Following the conclusion of the European Council meeting, Prime Minister Janez Janša today addressed the following items in detail in a press statement: on coordination concerning COVID-19, climate changes, fight against terrorism, EU-US relations, Turkey and the Southern Neighbourhood.
After the meeting of the European Council, Prime Minister Janez Janša stressed that had been a very successful summit. „Despite pessimistic expectations, this summit has also proved that once things get tough, the EU Member States come together and find solutions even where they may not have been anticipated before the meetings.“
The Prime Minister then pointed out that the two key topics at the meeting were interlinked. The first is to tackle the pandemic, and the second is to provide financial instruments for mitigating the consequences of the pandemic and development. He pointed out that the overall package, which should have been put into effect on 1 January 2021, was „left in limbo“ due to the complication of an instrument under which the so-called rule of law clause would protect financial assets. At this meeting, the European Council closed all the outstanding issues and found a solution that pleased both sides, and the winner is the European Union. „We were given an opportunity of realising both instruments as of 1 January 2021. However, some fast-track procedures will be needed“, which he believes are feasible. „By setting the route, we have got a mechanism worthy of the name. It is an approach that excludes arbitrariness, which makes it possible to apply the same one-size-fits-all rule for all Member States, and is a mechanism which will be subject to the judgement of the European Court of Justice.“
Prime Minister Janez Janša reiterated his congratulation to the German Presidency, and Poland and Hungary for being able to take the steps that ultimately led to the compromise after everything was suspended in the air.
The leaders also exchanged pandemic experiences at the meeting. Following the exchange of information with the European Commission, based on new forecasts and data, he felt that the picture was also optimistic. Namely, due to the vaccines that represent a light at the end of the tunnel. Because of weather conditions, however, the next two months will be very difficult. „Christmas and New Year’s holidays are also a significant risk, so most countries are to tighten up the measures at this time. Even those who have already released the measures after the second wave.“
Regarding the vaccine, Prime Minister Janez Janša said that Pfizer’s first vaccine would be available by 27 December at the latest, probably earlier. According to him, the main reason why the UK vaccine has already been approved but not in the EU is that the EU verification process is more complicated. The operation of the European Medicines Agency includes the participation of national agencies in its broader context. A technical agreement is required, and there is currently a lack of agreement of two countries.
Europe will thus receive a 100% verified and tested vaccine, which will not be supported by only one national verification body. Still, the authorities of all Member States, which means that safety will be almost 100%, the Prime Minister pointed out. „The vaccine requires considerable logistical effort because it needs to be stored at low temperature. He said that the leaders of the European Council agreed that all countries would receive the vaccine, namely all on the same day. The vaccination will start within the same day or week and will be distributed proportionally in proportion to the number of inhabitants. By mid-January at the latest, a second vaccine will be available, which will be distributed in the same way and according to the same procedures as the first one. In the first half of January, we can count on the initiation of vaccination of the most risk groups in all EU countries with two proven and approved vaccines. However, as the number of vaccines will not initially be sufficient, at least some measures will be likely probable will have to be maintained until the middle of next year.
In his statement, Prime Minister Janša pointed out the unknowns regarding immunity and the need to use rapid tests in health care, care for the elderly, in critical infrastructure and, most likely, in the field of education. „We have received useful information from those countries that have already carried out mass testing. We know what works out and what does not. For the virus to disappear from the population, 70% of the population in each Member State must be vaccinated.“
He also pointed out that an application for ordering to vaccination is already available in Slovenia. „The sooner someone applies, the sooner they will be on turn for the vaccination if they do not belong to the risk group or the health care staff who will receive the vaccine first.“
Regarding the discussion on climate change, he pointed out that the agreed agreement on increasing the 2030 emissions reduction target contained comments made by Slovenia and Croatia. As Prime Minister Janez Janša pointed out, European leaders welcomed the new Counter-Terrorism Agenda. They supported sanctions against Turkey based on the legal framework established last November without significant discussions. Leaders also met today in the context of the Euro Summit.
In a press statement, the Prime Minister also pointed out that the national recovery plan was under preparation and that the government is very likely to adopt it later this month, although the deadline was April 2021. „Health comes first.“ He also said that on Saturday a consultation would be held with heads of hospitals and health centres on additional capacities and new investments on all those projects that have so far been at a standstill.