Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to supply 9 million additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the European Union during the first quarter, the bloc’s executive arm said Sunday. The new target of 40 million doses by the end of March is still only half what the British-Swedish company had originally aimed for before it announced a shortfall due to production problems, triggering a spat between AstraZeneca and the EU last week.
A senior EU official has suggested coronavirus vaccines produced in the UK should be shared with the bloc, as its supply comes under pressure. The row blew up after AstraZeneca announced it would have to cut the amount of jabs delivered before the end of March from 80 million to 31 million. But the UK government is insisting that Britain’s vaccine orders should not be affected by the EU’s troubles.
Across Europe, infection rates are rising, with Russia reporting a record 14,321 daily cases on Wednesday and a further 239 deaths. The Czech Republic has shut schools and bars, Dutch cafes and restaurants are closing and France could impose curfews, as European governments fight to keep a second wave of Covid-19 infections under control. The partial lockdown in the Netherlands comes into force at 22:00 (20:00 GMT).
Ireland’s EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan has resigned after claims he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by attending a controversial golf dinner. He has already apologized for attending the event in the west of Ireland, but the government said it was clear he also breached self-isolation guidelines on a trip home from Brussels. Mr Hogan has denied breaching any of Ireland’s coronavirus rules.
The US has said it will hold off on a threatened hike in tariffs on $7.5bn (£5.75bn) worth of European and UK goods that it imposed as punishment for subsidies for plane-maker Airbus. The move comes as the two sides wrestle to put to an end their 16-year trade battle over state aid for Airbus and American rival Boeing.
Marathon talks among EU leaders to agree an unprecedented £1.68tn budget and coronavirus recovery fund have been extended into a third day. The bitter negotiations have underscored the deep divides within the 27-nation bloc, with the traditional Franco-German alliance struggling to get its way. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the discussions could still end without a deal.
The EU has named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed “safe” to be let in from 1 July, despite the pandemic – but the US, Brazil and China are excluded. Those named include Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco and South Korea. The EU is ready to add China if the Chinese government offers a reciprocal deal for EU travelers, diplomats say.
The European Union could block incoming travelers from the United States even after it partially reopens its borders because the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is still too high, two E.U. diplomats said Wednesday. The E.U. has drawn up a draft list of countries whose citizens would be allowed to enter the bloc after June 30 as the continent attempts to reopen amid the pandemic.
A plan for injecting billions of euros of emergency aid into Europe’s battered economies has been agreed by EU heads. Meeting via video, they agreed to set up a massive recovery fund, closely tied to the bloc’s seven-year budget. They also confirmed that €540bn (£470bn) of financial support would be released through existing mechanisms from 1 June. The fund would mobilize €1 trillion of investment.
The European Union assembly voted on Tuesday to scrap as of 2021 the decades-old practice of capitalizing on natural daylight by putting clocks forward by 60 minutes between late March and late October. Under the legislation approved by the 28-nation Parliament in Strasbourg, France, governments that want to be permanently on summertime would adjust their clocks for the final time on the last Sunday in March 2021.