eIn an interview with Lusa in his office in Berlaymont, the “headquarters” of the European Commission, which he chaired between 2014 and 2019, Juncker recalls that during the Conference on the Future of Europe chaired by former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 2003, “some governments” – including That’s the Luxembourg government he was heading at the time – “expanding European capacity to include the health sector,” and “most European governments rejected” this idea.
Noting that this refusal was the reason, even today, “the European Union (the European Union) unfortunately has no real competence when it comes to public health,” Juncker stresses that those member states that still do not wish to provide the European Union with these powers are wrong. “.
He reiterates that “experience proves that the European Union – and thus European countries – are in a better position if the European Union and the European Commission have some key competencies in terms of public health.”
The former president of the European Commission gives an example of the onset of the epidemic, where “Member States were playing an exclusive role in their national territories, without the participation of the Commission or the European Union,” to illustrate this, at that time, the European Union was “disorganized”.
He notes that “now it is a better organization because there is a general feeling that the European Union works better when member states and the Commission work together.”
So Juncker hopes that the conference on the future of Europe – which will be officially launched on May 9 in Strasbourg and aims to “shape the future” of the European Union together with its citizens – will allow for steps to be taken towards a European Union that is more powerful in the field of health.
“I would like the conference on the future of Europe, which has already been launched and which will take place in the coming months, to make sure that we also have an extension of European competencies in the public health sector. It is absolutely necessary,” he says.
Especially because, according to the statesman, “in the last few months there has been a growing understanding” in the Member States that “performance is necessary and characterized by actions taken together”.
“I think we are now where we should have been at the start of the crisis,” he points out.
Then he addressed the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 in the European Union, which has been criticized for being late in countries such as the United Kingdom or the United States, Juncker says that he is “accustomed to the fact that every time something goes wrong, the Commission is accused of being the root of the problems that occur.” “.
For the former Commission president, the joint acquisition of vaccines by the societal executive was a “good step for the European Union” which, at first, “did not achieve much success” because “the Commission and governments” believed that if vaccines were available they would allow “all Europeans to be vaccinated easily.” In a few months’ time, it turned out to be “not possible.”
“But now the vaccination campaign has been organized in a way that makes it possible to achieve the goal of vaccinating 70% of the population of Europe by the end of the summer and the beginning of the fall. Therefore, I think things have improved,” he confirms.
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