Brussels, 16 October 2020 – at the Council, the heads of states and governments of European countries discussed the health crisis and agreed to intensify mutual cooperation and coordination to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus.
According to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, leaders of the EU Member States will conduct regular video meetings to discuss possible solutions to the health crisis and coordinate their operations in a faster and more efficient manner. “Unfortunately, the virus is, once again, spreading fast in Europe, and the current situation is very troublesome. The epidemiologic state and restrictions set to prevent the spreading of this virus are very different within Member States. In this light, cooperation among ourselves and with the European Commission is even more necessary to control the situation and avoid the confusion that we had in the spring,” Ratas stressed.
Member States and the European Commission will continue discussing the issues of, for example, self-isolation, methods of testing, and mutual recognition of test results.
The Council recognised the work that is done on the EU level in securing vaccines for COVID-19. According to Ratas, a unified approach across Europe is crucial for this vaccine. “Of course, the most important things are the quality and safety of this vaccine. Estonia will do everything in its power to implement the vaccine as soon as it is developed,” the prime minister said. Yesterday, the European Commission issued instructions to the Member States on applying the vaccine that include accessibility, target groups, quality, and safety, as well as preparedness and communication among Member States.
Currently, the vaccines are being developed and brought to the market in an accelerated manner, while the European Commission is holding advance purchase negotiations with several pharmaceutical companies to guarantee that European citizens get the vaccine for COVID-19.
At a discussion about foreign affairs, the leaders of the EU Member States talked about strengthening the partnership with Africa. According to Prime Minister Ratas, the goal is to intensify cooperation with African countries in politics, economic, security issues, and climate matters, as well as handle the issue of migration.
Ratas assured that in regard to supporting the sustainable development of African countries, Estonia is focussing on digitalisation and innovative green technologies. “We have engaged in development cooperation with several countries – for example, we cooperated with Nigeria and Tunisia on e-governance, and with Ghana and Uganda in the field of education,” the prime minister said.
According to Ratas, Estonia has also been contributing to African security in the Sahel region since 2014. “Our defence forces are currently on the biggest foreign mission – Barkhane – in Mali, and the government is hoping to extend the mandate to the end of next year,” the prime minister said.
Leaders of the EU Member States also discussed the latest developments on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea and expressed solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.