"The news in recent days gives us a high degree of confidence"
Chancellor Angela Merkel is optimistic that the first vaccines could soon be approved for use in the EU. The news of the last few days regarding vaccine development gives us a high degree of confidence, stressed Angela Merkel on Thursday following a video conference with the EU heads of state and government. "In Europe too, we expect that the vaccines can be approved for use in December or very early next year," said Angela Merkel. "And then of course vaccinations will start."
In response to a suggestion made by Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU heads of state and government agreed at the summit in mid-October to meet regularly to discuss developments and the fight against the pandemic.
Plans for vaccination centres in EU states
According to Angela Merkel, preparations for vaccinations are moving in a similar direction in the EU member states. This includes deciding which groups could be vaccinated first: hospital staff and the most vulnerable groups. Angela Merkel also said she was impressed by the precise plans many EU states have already drawn up for the logistics of large-scale vaccination. Many countries, for instance, already have very detailed plans for setting up vaccination centres. The heads of state and government have now asked the European Commission to prepare an education campaign with valid information on the issue of vaccination.
The Commission and the member states also want to push ahead with the EU’s gateway, which is linking as many national contact tracing and warning apps as possible. Soon even more national apps will also be able to share information. "Here too it is extremely helpful to have an EU-wide approach," said Angela Merkel. In general, it has become clear once again that neither the spread of the virus, nor the restrictions imposed are country-specific. "We can see that we do not stand alone with this problem in Germany – we all share the problem in Europe," said the Chancellor.
Multiannual financial framework and recovery fund
The heads of state and government also discussed the multiannual financial framework, the recovery package and the conditionality mechanism. The German Presidency of the Council of the European Union has been negotiating these points with the European Parliament. Angela Merkel stressed that she believes that they have managed to achieve an excellent and balanced compromise with the European Parliament regarding the conditionality mechanism.
Hungary and Poland, however, once again made it clear that they are not willing to approve the conditionality mechanism at this time, reported Angela Merkel. Germany, as the nation currently holding the Presidency of the EU Council, will speak directly with these two countries and explore avenues that might make an approval possible.
On 21 July, the 27 EU member states agreed on a new multiannual financial framework worth 1.8 trillion euros for the period 2021-2027. Between 2021 and 2023, 750 billion euros of this sum are to be available to a recovery fund that will help member states master the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. 390 billion euros will be provided as subsidies, and 360 billion in the form of loans.