the new European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA)

Today, the European Commission has presented its plans for the new European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).

This new Agency, which has been referred to as the “missing block” of the European Health Union, aims to provide the EU with better preparedness and response to serious cross-border health threats, by enabling rapid availability, access and distribution of needed countermeasures. For the time being, it will not be set as a separate Agency. Instead, it will operate within already-existing European Commission infrastructures as an internal service. It is expected that it will achieve full-functioning capacities by early 2022.  HERA will have two different modes of operation: the “preparedness phase” and the “crisis phase”. During the preparedness phase, it will steer investments and actions in strengthening prevention, preparedness and readiness for new public health emergencies. During the crisis phase, it will draw on stronger powers for swift decision-making and implementation of emergency measures. In both modes of operation, HERA will work to ensure swift access to safe and effective medical countermeasures at the scale needed.

EPF has been following this topic closely due to the impact that it will have on ongoing and future European health policies. Together with the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) we have co-signed a joint statement asking the European Commission to make sure that the new HERA serves patients’ needs and protect public health. We believe the HERA is essential to ensure better EU preparedness and response in terms of medical countermeasures to serious cross border health threats. However, if it is to serve patients and public health, it should be an independent public authority with a clear mandate driven by the public interest (with an accountable decision-making process), with a transparent governance structure (which includes patient organisations), and which makes long-term, sustained, and balanced research and development investments between the public and private sectors. Other key recommendations for the success of HERA are outlined in the above-mentioned joint statement.

EPF is committed to working with the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Member States towards achieving this vision for the new HERA.