Member States react to increasing burden on health sector

by RPP
Weekly European political updates

Member States react to increasing burden on health sector

Europe is a colourful continent in terms of policies and outcomes. It is essential to stay updated on how these policies may impact your work to build better regulatory frameworks, enhance your message and enhance communication with stakeholders. Here you can find a summary of the major European political updates of this week.    


United Kingdom

On 14 October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a new three-tiered local COVID-19 alert system, sparking discord within a previously unified political front on new measures. The tiered system designates local authorities according to medium, high and very high COVID-19 risk. Strict measures are implemented in each area, with the highest risk area, currently only the Liverpool region, being subjected to rules such as the mandatory closure of pubs and bars not serving meals. Opposition Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer broke his tradition of critical support to call for a two- to three-week long ‘circuit breaker’ national lockdown which is harsher than the ‘very high’ tier. Notwithstanding this, the Opposition did not oppose the introduction of the tiered system in Parliamentary session on 13 October. The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advised a circuit breaker to be implemented immediately, since it would end up saving around 3,000 lives with the lowest projected viral reproductive rate.



According to Minister of Research Anja Karliczek (Christian Democratic Union, CDU), a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus could be available in Germany by mid-2021. Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) is even more optimistic, counting on a vaccine as early as the first quarter of the coming year. The reason for his optimism is that the German government has made funds available for three different research companies.

In other news, the so-called “accommodation ban” in 12 out of 16 German federal states was introduced, wherein individuals from other high-risk areas in Germany cannot visit the 12 federal states unless they have been tested negative for COVID-19. The ban has sparked heavy criticism from several high-ranking politicians including Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU), who stated that unified rules within Germany regarding the pandemic are essential for public compliance.



On 14 October, the Council of Ministers decreed the increase of restrictions and enforced a State of Calamity in Portugal as of 15 October, for 15 days. Eight new measures were introduced, including additional monitoring of compliance. The State of Calamity is the highest level that can be declared under the Civil Protection Base Law and follows the Alert and Contingency states.

On the same day, the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan was presented in Lisbon after its approval by the Council of Ministers and was subsequently delivered to the European Commission. Portugal will receive €15.3 billion in non-repayable grants, including €13.2 billion until 2023 through the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, which is the main instrument of the Recovery Fund. In a speech on the State Budget for 2021 (OE20201) given on 13 October, Prime Minister António Costa mentioned that in view of the pandemic, bargaining on healthcare allocations is not acceptable.



With the spike in COVID-19 cases and the increasing burden on hospitals, press reports have indicated that Belgium is now the second most affected European country, just ahead of the Czech Republic. In attempt to facilitate contact tracing, the governmental “Coronalert app” has been implemented. Although it does not record the location, it utilises Bluetooth to notify users on whether they were next to a COVID-19 positive person.


You can find more information on European news in our EU national elections heatmap, where we provide an overarching perspective with key political insight for individual countries. Make sure to check it here


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