European Parliament Press Kit for the European Council of 16 December 2021 

Press Releases 
 
 

In this press kit, you will find a selection of the European Parliament’s press releases that show MEPs’ priorities in relation to topics on the summit agenda.

Additional information, including contact details for the MEPs involved, can be found on the European Parliament’s website.


European Parliament President David Sassoli will represent the European Parliament at the summit and:


- address heads of state or government at 10.00 on Thursday, 16 December


- hold a press conference on Thursday, 16 December, at around 10.30 in the European Council press room.

On 16 December, EU leaders will meet to discuss the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and the EU’s preparedness, ability to respond and resilience to future crises, rising energy prices, external aspects of migration, the situation in Belarus and Ukraine as well as the EU-African Union Summit taking place on 17-18 February 2022.

COVID-19


On 30 November, MEPs in the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety quizzed the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Executive Director, Emer Cooke, on the current situation around COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, as well as the Agency’s future role. Emer Cooke reassured MEPs that the EMA is prepared to deal with the current challenges posed by the pandemic. Existing vaccines have remained effective until now, with studies showing that an additional dose or booster ensures extended immunity, she added.


Parliament and Council negotiators reached a deal on 29 November on extending the mandate of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which aims to help the EU be better prepared and able to coordinate its response to health challenges. Data collection and modelling will be harmonised and EU bodies and national and international counterparts will cooperate more closely.


In a report adopted on 24 November, MEPs put forward proposals to make medicines more available and affordable, make pricing more transparent and promote joint EU public procurement. Key recommendations include addressing the root causes of medicines shortages, ensuring patients have access to safe, affordable and effective pharmaceutical treatments, increasing transparency on prices and public R&D funding, and strengthening EU manufacturing and supply resilience.

MEPs to contact:

Pascal Canfin (Renew, FR), Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety


Dolors Montserrat (EPP, ES), rapporteur for A Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe


Joanna Kopcińska (ECR, PL), rapporteur for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control



Further reading


The EU is prepared to tackle ongoing pandemic challenges, says EMA chief


EU strengthens its disease prevention and control capacity


Health Union: medicines must be more accessible and affordable


Belarus

On 24 November, the leader of the Belarusian democratic forces, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, addressed MEPs in Strasbourg and urged Europe to amplify the Belarusian peoples’ voice and called on Europe to face autocracy more proactively. In his opening remarks before her speech, EP President David Sassoli said: “Sviatlana is a symbol of the struggle for democracy and freedom, and a voice for many political prisoners currently incarcerated in Belarus. (...) The regime did not hesitate to use men, women, and children who were in need of protection (...) for the sole purpose of destabilising the EU. This Parliament calls on the other institutions to stand up for the defence of fundamental rights”, he concluded.


In a resolution adopted in October, MEPs expressed strong solidarity with Lithuania, Poland and Latvia, as well as other EU countries recently targeted by the Belarusian regime’s attempts to direct migrants and refugees towards the EU’s external borders. They underlined that the ongoing Belarusian state-sponsored irregular migrant crossings into the EU, coupled with a disinformation campaign, are a form of hybrid warfare aimed at intimidating and destabilising the European Union. MEPs stressed the need to consider bringing the case of Belarus to the International Court of Justice over crimes committed on a massive scale against the country’s citizens by the regime of illegitimate dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka.


MEPs to contact


David McAllister (EPP; DE), Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs


Robert Biedroń (S&D, PL), Chairman of the Delegation for relations with Belarus


Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, LT), standing rapporteur on Belarus

Further reading

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “Europe needs to face autocracy more proactively”


Belarus: consider taking the Lukashenka regime to international court, MEPs ask


Poland-Belarus border: MEPs alarmed by humanitarian and political crisis



Ukraine

On 14 December, MEPs debated the large-scale Russian military build-up along the Ukrainian border and fears that Russia might invade Ukraine with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell. A resolution will be put to the vote on Thursday, 16 December. A press release after the vote can be found here.

Western leaders, including those of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy, have called on Russia to de-escalate current tensions, while signalling their readiness to respond firmly to any Russian aggression, such as by issuing tough economic sanctions.

Security and defence

In the annual report 2021 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), adopted on 10 December, Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs warn that the EU is facing new threats. They call for a firm response to the external security challenges and stress that the EU should focus on assessing crisis situations more effectively, faster decision-making and more robust action where circumstances so require.


On 10 December, Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs also adopted their report on the implementation of common foreign and security policy (CFSP). The EU needs to deal more effectively with international challenges, and to do that it has to act on the global stage with one voice, say MEPs. The EU should develop its leadership role by strengthening multilateral partnerships on global priorities, in particular the United Nations. It should lead in protecting and promoting democracy and human rights globally.


MEPs to contact



David McAllister (EPP; DE), Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs

Nathalie Loiseau (Renew, FR), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence



Further reading


MEPs call for firm response to the external security challenges


MEPs call for more effective and impactful common foreign and security policy


External aspects of migration


In a plenary debate with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on 10 November, MEPs expressed their deep worries over the dramatic crisis currently unfolding at the Polish-Belarusian border. They also repeated their strong condemnation of the current tactics used by the Belarusian dictatorial regime to funnel people to the EU’s external borders, escalating the situation with neighbouring countries, in particular Poland, as revenge for European Union sanctions.



Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chairman of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affair


David McAllister (EPP; DE), Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs

Nathalie Loiseau (Renew, FR), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence



Further reading


Poland-Belarus border: MEPs alarmed by humanitarian and political crisis



MEPs call for firm response to the external security challenges



Rising Energy Prices


With gas prices surging, and concerns over the impact on consumers and businesses, MEPs, the Council and the Commission debated on 6 October how to address the crisis and what measures can be taken to limit the impact of price rises. During the debate in plenary, MEPs called for an investigation into market manipulation from state and non-state actors, and into the EU carbon market speculation in order to measure the impact that both of these factors are having on prices. Many insisted on the need for immediate measures to protect the most vulnerable from rising bills.


MEP to contact:


Cristian-Silviu BUŞOI (EPP, RO), Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

Further reading


Energy costs: MEPs debate measures to limit impact of price rises




EU-Africa Summit


On 14 December, the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, addressed Parliament in a formal sitting. He expressed his hope that the EU and the African Union can work on a joint strategy and define a new partnership. African countries should not be just a receiver of help from Europe, but they should sit side by side at the decision making table as equals. The President also stressed that investing in Africa and helping it develop its economy would bring huge export opportunities for European companies.


In a resolution adopted in March, Parliament defined a strategy for a new EU-Africa partnership. Human development must be at the centre of future EU-Africa relations, prioritising education, including teacher training, reducing early school leaving, and concentrate on the inclusion of girls. A future EU-Africa strategy should also aim to improve health care and national health systems. Additionally, MEPs call for cooperation on issues such as the green transition, energy, digital transformation, sustainable jobs, good governance and migration, as already identified by the Commission and the European External Action Service.



MEPs to contact


Tomas Tobé, (EPP, SE) Chairman of the Committee on Development


Chrysoula Zacharopoulou (Renew, FR), rapporteur for a “New EU-Africa Strategy”



Further reading



President of Ghana to Parliament: We need a new EU-Africa partnership


Empowering Africa: Parliament defines strategy for a new EU-Africa partnership


European Parliament calls for the swift signature of the ACP-EU Post-Cotonou agreement