Brussels, 25 June 2021
Endorsement statement for the “Joint letter of civil society representatives to the leaders of the European Union on vaccine needs of the EU’s Neighbourhood”
The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum reiterates its support to the repeated advocacy efforts made by civil society representatives through their second joint letter on COVID-19 vaccination in the Eastern Partnership region sent to EU leaders on the 18th of June 2021.
While the EU’s efforts to support vaccination in partner countries are gaining momentum, we are still missing concrete information about the distribution of the 100 million doses which have been pledged to low and middle income countries.
On 24 August, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, replied to the second joint letter on vaccine needs and expressed their support to ensure adequate access to vaccines in order to fight back against COVID-19.
To help increase access to vaccines, an EU-wide mechanism has been established. The mechanism has two strands. First, vaccine sharing via the EU-funded COVAX Facility and second, direct donations or resales by EU Member States to countries of the Eastern Partnership.
As of 24 August, EU Member States have pledged more than 100 million doses. Many of them will reach the Eastern Partnership countries via COVAX. In addition, some EU Member States announced that they will share vaccines with Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia.
Since the publication of the first letter on the 18th of April 2021, the EU has made tremendous progress in vaccinations and aims for 70% of its total population to be vaccinated by the end of July. Between the first and second joint letter, according to the Global Change Data Lab, more than 124 million EU citizens, or about 36% of the total population, have received at least one dose. In comparison, in the same time window, the six EaP countries pooled together saw about 1.8 million of their people vaccinated, which amounts to 2.4% of the total population.
These figures embody the fears expressed in April by civil society organisations. The vaccine sharing mechanism together with COVAX has not delivered tangible results in the region, while EU Member States are, for the most part, focusing on their own vaccination processes.
Through their letter, the civil society representatives once again present how a small donation of 59 million doses (compared to the 3.7 billion doses the EU has approved for purchase) would allow the six Eastern partners and the six Western Balkan states to ensure 70% vaccination coverage.
Based on the above-mentioned points, the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum repeats its endorsement to the joint letter of civil society representatives while urging EU leaders to seriously consider its recommendations which are absolutely vital to achieve the EU’s ambitious goals for the future of the Eastern Partnership.
Members of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership
Civil Society Forum
Sofia Strive, ForumCiv, Sweden, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee
Irina Sukhy, Ecohome, Belarus, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee
Sintija Bernava, Donum Animus, Latvia
Lousineh Hakobyan, Europe in Law Association, Armenia
Ruslan Havryliuk, National Ecological Center, Ukraine
Shahla Ismayil, Women’s Association for Rational Development (WARD), Azerbaijan
Maksym Koriavets, Polissya Foundation for International and Regional Studies, Ukraine
Natia Kuprashvili, Journalism Resource Center, Georgia
Adrian Lupusor, Expert-Grup, Moldova
Goda Neverauskaitė, European Trade Union Confederation, Belgium
Ana Otilia Nutu, Expert Forum, Romania
Tatiana Poshevalova, Centre for Social Innovations, Belarus
Yurii Vdovenko, Center for Cross-Border Cooperation, Ukraine