European Commission

Commission sets out Communication on united front to beat COVID-19
Ahead of a meeting of EU leaders that took place this Thursday, the European Commission published a Communication  setting  out  a  number  of  actions  needed  to  tackle  the  COVID-19  pandemic.  The Commission has called on Member States to vaccinate at least 80% of people over the age of 80 and

80% of health and social care professionals by March 2021. The Commission also said Member States should have vaccinated a minimum of 70% of the adult population by summer 2021. The Commission is also working with Member States on coordination when it comes to vaccine certificates. (link)

Commission publishes public consultations on Schengen reform
The  European  Commission  has  this  week  published  two  public  consultations  relevant  to  the  EU’s Schengen framework. These consultations will be open until mid-March and act as a follow-up to the already open European Commission roadmaps. The first consultation focuses on the Amendment of the Schengen Border Code (link), whereas the second consultation aims at collecting feedback as to the new Schengen Strategy (link).

European Parliament

MEPs debate common approach to fighting COVID pandemic
In this week’s Plenary  session MEPs have  debated  the common EU approach to fighting  the  COVID pandemic, expressing broad support for this while also calling for complete transparency when it comes to vaccine contracts and the deployment of vaccines. Other issues raised during the debate included the need for comparable national data and mutual recognition of vaccinations. (link) Plenary also held an exchange with the Portuguese Presidency, with MEPs supporting proposals from the Presidency set out in its Programme. MEPs raised issues such as the recovery from the COVID crisis, emphasising the need for a focus on creating jobs and reducing inequalities, as well as helping the  green and digital transitions. (link)

MEPs debate European Arrest Warrant and humanitarian situation at EU external borders
MEPs this week debated an own initiative report on ways of improving the European Arrest Warrant. Commissioner Reynders said that although the functioning of the Warrant can be further improved, the instrument is the most efficient for practitioners in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. He also emphasised that there is no doubt that European arrest warrants need to respect fundamental values. MEPs voted in favour of the report with 444 votes in favour and 139 against. Plenary also debated the humanitarian situation of refugees & migrants at the EU’s external borders. Commissioner Johansson highlighted that that the EU must defend and live by the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, equality, rule of law and human rights. (link)


Member States agree common framework on rapid antigen tests and mutual recognition of COVID tests
Member States have agreed on a common framework for the use of rapid antigen tests and the mutual recognition of COVID-19 test results across the EU, in order to facilitate cross-border movement. (link) In a virtual summit on Thursday 21 January, EU leaders also discussed the idea of vaccine certificates, a proposal raised by a number of Member States led by Greece, as a further measure that would facilitate the restart of travel. However, leaders decided it was too early for such measures and noted that too many questions remain around certificates, therefore at this stage they should only be used as health records. (link)

Other news

Europol and EPPO set out basis for future cooperation
The  European  Public  Prosecutor’s  Office  (EPPO)  and  Europol  have  set  out  the  basis  of  their  future cooperation  in  the  form  of  a  working  arrangement.  The  arrangement  takes  the  form  of  a  legal instrument   establishing   the   cooperative   relationship.   This   will   mainly   consist   of   exchange   of information  and  mutual  participation  in  training  activities  as  well  as  support  on  individual  criminal investigations.  (link)  Meanwhile,  Europol  and  Frontex  have  pledged  to  improve  public  access  to documents following demands originally made in 2012 by civil liberties charity Statewatch. (link)

Look Ahead

–      26  January  –  European  Economic  and  Social  Committee  Workers’  Group  holds  webinar  on Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Social Summit in Porto (link)  with  speakers  including  Commissioner  for  Jobs  and  Social  Rights  Nicolas  Schmit,  S&D Group President Iratxe García and Portuguese Minister for Employment, Solidarity and Social Security Ana Mendes Godinho.

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