03 Oct 2017


Brexit, Brussels, Brussels Daily, IFA in Brussels, IFABrexit


State of play of negotiations with the UK: President Juncker and Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier debrief European Parliament

On Tuesday, 3 October, both President Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator for Article 50 negotiations, debriefed the Plenary Session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the state of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom. In his speech, President Juncker referred to Prime Minster May’s speech in Florence as “conciliatory,” underlining that work still remains to be done, and saying that “Until now, I can’t say that we are ready to enter the second phase of negotiations.” President Juncker stressed that “with the departure of the United Kingdom, a page in history is turned. And another one is about to be written to decide the future that we want to build at 27… Out future is not Brexit, it’s Europe.” In this context, President Juncker also recalled the Roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union published on occasion of his 2017 State of the Union Address, which sets out the EU’s agenda for coming months. Michel Barnier recalled that the three main topics of the discussions on the UK’s orderly withdrawal – citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, and Ireland – “go together. They are inseparable.” A fifth round of negotiations will take place in Brussels next week. Michel Barnier reminded the Parliament that “our attitude is to remain resolutely constructive because we want to succeed. The sooner we agree on the principles of the orderly withdrawal, the sooner we can discuss the future partnership.”

European Commission evaluates legal framework for OLAF investigations

An evaluation by the Commission, supported by an independent study and based on a wide-ranging consultation of stakeholders, concludes that the legal framework governing the work of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has allowed it to deliver on its mandate. With more investigations, better information exchange among the different partners of OLAF, as well as an increased protection of the rights of persons concerned by investigations, OLAF has greatly increased its effectiveness in recent years. At the same time, the creation of the European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO) is a game-changer, and the coexistence of the two bodies will significantly enhance the Union’s capacity to tackle fraud with EU funds. The Commission will now consider whether a proposal to amend the legal framework for OLAF in the first half of 2018 is needed to ensure that OLAF and the EPPO can cooperate smoothly, and that OLAF has all the tools it needs to uphold the interest of EU citizens, and protect the EU budget against fraud and irregularities. The full Commission report is here.

Public procurement: the Commission presents initiative to increase the impact of public investment

Today, the Commission is presenting a more efficient, professional and sustainable procurement initiative that is fully digital-based to simplify and speed up procedures. This initiative is part of the Commission’s efforts to strengthen the single market and stimulate investment in the European Union. Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Bieńkowska will present this initiative at the end of the meeting of the College of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. It will be possible to follow the press conference from +/- 15h30 (CET) on EbS. Journalists who do not travel to Strasbourg will be able to follow the press conference of the European Commission and ask questions. The press material, consisting of a press release, a MEMO and an information sheet, will be available at the beginning of the press conference

Investment Plan supports the digital economy: high speed broadband in Sweden and cyber security systems in France

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending €125 million to Swedish broadband provider IP-Only to support the expansion of its fibre network in cities and rural areas in Sweden. This deal will give high-speed internet access to over 400,000 homes by 2020. Vice-President Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, said: “The agreement signed today with IP Only under the Juncker Plan is good news for Sweden just days after the first EU summit dedicated to Europe’s common digital project. Europe needs fast internet to reap the benefits of the digital single market. This is true for citizens and companies alike, in all corners of Europe: rural or urban.” And as Cyber Security Month kicks off, the EIB has also signed a €20 million financing agreement with CS Group in France under the Investment Plan. The company will use the financing to develop their research, development and innovation into cyber security systems. (For more information about any of the projects and the latest Investment Plan results see the Investment Plan website

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control of Rothesay by MassMutual and Cambourne

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Rothesay HoldCo UK Ltd of the UK by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (“MassMutual”) of the US and Cambourne Life Investment Pte. Ltd of Singapore, together with the Blackstone Group LP which is already a controlling shareholder of Rothesay. Rothesay is an insurance company, focusing primarily on offering risk transfer solutions for occupational defined benefit pensions within the UK. MassMutual is a company active in life insurance, retirement and investment products, primarily active in the US. Cambourne is a company managed by GIC Special Investments Pte. Ltd, an investment fund managing Singapore’s foreign reserves. The transaction creates limited horizontal and vertical relationships between the activities of Rothesay and the activities of MassMutual and Cambourne. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the companies’ low market shares in the areas where their activities overlap. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8630.

Eurostat: August 2017 compared with July 2017 – Industrial producer prices up by 0.3% euro area – Up by 0.4% in EU28

In August 2017, compared with July 2017, industrial producer prices rose by 0.3% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.4% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In July 2017, prices remained stable in the euro area and increased by 0.1% in the EU28. Full text available here


Statement by High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Christos Stylianides on the recent attacks in Syria

“In the past two weeks, in Syria there has been the highest number of casualties in 2017, as a result of the heavy air attacks hitting civilians and civilian infrastructure, in particular hospitals and medical facilities, in Northern Syria. Since September 19, increased aerial bombardments across Idlib, Aleppo and Hama have left hundreds of civilians dead and many more injured. Amongst them children, women and also aid workers who are risking their lives to save those of others. This is a clear violation of international laws and conventions. The EU recalls the strict obligation for all parties to the conflict to make the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure their primary responsibility, in line with International Humanitarian Law. (…) Moreover, we call upon all parties to the conflict to ensure that humanitarian organisations can conduct their operations unhindered. (…) the EU continues to assist in finding a political solution to the conflict as the only viable way to end the suffering, as we remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance to all Syrian people in need, wherever they are and according to humanitarian principles. We expect de-escalation areas to be a step towards improving the situation on the ground, and creating the conditions for the success of the UN led intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.” Read the full statement here.


Commissioner Avramopoulos in Lampedusa to commemorate lives lost in the Mediterranean

Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is today travelling to Lampedusa, Italy. He will take part, together with Italian Minister of the Interior Marco Minniti, in the commemoration ceremony in memory of the victims of the tragedy which took place off the island’s coast four years ago when over 360 persons lost their lives whilst trying to reach Europe. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Avramopoulos said: “Today we remember the many lives lost, dreams destroyed, hope shattered of those trying to reach these shores, fleeing war and persecution. We commemorate the tragedy of 3 October 2013 – but we also commemorate each and every individual tragedy since then. Saving lives at sea and working towards safe and legal routes for those in need of protection has always been our priority. Our European history and heritage reminds us of our duties and our legacy towards solidarity, tolerance and openness.” Since 2015, 620,000 lives have been saved in the Aegean and the Mediterranean thanks to the Italian and Greek rescue operations as well as the European Border and Coast Guard’s Triton and Poseidon operations and Operation Sophia. Building on the progress achieved so far, the Commission last week presented next steps towards a stronger, more effective and fairer EU migration and asylum policy.

Commissioner Avramopoulos in Zagreb

Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos will be in Zagreb, Croatia, tomorrow where he will meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Minister of Interior Davor Božinović. Discussions will focus on EU migration, border and security policy. A joint press conference with Minister Božinović will take place around 14:30 CET and will be available on EbS.

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