The Council adopted a decision to support the launch of negotiations for an international treaty on the fight against pandemics on 20 May. The World Health Assembly, the main governing body of the WHO, is expected to back the establishment of a process for a Framework Convention on Pandemic Preparedness and Response during its (virtual) meeting which starts on 24 May. The proposal for an international treaty on pandemics was first announced by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, at the Paris Peace Forum in November 2020.
The objective of the Council decision is to assure the participation of the EU in the negotiations addressing matters falling within Union competence, in view of the Union's possible accession to the treaty.
The proposal to conclude a treaty on pandemics is discussed in the context of international efforts to reinforce global health security, in particular on preparedness and response to health emergencies, in light of lessons learnt from the pandemic.
Background and next steps
At the European Council of 25 February 2021 EU leaders underlined the need for global multilateral cooperation to adress current and future health threats and agreed to work on an international treaty on pandemics within the WHO framework and to advance global health security.
On 30 March 2021, leaders from all around the world joined the President of the European Council and the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in an open call for an international treaty on pandemics.
The European Union has an informal observer status at the WHO.
Pandemics have the potential to completely halt human life all around the world, as we have clearly seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to this, no single national measures can help stop the spread of the reason of a pandemic all around the world, regardless of the lockdown measures imposed. It is clear that there is a need for an international covenant that establishes a certain set of measures to prevent a new outbreak. The European Union showed resilience throughout an extremely tough phase, but this resilience needs to be shown on the European level but as well as regionally and globally. ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network) supports the measures announced by the EU and asserts that the opinions of every international actor -from states to civil society organisations and experts- are taken into consideration in forming a "Pandemic Treaty".
Source: Council of the EU Press Office