Brussels, 19 February 2021
COMMISSION PRESENTS FUTURE EU TRADE POLICY
The European Commission has set out its trade strategy for the coming years. Reflecting the concept of open strategic autonomy, the strategy builds on the EU’s openness to contribute to the economic recovery through supporting the green and digital transformations, as well as a renewed focus on strengthening multilateralism and reforming global trade rules to ensure that they are fair and sustainable. The strategy prioritises a major reform of the World Trade Organization, including global commitments on trade and climate, new rules for digital trade, reinforced rules to tackle competitive distortions, and restoring its system for binding dispute settlement.
PLAN AGAINST COVID-19 VARIANTS LAUNCHED BY THE COMMISSION
The European Commission presented a new European bio-defense preparedness plan against COVID-19 variants called the “HERA Incubator”. This proposal aims to bring together researchers, companies, manufacturers, and public authorities to detect new strains of the virus as well as develop more efficient processes and capacities for future health emergencies. The actions to be developed by this incubator will prepare the ground for the future European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority, which will provide a permanent body in charge of risk modelling, global surveillance, and medical research and development among other objectives.
EU FINANCE MINISTERS DISCUSS ECONOMIC RECOVERY
The Commission presented the Winter Forecast and discussions focused on the overall economic situation when EU finance ministers met. In early March, the Eurogroup and the Commission will provide preliminary fiscal guidance to Member States to coordinate national budgetary preparations for 2022. The recovery is conditional to a swift disbursement of funds under Next Generation EU, Member States should present their national plans before end of April. The countries were also encouraged to swiftly ratify the Own Resources decision to allow the Commission to start its borrowing activities under NGEU.
ADDITIONAL VACCINE CONTRACT FOR UP TO 300 MILLION DOSES
Earlier this week, the Commission announced the decision to sign a second contract with the pharmaceutical company Moderna for an additional (up to) 300 million doses, 150 million of them to be delivered in 2021, with the option to purchase the other half in 2022. With this latest contract, the European Commission alone has ensured the access to 2.6 billion doses from vaccine makers deemed safe and effective by the European Medicines Agency.
COVID-19 TRANSPORT POLICIES: COUNCIL ADOPTS TEMPORARY SLOTS AND LICENCE RULES
The Council adopted two sets of temporary rules to support the transport sector. Relief from airport slot use requirements will protect airlines and prevent environmental harm that would be caused by running empty flights. Additionally, the extension of the possibility to temporarily prolong the validity of driving licenses, roadworthiness tests and other specific licenses, certificates and authorisations will help transport operators and citizens who are unable to fulfil certain administrative requirements. The swift adoption of the regulation means new rules will be in place in time for the start of the 2021 summer season.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab
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