Following a request for assistance from Czechia, the EU is immediately sending a first batch of 30 ventilators from rescEU - the common European reserve of medical equipment set up earlier this year to help countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
President von der Leyen said: “Czechia is facing one of the most difficult situations in Europe right now. The number of coronavirus cases is rising rapidly. And it needs medical equipment to treat patients in hospitals. We do not leave our European friends alone in these hard times. The European Commission is mobilising medical material through our Civil Protection Mechanism. I just called the Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to tell him that we are dispatching rapidly to Czechia a set of 30 ventilators from our RescEU reserve. We created this reserve in record time in spring, to stockpile essential medical material that we can send to European countries in need. And we are in touch with other EU countries, to mobilise more ventilators for the Czech Republic. We are in this together.”
”We have been working around the clock to avoid a repetition of the situation experienced at the end of February, when whole EU was overwhelmed in the fight against the pandemic. We created the rescEU medical reserve so no Member State is left alone when dealing with the same challenge. After already delivering protective face masks across Europe, this will be the first time the European Commission is dispatching ventilators from the EU level reserve,” said Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič*.*
The EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre is in constant contact with authorities in Czech and more EU assistance can be channelled in the coming days via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, coming from Member States. In order to give Member States time to assess their response capacity and taking into account the gravity of the situation in the Czech Republic, the EU has proactively initiated the rescEU deployment of medical reserve.
The rescEU capacity can include different types of medical equipment, such as protective masks or medical ventilators used in intensive care, and is constantly replenished. The reserve is hosted by several Member States who are responsible for procuring the equipment. The European Commission finances 100% of the assets, including storage and transport. Currently 6 EU countries host rescEU: Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Sweden and Romania.
The strategic medical capacity is part of the wider rescEU reserve, including other capacities such as aerial firefighting means and medical evacuation capacities. The rescEU reserve constitutes the last resort layer of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which can be activated for all type of natural and man-made hazards. EU Member States, the UK (during the transition period), Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey participate in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
The Emergency Response Coordination Centre then manages the distribution of the equipment to ensure it goes where it is needed most, based on the needs expressed by countries requesting EU assistance under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Earlier on in the outbreak, via the Civil Protection Mechanism, the Commission mobilised European Medical Teams for Italy composed of nurses and doctors, helped dispatch disinfectants, masks and ventilators across Europe, as well as repatriating more than 80,000 EU citizens on EU funded flights.