By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) – The European Commission Tuesday called on EU member states to speed up the vaccination campaigns.
In a proposal revealed by Commissioners Stella Kyriakides and Margaritis Schinas, the EU body suggested that member states vaccinate at least 70% of the adult population by summer.
The recommendation also urged EU countries to give the jabs to up to 80% of health workers and people over 80 years of age by March.
- Vaccination certificates
The European Commission’s communication reaffirms the need for vaccination certificates, but it leaves it to EU governments to determine the conditions and privileges the document would allow.
Kyriakides, commissioner for health, called it “premature” to talk about other uses of such certification than medical purpose, but she could not exclude cross-border solutions in the future.
However, the EU body recommends that the states agree on a common approach by the end of January.
In a letter to the European Commission last week, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis proposed an EU-wide COVID-19 vaccination certificate for travel.
In an attempt to save the coming tourist season, he suggested granting free movement to those who have already been vaccinated.
Although Mitsotakis dismissed the idea of making vaccination compulsory or a prerequisite for travel, his suggestion has already divided EU leaders.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said he did not support it because it would “divide the population of Europe in two.”
European Council President Charles Michel also warned that these travel certificates should be introduced once a great number of people already received the jabs. Otherwise, the governments risk creating enormous frustration.
EU heads of states and governments will discuss the European Commission’s proposal and the conditions of vaccine certificates on Thursday during their next videoconference dedicated to the coordination of a response to COVID-19.
- Vaccine for neighbors
Schinas, vice president of European Commission, confirmed the bloc’s intention to help other countries with vaccines in the name of European solidarity.
“Our neighbors, partners, and friends should have the certainty that EU should and would help them” with vaccines, he said.
“No one is safe till everyone is safe,” Kyriakides added.
However, both commissioners rejected to name countries to be supported or indicate a time frame.
The EU, which has a population of 450 million, made agreements with six vaccine producers --Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, CureVac, Johnson&Johnson, and Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline -- to buy about 2.3 billion vaccine doses.