Spain pours billions into fight for slice of European electric vehicle sector

Spain is moving aggressively to land new battery and electric vehicle plants, using billions of European Union pandemic relief funds to avoid being left behind as the global auto sector undertakes the biggest technology transformation in a century.

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At a Glance – Resilient supply chains in the green transition: EU-US Explainer – 28-07-2021

The green transition will increase demand for critical minerals, high capacity batteries, and semiconductors. An electric vehicle requires six times more critical minerals than a conventional car, while an onshore wind power plant requires nine times more critical minerals than a comparable gas-fired plant. Likewise, the lithium-ion battery market is expected to become five to ten times larger by 2030 on account of demand for electric vehicles and stationary storage. Meanwhile, semiconductors underpin virtually every technology, giving them industrial and national security significance. Dependence on a few countries (e.g. China) for these critical inputs and technologies has sparked interest in policies to increase supply chain resilience, for instance through greater domestic production. As the EU and US face similar challenges, in June 2021 they agreed to establish the EU-US Trade and Technology Council, which will also address cooperation on supply chains.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Highlights – The Global State of Human Rights: High-Level Conference – Subcommittee on Human Rights

High-Level Conference on the Global State of Human Right
The European Parliament and the Global Campus of Human Rights will hold the first Global State of Human Rights conference on 16 July. The event will gather MEPs, including EP Vice Presidents Heidi Hautala and Fabio Castaldo, and Maria Arena, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, EU Commissioners, Nobel Peace Prize Recipients, Sakharov Prize Laureates, Political and Security Committee Ambassadors, and representatives from international organisations, academics and stakeholders.

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 – 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

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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