Week 48 of 2020 has been dominated by discussions on vaccines and the easing of restrictions for Christmas festivities. Meanwhile, many countries have now exceeded their first wave’s peak of COVID-19 casualties.
This week has seen a breakthrough in neither the Brexit nor the budget crises. In London, concerns remain over fisheries, which nevertheless holds more symbolic than economic value to the UK economy. As regards the budget, the Hungarian and Polish governments doubled down on their budget veto over the rule of law mechanism in a bilateral meeting in Budapest. At the opposite end of this issue, the Dutch parliament is asking EU governments to launch Article 7 proceedings against Poland.
Internally, four policy developments stand out. The first one is the political agreement reached between the Council and the Parliament on the Common Agricultural Policy’s transitional rules for the next two years. The second is the Commission’s proposal for a Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe, as part of its nascent Health Union. The other two are an action plan on inclusion for all, which will tackle the integration of migrants, and the issuance of €8.5bn in SURE bonds.
At the foreign policy level, this week marked the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process. The Union for the Mediterranean held its annual Regional Forum to commemorate the occasion. Furthermore, EU leaders held bilateral talks with Australia, on COVID-19, trade, climate change and others, and with President-elect Joe Biden, on the future transatlantic relationship.