The European Union was not ready for COVID-19, despite the history of the spread of serious infectious diseases and the presence of special services and road maps. The cost of COVID-19 and its cascading effects is still adding up and may soon exceed 3 trillion euros. The probability of such events to occur is difficult to calculate. This is particularly true for new health threats, since mutations occur completely randomly.
On a global scale, infectious disease epidemics are occurring more often, and spreading faster and further than ever. Threats to public health do not stop at national borders, as shown by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Diseases can spread rapidly across borders through travel, trade in human and animal food, insects and other disease carriers.
What can be done to ensure that Europe is ready for the next pandemic or bioterrorism threat? How can we effectively set up strategic crisis management, including foresight and risk monitoring in the public health sector? What are the gaps in coordination and unclear competences at different governance levels, and how can they be solved? Is the ‘one health’ approach the right path for Europe? Are there any good examples we can learn from?