Brussels (Brussels Morning) This week the European Commission’s agenda features COVID-19 developments at the level of EU health ministers, when the focus will be on vaccination issues and liaison with the pharmaceutical industry. Discussions to how to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and further talks on the EU Green Deal, including zero net emissions, biodiversity and the use of batteries, will also be feaure as part of the Commission’s work week. Debates centred on artificial intelligence (AI) and the Recovery and Resiliency Fund (RFF) will also feature later in the week.
On Monday, Vice-President Commissioner Margaritis Schinas attends the informal meeting of health ministers, after the Council’s call to speed up COVID-19 vaccine certification across the member states.
EU countries are discussing the best ways to deal with the new variants of the virus and assessing ongoing confinement measures. Vaccination has started in all EU countries, but the Council has urged the need to speed up authorisation, production and distribution of more vaccines and associated vaccination campaigns.
Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides will assess the level of production and supply with representatives of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, Medicines for Europe and Business Europe, on Friday.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 is far from a top priority in Yemen, where the people are enduring an endlessly brutal war, which has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. On Monday, Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic discusses the urgency of the Yemeni humanitarian situation at a high-level meeting organised by the governments of Sweden and Switzerland along with the United Nations.
On Monday, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson addresses issues of government and business alignment in the context of attaining net zero emissions at a special online event. Government and industry leaders are expected to discuss and review challenges and opportunities for aligning their interests and setting future goals.
On the same day, Interinstitutional Relations Commissioner Maros Sefcovic attends the high-level meeting of the European Battery Alliance. The Commission will examine the role of batteries as a key enabler and catalyst to advance Europe’s clean and digital transition, particularly with regard to the automotive industry.
On Thursday, Commissioner Simson will address the role played by key civil society groups in the renovation wave being promoted by the Commission under the European Green Deal.
Future of Europe Conference
On Wednesday, Democracy and Demography Commissioner Dubravka Suica will preview the Conference on the Future of Europe, to be launched on 9 May. The event will bring together in open debates citizens, civil society, national, regional and local authorities and European institutions in order to give new impetus to the European project and to strengthen European democracy.
Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders will discuss the sustainability of AI in a business context at a seminar organised by Agoria and the Belgian Federation for the Technology Industry, on Wednesday. Under the EU’s Portuguese Presidency, Portugal will seek to promote adoption of the EU’s first legislation on AI, which will focus on transparency and respect for user rights, with the anticipated cooperation of the US administration.
On Friday, Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen will chair the Steering Board of the Recovery and Resilience Task Force’s discussion on implementation of the facility, which the Council adopted on 11 February.
The EU’s new long-term budget and Recovery and Resilience Fund is worth 672.5 billion euros, with at least 37% of spending expected to be devoted to climate objectives and 20% to digital transformation.
Member states are still in the process of submitting their draft national plans with a deadline of 20 April. For those approved in 2021, pre-financing of 13% of the total amount allocated to each member state will be made available.