Monday

26th Jul 2021

EU vaccine-sharing could have 'strategic' value

  • Kiev: Ukraine, as well as Georgia and Moldova, want to join the EU (Photo: Marco Fieber)

The EU should share corona-vaccines with former Soviet countries on its eastern flank, according to 13 foreign ministers from member states in the region.

"We believe that our borders will not be safe if we do not extend our support to our immediate neighbours. Our Eastern Partners have on numerous occasions expressed their appreciation for the EU's Covid-related assistance and pleaded for facilitated access to the vaccine," the ministers said in a letter to the European Commission on Wednesday (6 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The "Eastern Partners" are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Some of them, such as Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, want to join the EU in future.

Two of them - Azerbaijan and Belarus - are dictatorships with no interest in reform, while Armenia is being held back by Russia from building closer EU ties, amid competition for influence in the region.

Belarus, which is under EU sanctions, has also deliberately infected opposition activists with Covid-19, by packing them into crowded cells with known corona-sufferers, as a means of terrorising the pro-democracy movement there.

But despite all that, EU vaccine-aid, would "send a strong and coordinated message on the strategic value of the EaP [Eastern Partnership, an EU policy for building closer ties with the six states]," the 13 EU ministers said.

"We are confident that our efforts will be appreciated by the governments and civil society of the EU Eastern Partners and will increase the visibility of the geopolitical efforts of the commission and of the whole EU," they added.

The EU already had a vaccine-support scheme for Western Balkan countries, they noted.

The 13 ministers came from EU states on or near to its eastern borders - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Sweden.

The EU already was already in talks with Western Balkan governments on vaccine-sharing, they noted.

And it should also consider rolling out its generosity to North African and Middle Eastern countries in future, they added.

"Being aware of the pandemic situation in the southern neighbourhood, we should also be ready to support this group of countries, if they express their interest," the letter said.

For its part, the EU commission said the same day it was already "exploring" their ideas.

"Vaccines are a global public good," a commission spokeswoman told press in Brussels.

And EU institutions were in talks with member states to create a "mechanism for facilitating donation and resale of vaccines the have been obtained via EU advance purchases," from global pharmaceutical companies, the spokeswoman added.

"The EU is safe when all EU neighbours are safe," Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also said on Twitter.

"The current lack of vaccines is indeed temporary," he said.

EU agency authorises Moderna vaccine amid blame-game

The European Medicines Agency has authorised the use of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by US company Moderna - while the EU is involved in a blame-game over a sluggish vaccine rollout across member states.

EU leaders to discuss vaccine roll-out this month

EU leaders regularly held video-conferences to coordinate the pandemic reaction last year, but countries and EU institutions recently began a blame-game over the sluggish roll-out of vaccines.

EU faces long wait for full vaccine supplies

The EU is still several months away from having enough vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people, with Pfizer and BioNTech, its principle suppliers, aiming for September for delivery targets.

Commission silent as Germany buys own vaccines

The European Commission refused to comment on whether a bilateral deal between Germany and BioNTech for 30 million additional vaccines is a breach of EU collective purchase agreements - which forbid member states from negotiating separate deals.

Agenda

Vaccines in focus in the EU This WEEK

The European Parliament's environment committee will hear from the person who negotiated the vaccine contracts, commission director-general of health and food safety, Sandra Gallina.

Opinion

Together Europe can beat pandemics, Alzheimer's, cancer

Let's expand the EU with a Health Union where cutting edge research and world-class applications go hand in hand. For this, it is worth being European, believing in Europe, working on Europe, writes European People's Party leader Manfred Weber MEP.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us