Our monitoring reports aim to provide an overview of the most important EU and national developments in response to COVID-19. They include measures adopted by the EU Institutions and Member States, specific developments on internal market and cross-border movements, information on delays of EU legislation, and major stakeholders’ reactions.
We will issue the reports 2-3 times per week depending on developments. If you have any questions or you need more information, please contact our Public Policy Director Tania Pentcheva.
- President Von der Leyen and Commisioner Breton have had a phone call with representatives of several industries manufacturing products needed to tackle the COVID-19 crisis: engineering companies producing ventilators and other medical devices, start-ups, car companies as well as representatives of the aeronautics and machinery industry. The discussion focused on how to ramp up production as much and as quickly as possible, including by exploring exceptional solutions such as re-using retired ventilators or sharing intellectual property.
- The European Commission has published guidelines for the screening of foreign investments to protect critical European assets and technology from foreign takeovers during the crisis, notably in areas such as health, medical research, biotechnology, and critical infrastructure.
- The Commission will propose a one-year delay for the Medical Device Regulation (MDR) transition deadline, Commission spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaecker said Wednesday. The proposal will still need to be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament (source: POLITICO). Earlier in the week, MedTech Europe called for a delay of two regulation deadlines so companies could focus on getting medical gear to healthcare systems to fight the coronavirus outbreak, according to a press release.
- The European Commission launched an initiative to collect ideas about deployable artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic solutions as well as information on other initiatives that could help face the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The initiative aims to create a unique repository that is easily accessible to all citizens, stakeholders and policymakers.
- Executive Vice President Timmermans’ Head of Cabinet has said that the EU’s emission reduction targets for 2030 would not be delayed due to COVID-19. The proposal for a climate law is still foreseen for September, despite the disruption to all interinstitutional negotiations following the virus outbreak (source: MLEX).
- The Commission has announced measures to support the agricultural sector during COVID-19, including extended deadlines for CAP applications, increased state aid, and green lanes for the transport of goods.
- The Council has officially suspended all physical meetings for the month to come. The Council also started to adopt new rules of procedure to allow for work to continue. Video conferences amongst Ministers will retain their status as informal meetings, but formal decisions can now be taken after the video conferences through written procedure (source: POLITICO).
- Following the Commission’s publication of a draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 in order to provide financial assistance to Member States and countries negotiating their accession to the Union seriously affected by a major public health emergency, the Council has now published a decision to adopt the Regulation via written procedure.
- The Eurogroup President Mario Cento wrote a letter to the President of the European Council welcoming the measures taken so far, but also calling for Pandemic Crisis Support from the European Stability Mechanism, as well as the creation of other instruments.
- The Eurozone Finance Ministers have debated an EU-wide strategy to counter the economic downturn introduced by the crisis. Such a strategy would likely include the European Stability Mechanism, opening credit lines to bail out Governments. But the Ministers did not reach an agreement, leaving the EU without a common financial strategy.
- In an extraordinary plenary session, the EP debated the European coordinated response to the COVID-19 outbreak proposed earlier by the European Commission. Several key figures made statements about the measures which include the mobilisation of €37 billion to fight the virus. Read President Sassoli’s statement here, President Von der Leyen’s statement here.
- The EP has introduced remote voting. MEPs remaining home will have the possibility to print and fill out a ballot paper, scan it and send it back to the secretariat from their official email addresses. The same paper-based procedure will apply to MEPs who come to the EP’s premises to vote (source: POLITICO).
European Environment Agency
- The EEA has said in a press release that they see reduced emissions across the Union, particularly due to a reduction in traffic. Reductions of around half have been seen in some locations. On the other hand, said the head of EEA, sustainability might be more difficult to achieve due to the shutdown caused by the pandemic. Despite the reductions observed currently, long-term improvements require ambitious policies and investments for a well-managed transition. The crisis has a negative impact on this, said Hans Bruyninckx (source: ENDS Europe Daily).
World Trade Organisation
- The WTO has established a website to provide information on trade-related responses to COVID-19. It will include real-time updated information from WTO members, information on the impact of the virus on imports and exports, and information on how the WTO is affected.
- Director General Azvedo has asked for cooperation during the virus outbreak. He noted in a video statement that no country was self-sufficient, and called for trade allowing efficient production and supply of basic goods and services, including food, medical supplies and energy.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
- The OECD has published a letter by its Director of the Centre for Tax Policy detailing which measures Governments have considered and enacted around the world to protect citizens and business from the negative consequences of the virus. Amongst these are deferring social security contributions and payroll tax, tax concessions for staff in essential sectors, VAT deferral, and others.
- France announced the roll-out of a €4 billion support package to secure the liquidity of startups. This takes the form of early payment of some tax credits, accelerated payment of planned investments in the sector and guarantees over cash-flow costs, as well as bridge loans (source: POLITICO).
- The German Chambers of Commerce have issued a statement warning that an increasing number of private insurance providers would no longer cover cross-border trade as a result of the virus crisis. The Chambers also called for temporary state support and for the EU to allow for state-backed insurance for exports within the EU and the OECD.
- The European Commission announced, in the context of the EU’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, the adoption of an updated 2020 Work Programme of Horizon 2020 to allocate increased funding to its priorities, including research projects on the coronavirus. The update includes €47.5 million in funding for the emergency call announced in early March to fight the coronavirus outbreak that led to the launch of 17 projects.
- Nine EU prime ministers have called for “corona bonds”, meaning a European debt instrument that would be issued by a European institution in order to raise capital on the markets that could help Member States to fight the virus and its economic consequences. Signatories to a corresponding letter written to President Michel were the Governments of Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain (source: POLITICO).
- The Commission has asked telco providers for help in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak. Commissioner Breton has reached out to providers asking to share anonymised metadata to track population movements. Data is supposed to be centralised for tracking across the bloc. This raises privacy concerns, some drawing comparisons to surveillance measures in China and South Korea, where citizens are monitored with the help of an app (source: POLITICO).
- European Data Protection Supervisor Wiewiorowski has issued a letter in which he elaborates about the use of data to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. He shares the call for a coordinated European approach and states that European data rules were flexible enough to allow for a host of measures to fight the pandemic. He furthermore stated that effectively anonymised data fell outside of data protection rules.
Medical Equipment and Vaccine Development
- Stocks of the ingredients for biocidal products such as hand sanitiser are running low, according to the European Chemicals Agency. This leads to concern that derived products might become scarce, too. In response, Member States are relaxing chemicals rules in order to allow companies to contribute. Companies that have formerly produced alcoholic beverages are now providing biocidal ingredients (source: POLITICO).
- The Commission adopted decisions on harmonised standards which will allow manufacturers to place on the market high performing devices to protect patients, healthcare professionals and citizens in general. The standards will facilitate a faster and less expensive conformity assessment procedure. The rules relate to products like medical masks, surgical gowns and biocidal products.
- Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General of agricultural association COPA COGECA has said in an interview that the restrictions to the movement of people within the EU could severely affect the agricultural sector. This is due to hurdles to the employment of seasonal workers, which are crucial for the harvesting phase that is to begin in many European countries.
- The paper industry, represented by the Confederation of European Paper Industries, has asked to be classified as essential industry. According to a statement, paper producers were vital because they produced items like tissues and fiber-based packaging for food and medical supplies. The Confederation also called for cardboard and paper waste collection to continue because the waste is needed as raw materials for paper production.
- The automotive supply industry (represented by CLEPA) has issued a statement that about 60% of their members are expecting a loss in revenue of 20% or more due to the COVID-19 crisis. Following this, the association calls for a strongly coordinated European approach to support, including through financial measures and labour related measures. The statement cites tax breaks, investment guarantees, loans, and other means.
- 54 countries have imposed temporary export restrictions on medical equipment in response to the pandemic, says a study.
- The virus outbreak might affect waste management. According to draft Commission documents, Member States may suspend recycling of household waste that cannot be assumed to be virus-free (source: POLITICO).