Brussels, 29 January 2021
FINE-TUNING OF RECOVERY PLANS NEEDED; STATE AID TEMPORARY FRAMEWORK EXTENDED
The Commission presented updated guidelines for Member States in the context of their national Recovery and Resilience plans. During the presentation of the guidelines, Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis urged Member States to enhance ambition and precision ahead of the April deadline for the EU-27 to submit their recovery plans. Also, the Commission decided to extend until end of 2021 the Temporary Framework doubling the former aid ceilings for companies. With this new extension the Commission also allows Member States to convert repayable instruments into direct grants, as well as extending the temporary removal of all countries from the list of “marketable risk” countries under the short-term export-credit insurance Communication.
PARLIAMENT VOTE ON STRATEGY FOR A NEW EU-AFRICA PARTNERSHIP
Members of the European Parliament adopted a wide strategy on a new EU-Africa partnership with an ample majority. This new strategy will have human development as a central point, prioritizing education and gender equality, as well as other core objectives including improvement of healthcare and national health systems. The strategy also sets out frameworks for a wide range of EU support schemes. These could cover support for African integration to reduce regional dependence on foreign imports; for the creation of a continental free trade area; for more efforts to relieve debt; and also measures to strengthen good governance and the sustainable digital transformation in Africa.
PARLIAMENT COMMITTEE BACK MANDATORY DUE DILIGENCE PROPOSALS
The Legal Affairs Committee adopted a draft legislative initiative calling on the Commission to urgently present a proposal for legislation which would require companies to comply with human rights and environmental standards within their value chains. These binding due diligence requirements would oblige companies to identify and fix any aspects of their value chains that could infringe human rights (including social and labour rights) or violate environmental regulations. All companies seeking to access the EU internal market would, under the draft initiative, have to comply with due diligence obligations. Sanctions for non-compliance could also apply. A proposal from the Commission is expected later this year.
CORONAVIRUS: UPDATE TO COORDINATED APPROACH ON FREE MOVEMENT RESTRICTIONS
The Commission proposed an update to free movement restrictions, aiming to improve coordination in two key areas – the colour code for mapping high-risk areas, and stricter measures applied to travellers from higher-risk areas. With the traffic light system for mapping risk areas with green, orange, red and grey, the Commission is proposing to add ‘dark red’ to indicate areas where the virus is extremely prevalent (500 case notifications per 100 000 people). Also, the Commission recommends that Member States maintain bans on non-essential travel; reinforce stay-at-home measures and business closures, particularly in ‘dark red’ areas; strengthen testing-and-tracing; and increase surveillance and sequencing to enhance monitoring of new COVID-19 variants.
€2.9 BILLION SUPPORT APPROVED FOR BATTERIES VALUE CHAIN PROJECTS
The European Commission approved a European Battery Innovation project spanning twelve Member States, which is set to receive a public funding of €2.9 billion and will run until 2028. The project will cover the entire value chain of batteries, from the extraction of raw materials to the recycling and final disposal of the products. It is hoped the project will help drive EU-level innovation in batteries and also in related industries, such as electric vehicles. The public funding is expected to be complemented by an additional €9 billion in private investments. This project complements the goals and the research of a similar project funded by the Commission in 2019.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab