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Slovenia aims to eliminate the growing differences in the vaccination rate among EU Member States

As part of the group of six like-minded countries, Slovenia has always worked towards eliminating the growing differences in the vaccination rate among EU Member States. The overall goal was to eliminate these differences to the greatest extent possible with the supply of 10 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to achieve a 70% vaccination rate of the adult population in all Member States by early summer. Member States had different interests and views regarding the distribution of these 10 million vaccine doses.

Slovenia, together with the other five like-minded countries, advocated that the largest possible share of these vaccines be distributed based on solidarity (those who lag behind get more); however, the views of those Member States who already have a high vaccination rate were different. At the video conference meeting of the European Council on 25 March 2021, EU leaders agreed to confirm the key according to which the allocation of vaccines is proportional to the population, and called on the Committee of Permanent Representatives to address the issue of the speed of vaccine delivery when allocating the ten million Pfizer-BioNTech accelerated doses in the second quarter of 2021 in a spirit of solidarity.

Slovenia continued to advocate the solidarity distribution of at least five million doses out of ten. During the negotiations, the presidency proposed to distribute only 3 million vaccine doses in solidarity and initially only to the five Member States with the lowest vaccination rate (i.e. Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia), while the rest would receive them from the remaining 7 million doses according to the size of their population. In this case, Slovenia would receive 32,769 vaccine doses. In further negotiations, the presidency slightly increased the solidarity share of the distribution by taking into account the share that Slovenia would receive in accordance with the size of its population from the total amount of 10 million vaccine doses. Therefore, Slovenia will receive additional 14,044 vaccine doses as per the final agreement.

The solution of the Portuguese presidency was acceptable to Austria and Slovenia, but not to the Czech Republic, which is currently greatly affected by the coronavirus crisis. Precisely because of the Czech Republic, Slovenia also insisted on a different solution. It is regrettable that solidarity was denied to the Czech Republic by the countries that have not ordered the much affordable AstraZeneca vaccine and will thus be able to reach a vaccination rate of over 60% or even over 80% by June. As already mentioned, Slovenia estimated that at least 5 million out of 10 million vaccine doses should be distributed in solidarity, as was roughly agreed upon on Thursday, in order to provide for all Member States, including the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is one of the rare countries that helped Slovenia with personal protective equipment during the first wave of the epidemic when the shortage was the most severe. For this reason we insisted to support the Czech Republic and we deeply regret that the decision adopted was mainly to its detriment.