Brussels, 28 May 2021
EU LEADERS WELCOME VACCINATION CAMPAIGN PROGRESS AND DISCUSS CLIMATE CHANGE
This week EU leaders gathered to discuss, among other issues, the state of play of the pandemic response and climate change. Welcoming the accelerating pace of the vaccination campaign, they agreed on the necessity to remain vigilant and step-up vaccine production and deployment, called for the rapid implementation of the EU Digital COVID Certificate and committed to revise their travel recommendations by mid-June. Due to divisions among member states, the summit members also invited the Commission to publish an in-depth examination of the environmental, economic, and social impact at Member State level of the climate related legislative package “Fit for 55”, set to be published by mid-July.
EU-SWITZERLAND PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT NEGOTIATIONS COME TO A HALT
The Swiss Federal Council decided to terminate the negotiations of the EU-Swiss Institutional Framework Agreement. As a result, the European Commission published a notice informing that the mutual recognition and related trade facilitating effects for medical devices between the EU and Switzerland ceased to apply on 26 May. Furthermore, the Swiss stated that they are no longer interested in a comprehensive agreement with the EU, due to EU demands on freedom of movement among other things. The EU is Switzerland’s largest trading partner and this development will affect their access to the EU’s internal market.
COMMISSION ISSUES GUIDANCE TO STRENGTHEN CODE OF PRACTICE ON DISINFORMATION
The European Commission published its guidance on how the Code of Practice on Disinformation, established in October 2018, should be reinforced. The guidance calls for stronger commitments by the signatories and foresees a broader participation to the Code. It also notes that signatories should (i) reduce financial incentives to disinformation, (ii) empower users to take an active role in preventing its spread, (iii) better cooperate with fact-checkers across EU Member States and languages, and (iv) provide a framework for access to data for researchers. The Commission will call upon the signatories of the Code to convene and strengthen it in line with the guidance.
EU-JAPAN SUMMIT FOCUSES ON COVID-19 AND GREEN AND DIGITAL TRANSITIONS
EU leaders met via videoconference with Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan, for the 27th EU-Japan Summit. The two sides signed on this occasion a Joint Statement highlighting their commitment to tackle global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and digital transformation. At the same time, they welcomed the positive results of the EU-Japan economic partnership agreement and expressed their desire for expanding cooperation between both sides’ industrial, science, research & innovation, and space sectors. Finally, the EU and Japan agreed to enhance cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and discussed some further foreign policy and security issues.
COUNCIL SUPPORTS COMMISSION’S PROPOSALS FOR A SUSTAINABLE BLUE ECONOMY
The Council adopted conclusions on the new EU approach for a sustainable blue economy, supporting the Commission’s cross-sectoral approach and welcoming its four-pillar division. In practice, this means that the Council: (i) recognises the need to protect oceans and seas, addressing major threats to their ecosystems and biodiversity; (ii) aims to foster a ‘blue’ knowledge-based governance, thus supporting research, innovation, and open data initiatives; (iii) considers that a sustainable blue economy is a vital component for the success of the European Green Deal; and (iv) emphasises the ‘social’ dimension of the pursual of a sustainable blue economy.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab