EU leaders will today begin a virtual summit with coronavirus vaccine supply top of the agenda.
The two-day digital summit comes as Europe struggles with a new surge of the virus.
Cases rose by 13% across the continent last week and a number of countries have tightened restrictions.
Leaders will discuss efforts to increase the production, delivery and deployment of vaccines – as well as plans for new restrictions on exporting doses outside the bloc.
The European Commission yesterday said it would tighten rules governing the export of vaccine but insisted it was not considering an export ban.
Separately the EU and UK issued a joint-statement to say they would work together to find a 'win, win solution' for both sides.
As things stand the UK has vaccinated around five times more of its people than the EU; however, The Minister of State for European Affairs told Newstalk that Europe will catch up in the coming weeks.
“What the EU is saying, based on what the vaccine companies are saying, is that we will have a significant ramping up of supply in April – at a time when Britain is saying it may have to reduce supply,” he said.
“So, these things come and go but our objective is to make sure 82% of the population can have a first dose of vaccine by the end of June.
“That will lead this country into a completely different place and that will be happening around the same time as Britain.”
The US President Joe Biden will address the meeting this evening to discuss strengthening EU/US cooperation.
Minister Byrne said he does not expect the US to offer Europe any help with supplies.
“America will probably look after itself on vaccinations,” he said.
“They have given a relatively small amount of doses to Canada and Mexico, which is part of existing obligations that they had.
“I think what will happen is they will make sure that we can all be on the same page.
“In reality, we are not that far behind America and I think, really in the next two months, I think that will become clear as supply ramps up.”
The leaders will use the meeting to discuss plans for a digital vaccine certificate as well as the COVAX programme, which provides vaccine supply to less well-off nations.
They will also discuss EU relations with Turkey and with Russia.
In a statement, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it is, “more important than ever that we use every tool available to us to increase the production, supply and distribution of vaccines.”
He said the EU and UK need to strengthen their co-operation on vaccine supply, noting that, “vaccine supply chains are complex and international and we need to keep them open to help us ramp up supply.