Our Ocean 2017: European Union leads the way on global actions for better governance of the oceans
More than six billion euros have been committed by public and private actors at the European Union-hosted conference in Malta, to better manage the oceans. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries have announced yesterday on behalf of the EU over €550 million of EU-funded initiatives to tackle global oceans challenges. At the conference, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will announce that the European Commission will phase out by end 2017 all single-use plastic cups in water fountains and vending machines in its buildings in Brussels. Furthermore, Commissioner for Development, Neven Mimica reaffirmed on behalf of the EU and its African, Caribbean, and Pacific partners their commitment for sustainable ocean governance. Read the joint statement here. Following the strong message sent by the EU to step up action for better governance of our ocean, the total commitments made by other public and private actors from 112 countries around the world reached over €6 billion. The resources will be invested to strengthen the fight against marine pollution and enlarge protected areas, reinforce security of the oceans, foster blue economy initiatives and sustainable fisheries and intensify the EU efforts against climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals under Agenda 2030. Participants also announced the creation of new Marine Protected Areas spanning more than 2.5 million km², or more than half the size of the entire European Union. The full list of over 400 commitments (36 from the EU, over 200 from third country governments, more than 100 from business and several others from NGOs, foundations, research institutes and international organisations) are available online. A press release and memo are available online. A press conference with First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Vella can be followed live here at 13:00 CET.
Commission welcomes the Tallinn Declaration on e-government
European Ministers responsible for e-government pledged today at the Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Tallinn, Estonia to accelerate wider use of electronic identification means across the EU. This is an important step to complete the formal notification of electronic identification means under the regulation on the electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (eIDAS), which makes it possible for Europeans to access online services in other Member States just as they do at home and for European businesses to make easy electronic transactions in the internal market. Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Gabriel welcomed this step with a joint statement, saying: “European Ministers responsible for e-government committed today to accelerate wider use of electronic identification means across the EU. The Tallinn Declaration marks therefore serious progress for our citizens and businesses. […] The Commission will continue to work closely with the Member States to accelerate this process.” The full statement is available here. Another declaration was signed yesterday in Tallinn at the second Eastern Partnership Ministerial meeting on the digital economy. Ministers from EU Member States as well as from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine signed a declaration agreeing to specific targets that reflect a shared willingness to deepen their cooperation in six priority areas: electronic communications and infrastructure; trust and security; eTrade; digital skills; ICT innovation, and start up ecosystems; and eHealth. Read more here.
Trade defence: Commission imposes anti-dumping measures on steel producers from four countries
The Commission today imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of hot rolled flat steel products from Brazil, Iran, Russia and Ukraine. Hot rolled flat steel products from these countries will face duties ranging between €17.6 and €96.5 per tonne after an investigation conducted by the Commission. Serbian imports to the EU, although initially part of the investigation, were not included in the final regulation because their volume was considered negligible. This action is yet another one taken by the EU to protect European jobs and industry from unfair trade practices and brings the total number of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in place on steel products to 48. The goal is to provide a level playing field and conditions of fair competition for European companies. In addition to this, the EU is tackling the root causes of overcapacity in the global steel industry through its active involvement in the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity created last December.The text of the regulation is available in the EU Official Journal.
Investment Plan for Europe: €260 million for SMEs in Hungary
Today the European Investment Fund has signed an agreement with Hungarian guarantee institution Garantiqa to provide HUF 80 billion (ca. €260 million) to some 3,500 small and medium-sized businesses in Hungary. The agreement is covered by the guarantee of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core of the Juncker Plan. The deal will help reduce the administrative burden involved in getting a loan. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “The agreement signed today by the European Investment Fund and Garantiqa is very good news for small Hungarian businesses. Thanks to support from the Investment Plan for Europe, not only will 3,500 small businesses have access to HUF 80 billion in finance to grow their companies, but the deal will also help reduce the administrative burden involved in getting a loan. I encourage SMEs in Hungary with an investment proposal to use this opportunity and apply to Garantiqa.”
Fourth successful European Citizens’ Initiative submitted to the Commission
The European Commission has officially received this morning the submission of the 4th successful European Citizens’ Initiative. By supporting the ‘Stop Glyphosate’ European Citizens’ Initiative, over 1 million citizens from at least 7 Member States have called on the European Commission “to propose to Member States a ban on glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use”. A total of 1,070,865 statements of support have been received from 22 Member States so far, and have been checked and validated by national authorities. The European Commission will now invite the organisers within the next 3 months to present their ideas in more depth. A public hearing will be arranged in the European Parliament to allow all stakeholders to present their views, and then the Commission will decide whether to act by proposing legislation, act in some other way to achieve the goals of the Initiative, or not act at all; all three options are possible under Article 11(4) of the Treaty of the European Union. After having listened to stakeholders, the Commission will present a Communication explaining its reasoning. The European Citizens’ Initiative is a valuable tool in the hands of citizens and allows them to contribute to shaping EU law and policy. The Commission recently presented a proposal to modify the Citizens’ Initiative Regulation, to make the tool even more accessible to citizens and to encourage its wider use.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Novae by Axis
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Novae Group PLC of the UK by Axis Capital Holdings Limited of Bermuda. Novae underwrites both insurance and reinsurance through its syndicate at Lloyds (Syndicate 2007). Axis is a global (re)insurance company providing a range of specialty lines insurance and treaty reinsurance with activities in several countries, including the UK. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because of the very limited overlaps between the companies’ activities and its limited impact on the market structure. 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.8585.
European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels
This will take place in Brussels on 10-13 October. More information on the programme can be found here