Tag Archives: SUMMIT

Austria threatens to block the EU’s purchase of 100 million doses of vaccines

Austria is threatening to block the European Commission’s purchase of another 100 million doses of BioNTech / Pfizer vaccines if Vienna does not receive more vaccines.

This is reported by Politico with reference to diplomats from three EU countries.

The move is the latest escalation tactic by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who has campaigned for his country to get a bigger share of vaccines in the EU, even though data suggests Austria is not among the countries most in need.

The EU may receive 10 million doses of BioNTech / Pfizer in the coming months as part of a second contract with the German-American manufacturer to purchase an additional 100 million vaccines — in addition to the 500 million already ordered.

The 100 million doses were originally expected to be delivered by the end of 2021, but the company said it could deliver 10 million doses by June 30. The announcement started a fight between EU countries over the distribution of vaccines based on population size.

That fight dominated a summit of EU leaders on Thursday, and Kurz repeated his demand for more doses. While the summit ended with the leaders confirming the distribution based on population size, the leaders also instructed the EU ambassadors to address the issue of 10 million doses, leaving open the possibility that the countries most in need of vaccines will receive more.

Austria did not wait for the ambassadors to hold a discussion before stepping up the pressure.

At a meeting of the EU’s vaccine steering committee on Friday morning, Austria again demanded additional doses, this time with a threat: it will block the European Commission’s purchase of 100 million doses if Vienna does not get what it wants.

Diplomats from several EU countries have expressed outrage at the threat to Austria — and the possibility of losing 100 million doses if the purchase option is not used by mid-April.

One EU diplomat expressed anger that Austria was blocking 10 million doses to member states “ in dire need of them, such as Latvia and Bulgaria.”

“This shows that Kurz is willing to put the lives of 50 million Europeans at risk in order to get something that he doesn’t even need,” the diplomat said.

Another diplomat said that Austria has little respect for the needs of other countries.

In terms of the total number of coronavirus cases per capita since March 2020, Austria is in the bottom half of the list of EU countries, while the number of daily cases in the country is slightly below the EU average.

Biden invites 40 world leaders to Climate Summit

The summit participants were called upon to prepare a plan on how their countries intend to strengthen the fight against climate change.

US President Joe Biden said that among others, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping were invited to the virtual climate summit, although he has not yet personally spoken to them about it. This was announced on Friday, March 26, by the press service of the White House.

“Not yet, but they know they’re invited,” Biden said.

It is noted that in general, 40 world leaders were invited to take part in the mentioned online meeting, which will be organized by Washington on April 22-23. The talks will be broadcast live.

“The Climate Summit will highlight the urgency as well as the economic benefits of stronger action on climate change. It will be an important milestone on the way to the 26th Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, “ the press release says.

At the same time, the summit participants, including the leaders of a number of states, as well as the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the European Council Charles Michel, were called upon to prepare a plan on how their countries intend to strengthen the fight against climate change.

As reported, Swedish eco-activist Greta Thunberg opposed Biden’s climate policy. She called on the head of the White House to treat the climate problem as a crisis.

EU Summit Supported Development of Digital Euro

The EU summit advocated a stronger international role for the euro and supported preparations for a digital euro. This is stated in the final statement of the EU summit on the development of the eurozone, distributed on Thursday in Brussels.

“The summit called for the strengthening and creation of a more innovative financial sector, more efficient and sustainable payment systems. In this context, preparatory work should continue to explore the possibility of launching a digital euro,” the document says.

Germany urges European Commission to buy “Sputnik V” for EU countries

Germany calls on the European Commission to start joint purchases of the Russian vaccine “Sputnik V” for the EU countries.

This was stated at a briefing in Berlin by the official representative of the German government, according to Politico.

“We have asked the Commission to start the Sputnik V procurement procedure,” the official said, adding that “ we now see that the Commission is in the process of launching this procedure.”

The official said the Commission should first get the opinion of EU capitals to see which countries are interested in buying the Russian vaccine before starting negotiations on a contract on the number of doses.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) obtained the first set of data on the Russian vaccine earlier this month when Russia applied for approval of the drug in Europe.

The head of the EMA said on Tuesday that the regulatory body is preparing to inspect facilities in Russia where the vaccine is produced. It is unclear what the timing of the EMA’s decision on the Russian vaccine is.

The German official said that the first steps of the EU procurement procedure can begin while the checks are underway.

“We believe that this process can begin now, while the regulatory authorities are considering it. We would consider it right if the negotiations were started immediately, “ he explained.

However, the official added that official negotiations with Russia have not yet begun. “I believe that in the near future this issue will also be discussed again in political terms,” he said, referring to potential discussions between EU leaders at a virtual EU summit on Thursday and Friday.

Slovakia’s President Zuzana Chaputova has called on Prime Minister Igor Matovic to resign and put an end to the political crisis caused by his decision to purchase a coronavirus vaccine developed in Russia.

Joe Biden to attend virtual EU Summit this week

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, invited US President Joe Biden to participate in the EU summit, which will be held on March 25-26 and will be held in an online format.

Michel wrote about this on Twitter.

“I invited the President of the United States to participate in our summit to share with us his vision of our future cooperation. It’s time to restore our transatlantic alliance!”, — wrote Michel.

On the eve of the summit, Michel also held a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He stated that there are differences on many issues and noted that relations with Russia can develop in a different direction only if there is steady progress on issues such as the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, an end to hybrid, and cyber-attacks on member states and respect for human rights.

At the summit on Thursday and Friday, EU leaders are due to discuss the pandemic, especially the problematic vaccination program, as well as a number of other topics, including a strategic discussion of policy towards Russia.