Video conference of the members of the European Council, 21 January 2021

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Publication Date 21/01/2021
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EU National leaders held a videoconference on 21 January 2021 to discuss coordination on tackling the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

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Leaders noted the seriousness of the pandemic in the light of new COVID-19 variants in circulation across Europe. They highlighted that importance of increasing sequencing capacity. They welcomed the adoption of a Council Recommendation on a common framework for the validation of rapid antigen tests and on the mutual recognition of test results. There was also a discussion on the importance of keeping borders open to ensure the functioning of the European Union's single market.

Members of the European Council expressed their intention to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination rollout and highlighted that delivery commitments made by companies must be respected. They agreed to work on standardised and inter-operable form of proof of vaccination for medical purposes. Leaders reaffirmed their solidarity with third countries in terms of accessing vaccines.

Under other topics, the leaders condemned the detention of Russian opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, upon his return to the country.

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Commentary and Analysis
Deutsche Welle, 21/01/2021: Coronavirus: Will EU countries close borders again?
EPRS: At a Glance, January 2021: Outcome of the European Council video-conference of 21 January 2021

Bloomberg, 19/01/2021: EU Leaders Vent at Drugs Regulator Over Slow Vaccine Approval
Reuters. 21/01/2021: EU leaders convene amid vaccine delays, virus variant fears
Associated Press, 21/01/2021: EU leaders agree to keep borders open, want to limit travels
Jornal Económico, 21/01/2021: European Union keeps common borders open
EUObserver, 21/01/2021: EU leaders to discuss vaccine certificates
France24, 22/01/2021: EU leaders 'discourage' travel, consider tougher border rules to curb Covid
EUObserver, 22/01/2021: EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk
Politico, 22/01/2021: EU leaders see ‘dark red’ and urge Brussels to speed up vaccine delivery

European Council: Invitation letter by President Charles Michel to the members of the European Council ahead of their video conference of 21 January 2021
European Council: Oral conclusions drawn by President Charles Michel following the video conference of the members of the European Council on 21 January 2021
European Commission: Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel, following the EU Leaders' videoconference

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