Stressing the success of anti-pandemic measures, EU leaders on Friday are holding an in-person summit for the first time this year.
The two-day summit, organized by the Portuguese government, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, will take place in Porto.
EU heads of states and governments will discuss the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, including the bloc’s response to the US initiative to waive patent rights for vaccines in order to end the pandemic more quickly.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also join the EU leaders via video link to give an overview of the worsening epidemiological situation in his country, as well as to seek assistance from the bloc to tackle the crisis.
Following up on a 2017 initiative of the EU, the summit is originally dedicated to the bloc’s social welfare policy.
According to the summit’s leaked closing declaration, EU leaders will pledge to fight social inequalities and poverty and to promote more opportunities for the long-term unemployed, elderly, and people with disabilities.
The personal meeting of the EU heads of states and governments is meant to emphasize the success of accelerated vaccination campaigns and spread hope that life can get closer to pre-pandemic norms.
This message is particularly important for the hosting Portuguese presidency, which in recent months has been strongly advocating COVID-19 certificates and EU borders opening ahead of the summer season.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Premier Mark Rutte preferred to join their counterparts via video link to make an example to the public.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela will also attend the summit virtually, since he has to quarantine after his wife tested positive for the virus.