A decisive December for the EU: From unlocking funds to the Brexit deal

The European Union (EU) is heading into the final stretch of an uncertain and difficult year marked by the crisis generated by the pandemic and with two major issues for its future still to be resolved: that Warsaw and Budapest accept that budgets are linked to the rule of law and the climax of Brexit.

All the elements seem ready on the European ground, already paid by the crisis, for what could be a “perfect storm”, whose storm clouds coming from the east (Hungary and Poland) and from the west (United Kingdom) have the challenge of clearing two German women: Chancellor Angela Merkel, as the EU president in turn, and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, whoever was his defense minister.

Two capital issues that, if the ongoing negotiations do not remedy it, will come in one way or another to further recharge the last European Council of the year, scheduled for December 10 and 11, with already a very full agenda for the end of the German presidency.

Two versus twenty five

Although the coronavirus recovery fund and the EU’s long-term budget (2021-2027) of 1.8 trillion euros, greatly benefit Hungary (about 15 billion) and Poland (63 billion), the new provisions on respecting the rule of law for the receipt of this money agreed between the majority of countries and the European Parliament do not like the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, nor the Polish, Mateusz Morawiecki.

Their alliance was staged at a joint appearance on Thursday in Budapest: “Neither Poland nor Hungary will accept any proposal that the other considers unacceptable“they said.

Orbán and Morawiecki, who lead ultra-conservative and nationalist governments, maintain that the conditionality mechanism is not in line with the European treaties, that is arbitrary and politically motivated and could be used against any country.

In a telephone conversation on Friday Morawiecki told Merkel, who is leading the negotiation, that the “starting point” to lift the veto it must be “the sovereign right of European states to implement changes and reforms, as well as the letter and spirit of the treaties”, something that Warsaw – like Budapest – believes that the conditionality mechanism does not respect.

If you have doubts about its legality, Von der Leyen anticipated on Wednesday, who go to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), “the place where we usually resolve our legal differences, and not at the expense of millions of citizens” deprived of funds.

And it is that reopening treaties is even more ruled out today than modifying the mechanism that contemplates that payments to countries that violate democratic values if proposed by the Commission and supported by a qualified majority of countries.

We have no intention in the European Commission to change the agreement, as it is certain that the European Parliament does not have it either, “Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders made clear on Friday and said that” possible options (for a solution) are on the table. ”

Options that, according to analysts, could dilute the rule of law mechanism in the implementation phase; suspend the sanctioning proceedings under way against Poland and Hungary for precisely falling back on democratic standards; or defend an intergovernmental treaty so that the recovery fund bypasses the vetoes of Poland and Hungary.

Neither is optimal, but a political or economic price will have to be paid forSo that the money reaches those who need it, they add.

Post Brexit agreement

Too we will have to be “creative”, according to Von der Leyen, to try to close once and for all the endless negotiations on the future trade agreement between the Twenty-Seven and the United Kingdom, to avoid further aggravating the economic outlook in Europe.

Time is running out and the London and Brussels narratives remain practically unchanged and stranded on the same three points: the guarantees to ensure fair competition between British and EU companies, fisheries and the mechanisms to resolve possible disputes over the future agreement.

This weekend the negotiating teams resume their face-to-face meetings in the British capital, and despite the stagnation in the community budget, EU is unlikely to back down on its single market protection red line to avoid a hard Brexit.

Joe Biden’s victory in the US elections and serious internal problems in the UK (mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis, concern about next year’s Scottish elections, internal troubles in the Tory ranks and a resurgent Labor) may move British Prime Minister Boris Johnson toward a deal.

If it were, and given the limited time left to ratify the agreement, it would perhaps have to be done only on the basis of a legal text in English (instead of having the 24 language versions available) to ensure that it is implemented before the January 1, 2021. The European Parliament has scheduled an emergency session for December 28 in order to ratify it.

Time is short and there are already countries that are getting worse and asking Brussels to publish contingency plans to protect sensitive sectors.or air and road transport of interruptions in case conversations fail.

Post-Brexit transition period ends on December 31 and, on January 1, the UK will have left the EU single market.


London believes a Brexit deal can be reached, but not at any price

File photo of the flags of Great Britain and the EU in Berlin. April 9, 2019. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke

LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union may close a trade deal on Brexit, but London will not sign a deal at any cost, British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday.

With only five weeks before the UK leaves the EU for good, both sides are trying to reach a trade agreement that will avoid a chaotic end to the negotiations.

“With a constructive attitude and the goodwill of all parties, we can achieve this,” Sunak told Sky.

Sunak also told LBC radio station that although it was preferable to reach an agreement, “we should not force a pact at any cost, that is not the right thing to do.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that despite progress in recent weeks, the EU is ready for the possibility of Britain finally leaving the bloc without an exit agreement.

An EU representative participating in the negotiations indicated that the agreement is possible but that, if it happens, it will not be before the weekend. An EU diplomat pointed out that the pact would be closed next week.

The European Commission – where Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is leading the talks with London on behalf of the entire bloc – is scheduled to update state representatives in Brussels on the issue on Friday at 0800 GMT. state of negotiations.

EU sources indicated that Barnier himself could travel to London to continue talking with his British counterpart, David Frost, if there is a possibility of moving forward.

Information from Guy Faulconbridge, Paul Sandle and Gabriela Baczynska; edited by Angus MacSwan; translation by Jorge Martínez


Makin: Johnson is better off not reaching an agreement with the EU

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is better off not having a post-Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union (EU), says one analyst.

With one month remaining until the end of the transition period of the Brexi, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (EC), has indicated that an agreement with the United Kingdom is not yet possible.

The issue of access for European ships to British waters is the last obstacle to the trade pact. The British see the issue as a matter of national sovereignty. The EU, for its part, tries to avoid the loss of a fertile fishing area, which contributes billions of euros annually to the European fishing sector.

In reality, what is happening is that Boris Johnson is in trouble because he is being squeezed within his own party. Inefficiencies in his government, accusations of corruption, everything. You are in a very uncomfortable situation and it would be better if there was no agreement“Said the international affairs analyst Guillermo A. Makin in an interview with the chain this Wednesday HispanTV.

Source: HispanTV Noticias

fmk / anz / mjs


Negotiations between the EU and the UK on Brexit resume

(VOVWORLD) – The United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) resumed their negotiations on November 23 to reach an agreement governing relations between the two in the aftermath of the Anglo-Saxon country leaving the European bloc.

The talks continue after being postponed for a time due to a positive case of covid-19 in the European team. The incident forced the EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his British counterpart, David Frost, to end any face-to-face meeting.

There are less than 40 days left until December 31, the date in which the transition period will end to proceed with the de facto exit of the country from the EU, known internationally as Brexit. Thereafter, the UK will no longer apply European standards. Without a trade treaty to regulate their relations, London and Brussels run the risk of a new economic upheaval, adding to the existing crisis caused by the new coronavirus epidemic.

Negotiations remain difficult on three main sticking points: the guarantees required by London in terms of fair competition, Europeans’ access to British fish-rich waters and how to resolve disputes in the future agreement.


Buy a house or wait? Spain will have the lowest prices in the eurozone

The Covid-19 it continues to wreak havoc and early estimates of the health of the real estate sector for 2021 are not good. Spain, Italy Y United Kingdom make up the ‘top 3’ europeo of countries where the value of the housing will touch lower prices next year. The factors that make this trio the victims of the falls in the real estate market are the their GDP collapses for him Covid pass, its dependence on tourism in this context of few trips also due to the pandemic and, in the case of the territory governed by Boris Johnson, the Brexi.

Nerea from Bilbao

In the specific case of Spain, Moody’s analysts predict that the sector will suffer a fall of almost 5% in house prices in 2o21. Experts have warned that these downward variations will be greater in those autonomies that have a greater dependence on tourism. The latest figures from the College of Registrars already show the bleeding that will come from the flight of foreign investment: outsiders bought 50% less of real estate during the second quarter of this year, and the main losses were recorded in the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and the Valencian Community.

However, the experts of the investment firm do not bear all the responsibility on the outsiders since they have detected a cause and effect relationship between the collapse of the Spanish GDP -which is among the most serious in the eurozone- and the fall in the price of houses. The link between the two indicators ends any hope that Spanish citizens will maintain their usual activity in the sector. In fact, the report of the North American firm details that in areas such as Madrid, Accessing a home is and will continue to be more difficult every year by the economic situation of the country.

Experts point out that housing affordability was getting worse before the pandemic because the requirements of purchase deposit they were increasingly challenging for low-income buyers and young people. In Paris, for example, average citizens needed multiply your salary by 23 to get a property in 2019. The people of Madrid had to multiply with a lower figure, 11, to become owners last year, but the trend is up and Covid-19 has only exacerbated the problem.

housing cities
Nerea from Bilbao

The virus has hit hardest those who already suffered from shortages to operate in the sector. The pandemic forced the president of the Executive, Pedro Sanchez, to decree a state of alarm that paralyzed the economy. The aessential activities, which mostly require physical presence, were the most affected during that break, and in Spain, unlike other European neighbors, a large mass of workers –More than 50%– It depends on these, according to the Moody’s study. Difficulties in carrying out your activities will have a direct effect on your behavior on the market. For this reason, the fact that analysts foresee a return to pre-pandemic ‘normality’ by 2022 it does not bring the same calm to the real estate sector as to the industries that registered positive activity the previous year.

The Deputy Governor of the Bank of Spain, Margarita Delgado

Analysts also warn that falling house prices will have a negative credit effect because it will generate a increase in non-performing or doubtful loans. Italy is the EU country that will suffer the most from this problem, followed by Spain, France and the United Kingdom. In this sense, Moody’s studies insist that house costs will decrease, but there will be a simultaneous reduction in household income and less debt availability. As a result, housing affordability will worsen for youth and low-income workers, who will have a harder time reaching out to banks to enter the market.

Everything indicates that there will be changes in the European real estate sector throughout 2021. Moody’s analysts have concluded that lower prices and poor affordability in the market will increase demand for social housing and attempts to regulate the market by the authorities. In Spain, the coalition government has already announced a three-year commitment to impose caps on rent prices and has changed some laws that regulate the Socimi. Experts predict a slight recovery for 2022, but remember that increasing supply and creating measures to facilitate access to housing are two pending tasks for most European Union countries.


London wants an agreement with the EU “but not at any price”

The United Kingdom reiterates that it is important to reach a trade agreement with the European Union (EU) in the final leg of Brexit.

However, he insists that this eventual pact would not be at any price, and that London has plans for all possible scenarios in the coming months.

In a television interview, UK Finance Secretary Rishi Sunak stated that the final stretch negotiations of the Brexi are still underway, with the aim of making possible a commercial agreement that defines the rules of future business between London and the community bloc. But not at any price.

The head of finance for the United Kingdom acknowledged that the country faces a lot of pressure and financial stress, but clarified that a large part of these difficulties are rooted in the coronavirus pandemic and not in the Brexi. Even so, he announced that the new budget plan does not foresee austerity measures.

Sunak will soon announce the country’s highest public debt since World War II, after the UK suffered its biggest economic crisis in more than 300 years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Economists believe that the British government will finance itself with loans of around 400 billion pounds this year, approaching 20% ​​of its gross domestic product.

kmd / mkh


Pfizer, Oxford, Moderna … Which Covid-19 vaccine will you get? | Companies

What vaccine are you going to get to get immunized against the coronavirus? The short answer is that you will not be able to choose. The long version is that it will depend on a host of circumstances regarding which ones are authorized in Europe, the industrial capacity of the manufacturers, the European supply contracts and the vaccination schedule for groups that the Government designs.

At the moment, the alliance vaccine between Pfizer and BioNTech like the AstraZeneca. It is expected that the first doses of both initiatives can be distributed in Europe at the end of December and on a larger scale from the first quarter of 2021. In that race they follow Moderna, Janssen, the consortium of Sanofi y GSK Y CureVac (see graph).

For the moment, these are the companies that are going to distribute in Europe, since they are the only ones that have reached advance purchase agreements with the European Commission, to which the Member States adhere, as in the case of Spain. Only in the case of Moderna, the Executive of Ursula von der Leyen has not finished signing the contract. The countries can add other acquisitions to alternative companies, but at the European level it is not being done, since the centralized negotiation has been transferred to Brussels. Likewise, contracts for advanced candidates designed by Novavax, Medicago or the giant Merck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD) could be added in the future.

With these contracts, the EU has already reserved at least 1,305 million doses, but to which an optional 660 million can be added. By the proportional distribution with respect to the population of the country, Spain would have between 137 and 206 million vials if it is added to all commercial pacts.

Apart from these contracts, logically, the first vaccines to arrive will be the ones that are most advanced in the research process. In this section there are three initiatives: the North American Pfizer and the German BioNTech; the British AstraZeneca together with the University of Oxford, and the American Moderna. In these three cases, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) carries out a continuous evaluation of these trials to proceed with an almost automatic authorization as soon as sufficient medical data on efficacy and safety is available, something that could happen in the coming weeks.

Pfizer and BioNTech are leading that race, as this Wednesday they announced that they have concluded phase III (the last stage with thousands of volunteers before authorization) with an efficiency of 95% and that they plan to distribute in Europe before Christmas. Moderna also reported last week a preliminary efficacy of 94.5%. Its distribution could arrive in the first quarter of 2021. AstraZeneca is expected to offer efficacy data shortly and to begin distribution in December if it receives the approval of the EMA first. Salvador Illa, Minister of Health, already pointed out last month that he expects 3.1 million doses of this pharmaceutical for next month.

They go one step behind Sanofi (which expects to reach an authorization in the first half of 2021); Janssen (first trimester), and Curevac (third trimester). But in the case of the first two, what they would contribute to this race is a significant jump in large-scale production thanks to the manufacture of 1 billion doses a year each.

Hungary wants to skip the community purchase and take over Russian Sputnik V

In fact, one of the determining factors on which solution will be injected to each citizen is not only which one is authorized, but whether it is initially available. For this reason, when the Government decides what the vaccination schedule will be by groups and ages, it is expected that during the first months the available solution (Pfizer and AstraZeneca) will be injected without even the Administrations being able to choose other criteria such as price or ease of storage. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, confirmed this Wednesday that any alternative will be welcomed with relish: “I really do not expect a competitive situation during the first nine months because every dose of approved vaccine that anyone can supply is welcome and will probably be used.” He also advanced that he hopes to have a new formulation of his product in 2021, since now it has the disadvantage of a distribution at 75º below zero.

Therefore, as the calendar progresses, for the Spaniards who are the last to be vaccinated, it is foreseeable that there will be a greater range of options.

All these companies are manufacturing vials simultaneously with their R&D with the aim of having millions of doses prepared when they receive sanitary authorization, although the great industrial leap is not expected until the second half of the year. The success of large manufacturers such as Pfizer, Sanofi, MSD, AstraZeneca or Janssen would be crucial for vaccines to reach health centers en masse.

Price factor

Neither Russian nor Chinese

The vaccines that are not expected to arrive, at least not expected in the coming months, will be the Chinese or the Russian. These projects should previously request marketing authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to proceed with the evaluation of trials carried out in other territories. “It is not absolutely necessary that there be tests in the EU, but it is necessary for companies to follow the regulatory procedures that guarantee the quality, safety and efficacy required in our territory”, Health sources explain. Nor has the European Commission negotiated a supply contract for these alternatives.

Hungary, which has Viktor Orban as prime minister, has raised a controversy within the EU by advancing that it will negotiate the purchase of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. That contract would be carried out outside the set of 27 and the Commission has already warned of the risk which involves vaccinating the Magyar population without following the strict controls of the tests by the EMA.

Given the enormous need due to the health and economic problem caused by the pandemic, price will not initially be a determining factor once the European Commission has already signed the contracts. But in amount, AstraZeneca is far apart, since its vaccine (two doses for 5.9 euros in total) is by far the cheapest, so in the medium term it may be a relevant factor for the authorities.

Currently, the department of Salvador Illa has not communicated the vaccination criteria, since it is debated in the Interterritorial Council in which autonomous communities participate, and which is joined by scientific societies, experts in bioethics, the Spanish Association of Vaccination and experts in mathematical models. But the minister has been advancing some ideas that they should first be administered to the elderly, health professionals and other risk groups.


Borrel says Turkey’s behavior is “widening its separation” from the EU

FILE PHOTO: The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during a plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on November 11, 2020. REUTERS / Yves Herman

BRUSSELS, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Turkey’s rhetoric on Cyprus is exacerbating tensions with the European Union and Ankara must understand that its behavior is “widening its separation” from the 27-nation bloc, the country’s foreign policy chief said on Thursday. block, Josep Borrell.

“We consider Turkey’s recent actions and statements related to Cyprus to be contrary to United Nations resolutions and further increase tensions,” Borrell said at a press conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

“We consider it important for Turkey to understand that its behavior is widening its separation from the EU … To return to a positive agenda, as we wish, will require a fundamental change of attitude on the part of Turkey,” he added.

Borrell thus referred to comments by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who called for an equal “two-state” solution in Cyprus during a visit earlier this week to the Turkish Cypriot separatist north of the island.

Erdogan also said that Turkey and Northern Cyprus will no longer tolerate what he called “diplomacy games” in an international dispute over rights to offshore resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey is an official candidate for entry into the EU.

Cyprus has been divided on ethnic grounds since a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Only Ankara recognizes Northern Cyprus as an independent state and has no diplomatic ties to the government of Cyprus, which is a member of the EU. Cyprus called Erdogan’s visit “provocative and illegal.”

The EU has threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey for illegal marine exploration when its leaders meet next month. “Time is ticking and we are approaching a watershed moment in our relationship with Turkey,” Borrell said.

The EU has failed to persuade Ankara to stop exploring in waters disputed by Greece and Cyprus, but has so far failed to impose the sanctions that Athens and Nicosia want. Germany, which has led the diplomatic talks with Ankara, wants to give dialogue a chance over the close trade relations between the EU and Turkey.

Information from John Chalmers and Robin Emmott; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano


UK will not change position on ″ Brexit ″, according to British negotiator | Europe | DW

The United Kingdom will not change its position in its search for a post-Brexit agreement with the European Union, British negotiator David Frost warned this Sunday (11/15/2020) upon his arrival in Brussels, where talks are continuing.

“We are working to reach an agreement, but the only possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and that gives us back control of our laws, our trade and our waters. That has been our consistent position from the beginning and I will not change it.” he tweeted.

This latest round of negotiations, which is expected to last several days, could be the last chance for both parties to reach an agreement before the deadline ends at the end of the year, when the post-Brexit transition period comes to an end.

“We may not make it,” Frost warned, and there are still “key elements” to be resolved, although he also said progress had been made.

Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU continue to encounter three obstacles, mainly: the alignment of the rules and regulations of the game on competition, the settlement of disputes and fishing in British waters.

rrr (afp / efe)


Biden contacts European leaders as EU prepares to revitalize transatlantic relations

The president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, has already started speaking with European heads of government. The last four years of the presidency of Donald Trump, who resists leaving the White House as evidenced by his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, have been marked by all kinds of conflicts between the United States and the European Union: from one more and more complicated trade war, to Trump’s threats to remove his country from NATO, through the abandonment of the Paris Climate Agreement to support for Brexit and the rupture of the nuclear agreement with Tehran. And finally, in a race towards a kind of new Cold War with China.

Despite Biden’s victory, the secretary of state affirms that “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration”

Know more

Biden, aware of this like the European leaders, has begun to take steps towards a normalization of relations that everyone expects in Brussels supposes, at least, a change of tone although there are issues that remain, such as a more Asian than European look and a less multilateralism than in previous stages.

Thus, the president-elect of the United States has received a call from the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, an old ally of Trump to whom the electoral result in the United States can encourage him to close the Brexit agreement with the EU for the commercial relationship from 1 of next January, whose negotiations were resumed this week. “I just spoke to Joe Biden,” Johnson said, “to congratulate him on his election. I look forward to strengthening the relationship between our countries and working with him on shared priorities, from climate change to promoting democracy and post-pandemic reconstruction. “.

French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke to Biden: “We will have a lot to do together to promote shared priorities (climate, global health, international security) and effective multilateral action.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also been able to speak with the US president-elect, and, as reported by the Chancellery, “they agreed that transatlantic cooperation is of great importance in view of the many global challenges.”

With a view to the meeting of EU leaders in December (10-11), the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, will organize videoconference meetings with Heads of State and Government to address the revitalization of transatlantic relations after the American elections.

“The objective is to strengthen political dialogue,” explain community sources: “The president intends to focus the discussion on five key issues of common interest: COVID-19; values ​​and multilateralism; climate; trade; and security and common geopolitical interests.

Michel intends to invite President-elect Joe Biden to a video conference, which will be followed at a later stage by a summit in Brussels.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for her part, said to the EU ambassadors: “I think it is time for a new transatlantic agenda adapted to today’s world and I believe that it is Europe that should take the initiative , with an offer to work with the new Administration in areas that can strengthen our bilateral and multilateral partnership. ”