EU NEIGHBOURS. The European Commission is to set up a Team Europe mechanism to structure the provision of vaccines shared by Member States with partner countries, paying special attention to the Eastern and Southern neighbourhood, the Western Balkans and Africa.
The measure is one of a number of actions set out in the European Commission’s Communication: A united front to beat COVID-19, adopted on 19 January, two days ahead of the meeting of European leaders on a coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The vaccine sharing mechanism would act as a single point for requests and a pipeline through which initial doses can be provided, possibly through COVAX, the global initiative to ensure equitable and fair access to safe and effective vaccines. Numbers would increase as supplies of vaccines increase, and until COVAX is able to supply large enough volumes directly from companies.
“This unprecedented exercise of solidarity needs to be accompanied by direct communication to Europeans and a dedicated communication campaign in partner countries to explain the principle that no one is safe until everyone is safe,” the Communication said.
Team Europe has already mobilised €853 million in support of COVAX, making the EU as a whole COVAX’s biggest donor.
The European Commission calls on Member States to accelerate the roll-out of vaccination across the EU, aiming to have vaccinated a minimum of 70% of the adult population by summer 2021.
“Now we need to accelerate the delivery and speed up vaccination,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. “Our aim is to have 70% of our adult population vaccinated by summer. That could be a turning point in our fight against this virus. However, we will only end this pandemic when everyone in the world has access to vaccines. We will step up our efforts to help secure vaccines for our neighbours and partners worldwide.”
The Commission will continue to work with Member States on vaccination certificates which can be recognised and used in health systems across the EU in full compliance with EU data protection law – and scaled up globally through the certification systems of the World Health Organisation. A common approach is to be agreed by the end of January 2021 to allow Member States’ certificates to be rapidly useable in health systems across the EU and beyond.
The European Commission also suggests to strongly discourage all non-essential travel until the epidemiological situation has considerably improved and maintain proportionate travel restrictions, including testing of travellers, for those travelling from areas with a higher incidence of variants of concern.
Photo: European Union