EU leaders on Friday said the bloc will continue its contribution to a program for “guaranteeing affordable and fair access to vaccines for all.”
“Vaccination should be treated as a global public good. The EU will continue its efforts to contribute to the international response to the pandemic, including via the COVAX facility for guaranteeing affordable and fair access to vaccines for all,” said the bloc in a conclusion statement from an EU Council meeting.
The European Council welcomed member states’ coordination efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to strengthen coordination to prepare for the gradual lifting of travel bans for tourism purposes if the situation allows.
The leaders asked the EU Commission to draw up advice on the use of rapid antigen tests and mutual recognition of test results as well as coordinated documentation of vaccinations.
The council also emphasized the importance of timely delivery and distribution of vaccines and the development of national vaccination strategies.
The security section of the meeting’s conclusion stressed that the EU is unified in the fight against radicalization, violent extremism, and terrorism.
The declaration denounced all attacks on freedom of thought, religion and belief, pointing to the importance of preventing radicalization and addressing the ideology behind terrorism.
EU leaders called for the swift adoption of legislation that would allow the removal of terrorist content online.
The European Council also called for “ensuring that religious education and training are in line with European fundamental rights and values, and addressing foreign influencing of national civil and religious organisations through non-transparent financing.”
Budget and recovery package
EU leaders also welcomed agreement on the €1.8 trillion ($2.18 trillion) long-term budget and COVID-19 recovery package, which was previously vetoed by Poland and Hungary over a clause linking distribution of funds to the rule of law in EU member states.
“The application of the conditionality mechanism under the Regulation will be objective, fair, impartial and fact-based, ensuring due process, non-discrimination and equal treatment of Member States,” said the conclusion statement, adding that a European Court of Justice ruling on the rule of law conditionality mechanism will apply.
EU leaders also agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990.
“All Member States will participate in this effort, taking into account considerations of fairness and solidarity, while leaving no one behind,” said the conclusion statement.
The leaders also welcomed the European Investment Bank’s support of €1 trillion in climate and environmental investments by 2030.
Relations with the US
EU leaders stressed the importance of strong strategic transatlantic relations with the new Joe Biden administration in the US based on common interests and values.
“The EU looks forward to working together with the United States, in particular to reinforce the global response to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, tackle climate change, enhance the economic recovery, cooperate on digital and technological matters, strengthen mutual trade, address trade disputes, reform the WTO, and promote multilateralism as well as peace and security,” said the conclusion.
“We stand ready to discuss shared priorities with the new President of the United States,” it added.
Biden is set to take office on Jan. 20.