European Commission
Commission strikes world’s largest vaccine deal with Pfizer and BioNTech
On Friday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Twitter and at a press conference that the EU aims to have acquired enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be able to vaccinate 70% of all adults across the EU by July, after the Commission secured a deal purchasing up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine between 2021 and 2023. This is the third contract agreed by the Commission with the two companies, which have already agreed contractual terms to supply 600 million doses of the two-dose vaccine this year. The EU hopes the deal will also consolidate Europe’s leadership in mRNA technologies, on which the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine relies (other vaccines, like AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s use more common viral vector technologies, which have been tied to rare cases of blood clots). The EU also hopes that the deal will help to cement Europe’s domestic production of the vaccine in the long run – given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is produced in Puurs, Belgium at increasingly large scale. Thus far, 24% of adults in the EU and the wider European Economic Area have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention, while 9% of adults have been fully vaccinated. (link)

Eurobarometer data suggests trust in the EU has risen since summer 2020
The latest Eurobarometer data has been published, revealing close to half of Europeans trust the European Union (49%), after a 6-percentage point increase since the Standard Eurobarometer of summer 2020. This means that in the most comprehensive survey data available, levels of trust in, and positive images of the EU have reached their highest levels since spring 2008 and autumn 2009, respectively. Meanwhile, Europeans increasingly regard health as the most important issue facing the EU – 38% of respondents now highlighting this issue, a steep increase of 16 percentage points since summer 2020. As regards the economy, only 29% of EU citizens regard the present situation as “good” – the highest positive perception levels in Luxembourg (86%) and the lowest in Italy (merely 7%). Finally, as regards vaccines, 45% of Europeans would like to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, while 20% would like to be vaccinated at some point in 2021, and 21% preferring to be vaccinated at a later stage. Only 12% of respondents said they would refuse a vaccine. (link)

·        France: A female police officer was fatally stabbed in a knife attack at a police station in Rambouillet, south-west Paris, in a possible terror attack. (link)

·        Germany: German police arrested three men in raids targeting a suspected gang of jewelry thieves, who are believed to have stolen more than €1 million in cash, watches and jewelry in well organized robberies where they would arrive at properties dressed as police officers. (link)

·        Netherlands: Dutch police have begun using a robotic dog named “Spot” in their special forces anti-drugs operations. The robot uses cameras and other sensors, and is useful because of its ability to walk through doorways and clear minor obstacles. (link)

·        Spain: Spanish police uncovered what they believe is the first workshop using a 3D printer to make assault firearms in the country. (link)

·        Switzerland: A Swiss police officer was jailed this week for selling weapons and ammunition on the dark web. (link)

·        UK: Two men have been arrested by police officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) after a bomb was left near a policewoman’s car. PSNI Detective Superintendent Richard Campbell, the head of the PSNI’s terrorism investigation unit, said the men were arrested under the Terrorism Act. (link)

Other news
Coordinated action by European police against cross-border crime groups Europol published a press release on 21 April announcing that at least 228 arrests had been made after 70,000 individuals were checked across Europe to tackle mobile criminality. Between 13 and 16 April 2021, law enforcement authorities from 17 EU Member States  targeted mobile organised crime groups active across the EU as part of operation Trivium. The action was coordinated by the Netherlands, and targeted organized crime groups operating property crime syndicates and travelling on Europe’s motorways. Over 67,000 vehicles were checked, and stolen goods, vehicles, illegal substances and large cash volumes were seized. The involved countries included: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Albania. Operation Trivium had been originally launched in 2013. (link)

Danish Police Association says more must be done to tackle harassment of police officers
In a recent opinion police, Heino Kegel, Federal President of the Danish Police Association, has argued that more work needs to be done to protect police officers from harassment. Kegel argues that harassment of police officers is becoming increasingly common and multi-faceted, especially given the advent of social media, where officers are routinely filmed and subsequently subjected to online abuse. In the piece, Kegel adds that “Of course, police officers should never be able to get away with abuse of power or breaking the rules. But they deserve understanding and the feeling that their workplace is also behind them and presupposes that they are innocent until proven otherwise.” Kegel also warns that fears of rule breaking and hierarchy concerns often lead to harassment against police being routinely ignored, or feelings amongst police officers who endure harassment that they cannot raise complaints through legitimate procedures. He thus calls on legislators to do more to support police officers in their roles as public protectors. (link)

Look Ahead

  • April 27 – Meeting of the Council Working Party on Frontiers discussing about the Implementation of Entry/Exit System (EES) as well as examination of the Regulation proposal establishing a centralized system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third-country nationals and stateless persons (Agenda).
  • April 28 Meeting of the Working Party on Terrorism discussing the “EU Threat Assessment in the field of counterterrorism”.
  • April 28: Plenary Debate on a Report by Patryk Jaki (LIBE Committee member) entitled “Preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online” followed by a vote the same day.
  • April 29: Plenary Debate and vote on the Union Anti-Fraud Programme (2021-2027) taking place in the European Parliament Plenary Session. The author of the Report is Monika Hohlmeier, Member of the Budgetary Control (CONT) Committee in the European Parliament.

 

 

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