Von der Leyen’s State of the Union speech expected to focus on energy, war in Ukraine

Von der Leyen’s State of the Union speech expected to focus on energy, war in Ukraine

The European Parliament returns to Strasbourg with a packed plenary agenda next week, dominated by energy issues as Governments seek to find solutions to the spiraling costs which are heavily impacting inflation and limiting purchasing power. This issue is expected to feature highly in the annual State of the European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday morning where the Commission’s plan to address current challenges will be presented. After this much-awaited speech, MEPs will assess and give direction. Key votes will be taken on Wednesday on renewable energy and energy efficiency aiming to raise the share of…
Read More Here
EU closes loophole allowing multimillion-euro arms sales to Russia

EU closes loophole allowing multimillion-euro arms sales to Russia

The European Union has closed a loophole that allowed EU governments to export weapons worth tens of millions of euros to Russia last year alone despite an embargo which took effect in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region. EU countries last year sold to Russia weapons and ammunition worth 39 million euros ($42.3 million), according to the latest data made available by the EU Commission - up more than 50% from 2020, when sales were worth 25 million euros, a volume in line with previous years. The EU had banned the export of arms to Moscow in July 2014 in reaction to…
Read More Here
EP calls for embargo of Russian oil and gas

EP calls for embargo of Russian oil and gas

The European Parliament has called for an immediate full embargo on Russian imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas. In a resolution adopted this morning in Strasbourg, MEPs called for additional punitive measures as well as a plan to ensure the EU’s security of energy supply, as well as a strategy to “roll back sanctions in case Russia takes steps towards restoring Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and completely removes its troops from the territory of Ukraine”. Existing sanctions must now be fully and effectively implemented throughout the EU and by the EU’s international…
Read More Here
EU to propose new sweeping sanctions against Russia worth billions of euros

EU to propose new sweeping sanctions against Russia worth billions of euros

The European Commission is to propose on Tuesday to EU nations new sweeping sanctions against Russia, which include a ban on imports of coal, rubber, chemicals and other products from Russia worth up to 9 billion euros a year, an EU source told Reuters. The EU is also proposing to ban exports to Russia worth another 10 billion euros a year, including semiconductors, computers, technology for LNG gas and other electrical and transport equipment, the source said. Russian vessels and trucks will also be prevented from accessing the EU, further crippling trade with Russia, the source said, adding that exceptions will…
Read More Here
EP agrees new rules of supervision of cryptocurrencies

EP agrees new rules of supervision of cryptocurrencies

MEPs agreed on draft rules on supervision, consumer protection and environmental sustainability of crypto-assets, including cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins. Tthe Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee adopted, with 31 votes to 4 and 23 abstentions, its negotiating position on new rules on crypto-assets. They aim to boost users’ confidence and support the development of digital services and alternative payment instruments. Key provisions agreed by MEPs for those issuing and trading crypto-assets (including asset-referenced tokens and e-money tokens) cover transparency, disclosure, authorisation and supervision of transactions. Consumers would be better informed about risks, costs and charges. In addition, the legal framework supports market…
Read More Here
MEPs call for a ban on ‘golden passports’ and EU rules for ‘golden visas’

MEPs call for a ban on ‘golden passports’ and EU rules for ‘golden visas’

The draft legislative initiative report sets out an array of measures to address problems linked to ‘citizenship and residence by investment schemes’. The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs approved the draft text on Tuesday with 61 votes for, 3 against, and 5 abstentions. MEPs stressed that ‘citizenship by investment’ (CBI) schemes, under which third country nationals can get nationality rights in exchange for an investment, are “objectionable from an ethical, legal and economic point of view, and pose several serious security risks”. So-called ‘golden passports’ undermine the essence of EU citizenship and should be phased out, they…
Read More Here
Large majority of Maltese want stronger role for European Parliament

Large majority of Maltese want stronger role for European Parliament

A large majority of Maltese would like to see the European Parliament taking a stronger role in the future. Data by the latest Eurobarometer survey published today, has shown that a total 71% of Maltese respondents to the latest Eurobarometer survey published today replied in the affirmative when queried on whether the democratically-elected institution should take a more leading role, the fourth highest rate in the EU. Only 18% said the EP should have a less important role. Only respondents in Cyprus (89%), Spain (77%) and Belgium (74%) expressed themselves in a more enthusiastic manner on the role of EP,…
Read More Here
Fossil fuel subsidies to face tighter EU scrutiny

Fossil fuel subsidies to face tighter EU scrutiny

The European Commission wants to increase scrutiny of whether countries are phasing out fossil fuel subsidies fast enough to meet climate goals, under EU rules due this year. EU countries spent 56 billion euros on fossil fuel subsidies in 2019, with 15 states spending more on fossil fuels than green energy, the European Court of Auditors said in a report on Monday. The Commission has said such support must end, since they undermine policies to tackle climate change, including the EU's target to reduce net emissions 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels. The auditors said that during their review, the Commission confirmed it will adopt legislation in 2022 setting out how member states must report progress towards phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.…
Read More Here
EP Socialists want to question Metsola, say some of her view points are unacceptable

EP Socialists want to question Metsola, say some of her view points are unacceptable

The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament will organise a hearing in the second week of January to question Roberta Metsola MEP, a candidate to chair the European Parliament during the second half of the legislature, before deciding on their vote. S&D leader Iratxe García MEP said in a statement that she had already started discussing with EPP leader Manfred Weber to see if we can reach an agreement to rebalance the S&D representation in the European Parliament and strengthen our political priorities.“We also want to listen to the EPP candidate proposed to chair this house, because some of…
Read More Here
Malta lags behind in R&D as only Romania fares worse in EU scoreboard

Malta lags behind in R&D as only Romania fares worse in EU scoreboard

In 2020, the Member States of the EU spent around €311 billion on research & development (R&D). This is a decrease of €1 billion compared with 2019 (€312 billion). The R&D intensity, i.e. R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP, stood at 2.3% in 2020, compared with 2.2% in 2019. However, this small increase is due to a decrease in GDP as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten years earlier (2010), R&D intensity was 2.0%. R&D is a major driver of innovation, and R&D expenditure and intensity are two of the key indicators used to monitor resources devoted to…
Read More Here
Metsola formally submits nomination as EPP Group candidate for EP Presidency

Metsola formally submits nomination as EPP Group candidate for EP Presidency

PN MEP and European Parliament Vice President Roberta Metsola has submitted her nomination to become the centre-right EPP's candidate for the European Parliament Presidency. The Nationalist MEP is one of two senior names, the other Dutch MEP Esther de Lange, who have submitted their name as the EPP votes this week to push forward one candidate to replace David Sassoli as EP President. The EPP has insisted that there is a general agreement with the Socialists to share the top posts between the two political parties, with the Socialists having had first choice with the election of the Italian. Confirming…
Read More Here
Maltese women’s take-up of mammograms falls short of EU average

Maltese women’s take-up of mammograms falls short of EU average

Just over 60% of Maltese women aged between 50 and 69 years said they had received a mammogram (breast examination by X-ray) within the previous two years, according to the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) survey. This figures falls slightly below the EU average, which reaches 66% in 2019. At national level, Sweden (95%), Finland (92%), Denmark (82%), Portugal (81%), Luxembourg and the Netherlands (both 78%) recorded the highest share of women of this age who had received a mammogram in that period. In contrast, less than half of women aged between 50 and 69 years had received such an…
Read More Here
EU ‘will start collapsing’ unless it takes on Polish challenge – official

EU ‘will start collapsing’ unless it takes on Polish challenge – official

The European Union "will start collapsing" unless it challenges a ruling by Poland's top court that national legislation trumps European laws, a senior official with the bloc said on Monday. Poland's constitutional tribunal ruled against the central tenet of European integration last week, sharply escalating a row over fundamental values between eurosceptics ruling in Warsaw and most of the other 27 EU countries. More than 100,000 people protested in Poland on Sunday in support of the EU, sounding the alarm about what they fear is a prospect of their country following Britain and leaving the bloc in a "Polexit". "If we don't uphold the principle in the EU that equal…
Read More Here
EU must do more on tax havens, says Von der Leyen, as MEPs pile pressure on blacklisting

EU must do more on tax havens, says Von der Leyen, as MEPs pile pressure on blacklisting

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the Pandora Papers revelations are embarrassing for leaders who have pushed austerity. Speaking in Helsinki, she insisted that the European Union must do more to combat tax evasion and aggressive tax planning. "Tax evasion and aggressive tax planning is completely unacceptable," von der Leyen said. "We have in the European Union some of the highest tax transparency standards in the world, but as we see it's not enough, more work is needed." The Papers, revealed yet another hidden world of offshore finance and investments, with a number of MEPs turning to…
Read More Here
Europe next to suffer from CO2 shortage, industry chiefs warn

Europe next to suffer from CO2 shortage, industry chiefs warn

Carbon dioxide shortages could spread across Europe, business leaders have warned, striking a new blow to the Continent’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Soaring natural gas prices have forced fertiliser companies to curb output, denting production of carbon dioxide as a by-product. Nippon Gases, one of the world’s largest carbon dioxide distributors, told the Financial Times it estimated its supplies had fallen by 50pc in Europe, and countries would “suffer shortages”. It comes as British food producers were warned yesterday to prepare for a 400pc rise in carbon dioxide prices. “We need the market to adjust, the food industry knows…
Read More Here
Supply fears lead EU vaccine industry to seek home comforts

Supply fears lead EU vaccine industry to seek home comforts

European companies playing key supporting roles in COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing are working to move production and supply chains closer to their customers to guard against trade restrictions that have interrupted supplies during the pandemic. Germany's Merck KGaA, whose Life Science unit is one of the world's largest makers of bioreactor gear and supplies, told Reuters it is pushing to spread its production network geographically so that fewer shipments have to cross customs borders. U.S. regulations in particular, which give priority to companies fulfilling U.S. government contracts, have posed a challenge for Merck as its seeks to meet soaring demand for…
Read More Here
SOTEU Speech: MEPs join Von der Leyen in calls for   a stronger EU voice in trade, economy and defence

SOTEU Speech: MEPs join Von der Leyen in calls for a stronger EU voice in trade, economy and defence

Thank you for following this live blog. The President put the focus of her speech on Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis and on what the European Union needs to do for a lasting recovery delivering benefits to all - from health preparedness, to the social dimension, to technological leadership and a defence Union. President von der Leyen described how Europe can secure a lasting recovery by preparing itself to deal with future health crises, thanks to the HERA authority, by helping the world get vaccinated and by making sure that the economic recovery is sustained and benefits everyone. The…
Read More Here
12 EU countries to have recovery plans approved today

12 EU countries to have recovery plans approved today

European finance ministers are set to adopt the recovery plans of 12 EU states on Tuesday, including those of Italy, Spain and France, paving the way for the first disbursements of EU grants and loans to boost investments. Ministers in a meeting in Brussels are expected to give their green light to the plans prepared by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain, EU officials said, in what will be the first batch of approvals. Plans from the remaining 15 EU countries of the EU will be assessed at a later stage. The EU…
Read More Here
Delta variant to represent 90% of infections in EU by September, says EU disease agency

Delta variant to represent 90% of infections in EU by September, says EU disease agency

The European centre for disease control her warned that by the end of August the Delta strain will represent 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the EU, and that it is vital for people, including the young, to get fully vaccinated as the summer holiday season begins. "It is very likely that the Delta variant will circulate extensively during the summer, particularly among younger individuals that are not targeted for vaccination," Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said in a statement. "The Delta variant is more transmissible than other circulating variants and…
Read More Here
Top EU lawyer says Poland is pressuring lawyers illegally

Top EU lawyer says Poland is pressuring lawyers illegally

Polish government pressure on lawyers is incompatible with EU law, an adviser to the European Union’s top court said in an opinion that follows earlier condemnation of Warsaw by the court for interfering in the judiciary. The eurosceptic ruling coalition in Poland has been at odds with the European Union’s central authorities over changes it has been introducing to the appointment and removal of judges since it took power in late 2015. The latest case concerns the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court created by the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party. The chamber gave the justice minister…
Read More Here
Google loosens its search engine grip on Android devices in Europe

Google loosens its search engine grip on Android devices in Europe

Google has bowed to pressure from rivals and will let them compete for free to be the default search engines on Android devices in Europe, widening a pledge to EU antitrust regulators two years ago. The move by the world’s most popular internet search engine comes as the 27-country bloc considers rules that could be introduced next year to force Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook to ensure a level playing field for competitors. Google’s Android mobile operating system runs on about four-fifths of the world’s smartphones. The U.S. tech giant said in 2019 that rivals would have to pay via…
Read More Here
Amazon wins court fight against $303 million EU tax order

Amazon wins court fight against $303 million EU tax order

Amazon on Thursday won its fight against an EU order to pay about 250 million euros ($303 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg as Europe's second highest court dealt a blow to the bloc's crackdown against unfair tax deals for multinationals. In a separate case, French utility Engie however lost its appeal against an EU order to pay back taxes of 120 million euros ($145.7 million) to Luxembourg. The Luxembourg-based General Court said Amazon had not enjoyed a selective advantage in its tax deal with Luxembourg. "The Commission did not prove to the requisite legal standard that there was an undue reduction of…
Read More Here
EU countries want emissons target to remain linked to wealth

EU countries want emissons target to remain linked to wealth

European Union countries will ask the European Commission to keep national emissions targets linked to their levels of wealth as it crafts plans to overhaul EU climate policies, according to a draft document. The 27 EU government leaders will hold a summit on May 24-25 to discuss how they plan to meet the EU's new 2030 climate goal - a cut in net emissions of at least 55% from 1990 levels. The summit will give a steer to the European Commission, which in July will propose a huge package of climate policies to deliver the target, including carbon market reforms and more ambitious renewable energy objectives.…
Read More Here
AstraZeneca reaches vaccine shipping milestone as EU sues again

AstraZeneca reaches vaccine shipping milestone as EU sues again

AstraZeneca Plc has delivered 50 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to European Union countries, according to EU supply data, a milestone the company had originally been expected to hit in January. The volumes delivered make up just one-sixth of total commitments so far, and the European Commission is set to launch on Tuesday a second legal case against AstraZeneca over delayed deliveries, a spokesman for the EU executive said on Monday. Repeated cuts to supplies, which contributed to delays in the EU's vaccination drive, pushed the EU Commission to sue the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker in late April in a bid to get more doses by mid-year. On Tuesday, it…
Read More Here
EU negotiator Barnier spills Brexit secrets in new book

EU negotiator Barnier spills Brexit secrets in new book

The EU's pointman on Brexit, Michel Barnier, releases a book Thursday recounting the insider track on Britain's acrimonious departure and teasing his ambition to become France's next president. Written with his trademark courtesy, the book, "The Grand Illusion: A Secret Diary of Brexit" will disappoint those hoping for salacious revelations from his four years of negotiating with UK counterparts to fix the terms of the Brexit divorce and the follow-up trade pact. Despite holding copious notes from a period that saw Brussels and London butt heads over everything from citizens' rights, money, Northern Ireland, fishing, energy links and import-export regimes,…
Read More Here
At least 12 EU countries confident of July vaccine target -EU’s Breton

At least 12 EU countries confident of July vaccine target -EU’s Breton

At least 12 of the European Union's 27 member states have said they are confident of being able to vaccinate 70% of their adult population by mid-July, the EU executive's vaccine task force chief said on Tuesday. The European Commission has set a target of inoculating 70% of the EU's adult population by the end of this summer, banking on a big increase in vaccine deliveries to accelerate its vaccination drive. "We are confident that we will be able to deliver enough doses but it is true also that it is up to member states to organise themselves to be ready for that," European Internal Market…
Read More Here
European countries may have to mix COVID-19 shots amid AstraZeneca crisis

European countries may have to mix COVID-19 shots amid AstraZeneca crisis

Several European countries are considering mixing up COVID-19 vaccines for citizens who received a first dose of AstraZeneca’s shot, an unprecedented move that highlights challenges for governments struggling to tame fresh rises in infections. Vaccination programmes have been upset after a small number of reports that recipients of the AstraZeneca inoculation have suffered extremely rare blood clots, leading some countries worldwide to suspend its use out of caution. A senior official for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in an interview published on Tuesday there was a link between the vaccine and rare blood clots in the brain but the…
Read More Here
EU Council adopts new rules to strengthen administrative cooperation and include sales through digital platforms

EU Council adopts new rules to strengthen administrative cooperation and include sales through digital platforms

The EU Council has adopted new rules to improve administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and address the challenges posed by the digital platform economy. A large and growing number of individuals and businesses use digital platforms to sell goods or provide services. However, income earned through digital platforms is often unreported and tax is not paid, in particular when digital platforms operate across several countries. This causes member states to lose tax revenue and gives an unfair advantage to traders on digital platforms over traditional businesses. The amendments to the directive on administrative cooperation in the field of…
Read More Here
EU sets research and innovation priorities for a sustainable future

EU sets research and innovation priorities for a sustainable future

The European Commission has adopted the first strategic plan for Horizon Europe, the new EU research and innovation programme worth €95.5 billion in current prices. The strategic plan is a novelty in Horizon Europe and sets the strategic orientations for the targeting of investments in the programme's first four years. It ensures that EU research and innovation actions contribute to EU priorities, including a climate-neutral and green Europe, a Europe fit for the digital age, and an economy that works for people. The strategic plan also identifies the European co-funded and co-programmed partnerships and the EU missions to be supported though Horizon Europe. The partnerships will…
Read More Here
AstraZeneca further cuts target for supply to EU in first quarter to 30 million vaccines: document

AstraZeneca further cuts target for supply to EU in first quarter to 30 million vaccines: document

AstraZeneca cut its supply forecast of COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union in the first quarter to about 30 million doses, a third of its contractual obligations and a 25% drop from pledges made last month, a document seen by Reuters shows. The shortfall is a further blow to EU's vaccination plans already being hampered by repeated delays in supply and a slow rollout in some nations. The AstraZeneca document, shared with EU officials and dated March 10, shows that the company now expects to deliver 30.1 million doses by the end of March, and another 20 million in April.…
Read More Here
Malta has lowest share of female Ministers, MPs

Malta has lowest share of female Ministers, MPs

Malta ranked last in the European Union with regard to the share of female participation in the country's decision-making institution, with the lowest shares for both Cabinet and House representation. The research released by Eurostat, found that women held 33% of seats in national parliaments in the European Union in 2020. This share has been rising since 2004, when women accounted for around one-fifth (21%) of members in national parliaments. Highest share of female parliamentarians in Sweden While the share of seats held by women in national parliaments varies considerably between EU countries, no EU country had more women than men…
Read More Here
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine developers question neutrality of EU regulator, want apology

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine developers question neutrality of EU regulator, want apology

The developers of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 on Tuesday questioned the neutrality of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) after an EMA official urged EU members to refrain from approving the Russian vaccine for now. Christa Wirthumer-Hoche, the head of EMA's management board, told a talk show on Austrian broadcaster ORF on March 7 that she advised European Union countries against granting Sputnik V a national emergency authorisation while EMA was still reviewing the Russian vaccine's safety and effectiveness. "We demand a public apology from EMA's Christa Wirthumer-Hoche for her negative comments on EU states directly approving Sputnik V," the vaccine developers wrote on the…
Read More Here
16 EU countries, including Malta opt against ordering more Moderna vaccines

16 EU countries, including Malta opt against ordering more Moderna vaccines

Malta has opted against topping up its orders for more Moderna vaccines, according to documents revealed by the Hungarian Government. The documents were released as the Hungarian Government sought to diffuse critiscm that it did not purchase as many Moderna doses as it could have, arguing it had done so because the doses would have arrived too late in 2021. Moreover, it insisted that it was not alone in taking such decision, listing 16 other countries that took the same route. According to the document, 16 countries opted out of the vaccine top-up, including: Poland, Romania, Belgium, Greece, the Czech…
Read More Here
Euro zone in double-dip recession but optimism soared in Feb -PMI

Euro zone in double-dip recession but optimism soared in Feb -PMI

The euro zone economy is almost certainly in a double-dip recession as pandemic-linked lockdowns continue to hammer the services industry, a survey showed on Wednesday, but hopes for a wider vaccine rollout drove optimism to a three-year peak. Reported coronavirus cases have remained high across the 19-countries that use the euro and governments have forced hospitality and entertainment venues to remain closed and encouraged citizens to stay at home. IHS Markit's final February Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), seen as a good gauge of economic health, rose to 48.8 from January's 47.8, above a flash reading of 48.1 but firmly…
Read More Here
Gorbachev tells EU and Russia to ‘not be afraid of negotiations’

Gorbachev tells EU and Russia to ‘not be afraid of negotiations’

Moscow (dpa) - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has expressed hope for an improvement in relations between Russia and the European Union, Russia's Interfax news agency reported on Saturday. Ties between the powers took a downturn with the 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, followed by alleged assassination plots in Europe, claims of election-meddling and, most recently, the poisoning and jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union who later won the Nobel Peace Prize, said that even though relations are at their lowest point since the Cold War, common ground could be found. "One should not…
Read More Here
Four in five Oxford Covid jabs delivered to EU not yet used

Four in five Oxford Covid jabs delivered to EU not yet used

Four out of five of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses delivered to EU countries are yet to be used, a Guardian investigation has found, as Angela Merkel admitted to an “acceptance problem” among Europeans being offered the jab. Using data extracted from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and other official sources, it is estimated that 4,849,752 of the 6,134,707 doses distributed among the 27 member states have not yet been administered. The decision by authorities in France, Germany, Poland and Italy to recommend use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine only for people under 65 is likely to be…
Read More Here
ECB wants veto power on stablecoins in the euro zone

ECB wants veto power on stablecoins in the euro zone

The European Central Bank wants veto power on the launch of stablecoins such as Facebook's Diem in the euro zone and a greater role in their supervision, it has told European Union lawmakers. Central bankers around the world are worried that the rise of cryptocurrencies, especially stablecoins which derive their value from one or more official currencies. They fear that could dent control over payments, banking and, ultimately, the supply of money. The EU set out plans in September to create comprehensive rules for crypto-assets, including stress tests as well as capital and liquidity requirements, saying Facebook would have to adhere to them before…
Read More Here
EU to set up new European Partnerships and invest nearly €10 billion for the green and digital transition

EU to set up new European Partnerships and invest nearly €10 billion for the green and digital transition

The Commission proposed today to set up 10 new European Partnerships between the European Union, Member States and/or the industry. The goal is to speed up the transition towards a green, climate neutral and digital Europe, and to make European industry more resilient and competitive. The EU will provide nearly €10 billion of funding that the partners will match with at least an equivalent amount of investment. This combined contribution is expected to mobilise additional investments in support of the transitions, and create long-term positive impacts on employment, the environment and society. The proposed Institutionalised European Partnerships aim to improve EU preparedness and…
Read More Here
EU may impose more sanctions on Belarus, says Polish foreign minister

EU may impose more sanctions on Belarus, says Polish foreign minister

The European Union may impose further sanctions on Belarus after Minsk jailed two journalists for filming protests, Poland's state news agency PAP quoted Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau as saying on Tuesday. Belarus has detained more than 33,000 people in a violent crackdown on protests against President Alexander Lukashenko's rule following a contested August election his opponents say was rigged. Lukashenko has been in office since 1994. "Unfortunately, the situation in Belarus is constantly deteriorating, so more sanctions are likely to be imposed. The list of political prisoners becomes longer. Also two Belsat journalists were added to the list," PAP…
Read More Here
Epic Games takes Apple fight to EU antitrust regulators

Epic Games takes Apple fight to EU antitrust regulators

Fortnite creator Epic Games has taken its fight against Apple to European Union antitrust regulators after failing to make headway in a U.S. court in a dispute over the iPhone maker's payment system on its App Store and control over apps downloads. The two companies have been locked in a legal dispute since August when the game maker tried to get around Apple's 30% fee on some in-app purchases on the App Store by launching its own in-app payment system. That prompted Apple to kick Epic's Fortnite game off the App Store and threaten to terminate an affiliated account that…
Read More Here
EU Agenda

EU Agenda

16 February - Frans Timmermans holds a videoconference call with Mr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Mr Josep Borrell participates via videoconference in the meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence Mr Frans Timmermans holds a videoconference call with representatives of IMAGINE Food Collective 18 February- Ms Vĕra Jourová holds a video meeting with the Committee on European Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Vice-President Schinas participates via videoconference to the Special parliamentary session of the Committee of European Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament on the occasion of the…
Read More Here
EU to launch study programme for COVID-19 variants: von der Leyen

EU to launch study programme for COVID-19 variants: von der Leyen

The European Union will this week kick off a new programme to study mutations in the COVID-19 virus, in a bid to prepare for the next generation of vaccines that might be needed, the European Commission's president told Les Echos. The programme, dubbed "HERA incubator," will bring together health authorities and laboratories and have its own funding, Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview with the French financial newspaper. It will be launched on Wednesday. "As of now, and in parallel to the efforts being made on the current vaccines, we have to help industrial companies develop production capacities…
Read More Here
MEPs call for tighter EU consumption and recycling rules

MEPs call for tighter EU consumption and recycling rules

The European Parliament adopted comprehensive policy recommendations to achieve a carbon-neutral, sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050 at the latest. The report, adopted today with 574 votes in favour, 22 against and 95 abstentions, is a response to the Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan. Binding 2030 targets are needed for materials use and our consumption footprint, covering the whole lifecycle of each product category placed on the EU market, MEPs stress. They also call on the Commission to propose product-specific and/or sector-specific binding targets for recycled content. Parliament urges the Commission to put forward new legislation in 2021, broadening…
Read More Here
EU awaits U.S. trade chief for real tariff talks to start

EU awaits U.S. trade chief for real tariff talks to start

The European Union has had positive, early contact with the Biden administration on trade, but will need to wait for a new U.S. trade representative to be in place for real talks to begin, the EU trade chief said on Monday. Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice president of the European Commission, told Reuters that expectations for more positive engagement with the new U.S. administration were "very high." Dombrovskis described the state of talks as "preliminary" after a discussion with Brian Deese, the director of the White House's National Economic Council, last week to outline the EU's position. Real engagement would be…
Read More Here
Four EU states urge EU to safeguard Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply

Four EU states urge EU to safeguard Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply

The leaders of Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic and Greece have urged the European Commission to act quickly to secure supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. In a letter addressed to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen they said they had been informed that the new vaccine needed to be shipped to the United States for filling and finishing. "If this could risk EU access to the vaccines, we should consider addressing the issue already now with a view to finding solutions with the company in order to safeguard European supply," they said. They said they understood capacity was available…
Read More Here
EU’s von der Leyen defends vaccine strategy

EU’s von der Leyen defends vaccine strategy

EU chief executive Ursula von der Leyen vigorously defended the European Commission's record on vaccines on Tuesday and described a proposal that would have set up border checks on the island of Ireland as the sort of slip made when in a hurry. In interviews with newspapers across Europe, the European Commission president sought to defuse mounting criticism over the EU's slow start to COVID-19 vaccinations and outrage over a decision, swiftly reversed, to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol. Von der Leyen, who has tweeted but not appeared in public since the bloc mandated that vaccine exports require clearance, was asked by the Irish…
Read More Here
GDP down by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.5% in the EU

GDP down by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.5% in the EU

In the fourth quarter 2020, seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.5% in the EU, compared with the previous quarter, according to a preliminary flash estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. These declines, related to COVID-19 containment measures, follow a strong rebound in the third quarter of 2020 (+12.4% in the euro area and +11.5% in the EU) and the sharpest decreases since time series started in 1995 observed in the second quarter of 2020 (-11.7% in the euro area and ‑11.4% in the EU). According to a first…
Read More Here
EU Agenda: 2-5 February

EU Agenda: 2-5 February

Here is what’s on the EU agenda for the week (02 February- 05 February 2021): Tuesday 02 February: Mr Josep Borrell co-chairs via videoconference the meeting of the International Contact Group (ICG) on Venezuela Wednesday 03 February: Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli participates in College meeting. Later that day, Dalli delivers via videoconference a keynote speech on the significance of gender equality and women empowerment at Europe2021 Conference organised by Der Tagesspiegel, DIE ZEIT, Handelsblatt and WirtschaftsWoche Friday 05 February: Mr Josep Borrell in Moscow, Russia: meets with Mr Sergei Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia, and holds a joint…
Read More Here
EU agrees ‘dark red’ COVID-19 zones with stricter travel limits

EU agrees ‘dark red’ COVID-19 zones with stricter travel limits

Hotspots of COVID-19 infection in the European Union will be labelled "dark red" zones to discourage all but essential travel, EU governments agreed on Friday. The EU has already set up a "traffic light" system to designate the seriousness of the spread of the novel coronavirus in each of its 27 states and to try to limit travel. But with infections rising and contagious variants spreading most of the bloc is already red, so new dark red zones would help to distinguish very high-risk areas and also help uphold rules requiring testing on departure and quarantine. EU ambassadors agreed the new measure,…
Read More Here
German regulator expects EU approval of AstraZeneca with no age restrictions

German regulator expects EU approval of AstraZeneca with no age restrictions

The head of Germany's vaccine regulator expects that the European Union will approve AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine without any age restrictions, he told a news conference on Friday. The bloc's drugs regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is due to issue a recommendation on AstraZeneca's vaccine, co-developed by Oxford University, later today. Klaus Cichutek, president of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, said European regulators were in a position to approve the vaccine without restrictions with the warning that the available data for older age groups was weaker. via Reuters
Read More Here
EU Cohesion funds support creation of a vital tool for special people

EU Cohesion funds support creation of a vital tool for special people

The digital age, an era which until a few decades ago was unimaginable, is now an integral part of our lives. The more we age, the more we must get used to a life where people communicate more through messages on their mobile phone than through their vocal cords. Getting used to the digital age is not a matter of choice any longer. It is a must. The more one resists adapting, the more isolated from the real world he or she may become. For many, particularly those with special needs, such as impaired eyesight or hearing, the digital age…
Read More Here
EU Council adopts conclusions on climate and energy diplomacy

EU Council adopts conclusions on climate and energy diplomacy

EU Foreign Ministers have reached agreement on a numebr of Climate and Energy Diplomacy targets, with the intended objective of delivering on the external dimension of the European Green Deal. The Council recognised that climate change is an existential threat to humanity. It notes that global climate action still falls short of what is required to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Council acknowledged that although Europe is showing leadership and setting an example by stepping up its domestic commitments, there is an urgent need for collective and decisive global action. The coherent pursuit of external policy goals…
Read More Here
Brussels targets vaccinating at least 70% of EU adults by summer

Brussels targets vaccinating at least 70% of EU adults by summer

The European Commission recommended on Tuesday to vaccinate against COVID-19 at least 70% of the European Union's adult population by this summer, in an attempt to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Vaccination campaigns are conducted by the 27 EU governments who decide their pace and priority groups. The Commission did not clarify how it intended to boost production capacity of vaccine makers to reach its bold vaccination goal. The Brussels-based EU executive commission said EU states should have vaccinated 70% of all adult people by the summer, a feat that could involve inoculation of more than 200 million people, most likely with two doses each. By March at least 80% of people over the age of 80, and 80%…
Read More Here
EU Agenda: 19 January-22 January

EU Agenda: 19 January-22 January

Tuesday 19 January: European Parliament debate on the EU global strategy on Covid-19 vaccinations Wednesday 20 January: Commissioner Sinkevičius holds a virtual meeting with Mr Costel Alexe, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Ms Vĕra Jourová holds a video meeting with Mr Morgan Johansson, Minister for Justice and Migration of Sweden Thursday 21 January: Start of the EIB annual economics conference. Mr Josep Borrell chairs and delivers a speech via videoconference at the 10th anniversary of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI). Friday 22 January: Mr Josep Borrell holds a videoconference call with Ms Monica Juma, Minister for Defence…
Read More Here
Malta reiterates its continued support for EU-wide coordination on COVID19 matters

Malta reiterates its continued support for EU-wide coordination on COVID19 matters

During a video conference meeting of the General Affairs Council of the European Union, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi Government has reiterated Malta’s support for continued EU-wide COVID-19 coordination.  The Portuguese Presidency of Council, which commenced on January 1st, convened the meeting to prepare for the EU leaders’ informal video conference meeting scheduled for this week, in which Prime Minister Robert Abela is expected to participate.  Concerning vaccination certificates, Dr Zrinzo Azzopardi stated that a COVID-19 vaccination certificate should be used to facilitate the movement of persons within the EU, rather than act as a barrier to…
Read More Here
EU kicks off debate on vaccine travel certificates

EU kicks off debate on vaccine travel certificates

European Union countries kicked off a debate on Monday on whether people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine should have greater freedom to travel in the summer than those not immunized. Europe ministers from the 27 EU nations held a video conference to discuss greater coordination for the roll-out of vaccines, a topic to be picked up by EU leaders who will meet online on Thursday. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis floated the idea last week in a letter to the European Commission of an EU-wide vaccination certificate to help restore cross-border travel that has been crippled by the pandemic.…
Read More Here
EU Agenda

EU Agenda

05 January- 09 January 05 January-07 January: European Parliament Committee meetings 06 January: meeting of the Committee on Budgetary Control at the European Parliament 07 January:  Public hearing on the challenges of teleworking: organisation of working time, work life balance and the right to disconnect 09 January: Executive Vice President of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age Margrethe Vestager Participates in Radikale Venstre’s New Year Convention on the future of European welfare
Read More Here
Malta among EU nations with lowest overcrowding in homes

Malta among EU nations with lowest overcrowding in homes

In the European Union 17.2% of the population were living in overcrowded households in 2019, meaning they did not have enough rooms compared to the size of the household. Malta stands at the lowest end of this particular table, at 3.7%, with only Ireland and Cyprus registering a lower percentage of overcrowding, according to data published by Eurostat today. Overcrowded households can feel even smaller with kids playing in the same room as parents trying to telework during the coronavirus lockdown. Moreover, overcrowded environments can present a higher risk of spreading the virus. On the other hand, staying home alone for…
Read More Here