The Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (HERA) department’s mission is to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to health emergencies. HERA, created in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, will anticipate threats and potential health crises, through intelligence gathering and building the necessary response capacities.
When an emergency hits, HERA will ensure the development, production and distribution of medicines, vaccines and other medical countermeasures – such as gloves and masks – that were often lacking during the first phase of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
HERA is a key pillar of the European Health Union. In her 2021 State of the Union address President von der Leyen stressed that the European Commission is now delivering the need to fill a gap in the EU's health emergency response and preparedness by having an HERA authority up and running.
HERA is designed to be a flexible structure and will be adapted as required. Its particularity is the governance change when in preparadeness phase and when in crisis phase. While respecting the institutional competences of the Commission and of the Member States and without prejudice to the institutional prerogative of the Commission, HERA will be assisted by the HERA Board.
HERA has the particularity to have 2 operating modes. During the preparedness phase HERA will work closely with Member States to analyse, identify, and priorities possible health threats. This will be the basis for strategic coordination for the development of medical countermeasures, and the industrial capacity to produce and supply those countermeasures.
During the crisis phase, HERA will rely on its anticipatory overall management system and deploy it in the context of an emergency framework activated by the Council on a proposal of the Commission where that is appropriate to the economic situation.
HERA operations require a significant and sustainable budget. Investing in prevention and preparedness now will result in a significantly lower human and economic cost later and will have a large return on investment – not only for the economy, but also for society and the health of European citizens.