Skip to content
Policy intervention | 2 October 2014

European Leaders Call for Heads of State Meeting on Ebola Crisis

European Heads-of-State Must Meet to Coordinate Response to Ebola Crisis, Eminent Group of European Security Officials Say.

And action, not words, must mark the response.


The statement in full reads as follows:

Six months after the Ebola outbreak started in a village in Guinea, tens of thousands of people – maybe many more – across multiple countries are threatened.  Today, the disease threatens to expand across additional borders, far outstripping the ability of health care systems and workers to respond. Here are the facts:

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns in a new report that without additional interventions, the Ebola virus could infect up to 1.4 million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone by January. To date, the recorded death toll stands at about 3,000 but officials say it is likely 2.5 times more than that, and infections are increasing exponentially with every infected person infecting at least two more people.
  • West Africa, like many regions in the world, has a weak public health system incapable of handling this problem alone. Hospitals and clinics have been overwhelmed by the Ebola outbreak.
  • The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine warns that the disease could mutate to the point where it is much more easily transmissible. “The epidemiologic outlook is bleak,” the World Health Organization said in a report published in the Journal.
  • An unchecked infectious disease outbreak could lead to panic, economic collapse and destabilized – even toppled – governments in the region. But the effects will not be confined to West Africa. At a time of increased travel, immigration and trade, as well as the greater resilience of disease microbes, the effects will soon go global.
  • The infection is already having a crippling effect on economies. The World Bank’s chief economist for Africa says the virus could cost Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone alone as much as $1 billion.
  • Virtually every organization addressing and monitoring developments in West Africa says a much more robust international response is needed immediately. Government leaders, non-governmental organizations, charities and the private sector all must dramatically step up efforts and work together, across borders, to address the crisis before it reaches catastrophic proportions.


Elevating the Response to Head-of-State-Level

We need urgently to elevate international cooperation on this challenge and other public health issues to European and global head-of-state-level. This has been done in recent years on issues like the security of weapons usable nuclear materials and it should be the response triggered now by the Ebola crisis. Ministers of health can take significant steps towards building global capacity, but presidents and prime ministers can bring needed momentum and impetus for the bold and urgent action needed.

For the long term good of humanity, we need much greater investment of political attention, and resources must be made available across the spectrum from disease prevention, surveillance, early warning, rapid detection, public education and effective crisis communication. We know there will be more pandemics in future and the world remains ill prepared to meet what will be major threats to global human security.


The Required Immediate Response

But the UN has also made clear what the urgent requirement is for today and tomorrow. Pledges of money are welcome but not enough.

The UN has listed a host of additional resources that are needed immediately. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Provision of additional capacity to conduct strategic airlift of 3,200 metric tonnes of globally provided equipment and materials to the Accra (Ghana) logistics hub, together with assistance in moving 350+ UN 4×4 vehicles available to be moved to affected countries;
  • Provision of additional medium and heavy life helicopters (10+), capable and crewed to conduct day and night operations in all weathers to distribute material, supplies and personnel throughout the affected area. At the moment, the world should feel shame that it is seeking to respond to this threat with only six helicopters;
  • Provision of additional mobile air traffic control and radar capacities, capable of working alongside existing air traffic arrangements in affected countries, to handle the anticipated increase in scale and distribution of incoming aviation assets;
  • Additional capacity to conduct sealift of equipment and materials from Accra to port facilities in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea;
  • Provision of generators to help power medical, treatment and isolation centres, communications and transport hubs and community facilities;
  • Provision of 200 flatbed trucks capable of moving equipment and supplies across difficult road infrastructure, together with 350 cars and 45 ambulances to assist with materials and personnel movement;
  • Scoping and provision of enhanced telecommunications capacities across the region to enable integrated, flexible and sustainable communications and to allow reporting and tracking of all forward deployed mobile elements of the response;
  • Provision of a range of transportable, rapidly erectable and easily maintainable storage facilities including some capable of temperature control for the warehousing, storage and distribution of  food and medical supplies;
  • Provision and distribution of over 1 million pre-designed and printed materials in leaflet, poster and billboard format to assist with the public education and social mobilisation campaign in the region;
  • Provision, equipping and movement of up to 12 Ebola treatment units.

The list goes on and member states, private sector organisations and others wishing to help can engage directly with the UN Ebola Crisis Centre by e-mail at [email protected].

The Ebola threat is a threat to us all and the response must be a demonstration our common humanity. We urge all leaders capable of providing assistance, in all sectors, to take action today, and to show the necessary commitment and leadership for all our futures.



1. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Deputy Chair of The Elders and Board Member of the United Nations Foundation

2. Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, current Conservative MP in the UK Parliament, current chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee and former British Defence Secretary and former Foreign Secretary

3. Lord Browne of Ladyton (Des Browne), former British Defence Secretary, current Chair of the ELN and Member of the UK House of Lords

4. Paul Quilès, former Defence Minister and former President of the Defence and Armed Forces Committee of the National Assembly of France

5. Elisabeth Rehn, former Defence Minister of Finland, current Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims, at the International Criminal Court

6. Admiral the Lord West of Spithead (Alan West), former First Sea Lord of the British Navy and current member of the House of Lords

7. Professor Klaas de Vries, former Minister of Home Affairs, Netherlands

8. Volker Rühe, former German Defence Minister

9. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen (George Robertson), former Defence Secretary, former Secretary General of NATO

10. Lord David Owen, former British Foreign Secretary; Independent Social Democrat Peer in the House of Lords

11. Sir Menzies Campbell MP, current Liberal Democrat MP in the UK Parliament, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the UK Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

12. Charles Clarke, Former Home Secretary, UK

13. General the Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank (Charles Guthrie), former Chief of the Defence Staff and Crossbench Peer in the UK House of Lords

14. Lord Hurd (Douglas Hurd), former Foreign Secretary, Conservative Peer in the House of Lords

15. Lord King of Bridgwater (Tom King), former Defence Secretary, Conservative Peer in the House of Lords

16. Giorgio La Malfa, Former Minister of European Affairs of Italy

17. Ambassador Özdem Sanberk, Director of the International Strategic Research Organisation and former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey

18. Ambassador Vyacheslav Trubnikov, former Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, current member of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) and member of the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (EASI)

19. Pierre Lellouche, current UMP member of parliament, former Secretary of State for Foreign Trade and former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

20. Tarja Cronberg, Former Member of the European Parliament, Former Chair of the European Parliament Iran delegation, Former member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Subcommittee of Security and Defence

21. Bob Ainsworth MP, Current Labour MP in the UK Parliament, former Defence Secretary Member of Foreign Affairs Committee

22. Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, current Advisor to Jaakko Laajava, Under-Secretary of State in the Finnish Foreign Ministry and 2012 Middle East Conference; former Swedish Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament

23. Sir Nick Harvey, Member of Parliament and former Minister of State for the Armed Forces

24. Ambassador Boris Pankin, Ambassador of RF (Ret), former  Foreign Minister of the USSR (1991)

25. Baroness Williams of Crosby (Shirley Williams), ICNND Commissioner, Advisor on Non-Proliferation issues to Gordon Brown, former Leader of the House of Lords and Peer in the House of Lords

26. Ambassador Jaakko Blomberg, former Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland

27. Ambassador Carlo Trezza, Member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General for Disarmament Matters and Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime

28. Ambassador Tedo Japaridze, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and former Minister of Foreign Affairs

29. Silvestri Stefano, President of the International Affairs Institute of Italy, consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministries of Defence and Industry

30. Ambassador Balázs Csuday, Current Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Vienna

31. Fatmir Mediu, former Albanian Defence Minister

32. Professor Francesco Calogero, Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics at the Italy Universita di Roma La Sapienza, former Secretary General of Pugwash

33. Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch, former EU Special Envoy to Kosovo and former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina

34. Ambassador Alexander Bessmertnykh, former Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Soviet Ambassador to Washington

35. Professor Ivo Šlaus, former member of parliament and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Croatia. Honourary President of the World Academy of Art and Science and member of the Club of Rome.

36. Professor Raimo Väyrynen, former Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs

37. Louis Michel, current member of the European Parliament (MEP), former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium

38. Simon Lunn, former Secretary General to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

39. Professor the Lord Ara Darzi of Denham PC KBE FRS, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London


Download the group statement here.


The opinions articulated above represent the views of the signatories, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security challenges of our time.