EU must continue focusing on effective rollout of Covid-19 vaccine

15/01/2021

PES GAC

PES GAC meeting by videoconference

Vaccine rollout must remain a priority for the EU, Europe ministers from the PES said today as they assessed the COVID-19 situation in Europe and agreed that regular coordination discussions are necessary. Member States need transparent national vaccine strategies so citizens can have confidence in the process and progress across Europe can be determined.

The progressive Europe ministers met by videoconference this morning to discuss Covid-19 and its continuing impact in Europe, and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Meeting Chair and German Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth, said:

“We are at a very critical stage in our efforts to control COVID-19. New vaccines are coming, which is very welcome. But at the same time we are contending with rising infection rates. All Member States must stay alert, maintain appropriate measures, and cooperate in a spirit of solidarity at EU level to tame this virus.

“The EU must focus on the task ahead: ensuring vaccines are rolled out efficiently across Europe, and where needed and possible also in our immediate neighbourhood, making sure the most vulnerable – the elderly, those with ill health, and people working in front-line occupations – receive access quickly. This is how we will defeat the virus.

“Our thanks go out once again to all the health workers who are administering vaccines every day. Essential workers have kept our societies going. We must not forget their service to the health and wellbeing of all.”

Ministers also discussed the Conference on the Future of Europe and expressed their wish that it will begin under the Portuguese Presidency. They expressed confidence that the Presidency will successfully navigate the remaining challenges around the Conference - including the appointment of a Chair - and grasp the opportunity to embed the European social dimension into the debate’s agenda.

The Conference – which will engage the public on their hopes for the EU – must reflect citizen’s priorities, such as sustainability, equality and democracy. The progressive political family is working to ensure that these priorities – within the framework of the Green and Digital transitions, the Pillar of Social Rights, and the Rule of Law – are central to the Conference. Only with a true socialist impulse, will the EU be capable of leading the way towards a more progressive and social Europe for all.

Reflecting on the appalling attack on democracy last week in the United States, the ministers reiterated the importance of fostering an inclusive dialogue with citizens. Democracy, as a fundamental right, must be constantly strengthened and never be taken for granted.

Returning as Chair of the PES General Affairs Council, Michael Roth thanked Finnish Europe Minister Tytti Tuppurainen, who temporarily took over the role during the German Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Michael Roth, Chair, Minister of State for Europe, Germany

  • Ales Chmelar, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Czech Republic

  • Tytti Tuppurainen, Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Finland

  • Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds, Malta

  • Ana Paula Zacarias, State Secretary for European Affairs, Portugal

  • Juan Gonzalez-Barba, Secretary of State for the European Union, Spain

  • Hans Dahlgren, Minister for European Affairs, Sweden

  • Iratxe García Pérez, President of the S&D Group, MEP, European Parliament

  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary Generals, PES