Public Policy Dynamics EU #7

by RPP colleagues

Health and Politics in the European Union

  • On 31 March, G7 trade ministers underscored their commitment to making progress on WTO reforms and other trade areas, including climate, the digital economy, gender equality, and health products to “build back better” from the Covid-19 pandemic. €123 million will be mobilised by the European Commission from the research and innovation programme Horizon Europe for urgent research into Covid-19 variants. 
  • On 1 April, the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA), which will play a key role in strengthening the resilience of health systems and seeks to help the European Union in emerging stronger from the challenges faced under the Covid-19 pandemic, started to operate. In other news, on 30 March, the European Commission published its roadmap for the evaluation and revision of the general pharmaceutical legal framework, which is currently open for feedback until 27 April. 
  • Three months into their Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, only five EU Member States have met the European Commission's first vaccination goal of vaccinating eighty percent of people aged eighty and older. While the EU has not officially blocked the export of Covid-19 vaccines to non-EU member states, it has pressured Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers to fulfil their advance purchase agreement contracts with the EU first, even if that leads to additional delays in countries outside the EU.

 

Politics

  • On 31 March, G7 trade ministers agreed in a joint statement to collectively act on harmful industrial subsidies and other market-distorting practices. In this regard, the trade ministers echoed US President Joe Biden’s goal to “build back better” from the Covid-19 pandemic and underscored their commitment to making progress on WTO reforms and other trade areas, including climate, the digital economy, and gender equality. The trade ministers also agreed to discuss measures supporting trade in health products and increased supply chain resilience in the coming months. However, they did not raise the possibility of banning export restrictions on those goods or removing current tariffs.
  • In response to the emerging threat of Covid-19 variants, on 7 April the European Commission announced that it will mobilise €123 million from the research and innovation programme Horizon Europe for urgent research into Covid-19 variants. This first emergency funding under Horizon Europe will add to a range of EU-funded research and innovation actions that shape Europe's future and will contribute to the European Commission's overall action to improve Europe's resilience to future crises.

 

Health

  • On 1 April, the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA) started to operate. This new executive agency for digital and health projects will play a key role in strengthening the resilience of health systems and will be responsible for the implementation of the EU4Health programme, the Digital Europe Programme, and parts of the research and innovation programme Horizon Europe. By managing about €20 billion over the next seven years, this agency seeks to help the European Union (EU) in emerging stronger from the challenges faced under the Covid-19 pandemic and enhance surveillance and preparedness for future pandemics.
  • In other news, on 30 March, the European Commission published its roadmap for the evaluation and revision of the general pharmaceutical legal framework, which is currently open for feedback until 27 April. By launching this large-scale modernisation exercise, the European Commission aims to adapt the current pharmaceutical legal framework, which dates back to the early 2000s, to the many changes that have taken place over the last twenty years. The legislative proposals following the evaluation and revision of the general pharmaceutical legal framework are planned to be adopted by the end of 2022.

 

Covid-19

  • Three months into their Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, only five EU Member States have met the European Commission's first goal of vaccinating eighty percent of people aged eighty and older. According to the most recent data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), on average, less than sixty percent of people aged eighty and older have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, indicating that the EU has a lot more work to do to reach the European Commission's goal of vaccinating seventy percent of its adult population by the end of the summer.
  • While the EU has not officially blocked the export of Covid-19 vaccines to non-EU member states, it has pressured Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers to fulfil their advance purchase agreement contracts with the EU first, even if that leads to additional delays in countries outside the EU. In this regard, the European Commission puts the blame on Covid-19 manufacturers, arguing that if they fail to export to non-EU member states, it is due to production shortfalls affecting the EU.

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