Brussels Daily
07 Sep 2017


Brussels Daily


Brexit: European Commission publishes guiding principles on Ireland and Northern Ireland and four additional position papers

The European Commission has today set out its principles for the political dialogue on Ireland and Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations. Today’s paper states that the Good Friday Agreement should continue to be protected and strengthened in all its parts after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The continuation of the Common Travel Area should also be recognised. The European Commission has also published today four other position papers on customs, intellectual property, public procurement and use of data. All four papers relate to the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU and aim to ensure that there is legal clarity on the date of the UK’s withdrawal. The paper on customs clarifies the status of goods circulating in the Single Market at the time of withdrawal. As for public procurement, ongoing procedures at the time of withdrawal should continue to be covered by EU law. For intellectual property issues, the EU’s position is to give certainty to right holders and those who will be in the process of acquiring rights at the time of withdrawal. The paper on the use of data ensures that data obtained by the UK before its withdrawal is properly protected. In keeping with the Commission’s transparency policy, all papers have been published on the Taskforce 50 website. They will be discussed at the Council Working Party (Art 50) and are fully in line with the mandate provided to the Commission in the European Council guidelines and the Council’s negotiating directives. Today’s papers bring the total number of EU position papers to 14.  More information here

Eurostat: GDP and main aggregates estimate for the second quarter of 2017 – GDP up by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.7% in the EU28 – +2.3% and +2.4% respectively compared with the second quarter of 2016

Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.6% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.7% in the EU28 during the second quarter of 2017, compared with the previous quarter, according to an estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the first quarter of 2017, GDP grew by 0.5% in both areas. More information here 

First tripartite political meeting ahead of Transparency Register negotiations

The Commission issued a statement yesterday evening, following an exchange of views with political representatives of the Parliament and Council on the state of play regarding the Commission’s proposal for an inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory Transparency Register. The three EU institutions agreed on the political importance of this issue and underlined their commitment to increase the transparency of interest representation, and thus of the EU decision-making process, through a clear and comprehensive framework for representation activities within their respective institutional autonomy. Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said after the meeting: “In the Commission we provide full transparency with regard to lobbyists who talk to us. The public has the right to know who tries to influence the EU decision-making process. Now it is time for the Parliament, Council and Commission to jointly agree to set up a mandatory Transparency Register, as proposed by the Commission. We can achieve this if all of us apply the simple principle that the Commission is already implementing: if a lobbyist is not on the Register, then he or she won’t get a meeting with a Commissioner, an MEP or the Council Presidency.  We look forward to starting the negotiations as soon as possible.” The Commission submitted its proposal for an Inter-institutional Agreement on a mandatory Transparency Register on 28 September 2016. The proposal aims to strengthen the framework for a transparent and ethical interaction between interest representatives and the three institutions participating in the new scheme.

Security Union: Commission delivers on 2017 security priorities

The European Commission is today reporting on actions taken since President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union address to enhance security at the EU external border, improve information exchange between Member States, close down the space in which terrorists operate and prevent radicalisation. A year later, the Commission has delivered on all security related priorities set out by President Juncker. This 10th Security Union Progress Report also takes stock of the progress made on other security files and looks ahead to continued work in the next 12 months and beyond. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “All the measures set out in President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union address and the 2017 Commission Work Programme have been implemented. This should be seen as the strong basis for further joint action in the years ahead. With trust, we all need to work together, EU institutions and Agencies with Member States, to put in place a genuine and effective Security Union.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “We have made our external borders more secure, improved our exchange of information about terrorists and other criminals, and stepped up our work with internet companies and local communities to tackle radicalisation. Our citizens look to us to protect and strengthen their security; working together we need to deliver on the commitments we’ve made.” Further details can be found in the press release and the press conference with Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King is available on EbS. More information on the Commission’s efforts towards creating a Security Union: ‘A Europe that Protects’ and European Agenda for Security is available online.


EU to launch global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström today announced that the EU will launch an international Alliance for Torture-Free Trade. The initiative – a joint effort together with Argentina and Mongolia – aims to end trade in goods used for capital punishment and torture (e.g. batons with metal spikes, electric shock belts, and grabbers that seize people by the waist or limb while electrocuting them, chemicals used to execute people and the forced injection systems that go with them). The Alliance will be formally launched on 18 September during United Nations General Assembly week in New York.Over 50 UN member countries from all over the word are expected to join on launch day. By signing up to the Alliance, countries will be agreeing to take measures to control and restrict exports of these goods, equip their customs authorities with appropriate tools, make technical assistance available to help other countries with setting up and implementing laws to ban this trade and exchange practices for efficient control and enforcement systems. The Alliance will also set up a platform to monitor trade flows, exchange information, and identify new products. The EU is committed to protecting human rights, and to the fight against torture and the abolition of the death penalty. The EU’s stringent legislation on trade in goods used for torture or the death penalty has already reaped results. Effort at the global level will make it even more efficient, as it will prevent its circumvention. More information about the initiative is available through a dedicated website: EbS material, including photos of tools of torture, is available here, and Commissioner Malmström‘s press conference can be viewed on EbS.


Consumer Authorities and the European Commission urge Volkswagen to finalise repairs of all cars affected by emissions scandal

Today the EU consumer authorities and the European Commission sent a joint letter to the CEO of Volkswagen urging the group to swiftly repair all cars affected by the “dieselgate” scandal. This is part of a coordinated action by EU consumer authorities to make sure that the Volkswagen group respects consumer law in the aftermath of the scandal and is proactive towards the consumers concerned. Consumer authorities across the EU continue to receive indications that many of the cars affected have not been repaired yet. Commissioner Jourová said: “I am pleased to see that consumer authorities, as enforcers of EU law, are united in their approach concerning Volkswagen, and that they insist that our demands are respected. More than 8 million consumers in different Member States have been affected by the VW case. When there are pan-European problems like this, only by acting together can consumer authorities ensure that EU consumer law is respected everywhere in the Union. With today’s joint position, EU consumers can be sure that both consumer authorities in Member States and the European Commission are on their side and that any half measurers will not be accepted.” After talks with Commissioner Jourová in 2016, Volkswagen committed to repairing all affected cars by autumn 2017. Today EU consumer authorities, under the leadership of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), are urging Volkswagen to confirm, within one month, that this plan will be upheld. They demand full transparency in this process, including a detailed account on what has been achieved and what remains to be done. The Commission has requested that all affected Volkswagen cars should be brought into full conformity with type approval rules, therefore Volkswagen should guarantee to resolve any potential problem arising after the repairs. A full press release is available online.


State aid: Commission approves German aid for Memmingen Airport

The European Commission has found that public support to Memmingen airport in Germany is in line with EU state aid rules. The measure will allow the airport to make the necessary investments to retain an airport classification that is required from a regulatory perspective to accommodate certain planes. In 2013, the Commission approved aid for the same investment project, for up to €7.75 million which amounted to 50% of the total estimated cost of the project. However, the project did not go forward and the aid was never paid. With today’s decision, Germany is allowed to grant up to €12.2 million of investment aid to the project, which amounts to 69% of the total cost. The higher aid amount reflects the increased project costs and weakened financing perspectives and is in line with the maximum aid intensity defined by the Commission’s 2014 Aviation Guidelines. The project contributes to improving connections in the region, without unduly distorting competition in the internal market. The Commission concluded that the project complies with EU State aid rules, in particular the criteria under the Aviation Guidelines. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.43787 once confidentiality issues have been resolved.


DAILY NEWS 07- 09 -2017

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