Plenković: EU Unanimous on Accelerating Vaccine Distribution

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Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

“The main pressure on the European Commission leadership from all presidents and prime ministers… in talks with the key pharmaceutical companies with which the EU signed contracts, is to accelerate vaccine distribution,” he told the press after an EU summit.

“We were all, including me, unanimous and very firm on that.”

European governments and the institutions in Brussels are frustrated by the slow vaccination of the EU population due to pharmaceutical companies’ delays in honouring agreed deliveries.

The Commission estimates that 8% of the EU population over 18 has been vaccinated, including 5% who have received both doses, Plenković said.

The goal is to vaccinate 70% of the population by summer, which is about 255 million people, which poses challenges in terms of quantities, he added.

The Commission will continue talks with the leaders of Pfizer/BioNtech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. The approval of Johnson&Johnson’s vaccine is expected in March.

Plenković said that, with the higher quantities to be distributed, Croatia will likely “vaccinate a large number of people by summer.”

He reiterated that Croatia had ordered 6.8 million doses, with 730,000 expected by 31 March, including 300,000 from Pfizer, 80,000 from Moderna and 350,000 from AstraZeneca.

The participants in the virtual summit concluded that new COVID-19 variants were worrying and that epidemiological measures must be “proportionate to the threat.”

Last night they exchanged views on vaccination certificates, so-called green passes, tasking member states’ permanent representatives in Brussels with continuing talks on this.

Plenković reiterated that the Croatian government wanted the vaccines on the market to be safe, saying that if the relevant agencies approved Russian or Chinese vaccines, Croatia had no problem with that.

Strategic compass

This morning the summit discussed defence and security, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg participating.

Plenković said the topic was the so-called strategic compass. He recalled that 20 years ago there was talk on a new European security strategy, which was reviewed a decade ago.

A new document for this decade, a strategic compass on which a debate will begin before summer, is expected to be adopted in mid-March 2022.

“That should be a document defining the defence and security level of the European Union and its ambitions to participate in and ensure global peace and security,” said Plenković.

Croatia wants the EU and NATO to be complementary, being a member of both, he added.

Also, “we want the transatlantic partnership to be strengthened,” he said. In that sense, Croatia wants the defence industry’s industrial and technological foundations to be strengthened on European territory, including Croatia’s defence companies.


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