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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article13 December 2021Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations2 min read

Statement by Commissioner Várhelyi at the launch of the innovative arrangement with Poland to facilitate vaccine sharing with the Eastern Partnership

vaccine sharing with the Eastern Partnership

Dear Madam President Daszyńska-Muzyczka, Minister Rau, thank very much for joining us today, here in the Berlaymont. 

I think that we have some very good news - we are launching an initiative that we have been working on together, the European Commission, with the Polish Government and the BGK, Polish Development Bank. And we are very happy to see that right before Christmas we are able to start to deliver on this very promise we have made together in Warsaw, because we will be able to deliver more vaccines to our Eastern Partner countries easier, faster and not to mention money, cheaper. 

Each new wave of the COVID pandemic increases the urgency to step up the vaccination rate. This is no different with the newest variant, Omicron. It is only the vaccination that can save us all. And we are talking about our Eastern Partner countries, where the vaccination average rate is only 28%. So it is high time to help them to speed up the vaccination rate and get everybody fully vaccinated. 

With this programme, with this act of European solidarity, with the help by our Polish friends, we are delivering an initiative worth €35 million that should cover all the costs related to this vaccine sharing, meaning that we will be paying for the delivery, we will be paying for the vaccines for the countries to make the vaccines even more accessible for them. 

We have already provided a number of equipment during the COVID crisis be it the healthcare, be it masks and ventilators. We have also delivered already more than 13 million vaccines through the COVAX initiative but we do hope that with this we can further increase our share and our support to the entire region. We think that still much more needs to be done.

Prime Minister Morawiecki and myself, together with Minister Rau, we have agreed back in Warsaw that we should be helping the region to accelerate the fight against the pandemic and I do hope that with this we will be able to. The Polish Foreign Ministry will match the offers from Member States with evolving needs in the partner countries and it will be, the Ministry, overseeing the arrangements with the manufacturers, while the Bank will use our contribution to reimburse the Member States and to arrange for the resales. So we have a very good and important implementing partner on the ground, something very crucial to get this ball rolling very quickly. 

The first delivery under this arrangement will be 400 thousand vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, from Portugal to Armenia, this is going to be the first of this kind of vaccine sharing.

This is also a very important message just before the Eastern Partnership Summit that takes place this week and I do hope that we will have much more deliveries very quickly to follow. 

With this I would like to thank the President and also Minister Rau for their very active work and the tremendous efforts made by all the colleagues to make it happen and of course I am very grateful for that.

So thank you again!