Free movement of goods is essential to fight the corona pandemic

DATE March 21st, 2020

European university hospitals urgently call on national authorities to keep European borders open for the supply of medical equipment.

The ‘European University Hospital Alliance’ or EUHA, a partnership of nine of Europe’s largest university hospitals, is sounding the alarm and urging that European rules on the open market be respected even in times of crisis. This is necessary to ensure a smooth supply of medical equipment, such as mouth masks and respirators.

Decisions on health care are mainly taken at the national level, but the free movement of goods is a European matter. Hospitals across Europe are finding that certain suppliers are no longer able to supply the necessary protective equipment or certain medical devices because national governments interfere with supplies to other countries. This can endanger the supply of hospitals. The European University Hospital Alliance (EUHA) therefore urgently appeals to national governments and the European commission to respect internal market agreements.

The COVID-19 virus poses major logistical challenges for hospitals. There is an increasing national reflex of every country taking care of itself in the supply of hospitals. However, it is vitally important that the principles of the open market can continue to play a role, so that medical suppliers can also continue to supply foreign customers and the hospitals remain able to fight this pandemic. Closing borders for medical supplies can be disastrous for the whole of Europe.