21st Sep 2021


Vaccine fairness plus Russia on table This WEEK

  • Waiving Covid-19 vaccine patents remains controversial in the EU (Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia)

After Europe Day (9 May) eventually saw the delayed launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe, attention returns to vaccines - after US president Joe Biden put the EU in a tight spot when he backed waiving the Covid-19 vaccine patents.

EU leaders discussed the matter at their summit over the weekend in Porto, but many remain sceptical.

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"We welcome the United States' ambition to catch up, particularly so after having exported hardly any vaccines for several months. It would be very beneficial for all if they lifted their export ban. Issuing populistic statements will not help anyone", centre-right MEP Christophe Hansen said.

The EU Commission meanwhile is examining the national recovery plans it has received from more than a dozen member states so far.

On Monday, MEPs in the budget committee will hear from commissioners Valdis Dombrovskis and Paolo Gentiloni on the latest developments.

On the same day, MEPs on the culture committee will hear from commission vice-president Vera Jourova on media policy.

Jourova is expected to discuss planned legislation against abusive lawsuits against journalists, called SLAPPs, and plans to better protect media freedom in Europe.

Russia, which banned Jourova plus other top EU officials recently, will remain high on the bloc's agenda.

On Monday, MEPs on the foreign affairs and foreign interference committee will hear from Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled Russian businessman and former oligarch who was imprisoned for 14 years by the regime in Moscow.

EU foreign ministers on Monday will be briefed by EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, and will discuss China, the Western Balkans, transatlantic relations, and Belarus.

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee will discuss the new EU-China strategy on Monday.

North Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev will be in Brussels on Monday, and among others will meet with EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

Also on Monday, lawmakers on the parliament's legal affairs committee will talk with commission vice-presidents Margrethe Vestager on digital policy.

EU and US join up against China on Taiwan

The EU and its leading powers voiced strident criticism of China at a G7 meeting in London on Wednesday, even as Hungary, once again, tried to gag Europe in Brussels.

All eyes on von der Leyen's state of the EU This WEEK

MEPs expect the EU Commission president to also address issues such as the economy, climate change, digital transformation, the EU's role in the world, migration policy, and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

EU bubble prepares for state of the union This WEEK

One of the topics for the keynote speech will certainly be the Covid-19 recovery fund - with Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Spain, and Portugal having already received their pre-financing.


MEPs suspect Gazprom manipulating gas price

MEPs from across the political spectrum suspect Russian gas giant Gazprom manipulates market prices. They have written to the EU Commission asking for an investigation. According to the signatories, Gazprom is pressuring Europe to open the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

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