The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced that an exceptional meeting on the approval of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine against COVID-19 has now been scheduled for 21 December, eight days earlier than originally envisaged. Vaccinations across the EU will begin on 27 December, provided the EMA authorises the shot. A second vaccine by Moderna will be considered by the EMA on 6 January. Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni is hoping for a speedier recovery of the economy as vaccines become available to all Europeans, but also noted that “a credible vaccination strategy, with all the challenges that entails in terms of both logistics and ensuring sufficient acceptance rates among the population, is essential”. (Sources: POLITICO, Euronews)
On 16 December, the European Commission presented a strategy to prevent a future build-up of non-performing loans (NPLs) across the European Union, as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The strategy aims to ensure that EU households and businesses continue to have access to the funding they need throughout the crisis. Given the impact coronavirus has had on the EU’s economy, the volume of NPLs is expected to rise across the EU, although the timing and magnitude of this increase is still uncertain. Depending on how quickly the EU’s economy recovers from the coronavirus crisis, banks’ asset quality – and in turn, their lending capacity – could deteriorate.
The Commission has launched a mobile app for its web portal “Re-open EU.” The app, available for Android and iOS devices, gives regular updates on coronavirus health, safety and travel measures across Europe.