06 Jun 2018


Brussels, Brussels Daily


EU-US Trade: European Commission endorses rebalancing duties on US products

The College of Commissioners endorsed today the decision to impose additional duties on the full list of US products notified to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as part of the EU’s response to the US tariffs on steel and aluminium products. Following today’s decision to apply additional duties to selected imports from the United States, the Commission expects to conclude the relevant procedure in coordination with Member States before the end of June so that the new duties start applying in July. The application of the rebalancing duties is fully in line with WTO rules, and corresponds to a list of products previously notified to the WTO. The WTO Safeguards Agreement allows for a rebalancing corresponding to the damage caused by the US measures with EU exports worth €6.4 billion (2017) being affected. The EU will therefore exercise its rights immediately on US products valued at up to €2.8 billion of trade. The remaining rebalancing on trade valued at €3.6 billion will take place at a later stage – in three years’ time or after a positive finding in WTO dispute settlement if that should come sooner. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “This is a measured and proportionate response to the unilateral and illegal decision taken by the United States to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports. What’s more, the EU’s reaction is fully in line with international trade law. We regret that the United States left us with no other option than to safeguard EU interests.” The imposition of rebalancing duties on a list of selected US products is part of the three-pronged response outlined by the European Commission that includes the launch of legal proceedings against the US in the WTO (on 1 June) and the possible triggering of safeguard action. A press release and the List of products for rebalancing is available online.


EU Budget: InvestEU Programme to support jobs, growth and innovation in Europe 

For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission proposes today to create the InvestEU Programme, bringing EU budget financing in the form of loans and guarantees under one roof. InvestEU will integratethe multitude of financial programmes currently available and expand the successful model of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. With InvestEU, the Commission will further boost job creation, investment and innovation in Europe. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The Investment Plan for Europe has proven a success when it comes to mobilising private investment and creating jobs in Europe. It has already triggered almost €290 billion in investment that would not have been possible without it, and provided financing for 635,000 small businesses. With InvestEU, we are taking this successful model and expanding it across the many EU financing programmes on offer. We are simplifying, doing more with less, and placing a stronger focus on social investments.” The new programme will consist of the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub and the InvestEU Portal.  A press release and memo are available online. Factsheets and legislative proposals are available here.


EU Budget: Commission proposes unprecedented investments in infrastructure networks and space technology

For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission is today proposing two programmes that will boost Europe’s economy by investing in strategic sectors. First, the Commission is proposing to renew the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’, with a budget of €42.3 billion to support investments in the infrastructure networks for transport (€30.6 billion), energy (€8.7 billion) and digital (€3 billion).  This represents a 47% increase compared to 2014-2020, showing the EU’s commitment to a well-connected and integrated Union where citizens and businesses can fully benefit from free movement and the single market. The Commission is today proposing that 60% of the budget contributes to climate objectives, which will consolidate Europe’s global leadership in the fight against climate change (More information: see press release and factsheet). European leadership is also at heart of the second instrument. With a budget of €16 billion, the new EU Space programme will help maintain and further enhance the EU’s role in this field.Space technology, data and services have become indispensable in the daily lives of Europeans and for Europe to pursue its strategic interests. The new programme builds on successes such as Galileo and EGNOS in satellite navigation, Copernicus in Earth observation and will develop new security components. It will invest more in space activities, adapting to new needs and technologies to foster a strong and innovative space industry. A press release, FAQs and a factsheet on the new EU Space Programme are available online.


EU Budget: The European Commission is today proposing to create the first-ever Digital Europe programme and invest €9.2 billion to align the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027 with increasing digital challenges.

With the Digital Single Market strategy we have established a regulatory framework that is fit for the digital age. This needs to be matched with equally ambitious funding and investments in the Digital Europe programme for increasing EU’s international competitiveness as well as developing and reinforcing Europe’s strategic digital capacities. These key capacities concern high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced digital skills and ensuring their wide use and accessibility across the economy and society by businesses and the public sector alike. Read the Press Release here


College of Commissioners welcomes the Austrian Government ahead of the Austrian presidency of the Council

Today the Austrian Federal Government is visiting the European Commission ahead of Austria’s presidency of the Council. This morning President Juncker met bilaterally with Sebastian Kurz. A working lunch is taking place with the Austrian Government and the College of Commissioners, which will be followed by a press point by President Juncker and Chancellor Kurz at approximately 14:45. Follow the press conference live here. Photos of the visit will be available on EbS

Digital Single Market: EU negotiators reach a political agreement to update the EU’s telecoms rules

The European Parliament and the Council reached late last night a political agreement to update the EU’s telecoms rules. The new European Electronic Communications Code, proposed by the Commission, will boost investments in very high capacity networks across the EU, including in remote and rural areas. Vice-President in charge of the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip said: “This agreement is essential to meet Europeans’ growing connectivity needs and boost Europe’s competitiveness. We are laying the groundwork for the deployment of 5G across Europe.” Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, said: “The new telecoms rules are an essential building block for Europe’s digital future. After several months of tough negotiations, we have agreed on bold and balanced rules to provide faster access to radio spectrum, better services and more protection for consumers, as well as greater investment in very high speed networks.” The agreed rules are crucial for achieving Europe’s connectivity targets and providing everyone in the EU the best possible internet connection, so they can participate fully in the digital economy. The Commission proposed the establishment of a European Electronic Communications Code and a proposal for a Regulation on the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications in September 2016. Further details are available in the press release and in the Q&A,as well as in factsheets on spectrum and investments in very high capacity networks.

Second day of the European Development Days 2018

The 12th European Development Days (EDDs), which started yesterday in Tour & Taxis in Brussels, are continuing today with a number of high-level events and informative panel discussions. The many speakers and participants are holding discussions on this year’s EDDs theme, notably how to empower women and girls to shape sustainable development.  Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica will sign, together with President of Liberia George Weah, a new support package for the country, which will support it in securing public investments to provide basic services, promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth in the country. At 14:30 Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will deliver a keynote speech on the Call to Action and eradicating gender-based violence in emergencies. Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan will speak about ways to empower women and girls for a thriving rural economy. Commissioner for Communication Networks Content and Technology Mariya Gabriel will address the participants of the EDDs about the role of women and girls in digitalisation. Among other activities, the Lorenzo Natali Prize was awarded to a number of journalists for their outstanding reporting on development. Furthermore, the EDDs will welcome for the second time the Pan-African Masters Consortium in Interpretation and Translation (PAMCIT). The PAMCIT programme plays a vital part in increasing gender balance in interpreters’ and translators’ professions, and thereby improving women’s access to high quality and sustainable jobs. All speeches and high-level panels will be broadcasted here. Join the conversation on Twitter under the hashtags #EDD18 #shEDDs.

Upholding the EU’s commitment to the Iran nuclear deal and protecting the interests of European companies – Next Steps

Following up on the informal Leaders’ Meeting in Sofia, as well as the Commission’s announcements of 18 May, the European Commission adopted today an update of the Blocking Statute and of the European Investment Bank (EIB)’s External Lending Mandate. These measures are meant to help protecting the interests of EU companies investing in Iran and to demonstrate the EU’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Through the update of the Blocking Statute, the extraterritorial sanctions that the United States will re-impose on Iran are added to its scope, while the update of the EIB’s External Lending Mandate would make Iran eligible for investment activities by the EIB. This enabling measure does not however commit the EIB to actually support projects in Iran as it remains for the EIB’s governing bodies to decide to take up such financing activities – in line with relevant rules and procedures. Following today’s adoption, the European Parliament and the Council will have a period of two months to object to these measures before they enter into force. If no objection is raised, the updated acts will be published and will enter into force at the latest at the beginning of August, by the time the first batch of re-imposed US sanctions will take effect.The European Union is fully committed to the continued, full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, so long as Iran also respects its obligations. At the same time, the European Union is also committed to maintaining cooperation with the United States, who remains a key partner and ally.

EU Report: EU-Armenia relations reached new highs

A report released today ahead of the first Partnership Council between the European Union and Armenia, to be held on 21 June, details the significant developments in Armenia and in EU-Armenia relations since January 2015. This includes a new bilateral agreement – the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement – having been negotiated and now provisionally applied, as well as the finalisation of Partnership Priorities.“We have witnessed a very important period for EU-Armenia relations and for Armenia itself”, said the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini. “A lot of hard work and determination has gone into our new bilateral agreement, which stands to bring visible benefits to our citizens, from strengthening transparency and accountability, to creating more opportunities for trade and investment, to environmental protection. Now is the time to implement the agreement, along with our Partnership Priorities, so as to turn the hard work on paper into concrete results.” The Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn added: “In addition to the new agreement, which was ratified unanimously by the Armenian Parliament and is now being provisionally applied, we also have seen encouraging steps forward when it comes to bringing our citizens closer together, through initialling a common aviation agreement and extending the Trans-European Transport Network. Armenia has also participated actively in our Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels last November, when leaders endorsed the 20 deliverables for 2020, complementing the priorities of our bilateral agenda.” Other notable developments, including as regards human rights, education, research, mobility and governance, are also detailed in the report, which is available online. A full press release can be found here, and more information on EU-Armenia relations is available in a factsheet and on the website of the EU Delegation.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Access by HgCapital and TA Associates

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over the Access Group (“Access”) by HgCapital LLP (“Hg”), both of the UK and TA Associated L.P. (“TA”) of the US. Access primarily supplies a range of enterprise application software solutions in financial and human capital management. Hg is a private equity company which manages investment funds that invest mainly in Europe. TA is a private equity company active in North America, Europe and Asia. Some of TA’s portfolio companies provide IT services, including the provision of business software. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the companies’ moderate combined market position resulting from the proposed transaction. 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.8924.



Joint press statement by Mrs. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality and Mr. Lee Hyo-sung, Chairman of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) on the state of play of the adequacy dialogue

Chairman Lee, Hyo-sung and Commissioner Věra Jourová held a productive meeting in Seoul on 1 June 2018 with the aim to take stock of and further accelerate the work towards achieving an adequacy finding by the end of 2018. They took note of the significant progress made since Korea submitted its request for partial adequacy and agreed that the two parties share very similar values with respect to human rights, with both sides recognising personal data protection as a fundamental right. They also confirmed their commitment to find suitable solutions to bridge relevant differences between the two systems. They agreed to intensify their efforts to accelerate the pace of the discussions. Both sides stated their intention to organise a high level meeting later in 2018 in Brussels with a view to finalize the adequacy talks. By ensuring the free flow of personal data, a decision of adequacy will enhance the mutual benefits for Korea and the EU, while strengthening the protection of the fundamental right to privacy. It will also contribute to elevating the strategic partnership between Korea and the EU. The statement is available online.



Commissioner  Andriukaitis in Germany

On 7 June, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food safety will be in Berlin, Germany to meet with Mr Jens Spahn, Minister of Health, and Ms Julia Klöckner, Minister of Agriculture. Commissioner Andriukaitis will also meet with the Members of the Bundestag’s Committees for Health, and Food and Agriculture and representative of the German Association of Statutory Health and Long-Term Care Insurance. “I am looking forward to engaging in fruitful discussions on Health Technology Assessment, E-health, antimicrobial resistance, general food law and more“, said Commissioner Andriukaitis ahead of the visit.



Commissioner Jourová on official visit to Austria and Slovakia

Commissioner Jourová will travel to Vienna tomorrow to deliver a key note speech on media freedom and democracy at the Media Symposium conference.  Her speech will be available online, after delivery. In the afternoon, she will go to Slovakia, where she will meet two prosecutors and discuss the progress on the Jan Kuciak case, the journalist tragically murdered,and will honour the late Jan Kuciak in Veľká Mača. On Friday, she will exchange views on Roma integrationwith Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities, Ábel Ravasz, Public Defender of Rights, Mária Patakyová, and stakeholders. She will then meet the Minister of Justice of the Slovak Republic, Gábor Gál, and the Editor-In-Chief of, Peter Bardy along with other representatives of independent media. Finally, she will participate in a Citizens Dialogue at HN Club forum. A press conference will take place at 13:00 at the European Information Centre, Palisady 29, Bratislava.

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