governor of the European Central Financial institution. Fortunately, it took solely few months for Angela Merkel to recall the saying “it’s important to transfer shortly when the ice is melting”. Haste is clearly a really temporally dilatable idea for Brussels, which, nonetheless, appears to have set now the fitting tempo. Maybe, it should even completely set up devices such because the Restoration Fund, to permit an express European financial coverage with out the present impositions to the European Central Financial institution.
Nonetheless, a European response to world well being challenges isn’t just a matter of cash. It additionally requires sufficient governance. Subsidiarity then comes into play, not solely to ensure house for native authorities within the optimum administration of territories, but additionally to name for supranational course/coordination of duties that might in any other case get out of hand. Complexity will be ruled if there may be the desire.
It is usually unimaginable to not shed a light-weight on the subject of training, particularly in an inter-generational perspective. Scientific and technological training are essential means in opposition to our evils and denials, to finally overcome the “digital divide”. Civic training is important too, as a result of with out a clear consciousness of the interrelation between rights and duties, it is going to be unimaginable for our societies to beat the challenges of contagion and its lethal pitfalls. Citizenship subsequently emerges as a key factor within the bottom-up development of the European Union we wish, made from rights and duties, ensures of elementary freedoms and the rule of legislation, an indispensable situation for our bodily and psychological well being.
Whereas remaining sure and thorough in demanding respect for these priorities of ours, we should not flip a blind eye on the remainder of the world. It appears misplaced in a worrying situation of turmoil, amongst authoritarian, populist and sovereignist drives, all sharing the will to go on their issues to others. Can Europe, as an alternative, aspire to face as a beacon for individuals who, in every single place, assume otherwise and discover within the horrible pandemic an extra motive for solidarity, imaginative and prescient, willingness to work collectively, in mutual respect?
We wish to speak about this points on the G20 Summit in 2021 on world well being and, even earlier than that, on the Convention on the Way forward for Europe, which ought to begin earlier than the top of the yr underneath the German Presidency.
In preparation for such occasions, “New Europeans” has began discussing about it once more in an internet dialog on November fifth.
Contact New Europeans (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need to study extra concerning the name for a world convention on the teachings discovered from Coronavirus and the European Union for Well being (#EuropeanHealthUnion).