Vaccines: Commission hosts first EU matchmaking event to mobilise Europe’s full potential for the production of COVID-19 vaccines
Today, the Commission is hosting the first pan-European matchmaking event with over 300 participating companies from 25 Member States to expand COVID-19 vaccine production capacities across Europe and address production and supply chain bottlenecks. The event aims to speed up connections between vaccine producers and service companies such as contract development and manufacturing organisations, fill and finish, equipment producers and others, with a view to improve planning for current and future vaccine production in Europe. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said: “The number and variety of players attending the matchmaking event showcases the importance of having a vibrant, competitive pharmaceutical industry in the EU. Cooperation to combine complementary assets and increase vaccine capacity can be decisive in speeding up the vaccination of European citizens and overcoming the outbreak – for this reason, the Commission has issued an antitrust comfort letter which facilitates matchmaking between companies while protecting fair competition.” Commissioner Thierry Breton, responsible for the Internal Market, said: “The ramp-up of vaccine production in Europe is unprecedented, both for our immediate and medium-term vaccination needs. We are working with industry to make better use of existing capacity and build new capability all around Europe. The matchmaking event is all about fostering new connections and partnerships across the production and supply chain. I encourage the many companies involved in the vaccine manufacturing process to make the most of the matchmaking opportunities.” Organised online by the Commission’s Task Force for the Industrial Scale-up of COVID-19 vaccine production, the event is taking place on 29 and 31 March. The first day of the event, opened by a keynote address by Commissioner Breton, is dedicated to matchmaking among manufacturing companies dealing with raw materials, manufacturing, coupling and formulation and fill and finish of vaccines. The event’s second day on Wednesday will focus on ensuring connections with potential suppliers from across the vaccine production value chain, including companies involved in packaging, storage, shipment and distribution and production of accessories such as syringes and vials. In order to facilitate the matchmaking, the Commission has also issued a comfort letter providing guidance on how the matchmaking and exchanges between participating companies, including direct competitors, can take place in compliance with the EU competition rules. The comfort letter is based on the Antitrust Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 8 April 2020. The matchmaking event is organised by the European Cluster Collaboration Platform in partnership with the Council of European BioRegions (CEBR) and the European Cluster Alliance (ECA), which also supported the Commission in analysing and identifying EU capacities for COVID-19 vaccines production, on the basis of which companies were invited to participate in the matchmaking.