The European Commission and EU member states have undertaken a programme of work in the field of health security overseen by the Health Security Committee.
The Commission supports collaboration with the Global Health Security Initiative, launched in 2001 by the G-7 group of nations, Mexico and the European Union. At the December 2008 meeting in Brussels hosted by the European Commission, both groups agreed to strengthen collaboration in the following areas:
- risk and crisis communications
- laboratory capability enhancement
- early alerting and reporting of risks to health
- chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards
- pandemic influenza and medical countermeasures
They also agreed to participate in a joint cross-national exercise on risk and crisis communications in 2010.
European countries can also support efforts outside Europe to integrate public health and security thinking. For example, Europe can be a leader in backing WHO’s strategy of achieving global health security through the new International Health Regulations and other global initiatives. Europe can also help least-developed and developing countries reformulate their security and health policies to improve public health capabilities against pandemic, regional and indigenous health dangers. For example, recent European initiatives, such as the UK-led International Health Partnership and the French EU presidency’s work on social protection, have put the emphasis on international cooperation back in programmes of a horizontal nature – supporting the strengthening of health systems and not just targeting specific diseases.
Europe can become the world’s vanguard in finding ways to calibrate security and health interests in a sustainable manner in order to ensure what the then UN secretary-general Kofi Annan called biological security: the security of individuals and populations from intentionally caused and naturally occurring public health threats.