COVID-19 Recap

 

Orgalim continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation. On this page, you can read about the latest policy initiatives and EU developments regarding the COVID-19 crisis that are affecting Europe's technology industries. 

In these difficult times Europe’s industry plays a crucial role in supporting society’s needs. We are therefore calling on Europe’s leaders to prioritise helping our industries, of which 90% are SMEs, to survive and regain their financial vigour.

 
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NEW Need to step up coronavirus response in the EU

On 24 September, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its updated risk assessment regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside a set of guidelines for non-pharmaceutical interventions. The updated risk assessment shows that notification rates have increased steadily across the EU and the UK since August, and that the measures taken have not always been sufficient to reduce or control exposure. It is therefore crucial that Member States roll out all necessary measures at the first sign of new outbreaks. Read more here.

 

COVID-19 Daily Data

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has launched a new COVID-19 situation dashboard, providing users with a simpler, more user-friendly platform to explore the latest available COVID-19 data from Europe and worldwide. Amongst the figures available, the dashboard allows users to view and export data on subnational levels of transmission in the EU/EEA and the UK, as well as enhanced data on subsets of cases, including age, gender, hospitalisation and admission to intensive care. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the ECDC Epidemic Intelligence team has been collecting data on COVID-19 at the European and global level on a daily basis. The COVID-19 situation dashboard is updated every day to visualise and disseminate this data.  

 

Monetary policy in the pandemic

On 22 September, Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, delivered a speech at the meeting of the ECB Money Market Contact Group on « Asymmetric risks, asymmetric reaction: monetary policy in the pandemic

 

SURE Instrument

On 22 September, the Commission welcomed the activation of the SURE instrument, which will provide up to €100 billion in financial support to help protect jobs and workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This follows the finalisation of national approval procedures and signatures by all Member States to provide for the guarantee agreements with the Commission worth a total of €25 billion. 

 

The Single Market Enforcement Task Force

On 21 September, in the second formal meeting of the Single Market Enforcement Task Force (SMET) Member States' and Commission representatives discussed a plan to prioritise work on removing the key barriers that hamper the functioning of the Single Market. The work plan aims, among others, to prevent possible restrictions linked to a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic as well as to address other restrictions in key industrial ecosystems, like construction and tourism. At the meeting, the SMET: 
•    focused on how to address barriers in the agri-food sector and to regulated professional services as well as discussed a coordinated EU approach to building stockpiles of medicines and medical equipment that prevents possible shortages and ensures transparency
•    approved a strong and clear mandate that will allow it to strengthen enforcement measures to avoid inadequate or overly differentiated implementation by Member States. 
•    discussed a mandate that will allow it to strengthen enforcement measures to avoid inadequate or overly differentiated implementation by Member States. 

Member States' commitment to the SMET work was reiterated during the Competitiveness Council on 18 September. More information available here
 

 

Own Resources Decision (allowing for the implementation of the NextGenerationEU)

On 16 September, the European Parliament voted in plenary (using the fast-track procedure - by 455 votes in favour, 146 against and 88 abstentions) their opinion on the Own Resources Decision (ORD). This vote makes it possible for the Council to rapidly adopt the ORD and start the ratification process in the Member States.
As a reminder, the ORD is the legal basis that provides for the revenue sources of the EU budget. Moreover, the new ORD will constitute the legal basis authorising funds to be borrowed on the financial markets to finance the “NextGenerationEU” Recovery Instrument (NGEU).

 

Internal market/free circulation of persons

On 18 September, the Commission published a set of recommendations for a common COVID-19 testing approach in Europe, as a follow-up initiative of the 15 July Communication on Short-Term EU Health Preparedness for COVID-19 Outbreaks. These recommendations aim to support Member states in the planning and organisation of their testing efforts during the different stages of the pandemic. The recommendations have been endorsed by the Health Security Committee, in view of streamlining national approaches and ensuring more coherent COVID-19 testing across the EU

 

Orgalim comments on State of the Union address

Orgalim shares the Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s view that the agreed recovery plan must serve as an opportunity to accelerate the necessary climate and digital transformations. We strongly support the objective of reaching climate neutrality by 2050. To ensure Europe reaches that goal, we have supported an increase of the 2030 emissions reduction target to 50%. We have also pointed to critical aspects that may impact Europe’s ability to reach those goals, as well as conditions for success. The announced proposal of a 55% reduction further highlights the necessity of a stable legal framework, and the urgency of unlocking major investments, both private and public. 

Orgalim fully supports the goal to make this Europe’s “digital decade”. Data and AI are already enabling our industries to be global leaders when it comes to advanced manufacturing, catalysing growth across other parts of the economy. We are calling on Europe’s leaders to further support this industrial transformation and to fully recognise the transversal role advanced manufacturing plays for the entire European economy. Our full statement can be read here and details on the President von der Leyen's State of the Union Address here

 

Recovery and Resilience Facility 

On 17 September, the Commission issued a press release that sets out strategic guidance for the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility in its 2021 Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS). The Facility is the key recovery instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will help the EU emerge stronger and more resilient from the current crisis. The Facility will provide €672.5 billion of loans and grants in frontloaded financial support for the crucial first years of the recovery. In the same press release the Commission also presented additional guidance to Member States on how best to present their recovery and resilience plans together with a standard template for their plans. 

 

Revision of the 2020 EU budget

On 11 September, the EU Council agreed to add €6.2 billion to the EU 2020 budget to address the impact of the COVID-19-crisis. The revised budget 

  • increases payments for the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI) by €1.09 billion to ensure the development and deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine. The European Commission will use this money as a down-payment for pre-ordering vaccine doses.

  • increases payments by €5.1 billion for the Corona Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and the Corona Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+). The money will be used to cover the additional needs for cohesion funding forecast until the end of the year. The CRII redirects unspent money from the EU budget to tackling the COVID-19 crisis, whilst the CRII+ relaxes the cohesion spending rules to increase flexibility.

 

Industrial Production

Eurostat has published a statement according to which industrial production in the EU increased by 4.1 % in July 2020 after an increase of 9.6 % in June and 11.5 % in May and a decrease of 18.2 % in April and 10.6 % in March; the total reduction since February 2020 still amounts to 7 %.

 

Testing interoperability gateway service for national contact tracing apps

On 14 September, the Commission announced that it starts testing an interoperability gateway service linking national contact tracing and warning apps across the EU. Users will only need to install one app and will still be able to report a positive infection test or receive an alert, even if they travel abroad. The Commission has kicked off test runs between the backend servers of the official apps from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Latvia, and a newly established gateway server. 

 

Research on convalescent plasma to treat the coronavirus

On 11 September, the Commission announced that it will support with €4 million a new research project, SUPPORT-E, that will coordinate efforts to determine if COVID-19 convalescent plasma transfusion – using plasma from patients who recovered from the disease - is an effective and safe treatment. The funding is part of the Commission's €1 billion pledge for coronavirus research and innovation, which comes under Horizon 2020 and is directed towards the development of vaccines, new treatments and diagnostic tools to prevent the spread of the virus.

 

Launch of the Facilitation Council

On 10 September, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, launched and co-hosted the first meeting of the High Level Facilitation Council, leading the work of the global collaborative framework ‘Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator’ (the ACT-A) to speed up the development and deployment of vaccines, tests and treatments against COVID-19, as well as to improve health systems. The Facilitation Council is composed by governments and non-governmental partners (BMGF, Wellcome Trust) and co-chaired by Norway and South Africa.

 

Disinformation

On 10 September, the Commission presented the assessment of the implementation and effectiveness of the Code of Practice on Disinformation. The assessment shows that the Code has proven a valuable instrument and has provided a framework for a structured dialogue between relevant stakeholders to ensure greater transparency of platforms' policies against disinformation within the EU.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Commission has set out a European approach on coronavirus-related disinformation in the 10 June 2020 Joint Communication and has been in close contact with the platforms adhering to the Code of practice to ensure that its safeguards were effectively applied. Alongside the assessment of the Code of Practice, the Commission published also the first baseline reports on the actions taken by the signatories of the Code. Read more here.

 

Commission adopts its first Strategic Foresight Report

On 9 September, the Commission adopted its first-ever Strategic Foresight Report, aiming to identify emerging challenges and opportunities to better steer the European Union's strategic choices. The 2020 Report presents the rationale for using foresight in EU policy-making, and introduces a comprehensive concept of EU resilience. The 2020 Strategic Foresight Report considers EU resilience in four dimensions: social and economic, geopolitical, green, and digital. For each dimension, the report identifies the capacities, vulnerabilities and opportunities revealed by the coronavirus crisis, which need to be addressed in the medium- to long-term.

 

Coronavirus vaccine

On 9 September, the Commission concluded exploratory talks with BioNTech-Pfizer to purchase a potential vaccine against COVID-19. BioNTech-Pfizer is the sixth company with which the Commission has concluded talks, following Sanofi-GSK on 31 July, Johnson & Johnson on 13 August, CureVac on 18 August and Moderna on 24 August. The first contract, signed with AstraZeneca, entered into force on 27 August.

 

Orgalim update

Orgalim strongly welcomes the Commission’s proposal made on 4 September for better coordination of restrictions on free movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Urgent solutions are needed as the technology companies around the EU are citing the current mosaic of restrictions as the primary obstacle to industrial recovery.

 

European Institute of Innovation and Technology announces the EIT Crisis Response Initiative results

On 8 September, as part of the EU's efforts to tackle the coronavirus crisis, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology announced the EIT Crisis Response Initiative results: €60 million awarded to 62 innovation projects and 145 entrepreneurs from 32 countries to tackle the pandemic and ensuing crisis. The selected projects will help provide solutions within the EIT's key focus areas, from health and digitisation to food and urban mobility. 

 

Free movement in the EU

On 4 September, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Recommendation to ensure that any measures taken by Member States that restrict free movement due to the coronavirus pandemic are coordinated and clearly communicated at the EU level. The Commission's proposal sets out four key areas where Member States should work closer together:

  1. Common criteria and thresholds for Member States when deciding whether to introduce travel restrictions;
  2. Mapping of common criteria using an agreed colour code;
  3. A common framework for measures applied to travellers from high-risk areas;
  4. Clear and timely information to the public about any restrictions

 

On this page you can find news published in the last 14 days. If you would like to receive earlier policy updates or you have any other questions or would like to talk to a member of the team, please do get in touch: communications@orgalim.eu.