EU Joint Procurement Programme for PPE

Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons on 4th May 2020.

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Photo of Naseem Shah Naseem Shah Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

For what reasons the UK did not join the EU joint procurement programme for personal protective equipment.

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Owing to an initial communication problem, the UK did not receive the invitation in time to join the four EU joint procurements, including on PPE. We will, however, participate in the EU joint procurement scheme on therapeutics that is soon to launch, and we will consider participating in future schemes, including any on PPE, on the basis of public health requirements.

Photo of Naseem Shah Naseem Shah Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The UK has left the EU, but the NHS Confederation and other top health officials have warned that failing to continue co-operation would be a disaster for public health. Does the failure of working together over PPE signal a new approach by the Government that puts ideology before the nation’s health?

Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (International Trade) (Brexit and EU Negotiations), Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office) (Brexit and EU Negotiations)

It was good to hear reports this morning that the Government are getting behind the EU-led international initiatives to find a coronavirus vaccine. Given this approach, can the Minister confirm reports that the Government are now seeking to retain participation in the EU’s early warning and response system for pandemics, as requested by the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS Providers, and will they look again at participation in the European Medicines Agency?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that point. We will co-operate not just with our European neighbours, but with other countries in the fight against covid-19. He is right to say that the Prime Minister is joining the call today to ensure that we can support the effort to secure a vaccine. The effort to secure a vaccine is necessarily an international one. We will of course look pragmatically at how we can co-operate with our European friends and partners, but participation in the European Medicines Agency would involve, certainly at the moment, the acceptance of the European Court of Justice’s oversight, and that is not something the British people voted to do.