Brussels, 18 February 2022
PARLIAMENT APPROVES 1,2BN EURO FOR UKRAINE, EU LEADERS DISCUSS CRISIS
The European Parliament discussed EU-Russia relations, European security, and Russia’s military threat against Ukraine during the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg. During the plenary, MEPs gave green light to immediately disburse the EUR 1,2bn in macro-financial assistance for Ukraine, adopting the resolution under the urgency procedure. An informal meeting of EU Heads of States and Governments was also convened right before the EU-Africa Summit, where European Council President Charles Michel confirmed the EU’s solidarity with Ukraine and urged de-escalation of the crisis. Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said that the EU will not hesitate using sanctions against Russia in case of need, although diplomatic solutions would be preferred.
EU COURT OF JUSTICE RULES TO UPHOLD THE RULE OF LAW CONDITIONALITY MECHANISM
The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) dismissed the actions brought by Hungary and Poland against the conditionality mechanism under the 2021-2027 EU budget, which the two countries had claimed to be illegal under EU law. With the CJEU’s ruling, the Commission will be able to apply the conditionality mechanism as intended, with the possibility of blocking EU funding for specific Member States. While Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Parliament President Roberta Metsola welcomed the ruling, the Polish government called the ruling “an attack against its national sovereignty” and Hungary’s Justice Minister a “living proof that Brussels is abusing its power”.
PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW RULES ON ROAD HAULAGE CHARGING
MEPs gave the final green light to an agreement with EU governments under which time-based road charging, or “vignettes”, will be phased out for heavy-duty vehicles, such as trucks, lorries and buses, across the core trans-European transport (TEN-T) network within eight years of the new rules entering into force. After this time, Member States will start applying tolls, or distance-based charges. Moreover, to encourage the wider use of more environmentally friendly vehicles, EU countries will need to set different road charging rates based on CO2 emissions for trucks and buses, and on environmental performance for vans and minibuses as of 2026.
EUROPEAN-AFRICAN SUMMIT TO BOLSTER INVESTMENT AND PEACE
The leaders of the EU and the African Union as well as their respective member states met for the sixth European Union-African summit in Brussels. The summit mostly covered the launch of the Africa-Europe Investment Package with consideration given to global challenges like climate change and the current health crisis as well as a renewed peace and security architecture. Further topics were discussed during a series of thematic roundtables where the heads of states and governments were joined by a selected group of external guests as expert representatives.
PARLIAMENT CALL FOR EUROPEAN STRATEGY TO FIGHT CANCER
The European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer adopted its report on a comprehensive and coordinated EU Strategy to fight cancer. The European strategy focuses on cancer prevention, equal access to cancer care across borders, and aims to make cancer treatments more accessible and affordable at EU level by addressing medicines shortages amongst other things. Key recommendations in the report include guaranteeing the “right to be forgotten”, adding other cancers to the new EU-supported Cancer Screening Scheme, and strengthening the transparency of the pharmaceutical system in different European countries.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab