A regional EU stockpile of medical equipment could be established in Lithuania after the country's government backed the plan on Wednesday.
The European Commission plans to establish a strategic stockpile of medical equipment, hosted by 4-6 member states. A first depot could be opened in the near future to prepare for a possible second wave of the novel coronavirus.
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"A number of countries are already submitting their applications to host regional stockpiles,” Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevic said in a statement. “Lithuania has an advantage due to its convenient geographical position, [which] would allow serving neighbouring EU member states."
Lithuania would be responsible for purchasing and storing the personal protective equipment, ventilators, and later, vaccines and medicines.
The EU would fund 100 percent of the costs, and the storage facilities would be built for 3-7 years. The European Commission would be responsible for the distribution of the goods.
Lithuania plans to submit an official application to the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations by May 29.
CORRECTION: The earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that the regional EU medical equipment stockpile in Lithuania "will" be established. The application still needs to be approved by the EU.