The President of the European Commission has called for a debate on compulsory vaccination in Europe as evolving dynamics in several member states put pressure on organizations to accept the injection.
Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels that she believes it is appropriate to “discuss” the issue given how many people remain unvaccinated against Covid-19 in the union – even though she He stressed that such rules are entirely a decision for member states. .
Her words come as Germany’s political leaders are set to meet on Thursday to discuss advancing the immunization mandate as they seek to boost coverage. Negotiations have become more urgent due to the spread of Coronavirus variant Omicron, was identified last week.
“It is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion, how we can encourage and potentially think about compulsory vaccination within the EU,” von der Leyen said on Wednesday. “This needs discussion – this needs a common approach.”
Von der Leyen said she is concerned about low vaccination rates. According to figures compiled by Our World in Data and the Financial Times, around 147 million people in the EU are not fully vaccinated. The president said she would never have imagined that so many people would refuse a “life-saving vaccine” despite the pandemic raging around the world.
The President emphasized that she is expressing her personal views, rather than proposing a new EU policy. Her intervention comes as appetite increases in some member states to increase pressure on the unvaccinated even before new cases of the variant are reported in Europe.
Olaf Scholz, Germany’s incoming chancellor, said this week he wanted Mandatory use of Covid-19 vaccine immediately after February or March. He will meet incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel and representatives of Germany’s states on Thursday to discuss the vaccination mandate that needs to pass the country’s legislature.
Last month, Austria became the first country on the continent to decide that Covid-19 vaccination will become mandatory for its population. The measure announced by Prime Minister Alexander Schallenberg is a response to low vaccination rates and increased production.
From mid-January, Greece will impose a €100 monthly fine on people over 60 who refuse to get vaccinated, while other countries have insisted on vaccines for healthcare workers and those working. in long-term care facilities.
In Slovakia, the government has given away a €500 hospitality voucher to vaccinated elderly people as it seeks to raise one of the EU’s lowest vaccination rates.
One EU diplomat said: “Not everyone is happy with her being involved in this as this is the capacity of a member state.” “Given how sensitive this topic is in some member states, it’s unclear if her intervention would be of any help.”
Referring to the Omicron variant, von der Leyen said it was necessary to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst” as scientists develop their analysis of the threat posed, with results expected after two to three weeks.
If it becomes clear that Existing vaccines don’t work so well For the new variant, the EU has taken precautions, she said, pointing to the terms in the bloc’s contracts with pharmaceutical manufacturers that allow for updated versions of the vaccine.