EU leaders clear way for Covid recovery package

EU leaders at a summit Friday reached a deal to address the concerns expressed on the EU’s recovery package and the draft Regulation on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the EU budget. The European Council is now inviting the European Parliament and the Council to take necessary steps for adoption of the whole package of relevant instruments, including the multiannual financial framework regulation and the own resources decision. Leaders have confirmed that member states would do their utmost to approve the Own Resources Decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements with a view to its prompt entry into force.

Regarding COVID-19, the summit welcomed positive news on vaccines and the conclusion of common advance purchase agreements by the Commission. However, they stressed that the epidemiological situation in Europe remains worrying. The leaders called for efforts to counter the spread of the virus to be sustained, to prevent further waves of infections. In particular, the leaders agreed to enhance the sharing of experiences and plans for the future and prepare for a gradual lifting of restrictions and a return to normal travel, when the situation allows. The European Council also highlighted the need to pursue work to increase resilience in the area of health.

EU leaders have invited the Commission to present a proposal for a Council recommendation on a common framework for rapid antigen tests and for the mutual recognition of test results. A coordinated approach to vaccination certificates should also be developed. They further highlighted the importance of preparations for the timely deployment and distribution of vaccines to ensure they are made available in good time and in a coordinated manner. They also stressed the importance of providing clear factual information on vaccines and of countering disinformation.

The leaders also discussed the global efforts against the pandemic and restated that the EU will continue to contribute to the international response, including via the COVAX facility for guaranteeing affordable and fair access to vaccines for all. Finally, to better anticipate and manage potential future pandemics the EU will promote ways to reinforce international cooperation, including through a possible international treaty on pandemics within the framework of the World Health Organization.

Source: EUbusiness

Author: Tuula Pohjola