On 2 December, the European Commission adopted a strategy for sustainably managing the pandemic over the coming winter months. The strategy recommends continued vigilance and caution throughout the winter period and into 2021 when the roll out of safe and effective vaccines will occur. Measures include physical and social distancing, testing and contact tracing, safe travel, business continuity plans for healthcare settings, mental healthcare, and national vaccination strategies.
The European Parliament approved temporary measures through an urgent procedure to allow EU countries to reduce or eliminate the value-added tax (VAT) rate on COVID-19 vaccines and related testing devices until 2022.
Unemployment in the euro area stands at 8,4% (EU at 7,6%) according to the EU’s statistical office Eurostat, up from 7,4% (6,6%) in October. Youth unemployment is at 18,0% in the euro area (17,5% in the EU).
The European Commission has disbursed €8,5 billion in the third instalment of financial support to five Member States under the SURE instrument. The scheme is to assist Member States in financing short-time work schemes and similar measures to preserve employment. In this disbursement round, Belgium received €2 billion, Hungary €200 million, Portugal €3 billion, Romania €3 billion and Slovakia €300 million.