Tuesday, 14 December 2021
European Council Meeting: Statements
It is clear that the primary discussion at the meeting this week is going to be around the pandemic, the managing of it and how that is progressing. Really the TRIPS waiver is the issue for the world that we need Europe to lead out on. Talking about COVAX and everything else simply does not cut it. It has simply failed. There needs to be recognition of that. Ireland needs to take this opportunity to lead and make it clear everywhere that we need the TRIPS waiver. The world needs it. As long as we drag our feet on it, we are going to have continuous variants of Covid-19. It is going to cause problems and we are going to be in this crisis for years to come. That is one of the primary things we need to work towards.
We need to get our voice clearly heard in respect of the issues around European security and all that. I saw reports this week on inter-agency co-operation across Europe which were referring to some kind of "shoot on sight" by an authority from other European states. We have a crisis across eastern Europe and particularly in Belarus. Europe needs very steady heads here. Ireland needs to lead that out and needs to be very clear on our position. The Taoiseach has a job of work to do in respect of that.
The continuing use of migrants as political chips on the table is simply wrong and repulsive to the vast majority of people everywhere across Europe. In most countries in Europe we need new people to come in to take up jobs and progress our economies yet we see this fortress Europe being built at every opportunity. There needs to be a very hard conversation in respect of that.
Going back to the Covid-19 situation, many countries in eastern Europe have a low take-up of the vaccine and this also needs to be learned from. Indeed, many people from eastern Europe who live in Ireland are among the slowest to take up the vaccine here. That is another issue that we all need to work harder to ensure we address.