Europe has become "key player" in international response to pandemic, say ministers

French presidency of the Council of the European Union – Joint Ministerial Conference of Foreign Ministers and Health Ministers – Joint statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Solidarity and Health

Lyon, 10 February 2022

On 9 February, the Foreign Ministers and the Health Ministers of the European Union met together in Lyon under the auspices of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and at the invitation of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the Minister for Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran.

Working in close collaboration with the European Commission, the French presidency will continue preparing the revisions to the European global health strategy together with the Member States.

Today’s meeting allowed participants to discuss the European Union’s response to current and future global health challenges in the presence of the Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of “promoting our European way of life,” Margaritis Schinas, the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, the European Member of Parliament, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, and the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Kluge.

The European Union and its Member States play a major role in global health. They are the primary supporters of organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Gavi and Unitaid. They are also the primary source of health-related public development aid. This leadership role has only grown more prominent with the COVID-19 health crisis, which put global health and governance back at the top of the list of concerns of the European Union and its Member States. Today, Europe has become a key player and driver in the international response to the pandemic.

More specifically, today’s meeting has allowed us to take stock of the work that has been accomplished by the European Union and its Member States and to reflect together on four priorities:

• Strengthening the European global health strategy by incorporating the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and with the goal of securing a position for the EU that is in line with its financial contributions to this architecture;

• Reiterating the commitment made by the European Union and its Member States as “Team Europe” to supporting low- and middle-income countries in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, via financial contributions, vaccine donations and political leadership, all of which have sped up fair access to health products worldwide;

• Recalling the EU’s support and key role in the strengthening of the multilateral health architecture, with the WHO at its centre, by more systematically integrating the “One Health” approach, including via the contributions of international initiatives such as the One Health High Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) and PREZODE, and;

• Hailing and leveraging the dynamism and influence of the Member States, which are home to many organizations involved in global health, a fact that demonstrates the European Union’s expertise and attractiveness in this field. That is the case of Lyon, which is home to a unique global health expertise in the form of the WHO’s Academy, International Health Regulations office and International Agency for Research on Cancer. This was the first time that Lyon has hosted a joint meeting bringing together the Foreign Ministers and the Health Ministers of the European Union to discuss these essential topics./.

Published on 10/02/2022

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