Wednesday

17th Aug 2022

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.

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.

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'.

Rule of law and Czech presidency priorities This WEEK

The European Commission will unveil its rule-of-law audit of all EU member states this week. Meanwhile, several ministers from the Czech Republic will present to EU lawmakers the priorities of the rotating EU Council presidency for the next six months.

Column

Is this strange summer a moment of change?

It is a strange, strange summer. The war in Ukraine continues, 60 percent of Europe is in danger of drought, and Covid is still around and could rebound in the autumn. At the same time, everyone is desperate for normalcy.

Opinion

A year of Taliban — only aid is keeping Afghan kids alive

It's a year since the Western military presence in Afghanistan ended. A year since panic-stricken people flocked to Kabul airport, trying to flee the country, and girls and women waited fearfully for the disintegration of their hard-won rights.

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