EU chief executive proposes new agency for biomedical research

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed that the European Union (EU) should have a new agency for advanced biomedical research and development.

Von der Leyen on Wednesday presented the idea when delivering her first annual State of Union speech at the European Parliament plenary. In her speech, she envisioned a stronger European Health Union, which is more capable of protecting lives and livelihoods, Xinhua news agency reported.

The new agency, to be named European BARDA, will support European capacity and readiness to respond to “cross-border threats and emergencies — whether of natural or deliberate origin.”

“We need strategic stockpiling to address supply chain dependencies, notably for pharmaceutical products,” she added.

Admitting that there was a lack of coordination in response to the COVID-19 in its early phase, von der Leyen said her commission would try to reinforce and empower the European Medicines Agency and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

She also called for a reformed and strengthened World Health Organisation to better prepare for future pandemics.

What’s more, the chief of EU’s executive arm said she will work with Italy during its presidency of the G20, to convene a global health summit next year to share lessons learnt from the pandemic.