Lenarčič sees need for greater EU role in health, civil protection
At present the Commission does not have the jurisdiction to buy protective masks, member states do.
Prior to the crisis member states would invoke subsidiarity if anyone had tried to give the Commission new powers, but now there is greater readiness among member states to accept a stronger role of the EU, Lenarčič said in a conversation with the Brussels correspondents of several media, including the STA.
As proof of this willingness, Lenarčič highlighted the endorsement of a strategic stockpile of medical equipment at the EU level.
Now, he plans to propose that the Commission directly order equipment for the strategic European stockpile, even as he acknowledges that he does not know whether the proposal will be accepted.
Lenarčič said it took the EU just a month to establish an operational strategic stockpile, but purchasing and warehousing are carried out by member states on a voluntary basis.
Romania and Germany are already taking part, whereas a total of five or six host countries are expected to participate in the end acting as regional hubs.
Lenarčič says it would have helped if the EU had more powers at the start of the epidemic, and greater powers are needed for the simple fact that problems occur when the system is based on solidarity and all countries get hit.
"We need a system for such cases, which are no longer merely theoretical," he said.
Stronger powers for the Commission are also instrumental in the event of a second wave of the pandemic or the outbreak of a different disease.
"We have to prepare for a new outbreak, not just the second wave of this one."