Brussels (Brussels Morning) After the holiday season, the European Commission is set to resume activities. This week, the EU executive is preparing to handle COVID-19 discussions, present the Commission’s Work Programme for 2021 at national level and discuss EU space policy.
As COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise across the EU, Commissioner Vice-President Margaritis Schinas will exchange views with Oxana Domenti, WHO representative to the EU, and with Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, on Monday.
Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides will have similar discussions in a call with Marta Temido and Adam Niedzielski, the Portuguese and Polish Health Ministers. Emergency measures are about to be reinforced in several EU countries, after the increased social contacts of the holiday season deemed responsible for the surge in infections.
Last Thursday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged Europe to “do more” as it faces an “alarming situation” from the new variant of the virus that started in the United Kingdom and which has now reached the entire EU bloc.
With two COVID-19 vaccines now authorised in the EU market, the Commission is engaged on a heavy vaccination campaign.
Work programme 2021
On Tuesday, Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira will present the Commission’s Work Programme for 2021 to the Portuguese Parliament, an event organised under the umbrella of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, in Lisbon, Portugal.
However, despite the setbacks brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission says that the green and digital transitions remain a driving force for 2021.
According to the Commission, the NextGenerationEU, the EU’s recovery plan, will focus on sustainable investment and reforms, with 37% of expenditure of the Recovery and Resilience Facility earmarked for green transition spending and a minimum 20% to be invested in digital.
EU space policy
Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton will address the 13th European Space Conference, taking place in Brussels on Wednesday. The event takes place nearly one month after the EU executive announced the new EU space programme, in which the Galileo and Copernicus programmes are set to play a key role.
The 13th European Space Conference will cover the twin ambitions of the EU — green and digital — as well as security and resilience for the Union.
On Thursday, all 27 Commissioners will convene in Brussels, their first such gathering of the year, to discuss pressing Union issues and to set future guidance.
Also on Thursday, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson will deliver the keynote address at a digital event within the framework of the European Green Deal, where industry and policy makers will debate how to distribute grid investment to power the energy transition.
Ending the week, on Friday, President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Lisbon, on the occasion of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council, together with other members of the College.