European Union

Regional News • Europe
EU customs seize British ham sandwiches
EU customs seize British ham sandwiches
Credit: Screenshot site: eenvandaag.avrotros.nl

The ham sandwiches of British truck drivers are also affected by the new Brexit trade rules. The BBC on Tuesday showed Dutch TV footage of customs also checking drivers' provisions. Customs officials in Hoek van Holland explain to the drivers in the report of the channel NPO1 that they are no longer allowed to export animal food from the UK.

Health
AstraZeneca applies for approval of Covid-19 in European Union
AstraZeneca applies for approval of Covid-19 in European Union
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced that AstraZeneca has applied for approval of their Covid-19 which has been developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

According to the EMA "the assessment of the vaccine, known as COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, will proceed under an accelerated timeline" and added that "an opinion on the marketing authorisation could be issued by 29 January during the meeting of EMA’s scientific committee for human medicines (CHMP), provided that the data submitted on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine are sufficiently robust and complete and that any additional information required to complete the assessment is promptly submitted."

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU Commission orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from BioNtech
EU Commission orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from BioNtech
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

The EU Commission has concluded a contract for up to 300 million more doses of the Corona vaccine from the Mainz-based company BioNtech and its US partner Pfizer. 75 million doses of this should be available as early as the second quarter of 2021, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels on Friday.

Back in November, the EU Commission ordered up to 300 million doses of vaccine from BioNtech/Pfizer for all 27 states - a firm order for 200 million doses and an option for 100 million more, which was recently pulled.

In Germany, BioNtech is currently working on a new production site in Marburg. If this goes into operation in February as planned, the company will be able to massively expand vaccine production.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Ryanair to operate "few, if any" flights to or from the UK & Ireland
Ryanair to operate "few, if any" flights to or from the UK & Ireland
Credit: unsplash.com/Sangga Rima Roman Selia

Due to new lockdowns in Ireland, the United Kingdom and some other EU countries, the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair is drastically cutting its flight offerings starting January 21, the company announced Thursday.

From January 21, Ryanair plans to operate "few, if any" flights to and from British and Irish airports. This will apply until the severe travel restrictions are lifted.

Health
European Medicines Agency approves drawing six instead of five vaccination doses per BioNtech ampoule in EU
European Medicines Agency approves drawing six instead of five vaccination doses per BioNtech ampoule in EU
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

From now on, more people can be vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine from one ampoule of the manufacturers BioNtech and Pfizer.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved that six instead of five doses may be drawn from an ampoule, said a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Health in Berlin on Friday.

This approval of six instead of five vaccinations per ampoule applies only to the EU. In the remaining countries outside the EU, the national authorities decide whether to change the vaccine approval.

Regional News • Europe
European Medicines Agency recommends authorization of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine
European Medicines Agency recommends authorization of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

On Wednesday, the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety announced on Twitter that they are "expected to follow the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommendation and grant the authorization shortly after which the roll-out of the vaccine in the EU can begin."

Emer Cooke, EMA executive director, said on Wednesday that "this vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency." and "It is a testament to the efforts and commitment of all involved that we have this second positive vaccine recommendation just short of a year since the pandemic was declared by WHO," she said.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
United Kingdom abolishes "tampon tax" after leaving EU
United Kingdom abolishes "tampon tax" after leaving EU
Credit: unsplash.com / Josefin

With the end of the post-Brexit transition period, the UK is no longer obliged to levy a minimum tax of five percent on hygiene products, as required by EU law. With that the country has now abolished the VAT on tampons and sanitary towels in the United Kingdom.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
BioNTech founders warn of Covid-19 vaccine supply issues in EU
BioNTech founders warn of Covid-19 vaccine supply issues in EU
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

BioNTech is working flat out with partner Pfizer to boost production of their Covid-19 vaccine, its founders said, warning there would be gaps in supply until other vaccines were rolled out. The German biotech start-up has led the vaccine race but its shot has been slow to arrive in the EU due to relatively slow approval from the bloc’s health regulator and the small size of the order placed by Brussels.

The delays have caused consternation in Germany, where some regions had to temporarily close vaccination centres days after the launch of an inoculation drive on December 27th.

Regional News • World
EU and China strengthen economic cooperation
EU and China strengthen economic cooperation
Credit: unsplash.com / Guillaume Périgois

China and the EU have reached a political agreement in principle on a new investment agreement. Among other things, the agreement is intended to improve market access for European companies in China and ensure fairer competitive conditions. The agreement had been under negotiation since 2013. Most recently, China had made concessions on the contentious issue of labor rights. The communist leadership has promised to make "lasting and sustained efforts" to ratify two conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) against forced labor. As the world's most populous country with some 1.4 billion people, China is an important trade and economic partner for the EU. Last year, goods worth an average of 1.5 billion euros were traded daily between the two economic areas.

Business • Health Care
Biontech applies for change in approval to get more doses from vials
Biontech applies for change in approval to get more doses from vials
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

One ampoule of Biontech vaccine can often be used to produce six rations instead of five. The Mainz-based manufacturer Biontech has now submitted an application to the European Medicines Agency Ema for a change in the conditions of approval. The Ema had told the German newspaper SPIEGEL on Tuesday that if Biontech submitted an application to change the terms of its marketing authorisation, it would be "rapidly" reviewed by its human medicines committee.

Biontech is lobbying for doctors to be allowed to draw six full vaccine doses of 0.3 ml each from the provided vials containing a total of 2.25 ml of finished vaccine in the future - provided they can draw up six full doses.

Regional News • Europe
European Union starts vaccinating campaign
European Union starts vaccinating campaign
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The mass vaccination campaign of the European Union has started vaccinating against Covid-19 with the goal to give around 450 million people a vaccine against the virus to end the pandemic.

In total, the European Commission has secured over 2 billion doses of different Covid-19 vaccines.

Regional News • Europe
Post-Brexit trade deal agreed upon by UK and EU
Post-Brexit trade deal agreed upon by UK and EU
Credit: unsplash.com / Étienne Godiard

Both sides have confirmed a trade deal on Thursday afternoon. "The deal is there," the British government announced. EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and negotiator Michel Barnier announced a joint press conference. The agreement appears to have averted a harsh economic rift at the turn of the year.

The trade agreement is to regulate economic relations between the island and the continent from January 2021. The most important point is to avoid tariffs and ensure the smoothest possible trade. However, the agreement also covers fishing as well as cooperation on energy, transport, justice, police and many other issues.

Regional News • Europe
EU Commission recommends "coordinated approach to free movement" in regards to UK travel over Covid-19 variant
EU Commission recommends "coordinated approach to free movement" in regards to UK travel over Covid-19 variant
Credit: unsplash.com / Guillaume Périgois

The European Commission has urged the member states of the European Union to "take coordinated action to discourage non-essential travel between the UK and the EU. At the same time, blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and UK citizens from returning to their homes" according to Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders.

Regional News • World
More than 40 countries ban British flights over new Covid-19 strain, EU members discuss co-ordinate response

More than 40 countries have imposed a ban on UK arrivals, include Belgium, Canada, India, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Russia, and Switzerland. On Monday, European Union member states meet to discuss a co-ordinated response and France is planning to establish a protocol "to ensure movement from the UK can resume.

Health
Belgian politician tweets Covid-19 vaccine prices
Belgian politician tweets Covid-19 vaccine prices
Credit: Courtesy of vrt.be

A Belgian politician has apparently accidentally revealed the Covid-19 vaccine prices of those manufacturers with whom the EU Commission has signed contracts:

Consumer Protection State Secretary Eva De Bleeker published a table with prices per dose of the vaccines from six companies on the short message service Twitter on Thursday. The tweet has since then been deleted.

Moderna would be the most expensive at $18 per dose and Astrazenca the cheapest with €1,78 per dose.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
European Parliament sets deadline for Brexit deal until Sunday
European Parliament sets deadline for Brexit deal until Sunday
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Manfred Weber

The European Parliament has given the negotiations on a possible trade pact with Great Britain until Sunday. With just two weeks to go before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December, the European Union is still negotiating a follow-up deal with Britain that would avoid tariffs and serious trade barriers. However, according to British government sources, the negotiating parties are still very far apart on key issues.

The European Parliament has given the negotiations on a possible trade pact with Great Britain until Sunday. If a finished text is available by midnight, it is prepared to schedule a special session for ratification, according to a decision by the parliament's leadership.

Technology • Internet & Web
To avoid EU privacy rules, Facebook will move UK users to US terms
To avoid EU privacy rules, Facebook will move UK users to US terms
Credit: Illustration for Pendect by Ashley Winkler, Logo Facebook

In an effort to avoid the EU's privacy laws, Facebook will move all of its users in the United Kingdom into user agreements with the corporate headquarters in California. Google has done a similar move in February. 

"Like other companies, Facebook has had to make changes to respond to Brexit and will be transferring legal responsibilities and obligations for UK users from Facebook Ireland to Facebook Inc. There will be no change to the privacy controls or the services Facebook offers to people in the UK," so Facebook's UK arm.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Covid-19: Germany hopeful of earlier EU vaccine decision
Jens Spahn
Jens Spahn Credit: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

After the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced it would issue its decision on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on December 21, German Health Minister Jens Spahn, speaking at a joint press conference with the Robert Koch Institute, the government agency responsible for disease control and prevention, said the report was "good news."

A fortnight ago, BioNTech and Pfizer submitted an application to the EMA for conditional marketing authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine. President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that she welcomed the EMA's decision to bring the meeting forward.

Technology • Internet & Web
Twitter fined €450k for breaking the EU's Data Privacy Law by Irish data regulator
Twitter fined €450k for breaking the EU's Data Privacy Law by Irish data regulator
Credit: Twitter

Twitter has been fined €450,000 by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) for breaching Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

"The DPC’s investigation commenced in January, 2019 following receipt of a breach notification from Twitter and the DPC has found that Twitter infringed Article 33(1) and 33(5) of the GDPR in terms of a failure to notify the breach on time to the DPC and a failure to adequately document the breach," so the DPC in a statement on its website.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
UK and EU agree to extend Brexit negotiations past Sunday deadline
UK and EU agree to extend Brexit negotiations past Sunday deadline
Credit: TPCOM (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

In a joint statement, the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was "responsible at this point to go the extra mile" and extend Brexit trade talks beyond a self-imposed deadline.

"We had a useful call with Boris Johnson this morning. We agreed that talks will continue," announced von der Leyen earlier Sunday.

The talks were initially extended until Sunday after Wednesday's meeting between von der Leyen and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, billed as a "last-ditch effort," ended without an agreement.

Earlier this week, a joint statement by Johnson and von der Leyen cited three "critical" sticking points: fishing rights, the UK's ability to diverge on EU standards, and legal oversight of any deal.