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EU leaders to step up pandemic coordination

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EU leaders to step up pandemic coordination

Von-der-Leyen - Michel - Photo EU Council

(ONLINE) - EU leaders agreed Thursday to strengthen coordination on combating the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on mutual recognition of tests, vaccine deployment and a common approach to lifting restrictive measures.

At the summit, EU leaders discussed how to develop a common EU approach for the use of rapid antigen tests, which are complementary to PCR testing. Leaders stressed the need to work towards mutual recognition of tests and their results. They also talked about national testing strategies and exchanged best practices.

"The results of recent trials are encouraging. Future vaccines are within reach, and we need to be ready," said EU Council president Charles Michel.

The leaders agreed to speed up the preparation of national vaccination plans to ensure vaccines are available and affordable for all EU citizens, once authorised.

They welcomed the fact that member states and the Commission have already finalised several advance purchase agreements with vaccine producers.

At the press conference after the video conference, President Michel stressed that communication on vaccines will be a challenge: "The number of people distrustful of vaccines is growing, and we must clearly communicate their value".

The heads of state or government stressed that lifting restrictions should be gradual and regressive. "COVID-19 has a devastating human cost. There are family and friends behind all the numbers and statistics. Let's never forget that," said M Michel.

The leaders also discussed the long-term EU budget and the recovery package.

Chancellor Merkel updated the leaders on the state of play of the discussion following the last trilogue with the European Parliament.

On the fight against terrorism, leaders expressed their solidarity with France and Austria. "We will continue to fight the ideology of hatred, including online. It's crucial for us to look at the role of online platforms and set a stricter framework," said M Michel.

COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic (background information)

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