The National Security and Investment Act came into force this week, completing the overhaul of the UK’s foreign investment rules and creating a standalone foreign investment screening regime. The new rules require businesses and investors to submit mandatory notifications for certain acquisitions of and investments in companies operating in 17 key sectors. The rules also grant the UK Government extensive powers to investigate and impose conditions on a wide range of transactions, including corporate investments as well as asset transactions, on national security grounds.
Following four and a half years of often acrimonious negotiations and numerous build ups to a no-deal situation, the EU-UK TCA represents a positive step. While the deal is relatively thin and offers only discrete regulatory reciprocity, overall the TCA is a welcome development in the face of apparent near- political failure to agree on a way forward between the two sides. The life sciences sector has been preparing for no-deal amidst the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, throughout 2020, and having a deal, however slim, is positive for the sector in providing more fertile political ground for future harmonisation and cooperation
The EU has urged member countries to grant more legal powers to the EU in pursuit of a ‘Health Union’, which would enable the EU to better manage future crises. This announcement comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed areas of weakness and gaps in the EU’s health powers. Critics argue that the pandemic has seen a lack of effective measures to monitor medicines shortages, that the EU Infectious Diseases Agency’s advice lacked effectiveness, and that there was a disjointed approach to the virus across EU member states. In response, the Commission expressed desire to make the following changes:
create an EU-wide pandemic preparedness plan
align testing methods with EU labs
give the European Medicines Agency (EMA) more power to mitigate drug shortages