• 18-SEP-2014

  • SOURCE: S&D Group at European Parliament

MEPs push for EU Emergency Plan to Fight Ebola Epidemic

Following an emergency debate with the European Commission and European Council, S&D MEPs voted for a strong resolution calling for an EU emergency plan to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The package would be set up under the co-ordination of the European Commission and approved by the Council.

Since March 2014, the Ebola outbreak has affected more than 4000 people and caused almost 2000 deaths. It has now reached five countries in West Africa (Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Guinea) and its spread is fast accelerating. Reports from both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and non-governmental organisations on the ground are alarming as they warn that we are losing the war against Ebola and denounce a 'global coalition of inaction'.

Norbert Neuser, S&D MEP and spokesperson on development co-operation and humanitarian aid, said:
"We seriously underestimated Ebola. The international community must mobilise to contain the epidemic. It is not only about the disease however. Ebola also has consequences for food insecurity as trade and food harvesting are severely limited. The Western African countries affected could face an economic drop of up to 11% according to the World Bank. We have to look seriously at food supply if we want to avoid chaos and even more deaths."

Kathleen Van Brempt, S&D MEP and vice-president in charge of public health, said:
"The €140 million released by the European Commission to fight Ebola in West Africa is one of the steps required, but further action is needed. First of all, we need co-ordinated action at EU level between the Commission and member states. We have to invest in research on the disease and work on a vaccine. But we must also work very closely with the African countries involved. We should listen to them and see how the EU can best help.

"The resolution, which was led by the S&D Group, was adopted with a clear majority.

Linda McAvan, chair of the European Parliament's development committee, said:
"We call for this urgent ministerial summit to approve a common strategy for immediate solutions to contain the epidemic. However, we should not let this be another forgotten crisis once it leaves the headlines in the news. Through the development committee, we will look into long-term solutions to strengthen health systems and avoid new epidemics."