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Today, the Commission is proposing immediate action to prepare Europe for the increased threat of coronavirus variants. The new European bio-defence preparedness plan against COVID-19 variants called “HERA Incubator” will work with researchers, biotech companies, manufacturers and public authorities in the EU and globally to detect new variants, provide incentives to develop new and adapted vaccines, speed up the approval process for these vaccines, and ensure scaling up of manufacturing capacities.

The European Commission today announced an investment of €121 million for new integrated projects under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. This funding – increased by 20% compared to last year – will promote the green recovery and help Belgium, Germany, Ireland, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia to reach their green targets. These integrated projects are expected to channel significant additional funds, helping Member States to make use of other EU funding sources, including agricultural, structural, regional and research funds, as well as national funds and private sector investment.

Today, the Commission and the High Representative put forward a new strategy to strengthen the EU's contribution to rules-based multilateralism. The Joint Communication lays out the EU's expectations of and ambitions for the multilateral system. Today's proposal suggests to make use of all tools at the EU's disposal, including its extensive political, diplomatic and financial support to promote global peace and security, defend human rights and international law, and to promote multilateral solutions to global challenges.

The coronavirus pandemic represents a very large shock for the global and EU economies, with very severe economic and social consequences. Economic activity in Europe suffered a severe shock in the first half of the year and rebounded strongly in the third quarter as containment measures were gradually lifted. However, the resurgence of the pandemic in recent weeks is resulting in disruptions as national authorities introduce new public health measures to limit its spread. The epidemiological situation means that growth projections over the forecast horizon are subject to an extremely high degree of uncertainty and risks.

The European Commission welcomes the European Parliament's vote today, confirming the political agreement reached on the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) Regulation in December 2020. This marks an important step towards making €672.5 billion in loans and grants available to Member States to support reforms and investments.

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