08 Nov 2017


Brussels, Brussels Daily


EU-Mercosur trade negotiations: Vice-President Katainen in Argentina and Brazil

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness will travel on 9 and 10 November 2017 to Argentina and Brazil for high-level political meetings in the context of the ongoing trade negotiations between the EU and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). The visit complements a negotiating round that is taking place this week in Brasilia and is part of the EU’s political effort to reach an agreement on an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement by the end of the year. The programme of the visit in Buenos Aires (Argentina) includes meetings with the President of Argentina, Mr. Mauricio Macri and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jorge Faurie, a meeting with members of the Argentinian Parliament, a working lunch with several ministers, parliamentarians and the Argentinian chief trade negotiator, as well as a dialogue with the European Chamber of Commerce (Eurocamera) and representatives of bilateral chambers. The Vice-President and Minister Faurie will deliver speeches in the Salon Libertador of Palacio San Martin (livestreamed at 16:00 CET, on Thursday 9 November), followed by press statement. In Brasilia, Vice-President Katainen will meet with the President of Brazil, Mr. Michel Temer, and with the Minister of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services, Mr. Marcos Pereira. He will also attend a meeting with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the four Mercosur countries, followed by a working lunch. Vice-President will also participate in a press conference at Itamaraty, Brasilia (Brazil); livestreamed at 15:30 CET on Friday 10 November. The EU and Mercosur economies are already strongly integrated: the EU is Mercosur’s biggest trading partner and biggest foreign investor; Mercosur investment in Europe is also considerable. More information about EU-Mercosur trade relations


College meeting: Glyphosate: state of play and the next steps

The state of play and the next steps in the procedure of the renewal of the approval of glyphosate was on the College agenda today. The Commission is working towards reaching a decision which enjoys the broadest possible support by the Member States while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment in line with the EU legislation. Following the exchange of views with the Member States’ representatives on 25 October, a proposal for the renewal of the approval of glyphosate for five years was submitted to Member States. The period of five years also takes into account the latest non-binding Resolution adopted by the European Parliament. A vote is scheduled to take place on 9 November at the next Standing Committee on Plant Animal Food and Feed meeting composed of representatives from all Member States and chaired by the European Commission. The approval of active substances, such as glyphosate, and the authorisation of plant protection products, is outlined in the Regulation which sets out the requirements, procedure and timeframe for such. Under the current EU legislation, the European Commission has the legal obligation to reply to the submitted applications for approval or renewal of approval of active substances. The authorisation of Plant Protection Products (PPPs), such as those which are glyphosate-based, as well as the conditions for their use within the territories of EU Member States, remains the responsibility of Member States, who have to conduct risk assessments for each product, taking into account the climatic and agricultural conditions in their territories. The Commission has consistently called for the full implementation of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive, the introduction of low risk and bio pesticides, and a ban of certain co-formulants that are used in glyphosate-based products. More information about glyphosate is available online.  


Commissioner Hogan on official visit to Saudi Arabia and Iran with EU agri-food producers

From 8 November to 13 November, Mr Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, is visiting Saudi Arabia and Iran accompanied by a business delegation of European agri-food producers from 19 different Member States. The aim is to boost EU trade in food and agricultural products with the two Middle Eastern nations, that in 2016 represented an export value of over €5 billion.Commissioner Hogan said: “I am glad to be continuing my diplomatic offensive for EU agri-food trade, by leading a mission to Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both countries are large markets, relatively close to Europe, with considerable potential for further trade. They appreciate our European food quality and high standards. I look forward to opening doors and developing opportunities for our European producers this week, building on previous missions to China, Japan, Mexico, Colombia, Canada, Indonesia and Vietnam.” In Saudi Arabia (8-9 November), the Commissioner’s programme foresees a series of political and business meetings with, among other, Mr Abdurrahman Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadli, Minister for Water, Environment and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia, and Mr Hisham Saad Aljadhey, Chief Executive Officer of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority. While in Iran (10-13 November) , Commissioner Hogan will meet among other Mr Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, Minister of health of Iran and Mr Mohammad Shariatmadari, Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade of Iran. In addition to the Commissioner’s programme, the representatives in the business delegation will hold several business meetings in the two countries and will participate in different events.  Commissioner Hogan‘s trip comes within the framework of the European Union’s promotion policy for agri-food products, designed to help producers sell their EU farm products in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, at the same time as delivering jobs and growth at home. Previous trips for Commissioner Hogan included visits to Canada (1-3 May 2017),Columbia and Mexico(8-12 February 2017),Vietnam and Indonesia(02-09 November 2016) and China and Japan(16-22 April 2016). The full visit’s programme as well as the list of the accompanying European agri-food producers is available online


College meeting: Commission takes action to reinforce EU’s global leadership in clean vehicles

The Commission today took a decisive step forward in implementing the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement for a binding domestic CO2 reduction of at least 40% till 2030. At the same time as the international climate conference takes place in Bonn, the Commission is showing that the EU is leading by example. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker outlined in the State of the European Union speech in September: “I want Europe to be the leader when it comes to the fight against climate change. Last year, we set the global rules of the game with the Paris Agreement ratified here, in this very House. Set against the collapse of ambition in the United States, Europe must ensure we make our planet great again. It is the shared heritage of all of humanity.” With the entering into force of the Paris Agreement, the international community has committed to move towards a modern low-carbon economy, while the automotive industry is undergoing profound transformation. The EU must seize this opportunity and become a global leader, with countries such as the United States and China moving ahead very quickly. To give one example: EU sales of new passenger cars relative to global sales have decreased from 34% before the financial crisis (2008/2009) to 20% today. To maintain market shares and to accelerate the transition towards low and zero emission vehicles, the Commission proposed today new targets for the EU fleet wide average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars and vans that will apply from 2025 and 2030 respectively. The package will also put in place a clear direction of travel towards achieving the EU’s agreed commitments under the Paris Agreement and will stimulate both innovation in new technologies and business models, and a more efficient use of all modes for the transport of goods. These proposals will be boosted by targeted financial instruments to ensure a swift deployment. The CO2 emission reduction targets the Commission proposes today are based on sound analysis and broad stakeholder involvement, from NGOs to industry. Both for new cars and vans, the average CO2 emissions will have to be 30% lower in 2030, compared to 2021. Read the full press release in all languages and the fact sheet  here


College meeting: Commission takes steps to extend common EU gas rules to import pipelines

To improve the functioning of the EU internal energy market and enhance solidarity between Member States, the Commission today proposed to amend the EU Gas Directive (2009/73/EC). An integrated gas market is the cornerstone of the EU’s Energy Union and a key priority of the European Commission. In the context of his State of the European Union Speech on 13 September, President Juncker announced that, building upon the solidarity aspect of the Energy Union, the Commission will propose common rules for gas pipelines entering the European internal gas market. The aim of the amendment is to complete the existing Gas Directive and clarify that the core principles of EU energy legislation (third-party access, tariff regulation, ownership unbundling and transparency) will apply to all gas pipelines to and from third countries up to the border of the EU’s jurisdiction. This will ensure that all major pipelines entering the EU territory comply with EU rules, are operated under the same degree of transparency, are accessible to other operators and are operated efficiently. Once the amendment is adopted by the European Parliament and Council these changes will constitute a significant step towards the completion of the Energy Union. This clarification will also contribute to meeting the goals of the EU gas market, which include increasing competition between gas suppliers and providing a boost to energy security in the EU. Ensuring that all major pipelines wholly or partly located in EU territory are operated efficiently under a regime of transparent regulatory oversight will diminish conflicts of interests between infrastructure operators and gas suppliers, and guarantee non-discriminatory tariff setting. The press release and fact sheet are available online.


College meeting: Discussion on Turkey and Pre-Accession support

Following the leaders’ debate on Turkey at the October European Council, the College discussed the matter today. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations gave an overview of current pre-accession (IPA) support and the next steps to be taken. The Commission will act on the invitation of the European Council to present options on the adaptation of the indicative financial allocations for Turkey for the years 2018-2020. Commissioner Hahn will present these to the December General Affairs Council (GAC) for a political decision. In the meantime, in line with the Presidency conclusions of the GAC in December 2016, the Commission is already focusing ongoing pre-accession funding on key areas such as the rule of law, fundamental rights, civil society and people-to-people contacts, which will be preserved in future assistance programmes.


College meeting: Visit by the Bulgarian government ahead of the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU

Today the Bulgarian Government is visiting the Berlaymont ahead of Bulgaria’s presidency of the Council. This morning President Juncker met bilaterally with Prime Minister Borissov. Following their weekly meeting, the College of Commissioners received the Bulgarian government for a plenary session in order to prepare the first-ever Bulgarian Presidency of the EU. Discussions will notably focus on the Commission’s Work Programme, the Union’s policy regarding the Western Balkans and the preparation of the next Multiannual Financial Framework. The plenary will be followed by a working lunch where discussions will focus on the Union’s defence and migration policies as well as on digital and energy matters. At 14:15 CET, President Juncker and Prime Minister Borissov will hold a joint press point, which you can follow live on EbS.


Investment Plan for Europe supports largest European onshore windfarm in Northern Sweden

The EIB has signed a €180 million financing agreement for the construction and operation of the largest onshore wind farm on European territory so far. 179 wind turbines will be built near the Northern Swedish city of Piteå, close to the Arctic Circle. Of the EIB financing €100 million are backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. GE Renewable Energy will supply the project with its 3.6 MW turbines with 137 metre rotors, a turbine ideally suited for the project site’s wind speeds and climate. Additionally, the turbines will be equipped with de-icing technology. The project is part of the first phase of “Markbygden 1101”, the largest single site onshore wind farm in Europe, which is expected to be completed by 2020. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Investing in renewable energy by building wind farms helps to access affordable, clean and secure energy. However, these large, innovative projects involve a higher level of risk for investors, which is where the Investment Plan comes in, providing its guarantee to enable other investors to come on board. The construction of this ground-breaking wind farm will confirm Sweden’s position as one of the most forward-looking, sustainable countries in the EU. For more information see the Investment Plan website 


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Nets A/S by Hellman & Friedman

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Nets A/S of Denmark by Hellman & Friedman (H&F) of the US. Nets provides payments, cards, and information services in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia. H&F is a private equity firm with investments in a variety of sectors worldwide. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there are no horizontal overlaps or vertical relationships between the activities of the two companies. 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.8676.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Copenhagen Airports by ATP and OTPP

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Copenhagen Airports A/S by Arbejdsmarkedets Tillaegspension (ATP), both of Denmark, and Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan Board (OTPP) of Canada. Copenhagen Airports is the owner and operator of the Kastrup and Roskilde airports, which are located in Denmark, as well as the Clarion Copenhagen Airport Hotel. ATP is a Danish public pension provider which administers a number of welfare and social security schemes. OTPP administers pension benefits and invests pension plan assets on behalf of active and retired teachers in the Canadian province of Ontario. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the transaction’s 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 review, in the public case register under the case number M. 8634.





Joint Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on the typhoon in Vietnam

“The typhoon that struck Vietnam over the past days has taken many lives and caused considerable damage, adding to the toll of a number of storms in the past weeks. On behalf of the European Union, we express our heartfelt condolences to the victims, their families and loved ones, and to all those affected. The European Union stands alongside the people of Vietnam and the Vietnamese authorities at this time, in particular the emergency services and response teams who are working to save lives and minimise the damage to homes, livelihoods and infrastructure. We are in touch with the Vietnamese authorities and the European Union is ready to help. Our 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre is closely monitoring developments and will send a team in the coming days to assess the damage and explore any assistance requested by the Vietnamese authorities at this difficult time.” You can find the statement here.




High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Neven Mimica travel to Central Asia

On Friday 10 November, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, and the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica will be in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, for the 13th annual EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting. Ahead of the visit, High Representative-Vice President Mogherini said: “Central Asia is of strategic importance for the European Union. From security to countering radicalisation and extremism, from trade to the support of civil society, the EU and the countries of the region are strong partners. Our annual meeting gives us a chance to review what has been achieved over the past year and to look ahead to a new agenda to foster growth, security and stability in our regions, for the benefit of our citizens.” Commissioner Mimica said: “The European Union is a key partner of the countries of Central Asia – and we are ready to strengthen our engagement with the region. With roughly €1.2 billion in support up to 2020, we are helping the region to develop in a sustainable way. Together with our Central Asian partners, we are supporting initiatives and reforms that aim at job creation, private sector development, promotion of investments, good governance, water management, the provision of education and health services and border management.” The meeting is expected to focus on security, economic, and political issues, as well as the European Union’s role in the region, and the High Representative/Vice-President will have a press point together with the meeting’s host, the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan,at 12:00 CET. While in Samarkand, High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will also deliver a speech at the conference “Central Asia: Shared past and common future, cooperation for sustainable development and mutual prosperity”. She will also hold a number of meetings, including with the President of Uzbekistan and the foreign ministers of the Central Asian countries. The day before, on Thursday 9 November, the High Representative/Vice-President will be in Bishkek to meet with the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Almazbek Atambayev, with the President-elect, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, who was elected on 15 October, and with the Prime Minister, Sapar Isakov. The visit takes place one month after the decision of the Council of the European Union to launch negotiations on a new, ambitious and comprehensive bilateral agreement between the EU and Kyrgyzstan. Coverage of the visit will be available on EbS. Factsheets are available on the EU’s relations with Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Central Asia as a region.


Vice-President Šefčovič in Greece for second Energy Union Tour

On 9 and 10 November, Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič will visit Greece in the context of his second Energy Union Tour. The Vice-President will meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Minister of Energy and Environmental Policy Georgios Stathakis as well as the President of the ‘Nea Dimokratia’ party Kyriakos Mitsotakis. In addition, he will hold discussions with the President of the National Energy Regulator and the top management of energy suppliers and transmission system operators in the area of electricity and gas. These talks will focus on the situation of the gas and electricity market in Greece, its security of energy supply, and efforts to enhance energy efficiency. The Vice-President will also give an opening address at both, the EU Arab World Summit in Athens and an event on the Energy Union organised by the Greek Energy Forum. Ahead of his visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “I appreciate good progress that Greece is making towards the Energy Union’s objectives. It is important to keep this momentum when economic growth is picking up. A competitive and well-integrated gas and electricity markets is instrumental. I also look forward to discussing how Greece could make even better use of Cohesion Policy funds. During 2014-2020 alone, some €493 million from this source will be invested in energy efficiency improvements in Greece, in particular for public and residential buildings.”Information on the 2017 Energy Union tour is available here. More information on the Energy Union is available here.


Vice-President Ansip in Budapest to discuss progress towards EU’s Digital Single Market 

Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip is in Budapest, Hungary today and tomorrow holding a number of meetings on the Digital Single Market and opening the European ICT Proposers’ Day 2017. During the visit, Vice-President Ansip will discuss progress towards the Digital Single Market with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Minister of National Development Miklós Seszták and Minister of National Economy Mihály Varga. Tomorrow afternoon, he will participate in a dialogue on digital Europe with the students of the Central European University (CEU). His speech will be available here at around 13:30 CET. After the debate, Vice-President Ansip will meet the President and Rector of CEU Michael Ignatieff and CEU Professor Zsolt Enyedi. Tonight, the Vice-President will open the two-day event ICT Proposers’ Day 2017 with a keynote speech. The event is dedicated to research and innovation in the ICT sector and will focus this year on the Work Programme 2018-2020 of Horizon 2020, the EU’s €77 billion research and innovation funding programme. The Vice-President’s speech will be available here at 18:15 CET. Another highlight of the ICT Proposers’ Day will be the final of the Innovation Radar Prize tomorrow evening. The Innovation Radar is a Commission initiative to identify and recognise high-potential innovations and innovators in EU-funded research and innovation projects. Using the radar, 48 of the best EU-funded innovators were pre-selected to compete with their innovation for the Prize. After more than 62,000 public votes, 20 finalists were been selected for the finale in Budapest. More information on the event can be found here.


Commissioner Hahn in Tirana, Albania for the EU-Western Balkans Media Days: Strengthening media in the Western Balkans

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations will be in Tirana, Albania from 8 to 10 November to participate at the EU-Western Balkans Media Days. The event will gather over 250 representatives of media outlets and media-organisations, as well as policymakers from the EU and the Western Balkans, to discuss about freedom of expression, economic sustainability of the media sector, and the role of media in the accession process. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Johannes Hahn said: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental value of the EU and as such a cornerstone of the enlargement process, with a strong and independent press as a driver of the democratic transformation. It is a pillar of open and prosperous societies everywhere. The launch of the EU-Western Balkans Media Days will broaden the scope of topics in order to discuss the media situation in the Western Balkans from various angles, like the change in the media landscape which requires new, innovative business models. I am confident that this conference will give a new impetus for strengthening media freedom and establishing a more vibrant, diverse and economically sound media landscape in the region, which is able to cope with the great challenges in the media sector“. Reports of the 2 panels and 6 workshops will feed into the final conclusions of the conference, which will be presented by Commissioner Hahn on Friday. The results of the conference will help adjusting the European Union’s approach to support and to strengthen the media sector in the Western Balkans. In Tirana, Commissioner Hahn will also meet with political authorities, including President Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama, Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati as well as with representative of the opposition political parties. More information on the EU-Western Balkans Media Days is available online.  Photo and videos of the visit will be available on EbS.

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