The European Union and the United States conclude negotiations on agricultural quotas agreement
The European Union and the United States have concluded negotiations to adjust the European Union’s World Trade Organization (WTO) agricultural quotas, following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This is the culmination of two years of negotiations in the WTO framework to divide these EU quotas, with part of the volume remaining with the EU-27, and part going to the UK, based on recent trade flows. The agreement covers dozens of quotas and billions of euros of trade including for beef, poultry, rice, dairy products, fruits and vegetables and wines. Commenting on the agreement reached in principle today, Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciejowski said: “I am delighted we have reached agreement with our most important trade partner the U.S. This agreement – done inside the framework of the WTO – preserves the original volumes but shares them between the EU and the UK. It gives certainty and stability to agricultural trade and our markets. I am particularly pleased that this agreement marks the significance of our trade and economic relationship. This sends a good signal of our commitment to work together both bilaterally and in the WTO framework. I want to thank my team and our U.S. colleagues for a job well done”. Once the Commission has adopted the EU-U.S. Agreement, it will then be sent to the European Parliament and the Council for ratification, so that it can enter into force as soon as possible. A press release is available online.
Sustainable finance: Commission welcomes reports on development of EU sustainability reporting standards
The European Commission has welcomed today the publication of two reports setting out recommendations on the development of sustainability reporting standards. These reports, which were prepared at the request of the Commission following an invitation by the Council, are an important step in the development of corporate sustainability reporting across the EU. Both reports recognise the importance of coordinating the development of EU sustainability reporting standards with existing and emerging global initiatives. EU sustainability standards are necessary to meet the political ambition and urgent timetable of the European Green Deal. They are also necessary to ensure consistency of reporting rules at the heart of the EU’s sustainable finance agenda, especially the existing Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), the Taxonomy Regulation, as well as with the requirements of forthcoming legislation on sustainable corporate governance and due diligence. The first report proposes a roadmap for the development of a comprehensive set of EU sustainability reporting standards. It was prepared by a multistakeholder task force established by the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG). A second report proposes reforms to EFRAG’s governance structure to ensure that future EU sustainability reporting standards are developed using an inclusive and rigorous process. It sets out, for example, how national and European authorities will be involved, while ensuring that the process also draws upon the expertise of the private sector and civil society. The publication of the reports is very timely. EU law requires large companies to disclose certain information on the way they operate and manage social and environmental challenges. This helps investors, civil society and other stakeholders to evaluate the sustainability performance of large companies and encourages these companies to develop a sustainably responsible approach to business. The Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) lays down the rules on the disclosure of non-financial information by large companies. In its Communication on the European Green Deal, the Commission committed to reviewing the Non-Financial Reporting Directive as part of the strategy to strengthen the foundations for sustainable investment. The Commission will carefully consider these reports as it prepares its proposal to strengthen the Directive, which is planned for April. You can read the full reports here.
Visit of US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry to the Commission
On Tuesday 9 March, Mr John Kerry will be in Brussels to discuss the preparation of the COP26 UN climate conference with his EU interlocutors. Mr Kerry will be welcomed at the Berlaymont VIP Corner by his counterpart, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, at around 14:30 and both will deliver short statements which will be available on EbS. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has invited Mr Kerry to join the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners at 14:45 for a discussion on transatlantic climate action. Following the College meeting President von der Leyen, Executive Vice-President Timmermans and Mr Kerry will meet trilaterally. Mr Kerry and his delegation will then hold meetings with Mr Timmermans and his team to discuss in detail their cooperation in preparation for COP26. Mr Timmermans and Mr Kerry will have a bilateral working dinner later that evening. Mr Kerry will also meet with High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell during his visit.
Read the European Commission Daily News in full here.