Confusion over meetings between EU and Astra-Zeneca

Brussels The meeting between the EU Commission and Astra-Zeneca because of the delivery difficulties with the vaccine ended on Wednesday evening without any concrete result. EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides praised the “constructive tone” in the exchange of views with Astra-Zeneca CEO Pascal Soriot. “The EU remains united and strong. The contractual obligations have to be fulfilled, the vaccines have to be delivered to the EU citizens, ”said Kyriakides. “We regret that there is still no clarity about the delivery schedule and ask Astra-Zeneca for a clear plan for the fast delivery of the vaccine quantities that are reserved for the first quarter.”

Similar to the EU Commission, the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company spoke of a “constructive and open discussion”. Astra-Zeneca promised closer cooperation.

The dispute between the pharmaceutical company and the EU had previously escalated. On Wednesday there was confusion as to whether the Anglo-Swedish vaccine manufacturer would cancel a meeting with the Commission and Member States on the same day. “Astra-Zeneca has informed us that they will not be attending the meeting,” said a commission spokeswoman.

A spokesman for Astra-Zeneca said the company was planning to participate. The EU then gave this signal: According to later information from Brussels, Astra-Zeneca withdrew the rejection. The EU leaders had criticized the British-Swedish group unusually harshly because of its delivery problems with the vaccine against Covid-19.

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Instead of the planned 80 million vaccine doses, Astra-Zeneca may only deliver 31 million units in the first quarter – 60 percent less than planned.

In an interview with European newspapers, Astra-Zeneca CEO Soriot rejected the sharp criticism of the EU: his company had agreed on a best-effort solution, according to the CEO. In other words: No fixed amount is contractually agreed, but “we have promised our best effort that we will do our best”.

The reason, according to Soriot: Brussels wanted to be supplied at around the same time as the British, who had, however, “signed three months earlier. So we promised to try, but we didn’t commit, ”said Soriot. “We like ambitious goals, but we haven’t given any guarantees.”

So far, the EU has invested 2.7 billion euros in development and production

In total, the EU has so far invested 2.7 billion euros in the development and production of vaccines against the coronavirus. At the end of August last year, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides had already signed a contract with Astra-Zeneca for 300 million vaccine doses and an option for a further 100 million.

The EU Commission had recently increased the pressure on the vaccine manufacturer.

Ursula von der Leyen also expressed sharp criticism: “The EU and others helped with money to build research capacities and production facilities. Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first Covid-19 vaccines. To create a truly global common good. And now companies have to deliver, ”said the EU Commission President at the virtual world economic forum in Davos on Tuesday.

“You have to meet your obligations. That is why we are going to put in place a mechanism to make vaccine exports transparent. Europe is determined to do its part. But it’s also about business, ”criticized von der Leyen. Brussels is now working flat out to introduce export controls on vaccines. In response to the difficulties with Astra-Zeneca, the Commission is proposing a transparency register for vaccines against the coronavirus.

By the end of the week, the commission intends to make a detailed proposal to the member states. “We want to create clarity and transparency,” said the Vice President of the EU Commission, Dubravka Suica, this Wednesday.

“In future, all companies that manufacture vaccines against Covid-19 in the EU must inform them in good time if they want to export vaccines to third countries,” said Health Commissioner Kyriakides. Pharmaceutical companies should therefore register all of their exports of vaccines.

EU commissioner contradicts Astra Zeneca boss

With a register the EU wants to get a better overview of the production of vaccines in the 27 member states. “It’s about finding out what companies are exporting outside the EU,” said a Commission spokesman. This is owed to the European public in view of the huge investments in the development of vaccine production.

At the beginning of the Health Commissioner Kyriakides again insisted on strict compliance with the delivery contract. The 27 member states agreed that Astra-Zeneca had to meet its delivery obligations.

The statement made by Astra Zeneca CEO Soriot about a best effort agreement is not correct. “We reject the ‘first come, first serve’ principle,” said Kyriakides. “Our contract does not state that the UK should receive vaccines before us.” The native Cypriot appealed to Astra-Zeneca before the meeting of the steering committee that evening to restore the lost confidence.

Commission circles said that the EU had pledged Astra-Zeneca a total of 336 million euros. But all the money has not yet flowed.

In international comparison, the EU is a giant in vaccine production, it was said in Brussels. That is why the Commission only wants to buy vaccines in the EU. With this purchasing policy she wants to get around export restrictions like in the USA. Astra-Zeneca’s vaccine is produced in both Belgium and the UK.

Ema could approve Astra-Zeneca vaccine on Friday

The Commission does not accept the accusation that the EU is taking protectionist measures. EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said the proposed register will not restrict exports of vaccines produced in the EU. “We do not intend to impose an export ban or export restrictions,” said Dombrovskis.

It is eagerly awaited whether the European Medicines Agency (Ema) will grant Astra-Zeneca’s vaccine conditional marketing authorization on Friday. Astra-Zeneca puts indirect pressure on the Amsterdam EU authority.

“As soon as we receive approval in the next few days, we will deliver three million cans. Then more every week until we’re at 17 million. They are distributed according to the size of the population, for Germany about three million in a month, ”said the Astra-Zeneca CEO of“ Welt ”. The EU lags far behind the US and UK when it comes to vaccinating the population.

The Ema Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency has been reviewing the vaccine developed by Astra-Zeneca and Oxford University since Monday. It remains to be seen whether the vaccine will be approved. “We do not comment on ongoing reviews,” said a spokeswoman for the Amsterdam authority on request.

“An opinion on the approval could be submitted by January 29th at the meeting of the CHMP that started on Monday, provided that the data submitted on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine are sufficiently reliable and complete and all additional information necessary to complete the assessment are required to be submitted immediately, “said an Ema spokeswoman on request.

The recommendation of Ema must be confirmed by the EU Commission.

Market approval expected for Friday

The health policy spokesman for the EPP group and MEP, Peter Liese (CDU), expects the Ema to grant marketing authorization on Friday. “I believe that there will also be market approval for people over 65,” the doctor told the Handelsblatt in Brussels.

He suggests that the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) in Germany re-examine whether the vaccine is actually used for people over 65 or whether younger people at risk and the medical staff can be vaccinated with this vaccine instead.

Liese also criticized Astra-Zeneca’s communication: In a press release in November, the group gave the impression that the vaccine was 90 percent effective. However, this 90 percent apparently only applied to a small portion of the study participants who accidentally only received half a dose.

“That was a serious mistake in the conduct of the study and in communication, but that’s not why the vaccine is bad,” Liese told Handelsblatt. The mistake has now been corrected. The data had been analyzed more closely. Since November, many new patients have been vaccinated in clinical trials and beyond.

In the UK, emergency approval has been in place since the end of December. “I don’t see any reason to wait. However, the experts have to comment on whether the vaccine should be used for people over 65 or only for those under 65, “said Liese.

“Political Scandal”

In the European Parliament, expectations for today’s meeting between Astra-Zeneca and the Commission are high. “The exchange with Astra-Zeneca has to bring clarity. We don’t have time for games now. If the manufacturer delivers 60 percent fewer vaccine doses for the EU than agreed, full transparency about the causes and problem solving is required, ”said Tiemo Wölken, health policy spokesman for the SPD MEPs.

European politicians also demanded that the EU Commission inspect the contracts with all pharmaceutical companies. “We don’t know the Astra-Zeneca contract. That is the political scandal on this subject, which of course is of extremely high public interest, ”criticized Wölken.

Members of the European Parliament have written a letter to the Commission. In the letter they request access to the contracts with the pharmaceutical companies. “Unfortunately, both the EU Commission and most vaccine manufacturers refuse full access to the contracts for the purchase of Covid 19 vaccines. We urge them to publish all contracts unredeemed, “said Rasmus Andresen, budgetary spokesman for the Greens in the European Parliament.

“In addition, we need access to all other relevant documents that are related to the vaccine procurement. This also applies, for example, to meeting minutes from the contract negotiations and internal preparation rounds. Only then can we assess who is responsible for delivery bottlenecks, what role the German government is playing and what options the EU Commission has to sanction the unacceptable behavior of Astra-Zeneca. ”

So far, only the contract with the German pharmaceutical company Curevac has been disclosed. Andresen calls for all legal remedies, even an export ban, to be prepared in order to increase the pressure on Astra-Zeneca.

More: Controversy over Astra-Zeneca vaccine

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Germany lacks reforms for money from EU reconstruction funds

Berlin When it comes to European solidarity, Germany has always insisted on two iron principles: Granted financial aid must flow into meaningful projects. And money is only available if reform requirements are met in return.

In May 2020, the federal government set these conditions when the EU reconstruction fund was set up to combat the economic consequences of the pandemic. But now it is clear that, to the displeasure of the EU Commission, the federal government does not meet its own principles.

There have been some disagreements behind the scenes between Berlin and Brussels. According to Handelsblatt information from government circles, the EU Commission in Germany misses real reform plans for the coming years. Representatives of the EU Commission expressed this in discussions with the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Ministry of Finance.

Germany lacks the zeal for reform that it always demands from other EU states, the EU complains. The federal government must therefore improve its reform program, so the demand. In our own interest, but also in Europe’s interest.

“Germany is the reform benchmark for all other countries. Hopefully that is clear to you, ”the EU representatives made clear to the top German officials at a meeting last week. If Germany does not deliver reforms, neither will other EU countries, so the argument in Brussels. The German reform fatigue would have far-reaching consequences for the entire EU.

The fact that the EU Commission accuses Germany of a lack of zeal for reform should be attentively registered in the rest of Europe. The culmination of the complaint, however, is that Germany itself had linked the payment of the money from the EU reconstruction fund to reform conditions.

graphic

The establishment of the reconstruction fund during the corona crisis was a historic step for the EU. For the first time, the federal states should also receive grants from the EUR 750 billion community fund that they do not have to repay. Germany is entitled to around 25 billion euros

EU Commission wants pension reform in Germany

When deciding on the gigantic fund, the federal government insisted on ensuring that the EU states spend the aid money on meaningful projects, for climate change, digitization and education. Above all, however, the funds are linked to the “European Semester” at Germany’s insistence. Within this framework for the coordination of economic policy in the EU, the Commission issues reform recommendations for each member state once a year.

So far, the Member States have followed the motto “read, laughed, punched” when making recommendations. Although that is probably not even entirely correct, hardly anyone has actually read the recommendations recently.

graphic

In any case, nobody took the advice from Brussels seriously. Now, however, a country has to implement a “significant subset” of these recommendations in order to pay out Corona aid from the development fund, according to the relevant legal text. And that’s trickier than it sounds.

The recommendations of the EU Commission for Germany are tough. Brussels sees a great need for action in pension policy. “Comprehensive measures to improve the pension system are still pending,” read the latest recommendations. The commission also advocates abolishing the splitting of spouses “which discourages working more hours” and opening up regulated professions such as the skilled trades or architects.

Without a doubt, these are thick boards. Therefore, there is of course room for maneuver on certain topics, the EU representatives signaled in the talks. Instead of abolishing spouse splitting, the federal government could also relieve lower incomes.

Ifo boss Clemens Fuest: “Germany is not a model for reform”

If you place the recommendations of the Commission next to the reform plan that Germany submitted to Brussels for the disbursement of the money from the reconstruction fund, one thing quickly becomes clear: The reform claims of the EU and Berlin are quite different, to put it in a friendly way.

The German plan does not contain any of the measures required by the EU. As a reform, the federal government is instead selling the tax reduction for electric cars in the amount of 295 million euros, the “further development of climate-friendly building with wood” in the amount of 70 million euros or investments in “communal real-world laboratories for the energy transition” in the amount of 57 million. Some of it may be sensible, but it is subsidy, not structural reform.

The EU is therefore getting backing for its criticism from leading economists. Years ago the Council of Economic Experts warned against a “backward-looking economic policy”. “But that is exactly what happened,” says the head of economic management, Lars Feld. “The time since 2013 is not a time of reform, but of reformation. In particular, the SPD is trying to restore the status quo ante, and parts of the Union are helping it vigorously. “

Ifo boss Clemens Fuest agrees: “In the discussion about the EU reconstruction fund, it becomes clear that Germany is not a model for reform and has failed to implement reforms requested by the European side.”

Ifo President Fuest

Clemens Fuest, President of the Ifo Institute, accuses the German government of failing to implement the reforms that have been requested.

(Photo: dpa)

Many a government representative in Berlin are allergic to the announcements from Brussels. The fact that the Commission is making such demands in a super election year with important state elections in March and federal elections in September is problematic. In the worst case scenario, this would endanger a Bundestag vote in February, on which the release of funds for the EU reconstruction fund indirectly depends.

The Commission’s dry reply at the meeting last week: Elections are always. And the EU has been calling for reforms for many, many years.

Brussels does not expect reform plans until the end of April

In principle, however, the criticism cannot be understood in the federal government. Germany is certainly not the EU country with the greatest need for reform, they say. In the negotiations with the EU, the aim should not be to pursue symbolic politics for other countries, but to initiate the best investments and reforms for Germany. “We are in a normal negotiation process with the EU,” a government representative tries to downplay the dispute.

The federal government still has time to resolve the conflict. At the end of April she has to send the final reform plan to Brussels. But what if the Commission is still dissatisfied? Will you seriously hold back the 25 billion euros for Germany?

At the moment, no one believes in such an escalation. The EU has no interest in a scandal with the largest member state, and Germany, on the other hand, does not want to be seen as a brake on reform. But doing nothing is not an option either. The government is therefore already working on a plan to appease the commission.

In its recommendations, Brussels is calling on Germany to finally tackle the problems of public investment. For years, billions of investment funds have not been drained from the federal budget due to administrative bottlenecks. The Federal Ministry of Finance is now working on a timetable for resolving the investment backlog. It is hoped that this will make the EU Commission so gracious that it will not demand any more reforms.

More: EU reconstruction fund – Brussels wants to distribute billions

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EU initiative: companies should publish tax data

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa

The Portuguese shock German companies. Your plan for Europe: even more tax transparency.

(Photo: Reuters)

Berlin The Portuguese EU Council Presidency is only a few days old. But for the German economy it starts with a shock. Because Portugal brings a specter of the German economy back out of the box: the publication of tax data of companies, broken down by country.

This Friday, a council working group is discussing a new compromise proposal by the EU Council Presidency that has been presented to the Handelsblatt. There could be a vote in the EU Competition Council on February 25th. And according to experts, this time the majority could opt for a publication of the data.

The German economy is therefore on the alert before the meeting. The Federation of German Industries (BDI) has written a fire letter to the Federal Ministry of Finance. And the Family Business Foundation has ammunitioned with an expert report from the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW). The Handelsblatt has the letter and expert opinion.

Tax authorities around the world have been exchanging tax data since 2016 in order to put a stop to tax tricks and tax avoidance by companies. The EU Commission wants to go one step further: It also wants to make the tax data available to the public.

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This is intended to increase public pressure on companies to pay taxes in the countries in which they operate. The Green MEP Sven Giegold says: “Public, country-specific tax transparency is Europe’s sharpest sword for fair competition.”

The topic has been discussed for many years, but so far there has been no majority. The last attempt failed in 2019. But now Austria and Latvia are said to have switched sides – which could suddenly result in a majority within the EU. Germany usually abstains from voting.

From the perspective of the German economy, publication of the data would have serious consequences. One concern: Competitors, especially from China, could use the data to dissect the profitability of their German competitors and then force them out of the market, for example with competitive prices.

BDI warns of significant competitive disadvantages

Publication of the data “would result in considerable competitive disadvantages for German and European companies,” warns the BDI in its letter to the Federal Ministry of Finance. BDI tax expert Monika Wünnemann says: “In and after the current crisis, Europe cannot afford global competitors to gain insights into the business strategies of German and European companies.”

“The damage caused by the obligation to publish confidential business data can be enormous, especially for industrial companies,” says the ZEW study on behalf of the Family Businesses Foundation. “Competitors, customers and suppliers could use the data without being obliged to disclose it.” According to the study, the confidential exchange of tax information is already working. The effective tax rates have risen by one to two percent. In addition, the companies incur costs for processing the data, but the benefits of the new transparency are low.

Tax data

German companies think: the further processing of tax information only produces unnecessary costs.

(Photo: dpa)

The conclusion of ZEW expert and study author Christoph Spengel: “I don’t see the bottom line benefits of publishing the data.” Rainer Kirchdörfer, CEO of the Family Business Foundation, says: “Tax secrecy must not be restricted on the basis of assumptions. “

The Conservatives in the EU Parliament are also in favor of publication

You see it differently in the EU Parliament. There is a large majority there for the data to be published, even in the conservative EPP. The concerns of the economy are believed to be advanced. The European Parliament has long considered the concerns, says Green politician Giegold. Only companies with sales of at least 750 million euros would have to publish the data. “The rules should only apply to large companies and sensitive information should actually be protected in individual cases in competition,” says Giegold.

The new compromise proposal from Portugal provides for an exemption for sensitive information of six years. The BDI writes that this idea “partly takes into account” the concerns. Nevertheless, the economy still does not believe in the advance – and points out that politicians could shoot themselves in their knees with the advance.

Siemens tax expert Georg Geberth thinks: “When it comes to the international taxation of their profits, companies are dependent on uniform standards of the international community. We therefore consider a departure from the agreement that was only reached a few years ago at the OECD level to be questionable. “

American companies based in the EU would also have to show where they pay which taxes. A well-connected tax expert warns that the US could withdraw from the previous confidential exchange of tax data in protest or torpedo the current negotiations on the introduction of a global minimum tax. “In any case, the EU advance two days after he was sworn in is not a nice welcome present for Biden.”

More: Resistance of the federal government to more tax transparency is crumbling

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Wirecard scandal: now the auditors are getting pressure from Brussels

economy Wirecard case

“Unlimited liability” – Now the auditors are getting pressure from Brussels

| Reading time: 3 minutes

Tobias Kaiser

ARCHIVE - 07/20/2020, Bavaria, Aschheim: The Wirecard logo can be seen at the company headquarters of the payment service provider in Aschbeim near Munich.  (to dpa «Wirecard scandal will deal with the judiciary for years») Photo: Peter Kneffel / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++ ARCHIVE - 07/20/2020, Bavaria, Aschheim: The Wirecard logo can be seen at the company headquarters of the payment service provider in Aschbeim near Munich.  (to dpa «Wirecard scandal will deal with the judiciary for years») Photo: Peter Kneffel / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The Wirecard case is now also reaching Brussels

Source: dpa

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The Wirecard scandal also alarmed EU supervision. The failure of the auditor EY could now have far-reaching consequences and mean that auditors will have to be more liable in the future. That, in turn, reinforces another questionable trend.

Dhe Wirecard scandal is still a long way from being resolved, and the billions in fraud also have consequences at the European level. Valdis Dombrovskis, the Vice President of the EU Commission responsible for economic issues, announced in an interview with WELT last September that his authority would draw conclusions from the case.

The EU Commission has now made initial proposals. WELT has an unofficial working paper, a so-called non-paper, which outlines possible measures at European level. The eleven-page long paper is not particularly extensive, and many of the proposals aim to adapt existing supervisory rules or to clarify European requirements.

However, there are some ideas that are tough: the Commission officials propose, for example, that the liability limits for external auditors should be increased or even eliminated entirely in the case of grossly negligent errors or deliberate misconduct, so that auditors, for example, would have unlimited liability. “Sufficiently high or even unlimited liability of the auditor can provide incentives to prevent compromises being made in final audits that result in lower-quality audits,” the paper says. The audit group EY had checked the financial statements of Wirecard.

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Wirecard manipulated the balance sheet in the Makati District in Manila

The commission experts warn, however, that such a step could also have negative consequences. Higher liability limits could mean that smaller accounting firms can no longer afford the more expensive professional liability insurance. That could increase the already high concentration in the auditing business. “Careful consideration is important here,” says the paper, which was written for representatives of the EU member states.

In this draftsmen propose stricter reporting requirements for auditors. In addition, information should in future be automatically exchanged between the responsible supervisory authorities – both within the member states and across borders. The European Securities Regulatory Authority ESMA had already submitted a first report on Wirecard in November and found significant deficiencies in the German financial regulator.

also read

ARCHIVE - 07/20/2020, Bavaria, Aschheim: The Wirecard logo can be seen at the company headquarters of the payment service provider in Aschbeim near Munich.  (to dpa «Wirecard scandal will deal with the judiciary for years») Photo: Peter Kneffel / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The EU auditors diagnosed deficiencies, omissions and confusion of competencies in connection with the Wirecard fraud. Among other things, they found that confidentiality obligations had prevented the competent supervisory authorities from effectively coordinating.

The European Parliament had asked the Commission to provide an assessment of the consequences that would be necessary at the EU level in the Wirecard case. Markus Ferber, the spokesman for the conservative EPP Group in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, feels confirmed by the content of the Commission paper.

“The European Commission’s thin list of proposals shows that we have no systemic deficits in European financial supervision,” says the CSU politician. “In the Wirecard case, the Bafin failed, not the European level. The Bafin management and the Federal Ministry of Finance are responsible for the Wirecard disaster, not the European level. “

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The scandals surrounding Markus Braun and Wirecard and Wolfgang Grenke and his company are linked by numerous similarities

The payment service provider Wirecard was considered the German answer to the American Silicon Valley. Many private investors also had high hopes for the company – many of them large parts of their savings.

But the group, which was finally even listed in the Dax, turned out to be a gigantic construct of lies and probably the biggest economic scandal in German post-war history.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, the managers are said to have inflated the balance sheet with air bookings in Asia and thus concealed losses in their core business. Banks and investors alone have been cheated by more than three billion euros.

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After the Wirecard scandal, the EU wants to create more transparency

European Commission in Brussels

The EU paper particularly criticizes the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).

(Photo: dpa)

Brussels After the multi-billion dollar fraud scandal surrounding Wirecard, the EU Commission wants to draw conclusions from the payment service provider’s spectacular bankruptcy. An internal discussion paper of the Brussels authority, which is available to the Handelsblatt, calls for the auditors’ reporting obligations to be improved, the exchange of information between the supervisory authorities to be intensified and information about the auditing of the auditors to be made public.

The EU Commission will draw all the necessary lessons from the failure of the former Dax group Wirecard in order to improve the robustness of the EU legal and supervisory framework, it says.

The collapse of Wirecard made waves across Europe. In the summer of last year, the now insolvent financial services provider admitted air bookings of 1.9 billion euros. According to the public prosecutor, it could total around three billion euros.

The EU working paper now proposes to amend the European Transparency Directive in order to better regulate the respective powers of the financial supervisory authorities and the relationship between the individual authorities.

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The proposals from Brussels start with the companies’ audit committees. The authors of the paper suggest that in future these committees also explicitly scrutinize the company’s internal controls to prevent fraud. In addition, the examination boards should make the results of their work public. Finally, the experts suggest that national authorities review the work of the companies’ audit committees.

The auditor’s financial liability is to be tightened

The paper also provides for more transparency requirements for auditors. In future, they should make the efficiency of the internal control systems of the audited companies public. The authors also suggest tightening the auditors’ financial liability for grossly negligent errors or intentional misconduct across Europe.

Another proposal deals with the supervision of the auditors. These overseers could be required to publish their results in abbreviated form when monitoring the auditors. This practice already exists in Ireland, Great Britain and the United States.

Most recently, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) found deficiencies in German supervisory practice and the work of the financial supervisory authority Bafin in the Wirecard case in a report. The EU paper takes up this criticism: “The Wirecard case showed that the German supervisory system with regard to the obligation of companies to provide financial information was in conformity with EU law, but could have contributed to the misrepresentation of company reporting not being uncovered in good time “, It means literally.

ESMA cites the German data protection regulations as one reason for this. Therefore, the authors propose to improve transparency within and between national authorities so that critical information can be passed on without breaching confidentiality obligations.

As early as autumn, the European Parliament asked the EU Commission and the responsible EU authorities to draw conclusions from the deficiencies in the EU legal framework for auditing and supervision. In the EPP, the largest parliamentary group in the European Parliament, the proposals in the working paper on the consequences of the Wirecard scandal are primarily interpreted as criticism of BaFin. The criticism of European financial supervision, on the other hand, is rather weak from the point of view of the economic policy spokesman for the EPP group, Markus Ferber (CSU).

“The European Commission’s thin list of proposals shows that we have no systemic deficits in European financial supervision,” Ferber is convinced. “In the Wirecard case, BaFin failed, not the European level. We shouldn’t fool ourselves: even the best supervisory law is of no use if, on the one hand, enormous criminal energy is used, as in the Wirecard case, and, on the other hand, supervision is as sloppy as BaFin has done. “

Selective improvements in corporate governance, stricter reporting requirements for auditors and a better exchange of information between the supervisory authorities could make financial supervision more robust, but they are not a silver bullet on their own, the European politician warned on Friday.

“The problems at Wirecard could have been discovered much earlier by a properly working financial supervisory authority. The BaFin management and the Federal Ministry of Finance are responsible for the Wirecard disaster, not the European level, ”Ferber is convinced.

More: Inside Finanzaufsicht: What really lacks at Bafin

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Corona in the EU: Zoff about vaccine

The EU adds more when ordering vaccines. The fact that Berlin secures a larger contingent is causing displeasure among smaller countries.

With one ampoule, six instead of five vaccinations should now be possible Photo: Sven Hoppe / dpa

BRUSSELS taz | The EU has shifted up a gear in the fight against the coronavirus. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Friday in Brussels a new order from the vaccine consortium of Biontech and Pfizer. Another 300 million vaccine doses have been ordered, doubling the previous order, said von der Leyen.

In addition, the EU approved better use of the Biontech preparation. With one ampoule, six instead of five vaccinations should now be possible, so that 20 percent more people could be protected. This was announced by the Medicines Agency EMA. Despite this “good news” (von der Leyen) criticism of the vaccination strategy continues.

The vaccine is not being delivered quickly enough and the vaccinations started too slowly in view of the worsening corona crisis, according to many EU countries. The anger was particularly loud in Germany at first. But there is also massive criticism of the strategy in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, which is coordinated in Brussels but implemented at national level.

The start was a bit bumpy, admitted von der Leyen. This is “always the case” with major new projects such as vaccine procurement, which Brussels had organized for the first time. However, she is “deeply convinced that this European path is the right one,” said the CDU politician, who coordinates closely with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

New factory in Marburg

However, it will be a few more weeks before the shortage of vaccines is overcome. Biontech is already not keeping up with the orders. The new order from Brussels will therefore only be processed from the second quarter, i.e. probably from April. Biontech is currently building a new factory in Marburg. She should secure the new quotas.

Deliveries from Moderna, the second vaccine supplier approved in the EU, also take time. In the first quarter, only just under 2 million cans should come to Germany – of 50 million that Berlin has secured. Moderna, which wants to deliver from next Tuesday, will therefore not contribute to a relaxation – and if so, then only from April.

Von der Leyen and Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn are under massive pressure to “deliver” faster. Many observers in Brussels consider the new order from Biontech to be a direct result of German pressures. At the same time, there is growing displeasure in the EU that Germany should receive more vaccine than its share.

Germany is normally entitled to 18.6 percent of all doses according to its population. The largest EU country has significantly increased its share in both Moderna and Biontech. First Spahn ordered 30 million extra cans from Biontech. Now he has also secured a higher quota at Moderna – allegedly because other EU countries had waived.

Fair share

But these countries are now demanding their “fair” share. Again Spiegel reported, this has caused massive controversy in the steering committee set up by the EU. Poland and Belgium in particular apparently called for the redistribution to be withdrawn. But Germany and the Netherlands are not ready to back off.

Von der Leyen avoided addressing the dispute at her press conference. He could be dangerous to her. The CDU politician is already suspected in some capitals of working too closely with Merkel and of giving preference to Germany.

Another annoyance is that von der Leyen refuses to disclose the contracts. All EU states had agreed “legally binding” to only order vaccines together, said von der Leyen on Friday. There could therefore be “no parallel negotiations, no parallel contracts”. She did not respond to several inquiries about the special deliveries to Germany. The question of possible sanctions also remained unanswered.

The European vaccination strategy was developed in summer 2020 under the German EU presidency. It is a central component of the European fight against the corona crisis. It is controlled jointly by all 27 EU countries. Nothing happens without the express consent of all member states, it is said in Brussels.

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Airbus-Boeing customs dispute: Trump’s poisoned farewell gift to the EU

AOn January 16, US President Donald Trump is due to leave the White House and hand over official duties to his successor, Joe Biden.

However, the incumbent government insisted on giving Europe a poisoned farewell gift: On January 12, a good week before the change of office, new punitive tariffs against EU companies will come into force.

The new levies, announced shortly before the turn of the year, are aimed primarily at German and French producers of wine and spirits. The penalty tax of 25 percent should apply to wines from Germany and France with more than 14 percent alcohol. Cognac is also included, for example.

The tariffs are only the latest chapter in the long-standing dispute over subsidies for the rival aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing.

The WTO has agreed with both the US and the EU

The US has complained to the World Trade Organization about illegal subsidies for the European manufacturer Airbus and the EU about illegal government support for the US company Boeing.

The WTO has agreed that both sides are right, ruling that the European and American subsidies violate WTO rules and allow both sides to impose punitive tariffs on each other.

The US government had already imposed its tariffs at the end of 2019, but is now stepping up with the new taxes. It had not yet exhausted the quota allowed by the WTO.

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Significance for Germany

The EU criticizes the new levies, but is preparing for the fact that the additional levies, which are a heavy burden for some companies, will only be short-lived.

Brussels and Washington will resolve the dispute over subsidies for aircraft manufacturers by the end of the year – that is the expectation in Europe’s capital.

In the past few weeks, after the Europeans had also imposed tariffs on US exports worth four billion euros at the beginning of November, talks between Brussels and Washington picked up speed.

Trump urgently needs a success at the end

On the US side, there was apparently the will to conclude the talks before the change of government, according to EU circles.

The US trade representative Robert Lighthizer apparently wanted to make an agreement his legacy. Trump, too, could have sold the deal as a success in his trade policy.

Such a success is urgently needed, because Trump’s strategy of trade wars and punitive tariffs has crashed: The outgoing president clearly missed the election promise to reduce the US trade deficit with other states. In November, the deficit was $ 68.1 billion, the largest since August 2006.

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Brussels has high hopes for the upcoming US President Joe Biden and an end to Trump’s difficult to predict political style. “The EU has always called for a negotiated solution in the Airbus-Boeing dispute,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice President of the EU Commission responsible for trade, to WELT. “We only raised our tariffs when the US had given us no other choice.”

The powerful politician makes an offer to Joe Biden and his team: “We are hopeful that the new US administration will be more cooperative and we stand ready to resolve this dispute. We are very keen to put the trade disputes between the EU and the US behind us and to concentrate again on tackling global challenges such as the climate crisis and the WTO reform together. ”A solution to the trade dispute unless part of a new transatlantic one Agenda.

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“I am very optimistic that there will be an agreement with the new US government this year,” says Bernd Lange (SPD), chairman of the trade committee in the European Parliament.

For an agreement on strictly regulated state support for aircraft manufacturers, however, the EU must also act unanimously. Apparently, however, the French government, which does not want to completely forego subsidy policies, is blocking. “The French idea of ​​funding national industrial champions collides with the idea that both sides should refrain from subsidizing their industries,” says Lange.

The hope that everything will get better soon seems justified. “Biden should settle the artificial trade war with Europe,” said Antony Blinken, the future US Secretary of State, recently at a panel discussion at the American Chamber of Commerce.

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ARCHIVE - 06.09.2013, Hamburg: The fuselage of an Airbus of the A320 family is in the final assembly hall at the Airbus factory in Hamburg-Finkenwerder.  (to dpa "Great moment in aviation: A321 made Norden an aircraft manufacturing Mecca" from 05.03.2018) Photo: Sven Hoppe / dpa +++ (c) dpa - Bildfunk +++ |  Usage worldwide

Most powerful aircraft manufacturer

The new president sees Brussels as an ally, not as an opponent like Trump – in fact, the Republican once called Europe an “enemy” in the middle of his term in office. Blinken himself, who spent part of his childhood in Paris and speaks perfect French, is also considered a transatlantic.

“The EU is the largest market in the world,” said Blinken, “that’s why Biden will try to mend economic relations.” But the Democrat will also be tough in one area: agriculture. “There is an imbalance,” said Blinken. “Certain rules make it difficult for America to export agricultural products to Europe.” That must change.

Other personnel decisions in Biden also suggest that the tone is becoming more conciliatory. Katherine Tai will take the place of the previous trade representative Robert Lighthizer. Worlds seem to lie between the two.

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Lighthizer is considered a macho with a big ego, he is said to have hung a life-size picture of himself at home. And like Trump, he sees America as the victim of a global economic raid. Other states, says Lighthizer, plundered the United States.

Tai, previously a trade expert on the powerful budget committee of the US House of Representatives, is more cautious.

Democrats and Republicans alike see her as a skilled negotiator. A woman who manages to find compromises behind the scenes. When the two parties argued over the USMCA trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico in 2019, Tai is said to have reached an agreement quietly and efficiently.

Ross once helped Trump introduce tariffs on steel and aluminum

The successor to US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is also considered moderate. It was announced Thursday that Biden has selected Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo for the post.

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Ross once helped Trump introduce tariffs on steel and aluminum. He developed the notorious argument that the import of the metals threatened the national security of the United States – which met with worldwide criticism.

Something like that is not to be expected from Raimondo. The economist claims to be an advocate of free trade and in the past did not attract attention for her radical ideas. Their most controversial project to date: a slight cut in pensions for the citizens of Rhode Island.

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EU competition watchdogs approve Google takeover of Fitbit

Google takes over Fitbit

The approval of the takeover by the EU Commission has met with criticism.

(Photo: Reuters)

Brussels, Düsseldorf For months, privacy advocates, human rights activists and activists have been warning of the takeover of the fitness watch specialist Fitbit by the online giant Google. Nonetheless, the US company received approval for the two billion dollar takeover by the EU Commission’s competition watchdog on Thursday.

After an intensive examination, the supervisors in Brussels limited themselves to setting Google on its own voluntary commitments to avoid distortions of competition. For example, the company is not allowed to use data generated via Fitbit devices to optimize its advertising business and must give users the option to prohibit the use of data for services such as Google Maps and Youtube.

The competition watchdogs had investigated in the past few months whether the takeover could have negative effects on the markets for online advertising. “If Google continues to expand its data advantage in personalizing advertisements that it places via its search engine and displays on other websites, it would be more difficult for competitors to keep up with Google’s online advertising services,” said the EU Commission.

The head of the European consumer protection association BEUC, Monique Goyens, was appalled. “That should be another example of the inability of the EU competition watchdogs to limit companies like Google in their increasing market power,” she warned.

Health data also allowed conclusions to be drawn about intimate details in the lives of citizens. Their use must be strictly monitored. In addition, the takeover enables the US group to deny smaller companies access to an important market. In the end, consumers are the ones who suffer.

Several groups had already spoken out against the merger in advance. In an opinion, the European Data Protection Board warned of far-reaching consequences for the security of personal data.

The human rights organization Amnesty International warned that the combination of Fitbit with the analytical skills of the treacherous giant Google could lead to massive encroachments on personal freedoms and make it possible to monitor entire populations. In the past, Google has not proven to deal with such a great responsibility adequately, argued the human rights activists.

Antitrust lawyer Rupprecht Podszun from Heinrich Heine University said it was almost ironic that Brussels allowed the merger “while mergers across the Atlantic are to be subsequently dissolved”.

While in the USA an effective regulation of the big technology giants is being debated, Brussels is not opposed to this far-reaching merger. Six years ago, Brussels did not oppose the $ 19 billion takeover of the WhatsApp messenger by Facebook. “The EU Commission waved through the WhatsApp takeover, even though there were critical voices at the time,” said Podszun.

Concerns since 2008

It is not the first attempt for Google to venture into the promising healthcare space. In 2008, the company started a digital patient record with Google Health. The online portal should be fed with information by patients and affiliated medical institutions.

But even then, there were significant concerns about entrusting sensitive data to a company whose business model is largely based on targeted advertising. Just three years after it started, Google ended the project. “The program did not catch on as we would have liked,” the decision-makers justified the move in a blog entry.

In 2014, the group started a new attempt with the Google Fit platform. The portal with associated apps aggregates the data on fitness trackers and other wearables. Together with the Android Wear operating system, which specializes in mobile devices, the company wanted to venture into the rapidly growing business with smart mobile devices and collect health data for it.

There has been no major breakthrough to this day. In contrast to the role of Android in smartphones, Android Wear was never able to establish itself as the dominant system for fitness trackers. Many providers rely on their own systems. In addition, Google Fit repeatedly suffered from technical problems. Last year even the web version of Google Fit was discontinued and speculation about an end to the entire project.

The takeover of Fitbit marks the third attempt in this segment for Google. Fitbit pioneered the business of fitness bracelets that count steps and calories burned. However, this business has now been rolled out from two directions: Apple is very successful with its Apple Watch computer clock, which also has various fitness functions. In the case of simple bracelets, inexpensive devices from China dominate, especially those from Xiaomi.

Fitbit could enable Google to move up from a software company to a hardware manufacturer in the healthcare sector. The company had already made this change in smartphones with the Pixel series.

More: New lawsuit against Google: The US internet giants have staying power.

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CDU and SPD are arguing about accepting refugees

At the EU’s external border, people live under dramatic conditions in winter weather. The SPD and CDU do not agree on how the aid for the migrants should look. One thing is clear: a solution is needed.

The CDU and the SPD are arguing about the admission of refugees from camps in Greece or Bosnia. SPD parliamentary group vice Achim Post was open to it on Sunday, but CDU politicians Friedrich Merz and Thorsten Frei warned against an incentive to migrate to Europe. The organization Pro Asyl accused the European Union of total failure, especially with a view to the plight of migrants in Bosnia.

Both on the Greek island of Lesbos and in the Bosnian border area with the EU state Croatia, migrants are inadequately housed in winter weather. The situation is acute in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the Lipa camp burned down about a week ago and the transfer of hundreds of people to other accommodations failed.

SPD parliamentary group Vice Post told the German Press Agency: “What we are currently experiencing in some places on the Greek islands and in Bosnia-Herzegovina is a humanitarian emergency.” And he added: “Here help, also through the willingness to take in refugees in need, is a human imperative.”

“This path is no longer open”

CDU politician Merz spoke out against the inclusion in principle. “Above all, the entire European Union has an obligation to help the refugees in the Balkans or on the Greek islands on the spot,” said the candidate for party chairmanship in the newspapers of the Funke media group. “However, this humanitarian catastrophe cannot be resolved by saying: Everyone comes to Germany. This path is no longer open.”

Union faction Vice Frei also refused to accept migrants from Bosnia. This could quickly send the fatal signal that the way to Germany was free, he told the dpa. “We would create a huge incentive to migrate to Europe.”

A solution must be found urgently

The EU pledged a further 3.5 million euros to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday to better accommodate the migrants. The foreign representative Josep Borrell called the situation unacceptable and urged the Bosnian authorities not to let people sit in the cold.

The EU envoy Johann Sattler met on Saturday with the German ambassador Margret Uebber and other diplomats with the Bosnian security minister Selmo Cikotic to talk about the “completely unacceptable” situation. Sattler said the lives and basic rights of hundreds of people were “in serious danger”. The EU said the situation was “extremely worrying”; a solution had to be found urgently.

“No chance of protection and asylum”

The Bosnian army had started setting up new tents in the burned-out Lipa camp. This is a necessary step, but the authorities now urgently need to ensure the supply of water and electricity in Lipa and fully expand the camp as quickly as possible, explained Sattler. Camp Bira must be reopened by then. The EU is helping Bosnia-Herzegovina with 85.5 million euros, emphasized Sattler.

The organization Pro Asyl declared that in “tents at the gates of the EU” there was “no chance of protection and asylum”. In a statement, the activists called for the borders to be opened and the “freezing people” in the EU to be taken in. They also called for the refugees to be transferred “immediately” to an emergency shelter in Bihac.

Local residents protested against the accommodation of refugees

Pro Asyl also warned that the German CDU’s internal power struggle for chairmanship could paralyze the political response to the crisis after Merz spoke out against the admission of refugees. The organization characterized this as a “provocation” of a “CDU hardliner”.

The EU Commission and the IOM are in favor of reopening a refugee camp in an abandoned factory in Bihac, but the local authorities are opposed to it. Last week, the authorities tried to bus the refugees to a former barracks in the south of the country. However, the refugees could not leave the buses at their destination, as residents protested their arrival there.

Police assume arson in Lipa

In the Mediterranean, the Spanish rescue ship “Open Arms” picked up 265 boat migrants in two actions and looked for a safe harbor on Sunday. The ship was a good 100 kilometers from the Italian island of Lampedusa. According to the operator, Italy did not initially respond to the request for an entry permit.

The former refugee camp near Lipa was on December 23rd was destroyed by a major fire. The camp’s infrastructure was completely destroyed by the flames. Police believe that former residents set fire to the camp to protest a decision by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Around 8,500 refugees live in Bosnia

The IOM helpers had withdrawn from the camp the day before Christmas Eve because it was not adequately supplied with electricity, water and heating. The camp in Lipa was set up as temporary accommodation in April. There is no longer any other regular accommodation for the refugees in this area.

Bosnia is on the so-called Balkan route, which has been used by tens of thousands of refugees since 2018. They are fleeing war and poverty from the Middle East, Asia and Africa to Western Europe. There are currently around 8,500 refugees living in Bosnia.

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The chaos is just a foretaste

For fear of a corona mutation, France is closing the borders, there is chaos in Great Britain. This can also be understood as a show of power, the pressure on Boris Johnson in the Brexit dispute is growing.

It is the images that many Brexit pessimists feared. Hundreds of trucks are parked on the British coast, the borders are tight, nothing is moving towards the mainland. But the reason is not Britain’s exit from the EU or the failure of negotiations on a trade agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom. France and Germany are preventing border traffic for fear of a new mutation of the corona virus that was discovered on the British island.

Dover: Trucks jam on a departure for the port of Dover. After the port has closed, trucks are queued to depart. (Source: dpa)

Nevertheless, the current corona situation is closely linked to the ongoing post-Brexit negotiations. The standstill of goods traffic, impending delivery bottlenecks in Great Britain and the concerns of the British economy are warning examples of what threatens the country from January. That is why the border closings are not just a corona measure, they also increase the pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be more willing to compromise in the Brexit dispute.

But how far are the EU and the UK from reaching an agreement? What is blocking a trade agreement and what influence does the current corona situation have on the negotiations? An overview:

What are the post-Brexit negotiations about?

Great Britain left the EU on February 1, 2020, but the country will remain in the EU internal market and the customs union until the end of the year. According to the EU Parliament, the time for the timely ratification of the trade agreement has already expired. A provisional application of a possible agreement within the next few days is also conceivable in order to prevent the serious economic consequences of a chaos Brexit.

What would be the consequences of a no-deal Brexit?

A “no-deal scenario” looms, with tariffs and other trade barriers on the borders with the UK becoming a reality on January 1st. Cut travel connections between Great Britain and the rest of Europe due to the fear of the spread of a mutated variant of the novel corona virus already provided a foretaste on Monday. Despite Brexit, the European Union remains the UK’s most important trading partner.

In short: On the island, people fear economic chaos, and many companies are not prepared for such a scenario. The consequences are incalculable.

Were the reactions to the new corona mutation from Great Britain too harsh?

Of course, many countries are worried that the coronavirus could spread faster – a mutated variant in particular feeds this fear. But the French reaction to cut off British ports and trade off the island can also be seen as a show of force. The message to the British government: Great Britain is – after Brexit and without an agreement – only a third country, i.e. a country with which there are no contractual agreements.

France has already announced that it will loosen the barriers for travelers from Great Britain from Wednesday. Aircraft, ships and the Eurostar train from London are apparently allowed to operate again. The British still have cause for displeasure: The World Health Organization (WHO) and many experts announced that the mutated version of the corona virus has already been discovered in Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark and the USA. There were no travel bans in the countries. And: Actually, there was agreement in the EU that travel restrictions or border closings should no longer be decided in a national solo effort – Germany and France, among others, have ignored this.

London: After the rapid increase in corona infections and stricter government measures, many Britons are trying to leave the capital over Christmas.  (Source: AP / dpa)London: After the rapid rise in corona infections and stricter government measures, many Britons are trying to leave the capital over Christmas. (Source: AP / dpa)

Brussels reacted coldly. The EU Commission called on the member states to withdraw the strict travel bans to and from Great Britain. “Bans on air and train travel should be suspended in view of the need to ensure essential travel and avoid interruptions in the supply chain,” the Brussels authority said on Tuesday.

How did Britain react to the blockade?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is diplomatic and appealed in a speech to the “friends” in the EU to enable the movement of goods as soon as possible. He cited the reason that the risk posed by a truck driver sitting alone in his cabin is manageable.

The fierceness of the international reaction is said to have surprised the British government: Behind the scenes, the London Times reported, Downing Street was furious about France’s decision to stop goods traffic on the English Channel. It was claimed that the lock should be used as a lever in the Brexit negotiations. France and especially its President Emmanuel Macron has long been identified by the British tabloids as the villain in the struggle for a Brexit trade pact. In any case, the blockade of the movement of goods is putting pressure on Boris Johnson to agree to an agreement in Brexit Poker. Because even in the current situation, British supermarkets fear bottlenecks at Christmas.

Does Brexit have an impact on the fight against Corona in the UK?

Yes. Although the UK was the first country to start vaccinating, Brexit threatens health care bottlenecks. New immigration rules would deter nursing staff, the transport of medicines and medical technology could be endangered, according to the study published on Tuesday by the health-specialized think tank “Nuffield Trust”. The industry is also affected by the weak economy and obstacles to investment in science. “The dangerously uncertain future that Britain will face at the end of the Brexit transition period could endanger the UK’s health and care system.”

A man demonstrates against Brexit in January 2020: The exit from the EU has divided Great Britain.  (Source: AP / dpa)A man demonstrates against Brexit in January 2020: The exit from the EU has divided Great Britain. (Source: AP / dpa)

“Public health could be directly worsened by a prolonged economic slowdown resulting in lower standards of living and increased public spending,” the study said. “These risks would hit the most vulnerable people first.”

What are the main points of contention about the Brexit Pact?

The main points of contention in the negotiations for months have been fair competition, the control of a future agreement and access to British waters for EU fishermen. While there had been significant progress recently on the first two sticking points, the fishing question remained difficult to the end. In detail, it is about reductions in the permitted catches in UK waters for EU fishermen and the length of a transition period for their introduction.

Are the talks failing over fishing?

Fishing is one of the issues blocking an agreement. But the responsible politicians on both sides would find it difficult to sell their populations if the trade pact fails because of fish – especially given the economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit. It is therefore not surprising that an agreement is emerging on fishing.

How could a compromise on fishing look like?

A former member of the British negotiating team outlined what a compromise could look like in a guest post for the news portal “Politico”. Raoul Ruparel, once advisor to Prime Minister Theresa May, made a name for himself last year when he correctly predicted the compromise for the exit agreement.

Accordingly, the fishing rights of the EU fishing trawlers are to be gradually reduced by 35 percent over a period of five years. The British would still have the opportunity to bring their fish to the European market duty-free. This is to be flanked by the possibility for Brussels to introduce tariffs in the event that the British further restrict access for fishermen from the EU – but only at an independently determined level.

What role does Boris Johnson play in poker?

The British Prime Minister must, on the one hand, sign a trade deal to protect the economy. On the other hand, if he makes concessions to the EU, he also risks breaking up his party. The Torrys are divided in their relationship to Brexit, Johnson campaigned for the “Leave” campaign and has since been supported by the “Brexiteers” in his own ranks on his way to the top of the state. If he loses that support, his position of power will be in jeopardy and the UK government will collapse.

Dover: Coast Guard officials are handing out bottles of water to truck drivers standing on the M20 after the port of Dover closes.  (Source: dpa)Dover: Coast Guard officials are handing out bottles of water to truck drivers standing on the M20 after the port of Dover closes. (Source: dpa)

Johnson himself is seen as weak in leadership or as undecided in the crisis. His opponents in his own party accuse him that his decisions always depend on who was last in his office. In addition, the Prime Minister would have to reorganize his government in terms of personnel. The Brexit process was completed in January, and now it is politicians who stand for reconciliation with the EU and for a good relationship. Johnson must distance himself from the “Brexiteers” if he wants to minimize the damage to his country from leaving the EU. It’s going to be difficult.

Will there be an agreement?

In fact, Great Britain and the EU cannot afford a no-deal Brexit, especially during this Corona period. Nevertheless, the probability of a no-deal Brexit is still high at the moment, even if compromises suddenly become possible on the home straight that were previously unthinkable.

But the negotiations will remain tough and will continue to make progress at walking pace, even if the EU and Great Britain take the time they actually no longer have. In the end, Great Britain will have to move more, the British government is in the weaker position and the EU wants to demonstrate toughness and set a cautionary example for leaving the EU. This is currently also possible through the pictures of hundreds of trucks that do not come from the British Isles to mainland Europe. A foretaste of the impending chaos in January.

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