EU leaders pledge to step up cooperation in their fight against coronavirus

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

EU leaders pledged Thursday night to step up cooperation on every aspect of their fight against the coronavirus — by keeping borders open, improving testing and contact tracing, monitoring critical care capacity and arranging cross-border patient transfers if necessary, and developing plans for the swift manufacture and distribution of vaccines.

“Our hospitals and health workers are again under pressure. That is why many leaders have announced lockdowns and restrictions. In such hard times, cohesion and solidarity matter more than ever. We call on all Europeans to take care of themselves and of each other.”

EU Council President Charles Michel said this after a meeting, via video conference, where the EU leaders discussed the need to strengthen the collective effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

They focused on testing and tracing policies, and on vaccines. The EU leaders agreed that testing and tracing are key to limiting the spread of the virus and will help better control the situation. They exchanged views on how to advance a common approach to the mutual recognition, deployment and use of rapid tests.

The European Union will finance the transfer of patients across borders within the bloc to prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations spike in the continent. The head of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the EU executive had made available 220 million euros ($260 million) to move COVID-19 patients across borders. “The spread of the virus will overwhelm our healthcare systems if we do not act urgently,” she said.

Leaders agreed that testing and tracing are key to limiting the spread of the virus and will help better control the situation. They exchanged views on how to advance a common approach to the mutual recognition, deployment and use of rapid tests.

Leaders will work on the basis of the Commission’s recommendation on testing strategies presented on 28 October.

On tracing, EU leaders discussed the initiative on interoperability between apps put on the table by the Commission and work on a common Passenger Locator Form, which would also facilitate tracing. Heads of state or government also discussed the possibility of harmonising the duration of quarantines.

On vaccines, leaders stressed four main areas to develop cooperation. These include fair distribution to member states; the criteria to determine priority group; logistical challenges and bottlenecks and communication on vaccines.

Leaders also addressed the terrorist attacks in France and the relations with Turkey.