BRUSSELS: Sorry, I have to apologise. I have an urgent engagement just afterwards and I will have to leave soon after my intervention. Thank you to my colleagues [Commissioner for Health and Food Safety] Stella [Kyriakides] and [Commissioner for International Partnerships] Jutta [Urpilainen] who will be answering any question that they could address. Thank you for your understanding.
This Communication on an EU Global Health Strategy is very much needed because the COVID-19 pandemic has been a true game-changer.
We learned important lessons from this crisis. Now we need to take a step back to look at the broader picture and address its repercussions more structurally through a Global Strategy, based on new principles and actions.
After the pandemic, what [have we] learnt? We have learnt that health is no longer limited to a scientific and medical issue.
Health has become a critical element of foreign, security and trade policies. Remember when we discovered that not a single gram of Paracetamol was being produced in Europe? It is also a key area of international cooperation.
Unfortunately, there is massive unfinished work in global health. The progress [towards] health Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has even reversed has been back in many countries.
Now, we have [only] achieved a quarter of what is needed to reach the health targets by 2030.
It means that we clearly need an approach on health, which have [has] acquired significant geopolitical importance. Yes, it is no longer an issue of pharma and doctors – it is a geopolitical issue.
An approach in which international cooperation – Jutta [Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnership] will say much more about it -, security aspects and the need to ensure that our open strategic autonomy is a reality. This has to be considered as part of an increasingly complex equation.
In the Strategy, there are some key priorities.
From my perspective, first: strengthening multilateralism. We want to bolster the global health architecture, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) at its centre.
[Second,] a cooperative approach, fostering safe international travel and mobility.
We have to learn from the positive experience of the EU Digital Covid Certificate (EUDCC). Thank you, Stella [Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety] for your extraordinary work on that.
And, third, strengthening capacities for surveillance, prevention and detection of health threats abroad, including biological threats, that have a lot to do with our security.
Health is being weaponised, and we have to stand up against the attempts of making health a weapon. For that, we have to fight disinformation.
We have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has been exploited by foreign actors willing to advance their own interests at the expense of others.
We are, and we will, continue pushing back against such attempts.
I can tell you that we will strongly support this agenda through the political dialogues, together with my fellow Foreign Affairs Ministers of the Council, to engage in with our partners, to facilitate this international cooperation and partnerships at the service of a global health.