PES Europe ministers: more transparency needed in COVID-19 response

22/02/2021

PES Europe ministers

PES Europe ministers meeting by videoconference

Europe-wide solidarity on vaccines was the right approach to guarantee there were no second-class Europeans, but this strategy is reliant on transparency and accountability: clear information about how many doses are being produced and when Member States can expect them must be provided urgently by pharmaceutical companies, PES Europe ministers stated today.

Europe ministers from the PES convened by videoconference today to discuss COVID-19 coordination, the European Democracy Action Plan and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

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

“As a block, we have achieved a lot together in response to this virus. Prioritising European solidarity was the right thing to do. The alternative would have meant huge discrepancies among EU Member States with very negative consequences on European cohesion.

“Now the EU must focus on an effective management of the vaccination campaign, so we can deliver it faster and protect our communities. What is needed now is full transparency, upscaling of our production capacities and clear anticipation of the challenges ahead of us, especially with regard to the virus mutations.  This is the only way that we will be able to deliver for citizens.”

The meeting agreed that countries in Europe’s neighbourhood, and beyond, must not be abandoned in the common fight against coronavirus. Europe must fulfil its duty to assist with the immunisation of our neighbours and allies.

The ministers also expressed strong support for the Commission’s Democracy Action Plan and the need to defend media freedom, fight disinformation and hold social media platforms to account.

Michael Roth, added:

“Democratic values must be continually protected and strengthened. Their fragility has been clear in recent weeks, from the storming of the Capitol in the USA to further restrictions of independent media in Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. Media freedom, independence and pluralism are European values and we must work to guarantee that Europe always stays a safe place for journalists. This is why the Democracy Action Plan is so important.”

Discussing the Conference on Future of Europe, the ministers welcomed the proposals from the Portuguese presidency and stressed the importance of overcoming the current obstacles so the Conference can be organised with sufficient time for citizens and institutions to debate and discuss.

Michael Roth thanked Italy’s former Minister of European Affairs, Vincenzo Amendola from Partito Democratico, for the contributions he made to the PES General Affairs Council meetings and the valuable role he played in progressing the Next Generation EU recovery fund.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Michael Roth, Chair, Minister of State for Europe, Germany
  • Ales Chmelar, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Czech Republic
  • Ana Paula Zacarias, State Secretary for European Affairs, Portugal
  • Juan Gonzalez-Barba, Secretary of State for the European Union, Spain
  • Pedro Marques, MEP, Vice-president of the S&D Group, PES Coordinator for the implementation of the Commission Work Programme, European Parliament
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary Generals, PES