Print version

Oops! … EU Did It Again! The EU’s Preference for Global Treaties vis-a-vis the Reality of WHO Politics


The European Union (EU) emerged as an agenda-setter in the World Health Organization (WHO) negotiations for a Pandemic Treaty. However, rather than endorsing the EU proposal of a binding treaty, the negotiators agreed upon a two-track process, aimed both at negotiating a Framework Convention and revising existing WHO regulations. Why did the EU achieve only partial results in the ongoing negotiations? Concerns for the defence of national sovereignty and uncertainties around its potential to effectively deliver equal access to health resources informed the position of states that vetoed the EU’s proposal. Furthermore, the EU’s principled preference for international treaties, despite the crisis of multilateral governance, has demonstrated lack of flexibility in the way the EU addresses global challenges. Instead of streamlining WHO operations, the two-track process is expected to increase the complexity of the organisation’s response to future pandemics.
Keywords: World Health Organization; European Union; Pandemic Treaty; normative power