Ahead of the meeting of the European Council, to be held on Thursday 21, to discuss a coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Commission set out a number of actions needed to step up the fight against the pandemic.
EU leaders are expected to address ways to contain the risk of a potentially harsher third wave of infections, characterised by the more transmissible new variants of the virus, which are already present across Europe.
In a Communication adopted on January 19, the European Commission calls on Member States to:
- Speed up vaccination and vaccine supplies, so that by March 2021, Member States should have vaccinated a minimum of 80% of health and social care professionals and people over 80 years old. Additionally, by summer 2021, Member States should have vaccinated a minimum of 70% of the adult population;
- Ramping up testing and sequencing to control infections and new variants;
- Ensure the functioning of the Single Market, by adopting a common EU approach on defining incidence rates and also discourage non-essential travel until the epidemiological situation improves;
- Show international leadership and solidarity with its partners by setting up an EU Vaccine Sharing Mechanism to structure the provision of vaccines shared by Member States with partner countries through a Team Europe approach.
The coming weeks represent a great challenge for the whole of the EU. Before the benefits of vaccination reach a scale to allow the lifting of restrictions, the EU faces a major challenge to address the risk posed by new variants sparking wider and faster transmission of the virus.
The answer lies in working together, with unity, solidarity, coordination and vigilance.
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