Thursday

4th Mar 2021

Agenda

Vaccine row and Borrell's Moscow trip This WEEK

  • Delayed vaccines supplies have seen both a raid on a AstraZeneca plant in Belgium, and an UK-EU spat over contracts (Photo: European Commission)

The EU's vaccine strategy remains a red-hot topic across the continent and in Brussels, as vaccine production delay has caused a deep row between the bloc and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and also raised questions over the EU's approach.

The EU Commission came forward with a proposal to be able to refuse exports of vaccines from the EU if there is a shortage of supply under the contract agreed by the EU and the specific vaccine producer. The proposal is expected to be adopted by member states swiftly.

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The European Parliament's budget committee will on Monday (1 February) discuss with commission official and chief vaccine negotiator Sandra Gallina how the EU budget has been used to support the EU's Covid-19 vaccines strategy.

The EU provided €2.7bn in 2020 to vaccine producers in payments to ramp up their development and manufacturing capacity.

Moscow trip

The EU's foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell is going to Moscow on Friday (5 February), even though leading opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, is in prison.

Borrell is to meet Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and has said it is because of Navalny's arrest that the EU needs to reach out and talk to Russian authorities.

Navalny was poisoned by Russian president Vladimir Putin's FSB spy service using a UN-banned chemical weapon last year. It is unclear whether Borrell with meet with him, or his associates.

"It is important that he meets Mr Navalny and Mr Navalny's closest collaborators", Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete from the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) said, who is responsible for foreign affairs in her group

Cancer plan

On Wednesday (3 February), the commission will unveil the Beating Cancer Plan, and the day after the parliament's special committee on beating cancer will discuss the plan with health commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

The hearing will cover the potential use of mRNA technology, also used in the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, to help treat cancer.

On Wednesday, the parliament's EPP group is organising an event with commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas, and commissioners Mariya Gabriel and Kyriakides on the matter.

Analysis

The EU's vaccine strategy - the key points

As the EU Commission gets entangled in a dispute with one of the vaccine producers and gets heat for the perceived slow roll-out of the vaccines, we take a look at what the EU has done and not done.

Coronavirus

EU-AstraZeneca row flares up after vaccines shortfall

"The view that the company is not obliged to deliver because we signed a 'best effort agreement' is neither correct nor acceptable," said EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides, after the company's CEO tried to justified delayed deliveries to the EU.

Coronavirus

EU gets vaccines boost amid fears over uneven global supply

Pharmaceutical companies will increase their supply to member states with millions of additional doses, after a heated dispute over delayed deliveries. Meanwhile, the bloc's new control mechanism on vaccine exports faces global criticism amid fears of 'vaccine nationalism'.

Women fighting Covid-19 in focus This WEEK

To help bridge the stubborn gender pay gap, the EU Commission will present pay transparency measures so that differences in wages and salaries do not remain hidden from employees.

News in Brief

  1. EU regulator reviewing Russia's Covid-19 vaccine data
  2. Northern Irish paramilitaries pressure UK and EU on Brexit
  3. Man injures 8 people with axe in Sweden in possible terrorist act
  4. France bans far-right vigilante group
  5. EU dismayed as Lukashenko jails doctor over his diagnosis
  6. Brussels proposes EU-wide 'disabled status' card by 2023
  7. Czechs seek outside help to treat Covid-19 patients
  8. German intelligence to spy on far-right AfD party

EU leaders seek to speed up vaccinations This WEEK

EU leaders talk vaccines, while the Portugues EU presidency introduces itself to MEPs. Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president of the United States, and the EU hopes this will mark a new beginning for EU-US relations.

Unblocking Brexit and budget in focus This WEEK

With only five weeks to go before the UK severs all ties with the EU, chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the "same significant divergences persist" between the two sides in post-Brexit talks.

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