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Following the focus of the first day of the special European Council summit resting on Belarus' forced landing of a Ryanair flight to arrest an opposition journalist, today EU leaders have just begun to discuss the bloc's response to COVID-19 and climate change policy.

  • The Council last night made the decision to recommend additional sanctions to be placed on individuals and entities linked to the Lukashenko regime as well as flights from the Belarusian flag carrier airline being banned from flying in EU airspace or landing at EU airports. Both of these decisions will require approval by the relevant Council of Ministers in order to be implemented (conclusions here).
  • EU Council conclusions on Russia, EU-UK, MENA, and SSA. Given that the primary focus of the evening's discussion focused on Belarus, many of these conclusions did not get significant debate or focus in the Council meeting.
  • Looking to today, the discussions that have just got underway are intended to discuss a number of topics.
    • In relation to the pandemic, the bloc's EU digital COVID certificate, coordination to monitor new variants, and the provision of vaccines to emerging markets all set to be discussed. Inevitably the EU's proposed EUR750bn pandemic recovery facility will also come up, with five member states yet to ratify the Own Resources decision that will allow the Commission to issue its own debt to raise the funds for pandemic relief.
    • On climate change, the Council is set to look to agree on additional guidance for the Commission on how to reach the target of reducing net carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990.
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