Coronavirus – Le canton de Berne prêt pour la vaccination à large échelle

Source: Switzerland – Canton Government of Bern in French

Headline: Coronavirus – Le canton de Berne prêt pour la vaccination à large échelle

Le canton de Berne continue à augmenter ses capacités. Ce lundi (10 mai), il ouvrira sur le site de BernExpo son dixième centre de vaccination. Le centre accueillera notamment les groupes et le personnel des entreprises et autres organisations. La vaccination en pharmacie commencera la semaine prochaine. La Police cantonale joue un rôle important dans ce déploiement de capacités de vaccination.

Coronavirus – Der Kanton Bern ist bereit für das grosse Impfen

Source: Switzerland – Canton Bern Government in German

Headline: Coronavirus – Der Kanton Bern ist bereit für das grosse Impfen

Der Kanton Bern baut seine Kapazitäten laufend aus: Am Montag eröffnet auf dem Bernexpo-Gelände das 10. Impfzentrum, wo auch Gruppen- und Betriebsimpfungen durchgeführt werden. Ab nächster Woche wird auch in den Apotheken geimpft. Beim Ausbau der Impfkapazitäten spielt die Kantonspolizei eine wichtige Rolle.

Virtueller Forschungstag am Mi, 19. Mai 2021

Source: Swiss Canton Zug – news in German

Bild Legende:

Coronabedingt findet der Forschungstag 2021 digital statt. Am 19.5.2021 präsentieren die Studierenden des 2. und 3. Studienjahres am virtuellen Forschungstag ihre F&E-Projekte bzw. Bachelorarbeiten. Die beeindruckende Themenvielfalt widerspiegelt einerseits Interessen der Studierenden und zeigt andererseits eine breite Auswahl an Themen, die für die professionelle Entwicklung von Lehrpersonen bedeutsam sein können.

So können Sie sich unter anderem auf Präsentation freuen zu Themen wie:

  • Schule braucht Persönlichkeiten – aber welche? Eine Literaturarbeit zur idealen Lehrpersonen-persönlichkeit
  • Schulische Motivation. Eine Literaturarbeit mit Handlungsempfehlungen zur Motivationsförderung von Jungen im Zyklus 1
  • AD(H)S. Wie können betroffene Kinder im Unterricht unterstützt werden?
  • Programmieren in der Primarstufe. Erwartungen und erste Erfahrungen im neuen Fach «Medien und Informatik»
  • Wie gelingen anspruchsvolle Elterngespräche? Eine Interviewstudie zu Elternarbeit und Kommunikation
  • Spiele beleben den Unterrichtsalltag. Den Förderzielen der Regelspiele auf der Spur
  • u. v. m.

Das detaillierte Programm mit allen Arbeitstiteln ist zu finden auf forschungstag.phzg.ch.

Eine Onlineplattform bietet bereits im Voraus einen ersten spannenden Einblick in die Arbeiten – der entsprechende Link dazu folgt hier in der Woche des 10. Mai. 

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on accelerating progress and tackling inequalities towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 – B9-0263/2021

Source: European Parliament

B9‑0263/2021

European Parliament resolution on accelerating progress and tackling inequalities towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030

(2021/2604(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, scheduled to take place in New York from 8 to 10 June 2021,

 having regard to the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: On the Fast Track to Accelerating the Fight Against HIV and to Ending the AIDS Epidemic by 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 8 June 2016,

 having regard to the Political Declaration of the high-level meeting on universal health coverage, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 October 2019,

 having regard to the 2020 Global AIDS Update of UNAIDS entitled ‘Seizing the Moment – Tackling entrenched inequalities to end epidemics’,

 having regard to the 2019 Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the response to HIV,

 having regard to the Abuja Declaration of 27 April 2001 on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases, to the Common African Position presented at the 2016 High-Level Meeting and to the 2016 Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030,

 having regard to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in New York in September 2015,

 having regard to the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, and the outcomes of their review conferences,

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on gender in development,

 having regard to the EU Gender Action Plan III for 2021-2025,

 having regard to the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2020-2024,

 having regard to the European Consensus on Development: ‘our World, our Dignity, our Future’,

 having regard to its resolutions of 8 July 2010 on a rights-based approach to the EU’s response to HIV/AIDS[1] and of 5 July 2017 on the EU’s response to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Hepatitis C[2],

 having regard to the question to the Commission on accelerating progress and tackling inequalities towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 (O-000027/2021 – B9‑0000/2021),

 having regard to Rules 136(5) and 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Development,

A. whereas nearly 76 million people have become infected and nearly 33 million people have died of AIDS-related causes since the beginning of the epidemic in 1981; whereas the HIV epidemic remains a global crisis and a total of 38 million people live with HIV; whereas 1.7 million people acquired HIV in 2019;

B. whereas in 2019, 12 million people living with HIV did not access life-saving antiretroviral treatment and nearly 700 000 people died of AIDS-related causes globally;

C. whereas universal access to antiretroviral HIV treatment and care significantly reduces the risk of further transmission and has given people living with HIV an almost normal life expectancy and comparable quality of life;

D. whereas inequalities that drive the HIV epidemic, including violation of human rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights, in the context of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the outcomes of their review conferences, as well as stigma and discrimination, have been deteriorating and have been further exacerbated by COVID-19;

E. whereas men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who inject drugs, sex workers and their clients, and prisoners (key populations) are at higher risk of exposure to HIV than other groups; whereas their engagement is critical in the HIV response;

F. whereas 159 countries have at least one discriminatory or punitive law hampering the HIV response; whereas criminalisation of people living with and at risk of HIV fuels stigma and discrimination, reducing prevention and treatment service uptake and increasing HIV incidence;

G. whereas gender inequality, unequal access to education and sexual and reproductive health services and information, and sexual and gender-based violence increase the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV, with AIDS-related illnesses being among the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age globally;

H. whereas existing prevention methods have not done enough to stop the spread of HIV, particularly among women, who bear a disproportionate burden of the epidemic, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa; whereas there is a need for investment in research and innovation for new and improved tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat HIV and AIDS, including gender-sensitive tools, and new treatment options to address the emergence of HIV drug resistance;

I. whereas young people between the ages of 15 and 27 account for more than one third of all new infections among adults and whereas AIDS-related deaths are increasing among adolescents; whereas young people have limited access to social protection, sexual and reproductive healthcare and programmes empowering them to protect themselves from HIV;

J. whereas compulsory comprehensive sexual education in school systems is essential to prevent the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections;

K. whereas people in informal, humanitarian and fragile settings, people with disabilities, indigenous populations, LGBTIQ+ people, and migrant and mobile populations are vulnerable to HIV infection and face unique challenges in accessing HIV services;

L. whereas sub-Saharan Africa remains the most heavily affected region, accounting for 57 % of all new HIV infections and 84 % of HIV infections in children (aged up to 14 years), with much higher HIV prevalence in females than in males, and with 4 500 girls and young women (aged between 15 and 24) becoming infected with HIV every week, and 25.6 million people living with HIV;

M. whereas the COVID-19 pandemic poses further challenges to the AIDS response and has reversed some of the gains made to date, with several countries not achieving their 2020 targets; whereas this puts the achievement of the SDG target of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 at risk;

N. whereas there is a need to strengthen resilient and sustainable health systems as part of universal health coverage, while preserving the gains of the AIDS response;

O. whereas the achievement of the right to health needs to address inequality in access to services and advance the quality of life and well-being of people living with and at risk of HIV throughout the lifespan;

P. whereas communities and community-led responses, which are pivotal in the HIV response, continue to be undermined by acute funding shortages, shrinking civil society space and lack of full engagement and integration in national responses;

Q. whereas several middle-income developing countries have difficulties importing or locally producing generic versions of antiretroviral medicines owing to patent protection; whereas multinational pharmaceutical companies are increasingly excluding middle-income developing countries from donations, decreased prices and voluntary licenses, thus hampering their ability to access affordable generic medicines;

R. whereas the human right to health takes precedence over rules on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS); whereas the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health affirms the right of developing countries to make full use of the flexibility provisions in the TRIPS Agreement to protect public health and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all;

S. whereas the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which was created following the global surge of HIV/AIDS, has played a significant role in the context of the fight against HIV/AIDS;

1. Underlines the importance of a positive outcome at the UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS to be held from 8 to 10 June 2021; requests that the Council contribute to the adoption of a set of forward-looking and ambitious commitments in the political declaration;

2. Reaffirms that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, as well as equality conducive to living life in dignity;

3. Commends the EU’s role in the multi-sectoral global AIDS response and calls on the Commission to address AIDS as a global public health crisis and accelerate all efforts to meet the 2025 targets, including through scaling-up investments in UNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria;

4. Insists on the essential provision of sufficient means for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in order to enable it to make decisive contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS;

5. Underlines that the global AIDS response requires a multi-sectoral approach and multi-level cooperation that demonstrate timeliness, scale, inclusiveness, partnership and innovation;

6. Calls on the Commission to ensure that the programming of the NDICI is supportive of partner country efforts to build strong and resilient health systems, including health research and regulatory systems and community systems for health, that are able to deliver HIV-sensitive universal health coverage;

7. Requests that the European External Action Service, the Commission and Member States use the implementation of the EU Human Rights Action Plan and the Gender Action Plan III to address the human rights and gender inequality drivers of HIV/AIDS by prioritising the fight against stigma and discrimination, sexual and gender based violence, criminalisation of same-sex relations and other punitive and discriminatory laws and policies in order to contribute to universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, access to quality education, including comprehensive sexuality education, equitable and affordable access to healthcare, access to the labour market and the participation of affected communities in all spheres of public life;

8. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to work with partner countries to instate compulsory comprehensive sexual education in their national education plans in order to prevent the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, especially in countries with the highest infection rates;

9. Recalls that health is a prerequisite for human development; requests that the Commission prioritise health as part of the EU-Africa strategy, which implies mobilising additional public funds to guarantee universal health coverage, including for sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as focusing on global health research and development, stepping up EU-Africa health research and innovation collaboration, and jointly boosting African and European production capacity for health products, equipment, and medicines; underlines that development aid should primary be dedicated to delivering horizontal universal healthcare system coverage through a holistic and rights-based approach, which entails fully addressing the multidimensional nature of health (with close links to gender, food security and nutrition, water and sanitation, education and poverty), along the line of a ‘One Health’ approach; calls in particular for the promotion of investments in integrated HIV rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights, with a focus on women and girls, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs, people in prison and other vulnerable groups;

10. Calls on the Commission to address the deplorably low treatment coverage for children living with HIV as well to ensure access to HIV services for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, in order to avoid mother-to-child transmission of HIV;

11. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to ensure the level of spending and resource mobilisation needed to achieve the 2025 targets in all EU Member States;

12. Calls on the Commission to work with Member States and partners to prioritise an integrated approach to global health security that incorporates the fight against both existing pandemics such as HIV and emerging ones, as part of the universal health coverage agenda;

13. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to play a strong political role in dialogue with the EU’s partner developing countries, including neighbourhood countries, ensuring that plans for sustainable transitions to domestic funding are in place so that HIV programmes remain effective and sustained, and can be scaled up after the withdrawal of international donors’ support; calls on the Commission and the Council to continue to work closely with those countries to ensure that they take responsibility for and ownership of their HIV response;

14. Calls for the EU to set up a clear and coherent EU global COVID-19 vaccination strategy, focusing on ensuring equal, affordable and timely access to vaccination for people in developing countries, in particular those belonging to vulnerable and high-risk groups, including people infected with HIV/AIDS;

15. Calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure that the global response to COVID-19 includes lessons learned from the fight against HIV, such as: protecting human rights and addressing stigma and discrimination, particularly among key and other vulnerable populations; fighting gender barriers to health; supporting healthcare practitioners and researchers, especially in low-resource settings; engaging communities in the response; and fairly allocating limited resources and new tools so that no one is left behind;

16. Urges the EU to set up a comprehensive global strategy and road map for the achievement of the SDGs, including those relating health and targets on HIV/AIDS reduction; notes that this strategy should take particular account of the impact of COVID-19, as achieving the SDGs is critical to ensuring our preparedness for future pandemics and other shocks, including to health systems; calls for an effective long-term EU global health strategy; insists that the Commission needs to redouble its efforts and intensify its work towards effective global health programmes targeting healthcare systems in developing countries;

17. Calls on the Commission to work with Member States and partners to support services responsive to the needs of key populations and other priority populations facing unique challenges in accessing HIV services, including by providing youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services for young people;

18. Calls on the Commission to work with Member States and partners to facilitate and advocate increased commitment for the provision of HIV treatment in all conflict zones and the elimination of HIV-related discrimination against refugees, especially with regard to equal access to antiretroviral treatment and health services in host countries;

19. Calls on the Commission to work with Member States and partners to increase social protection support, including for food security and nutrition for vulnerable populations, particularly people with disabilities, aging people living with HIV, and AIDS-related orphans;

20. Calls on the Commission to work with Member States and partners to support and invest in community engagement and community-led responses as key components in an effective HIV/AIDS response and in the fight against HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, as well as to integrate HIV prevention and care with other local healthcare service offers as an entry point for HIV information, education, communication and training;

21. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote investments in real-time data collection and a robust pipeline of affordable and accessible, gender-sensitive diagnostic, therapeutic and vaccine candidates for HIV and other poverty-related and neglected infectious diseases, and to strengthen regional and interregional capacities and cooperation in science, research and innovation; urges the EU to offer particular support to developing countries, especially least developed countries, in the effective implementation of flexibilities provided for in the TRIPS Agreement for the protection of public health, notably on compulsory licencing and parallel import, and to optimise the use of voluntary licensing and technology sharing mechanisms to meet public health objectives by insisting that multinational pharmaceutical companies include middle-income developing countries in such mechanisms and offer affordable HIV treatment in those countries; encourages, more broadly, the decoupling of research and development spending from the price of medicines, for example through the use of patent pools, open source research, grants and subsidies, with the aim of ensuring sustained accessibility, affordability, availability and access to treatment for all those in need;

22. Calls on the Commission to oppose the inclusion of TRIPS-plus measures in free trade agreements with middle-income developing countries in order to ensure that all HIV antiretroviral treatments are affordable, with full respect for the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health;

23. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the President of the United Nations General Assembly and UNAIDS.

Conference on the Future of Europe: inaugural event in Strasbourg on 9 May  

Source: European Parliament 2

The inaugural event to launch the Conference on the Future of Europe will take place in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Europe Day, Sunday 9 May.

When: Sunday, 9 May, 14.00 – 15.30

Where: European Parliament in Strasbourg

The programme will last an hour and a half. It will feature a welcome speech by French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as speeches by Presidents Sassoli, von der Leyen and Prime Minister Costa, representing the EU Institutions alongside short interventions by the Conference Executive Board’s co-chairs. Contributions via video link from citizens and civil society are also planned, as well as musical performances by Violinist Renaud Capuçon and Karski quartet. The launch will link to Europe Day events across the Member states.

27 Erasmus students from all member states will be present in the Parliament’s hemicycle, and around 300 citizens invited to attend remotely will be present through large TV screens.

Ministers for European affairs and other VIP guests will also join remotely.

COVID-19 prevention measures

Journalists can attend, provided they strictly follow the health restrictions and measures put in place by the French authorities and the European Parliament. Any media physically present at the event are requested to respect social distancing of 1.5 m while on EP premises and to wear a medical face mask at all times.

Audio-visual coverage

The opening ceremony of the Conference on the Future of Europe will be broadcast live on EbS+ (clean feed) from 13:30 to 15.30 CET Ebs will broadcast a signal with captions ( ready to broadcast )

The ceremony will also be web streamed on Parliament’s multimedia centre and EBS . on Parliament’s Facebook page and twitter account @Europarl_EN.

The video, audio and photo coverage will be available to download in “live replay” on the Multimedia Centre:

https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/conference-on-future-of-europe-inaugural-event_18901_pk.

Accreditation

Annual press badges (either inter-institutional badges or EP badges) are valid.

Journalists without an access badge need to request accreditation before 8 May (18.00) via the journalist registration website.

Badges can then be collected at the main entrance of the Louise Weiss building as of 7:00 on 9 May. For any question linked to the accreditation procedure please contact:

Media Accreditation

Access

Media access will be facilitated through the main entrance to the Louise Weiss building. The doors will open at 7:00am on Sunday 9th May. The separate press entrance will be closed.

Working areas

The following areas will be accessible for journalists:

  • Working space and access to the video feed inside the press room,
  • Press gallery of the chamber. (The chamber itself will not be accessible to journalists and cameramen).
  • Media space outside the Hemicycle for video recording (booking required)

Wi-Fi will be available in all parts of the building. The login and password will be communicated on the day itself.

Audiovisual facilities (booking required)

The following audiovisual services will be provided:

  • Live camera positions in self-service near the chamber. Each media is to bring its own equipment and cabling; power and internet broadband connection will be available
  • Multimedia studio

To allow us to best facilitate your work, please send in your requests before Saturday 8 May 13:00 to avplanning@europarl.europa.eu . Please note that the usual range of audio-visual facilities (TV and radio studios, crews, editing …) will not be available.

Photo Opportunities (restricted access, registration required)

Photo and video pools will be organised for the:

  • Official arrival (access exclusively reserved for cameramen and photographers on the podium at the protocol arrival area upon registration – See contact below)
  • Photo opportunity in the hemicycle (access exclusively reserved for photographers upon registration – See contact below)
  • Chamber (access exclusively reserved for photo agencies)

All journalists will be able to follow the Live coverage from the Press Room screens and via EP Live and EBS+.

AV Planning

For any questions linked to the programme or the facilities, please contact EP audio-visual press team:

Assistance for audiovisual journalists | News | European Parliament (europa.eu)

AV Press Officer: Isabelle ZERROUK

EU survey highlights support for greater crisis management role at EU level  

Source: European Parliament 2

Two days ahead of the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Parliament today published the results of its Eurobarometer survey on the future of Europe.

The survey was commissioned jointly with the European Commission.

Following the first results published, on 9 March, the full report finds:

  • Around eight in ten Europeans (81%) agree that one of the priorities for the Conference should be how the EU could better handle crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a third (38%) agree strongly with this.
  • Two-thirds of Europeans (66%) believe that the EU project offers a future perspective for Europe’s youth. A similar proportion (65%) sees the EU as a place of stability in a troubled world.
  • More than two-thirds of those surveyed are in favour of electing the President of the European Commission through the choice of lead candidates in the European elections. Less than a quarter (22%) are not in favour of such a process.
  • Twice as many EU citizens see a possibility of voting for transnational lists in European elections as a good thing (42%), compared to only one in five (19%) who reject this proposal.

The Conference on the future of Europe

Around eight in ten Europeans (81%) agree that the Conference should prioritise dealing with how the EU could better handle crises such as the coronavirus outbreak, including more than a third (38%) who strongly agree.

Europeans who are willing to get involved in the Conference on the future of Europe would foremost like to do so through meetings in their local area, such as citizens’ debates or assemblies (44%). Citizens could contribute to the Conference’s ideas gathering process by answering a survey (34%), by putting forward ideas and proposals to European and national politicians (31%) and by taking part in online consultations via discussion platforms (30%), those surveyed said.

Youth and the future of the European Union

More than eight in ten Europeans (83%) agree that the Conference should specifically involve young people to foster new ideas, including four in ten (40%) who totally agreed.

Two-thirds of Europeans (66%) agree that the EU project offers a future perspective for Europe’s youth. A similar proportion (65%) agree that the EU is a place of stability in a troubled world, although this is lower than in the previous survey in 2018 (-11 percentage points).

European Elections and European Commission Presidency

The Future of Europe survey also looked into questions surrounding the European elections and the election of the Commission President. According to the survey, respondents are twice as likely to support voting for transnational lists in European Parliament elections (42%), compared to only one in five respondents who reject the idea (19%). 36% are indifferent to this issue.

More than two-thirds are in favour of a process to elect the President of the European Commission through the choice of lead candidates in the European elections, while less than a quarter (22%) say they are not in favour of this process.

While 61% agree that such a process would only make sense if EU citizens were given the option to vote for transnational lists, nearly two thirds of respondents (64%) agree that this approach would make the process of electing the President of the European Commission more transparent. Citizens believe it would also give more legitimacy to the European Commission (63%) and that it would represent significant progress for democracy within the EU (62%).

Background

The Special Eurobarometer survey n° 500 “Future of Europe” (EB94.1) was carried out between 22 October and 20 November 2020 in the 27 EU Member States and was commissioned jointly by the European Commission and the European Parliament. The survey was conducted face-to-face and completed with online interviews where necessary, as a result of the pandemic. Some 27 034 interviews were conducted in total.

EIB President highlights need to scale up investment in skills and digitalisation to accelerate COVID-19 recovery at EU Social Summit

Source: European Investment Bank

  • Strengthening education and addressing inequality crucial for sustainable COVID-19 recovery
  • COVID-19 shocks reinforce the need to transform skills
  • Unlocking business investment essential to protect jobs and training
  • COVID pandemic is impacting on vulnerable groups, widening social inequality and digitalisation gaps

Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank, and Ricardo Mourinho Félix, Vice President, today joined European leaders and social partners at the Porto Social Summit organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

During the summit, President Hoyer emphasised the need to tackle education investment gaps, harness digitalisation to improve education and skills, and share best practice to maximise the social impact of investment in education and skills.

President Hoyer and Vice President Mourinho Félix also visited Portugal’s first regional social innovation incubator, IRIS, to see how the EIB Institute is supporting social innovation and enabling Portuguese start-ups to take advantage of investment and network opportunities.

“Successfully tackling education and digital investment gaps is key for sustainable growth, competitiveness and social inclusion in Europe and accelerating recovery from COVID-19. The European Investment Bank has a unique experience of supporting high-impact projects that create jobs and unlock social development. This week’s Porto Social Summit allows European and national social partners, including the EIB, and civil society to reinforce engagement and share best-practice to maximise the social impact of new investment,” said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank.

During discussions on innovation and skills, the EIB President outlined how the social impact of European and national investment could be enhanced by sharing experience that ensures an increased focus on skills development and harnessing digital opportunities.

The EIB President detailed recent EIB analysis of the social impact of COVID-19 and social challenges the pandemic exposes.

Digitalisation key for education post-COVID

The pandemic and lockdowns have strongly impacted education and training across Europe and exposed stark differences in digital infrastructure and digital skills. To strengthen access and inclusion in learning, future investment needs to focus on equipping young people and adult learners, teachers and businesses with both digital equipment and digital skills.

In Serbia the EIB is supporting the Connected Schools initiative to provide digital access and specialist digital education training for 50,000 teachers and backing new investment in 12 Irish Institutes of Technology to ensure that higher education reflects skills demanded by the job market.

Ensuring new skills needed following the COVID-19 crisis

EIB research shows that skill gaps have persistently posed barriers to investment for firms. Over the last years, more than 70% have reported skill gaps as an obstacle.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need to transform skills and accelerated structural shifts and raised unemployment risks.  Scaling up skills investment is essential to mitigate polarization of labour markets across the EU and risks of structural unemployment increasing regional inequality.

Porto based incubator demonstrating the impact of social innovation

During their visit to Porto President Hoyer and Vice President Ricardo Mourinho Félix saw at first hand how the European Investment Bank Institute is helping local entrepreneurs to expand, take advantage of investment opportunities and strengthen cooperation networks.

IRIS is the first Regional Social Innovation Incubator in the country and a major player in the development of the ecosystem for social innovation in Portugal. The centre supports local social entrepreneurs, with 30 start-ups already benefiting from the incubator’s services. Every year, 10 to 12 high-impact initiatives are selected for a six-month competitive Acceleration Programme.

During the visit, President Hoyer and VP Mourinho Félix had the pleasure to listen to four interesting and inspiring presentations from the representatives of start-ups benefiting from the services offered by IRIS. These companies provide innovative social services and solutions to neglected problems, like upgrading abandoned urban areas, supporting unpaid caregivers as well as connecting young people with older generations.

The European Investment Bank Institute is currently exploring ways to replicate the success of the IRIS incubator elsewhere in Europe.

The Porto Social Summit is hosted by the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union and aimed at setting the European agenda for the next decade, facing the challenges of the present and the future leaving no one behind.

Background information

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union’s bank owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy objectives and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Europe and beyond. Active in around 160 countries around the world, the EIB supports projects aiming at reducing poverty and promoting climate action, economic resilience and gender equality.

EIB supports India COVID recovery, climate action and urban transport upgrades with EUR 325m of new sustainable investment

Source: European Investment Bank

  • EIB President announces emergency EUR 250,000 donation from EIB to support India cope with COVID-19
  • EIB and SBI  launch EUR 100 million sustainable private equity initiative
  • EUR 300m backing for Kanpur and Pune metros to benefit millions of commuters

Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank announced today an emergency EUR 250,000 donation from the EU Bank`s own funds to India in response to the escalating COVID-19 crisis. The donation will go to Unicef LuxembourgRed Cross International and Malteser International to  acquire life-saving equipment in particular to improve access to oxygen including oxygen generation plants as well as the procurement of oxygen cylinders urgently needed across India. 

The donation will also help reinforce key emergency services such as ambulances, blood supply and a 24/7 helpline, also stepping up communication and awareness campaigns to address misinformation on COVID-19 immunisation.

President Hoyer opened the signature ceremony for three new EIB-backed sustainable investment projects. The EIB and its Indian partners the State Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance signed EUR 300 million investments in urban metro systems in the cites of Kanpur and Pune, and a EUR 25 million investment in NEEV II, an equity fund set up to support small and medium businesses in India with innovative solutions for climate action.

The signatures took place ahead of the EU-India leaders meeting in Portugal this week, with Francisco Andre, Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation attending on behalf of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Werner Hoyer, President of the EIB said: “The European Investment Bank stands by India during these challenging times and our donation is a sign of solidarity and support. The EIB as the EU Bank is ready to strengthen cooperation with Indian partners to tackle the pandemic and recover as quickly as possible. Five years ago, Prime Minister Modi called upon the EIB to accelerate support for high-impact sustainable transport investment and climate across India. Today’s new agreements will further support transformation of urban mobility for millions of commuters through the construction of new world-class metro networks in Kanpur and Pune. Our new cooperation with the State Bank of India, through the innovative NEEV II fund, will unlock EUR 100 million of sustainable business investment by companies across India. As outlined by the new EIB-International Solar Alliance study on off-grid solar, visionary and ambitious long-term public and private investment and sharing best-practice is key to strengthening India’s green recovery from COVID-19.”

Francisco Andre, Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal, said: “I am honoured to witness the signature of these three important projects which further solidify the relationship between the European Union and India. This partnership of the two largest democracies in the world will be key to successful post COVID-19 recovery of the global economy and success of global climate action.  The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU has had an excellent cooperation with the EIB. We worked together on accelerating  green investment in Africa and today we continue to demonstrate the power behind Team Europe and deliver tangible support for sustainable, green  transport and innovative investment in the  green transition across India”

EU Ambassador to India Ugo Astuto stated: Climate action and environmental sustainability are the need of the hour to save our planet. Climate change and the green transition will also be key priorities at the upcoming EU-India Leaders Meeting. The EIB has been investing in sustainable infrastructure in India for over 25 years. This latest funding will further strengthen our cooperation with India and help the private sector to develop innovative solutions to tackle climate change.”

Green, safe and reliable public transport for India

The European Investment Bank and the Ministry of Finance of India signed EUR 300 m for the construction of new metro lines in the cities of Kanpur and Pune. To date, the EIB has invested EUR 2.6 billion in urban metro systems in Bhopal, Kanpur, Pune, Lucknow and Bangalore.

In addition to creating affordable and accessible public transport  and a reliable alternative to heavily congested streets, the two new metro systems will reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality in Pune and Kanpur. With easier access to the local job market, healthcare and education for residents, the EIB-supported metro rail systems will have a positive impact on business and quality of life, while also increasing safety and social and economic mobility for female travellers.

The new EIB financing builds on successful progress on the two projects using initial EIB financing agreed in 2019.

New EIB – SBI partnership to back EUR 100 million of sustainable business investment

The EIB and the State Bank of India signed a cooperation agreement to support EUR 100 million of clean energy, energy efficiency, water and circular economy investment by Indian business through the new NEEV II investment fund.

The initiative will be managed by SBICAP, a subsidiary of SBI, and will allow innovative and growing Indian companies to use equity finance to accelerate sustainable investment and climate action.

Background information

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.

About the EIB in India:

Since the beginning of its operations in India in 1993, the European Investment Bank has supported 26 projects in the country and invested close to €3.3 billion in transport, energy, agriculture, fisheries and forestry projects as well as India’s small and medium enterprises.

About the EIB in Asia:

For 25 years, the European Investment Bank has supported economic development in Asia and the Pacific region. The projects we help finance make people’s lives easier – from cutting travel times in Bangalore with a new metro line, to providing cheaper, cleaner energy to western Nepal.

In Asia, we have chosen to focus our lending on climate action across all sectors. We also work to include gender equality in our projects, ensuring that women, men, girls and boys can benefit from projects equally and equitably.

Vaccine for children aged 12 to 15: Pfizer submits authorisation application to Swissmedic

Source: Switzerland – Department of Home Affairs

Headline: Vaccine for children aged 12 to 15: Pfizer submits authorisation application to Swissmedic

The vaccine “Comirnaty®” is currently authorised for people aged 16 and over. The application asks for the authorisation to be extended to include the age group of 12-15-year-olds. Swissmedic will review the application in the rolling procedure. Pfizer can submit the latest data continuously without having to wait for the conclusive results from the clinical studies.

EU support for Malawian SMEs in the agricultural sector through Ecobank

Source: European Investment Bank

  • European institutions set to improve access to long-term finance in agriculture value chain in Malawi with €25 million credit line for smallholder farms and agricultural cooperatives
  • EIB and European Union cooperate with local financial intermediary Ecobank to make available loans with advantageous conditions to local SMEs in the agri-food sector
  • Project involves technical assistance to develop local intermediaries’ capacity to identify, assess and monitor agri-food value chain projects and develop new financial products

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Union today announced a new collaboration with Ecobank Malawi to improve access to finance for SMEs in the agriculture sector in the country. Supported by the EU’s External Investment Plan, the EIB signed a €12.5m loan with Ecobank Malawi, which will be complemented by an EU financed risk-sharing facility as well as a technical assistance program, to support SMEs in the agri-food sector. This means that players in Malawi can also get technical support and financing for their investments, and thereby contribute to the integration of smallholder farmers into local value chains.

The targeted financing of projects under these operations amounts to a total of €50 million, ensuring that agricultural companies across Malawi will be able to access loans with maturities of up to 7 years, longer than commonly available in the market. It is expected that the final beneficiaries of this financing will expand, upgrade and modernize their equipment, and thrive as a result.

Dr. Raymond Fordwuo, the Managing of Ecobank Malawi said:  “At Ecobank, we realize that our mission of contributing to the economic growth and financial integration of the African continent would be incomplete without our involvement in the SME sector and especially those involved in Agriculture. It is therefore with great excitement, that today marks the beginning of a relationship that has the potential to transform one of the most important sectors in Malawi. This partnership with the Government of Malawi, the European Union, and the European Investment Bank to extend a credit line to Malawian SMEs in the agricultural sector will empower SMEs to fully exploit the agricultural value chain ultimately strengthening the economy.”

Agriculture plays a key role in the economy in Malawi, yet many smallholder farms have an uncertain existence, due to climate change, diseases and pests,” said Thomas Östros. “This EU-financed project will cover some of that risk, to give players in the agri-food sector in Malawi support for their investments, where they usually did not have access to finance. This means that smallholders can build up their businesses and become an integrated part of the local value chain, ultimately improving people’s lives.”

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Lobin Lowe said “While Government has taken significant policy developments to help agricultural SMEs, limited resources have limited implementation efforts. Therefore what Ecobank Malawi Limited and the European Investment Bank have done is commendable and I applaud their effort, considering that this line of credit will not only give loans but provide technical support that will help smallholder farmers integrate into value chains and food systems.”

The signature is the latest in a series of projects financed by the EIB and the EU in support of Malawi, following a loan in 2019 and an earlier credit line in 2016 specific for the agriculture sector, with other local financial intermediaries.

Background information:

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.