At a Glance – European Medicines Agency mandate extension – 01-07-2021

On 11 November 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal to strengthen the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The proposed regulation would allow the EMA, among other things, to better anticipate possible shortages of medicinal products and ensure their timely development, with the aim of improving the EU’s capacity to respond to health emergencies. The European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted its report on 22 June 2021. This is due to be voted during the July plenary session, thus setting Parliament’s negotiating position and opening the way for interinstitutional negotiations.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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Highlights – Cross-border health, high-technology assessment, asbestos protection: committee votes – Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

protecting citizens' health
The Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety will vote on amendments to the report on serious cross-border threats to health, and to the opinion on protecting workers from asbestos, on 12 and 13 July. The provisional inter-institutional agreement on the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) will also be voted on 13 July.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Mental health and the pandemic – 09-07-2021

While the pandemic is primarily a physical health crisis, it has also had widespread impact on people’s mental health, inducing, among other things, considerable levels of fear, worry, and concern. The growing burden on mental health has been referred to by some as the ‘second’ or ‘silent’ pandemic. While negative mental health consequences affect all ages, young people, in particular, have been found to be at high risk of developing poor mental health. Specific groups have been particularly hard hit, including health and care workers, people with pre-existing mental health problems, and women. The pandemic has also appeared to increase inequalities in mental health, both within the population and between social groups. To address the population’s increased psycho-social needs, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe established an expert group on the mental health impacts of Covid-19 in the European region. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has issued analyses and guidance on mental health in general and the pandemic’s impact on mental health in particular. At European Union level, a December 2020 European Commission communication addressed the pandemic’s impact on mental health. In May 2021, the Commission organised a major online stakeholder event, and published best practice examples of solutions presented. A July 2020 European Parliament resolution recognises mental health as a fundamental human right, calling for a 2021-2027 EU action plan on mental health. Members of the European Parliament have also called on the Commission to put mental health at the heart of EU policymaking. Stakeholders broadly rally around calls for programmes and funding to improve citizens’ mental health, not least to respond to the pandemic’s long-term implications.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Highlights – EU leadership in the fight against famines: committee debate – Committee on Development

The Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley with people in Yemen
The Committee on Development will discuss the global humanitarian and food security situation with UN World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley, on 13 July. According to the latest Global Report on Food Crises, the number of people facing acute food insecurity and needing urgent assistance hit a five-year high in 2020. The debate will feed into the Committee’s work on an upcoming report on food security in developing countries.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – Single European Sky 2+ package: Amended Commission proposal – 12-07-2021

The Single European Sky (SES) initiative aims to make EU airspace less fragmented and to improve air traffic management in terms of safety, capacity, cost-efficiency and the environment. Its current regulatory framework is based on two legislative packages: SES I (adopted in 2004), which set the principal legal framework, and SES II (adopted in 2009), which aimed to tackle substantial air traffic growth, increase safety, and reduce costs and delays and the impact of air traffic on the environment. Nonetheless, European airspace remains fragmented, costly and inefficient. The European Commission presented a revision of the SES in 2013 (the SES 2+ package). While the Parliament adopted its first-reading position in March 2014, in December 2014 the Council agreed only a partial general approach, owing to disagreement between the UK and Spain over the application of the text to Gibraltar airport. With Brexit having removed this blockage, the Commission has amended its initial proposal. The Council and the Parliament have both adopted their positions on the revised proposal, and can thus start trilogue negotiations. Second edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – EU-UK relations: Difficulties in implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol – 09-07-2021

On 3 March 2021, the United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, announced in a written statement to the UK Parliament, and without consulting the European Union (EU) in advance, that the grace period on border controls on a series of food and live products shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be extended. This meant that products of animal origin, composite products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plants and plant products could continue being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without the official certification, such as health and phytosanitary certificates, required by the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland (the Protocol) of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA). In response to the UK’s decision, the EU launched legal action against the UK for breaching the provisions of the Protocol, as well as the good faith obligation under the WA. According to the Protocol, the UK must establish border controls on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland according to EU law. The application of EU law to Northern Ireland, together with the conduct of border controls within the UK, was designed to prevent the establishment of physical border controls (a ‘hard border’) on the island of Ireland, so as to safeguard the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement which brought peace in Northern Ireland, while preserving the integrity of the EU’s single market. The grace period on border controls was agreed by the EU and the UK in December 2020 as a temporary solution to problems raised by the UK. The UK government has reiterated that it intends to implement the Protocol, but that the border controls are causing trade disruption between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and require time to be resolved. It has also mentioned other issues involving areas as diverse as medicinal supplies and parcel shipments, as well as the complexity of customs systems and implementation of exchange of information between the EU and the UK. On 30 June 2021, the EU and the UK reached an agreement on some solutions, including the extension of the grace period on meat products, conditional on tight controls.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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