Outcome of the special European Council meeting of 24-25 May 2021

Briefing 27-05-2021

Following the forced landing of a Ryanair flight by Belarusian authorities on 23 May, Belarus became the central topic on the first day of the special European Council meeting of 24-25 May 2021. EU leaders strongly condemned the 'unprecedented and unacceptable incident', and were united in imposing further sanctions on Belarus. As regards Russia, the European Council reconfirmed the five principles guiding the EU's policy since 2016 and asked the High Representative and the European Commission to present a 'report with policy options' by June 2021. On EU-UK relations, EU leaders called on the European Commission to continue to monitor closely the implementation of the two agreements concluded with the UK. On foreign affairs, they also discussed the situations in the Middle East and in Mali, as well as the forthcoming EU-US summit. The leaders' primary focus on the second day was the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, with the European Council calling for rapid implementation of the EU Digital Covid Certificate, the revision of the Council Recommendation on travel within the EU by mid-June 2021 and accelerated global access to coronavirus vaccines. Finally, regarding climate policy, despite renewed support for the 2030 and 2050 climate targets, diverging views on national efforts to achieve the objectives set remained apparent.