Single Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has spoken out against protectionist measures taken by Member States to give preference to their domestic food and medicines industries. He told the European Parliament’s Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) that the European Commission has “zero tolerance” for such measures and would not hesitate to react. The intervention comes after several European governments, including Belgium, France and Poland, have appealed to their citizens’ “food patriotism”. Bulgaria had even mandated retailers to favour domestic food products, which prompted the Commission to launch a legal procedure against the country (Source: POLITICO Pro).
The Council of the European Union has signed off on SURE, the EU’s reduced working hours compensation scheme. The programme will provide financial assistance to Member States to address sudden increases in public expenditure for the preservation of employment. It applies retroactively from 1 February and is set to run out by the end of 2022 (Source: DLF).
Under the Temporary Framework, the Commission has again approved several State aid schemes that were launched by Member States to support their economies:
- a €500 million Belgian guarantee scheme to support internationally active companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak; a €903 million reinsurance scheme to support trade credit insurance market in coronavirus outbreak;
- a Danish guarantee scheme to stabilise trade credit insurance market in coronavirus outbreak;
- a €18,5 billion Czech guarantee scheme for companies affected by coronavirus outbreak.
The European Commission has reacted to calls from stakeholders – including a joint letter Independent Retail Europe had sent with APPliA, EuCER Council and other organisations – to postpone some energy labelling and eco-design requirements in view of the COVID-crisis. The Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy has announced that the Commission is preparing a notice to national Market Surveillance Authorities to “use their discretion in a proportionate and pragmatic way” going forward, to be adopted by the end of May.