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The EU-US summit on 15 June delivered a series of bilateral trade initiatives. Leaders agreed to resolve long-standing disputes regarding aircraft, discuss measures on steel and aluminium, and set up a Trade and Technology Council. They also discussed COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring a sustainable recovery, protecting the planet and cooperating on foreign and security issues.
At a summit held in Brussels on 14 June, the leaders of the EU and Canada agreed to further strengthen their strategic partnership. They committed to ensuring universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, ambitious climate action, and a sustainable and green economic recovery. The EU and Canada will also cooperate more closely in the areas of health, ocean protection, raw materials, and security and defence.
At the Cornwall summit from 11 to 13 June, the G7 leaders committed to improving global access to COVID-19 vaccines, strengthening the global health system, and ensuring ambitious climate action.
The EU has submitted its proposal seeking the commitment of World Trade Organization (WTO) members for a multilateral trade action plan to expand the production of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and ensure universal and fair access.
At a summit held by videoconference, the leaders of the EU and Japan concluded a ‘green alliance’ that will boost cooperation to accelerate climate and environmental action. They also discussed global access to COVID-19 vaccines, digital transformation, bilateral relations, and foreign and security policy.
On 24 and 25 May 2021, the European Council adopted conclusions on COVID-19, climate change, Belarus, Russia, the UK, the Middle East and Mali.
The Council exchanged views on the trade policy review. Ministers reviewed the state of play of the WTO reform and preparations for the next Ministerial Conference of the WTO and took stock of latest developments and prospects in EU-US trade relations.
Ministers focused on the state of play on the COVID-19 EU coordination and the Conference on the Future of Europe. Under any other business, the Council was informed about matters related to the Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process, and the EU-Switzerland relations.
EU ministers of foreign affairs were briefed about current affairs and exchanged views on Western Balkans and transatlantic relations. The Council also adopted conclusions on Security and Defence, and the Horn of Africa.
The legislative proposal follows the adoption of the White Paper in June 2020 and an extensive consultation process with stakeholders. It aims at closing the regulatory gap in the Single Market, whereby subsidies granted by non-EU governments currently go largely unchecked, while subsidies granted by Member States are subject to close scrutiny.
The Council adopted a decision on the conclusion of the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement and the security of information agreement. This is the last step for the EU in the ratification of the post-Brexit deal. Both agreements will enter into force on 1 May 2021.
Parliament voted with a large majority in favour of granting its consent to the agreement setting the rules of the future EU-UK relationship. The consent decision was adopted by 660 votes for, five against and 32 abstentions, while the accompanying resolution, setting out Parliament’s evaluation of and expectations from the deal, passed by 578 votes, with 51 against and 68 abstentions.
EU leaders met via video conference to take stock of the COVID-19 epidemiological situation. They also discussed transatlantic relations together with US President Joe Biden. The situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, relations with Russia, the single market, digital agenda and the international role of the euro were also on the agenda.
The European Commission has introduced the principles of reciprocity and proportionality as new criteria to be considered for authorising exports under the transparency and authorisation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccine exports.
The Foreign Affairs Council was briefed about current affairs and exchanged views on Southern neighbourhood and Turkey. Ministers also held an informal exchange with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
On 25 February, the members of the European Council met via video conference to discuss the current situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparedness for health emergencies. On 26 February they met again, focusing on security and defence, and relations with the Southern Neighbourhood.
EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs were briefed about current affairs and exchanged views on Russia, and Hong Kong. The Council also adopted conclusions on: Myanmar/Burma, a human-rights-based post-COVID-19 recovery, and EU priorities in UN human rights fora in 2021.
The European Commission has set out its trade strategy for the coming years. Reflecting the concept of open strategic autonomy, it builds on the EU's openness to contribute to the economic recovery through support for the green and digital transformations, as well as a renewed focus on strengthening multilateralism and reforming global trade rules to ensure that they are fair and sustainable.
To relaunch and strengthen the strategic partnership between the European Union and its Southern Neighbourhood partners, the European Commission and the High Representative adopted a joint communication proposing an ambitious and innovative new Agenda for the Mediterranean.