Author Archives: Sybe de Vries

Sybe de Vries

About Sybe de Vries

Sybe de Vries is full professor of EU Single Market Law and Fundamental rights and since 2012 the Jean Monnet Chair. His research and his education focuses on EU Single market law and the interconnection between EU free movement law and fundamental rights. He is the Academic Director of the Utrecht Centre of Global Challenges - UGlobe, which is an international, interdisciplinary platform for research and education, centered around the theme of a contested global order and focusing on conflict & security, human rights, sustainability and development & equity: https://www.uu.nl/en/organisation/uglobe-the-utrecht-centre-for-global-challenges.

How Covid-19 reveals the tensions between the EU’s Single Market and the protection of public health

By Sybe de Vries

Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral (Bertold Brecht, 1928)

During these almost surreal weeks questions were frequently raised in the media and in politics why the EU Member States (and globally) have adopted different measures and strategies to contain the spread of the Corona virus. Especially within the context of the EU one may have expected a common approach to fight Covid-19. On the contrary, some even argued that Corona rather reveals the relatively poor status of European cooperation.

The problem in Europe is that the field of health is in principle a matter for the Member States. In most cases the EU could only adopt supportive action.  Whereas paragraph 1 of Article 168 TFEU reiterates that a high level of health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities, paragraphs 5 and 7 stipulate that harmonisation of national laws to protect and improve human health is excluded, and that management, organisation and delivery of medical care and health services are a matter and responsibility for the Member States. In other words, according to Article 6 TFEU, the protection and improvement of human health belongs to the EU’s supplementary competences.

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