Crisis preparedness and response


Monitoring, early warning, and responsive measures to combat serious cross-border threats to health are essential elements to ensuring a high level of health protection in the European Union. EU action in this area is primarily intended to support and complement actions taken by individual EU countries.

Communicable diseases, biological or chemical agents, and environmental factors all have the potential to result in serious cross-border threats. Antimicrobial resistance is also a growing public health problem that requires an adequate level of preparedness and response.

Although rates of infectious diseases in the EU have fallen or remained stable in recent years, the pandemic influenza (H1N1) in 2009, the 2011 E. Coli outbreak in Germany, the Ebola virus in 2014, or Zika in 2016 all show that new infections can emerge at any time.

EU Cross-border Action

An early EU-wide response is therefore important in addressing serious cross-border health threats as soon as they emerge. A key milestone in building a stronger EU health security framework was the adoption of a Decision in 2013 to improve preparedness and strengthen capacity for a coordinated response to health emergencies.

This legislation was an important step forward in improving health security in the EU and in protecting citizens from a wide range of health threats. It supports EU countries to prepare for and protect citizens against possible future pandemics and serious cross-border threats by:

  • Strengthening preparedness planning capacity at EU level by reinforcing co-ordination and best practice and information sharing on national preparedness planning
  • Improving risk assessment and management of cross-border health threats including for non-communicable diseases for which no EU Agency is in charge
  • Establishing the necessary arrangements for the development and implementation of a joint procurement of medical countermeasures
  • Enhancing the coordination of an EU-wide response by providing a solid legal mandate to the Health Security Committee to co-ordinate preparedness
  • Strengthening the coordination of risk and crisis communication, and fostering international cooperation


Video - Crisis Management for health threats in the EU

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