These doses will in the first instance be used for vaccinating medical workers and other vulnerable groups in the region. Deliveries will begin in May to all Western Balkans partners, and continue until August.
High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell commented:
Austria has facilitated the sharing of these vaccines through legal arrangements with the producer and the Western Balkan partners. The doses are funded from the €70 million package adopted by the European Commission in December 2020 to help cover the cost of vaccines secured under the EU’s advance purchase agreements for the Western Balkan partners. The overall distribution between countries will be based on the epidemiological needs.
The EU has invested close to €3 billion to pre-finance the production of vaccines through its Advanced Purchase Agreements with pharmaceutical companies. These agreements offer EU Member states the possibility to resell, donate or transfer options to partner countries.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the EU has supported the Western Balkan partners in its COVID-19 response, mobilising more than €3.3 billion to support the region. The assistance provided covers medical emergency response as well as the region’s long-term economic recovery. It also supports the region’s preparedness for vaccination campaigns for safe and effective vaccination across the region. The EU’s investment in the health sector in previous years has also proved crucial during the pandemic.
In addition to the 651,000 EU-funded vaccine doses, deliveries also continue through COVAX, the global initiative to secure safe vaccines, of which Team Europe - the EU and its Member States - is one of the main funders with €2.47 billion. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia have been able to procure vaccines through COVAX, while Kosovo receives vaccines free via COVAX due to the size of its economy.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen; Enlargement and Neighbourhood Commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi; and the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on the announcement.