Brussels, 28 January 2022
EU AND THE US SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH UKRAINE, WHILE RUSSIA DENIES POSSIBLE INVASION
As the tensions between Russia and Ukraine heightened, the US prepares to increase military support to Ukraine and calls for a UN security council meeting, while Russia continues to deny a possible invasion of the country. At the same time, a delegation of MEPs from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Security and Defence Subcommittee will travel to Ukraine early next week to gather information on the current crisis and demonstrate the Parliament’s solidarity with Ukraine. The move comes after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macrons met in Berlin, pledging to continue the dialogue with Russia, and Vladimir Putin met with the CEOs of some of the largest Italian companies to discuss economic ties.
COUNCIL ADOPTS POSITION ON A COMMON CHARGER FOR ELECTRONIC DEVICES
The Council adopted its position on a common charger for electronic devices, aiming to ensure that all the devices can be recharged using the same USB type-C charger and harmonising fast charging technology. The aim is to reduce consumers’ need to buy a new charger when purchasing new devices, therefore reducing electronic waste. In its position, the Council also added an annex with a pictogram indicating whether a charger is offered with the device to further improve consumer information. Once the European Parliament agrees its position, the trialogues will begin.
COUNCIL REVISES RECOMMENDATION ON COVID-19 MEASURES AFFECTING FREE MOVEMENT
In response to the significant increase in vaccine uptake and the rapid roll-out of the digital COVID certificate, the Council adopted a new recommendation on COVID-19 measures facilitating safe free movement. Under the new rules, these measures should be applied taking into account the individuals’ personal status, rather than the situation at the regional level, except for situation with very high levels of circulation of the virus. Travellers that have a valid COVID certificate will not be subject to additional restrictions, unless travelling to and from dark red areas. The recommendation will enter into force on 1 February 2022.
EU LAUNCHES LAWSUIT AGAINST CHINA OVER DISCRIMINATORY TRADE PRACTICES
The EU launched a lawsuit at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against China over its arbitrary import blocks of EU products connected to Lithuania, which the Commission defines as discriminatory and harmful to exporters both in Lithuania and in other EU Member States. While Berlin solicited Brussels not to hit back with counter-sanctions over fears of impact on German exports to China, the Commission has collected evidence of the Chinese restrictions to start the dispute settlement. Should the consultations under the first stage of WTO cases not lead to a positive outcome within the next two months, the EU may request the establishment of a dedicated panel to rule on the issue.
MEPS QUESTION FRENCH MINISTERS ON FRANCE’S PRIORITIES FOR COUNCIL PRESIDENCY
French Ministers discussed the priorities of the French Presidency of the Council in a series of meetings with MEPs. The first set of hearings focused on issues such as the anti-coercion tool, the digital and green transitions, women’s rights and gender equality, and employment and social affairs. France’s Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, emphasised that delivering on the green and socially fair economic recovery and better integrating innovation into the EU’s economic model represent key priorities, while Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, condemned the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukraine border, as MEPs criticised France’s proposals to re-establish a dialogue with Russia and enquired whether Member States would agree to adopt more assertive steps against China.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab