European Commission
European Commission authorises a fourth safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19
This week the European Commission granted a conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) for the COVID‑19 vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, the fourth COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the EU so far. The European Medicines Agency had been assessing the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine and concluded the vaccine met the required criteria. Notably, the Janssen vaccine is the first one which is administered in a single dose. Johnson & Johnson have said they will begin delivering their vaccine to the EU, Norway and Iceland – at least 200 million doses, with potential for an additional 200 million under the contract – in the second half of April 2021. This will add to the total 600 million doses from BioNTech/Pfizer, the 460 million doses of the vaccine by Moderna, as well as the 400 million by AstraZeneca.

Commemorating the European Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Terrorism
On 10 March, the day the 2004 Madrid bombings took place, the Commission commemorated the 17th European Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Terrorism, an annual event to commemorate worldwide victims of terrorism. Providing support to victims of terror is a central dimension of the Commission’s counter-terrorism action, and the EU has installed a series of legal mechanisms in this regard, including an EU-wide compensation scheme, the Victims’ Rights Directive and the Directive on Combating Terrorism. The EU had also set up in January 2020 the EU Centre of Expertise for Victims of Terrorism (link).

EU unveils vision for Europe’s digital transformation
The Commission unveiled a new vision for Europe’s digital transformation this week, with the ambition to make Europe digitally sovereign in an open and interconnected world; at the same time, to pursue digital policies that are human-centred, and help the continent achieve its sustainability objectives. As part of the strategy, the Commission proposes a “digital compass” approach around four key areas: enhancing digital skills amongst citizens; ensuring secure and sustainable digital infrastructures; digital transformation of businesses and digitalisation of public services.

·        Czech Republic: After a 5 March decree by the Czech Health ministry, from 12 March Czech police officers are obliged to undergo PCR or antigen tests on a weekly basis. The measure also applies to employees at any company who intend to return to their workplace. (link)

·        Hungary: Hungary’s Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Muller announced that the country will soon begin vaccinating law enforcement officers as well as soldiers that are involved in the pandemic response efforts. (link)

·        Spain and the Netherlands: Joint raids by Spanish and Dutch police officers lead to 11 kilograms of “pink cocaine” being seized in Valencia, Spain. (link)

·        Norway: A record number of female applicants for the Norwegian Police University College was registered this year – with women representing 56.8 percent of total applicants. (link)

·        Greece: Greek police officers are to be given new devices allowing them to carry out real-time facial recognition and fingerprint identification while on duty. (link)

 Other news
Cracking of encrypted messaging app Sky ECC dealt a major blow to organised crime in Belgium
Hundreds of police officers across Belgium carried out raids and arrests across Belgium this week, conducted under the coordination of the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s office and the Antwerp federal police. According to De Standaard, investigators had managed to crack an “unbreakable” encrypted messaging software, called Sky ECC, and were consequently able to access thousands of messages sent by high-ranking criminals. Sky ECC had become popular with criminals after another platform, Encrochat, was cracked by French and Dutch police, a 2020 operation that led to over 100 arrests in the Netherlands and the seizure of 8,000 kilos of cocaine and almost €20 million. (link)

Portugal aims to ensure online terror content is removed within an hour
The Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU is aiming to finalise the legislative process to ensure online terrorist content is removed within an hour of it being published, according to the country’s minister of internal affairs, Eduardo Cabrita. Cabrita emphasised that the Portuguese presidency aims to enhance regional counter-terrorism cooperation; to conclude the “Preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online” file which is currently proceeding under the Ordinary Legislative Procedure (procedure file here) and, finally, to strengthen Europol’s capabilities and coordination with national agencies.

Look Ahead

–        15 March: Frontex Scrutiny Working Group, within the European Parliament’s LIBE committee, meets.

–        15 March: Meeting of EU foreign affairs and home affairs ministers to discuss the external aspects of the EU’s migration policy, and ways to enhance cooperation amongst EU nations and also with third countries. (here)

–        15 March: Meeting of EU employment and social policy ministers to discuss the European Pillar of Social Rights, Equality, non-discrimination and diversity in the EU, as well as national Recovery and Resilience plans. (here)

–        16 March: EU Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Vĕra Jourová speaks at an online event Women’s empowerment in the UN and G20 agendas: policies to support female talents and leadership and to counter gender based violence.

–        25-26 March: European Council summit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *