Europe’s COVID task-force chief Thierry Breton meets Robert Abela in Malta

European Commissioner for internal market and head of the COVID task force Thierry Breton in Malta on Tuesday to meet Prime Minister Robert Abela

European Commissioner Thierry Breton
European Commissioner Thierry Breton

Prime Minister Robert Abela will be recieving a visit by the European Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, on Tuesday evening.

Breton is the head of a task force appointed by EC president Ursula von der Leyen to accelerate the production of COVID-19 vaccines, and has an important role in the EU’s post-COVID strategy, especailly on tourism and SMEs.

A Commission diplomat who spoke to MaltaToday said the EC acknowledges that Malta’s vaccine strategy has been exceptional.

Breton’s remit included to ensure the exchange of essential protective equipment on the internal market, as well as helping affected industries mitigate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

The outbreak of COVID-19 disrupted the normal operations of many EU industries and put some companies under severe financial pressure.

The tourism sector has been hit particularly hard by the outbreak of COVID-19. With the sector employing some 27 million people and generating over 10% of the EU’s GDP, the EC released new guidance on how to reboot Europe's tourism (PDF) while supporting the industry through liquidity support, fiscal measures, and an easing of state aid rules.

The Re-open EU website and app helps travellers plan their holidays and travel with up to date information on the travel situation and health and safety measures in all EU countries in 24 languages.

Breton and the internal market DG have also been responsbile to secure an adequate European stock of health and medical supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE), and help companies adapt their product lines and cutting legislative red tape, to manufacture needed products in conformity with EU legislation and get them on the market quicker.

The Commission has aso made liquidity measures available to support European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). €1 billion was redirected from the European Fund for Strategic Investments to reinforce the COSME Loan Guarantee Facility and the InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility to mobilise liquidity support for at least 100,000 SMEs. The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is also helping SMEs through innovation partnerships on areas linked to COVID-19 (such as PPE and medical equipment) and advice on accessing dedicated European and national financial support.