Since 2015, Europe has been left reeling by terror attacks in France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. We have been shocked and saddened by these attacks and we mourn the victims. But we will not allow these atrocities to undermine our resilience, our compassion or our spirit of solidarity. Each of these terrible events also had something positive in common: the willingness of citizens to donate blood.
Today, on World Blood Donor Day, I call on EU citizens to demonstrate this continued compassion and solidarity in a tangible way and to become blood donors. Fittingly, the World Health Organization has chosen to focus on blood donation in emergencies as this year's theme, and I fully endorse the campaign message:
Don't wait until disaster strikes
It is vital that hospitals have a sufficient supply of all blood types at all times, so that in the unpredictable event of a crisis or emergency, doctors and surgeons are in the best position to save lives. As blood can only be stored for a limited period of time before use, there is a constant need for donations.
Let me point out that donated blood is not only needed in the event of a terrorist attack, it is also necessary for everyday medical emergencies such as car crashes, childbirth complications, and complex surgical procedures, amongst many others.
Every year, following donations by EU citizens, some 26 million units of blood are supplied and used in hospitals. My job as the European Health Commissioner is to help ensure that 1400 EU blood establishments apply the highest standards of quality and safety at every step - from collection to distribution. Patients' lives depend on it, and blood donors deserve the assurance that their donation will be put to good use.
The Commission is currently evaluating the 2002 blood Directive to ensure that it remains fit for purpose. As part of the evaluation, there is an ongoing public consultation of citizens and stakeholders, which runs until the end of August. Everyone who participates will have their voice heard, so I invite you to do so.
Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person, so allow me to repeat: Give blood. Give now. Give often.