US, Germany support Lithuania in spat with China over Taiwan
The United States and Germany are backing Lithuania in its spat with China, saying the pressure exerted by Beijing against the tiny Baltic nation is unwarranted, Lithuania broke with diplomatic custom last year by letting the Taiwanese office in Vilnius bear the name Taiwan, instead of Chinese Taipei.
Odds of settling US-EU trade rifts? Hope may outrun progress
President Joe Biden has vowed to mend America’s trade relations with its European allies, which were stretched to the breaking point by President Donald Trump’s mercurial behavior, combative policies and aversion to multinational alliances.
EU moves toward stricter export controls for COVID-19 shots
Spain resumed the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)BRUSSELS – The European Union moved Wednesday toward stricter export controls for coronavirus vaccines, seeking to make sure its 27 nations have more COVID-19 shots to boost the bloc's flagging vaccine campaign amid a surge in new infections. Ad“I mention specifically the U.K.,” said EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. That was heading to Australia, which has a very limited coronavirus outbreak compared to the third surge of infections now facing many EU nations. The EU has been feuding with AstraZeneca for months over exactly how many vaccine doses would be delivered by certain dates.
As virus restrictions bite, EU extends safety net till 2023
The Commission, the EU’s executive arm, reckons that fiscal support worth around 8% of GDP was provided in 2020, far more than during the financial crisis of 2008-2009. “There is hope on the horizon for the EU economy, but for now the pandemic continues to hurt people’s livelihoods and the wider economy,” Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said Wednesday. Ad“To cushion this impact and to promote a resilient and sustainable recovery, our clear message is that fiscal support should continue as long as needed. Based on current indications, the general escape clause would remain active in 2022 and be deactivated in 2023,” Dombrovskis said. The decision to extend the general escape clause is a sign of just how uncertain things are.
EU hopeful for firm economic growth despite virus challenges
European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni speaks during an online news conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Growth in the wider 27-nation EU is predicted to hit 3.7% this year and 3.9% in 2022 following last year's 6.3% slide. We will still have a great deal to do to contain the wider socio-economic fallout.”Gentiloni conceded though that the virus is posing major economic and social challenges. “None of the member states is expected return in 2022 to the growth path projected before the crisis. In 2022, GDP in the EU and the euro-area will remain about 4% below what pre-pandemic forecasts had projected,” he said.
EU lawmakers OK $815 billion recovery program
(Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP)BRUSSELS – European Union lawmakers on Wednesday approved a 672.5 billion euro ($815 billion) recovery package of loans and grants to help member nations recover more quickly from the coronavirus pandemic, but countries will not receive the money for several months. The European Parliament voted 582-40, with 69 abstentions, in favor of the regulation for the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the central pillar of the the bloc’s 750 billion euro ($910 billion) recovery plan. Our health systems will also become more resilient.”AdSo far, 18 nations have submitted their draft plans to the European Commission, which is in charge of assessing them. The funding will be available for three years and EU countries can request up to 13% pre-financing for their recovery and resilience plans. Once a proposal allowing the European Commission to borrow on financial markets is ratified by all member nations, the commission expects the first recovery fund payments could be made from mid-2021.
EU: Brexit trade talks still have 'substantial work' ahead
BRUSSELS – A top European Union official said Wednesday that trade talks with the United Kingdom still face “substantial work" that might spill over into next week, with a perilous deadline drawing ever closer. Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU's top trade official, said “there are still important elements to be resolved. So there is still substantial work to do," if a full agreement is to come into force on Jan. 1. The U.K. left the EU on Jan. 31, but a transition period when EU rules apply to trade and other issues runs until the end of next month. Both sides had hoped to get a trade deal by then to save hundreds of thousands of jobs that could be at stake if Brexit amounts to a brutal cliff edge divorce.
EU moves ahead with tariffs on US but hopes for Biden change
EU trade ministers were discussing the move on a videoconference, after international arbitrators last month gave the EU, the world’s biggest trade bloc, the green light to do so. But having repeatedly failed to achieve a negotiated solution, the EU is now ready to announce punishment of its own. “The U.S. has imposed their tariffs following the WTO ruling in (the) Airbus case. Now we have a WTO ruling also in Boeing, allowing us to impose our tariffs, and that’s what we are doing,” EU Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters. Just before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury told The Associated Press that his company is “very happy” with the WTO ruling.
EU cuts 2021 economic outlook as virus spreads
BRUSSELS – The European Union's executive commission on Thursday lowered its growth forecast for the economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic next year and said the economy wouldn’t reach pre-virus levels until 2023. The regular autumn forecast foresees the economy of the 19 countries that use the euro growing only 4.2% in 2021 instead of the previous estimate of 6.1%. The downgrade comes as governments record increasing numbers of infections, sick people in hospitals and deaths, leading to renewed restrictions on businesses and activity. Third-quarter GDP increased by 12.7% from the previous quarter, the largest increase since statistics started being kept in 1995. The European Central Bank is pumping 1.35 trillion euros ($1.58 trillion) into the economy through regular bond purchases, a step aimed at keeping credit flowing affordably to businesses.
Key EU states worry South America trade pact may hurt Amazon
Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the EU Commission, speaks at a press conference in Berlin, Germany, following the informal talks of the EU Trade Ministers on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. And we will need definitely to have more discussions between us.”Following two decades of negotiations, the trade pact was announced last year by the European Commission, the executive body that negotiates trade agreements on behalf of EU countries. The preliminary deal, which needs to be ratified by all EU countries, was struck with the Mercosur bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Speaking after the meeting, EU Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis confirmed that several member states expressed concerns relating to the Paris agreement and deforestation, especially in Brazil. Dombrovskis added that the trade deal is still in the process of undergoing legal revision and that the EU Commission will decide on the ratification procedure at a later stage.
EU names Dombrovskis as its new trade chief
BRUSSELS The European Unions executive commission is proposing its experienced Latvian vice president, Valdis Dombrovskis, to take over the post as trade chief of the bloc following the resignation of Ireland's Phil Hogan. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement as she named European Parliament heavyweight Mairead McGuinness as the new financial services commissioner to fill Ireland's seat at the table. Dombrovskis had already been holding the post temporarily since Hogan's resignation on Aug. 26. Dombrovskis now fills a vital post in dealing with the United States, China and post-Brexit Britain, with all three demanding near daily attention. It also means von der Leyen limited her reshuffle in the Commission and with McGuinness she further narrowed the gender gap in the Commission, which now stands at 14 men and 13 women.
EU says virus fund access to be linked to its budget advice
Virtually every country has broken the deficit limit of 3% of GDP as theyve spent to keep health care systems, businesses and jobs alive. But these are exceptional times, European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said. The commissions country specific recommendations released Wednesday are part of a system under which the executive arm monitors national budgetary plans and gives policy advice. He did not provide details about how the recommendations would be linked to the recovery funds. Hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain will probably be banking on the recovery fund to survive.