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The clash between the EU and AstraZeneca over delayed vaccines has revealed a stack of questionable contracts signed with Big Pharma. Problems include manufacturers’ ambiguous delivery dates, but lawyers investigating the deals show that companies have a clear advantage over the EU.
Pharmaceutical giants producing COVID-19 vaccines are open to collaboration with third parties, as long as they retain control on vaccine licenses and profits. EU member states complain about supply shortages, but fail to question the power of Big Pharma.
The value of European fossil infrastructure protected by the Energy Charter Treaty is almost €345 billion, says research by Nico Schmidt and Oliver Moldenhauer at Investigate Europe. Lawsuits, allowed by the treaty, are likely to prevent states from adopting ambitious climate policies.
Emissions are not for free in Europe. As a carbon trade system, the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) sets an annual cap and a price for emissions. Wijnand Stoefs, policy officer at Carbon Market Watch, says it should become “a more ambitious tool”.
Tailing ponds are among the largest and most dangerous structures engineered by humanity, but their operation is virtually unknown to those who don’t live in their vicinity. Europe is no less at risk from incidents than the rest of the world.
As a result of more stringent standards, recycling of plastic packaging is set to fall in the EU. Without better industrial capacity, the EU will not reach its 50% target in five years' time. And illegal exports are likely to increase.
Despite the Dieselgate scandal, diesel-fueled cars are still the most popular in Europe. A trend that is slowly changing, as governments and the public opinion are starting to grasp with their impact on public health.
After observing a decline in 2020, the mechanical engineering industry in the EU is predicted to grow next year, in spite of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virgin forests in Central-Eastern Europe are the last remaining ones on the continent, yet they are being mercilessly torn down. Part of this multi-billion euro industry is a mafia-like system that stretches all the way from Romania to Ukraine. Austrian timber companies are right at the heart of it.
Most of the drugs sold worldwide come from India and China, where production is cheapest. As a result, Europe’s supply of medicines is in the hands of a few companies.