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Source: European Parliament

Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) confers health policy competences on the Union, in keeping with the objective of protecting citizens against threats to health. There are agencies, legislation and mechanisms for joint cooperation, coordination and exchange of information (ECDC, Member States, WHO and others).

On 31 January 2020, the WHO said that it had declared the outbreak a ‘public emergency of international concern’ and suggested that it would still be possible to prevent the spread of the virus, setting out strong measures to protect public health, raise awareness and inform people about the risks. At that point the virus had reached 19 countries outside China, four of them in the EU. The WHO also called for critical risk and event information to be notified to all communities and for misinformation to be countered, highlighting, for example, the importance of contributing to the international response through communication and enhancing knowledge of the virus and the disease.

Given these recommendations, and in the context of the EU’s communication policy:

What recommendations did the Commission make to Member States in this regard? What did the recommendations consist of and when were they made?

What steps has the EU taken and recommended as regards the provision of information to the public? What did these steps consist of and when were they taken?

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