EU and Eastern Partnership1 transport ministers are meeting today in Luxembourg to assess progress and endorse the next steps for improving transport connections. Two years ago, the European Commission presented a transport action plan for bringing the EU's eastern neighbours closer to the EU. This approach was endorsed by transport ministers at their first meeting in Kraków, Poland in 2011.
"Transport does not stop at borders. It brings the people and economies of Europe closer together. The Eastern Partnership is about extending the EU's success stories to our closest neighbours so that they can also benefit from faster, cheaper and safer transport connections," said European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas.
Transport co-operation with the Eastern Partnership countries is essential for increasing trade links and bringing the eastern and western halves of the European continent closer together. Smoother transport connections create opportunities for companies and people alike. This is a concrete example of the benefits that the EU can bring to the Eastern Partnership countries. The EU’s focus is on helping the partner countries to converge with EU rules in all transport modes, as well as on improving transport infrastructure and connections between the EU and its closest neighbours.
At the meeting in Luxembourg, the ministers plan to endorse key results and give guidance for future cooperation with a joint declaration.
The first results of closer transport cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries can be summarised as follows:
Harmonization with the EU legislation and gradual market integration: the partner countries have started reforms to align their transport systems with EU standards. The association agreements that the EU has negotiated with several partner countries envisage more regulatory convergence in transport. The most significant achievements of market integration are the signature and implementation of comprehensive aviation agreements that the EU has negotiated with Georgia and Moldova.
Regional Eastern Partnership Transport Network: Partner countries have agreed on priority connections in road, railway, air and sea transport in the Eastern Partnership region. Most importantly, this network connects with the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) and will serve as guidance for future investments.
Priority infrastructure projects on the regional transport network: projects such as the reconstruction of the Krakovits-Lviv-Brody-Rivne road in Ukraine and the upgrade of the railway line between Georgia and Azerbaijan are among those which partner countries have identified as priorities for improving connections with the EU and within the region. These projects could benefit from financing under existing EU funds and loans from international financial institutions.
As a next step, the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Vilnius on 28 and 29 November 2013 is expected to endorse some concrete and achievable targets resulting from transport cooperation. Following the summit, the Eastern Partnership Transport Panel will oversee continuing technical co-operation to advance regulatory convergence and the implementation of specific projects.
For more information, click here.
Coronavirus: Commission signs contract to procure monoclonal anti-body treatment
Yesterday (27 July), the Commission signed a joint procurement framework contract with the pharmaceutical company Glaxo Smith Kline for the supply of sotrovimab (VIR-7831), an investigational monoclonal antibody therapy, developed in collaboration with VIR biotechnology. It is part of the first portfolio of five promising therapeutics announced by the Commission in June 2021, and is currently under rolling review by the European Medicines Agency. 16 EU member states are participating in the procurement for the purchase of up to 220,000 treatments. Sotrovimab can be used for the treatment of coronavirus patients with mild symptoms who do not require supplemental oxygen, but who are at high risk for severe COVID-19. Ongoing studies suggest that early treatment can reduce the number of patients that progress to more severe forms and require hospitalisation or admission to the intensive care units.
Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “We committed in our COVID-19 Therapeutics Strategy to have at least three new therapeutics authorised by October. We are now delivering a second framework contract that brings monoclonal antibodies treatments to patients. Alongside vaccines, safe and effective therapeutics will play a pivotal role in Europe's return to a new normal.”
Monoclonal antibodies are proteins conceived in the laboratory that mimic the immune system's ability to fight the coronavirus. They attach to the spike protein and thus block the virus' attachment to the human cells. The European Commission concluded nearly 200 contracts for different medical countermeasures worth over €12 billion.
Under the current framework contract with Glaxo Smith Kline, member states can purchase sotrovimab (VIR-7831) if and when needed, once it has received either emergency use authorisation in the member state concerned or a (conditional) marketing authorisation at EU level from the European Medicines Agency. Further information can be found here.
Water management: Commission consults to update lists of pollutants affecting surface and ground water
The Commission has launched an online public consultation to seek views on the upcoming review of the lists of pollutants occurring in surface and ground waters, as well as on corresponding regulatory standards. This initiative is particularly important for implementing the recently adopted Zero Pollution Action Plan as part of the European Green Deal, and wider efforts to secure the more efficient and safer use of water.
Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “All Europeans should benefit from clean water. Ensuring good quality of surface and groundwater in Europe is paramount for human health and for the environment. Pollution caused by pesticides, manmade chemicals or from residues of pharmaceuticals must be avoided as much as possible. We want to hear your views on how this can best be achieved.”
A recent evaluation (‘fitness check') in December 2019, found EU water legislation to be broadly fit for purpose. However, improvement is needed on aspects such as investment, implementing rules, integrating water objectives into other policies, administrative simplification and digitalisation. This revision aims to address some of the shortcomings in relation to chemical pollution and the legal obligation to regularly review the lists of pollutants, as well as to help accelerate implementation. The public consultation is open for feedback until 1 November 2021. More information is in this news release.
COVID-19 vaccines: Launch of the interactive map on vaccine production capacities in the EU
The Commission has published an interactive map showcasing COVID-19 vaccine production capacities in the EU, along the entire supply chain. The mapping tool is based on data gained through the work of the Task Force for Industrial Scale-up of COVID-19 vaccine production, on data collected during the matchmaking event organised by the Commission in March, as well as publicly available information and information shared by member states. This data will be complemented and updated as further information becomes available.
Commissioner Breton, responsible for the Internal Market and head of the Task Force, said: “With more than one billion vaccine doses produced, our industry has helped the EU become the world's most vaccinated continent and the world's leading exporter of COVID-19 vaccines. This interactive map, featuring hundreds of EU-based manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, shows the breadth of the industrial ecosystem, as well as the potential for new industrial partnerships to further boost our health emergency preparedness.”
The Task Force categorized the companies based on their main area of activity, thus companies may have more capacities than those reflected in the map. The Task Force for Industrial Scale-up of COVID-19 vaccine production was set up by the Commission in February 2021 to ramp up production capacity for COVID-19 vaccines in the EU, acting as a one-stop-shop for manufacturers seeking support, and to identify and address bottlenecks in terms of production capacity and supply chain. The interactive map is available here.
Japan5 days ago
Tokyo opening ceremony reflects the true purpose of the Olympics
Brexit2 days ago
EU backs Ireland as UK searches for solutions to Northern Ireland Protocol dilemma
EU Reporter3 days ago
Summertime and the livin’ is… not always so easy
coronavirus2 days ago
Ensuring smooth air travel while checking EU Digital COVID Certificates: New guidelines for member states
Energy2 days ago
US and Germany strike Nord Stream 2 pipeline deal to push back on Russian 'aggression'
coronavirus2 days ago
Coronavirus: Commission steps up research funding with €120 million for 11 new projects to tackle the virus and its variants
Kazakhstan1 day ago
Voters go to rural polls for first time in Kazakhstan
coronavirus1 day ago
How the Delta variant upends assumptions about the coronavirus