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EU leaders strengthen resolve as 2nd Covid wave hits Europe

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EU leaders strengthen resolve as 2nd Covid wave hits Europe

Von-der-Leyen - Michel - Photo EU Council

(ONLINE) - EU leaders at a summit Thursday resolved to strengthen the collective effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on testing and tracing policies, and on vaccines.

At the meeting, they also issued a statement on the terrorist attacks in France and touched upon the relationship with Turkey.

"Our hospitals and health workers are again under pressure," said the EU Council's president Charles Michel: "That is why many leaders have announced lockdowns and restrictions. In such hard times, cohesion and solidarity matter more than ever. We call on all Europeans to take care of themselves and of each other."

Leaders agreed that testing and tracing are key to limiting the spread of the virus and will help to better control the situation. They exchanged views on how to progress with a common approach to the mutual recognition, deployment and use of rapid tests.

Leaders will work on the basis of the Commission's recommendation on testing strategies presented on 28 October.

On tracing, EU leaders discussed the initiative on interoperability between apps tabled by the Commission and work on a common passenger locator form, which would likewise facilitate tracing. They also discussed the possibility of harmonising the duration of quarantine.

On vaccines, the leaders highlighted four main areas in which cooperation on vaccines should be developed: fair distribution to member states; criteria to determine priority groups; logistical challenges and bottlenecks; communication on vaccines.

Leaders emphasised that implementing the recovery package without further delay is crucial and expressed their hope that it would be possible to decide on the implementation of the July 2020 package in the very short term. "It is a very important measure to limit damage to our economies," said M Michel.

At the start of the video conference, EU leaders issued a joint statement on the terrorist attacks in France. They said: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms these attacks which represent attacks on our shared values." They expressed solidarity with the French people and called on leaders around the world to work towards dialogue and understanding among communities and religions rather than division.

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