European Union

Regional News • Europe
Biopharma company to produce Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Italy
Biopharma company to produce Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Italy
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Swiss biotech company Adienne Pharma & Biotech signed an agreement to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine at its production site in the Milan region, said Antonio Francesco Di Naro, founder and president of the company.

The deal comes as Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged to speed up Italy's fledgeling vaccination campaign amid a new rise in infections from the disease that's led to more than 100,000 fatalities in the country.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday lashed out at manufacturers for failing to uphold their commitments as countries in Europe struggle to step up the pace of inoculations.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EMA urges EU not to grant emergency authorization for Russian Covid-19 vaccine
EMA urges EU not to grant emergency authorization for Russian Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Mos.ru, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

An official of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is cautioning the European Union to hold back on granting emergency authorization for Sputnik V, Russia's Covid-19 vaccine until its effectiveness has been reviewed.

“We need documents that we can review. We also don’t at the moment have data...about vaccinated people. It is unknown. That’s why I would urgently advise against giving a national emergency authorization,” EMA managing board head Christa Wirthumer-Hoche said. “We can have Sputnik V on the market here in future when the appropriate data have been reviewed. The rolling review has begun now at EMA.”

Regional News • Europe
European Commission President Von der Leyen expects 100 million Covid-19 doses for the EU per month as of April
European Commission President Von der Leyen expects 100 million Covid-19 doses for the EU per month as of April
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

In January and February, 20 and 30 million vaccine doses respectively had been delivered by the manufacturers, said von der Leyen, in March 50 million doses were expected: "From April onwards, the quantities could double again according to the manufacturers' plans. That would be an average of around 100 million doses per month in the second quarter, a total of 300 million by the end of June."

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Italy 'blocks' AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine shipment to Australia
Italy 'blocks' AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine shipment to Australia
Credit: Gencat (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

The Italian government has decided to block the export of a 250,000 doses shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine produced in Italy to Australia.

Italy is the first European Union country to use the bloc's new regulations allowing exports to be stopped if the company providing the vaccines has failed to meet its obligations to the EU.

Italy's new Prime Minister Mario Draghi, an influential figure in Europe as the former president of the European Central Bank, argued in a videoconference with EU leaders that the rules should be applied rigorously, furious at reductions by AstraZeneca of up to 70% in the doses it was contracted to provide.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Fidesz MEPs leave EPP Group in the EU Parliament
Fidesz MEPs leave EPP Group in the EU Parliament
Credit: unsplash.com / Guillaume Périgois

Hungary's head of government withdraws his Fidesz MEPs from the EPP group in the EU Parliament.

The Hungarian right-wing nationalist ruling party Fidesz will leave the Christian Democratic EPP group in the European Parliament today, Wednesday. This was announced by Fidesz this morning. The withdrawal had already been announced by Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a letter to EPP Group leader Manfred Weber.

In it, Orban had threatened the parliamentary group, which wants to suspend the Fidesz deputies. If it came to the vote and adoption of new rules of procedure of the group, which makes the suspension or the exclusion of whole groups possible, the Fidesz MEPs would leave the club of the European People's Party of their own accord, Orban had announced.

Transportation • Cars & Automobiles
Volvo’s entire car lineup will be fully electric by 2030
Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 AWD in Glacier Silver
Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 AWD in Glacier Silver Credit: Volvo

On Tuesday, the Swedish company Volvo said joining a growing number of carmakers planning to phase out fossil-fuel engines by the end of this decade.

The transition to selling only electric cars will allow Volvo "to meet the expectations of our customers and be a part of the solution when it comes to fighting climate change," he added. Europe has imposed aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, and carmakers face huge potential fines if they do not comply.

The carmaker said 50% of its global sales should be fully-electric cars by 2025 and the other half hybrid models.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU to propose draft for Covid-19 vaccination passport mid-March
EU to propose draft for Covid-19 vaccination passport mid-March
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The European Commission plans to propose a draft for an EU-wide digital vaccination passport – the Digital Green Pass – on March 17, Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Monday. The digital passport should provide information regarding vaccination status, test results, and prior Covid-19 recoveries.

"As for the question of what the digital green passport could look like: we will submit a legislative proposal in March," so von der Leyen.

Regional News • Europe
AstraZeneca admits huge Covid-19 vaccine shortfall for EU
AstraZeneca admits huge Covid-19 vaccine shortfall for EU
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, said to European lawmakers the company would deliver to the EU less than half the amount of Covid-19 vaccine doses that it pledged for the first quarter of 2021. The undersupply torpedoed the EU’s plan to use AstraZeneca as its main first vaccine during the first quarter.

Soriot also said, "we hope that by Q2 (the April-May-June second quarter), we can catch up to where we would like to be."

EU officials say ramped up deliveries from April by the Anglo-Swedish company and by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna mean that the 27-nation bloc remains on track to reach its goal of fully vaccinating 70% of adults by mid-September.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU leaders debated unilateral Covid-19 measures, expect vaccine passport by summer to revive tourism
EU leaders debated unilateral Covid-19 measures, expect vaccine passport by summer to revive tourism
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

Twenty-seven European leaders have met to debate joint Covid-19 measures, including unilateral border and movement restrictions, the slow vaccine rollout and vaccine passports. While open questions remain, a vaccine passport is to be expected by summer.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Angela Merkel wants EU vaccination passport in the next three months
Angela Merkel wants EU vaccination passport in the next three months
Credit: Christliches Medienmagazin pro / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expects that the EU vaccination passport can be developed by the summer. "The political target is to achieve this in the next few months, I have spoken of three months," the CDU politician said on Thursday after the EU video summit.

The certificate is intended to create the possibility of granting advantages to vaccinated persons, if necessary. "Everyone has pointed out today that this is not an issue at all at the moment, given the low vaccination coverage of the population. But one has to prepare oneself," Merkel emphasized. She added that the vaccination certificate alone would not determine who could travel. "No political decisions have been made about this at all yet."

Regional News • Asia
Myanmar: European Union threatens sanctions against military junta
Protest in Myanmar against Military Coup
Protest in Myanmar against Military Coup Credit: MgHla (aka) Htin Linn Aye (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

According to a joint statement released after EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday, the bloc is poised to impose sanctions against the military leaders in Myanmar.

The Council called again on the military authorities to "immediately and unconditionally release President U Win Myint, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all those who have been detained or arrested in connection with the coup."

In a press release, the Council stated, "the EU stands ready to adopt restrictive measures targeting those directly responsible for the military coup and their economic interests."

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Unionist parties from Northern Ireland to take legal action against the Brexit deal
Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster Credit: DUP (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Members of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) announced Sunday to take part in legal action challenging part of Britain’s deal with the European Union.

The Protocol agreed during Brexit is designed to protect the European Union's single market without creating a land border on the island of Ireland but so far caused disruption to trade since it came into force at the start of the year. Some British companies have halted deliveries to Northern Ireland, and some supermarkets have been left with empty shelves.

"Alongside the political action we have been taking, we have considered a number of legal routes, and will be joining other unionists from across the United Kingdom in judicial review proceedings to challenge the Protocol, unless arrangements are put in place which are consistent with the Act of Union 1800, the Northern Ireland Act of 1998 and the Belfast Agreement. ", said DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US agrees to join talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal

The United States has agreed to join talks to revive the "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, after former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018.

"The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran's nuclear program," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Regional News • Europe • France
Macron calls upon US and EU to allocate 5% of vaccine supplies to developing countries
Macron calls upon US and EU to allocate 5% of vaccine supplies to developing countries
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

French President Emmanuel Macron is urging the United States and European countries to allocate up to 5% of Coronavirus vaccine supplies to poor and developing countries.

Macron: “If we allow to take root the idea that hundreds of millions of vaccines are made in rich countries and that we don’t start in poor countries, that idea is unsustainable.”

Business • Health Care
EU orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from Moderna
EU orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from Moderna
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The EU has secured 300 million additional doses of Corona vaccine from the manufacturer Moderna. A second supply contract to this effect has been approved with the US company, said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. According to the company, an initial 150 million of these doses would be delivered in the third and fourth quarters of 2021. There is also an option for a further 150 million cans for 2022.

Last year, the EU Commission initially ordered 160 million vaccine doses from Moderna.

Regional News • Europe
Johnson & Johnson applies for EU approval of its Covid-19 vaccine
Johnson & Johnson applies for EU approval of its Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has stated it has received an application for approval of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and a decision is expected by mid-March.

Business • Markets
Amsterdam overtakes London as most important financial center in Europe
Amsterdam overtakes London as most important financial center in Europe
Credit: unsplash.com / Adrien Olichon

In January, 9.2 billion euros were traded daily on the Amsterdam stock exchanges, significantly more than in London with 8.6 billion euros, according to figures from the financial market firm Cboe Europe.

By comparison, in 2020, an average of 17.5 billion euros per day had still been traded in London, according to Cboe, while Frankfurt was second with 5.9 billion euros per day and Amsterdam only sixth with 2.6 billion per day.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany expels Russian diplomat in tit-for-tat move
Russian Embassy in Berlin
Russian Embassy in Berlin Credit: Fred Romero (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The German government has declared a Russian diplomat "persona non grata" in response to Moscow's expulsion of EU diplomats last week. Poland and Sweden have made similar announcements.

Russia said the expelled diplomats had participated in a demonstration in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, but Germany disputed this.

"The German diplomat was merely carrying out his task of reporting on developments on the spot in a legal fashion," the Federal Foreign Office of Germany wrote on a statement.

Regional News • Europe
Overtaken by Covid-19, Portugal requests for European help
Overtaken by Covid-19, Portugal requests for European help
Credit: Copyright Bundeswehr

Doing relatively better than other countries at the beginning of the crisis last year, Portugal is now overwhelmed by the last epidemic wave. Hospitals are saturated and positive cases are exploding. Half of the total 13.000 victims died since the beginning of the year.

Portugal is now asking for help to its European neighbors. Germany sent 8 doctors, 18 nurses and a large stock of medical equipment.

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Three European diplomats expelled from Russia
Sergei Lavrov (left) and Josep Borrell
Sergei Lavrov (left) and Josep Borrell Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

Three diplomats from the EU have been expelled from Russia over their alleged participation in protests in support of Alexei Navalny, the jailed opposition activist who was jailed this week.

The expulsion of the diplomats, from Germany, Sweden and Poland, comes only hours after the EU's foreign affairs chief - Josep Borrell - met his counterpart Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

In response to the expulsion, Sweden called it "totally unfounded" and denied their diplomat had participated in any demonstration, and German's foreign ministry said that it was "in no way justified" and would retaliate if Russia did not reconsider the action.

Russia's foreign ministry said that the 3 diplomats allegedly took part in "illegal demonstrations" on 23 January.