Covid-19: European Commission creates first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment

The European Commission said that on March 19 it had 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.

Medical equipment part of the stockpile will include items such as: intensive care medical equipment such as ventilators; personal protective equipment such as reusable masks; vaccines and therapeutics and; laboratory supplies.

In addition, under the Joint Procurement Agreement, EU countries are in the process of purchasing personal protective equipment, respiratory ventilators and items necessary for coronavirus testing.

“This co-ordinated approach gives member states a strong position when negotiating with the industry on availability and price of medical products.”

The step was one of several announced by the European Commission on March 19 regarding the Covid-19 situation.

In a separate statement, it said that since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, there has been a rise in rogue traders selling false products online, which allegedly can prevent or cure the new virus. Those false claims include a number of goods such as masks, caps, and hand sanitizers.

“Such traders are exploiting the current situation to sell their products at very high prices claiming that stocks are running low for example, and thus misleading EU consumers.”

To tackle this issue, the European Commission and the network of national consumer protection authorities at EU level (CPC) have now launched joint actions, following an action started by the Italian authority. They are now actively sharing information and working together on a consistent approach to tackle such practices and to ensure that consumers are not deceived by rogue traders. They also aim to raise consumers’ awareness about these practices.

With the support of the Commission, the EU consumer authorities are preparing a guidance to help identify better the problematic practices, the statement said.

“This guidance will help to coordinate action between all national authorities, traders and platforms, and advise the national authorities on how to eradicate false claims quickly.

“Given the urgency of the situation, member states authorities are encouraged to swiftly take the necessary specific enforcement measures nationally, as a priority. At the same time all online platforms must step up their efforts to rapidly detect and take down false claims.”

The guidance will be made public in the next days, the EC said.

A separate statement said that the EU was continuing to help EU member states with the repatriation of their citizens stranded abroad due to the measures related to containment of the Covid-19.

Via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, Germany is organising a total of 13 flights throughout this week to bring back EU citizens from Egypt, Morocco, the Philippines, Tunisia and Argentina. All flights costs will have a contribution of up to 75 per cent by the European Commission.

Meanwhile, the European Commission said that as a result of social distancing measures put in place across Europe to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for internet capacity has increased, be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes.

“This could put networks under strain at a moment when they need to be operational at the best possible level.”

In order to prevent congestion and to ensure the open internet, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has called on the responsibility of streaming services, operators and users.

Streaming platforms are advised to offer standard rather than high definition and to cooperate with telecom operators. The latter should take preventive and mitigating measures, and encouraged users to apply settings that reduce data consumption, including the use of Wi-Fi or lower resolution for content.

EU operators indicate that there is an increased demand of connectivity, the statement said.

Although it is not causing a general situation of network congestions thus far, as a precautionary measure, the Commission and the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) are discussing to set up a special reporting mechanism to monitor the internet traffic situation in each member state to be able to respond to capacity issues, the Commission said.

For The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

(Photo: Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry press centre)



The Sofia Globe staff

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