Brussels News

European Commission Daily News 3rd November

EU at COP26: President von der Leyen attends World Leaders Summit

On 1-2 November, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen represented the Commission at the World Leaders Summit which opened the COP26 UN Climate Conference. The President first spoke in the opening plenary session of COP26, evoking the need for leaders “to be on the right side of history” and “to do whatever it takes now to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius”. The President participated in two forestry-related events, delivering a statement on the Great Green Wall Initiative on Monday and pledging €1 billion in funding for the Global Forests Finance Pledge yesterday. Also on 2 November, the President co-hosted an event on infrastructure investment with US President Joe Biden, where she announced a Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa. Next, she officially launched the Global Methane Pledge, a joint EU-US initiative which has mobilised over 100 countries to cut their collective methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, compared to 2020 levels. Finally, President von der Leyen kicked off the EU-Catalyst partnership with Bill Gates and EIB President Werner Hoyer. More information on the Global Forests Finance Pledge, the Global Methane Pledge and the EU-Catalyst partnership is available online.

Commission proposes fishing opportunities in the Atlantic, Kattegat and Skagerrak for 2022

Today the Commission published its proposal for catches of fish stocks in the Atlantic Ocean, the Kattegat and the Skagerrak. On the basis of this proposal, EU fisheries ministers will adopt the definitive fishing opportunities at the Council on 13 and 14 December 2021, which will apply from 1 January 2022. The Commission presents a proposal for 23 total allowable catches (TAC) for fish stocks managed only by the EU in Community waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Kattegat and Skagerrak. Virginijus Sinkevičius , Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said:“Today’s proposal is a key step in maintaining a healthy ecosystem and a profitable fishing industry. The Commission undertakes to set responsible catch limits in accordance with available scientific advice. Our biodiversity strategy makes it clear: our lives depend on the life of the oceans. Sustainability knows no borders. This is our guiding principle.  On the basis of scientific advice issued by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Commission proposes a reduction of more than 20% for four stocks: sole in the Bay of Biscay, sole in the west of the Ireland, langoustine in the Skagerrak and the Kattegat; and cod in Kattegat. The Commission is proposing increases for five stocks, including plaice from Kattegat, sole from Kattegat and Skagerrak, cardines from Iberian waters, anglerfish from the Cantabrian Sea and Norway lobster in parts of the southern Bay of Biscay. The proposal will be updated after the conclusion of consultations with the UK and Norway, and once the regional fisheries management organizations have made their decisions. 

EU and US agree to start discussions on a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium and suspend steel and aluminium trade disputes

European Commission President von der Leyen and United States President Biden agreed on Sunday to start discussions on a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium. This marks a new milestone in the transatlantic relationship, and in EU-US efforts to achieve the decarbonisation of the global steel and aluminium industries in the fight against climate change. The two Presidents also agreed to pause the bilateral World Trade Organization disputes on steel and aluminium. This builds on our recent successes in rebooting the transatlantic trade relationship, such as the launch of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council and the suspension of tariffs in the Boeing-Airbus disputes. Steel and aluminium manufacturing is one of the highest carbon emission sources globally. For steel and aluminium production and trade to be sustainable, we must address the carbon intensity of the industry, together with problems related to overcapacity. The Global Arrangement will seek to ensure the long-term viability of our industries, encourage low-carbon intensity steel and aluminium production and trade, and restore market-oriented conditions. The arrangement will be open to all like-minded partners to join. Furthermore, following the United States’ announcement that they will remove Section 232 tariffs on EU steel and aluminium exports up to past trade volumes, the European Union will take the steps to suspend its rebalancing measures against the United States. The two sides have also agreed to pause their respective WTO disputes on this issue. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The global arrangement will add a powerful new tool in our quest for sustainability, achieving climate neutrality, and ensuring a level playing field for our steel and aluminium industries. Defusing yet another source of tension in the transatlantic trade partnership will help industries on both sides. This is an important milestone for our renewed, forward-looking agenda with the US.” More information is available in a press releaseQ&A and factsheet

Forest fires in Austria: EU deploys immediate assistance

Austria activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (MPCU) on October 29, 2021, asking for help to tackle the forest fires that had broken out in the Hirschwang region of Lower Austria. The EU Emergency Response Coordination Center mobilized 2 Canadair CL-415 firefighting aircraft, based in Italy. The planes, which are part of the EU fleet in transition rescEU, are already deployed in Austria. In addition, Germany and Slovakia have offered firefighting helicopters through the MPCU. Both offers have been accepted and their deployment is pending. The Copernicus service was also activated to support firefighting operations in Austria.. Welcoming the rapid deployment of rescEU assets, EU Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: “With our swift response to Austria’s request for assistance, the EU is once again demonstrating its full solidarity in the face of destructive forest fires. Support is ongoing. I would like to thank the Member States which have already mobilized or proposed to mobilize means of fighting fires. Our hearts go out to those affected, the firefighters and other first responders. We are ready to provide further assistance. You can access the press release here .

Commissioner McGuinness attends events on taxonomy and sustainable finance at COP26

On 4 November, Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness, will participate via videoconference in three side events at COP26. First, the Commissioner will take part in the annual event of the International Platform on Sustainable Finance (IPSF) ‘Driving the transition to a sustainable economy: towards more globally interoperable sustainable finance approaches’, co-organised by the Commission and the IPSF. The Commissioner will then join an event on ‘The role of taxonomies to drive market alignment with the Paris Agreement’, co-organised by the Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Finally, she will take part in an event on ‘EU Sustainability Reporting Standards and the future of sustainability reporting’, organised by the Commission. The full programme of side events is available online. On the same day the Commission will publish three reports: the Annual Report of the IPSF, the report on sustainability disclosures and the report on the Common Ground Taxonomy. The IPSF annual report stakes stock of the progress on sustainable finance across member jurisdictions/observers, showing their continued commitment to steering money towards sustainable activities. The report also welcomes work on this issue at G20 level, and the acknowledgement of the IPSF as an important contributor.  The IPSF report on sustainability disclosures aims at supporting global efforts to improve these disclosures as a key cornerstone of sustainable finance, and at facilitating co-operation amongst members of the IPSF – and beyond. The Common Ground Taxonomy report is an important milestone towards the achievement of more globally comparable taxonomies. It provides more clarity and transparency about the commonalities and differences between EU and China taxonomies. The report on the Common Ground Taxonomy is a first step towards providing a solid methodology in view of broadening the scope of comparison to other taxonomy features and other jurisdictions’ taxonomies. 

Read the European Commission Daily News in full here.

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