A new vaccine against the coronavirus jointly developed by U.S. pharmaceuticals company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech is reportedly achieving 90% effectiveness in trials in people that had not been exposed to the virus previously. While it is yet unknown for how long the vaccine’s immunising effect lasts, the announcement has sparked hopes that the severe restrictions on public life for most of 2020 may be permanently lifted in the first half of the coming year. The European Commission swiftly announced that it would secure up to 300 million doses of the serum. Commission President von der Leyen called it the “most promising vaccine so far” and announced that, once approved, the shot would be made available to all member states at the same time, with priority access for elderly populations and other at-risk demographics (Sources: Politico, AP).
The EU’s Parliament and Council have reached a provisional deal on the next Multiannual Financial Framework – the EU’s budget – and the EU recovery package on 10 November 2020. An additional €16 billion on top of the package agreed by EU leaders in the summer will serve to better protect citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will be partly sourced from EU competition fines. The deal also means that the new Recovery and Resilience Facility worth €672,5 billion in grants and loans will support EU countries over the next four years, and that €8 billion in aid to farmers can be paid out in 2021 and 2022.
The resurgence of COVID-19 has put economic recovery in Europe on hold. This is also reflected in the Commission’s autumn economic forecast, published on 5 November, which foresees a contraction of 7.8% for the Eurozone and 7.4% for the entire EU economy. This is a smaller contraction than the one predicted in the summer forecast. However, crucially, the new forecast foresees a slower growth of just 4.2% for the Eurozone and 4.1% for the EU, and only 3% for both in 2022 (Source: Agence Europe).