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European Commission Daily News 20th May

2021 EU Blue Economy report: Emerging sectors prepare blue economy for leading part in EU green transition

On the occasion of the European Maritime Day, the Commission released today the fourth edition of its ‘EU Blue Economy Report’, providing an overview of the performance of economic sectors related to oceans and the coastal environment in the European Union. The sector directly employed close to 4.5 million people in 2018 and generated around €650 billion in turnover. Emerging activities such as ocean energy, marine biotechnology and robotics will play an important role in the EU’s transition towards a carbon-neutral, circular and biodiverse economy. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “This report shows that the blue economy is an important driver of today’s European economy, in coastal communities and beyond. Moreover, with the European Green Deal, its importance will only grow in the future. The sector will contribute to decarbonisation and other European environmental objectives with innovative solutions and by reducing its own footprint. I call on Member States and private investors to support this transformation and invest in a sustainable blue economy.” Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, Mariya Gabriel, said: “The EU Blue Economy report marks an important milestone towards establishing the European Blue Observatory, a knowledge sharing platform that will enable near real-time monitoring of decarbonisation efforts across Europe’s blue economy sectors.” The report shows an acceleration in the growth of the most established sectors in the blue economy from 2013 to 2018 – seven large sectors ranging from maritime transport and shipbuilding over offshore wind energy to coastal tourism. Gross value added from coastal tourism, the largest blue economy sector in the EU, increased by 20.6% compared to 2009. However, nearly all of them have suffered severely from the COVID-19 crisis with coastal tourism seeing a decrease in activity of around 60 to 80%. The European Maritime Day is the annual EU meeting point for those active in the blue economy. The Commission published earlier this week its proposal for a Sustainable Blue Economy. You can find the 2021 EU Blue Economy report here. More information is in the news item.

World Bee Day: New handbook to help develop European nature restoration targets

Bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects are vital for healthy ecosystems and their capacity to provide us with food, clean water, medicine, materials, recreation and wellbeing. Yet, with three-quarters of the Earth’s surface altered by human influence and one million species at risk of extinction, nature conservation alone is no longer enough. We also need restoration work to bring back what we have lost. Today, on World Bee Day, the Commission’s Joint Research Centre has published a summary for policymakers of the first EU–wide ecosystem assessment. The report, developed jointly with the European Environment Agency, provides science-based advice on restoring degraded ecosystems, improving the monitoring of their health, and defining methods to assess their condition. One year on from the launch of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the report supports efforts to put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery. Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, for the European Green Deal, commented: “Healthy, thriving and resilient nature is at the core of healthy lifestyles, thriving economies and resilient societies. However, Europe’s ecosystems are under increasing pressure, putting us all at risk. Nature restoration will be essential to deliver win-win solutions for climate, biodiversity and human wellbeing by 2030.” Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, Mariya Gabriel said: “Science has a crucial role to play in protecting biodiversity and safeguarding precious ecosystems. This report provides valuable input to help ensure a firm evidence base for the policies needed to achieve these goals.” The assessment reveals that the condition of all Europe’s ecosystems – from forests to agricultural lands, urban areas, wetlands, rivers, lakes and seas – needs to improve significantly in order to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. It provides scientific evidence to inform the Commission’s upcoming proposal for nature restoration targets, which is due by the end of this year. Read the news release here

Executive Vice-President Timmermans, and Commissioners Simson and Sinkevičius at the G7 Climate and Environment Ministerial Meeting

On Thursday 20 and Friday 21 May, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, and Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, will represent the EU at the G7 Climate and Environment Ministerial meeting, hosted by the UK and taking place in a virtual format. Commissioner Sinkevičius is taking part in the launch session on ‘The Basis for Action’ with G7 members and guest countries. On Thursday afternoon, Executive Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Simson will take part in the session of G7 members on ‘Net Zero and the Clean Energy Transition’ discussing the nexus between climate and energy policies for achieving our emissions reduction targets. On Friday morning, Commissioner Sinkevičius will participate in the session of G7 members on ‘Resetting our Relationship with Nature’ and in the afternoon Executive Vice-President Timmermans will take part in the session on ‘The Joint Track’ with G7 members and guest countries, which will be dedicated to both climate and environment policies, with a view to the Biodiversity COP15 in October and the Climate COP26 in November of this year. 

Eurogroup and informal Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meetings, 21 – 22 May 2021

Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Gentiloni and Commissioner McGuinness will represent the Commission at the Eurogroup and the informal Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meetings, taking place in Lisbon tomorrow and on Saturday. The Eurogroup will exchange views with Ms Irene Tinagli, Chair of the ECON Committee of the European Parliament, on the macro-economic and fiscal situation in the euro area, also on the basis of the Commission’s Spring Forecast. Participants will discuss the functioning of adjustment mechanisms in the euro area as an important element of the economic resilience in the euro area, with a specific focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. The Eurogroup will adopt the Work Programme for the second half of the year, covering the period from July until December. Switching to a Banking Union format, the Chair of the ECB Supervisory Board, Mr Andrea Enria, will inform the Eurogroup about the supervisory tasks carried out by ECB Banking Supervision. The Chair will notably focus on credit and climate risks and Brexit. The Chair of the Single Resolution Board (SRB), Ms Elke König, will update the Eurogroup on the recent activities undertaken by the SRB, focusing particularly on the progress made on resolvability, the minimum requirements for own funds and eligible liabilities (MREL) and the build-up of the Single Resolution Fund. Commissioner Gentiloni will represent the Commission at the press conference following the meeting. On Friday afternoon, ECOFIN Ministers and Central Bank Governors will share views on how to enhance the effectiveness of monetary and fiscal policies to promote economic growth in the short and long term. Ministers and Governors will discuss strategies on how the financial and non-financial sectors of the economy can support each other both at the current juncture, as well as at the upcoming recovery stage. On Saturday, Ministers will hold a thematic discussion on the future of green taxation policies in the EU and their role in the recovery of the economy. Ministers will also address key challenges in achieving a balanced recovery, highlighting the role of NextGenerationEU and its interaction with national instruments. A press conference with Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis will follow the meeting.

Read the European Commission Daily News in full here.

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