Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: 'The greatest threat in Europe now is complacency'

“The greatest threat in Europe now is complacency. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over; and nobody is safe until we are all safe,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, addressing PACE's Standing Committee today by video-conference.

The impacts of COVID-19 “are enormous, not only in terms of lives lost, but also in the damage to livelihoods and related socio-economic consequences”, he pointed out. “It is a reminder that preparedness is not a cost but an investment in the future. It is also a reminder that we know what works, but we must act in solidarity and co-ordination with one another, nationally and internationally.”

Mr Ghebreyesus proposed three concrete steps for the WHO and PACE to take together. Firstly, to initiate a structured dialogue between the two bodies. Secondly, to seek PACE's support beyond the immediate context of the pandemic. Thirdly, to call for continued leadership by Europe in a spirit of solidarity.

“Our focus is on saving lives. At the end of the day, what matters is life, even if it is the life of one individual. That should be at the centre of everything we do, and everything we say,” Mr Ghebreyesus concluded.

While personally responding very positively to the three initiatives, PACE President Rik Daems thanked WHO Director General for such proposals, which he said will be “thoroughly looked at within the Parliamentary Assembly”.

“We are a multilateral organisation based on values and this is core business for us. Also, setting out standards in the long term is exactly what we do. And obviously, having a structured dialogue between our institutions is something that we very much welcome”, Mr Daems concluded.