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EU-Jordan cooperation remains strong and diverse

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With 2019 marking the 40th anniversary of the European Union’s presence in Jordan, the partnership between the EU and Jordan remains strong and diverse.

Today, the report on the partnership between the European Union and Jordan for the period between June 2018 and April 2019 was released. It illustrates the excellent cooperation that the EU and Jordan maintained during that period and highlights progress in the key areas as defined in the EU-Jordan Partnership Priorities adopted in November 2016.

“The European Union is the main and the most reliable partner and supporter for Jordan and Jordanians. Now, as we have been in the past, and as we will be in the future.  Over the last year, we have stood by Jordan in addressing the country’s economic and social situation and in facing the repercussions of the neighbouring conflicts in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East. Despite those challenges, Jordan managed to maintain internal stability and continued to play a wise, stabilising and moderating role in the region” said High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini.

The EU is convinced that the 5-year reform Matrix and the Renaissance/Nahda Plan for the years 2019-2020 will create more jobs and will develop an attractive environment for socio-economic actors, especially by investing in future generations. During each of my visits to Jordan, I have been struck by the creativity and energy of Jordanian people, women and men, who can definitely count on the true and diverse partnership with the EU” said Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

During the reporting period, with regard to strengthening democratic governance, Jordan has recorded legislative improvements on the independence of the judiciary and on women’s rights. Specific actions under the policies launched by the new government aim at improving education and health, promoting investment and trade, empowering the judiciary and developing active citizenship,  closely reflecting EU-Jordan partnership priorities.

The presence of Syrian refugees continued to put pressure on Jordan’s economy, its scarce natural resources and its infrastructure. The EU maintained its critical role in supporting Syrian refugees in Jordan as well as hosting communities, mobilising almost €1.3 billion to help the country cope with the consequences of the Syrian crisis since 2011. The third Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” that the EU hosted in March 2019 confirmed the full support of the international community for Jordan, as shown by an overall increase in pledges compared to the previous year.

EU-Jordan cooperation also continued on foreign and security policy, private sector development and business environment, energy and resources management, transport and expanded on education, research and innovation and culture programs.

Over the past year, the EU has been striving to maintain a balance between supporting Jordan politically and financially and supporting reforms that will put the country on the path to self-reliance. The EU remains committed to support a secure, democratic and economically strong Jordan with a robust human rights-based governance system through policy dialogue, financial assistance and specific projects.

Background

EU-Jordan cooperation under the Partnership Priorities covers fields ranging from promoting economic stability and a better business environment, sustainable and knowledge-based growth, quality education and job creation to strengthening democratic governance, the rule of law and human rights, environment, climate change, culture and transport, strengthening cooperation on migration and mobility and on regional stability and security, including counter-terrorism.

Since 2011 and up to April 2019, the EU mobilised over €2.1 billion in financial support to Jordan, including almost €1.3 billion to help the country cope with the consequences of the Syrian crisis. This includes humanitarian aid, together with longer-term resilience and development support in areas such as education, livelihoods, water, sanitation and health, plus macro-financial assistance, addressed to Syrian refugees and Jordanian host communities.

During the period covered by the report, multiple high-level bilateral meetings and visits took place. Those include the visit of His Majesty the King of Jordan to Brussels in December 2018, the visits of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides and the Chair of the European Union Military Committee to Jordan, and bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in April 2019. The EU-Jordan Association Committee in December 2018 was another opportunity to further deepen the dialogue on human rights and democracy, security, regional developments, economic reforms and the simplification of the Rules of Origin scheme. 

Continued EU-Jordan cooperation on foreign and security policy include Jordan’s participation in EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and dialogue on counterterrorism, security, judicial cooperation, integrated border management (IBM), civil protection and disaster management.

Cooperation in the field of Research and Innovation was boosted by Jordan’s participation in the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), following the entry into forced of the International Agreement between the EU and Jordan in January 2018. 24 additional Jordanian researchers have also benefited from Marie Skłodowska Curie fellowships to pursue their research abroad, bringing the total number to 49 since 2014.

Cooperation on education and culture programs expended with the acceleration of scholarly exchanges through the Erasmus+ and EU Solidarity Corps programmes that link EU and Jordan youth. Over 1,700 Jordanians and Syrians in Jordan were given scholarships under the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis to enable them to pursue academic degrees, vocational or language trainings and boost their employability. 

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EU Politics

Coronavirus: EU Strategy for the development and availability of therapeutics

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The European Commission is today complementing the successful EU Vaccines Strategy with a strategy on COVID-19 therapeutics to support the development and availability of much-needed COVID-19 therapeutics, including for the treatment of ‘long COVID’. Today’s Strategy covers the full lifecycle of medicines: from research, development and manufacturing to procurement and deployment.

It is part of the strong European Health Union, in which all EU countries prepare and respond together to health crises and ensure the availability of affordable and innovative medical supplies – including the therapeutics needed to treat COVID-19.

The Strategy includes clear actions and targets, including authorising three new therapeutics to treat COVID-19 by October 2021 and possibly two more by end of the year. Concretely:

  • Research, development and innovation
    • Invest €90 million in population studies and clinical trials to establish links between risk factors and health outcomes to further inform public health policy and clinical management, including for long-COVID patients.
    • Set up a ‘therapeutics innovation booster’ by July 2021 to support the most promising therapeutics from preclinical research to market authorisation. It will build on current initiatives and investments in therapeutic development, working in a close cooperation with the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) preparatory action on mapping therapeutics. It will therefore ensure the coordination of all research projects on COVID-19 therapeutics, stimulating innovation and boosting therapeutic development.
  • Access to and swift approval of clinical trials
    • Invest €5 million under the EU4Health programme to generate better, high-quality safety data in clinical trials, which will help produce robust results in a timely manner.
    • Provide EU countries with financial support of €2 million under the EU4Health 2021 work programme for expedited and coordinated assessments to facilitate approval of clinical trials.
    • Explore how to support developers of therapeutics to build capacity to produce high-grade material for clinical trials.
  • Scanning for candidate therapeutics
    • Invest €5 million to map therapeutics and diagnostics to analyse development phases, production capacities and supply chains, including possible bottlenecks.
    • Establish a broader portfolio of 10 potential COVID-19 therapeutics and identify five of the most promising ones by June 2021.
  • Supply chains and delivery of medicines
    • Fund a €40 million preparatory action to support flexible manufacturing and access for COVID-19 therapeutics under the EU Fab project, which in turn will become over time an important asset for the future the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).
  • Regulatory flexibility
    • Authorise at least three new therapeutics by October and possibly two more by the end of the year and develop flexible regulatory approaches to speed up the assessment of promising and safe COVID-19 therapeutics.
    • Start seven rolling reviews of promising therapeutics by end-2021, subject to research and development outcomes.
  • Joint procurement and financing
    • Launch new contracts for the purchase of authorised therapeutics by the end of the year.
    • Secure faster access to medicines with shorter administrative deadlines.
  • International cooperation to make medicines available to all
    • Reinforce engagement for the therapeutics pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
    • Boost ‘OPEN’ initiative for international collaboration.

Next Steps

The Commission will draw up a portfolio of 10 potential COVID-19 therapeutics and by June 2021, identify the five most promising ones. It will organise matchmaking events for industrial actors involved in therapeutics to ensure enough production capacity and swift manufacturing. New authorisations, rolling reviews and joint procurement contracts will be up and running before the end of the year.

The therapeutics innovation booster, matchmaking events and preparatory action to support flexible manufacturing and access for COVID-19 therapeutics under the EU Fab project, will feed into the HERA, for which a proposal is due later in the year. The pilot project on access to health data will feed into the European Health Data Space proposal expected later this year.

Members of the College said:

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “The situation in many intensive care units across the continent remains critical. We need to focus both on vaccines and therapeutics, as two powerful and complementary ways to combat COVID-19. But currently we have only one authorised medicine to treat COVID-19. By acting on better availability of medicines today, we are making sure patients receive the treatments they need while also preparing our future biomedical preparedness. A coordinated strategy on quick access to therapeutics will boost our strategic autonomy and contribute to a strong Health Union.”

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “Vaccinations save lives, but they cannot yet eradicate COVID-19. We need a strong push on treatments to limit the need for hospitalisation, speed up recovery times, and reduce mortality. Patients in Europe and across the world should have access to world-class COVID-19 medicines. This is why we have set a very clear goal: by October, we will develop and authorise three new effective COVID-19 therapeutics that can have the potential to change the course of the disease. We will do so by investing in research and innovation, the identification of new promising medicines, ramping up production capacity and supporting equitable access. Our Therapeutics Strategy is a strong European Health Union in action.”

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “By increasing vaccine availability across Europe, more and more Europeans are now protected against COVID-19. In the meantime, the development of innovative medicines to treat coronavirus patients remains a priority when it comes to saving lives. Research and innovation is the first step to finding effective and safe therapeutics, which is why we are proposing to establish a new COVID-19 ‘therapeutics innovation booster’ and will invest € 90 million in population studies and clinical trials.

Background

The Strategy on COVID-19 therapeutics complements the EU strategy for COVID-19 vaccines from June 2020 and builds on ongoing work by the European Medicines Agency and the Commission to support research, development, manufacturing and deployment of therapeutics.

The Strategy forms part of a strong European Health Union, using a coordinated EU approach to better protect the health of our citizens, equip the EU and its Member States to better prevent and address future pandemics, and improve the resilience of Europe’s health systems.

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EU Politics

EU defence gets a boost as the European Defence Fund becomes a reality

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Commission welcomes the adoption of the European Defence Fund (EDF), following the European Parliament’s approval. The EDF, with a budget of €7.9 billion, is the Commission’s flagship instrument to support defence cooperation in Europe. EDF will co-finance collaborative research and capability development projects amplifying national investment. It will also foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base. In doing so, it will enhance Union’s technological sovereignty and therefore its open strategic autonomy.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, said: “This is an important step for a stronger Europe. The Fund will play a key role to enable SMEs to participate in defence supply chains and widen cross-border industrial cooperation. Providing opportunities to companies all sizes helps achieving more innovative solutions, to foster an open internal market. So besides a stronger defence cooperation it contributes to our competitiveness.”

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said: “Today marks a historic day for Europe. The idea of working together for promoting our Defence Union and for the security of EU citizens is now a tangible reality.  In a global context where Europe needs to be stronger, more resilient and more autonomous in strategic areas, the European Defence Fund is a milestone and will significantly contribute to the security of EU citizens.”

A Fund to deepen EU defence industrial cooperation

Without substituting Member States’ efforts, the Fund will promote cooperation between companies of all sizes and research actors throughout the EU, in research and development of state-of-the-art and interoperable defence technology and equipment.

The Fund will support competitive and collaborative defence projects throughout the entire cycle of research and development, focusing on projects that have the potential to be game-changers for the armed forces of Member States. The Fund will foster innovation and incentivise the cross-border participation of SMEs. Projects will be defined based on defence capability priorities agreed by Member States within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy and particularly in the context of the Capability Development Plan. The projects will aim at contributing to the security and defence interests of the Union.

The EDF allows for the participation of European subsidiaries of third country companies and also for the cooperation with third country companies provided that their involvement  ensure the security and defence interests of the EU, and meet the rigorous security conditions as set in the EDF Regulation.

A strong budget for ambitious and inclusive defence programmes

2021 constitutes the first year of the rollout of the new EDF, which will be operational for the period 2021-2027, in alignment with the Multiannual Financial Framework.

It will be endowed with a budget of €7,953,000,000 in current prices. This financial envelope will be divided into two pillars: €2,651,000,000 will be allocated to funding collaborative defence research to address emerging and future security threats and €5,302,000,000 to co-finance collaborative capability development projects.

Up to 4%-8% of the Fund budget is devoted to development or research for disruptive technologies (i.e. technologies that have the potential to create game-changing innovations). This budget represents an unprecedented opportunity to contribute to the development of a competitive and innovative European defence industry.

Next Steps

The complete establishment of the Fund both legally and financially will now allow the Programme Committee (PC), chaired by the Commission and composed of Member States representatives, to discuss priorities and confront topics with the aim to open calls for proposals in summer 2021. The Commission will directly manage the programme. The European Defence Agency (EDA) is invited to participate as observer and the European External Action Service (EEAS) will assist in the Committee.

Background

The creation of a European Defence Fund was first announced in 2016. The Commission presented the first version of the European Defence Fund in June 2017, which has allowed defence cooperation at EU level to embark thanks to   two pilot projects, the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) for 2017-2019 and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) for 2019-2020.

The Fund is part of the priorities of the von der Leyen Commission for a ‘Stronger Europe in the World’.

A political agreement between the Member States and the European Parliament was found in December 2020 and today’s decision gives legislative effect to the EDF that will operate for the next 7 years.

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EU Politics

Dual-use goods: what are they and why are new rules needed?

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The EU is working on new export rules for so-called dual-use goods to prevent them being misused in human rights violations.

What are dual-use goods?

Dual-use products are goods designed for civilian use that in the wrong hands could be used to supress human rights or launch terrorist attacks. They can be anything from drones to chemicals.

Although these goods can improve people’s lives, they can be misused. Authoritarian regimes might use them to keep the population under control, while terrorist groups could use them to stage attacks.

Why are new rules needed?

To prevent dual-use goods being repurposed in ways that violate human rights , the EU wants to make sure strict export rules prevent them being sold to people or organisations wanting to misuse them.

The EU is currently working on an update of the existing rules to take into account recent technological developments, including new cyber surveillance tools, and beef up protection of human rights.

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