The EC calls for keeping internal borders open and speeding up vaccination

The EC calls for keeping internal borders open and speeding up vaccination

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Brussels, Jan 18- The European Commission (EC) demanded this Monday that the internal borders of the European Union (EU) be kept open, at a time when some countries are again considering the possibility of introducing restrictions and , given the increase in coronavirus cases, asked to “speed up” the vaccination process.

“We strongly recommend not closing the borders,” said EC Vice President Maros Sefcovic, at the end of a telematic meeting of the ministers of European Affairs, prior to the summit that the heads of State and Government will hold on Thursday to coordinate before the pandemic, where this will be one of the issues on the table.
Sefcovic acknowledged that “the situation in our member states is extremely serious” and that “in some the situation is getting worse”, for which he said he understood that “countries are introducing different sanitary measures.”
But he called for “coordination” to “ensure that we absolutely respect all our principles and our rights and treaties”, referring to the freedom of free movement recognized in the Schengen area.
In the same vein, the Secretary of State for European Affairs of Portugal, Ana Paula Zacarías, whose country presides over the Council of the EU this semester.
“The rate of infection but new variants of the virus puts some Member States under caution,” he said, but called for “keeping the internal borders of the Union open as much as possible.”
BELGIUM CONSIDERS TO CLOSE
Belgium, where the idea of ​​closing the country is gaining momentum despite being in a better situation than its neighbors, today asked European leaders to address the issue.
“I have continued to call for a coordinated approach in the management of Covid-19, especially in the area of ​​borders. Belgium wants a common decision to be made at the European Council on Thursday,” Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie noted on Twitter. Wilmes, after the meeting of European ministers.
The message from the head of Belgian diplomacy comes after the health authorities of the federal government, after a meeting held on Monday, have transferred to Friday a possible decision on the hardening of access to the country; that is, one day after the leaders’ telematics summit on Covid.
In the EU, there are currently border controls for Covid-19 in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Hungary.
In addition, the temporary closure of borders for terrorism reasons is applied in France (which began to do so after the Paris attacks) and now it is considering reinforcing the borders to avoid displacements in this third wave, as well as in Sweden and Denmark. And Austria and Germany have applied controls since 2016 to respond to migratory flows after the so-called “refugee crisis”.
ACCELERATE VACCINATION
Faced with this third wave, Sefcovic said that “the EU faces the great challenge posed by the new variants, causing new expansions of the virus” and called for “accelerating the vaccination process and the supply of vaccines.”
“Receiving vaccines is not the same as vaccinating,” said the vice president of the EC, “and the initial data suggest significant differences between the Member States regarding the percentage of vaccination.”
However, in recent weeks Brussels has received criticism from European governments, who accuse the EC of not having bought enough doses from pharmaceutical companies.
VACCINATION PASSPORT
Another issue that European leaders will discuss at Thursday’s telematics summit is Greece’s proposal to have a vaccination certificate at the European level to show who has inoculated the drug and thus be able to reactivate tourism and the economy.
The EC said last week that it is “a good idea”, although Sefcovic clarified today that “vaccination is voluntary” and that “under no circumstances do we want to create a situation in which people who do not want to be vaccinated or who they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, their rights and freedoms are limited. “
However, it was favorable to the fact that in a first phase a vaccination certificate could help provide more information to the European Medicines Agency, as long as data privacy is respected.
Ben Oakley
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