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Main results of the European Council video conference

EU leaders insisted on the need to urgently step up efforts to accelerate the provision of vaccines

Main results

On 25 February, the members of the European Council met via video conference to discuss the current situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparedness for health emergencies. On 26 February they met again, focusing on security and defence, and relations with the Southern Neighbourhood.


EU leaders took stock of the epidemiological situation. They will continue working together and coordinating their action to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, keep the overall situation under close review and take action as needed.

The epidemiological situation remains serious, and the new variants pose additional challenges. We must therefore uphold tight restrictions while stepping up efforts to accelerate the provision of vaccines.

Statement of the members of the European Council

Travel restrictions

Leaders agreed on the need to restrict non-essential travel for the time being.

They welcomed the adoption of the two Council recommendations on travel within, and into, the EU. According to them, restrictions can be introduced in accordance with the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination and taking into account the specific situation of cross-border communities. The flow of goods and services within the Single Market must be ensured, including by making use of Green Lanes.


Leaders stressed the need to urgently accelerate the authorisation, production and distribution of vaccines, as well as vaccination. They also highlighted the need to enhance surveillance and detection capacity to identify variants as early as possible so as to control their spread.

EU leaders supported the Commission’s efforts to work with industry and member states to increase vaccine production and to adjust vaccines to the new variants.

They also welcomed the Commission’s ongoing efforts to:

  • accelerate the availability of raw materials
  • facilitate agreements between manufacturers across supply chains
  • scope existing facilities so as to help production scale-up in the EU
  • further the research and development efforts

Companies must ensure predictability of their vaccine production and respect contractual delivery deadlines.

Statement of the members of the European Council

Leaders called to continue work on a common approach to vaccination certificates. They will come back to this issue.

Solidarity with third countries

EU leaders reaffirmed their solidarity with third countries and stressed their determination to step up the global response to the pandemic. They welcomed COVAX’s first plans to distribute vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries.

We remain committed to improving access to vaccines for priority groups in our neighbourhood and beyond, based on common principles, and to supporting a global approach through the COVAX Facility.

Statement of the members of the European Council


Despite the fact that the COVID-19 crisis is not yet over, leaders agreed to already start strengthening the EU’s future health resilience. They will work to improve EU coordination to ensure:

  • better preparedness and prevention systems
  • response tools
  • means to secure enough vaccines and critical supplies for all member states
  • support for the process of developing safe and effective vaccines and medicines, including through early investment in production capacity
  • best use of big data and digital technologies for medical research and healthcare
  • access to medicines across member states

Leaders invited the Commission to present by June 2021 a report on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic so far. The report, which will be followed up in the second half of 2021, should also address:

  • information-sharing
  • coordination
  • communication
  • joint public procurement
  • ways to ensure adequate production capacity in the EU and build up strategic reserves while supporting the diversification and resilience of global medical supply chains

Leaders also discussed ways to reinforce international solidarity and health cooperation, which is essential to address current and future health threats. In this context, leaders want to strengthen the World Health Organization and work towards an international treaty on pandemics within its framework.

Security and defence

European Council members had an exchange of views on EU-NATO relations with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

EU leaders then held a strategic debate on European security and defence policy. They reaffirmed their commitment to increase the EU’s capacity to act autonomously, as well as the need for the EU to take more responsibility for its security.

We want to act more strategically, to defend our interests and to promote our values.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council

Leaders expressed their commitment to cooperating closely with NATO and strengthening partnerships with the UN and key regional partners. They emphasised that they looked forward to cooperating with the new US administration on a strong and ambitious transatlantic agenda that included a close dialogue on security and defence.

European Council members noted the significant steps taken to enhance the EU’s security and defence policies, tools and instruments. They referred to the goals of further deepening security and defence cooperation amongst member states, increasing defence investment, and enhancing civilian and military capabilities and operational readiness.

To that end, leaders committed to:

  •  enhancing the EU’s civil and military engagement, including through the European Peace Facility
  •  encouraging member states to make better use of the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and full use of the Permanent Structured Co-operation (PESCO)
  • strengthening Europe’s defence technological and industrial base, including through the European Defence Fund
  • providing for secure European access to space, cyberspace and the high seas, and improved military mobility across the EU

Leaders invited the Commission to present, by October 2021, a technology roadmap for boosting research, technology development and innovation and reducing their strategic dependencies in critical technologies and strategic value chains. They also invited the Commission and the High Representative, Josep Borrell, to report on the implementation of the Cybersecurity Strategy by June 2021.

We will step up our cooperation and our coordination to combat hybrid threats and disinformation.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council

High Representative Borrell updated EU leaders on work towards a Strategic Compass, to guide future European action on security and defence. Leaders called on the High Representative to take forward work on this initiative together with member states, with a view to its adoption by March 2022

EU leaders will keep security and defence under regular review.

Southern Neighbourhood

Leaders discussed the political and strategic partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood and reaffirmed the European Council conclusions of December 2020.

A renewed and reinforced partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood is in our collective political and strategic interest.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council


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