EU Leaders to meet in person on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels

They will talk about foreign policy, Covid-19 and climate

Photo: EU Charles Michel.

EU leaders will hold their first for this year physical meeting in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday. The scope of the special meeting of the European Council includes a variety of topics - from foreign policy matters to Covid, vaccines and climate.

The dinner on Monday will focus on foreign policy issues. As agreed during our videoconference in March, we will hold a strategic debate on Russia, European Council President Charles Michel wrote in his invitation letter to the leaders on Friday.

A future discussion among ourselves could usefully be framed by a report from the High Representative and the Commission, in line with the five guiding principles for EU-Russia relations, he also specified.

Relations with the UK will also be on the menu, and this discussion is all the more important following the entry into force of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on 1 May this year.

This agreement, as well as the Withdrawal Agreement and its Protocols, should be fully and effectively implemented, in the interests of a mutually beneficial relationship and close partnership, Michel specified. He detailed that this includes “ensuring that the UK respects the principle of non-discrimination among Member States”.

The European Council will briefly address the situation in the Middle East as well as preparations for the upcoming EU-US institutional Summit mid-June in which will take part US President Joe Biden.

On the next day, leaders will zoom in on the pressing issues of COVID and climate. With the pace of vaccinations increasing across the EU and entering a new phase of the pandemic response, the leaders will seek to prepare for a reopening ahead of the summer.

The recent agreement on the Digital COVID Certificates is a welcome step, Michel said and underlined the need to continue EU coordinated approach to facilitate free movement throughout the EU.

“It is nevertheless of utmost importance that we maintain our vigilance regarding new variants and that we are prepared to take action as necessary.”

The leaders will also discuss international solidarity in fighting the pandemic. Saying that the EU is a leading vaccine producer, exporter and contributor to COVAX, Michel stressed that the leaders will address how, and to what extent, the EU can further step up its sharing of vaccines with the rest of the world.

On the climate front, leaders will once again touch upon the EU’s climate ambition for 2030 before the Commission's Fit‑For-55 package proposal. “This will be a good occasion for everybody to state their key priorities and concerns in this respect,” Michel explained.

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