|COLLEGE MEETING: Multiannual Financial Framework after 2020
Ahead of the Informal Leaders’ meeting on 23 February 2018, the European Commission is today setting out various options – and their financial consequences – for a new and modern, long-term EU budget that delivers efficiently on its priorities after 2020. When discussing the level of ambition of EU action in areas like protecting the EU’s external borders, supporting a true European Defence Union, boosting Europe’s digital transformation or making the EU’s cohesion and agricultural policies more efficient, it is important for the Leaders to ascertain what their choices would mean concretely in terms of funding at EU level. Today’s contribution from the Commission seeks to do exactly that – by quantifying the financial impact of various possible policy choices. Their purpose is to focus minds, to stimulate discussion and to provide a sound factual basis for making the important choices that lie ahead. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Budgets are not bookkeeping exercises – they are about priorities and ambition. They translate our future into figures. So let’s first discuss about the Europe we want. Then, Member States must back their ambition up with the money to match. And whilst we all need to understand that business as usual is not an option for this upcoming discussion, I firmly believe that we can square the circle and agree on a budget where everyone will be a net beneficiary.” The Commission is also setting out options to modernise the EU budget, including by possibly strengthening the link between EU funding and the respect for the EU’s fundamental values. Moreover, it sets out possibilities for strengthening the link – often referred to as “conditionality” – between the goals of the EU budget and the way it is funded. Finally, a swift political agreement on a new, modern EU budget will be essential to demonstrate that the Union is ready to deliver on the positive political agenda outlined in Bratislava and Rome. Commissioner in charge of Budget and Human Resources, Günther H. Oettinger said: “We must not repeat the unfortunate experience of 2013 when the current EU budget was agreed with considerable delay. If such a delay were to happen again, more than 100,000 EU-funded projects – in key areas like business support, energy efficiency, health care, education and social inclusion – would not be able to start on time, and hundreds of thousands of young people would not be able to benefit from an Erasmus+ exchange in 2021.” The European Commission will table its formal proposal for the next long-term EU budget in the coming months, at the latest in early May 2018. In the meantime, the Commission will continue listening to all stakeholders, including via the public consultations on the priorities of the EU that were launched in January 2018. A press release is available online, along with a series of explanatory factsheets. The press conference with President Jean-Claude Juncker and Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger can be followed on EbS.
COLLEGE MEETING: A Europe that delivers: Commission presents ideas for a more efficient European Union
Ahead of the Informal Leaders’ meeting on 23 February 2018, the European Commission is today presenting a number of practical steps that could make the European Union’s work more efficient, and improve the connection between the leaders of the EU institutions and the citizens of Europe. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said today: “I have always said that form should follow function – this is not the time for long discussions about institutional reform or Treaty change. There are, however, a number of steps we can take to make the work of the European Union even more efficient in delivering on the key priorities that matter for Europeans. There are many options but the goal must be one and the same: creating a Europe that delivers.” Today’s contribution from the Commission sets out the different institutional options for improving the organisation of European elections and deepening the connection between the leaders of the EU institutions and the citizens of Europe – from lead candidates, to transnational lists all the way to a double-hatted President for the European Commission and European Council. A press release is available online, along with a series of explanatory factsheets.
COLLEGE MEETING: European Commission proposes to appoint a Member of the Board and Director “Resolution Planning and Decisions” in the Single Resolution Board
Today the European Commission proposed to appoint Mr Bostjan Jazbec as a Member of the Board and Director “Resolution Planning and Decisions” in the Single Resolution Board (“SRB”). In line with Regulation (EU) No 806/2014, which sets up the Board, the Commission had established a shortlist for the function of Member of the Board and Director “Resolution Planning and Decisions” on 20 December 2017. This shortlist was then transmitted to the European Parliament, which has in turn provided feedback. The Commission will now communicate its decision to the European Parliament for approval. Following such approval, it will then be for the Council to appoint Mr Jazbec. The appointment will be for a period of five years, non-renewable. Mr Bostjan Jazbec, a Slovenian official, has been serving as Governor of the Bank of Slovenia and Member of the Governing and General Councils of the European Central Bank since 2013. He also is the Slovenian Governor of the International Monetary Fund and a Member of the Central Bank Governance Group of the Bank for International Settlements. The SRB is the central resolution authority within the Banking Union. Together with the National Resolution Authorities of participating Member States, it forms the Single Resolution Mechanism, whose purpose is to ensure an orderly resolution of failing banks with minimal costs for taxpayers and to the real economy.
European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission registers ‘We are a welcoming Europe, let us help!’ initiative
The European Commission has today decided to register a European Citizens’ Initiative entitled ‘We aer a welcoming Europe, let us help!’ which states: “Governments are struggling to handle migration. Most of us want to help people in need because we care. Millions have stood up to help. Now we want to be heard. Let’s reclaim a Welcoming Europe! We call upon the European Commission to act.” The organisers call on the Commission to “support local groups that help refugees… stop governments punishing volunteers… defend victims of exploitation, crime and human rights abuses” (see Annex). The Commission’s decision to register the Initiative concerns only the legal admissibility of the proposal. The Commission has not analysed the substance at this stage. More information here
EUROSTAT: Flash estimate for the fourth quarter of 2017-GDP up by 0.6% in both euro area and EU28-+2.7% and 2.6% respectively compared with the fourth quarter of 2016
Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.6% in both the euro area (EA19) and the EU28 during the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with the previous quarter, according to a flash estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the third quarter of 2017, GDP grew by 0.7% in both zones. Full text available here
State aid: Commission approves public service compensation to Bornholm airport in Denmark
The European Commission has found the Danish public support to the airport of Bornholm to be in line with EU State aid rules. The public funding facilitates regional connectivity and contributes to the area’s development without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. Bornholm airport is located on an island in the Baltic Sea and is entrusted with the operation of a service of general economic interest (SGEI) requiring it to receive all airlines that wish to fly to and from it. The approved public compensation amounts to approximately DKK 26 million (€3.5 million) annually until 2020. The Commission assessed this measure under its 2014 Guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines, which allow Member States to grant aid in the form of SGEI compensation to airports that have an important role for regional connectivity. The Commission’s investigation found that without the airport, the island of Bornholm would face significant disadvantages in terms of connectivity and economic development compared to other European regions, as the airport is the most important connection hub for its population to reach the Danish mainland and for tourists from the rest of Europe to reach Bornholm. In line with the Guidelines, the Commission also ensured that the compensation cannot be used to directly subsidise any airline serving the airport. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the State Aid Register under the case number SA.49331.
Commissioner Stylianides visits Ireland to present rescEU, the EU’s comprehensive plan to strengthen its emergency response to disasters
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is travelling to Dublin today to meet with Mr Paul Kehoe, Minister of State at the Department of Defence. The visit provides an opportunity for Commissioner Stylianides to presentrescEU, the European Commission’s ambitious new plan to strengthen Europe’s ability to deal with natural disasters. Ireland has recently witnessed the unprecedented weather phenomenon of hurricane Ophelia. In anticipation of more frequent and extreme weather conditions also in Europe, the Commission’s proposal intends to create a more robust EU civil protection mechanism, enabling the EU to better support all Member States to help citizens when national capacities have been exhausted. The comprehensive plan focusses on two complementary strands of action, targeting a stronger collective response at European level, rescEU, and stepping up disaster prevention and preparedness capacities. Administrative procedures will be streamlined and simplified to reduce the time needed to deploy life-saving assistance.
Vice-President Šefčovič in Azerbaijan to attend the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council
Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič arrives in Baku, Azerbaijan, later today, to attend the 4th meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council. The Council gathers all main actors involved in the Southern Gas Corridor, which is a strategic initiative that aims to bring Caspian, Central Asian, Middle Eastern and the Black Sea gas resources to the European markets. The meeting is crucial for streamlining the development and implementation of the Corridor by bringing together all the countries and stakeholders involved. Ministers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey will also attend, as invitations were extended to the energy ministers of the relevant EU Member States, partner countries and international financing institutions. On the margins, Vice-President will hold bilateral talks with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. Before arriving to Baku, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “I am looking forward to receiving a detailed update from the operators and consortia on various projects of the Southern Gas Corridor. It has a strategic importance for the European energy security, especially in the most vulnerable parts of Europe, such as South-East Europe and Southern Italy. We all stand to gain from this ‘bridge’ between the EU market and the Caspian region. In the long run, our objective is to create a pan-European energy market based on free trade, competition and diversified supplies, sources and routes.”
Commissioner Jourová in Prague
Tomorrow and Friday, 15 and 16 February, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová, will be in Prague, Czech Republic. On Thursday, she will give a keynote speech at the international ‘Digital Czech Republic‘ conference. The Commissioner will also give an opening speech at the Round Table addressing the issue of dual quality of food and food standardisation, which will be attended by several representatives of consumer organisations and the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority. Later in the afternoon, Commissioner Jourová will meet with the ANO party caucus in the Czech Senate. To conclude the day, Commissioner Jourová will attend a dinner with female CEOs. On Friday, the Commissioner will participate in the Round Table of the National Convention, with participants ranging from the government to businesses and civil society, to discuss the institutional reforms of the EU.