European Union

Law
The German federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information criticizes the federal government
Prof. Ulrich Kelber
Prof. Ulrich Kelber Credit: Der Bundesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und die Informationsfreiheit

Prof. Ulrich Kelber, the German federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, criticized the federal government in a press release. Germany has not implemented the EU data protection directive on data protection in the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences and the execution of sentences for more than 1,000 days.

As a result, he lacks effective enforcement powers with the security authorities, which would be a basis for the judicial prosecution of data protection violations.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
BioNTech and Pfizer pledge 75m additional doses to EU
BioNTech and Pfizer pledge 75m additional doses to EU
Credit: Pfizer, BioNTech

On Monday, BioNTech and Pfizer said they would increase their Covid-19 vaccine delivery the European Union in the second quarter of 2021, pledging an additional 75 million doses. Both BioNTech-Pfizer and AstraZeneca have recently experienced production delays, resulting in slower vaccine distribution schedules in the EU.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Russia offers Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine doses for 50 million people
Russia offers Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine doses for 50 million people
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The state-owned Direct Investment Fund, which co-finances the vaccine and markets it abroad, announced in Moscow on Friday that Russia wants to help out the European Union with its vaccine. In the second quarter, 100 million doses of the vaccine Sputnik V could be delivered, which would allow 50 million people to be vaccinated. The prerequisite is that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves the active ingredient.

Independent studies testing the efficiency of the vaccine are outstanding.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Redacted contract between European Commission and AstraZeneca now published
Screenshot of the contract between European Commission and AstraZeneca
Screenshot of the contract between European Commission and AstraZeneca

Following the renewed request from the European Commission on 27 January 2021, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to the publication of its partially redacted contract with the EU. Redactions were made mainly in those places where it concerns deadlines for promised deliveries and their scope.

Following the surprise announcement that it would deliver only 31 million units by the end of March instead of the agreed minimum of 80 million, Astra Zeneca promised 39 million doses earlier this week. However, the EU had judged this offer to be insufficient as the vaccine delivery was still fifty percent below the originally agreed figure.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU to impose export restrictions on vaccines
EU to impose export restrictions on vaccines
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

On Friday, the European Commission is set to decide on a "transparency and authorization mechanism for the export of vaccines" from the EU after vaccine manufacturers had to reduce vaccine supply for EU countries.

"Any exporting company would send into the national authorities their plan what to export, when, to whom and so on, and what amount, and the national authorities will then be allowed to check that and to give an authorization or a refusal. That, of course, has to happen very quickly, so it's a question not of weeks, but the question of hours." one EU official said.

Another official told reporters that the EU is "not proposing to impose an export ban" but rather plans to "monitor how the funds that we paid from the EU budget have been used and how the advanced purchase agreements that we concluded with pharmaceutical companies are producing vaccines for our citizens."

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany to ban entry for travellers from the UK, Portugal, Brazil and South Africa to curb spread of Covid mutations
Munich International Airport, passport controls, Jan 2017
Munich International Airport, passport controls, Jan 2017 Credit: Vasyatka1, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Germany is set to impose an entry ban for travellers from Portugal, Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom in an effort to curb the spread of more potent Covid-19 variants.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) said before a video meeting with his European counterparts that coordination with the EU had been unsuccessful because some member states remained too lax. "We cannot count on a European solution. That is why we are now preparing this nationally," Seehofer said.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU considers restricting cash payments
EU considers restricting cash payments
Credit: unsplash.com / Markus Spiske

The EU Commission considers a uniform upper limit for cash payments to be sensible. Currently, 10,000 euros is considered the likely maximum amount.

To make it more difficult for criminals to handle cash, the group would prefer to introduce an EU-wide cap on cash payments of a maximum of 10,000 euros, although individual member states could also introduce lower limits.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU threatens Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers with export ban
EU threatens Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers with export ban
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

The EU Commission is threatening pharmaceutical companies with a ban on exports of Covid-19 vaccines to countries outside the EU. This is the Brussels-based authority's reaction to the surprising announcement by AstraZeneca that it will initially supply significantly less vaccine than contractually agreed.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU demands insight into Astrazeneca data amidst vaccine supply shortages
EU demands insight into Astrazeneca data amidst vaccine supply shortages
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The EU Commission is demanding insight into the data of the pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca. "The EU is demanding information from the company by Jan. 29 at the latest on why it wants to supply fewer vaccine doses to the EU," EU Commission circles said Monday evening after another meeting of company representatives with members of the EU states. There was not enough clarity and explanation from Astrazenecas, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on Twitter.

Regional News • Europe • France
France: new border controls to contain Coronavirus spread
France: new border controls to contain Coronavirus spread
Credit: unsplash.com/Mufid Majnun

France imposed new border controls on Sunday. Incoming travellers from the EU must have a negative PCR test result not older than 72 hours, though this does not apply to travellers crossing the borders on land.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany buys 200,000 doses of Covid-19 antibody drug
Jens Spahn
Jens Spahn Credit: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The German government has purchased a new Covid-19 antibody-based Corona drug. German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has stated that "Starting next week, the monoclonal antibodies will be used in Germany as the first country in the EU. Initially in university clinics," and added that "The federal government has purchased 200,000 doses for 400 million euros,"

Regional News • Europe
AstraZeneca says initial EU delivery of Covid-19 vaccine to fall short
AstraZeneca Logo
AstraZeneca Logo Credit: AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca told European Union officials that initial deliveries to the region would fall short of the targeted volumes because of a production glitch.

The announcement comes after European officials clashed this week with Pfizer and BioNTech over the companies' decision to cut their own planned deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines to the bloc.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil paid twice as much as EU for first AstraZeneca vaccine delivery
Brazil paid twice as much as EU for first AstraZeneca vaccine delivery
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Brazilian government will pay the Serum Institute in India more than twice as much as European Union have earmarked for AstraZeneca vaccines. In a statement at the beginning of January, Fiocruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation) confirmed the negotiation and indicated that "the institute will offer the ready vaccines to the market for US$5.25 each".

In recent weeks, an alleged error by the Belgian Minister for the Budget has allowed the prices of different doses of vaccines to be revealed to the European public, with a value of US$2.16 for AstraZeneca doses.

Law
Valve and five other PC game publishers fined €7,8 million for "geo-blocking" practices by EU Commission
Valve and five other PC game publishers fined €7,8 million for "geo-blocking" practices by EU Commission
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Valve and five publishers of video games are to pay fines of 7,8 million euros according to the will of EU competition regulators. As the EU Commission announced on Wednesday, EU antitrust law had been violated.

The other companies affected are Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax, also among the better-known names in the industry.

The companies are accused of preventing consumers from using purchased video games in other EU countries. Specifically, it has been criticized that game keys - that are required on Steam to unlock games, only work within certain national borders.

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.