Insights | EU Insight 26 February, 2021

26/02/2021

EU Insight 26 February, 2021

Brussels, 26 February 2021

 

COVID-19 VACCINES REMAIN AT THE CORE OF DISCUSSIONS AT THE SUMMIT

EU leaders met virtually to discuss COVID-19, health, security and defence, and the southern neighbourhood at the two-day European Council meeting that ended today. Vaccines were the topic of the day, with leaders calling for reinforced cooperation to tackle the pandemic. In the Council’s conclusions, they affirm that non-essential travel should continue to be restricted, while efforts to speed up vaccines production must continue. Leaders also asked the Commission to report in June on the lessons learnt and the way forward. Finally, they reaffirmed the commitment to increase the EU’s strategic autonomy in the international arena and identified the steps needed to enhance EU’s security and defence policies.

 

EU ADOPTS NEW STRATEGY ON ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE

The Commission adopted a new strategy to prepare for the unavoidable effects of climate change. Presenting the plan, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that inadequate preparation can have “dire consequences”. The new strategy targets improving knowledge of climate impacts and adaptation solutions, stepping up climate planning and risk assessments, and strengthening climate resilience globally. On the latter, the EU aims to promote climate adaptation at all global political levels, with a specific focus on Africa and Small Island Developing States through the provision of resources, scaling up international finance and closing the gap in climate finance.

 

PUBLIC COUNTRY-BY-COUNTRY TAX REPORTING BACK ON AGENDA

Following a long stalemate in the Council, Member States have now unblocked the way forward on the public Country-by-Country Reporting (CBCR) Directive. CBCR would require multinationals with a revenue of at least €750 million to disclose on a country-by-country basis how much revenue and profit they make and the tax they pay, amongst other things. The file was blocked in Council for several years but with Austria having changed its position this week, there is no longer a blocking minority. The Council is expected to agree on a negotiating mandate in the coming weeks and talks with the Parliament could begin shortly thereafter.

 

COMMISSION PROPOSES NEW ROAMING REGULATION TO EXTEND USE OF CURRENT RULES

The European Commission proposed a new Roaming Regulation to ensure that citizens can continue to enjoy roaming without additional charges when travelling in the EU. The new Regulation will not only prolong the current rules (which are due to expire in 2022) for another ten years, but also aims to improve the current roaming services. For example, the Commission wants consumers to be entitled to have the same quality and speed of their mobile network connection abroad as at home, where equivalent networks are available. The proposal, which will be subject to amendments by the co-legislators, also envisage further reductions in wholesale roaming prices.

 

MEMBER STATES ADOPT CONCLUSIONS ON NEW CONSUMER AGENDA

The Council of the EU adopted its conclusions on the Commission’s Communication on a ‘New Consumer Agenda’. The Agenda presents a holistic vision for EU consumer policy for the years 2020 to 2025, with a particular focus on strengthening consumer resilience and promoting a sustainable recovery. This is one of the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency and the Council is committed to implement its actions. In particular, the principles of a circular economy underpin the Agenda’s key provision, such as the ‘right to repair’, while stressing online and offline consumer protection and product safety.

 

COMING UP NEXT WEEK

  • 1 March: EU-Albania Stabilisation and Association Council. On the agenda: Pre-accession strategy, developments in the Western Balkans.
  • 1 March: Informal meeting of ministers of tourism.
  • 1 March: Informal video conference of health ministers.
  • 2 March: Informal video conference of trade ministers. On the agenda: Communication on the Trade Policy Review.

 

Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab

____________________________________________________________________

Kreab • Tel: +32 2 737 6900 • karl.isaksson@kreab.comwww.kreab.com/brussels • Twitter: @KreabEU.

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