Lenarčič says need for cooperation main lesson of pandemic

Ljubljana – European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič noted in an online debate on the EU’s preparedness for natural disasters that the main lesson of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that it is better to cooperate, even in matters that are clearly in the jurisdiction of member states.

The debate hosted on Tuesday by the European Commission Representation focused on how to better prepare Europe for future crises such as pandemics, extreme weather conditions, earthquakes or cybersecurity incidents.

Slovenia’s EU Commissioner Lenarčič said that many lessons had already been learned during the ongoing pandemic, adding that the European Commission and members states were making a significant contribution to strengthening the European protection and rescue system.

The pandemic has revealed the problems when the entire union is affected, and the system of strategic reserves only for member states turned out to be ineffective in the first wave of the pandemic last spring as there was a shortage of medical equipment.

For this reason, EU member states have greenlit the creation of strategic reserves of medical equipment at the EU level, the commissioner added.

It turned out that cooperation between member states is of key importance, which showed in particular in vaccination strategies and, after all, in the creation of a joint plan for recovery after the pandemic.

Igor Senčar, a state secretary in the prime minister’s office, said that looking for and creating solutions for better preparedness for future crises was one of the priorities of Slovenia’s EU presidency in the second half of the year.

He noted that EU needed greater autonomy in the production of critical products, such as medical equipment, drugs or vaccines, and announced a lot of effort as part of the presidency in drafting relevant legislative instruments.

Jelena Juvan, a defence studies professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences, said that the EU would need to come up with realistic crisis scenarios and establish on this basis what it had at its disposal, and then make the necessary adjustments.

Juvan noted that the pandemic had shown to be a very complex crisis at several levels that nobody had been prepared for. Concurrent crises, such as earthquakes in Croatia, for examples, will represent additional problems, she added.

Franc Dolenc, an expert in interactive multimedia services, pointed to the importance of communication infrastructure security, including physical security, and not only cyber security of data.

It must be ensured that a protection and rescue system functions also in the case of earthquake, when mobile services could be suspended, and that this needed to be borne in mind already when such infrastructure was being built.