UK trade talks and other EU political developments amidst region-wide uptick in COVID-19 cases

by RPP
Weekly European political updates

UK trade talks and other EU political developments amidst region-wide uptick in COVID-19 cases

Europe is a colourful continent in terms of policies and outcomes. It is essential to stay updated on how these policies may impact your work to build better regulatory frameworks, enhance your message and enhance communication with stakeholders. Here you can find a summary of the major European political updates of this week.    


United Kingdom 

A prospective reorganisation of the UK public health landscape could be on the horizon. Public Health England (PHE), the government-funded executive agency aimed at improving the nation’s health, is to be scrapped for a new body focused on protecting the public against pandemics. In more details, PHE is set to be merged with the NHS Test and Trace programme to form what is expected to be called the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP), thus attempting to integrate diagnostic efforts in epidemiological and pathogenic research. The new body is expected to protect the public from pandemics and is due to be operational from September this year. PHE representatives have been notable absentees at the Government’s now retired daily COVID-19 press conferences, leaving questions around what the agency’s specific role in the virus fight has been. Public health actions on issues such as obesity will return to the Department of Health and Social Care as the Government seeks to recentralise healthcare decision-making and trim down executive agencies. However, the criticism to the Government for this decision is huge, arguing that they are trying to deal with the problem of an over-centralised and dysfunctional organisation by creating the NIHP, another over-centralised organisation.

Brexit trade talks have resumed this week with a three-day long discussion that places fisheries, professional services, and transport on the table. The UK is under intense domestic pressure to secure a deal, centred around the protection of the UK union and the stilted trade talks with the USA and Japan last week. 

If you would like to hear more about the ongoing trade negotiations between the UK and EU, email g.hymas(at) to receive RPP's weekly 'UK in Transition' newsletter.


With the early announcement of their chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) prompted a debate about the future of German politics. Due to the changed political landscape, the only alternative to a coalition between the Christian-Democratic Party (CDU) and the SPD, would be a coalition of three parties. The options for the SPD would be an alliance with the Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) or with the Greens and the Left party (Die Linke). The CDU is expected to elect their nominee at their national convention in December with the current candidates being Armin Laschet, Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen. The nomination will have a major influence on the future direction of the party and possible coalitions.

COVID-19 has undeniably left its mark on the German economy; however, the German Federal Bank is expecting increased economic growth over the summer. Furthermore, despite the increase in cases, schools are in the process of welcoming students back for the fall period. 


France is set to increase its military presence in Mediterranean as tensions escalate with Turkey. On August 12, President Macron announced he would send two Rafale fighter jets and the naval frigate “Lafayette” to the eastern Mediterranean. This military dispatch was coupled with his call on Turkey to cease oil and gas exploration in disputed waters with Greece, demonstrating the deteriorating relations between France and Turkey.

In other news, Ministerial appointee Gérald Darmanin has been tasked by President Macron to lead the efforts on a new law against separatism. As a priority established by Macron for his presidential tenure, the law would aim to prohibit any activities or organizations that would go against the constitutional notions of liberty, equality, fraternity and gender equality. Due to its correlation with the highly sensitive issue of secularity, the topic is bound to elicit many political reactions.


Health minister, Vassilis Kikilias declared that Greece shall receive instalments of three million doses of the potential COVID-19 vaccines developed by the University of Oxford in collaboration with AstraZeneca, should they pass phase four of the clinical trial. In efforts to curb the increasing spread of infection, a new package of protection measures has come into effect as of 17 August, which includes the closure of restaurants and bars from 00:00 until 07:00, a capping for the number of people in social events and public and private places, and the mandatory use of face masks in all areas.


Health Minister Salvador Illa indicated that hospital bed occupation and treatment levels are back to pre-pandemic levels, with primary care experiencing greater burden due to the increasing number of diagnosed cases. Additional COVID-19 measures, such as the administration of PCR tests to all new patients and staff in nursing homes, reduced visitations in nursing homes and the performance of risk assessments for events, have been rolled out as of 14 August.   

You can find more information on European news in our EU national elections heatmap, where we provide an overarching perspective with key political insight for individual countries. Make sure to check it here


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