The 27 EU leaders agreed on Thursday to keep “tight restrictions” on public life and free movement in place as the bloc races against the emergence of new variants that may hamper an economic rebound. https://www.eudebates.tv/debates/eu-policies/health-eu-policies/european-alarm-for-the-increased-threat-of-variants/
Today we focused on five critical areas in our fight against COVID-19: vaccinations; new variants; travel restrictions; vaccine certificates and international solidarity. We also discussed the lessons learned from this crisis — to strengthen our health systems and improve our EU coordination.
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Our top priority now is speeding up the production and delivery of vaccines, and vaccinations, across the EU. That’s why we support the Commission’s efforts to work with industry — to identify bottlenecks, guarantee supply chains, and scale up production. And we want more predictability and transparency — to ensure that pharmaceutical companies comply with their commitments.
We face new variants, so we need to adapt our strategy. We must continue to identify mutations as early as possible. That’s why enhancing our sequencing capacity is key to these efforts. And we need to continue to invest in vaccine research to update our vaccines.
When it comes to travel, we need to respect the common approach we agreed:
– Non-essential travel may still need to be restricted but measures should be proportionate.
– And we must ensure the flow of goods and services in the single market, by making use of the Green Lanes.
I trust the Commission to make sure that these principles are respected.
We also discussed vaccination certificates. We agreed to continue our work on a common approach. More work needs to be done – on digitalisation and on cooperation with the World Health Organisation. But tonight we felt more and more convergence among us on this important topic. The European Council will revert to this matter.
This pandemic is global. We won’t be safe until everyone is safe. So we reaffirmed our solidarity with third countries — through COVAX and the sharing of vaccines with our neighbourhood, and beyond. For instance, just yesterday, 600.000 doses of COVAX vaccines were sent to Ghana — the first to be shipped and delivered. With more than 2,2 billion euro already donated by the EU and Member States, we are a leading contributor to COVAX. And we agreed to continue working on a way to share vaccines. And especially health workers should be among the first protected. Our help should go to all those in need, including in Africa, Western Balkans, Eastern Partnership and Latin America.