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Agriculture: Commission approves new geographical indication from the United States

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The Commission has approved the inclusion of ‘Willamette Valley' wines from the United States in the register of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). ‘Willamette Valley' are still wines (red, rose and white) and sparkling wines produced in the north-western part of Oregon, bordered on the north by the Columbia River, on the west by the Coast Range Mountains, on the south by the Calapooya Mountains, and on the east by the Cascade Mountains. The unique organoleptic characteristics of the ‘Willamette Valley' wines include brightness and fresh fruit aspects, with the acidity provided by the protected cool climate.

The Willamette Valley, by virtue of its high northern latitude, proximity to a cold ocean and rain shadowed sloped vineyards, presents a unique style of North American wine. This new denomination is the second American product to be protected, and will be added to the list of 1,621 wines already protected. EU quality policy aims at protecting the names of specific products to promote their unique characteristics, linked to their geographical origin as well as traditional know-how. More information on the EU quality schemes and in the database eAmbrosia.

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US-EU agenda for beating the global pandemic: Vaccinating the world, saving lives now, and building back better health security

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Vaccination is the most effective response to the COVID pandemic. The United States and the EU are technological leaders in advanced vaccine platforms, given decades of investments in research and development.

It is vital that we aggressively pursue an agenda to vaccinate the world. Co-ordinated US and EU leadership will help expand supply, deliver in a more coordinated and efficient manner, and manage constraints to supply chains. This will showcase the force of a Transatlantic partnership in facilitating global vaccination while enabling more progress by multilateral and regional initiatives.

Building on the outcome of the May 2021 G20 Global Health Summit, the G7 and US-EU Summits in June, and on the upcoming G20 Summit, the US and the EU will expand cooperation for global action toward vaccinating the world, saving lives now, and building better health security.  

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Pillar I: A Joint EU/US Vaccine Sharing Commitment: the United States and the EU will share doses globally to enhance vaccination rates, with a priority on sharing through COVAX and improving vaccination rates urgently in low and lower-middle income countries. The United States is donating over 1.1 billion doses, and the EU will donate over 500 million doses. This is in addition to the doses we have financed through COVAX.

We call for nations that are able to vaccinate their populations to double their dose-sharing commitments or to make meaningful contributions to vaccine readiness. They will place a premium on predictable and effective dose-sharing to maximize sustainability and minimize waste.

Pillar II: A Joint EU/US Commitment to Vaccine Readiness: the United States and the EU will both support and coordinate with relevant organisations for vaccine delivery, cold chain, logistics, and immunization programs to translate doses in vials into shots in arms. They will share lessons learned from dose sharing, including delivery via COVAX, and promote equitable distribution of vaccines.

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Pillar III: A Joint EU/US partnership on bolstering global vaccine supply and therapeutics: the EU and the United States will leverage their newly launched Joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce to support vaccine and therapeutic manufacturing and distribution and overcome supply chain challenges. Collaborative efforts, outlined below, will include monitoring global supply chains, assessing global demand against the supply of ingredients and production materials, and identifying and addressing in real time bottlenecks and other disruptive factors for global vaccine and therapeutics production, as well as coordinating potential solutions and initiatives to boost global production of vaccines, critical inputs, and ancillary supplies.

Pillar IV: A Joint EU/US Proposal to achieve Global Health Security. The United States and the EU will support the establishment of a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) by the end of 2021 and will support its sustainable capitalization.  The EU and United States will also support global pandemic surveillance, including the concept of a global pandemic radar. The EU and the United States, through HERA and the Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, respectively, will cooperate in line with our G7 commitment to expedite the development of new vaccines and make recommendations on enhancing the world's capacity to deliver these vaccines in real time. 

We call on partners to join in establishing and financing the FIF to support to prepare countries for COVID-19 and future biological threats.

Pillar V: A Joint EU/US/Partners Roadmap for regional vaccine production. The EU and the United States will coordinate investments in regional manufacturing capacity with low and lower-middle income countries, as well as targeted efforts to enhance capacity for medical countermeasures under the Build Back and Better World infrastructure and the newly established Global Gateway partnership. The EU and the United States will align efforts to bolster local vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa and forge ahead on discussions on expanding the production of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and ensure their equitable access.

We call on partners to join in supporting coordinated investments to expand global and regional manufacturing, including for mRNA, viral vector, and/or protein subunit COVID-19 vaccines.

More information

Joint statement on the launch of the joint COVID-19 Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce

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European Commission

Reviewing EU insurance rules: Encouraging insurers to invest in Europe's future

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The European Commission has adopted a comprehensive review of EU insurance rules (known as Solvency II) so that insurance companies can scale up long-term investment in Europe's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today's review also aims to make the insurance and reinsurance (i.e. insurance for insurance companies) sector more resilient so that it can weather future crises and better protect policyholders. Moreover, simplified and more proportionate rules will be introduced for certain smaller insurance companies.

Insurance policies are essential for many Europeans and for Europe's businesses. They protect people from financial loss in the case of unforeseen events. Insurance companies also play an important role in our economy by channelling savings into financial markets and the real economy, thereby providing European businesses with long-term financing.

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Today's review consists of the following elements:

  • A legislative proposal to amend the Solvency II Directive (Directive 2009/138/EC);
  • a Communication on the review of the Solvency II Directive, and;
  • a legislative proposal for a new Insurance Recovery and Resolution Directive.

Comprehensive review of Solvency II

The aim of today's review is to strengthen European insurers' contribution to the financing of the recovery, progressing on the Capital Markets Union and the channelling of funds towards the European Green Deal. In the short term, capital of up to an estimated €90 billion could be released in the EU. This significant release of capital will help (re)insurers ramp up their contribution as private investors to Europe's recovery from COVID-19.

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The amendments to the Solvency II Directive will be supplemented by Delegated Acts at a later stage. Today's Communication sets out the Commission's intentions in this regard. 

Some key points from today's package:

  • Today's changes will better protect consumers and ensure that insurance companies remain solid, including in difficult economic times;
  • consumers (“policyholders”) will be better informed about the financial situation of their insurer;
  • consumers will be better protected when buying insurance products in other Member States thanks to improved cooperation between supervisors;
  • insurers will be incentivized to invest more in long-term capital for the economy;
  • insurers' financial strength will take better account of certain risks, including those related to climate, and be less sensitive to short-term market fluctuations, and;
  • the whole sector will be better scrutinised to avoid that its stability is put at risk.

Proposed Insurance Recovery and Resolution Directive

The aim of the Insurance Recovery and Resolution Directive is to ensure that insurers and relevant authorities in the EU are better prepared in cases of significant financial distress.

It will introduce a new orderly resolution process, which will better protect policyholders, as well as the real economy, the financial system and ultimately taxpayers. National authorities will be better equipped in the event of an insurance company becoming insolvent.

Through the establishment of resolution colleges, relevant supervisors and resolution authorities will be able to take coordinated, timely and decisive action to tackle problems arising within cross-border (re)insurance groups, ensuring the best possible outcome for policyholders and the broader economy.

Today's proposals build extensively on technical advice provided by EIOPA (the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority). They are also aligned with the work that has been carried out at international level on the topic, while taking into account European specificities.

An Economy that Works for People Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: "Europe needs a strong and vibrant insurance sector to invest in our economy and to help us manage the risks that we face. The insurance sector can contribute to the Green Deal and the Capital Markets Union, thanks to its dual role of protector and investor. Today's proposals ensure that our rules remain fit for purpose, by making them more proportionate.”

Mairead McGuinness, the commissioner responsible for financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union, said: “Today's proposal will help the insurance sector step up and play its full part in the EU economy. We are enabling investment in the recovery and beyond. And we're fostering the participation of insurance companies in the EU's capital markets, providing the long-term investment that is so vital for a sustainable future. Our growing Capital Markets Union is essential for our green and digital future. We're also paying close attention to the consumer perspective; policyholders can be reassured that they will be better protected in future if their insurer runs into difficulties.”

Next steps

The legislative package will now be discussed by the European Parliament and Council.

Background

Insurance protection is essential for many households, businesses and financial market participants. The insurance sector also offers solutions for retirement income and helps channel savings into financial markets and the real economy.

On 1 January 2016, the Solvency II Directive entered into force. The Commission monitored the application of the Directive and consulted extensively with stakeholders on possible areas for review.

On 11 February 2019, the Commission formally requested technical advice from EIOPA to prepare for the review of the Solvency II Directive. EIOPA's technical advice was published on 17 December 2020.

Beyond the minimum scope of review mentioned in the Directive itself, and after consulting stakeholders, the Commission identified further areas of the Solvency II framework that should be reviewed, such as the contribution of the sector to the European Union's political priorities (e.g. the European Green Deal and the Capital Markets Union), the supervision of cross-border insurance activities and the enhancement of the proportionality of prudential rules, including reporting.

More information

Legislative proposal for amendments to Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II Directive)

Legislative proposal for the recovery and resolution of (re)insurance undertakings

Communication on the review of the Solvency II Directive

Question and answers

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European Commission

Commission publishes enhanced surveillance report for Greece

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The Commission has published the eleventh enhanced surveillance report for Greece. The report is prepared in the context of the enhanced surveillance framework which serves to ensure continued support for the delivery of Greece's reform commitments following the successful completion of the financial assistance programme in 2018. The report concludes that Greece has taken the necessary actions to achieve its due specific commitments, despite the challenging circumstances caused by the pandemic.

The Greek authorities delivered on specific commitments across various areas, including privatizations, improving the business environment and tax administration, while advancing on wider structural reforms including in the area of school education and public administration. The European institutions welcome the close and constructive engagement in all areas and encourage the Greek authorities to keep up the momentum and, where necessary, reinforce the efforts to remedy the delays partly caused by the pandemic.

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