As part of the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, on 19 March, the European Commission decided to create a Strategic RescEU Stockpile of medical equipment such as ventilators and protective masks to help EU countries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the European Commission’s website, this medical equipment stockpile will include items such as:
- intensive care medical equipment such as ventilators,
- personal protective equipment such as reusable masks,
- vaccines and therapeutics,
- laboratory supplies.
The stockpile will be hosted by one or several Member States. The hosting State will be responsible for procuring the equipment. The Commission will finance 90% of the stockpile. The Emergency Response Coordination Centre will manage the distribution of the equipment to ensure it goes where it is needed most. The initial EU budget of the stockpile is €50 million, of which €40 million is subject to the approval of the budgetary authorities.
The measure entered into law 20 March when the Member State wishing to host RescEU Stockpiles can apply for a direct grant from the European Commission. The direct grant covers 90% of the costs of the stockpile while the remaining 10 % are borne by the Member State.
POSITIVE RESPONSE ON THE BRAIN RESEARCH FROM THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
In a written answer to MEP Petra de Sutter’s questions to the European Commission regarding the funding and support of brain research, the Commission responded that the “EU investment in brain research has increased and amounts to EUR 3.2 billion under Horizon 2020, the current EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.”
The Commission also reassured that brain research will also remain an important area for funding in Horizon Europe, however it pointed out that “a major problem of brain research is that it remains largely fragmented thereby losing effectiveness. To overcome this, efforts to structure brain research in Europe and to develop strategic global collaborations continue.”
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WHITE PAPER – POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS FOR HEALTHCARE
On 19 February, the European Commission published its White Paper on Artificial Intelligence: a European approach to excellence and trust. The white paper “aims to establish a European ecosystem and trust in artificial intelligence (AI) and a Report on the safety and liability aspects of AI.” Artificial intelligence holds significant promise in the field of research and optimization of health and care.
The main suggestions of the paper are to develop
- “measures that will streamline research, foster collaboration between Member States and increase investment into AI development and deployment;
- policy options for a future EU regulatory framework that would determine the types of legal requirements that would apply to relevant actors, with a particular focus on high-risk applications.”
To optimize this approach, the European Commission announced a public consultation which enables all European citizens, Member States and relevant stakeholders to provide their opinion on a European approach to AI. The consultation runs until 31 May 2020.