The European Commission wants to be able to force suppliers to give priority to the EU if it needs certain products in times of crisis.
The union must learn from the hunt for face masks and corona vaccines during the pandemic, and the tug-of-war over natural gas and other fuels since the conflict with Russia flared up.
The European Union must be able to defend itself if supply lines falter and shortages arise, according to the EU’s executive board. Now Europe is sometimes left behind when, for example, the United States demands scarce products with the help of emergency legislation.
The committee, therefore, asks for powers to secure the supply of essential products in times of crisis. It should be able to impose minimum stockpiling, reorganize supply lines and increase or start product production. To this end, companies must show what they are doing and what they can do.
In an emergency, the committee should be able to instruct a company to produce, for example, a virus inhibitor, a fuel or a portion of food for the EU. Naturally, such a company must have very good reasons for a refusal. If it does not have these and does not comply with the order, periodic penalty payments and fines may follow.
The business community and several EU countries are reluctant to intervene so deeply in the free market and give the committee room to do so. Responsible European Commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Thierry Breton swear that Brussels is not after a “planned economy” but only wants to be able to adjust if the need is right. The plans require the approval of the EU countries and the European Parliament.