European Council condemns Belarus’s action and calls for rapid implementation of COVID-19 vaccination certificate

Belarus, Russia, COVID-19 ja climate policies were the main topics of discussion during the Special European Council meeting in Brussels. Finland was represented by Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin giving her doorstep statement. EU-flags are in the background.
Finland was represented by Prime Minister Sanna Marin in the two-day summit.

The special meeting of the European Council, which started on Monday 24 May in Brussels, has strongly condemned the action taken by Belarus on Sunday. A Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Minsk where opposition leader and journalist Raman Pratasevich was arrested. 

The European Council calls on the Council to submit proposals for further targeted economic sanctions without delay. In addition, the Council is called on to prepare the necessary measures to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines. The European Council calls on the International Civil Aviation Organization to urgently investigate the incident and all EU-based carriers to avoid overflight of Belarus.

In line with its agenda, the special European Council held a strategic debate on Russia. The EU leaders condemns the illegal, provocative and disruptive Russian activities against the EU, its Member States and beyond. The European Council reaffirms the EU’s unity and solidarity in the face of such acts as well as its support to Eastern partners. The European Council reaffirms its commitment to the five principles governing EU policy vis-à-vis Russia. It invites the High Representative and the Commission to present a report with policy options on EU-Russia relations, in line with these principles, with a view to its meeting in June 2021.

Regarding the discussions of the second day, the leaders welcome the accelerated pace of vaccinations and the introduction of the EU Digital COVID Certificate. The European Council urges all Member States to implement the digital certificate during the summer. Finland will implement its national COVID-19 vaccination certificate tomorrow and it will be compatible with the EU system

In line with its December conclusions, the European Council provided additional guidance to the Commission for its work on the 2030 climate legislation. Finland considers it important for the EU to achieve its strict emissions targets for 2030 and 2050. Finland also considers it important that all EU countries participate in a fair manner. The European Council reaffirms its conclusions of December 2020 and invites the Commission to swiftly put forward its legislative package together with an in-depth impact assessment.