Policy Updates

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European Investment Bank to loan CureVac US$82 million to produce COVID-19 vaccines

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and German vaccine developer, CureVac, have reached an agreement on an EU-guaranteed €75 million (US$82 million) loan for CureVac to scale up development and production of a coronavirus vaccine.

CureVac has stated that this loan could support the development of a billion doses of their innovative vaccine technology, which is based on messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules.
Press release - European Commission

Spain and Portugal join efforts to influence EU’s response to COVID-19

On July 6, 2020, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez met with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa in Lisbon, Portugal, to discuss the global situation regarding COVID-19 and to jointly define a common position ahead of the upcoming European Council meeting to be held on July 17 and 18, 2020.

The Prime Ministers of both nations discussed working together for strengthening EU institutions and reaching an agreement on the European recovery fund on COVID-19 and the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2021-2027 period.

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa adopts US$120 million assistance package for North Africa COVID-19 response

The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) has adopted a €110 million (US$120 million) assistance package for protecting migrants, stabilizing local communities, and supporting the COVID-19 response in North Africa. The package will be aimed at strengthening immediate response capacity and health systems and mitigating the socioeconomic impacts of the crisis.

The funding is comprised of €80 million (US$87 million) in new funding and €30 million (US$33 million) in re-allocated, uncontracted funds. Geographically, the funding will target Tunisia and Libya, and other regional initiatives.
Press release - European Commission
EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa website - European Commission

German Development Ministry makes support of partner countries in combatting COVID-19 key priority during its EU Council Presidency

On July 1, 2020, Germany assumed the Presidency of the Council of the EU, which the country will hold for the next six months. In addition to mitigating the political and socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany will focus on climate protection, digitalization, and the EU’s role in the world.

The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has announced its key priority topics during the Council Presidency, putting special emphasis on supporting low- and middle-income countries to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and on providing assistance in the countries’ social and ecological restoration. Among the BMZ’s priorities are:

  • The expansion of the EU’s ‘Team Europe’ approach to support partner countries in their COVID-19 response;
  • Adopting a joint EU-Africa strategy at the EU-AU summit;
  • Finalizing a new EU agreement with countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific ('Post-Cotonou Agreement');
  • Promoting greater corporate responsibility in global supply chains; and
  • Increasing the EU’s engagement in the fields of global health, food security, and water supply in line with the 'One Health' approach.

For the German Ministry of Health (BMG), the joint response to COVID-19 and the strengthening of the EU’s future capacity to respond to health crises are key priorities during the Council Presidency. The ministry will put special emphasis on:

  • Expanding Europe’s production capacities for medical products and devices;
  • Promoting the creation of a European health data space; and
  • Strengthening European public health organizations such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Press release – BMG

Press release – BMZ (in German)

Donor Tracker to host webinar on donors’ international COVID-19 response following Global Goal Summit pledges

On July 2, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), Donor Tracker will host a second webinar on donor countries’ international COVID-19 responses following the Global Goal Summit. The Summit, held on June 27, raised US$6.9 billion for developing globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments.

The Donor Tracker's expert team will analyze the Summit's outcomes and discuss implications for donor countries’ further international responses to the pandemic.

Registration - Zoom 

Leaders of South Korea and EU reaffirm commitment to strengthening partnership to overcome COVID-19

During a virtual meeting held on June 30, 2020, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, President Charles Michel of the European Union, and President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission shared their commitment towards global cooperation and partnership in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Through the leaders’ meeting held via video conference, the three leaders shared their concern and commitment on the following:

  • Overcoming COVID-19 and its challenges through global partnership and solidarity utilizing effective multilateral platforms including the G20 and the UN system;
  • Strengthening response capacities and information sharing via respective health authorities and centers for disease control;
  • Ensuring access to medical products and cooperation in R&D of infectious disease vaccines and therapeutics, including providing a future COVID-19 vaccine as a global common good;
  • Reaffirming their strong support for the WHO in combatting COVID-19 globally;
  • and emphasizing all parties’ commitment towards assisting partner countries to overcome challenges concerning COVID-19 through development assistance and support for partner countries’ healthcare systems.

Press release – European Union

European Commission and EIB pledge US$5.3 billion at Global Goal Summit

The European Commission (EC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) pledged a combined €4.9 billion (US$5.3 million) in additional financing at the virtual 'Global Goal: Unite for Our Future' COVID-19 pledging event. This event, held on June 27, was co-hosted by EC and the international advocacy NGO 'Global Citizen' and was aimed at raising finances for developing globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments. The EC and the EIB were represented at the event by EC President Ursula von der Leyen and EIB President Werner Hoyer.

The EC and EIB's combined pledge funding will come from the EIB’s “own resources” to finance loans, guarantees, and equity – in partnership with the EC and will be directed toward supporting global economic recovery particularly in vulnerable countries, assisting health preparedness, and scaling the EIB’s pipeline of COVID-19 medical tools development.
Overall, the 'Global Goal: Unite for Our Future' pledging event raised US$6.9 billion which comes in addition to the €9.8 billion (US$10.7 billion) committed during the first EC-hosted COVID-19 global response pledging event on May 4, 2020. 
Press release - European Commission
Press release - Global Citizen

European Commission proposes 2021 annual budget with US$2.4 billion for health research, US$16.8 billion for development

The European Commission (EC) proposed a new annual 2021 budget worth €166.7 billion (US$181.8 billion), in addition to €211 billion (US$230 billion) in grants and €133 billion (US$145 billion) in loans from a newly proposed recovery instrument.

This proposal would frontload 42% of the four-year recovery instrument funding in the first year. The 2021 proposal includes €2.2 billion (US$2.4 billion) for health and research through the Horizon Europe research program’s health cluster and €15.4 billion (US$16.8 billion) for development through the Neighborhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument 'NDICI'.

The 2021 budget proposal only serves as an indicative suggestion based on the EC’s latest multiannual financial framework (MFF) proposal and the newly proposed recovery instrument, which EU leaders have not yet agreed on, but which will determine the size and composition of the 2021-2027 long-term budget. 
Press release - European Commission
News article - Eurasia Review

EU leaders to negotiate next long-term budget and proposed recovery instrument at in-person summit

EU heads of state will negotiate a deal on the European Commission’s latest 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) proposal and on the newly proposed recovery instrument during a special in-person European Council summit on July 17-18, 2020.

Leaders had previously discussed the proposal at the recent European Council videoconference held on June 19 but were unable to reach any compromises. Outstanding discussions pertain to the size and ratio of loans and grants in the recovery instrument, measures to allocate recovery funding, and discussions on the conditionality of funding.

The European Commission and European Council President Charles Michel have expressed hope that a deal can be reached at the summit. If not, there will likely be a second extraordinary summit. 
Meeting information - European Council
News article - Euractiv

As Germany takes reigns of EU Council Presidency, Merkel says solidarity will be her guiding principle

In a speech in the German Parliament on June 18, 2020, German Chancellor Angela Merkel outlined her vision for Germany’s Presidency of the EU Council, which Germany will hold for six months beginning on July 1.

The presidency will focus primarily on recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and making the EU more resilient against future crises. In order to achieve these goals, Merkel said, change and progress must be accelerated within the EU. Solidarity, Merkel emphasized, is the only way for the EU and the globe at large to recover from the pandemic. This belief will serve as the guiding principle for the German Council Presidency.

In addition to efforts against COVID-19, Merkel mentioned three other priority areas:

  1. Climate protection and the transition to a climate-neutral economy;
  2. Digitalization of the economy and society; and
  3. Greater global responsibility for Europe.

With a view to foreign policy, Merkel said her agenda would focus on joint management of the pandemic and on shaping relations with the African continent in a spirit of partnership. The world needs "Europe's strong voice for the protection of human dignity, democracy, and freedom," she said. Merkel also highlighted the Conference on the Future of Europe, which is now set for September 2020, as a potential forum in which to discuss reform proposals, for example, in foreign and security policy.

Merkel will also work towards ensuring that the European Council reaches an agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the Reconstruction Fund as soon as possible.

News article – euraktiv

News article – Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German)

European Commission releases new EU vaccine strategy

The European Commission (EC) has released its proposal for an EU COVID-19 vaccine strategy. This strategy would enable the EC to jointly procure vaccines for all 27 EU countries, through advanced purchase agreements with producers manufacturing in the EU. The strategy aims to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and deployment of vaccines in the EU while avoiding competition among member states.
The strategy mentions global solidarity but lacks details on any specific provisions for equitable distribution outside of the EU. It does not explicitly state whether low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) could be included as a party to the agreements or whether a specific percentage of vaccine doses would be set aside for LMICs to purchase.

According to the strategy, the EU is ready to support global procurement processes, but how and when this would be done (e.g., through Gavi’s COVAX initiative or by creating a new mechanism) is unclear.
Communication - European Commission
Factsheet - European Commission
Press release - European Commission

EU Council approves agenda for upcoming presidencies, including COVID-19 crisis response

Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia have officially released the agenda for their upcoming trio of presidencies of the Council of the EU over the next 18 months. 

Amidst other measures, the agenda prioritizes urgent and comprehensive action for addressing the COVID-19 crisis and calls for:

  • Supporting partner countries in strengthening their health systems and in mitigating the socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic;
  • Supporting the global COVID-19 response through collaboration on new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines; and
  • Increasing cooperation in health-related processes.

The agenda includes other priorities such as on the long-term EU budget negotiations, Brexit, rule of law, climate, trade, research, and digitalization.

Agenda of upcoming presidencies - Council of the EU

Italy, Germany, France, and Netherlands sign agreement with British drugmaker for 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials

The Inclusive Vaccines Alliance, a group formed by France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, signed a contract with the British drugmaker AstraZeneca to supply up to 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, is still in clinical trials. If the trial results convince regulators the vaccine is safe and effective, deliveries are expected to start by the end of 2020.

The Italian Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, announced that the vaccine would be distributed for free, starting with the highest-risk groups. Speranza added that a significant part of the production process would take place in Italy.

Press release - Italian Ministry of Health website

New Coalition for the Sahel must be guided by humanitarian principles, says UK Minister for Africa

The UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, has called on the new Coalition for the Sahel, of which the UK is a member, to adopt a strong focus on tackling the drivers of instability in the region and to ensure humanitarian principles guide all of the coalition’s work.

The Coalition is a new international initiative supporting security, political, and development efforts in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad. Members of the coalition include all the governments of the region, France, and the EU.  

Speaking at the coalition's international meeting on June 12, 2020, Duddridge praised the creation of the initiative and called for it to work across three key areas:

  1. Tackling the drivers of instability;
  2. Providing a joint vision for addressing instability in the region; and
  3. Working to ensure that human rights and humanitarian principles are integrated into all coalition efforts and are included in the terms of reference for the initiative.

The UK is the third-largest humanitarian donor to the region and has provided over £500 million (US$615 million) in bilateral development and humanitarian assistance since 2015.

Press release – UK government

EIB to provide US$109 million loan to German biotech company to manufacture COVID-19 vaccine

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide €100 million (US$109 million) in debt financing to German biotech company BioNTech for its COVID-19 vaccine program. The financing will be deployed through 'Horizon 2020 InnovFin' and the 'European Fund for Strategic Investments' - which are both instruments jointly finaced by the EIB and the European Commission (EC).

The funding will enable BioNTech to increase its manufacturing capacity to quickly scale up supply of its 4 potential vaccine candidates.
The EC announced the investment just as six European Union governments (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland and Spain) released a letter expressing concerns regarding Europe’s preparedness for pandemics and calling for the EC to take a bigger role and more financial risk to increase vaccine production capacity. 

Press release - European Commission
News article - Science|Business

European Commission to commit US$2.6 billion to advance purchase COVID-19 vaccines

The European Commission (EC) will advance purchase €2.4 billion (US$2.6 billion) worth of COVID-19 vaccines for the EU financed through its Emergency Support Instrument (ESI). Advance purchase agreements will enable the EC to help fund the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccine candidates still in clinical trials to enable their quick deployment (if they are ultimately approved). 
The EC will seek approval from EU countries during a meeting of EU health ministers on June 11, 2020, for the new mandate to purchase 300-600 million vaccines on their behalf. 

The EC's plan states that while it wants to secure sufficient supplies for its member states, it will continue "playing its part in ensuring global access to the vaccine, irrespective of wealth" and "taking global responsibility". This indicates that the plan will likely have provisions for lower-income country supplies. 
News article - New York Times

News article - Reuters

News article - FT

European Investment Bank to finance companies combating COVID-19 with US$181 million

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has awarded 36 companies working to combat COVID-19 with €166 million (US$181 million) worth of financing in the form of equity and grants through the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot. The financing will support the selected companies’ innovative projects to assist in COVID-19 prevention and treatment: including producing bio-contamination wipes, ventilation monitoring systems, and developing an antibody platform to treat severe cases. 
Press release - European Commission

Council of EU welcomes mobilization of US$39 billion for 'Team Europe' global response to COVID-19

The Council of the EU released conclusions welcoming the nearly €36 billion (US$39 billion) that has been mobilized for the 'Team Europe' support package for partner countries to help support their response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Council called for the package’s full implementation in cooperation with partner countries, on the basis of a joint assessment of needs, in alignment with medium- and long-term programming, and in coordination with other relevant bodies, such as the African Union and development banks.

The conclusions also highlighted the Council’s support for the ACT Accelerator global COVID-19 initiative and reiterated its support to other global health multilaterals addressing the pandemic.

Conclusions on "Team Europe package" - Council of the EU
Team Europe global response financing breakdown - Council of the EU

European Commission pledges US$326 million at Gavi’s Global Vaccine Summit: 50% increase from 2015 pledge

On June 4, 2020, at the Global Vaccine Summit convened by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance in London, the European Commission (EC) pledged €300 million (US$326 million) for the 2021-2025 replenishment period. This represents a 50% increase from the EC’s most recent pledge to Gavi in 2015 amounting to €200 million (US$217 million) for the 2016-2020 period.

The EC was represented at the event by EC President Ursula von der Leyen who stated that this pledge exceeds all previous EC contributions and expressed the Commission's strong support for Gavi. 
The EC’s pledge is subject to change since the pledge will be financed by the Commission’s proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027, which is yet to be finalized by EU member states and the European Parliament.

Press release - European Commission

Speech transcript - European Commission

At Gavi's Global Vaccine Summit, world leaders exceed funding target with historic US$8.8 billion

Representatives of 52 countries, including 35 heads of state, joined the June 5, 2020, Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to raise a total of US$8.8 billion in financing for childhood immunizations and vaccine infrastructure. World leaders, meeting with representatives of 12 organizations and corporations for the London-based pledging moment, hoped to reach a US$7.4 billion funding target. By the time the pledging ended, the target had been overshot by US$1.4 billion.

Against the backdrop of a still-raging COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and laid waste to the global economy, attendees of the summit spoke passionately about the need for global cooperation and solidarity in ensuring that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, once developed, be accessible to all.

The US$8.8 billion will support Gavi's campaign to vaccinate 300 million children in the world's poorest countries against diseases including diphtheria, polio, and measles by 2025. Disruptions to Gavi's regular immunization activities, caused by COVID-19, have endangered an estimated 80 million children under one year old. The funding will also bolster Gavi's efforts in strengthening health systems in low-income states which have been ravaged by the pandemic and will help build out infrastructure to support the eventual provision of a vaccine against the virus.

A further US$567 million was also raised for 'Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines' (Gavi Covax AMC), a new financing instrument designed to provide access to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine specifically in low- and middle-income countries.

“To beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs more than breakthrough science. It needs breakthrough generosity,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “...When COVID-19 vaccines are ready, this funding and global coordination will ensure that people all over the world will be able to access them.”

Press release - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance