10th May 2021


Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK

  • EU leaders urged faster deliveries from vaccine producers last week (Photo: European Commission)

The roll-out of vaccines, and the continued lockdown in EU countries will still be on the minds of EU officials and lawmakers this week.

On Tuesday (26 January) the director of the European Medicine Agency, Emer Cooke will be quizzed by MEPs in the environment-and-health committee on vaccine authorisation, and deployment of the jabs.

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The EMA is expected to approve its third vaccine, produced by Oxford/AstraZeneca, on 29 January. The EU regulator has been criticised for taking a longer time than its UK and US counterparts to approve the drugs.

The EU will also continue to deal with letting go of the UK.

The European Parliament's trade committee will, on Thursday (28 January), debate the EU-UK agreement on future relations, which already came into force provisionally, but still awaits MEPs' confirmation.

The fisheries and tax committees will also continue to work on examining the deal before the plenary can give its final verdict.

Sanctions talk

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers are also meeting on Monday (25 January).

During their informal lunch they are expected to discuss EU-UK relations, which were recently complicated by London's reluctance to give full diplomatic privileges to the EU ambassador to the UK.

"The EU has diplomatic missions in 143 countries. All of them have full diplomatic status and the UK knows his very well," an EU diplomat said ahead of the talks.

Foreign ministers will also talk about the arrest of Russian political campaigner Alexei Navalny and the possibility of EU sanctions on Russia in response.

A group of eight EU states is interested in blacklisting Russian individuals involved in his detention, EUobserver understands, especially if things deteriorate after pro-Navalny street protests in Russia planned for Saturday.

But many EU capitals are still in wait-and-see mode.

"We will have to see how the trial moves on and we'll take it from there [sanctions talks]", the EU diplomat noted.

The situation of migrants and refugees on the Greek islands will be on the agenda on Wednesday (27 January) on the civil-liberties committee in parliament with representatives of civil society.

The EU commission will present a pilot project to establish and operate a new reception and identification centre on the island of Lesvos.

For their part, MEPs on the economic committee will, on Monday, hear from Eurogroup president Paschal Donohoe and Portuguese state minister for finance João Leão, whose country hold's the EU council's rotating presidency.

MEPs are expected to quiz them on the economic recovery after Covid-19 and the reform of the EU's fiscal rules.

On Wednesday (27 January), the legal-affairs committee is expected to vote on a draft resolution calling for mandatory requirements to address and remedy human rights and environmental failures in the supply chain, as the commission is expected to present proposals on the issue later this year.

The committee on foreign interference on Monday and Tuesday will hear from experts on China, Iran, and India.

The Davos World Economic Forum will also take place next week online, due to the pandemic. EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will give a speach there on Tuesday.

EU leaders to discuss vaccine certificates

While some member states hope vaccine certificates could revive tourism, EU officials point out that it is not clear if vaccinated people can still carry the virus and infect others.

EU targets vaccinating 70% of adults by summer

The European Commission has announced targets to accelerate the roll-out of vaccination, and the intention of "a common approach" on possible vaccine certificates. Both topics will be discussed by EU leaders on Thursday.

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Travel certificates back on the agenda This WEEK

On Thursday, MEPs in the Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group meeting will hear from Polish judges, prosecutors, and government representatives on the situation of the judiciary in Poland.

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