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EU ‘working very hard’ so health authority can impact pandemic

Slovenian presidency hopes planned new authority will have R&D capacities

The EU is “working very hard” to get its planned new Health Emergency and Preparedness Response Authority up and running in time for it to have an impact on the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an official.

Hera is being created to improve the EU’s response to cross-border health emergencies such as the ongoing pandemic. The European Commission has said it should have a role in foresight and planning, while medical organisations have said it should oversee and coordinate pandemic research.

Iztok Jarc, the ambassador to the EU for Slovenia, which will coordinate EU member states’ work on EU policies as the host of the July to December presidency of the Council of the EU, said on 10 June that the Council is waiting for a proposal on Hera from the Commission.

“I know that the Commission is working very hard on this,” Jarc said in response to a question from Research Professional News, at an event setting out the priorities of the Slovenian presidency that was hosted by the European Policy Centre think tank.

“Whether it will come in time, we are working very hard together with the present [Portuguese] presidency and the next [French] one,” he said.

Jarc said Slovenia wants Hera to be ambitious and for its remit to include R&D. “We would like as a presidency and also as a member state that this is an ambitious institution, which would include R&D capacities as well as the manufacturing infrastructure,” he said, adding that the research remit should include a coordinating role.