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European Council conclusions, 21-22 October 2021

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On 21 and 22 October 2021, the European Council adopted conclusions on COVID-19, digital, energy prices, migration, trade and external relations.

I. COVID-19

  1. Vaccination campaigns around Europe have brought about significant progress in the fight against COVID-19. Nevertheless the situation in some Member States remains very serious. In order to further increase vaccination rates throughout the Union, efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy should be stepped up, including by tackling disinformation, notably on social media platforms. It is necessary to remain vigilant regarding the emergence and spread of possible new variants.

  2. In light of the development of the epidemiological situation, the European Council calls for further coordination to facilitate free movement within, and travel into, the EU, and for a revision of the two Council recommendations. It encourages the Commission to accelerate its work regarding mutual recognition of certificates with third countries.

  3. Based on the experiences of the COVID-19 crisis, the EU’s resilience to and horizontal preparedness for crises must be strengthened. To ensure better prevention of, preparedness for and response to future health emergencies in the EU, the European Council calls for the conclusion of the negotiations on the Health Union legislative package and for ensuring that Member States are adequately involved in the governance of the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA). It recalls the need to swiftly take work forward on access to medicines across Member States.

  4. The European Council reiterates the EU’s continued commitment to contributing to the international response to the pandemic and to ensuring access to vaccines for all. It calls for the rapid removal of obstacles hampering the global roll-out of vaccines, and invites the Commission to further engage directly with manufacturers in this respect. This will allow Member States to speed up the delivery of vaccines to countries most in need. The EU will continue to support the production and uptake of vaccines in partner countries.

  5. In the context of the upcoming G20 meeting and in view of the special session of the World Health Assembly in November, the European Council underlines its support for a strong, central role of the World Health Organization in future global health governance and for the objective of agreeing an international treaty on pandemics.