The call for new members to apply to the existing European Reference Networks was opened in 2019 and the review and assessment of the received applications are ongoing. However, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers and health professionals in the European Union are fully devoted to addressing the ongoing public health crisis.
In most cases, the reviewers representing the ERN Boards are regular physicians who play key roles as head of departments of the institutional crisis teams and have to currently spend the vast majority of their time to the urgently needed prioritized healthcare. In addition, the applicants are also healthcare providers who are in the same situation and they are currently unable to comply with the deadlines provided by the Implementing Decision 2014/287/EU.
Therefore, the European Commission has adopted the ‘Implementing Decision (EU) 2020/534 of 16 April 2020 suspending the examination of applications for membership of existing European Reference Networks’. This means that the assessment procedure will be paused from 1 April until 31 August 2020. The examination process should resume on 1 September 2020 and the suspended time limits should continue running from that date.
Obviously this news will be disappointing to the centres who are eager to hear the outcome of their applications and to begin working in the ERNs, but in these unprecedented circumstances, we are sure they will understand. We look forward to welcoming eUROGEN’s new members towards the end of the year.