18 Apr 2018


Brussels, Brussels Daily


TRADE: European Commission proposes signature and conclusion of Japan and Singapore agreements

The Commission today presented the outcome of negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan and the trade and investment agreements with Singapore to the Council. This is the first step towards the signature and conclusion of these agreements. President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Today we take a step forwards towards concluding agreements with two of our closest Asian partners, Japan and Singapore. The impact of these agreements will go far beyond our respective shores – it sends a clear and unambiguous message that we stand together against protectionism and in defence of multilateralism. This is more important than ever.” Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said: “We now hope for a swift and smooth conclusion of these agreements, which will allow EU firms, workers, farmers and consumers to reap the benefits of these deals as soon as possible.” Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “These win-win agreements will create major opportunities for European businesses and citizens. Both Japan and Singapore are important partners for us in defending multilateralism and ensuring strong international organisations.” Once approved by the Council, the agreements will be sent to the European Parliament, aiming for the entry into force of the trade agreements with Japan and Singapore before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission in 2019; the investment protection agreement with Singapore will follow its ratification procedure also at Member State level. For more information see the press release, recording of the press conference, memos on Japan and Singapore agreements and the dedicated webpages (Japan, Singapore) containing further material, as well as the full legal texts of the agreements.


Juncker Plan set to mobilise €284 billion of investment across the EU

Following the latest transactions under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) to be approved by the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) Board of Directors, the Juncker Plan is now set to trigger €283.7 billion in investments in the EU. This represents around 90% of the original target to mobilise €315 billion of investment. The deals which will benefit from the EU budget guarantee now amount to €56.2 billion in financing and are located in all 28 Member States. The EFSI financing agreements with intermediary banks and funds are set to benefit 611,000 European SMEs. Currently, the top five countries ranked in order of EFSI investment triggered relative to GDP are Greece, Estonia, Bulgaria, Portugal and Spain. For more information see the EFSI results page.

 Agriculture: the Commission approves new geographical indication from the United Kingdom

The Commission has approved today the addition of a new product from the United Kingdom to the quality register of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). “Lough Neagh Pollan” is a white fish with a bright silver skin caught and processed in Lough Neagh, a lake in Northern Ireland. Lough Neagh is the largest lake in the UK and one of the largest lakes in north-western Europe. Before 1900, the harvesting of “Lough Neagh Pollan” dominated fishing activities on the lake. It is still considered an economically important species and depending on the time of year “Lough Neagh Pollan” makes up a significant proportion of catches. It is caught using the traditional draft netting and gill netting method. The new denomination will be added to the list of over 1,425 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products.

New EU rules to make parcel delivery more affordable signed into law 

The Commission welcomes the signature into law later today in Strasbourg of its proposal to make prices for cross-border parcel delivery services more transparent and affordable and to increase regulatory oversight of the EU parcel market. The new Regulation will allow consumers and companies, in particular SMEs, to buy and sell products and services online more easily and confidently across the EU. Vice-President Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, said: “With today’s rules, cross-border parcel delivery prices will be more transparent and easier to compare. Just a few weeks after the adoption of our proposal against unjustified geoblocking, we are making good again on our promise to make shopping online more affordable and to create a Digital Single Market.” Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “Cross-border parcel delivery services are essential for e-commerce and are a great example of how the Single Market can work for businesses and citizens. By increasing price transparency and improving regulatory oversight, we are tackling the barriers people face when trying to buy on-line and we are helping to create a true Single Market.” The Regulation on parcel delivery is one of three pillars of the Commission’s efforts to boost e-commerce in the EU, together with rules on unjustified geo-blocking and consumer protection that have already been adopted. The Regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal and will be fully applicable from 1 January 2019. You can find the press release and the MEMO published when a political agreement was found in December 2017.

EU and Argentina reinforce cooperation in marine research and innovation

The European Commission and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation of Argentina sign today an administrative arrangement encouraging cooperation in marine research and innovation. The partners will work together to tackle challenges linked to the Atlantic Ocean, including ocean observation, food security, polar research and climate variability. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “I am certain that the signature of this arrangement with Argentina will help us overcome the challenges related to the Atlantic Ocean, improve our common knowledge of marine ecosystems, develop new technologies, share research infrastructures data and develop our scientific exchanges”. The arrangement will complement the EU’s wide-ranging and successful cooperation with Argentina on science and technology and also its long-standing commitment towards Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Cooperation. Better ocean knowledge is essential to improve ocean governance and to help de-risk investment in the blue economy. To this end Commissioner Vella will host Blue Invest 2018 bringing together innovators and the financial community to boost the economic potential of the ocean while protecting its marine resources. A news item will be published after the signature (approx. 3:30 pm) also including information on bilateral relations with Argentina in the field of research and science.

EUROSTAT: March 2018 – Annual inflation up to 1.3% in the euro area – Up to 1.5% in the EU

Euro area annual inflation rate was 1.3% in March 2018, up from 1.1% in February. A year earlier, the rate was 1.5%. European Union annual inflation was 1.5% in March 2018, up from 1.4% in February. A year earlier the rate was 1.6%. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Full text available here

Better, safer roads in Western Greece and new economic opportunities thanks to cohesion policy

€293 million from the Cohesion Fund is invested in a new motorway between Patras and the town of Pyrgos in Western Greece. Located on the Trans-European Transport network (TEN-T), the new motorway will ensure faster and safer travel. Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Crețu said: “I am proud that Cohesion Policy funds can contribute to this major infrastructure project. It will significantly improve road safety in Achaia and Ilea. And by completing the motorway network around Patras, the regional capital and the third largest Greek city, it will offer new economic opportunities in the region as well as better transport connections, not only within the country, but also with neighbouring Member States.” The EU-funded project also includes the necessary associated infrastructure, such as bridges and underpasses, as well as works to facilitate access to the motorway from residential or agricultural properties, with 130 km of new or upgraded dirt roads.


Commission kicks off Fair Taxation Roadshow tomorrow

The European Commission will tomorrow launch a series of seminars on fair taxation in the EU, with a first event in Riga, Latvia. Tomorrow’s seminar brings together civil society, business representatives, policy makers, academics and interested citizens to discuss and exchange views on the problem of tax avoidance and tax evasion. Further events are planned throughout 2018 in Austria (May), France (June), Italy (September) and Ireland (October) and build on last year’s successful seminars, where around 150 civil society organisations came to Brussels for wide-ranging discussion on fair taxation issues. The upcoming roadshow should further encourage active engagement on tax fairness principles at EU, national and local level. Fair taxation is a top political priority for the Commission, which has pursued a very active and successful agenda in this field in recent years. Thanks to several major legislative packages from the Commission, important progress has been made at EU level to tackle tax abuse, increase tax transparency and restore the level playing field for all businesses. Among the most recent proposals, still to be agreed by Member States, were solutions for the fair and effective taxation of the digital economy, a fundamental reform of corporate taxation through the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base and an overhaul of the EU’s outdated VAT system. Further information on the Fair Taxation events is available onthe DG TAXUD website.


Commission welcomes final vote on energy performance of buildings

New rules will make buildings smarter and more energy efficient, saving money and creating jobs in the renovation and construction sector. The European Parliament gave yesterday its final approval on the revised Energy Performance of Buildings directive. The vote signals the closure of the first of 8 legislative proposals part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package brought forward by the European Commission on 30 November 2016. This package is a key element of one of the Juncker Commission’s priorities, “a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy“. The changes agreed by the Parliament tap into the huge potential for efficiency gains in the building sector, the largest single energy consumer in Europe. They include measures that will accelerate the rate of building renovation towards more energy efficient systems and strengthen the energy performance of new buildings, making them smarter. Read more in the press release.



Commissioners participate in IMF/World Bank spring meetings with G20 Finance Ministers in Washington

Vice-President Dombrovskis as wellas Commissioners Hahn, Mimica and Moscovici will travel to Washington DC (USA) for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings on 19-21 April. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meetings will also be held in the margins of this meeting. The Members of the Commission present in Washington will participate in a variety of high-level bilateral meetings, speaking engagements and other commitments. Vice-President Dombrovskis will meet, among others, Mr Steven Mnuchin, United States Secretary of the Treasury; Mr Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council; Mr. Jerome H. Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board;  Mr. Oleksandr Danyliuk, Minister of Finance of Ukraine and Mr. Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs of Iceland and US Senator Mr. Lindsey Graham. On 22 April, the Vice-President will travel to New York where he delivers a keynote speech at the conference “Transatlantic Economy Ten Years After the Crisis: Macro-Financial Scenarios and Policy Responses” at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and meets numerous business leaders from the financial sector. Commissioner Moscovici will meet, amongst others, US finance minister Steven Mnuchin, as well as Mr. Wilbur Ross, United States Secretary of Commerce; Mr Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council; Mr. Jerome Powell, Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, Mr. Nhlanhla Musa Nene, Minister of Finance of South Africa, Mr. Nicolás Dujovne, Minister of the Treasury of Argentina, and Mr. Octavian Armasu, Minister of Finance of Moldova. He will also deliver a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the American Enterprise Institute. Commissioners Hahn and Mimica will co-host an event on sustainable development together with Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank. Commissioner Hahn will lead the 4th High Level Meeting of the Initiative for Enhanced Cooperation with the International Financial Institutions to discuss EU cooperation in support to Neighbouring and Enlargement countries. He will also sign a new agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to set up, jointly with the German government, a new Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Energy Efficiency in Ukraine. Moreover Commissioner Mimica will co-host the annual ministerial roundtable event on “Improving Opportunities and Human Capital through Social Safety Nets” and speak at the World Bank-World Health Organisation flagship event “Towards Universal Health Coverage: Tackling the Health Financing Crisis to End Poverty”.

Commissioner Avramopoulos in Berlin

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will be in Berlin tomorrow to meet Federal Minister of the Interior, Building and Community Horst Seehofer. He will also take part in an extraordinary session of the Committee on Internal Affairs of the Bundestag on the reform of the Common European Asylum System and questions related to migration and internal security. The meeting with Minister Seehofer will be followed by a joint press point at 17:00which will be streamed live on EbS.

Commissioner Navracsics in Bulgaria for digital and youth conferences

Tomorrow, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, will be in Sofia, Bulgaria, to give a keynote speech at a conference organised by the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU and the European Commission: ‘Educate to Create: from Digital Consumers to Digital Creators’. He will highlight the Digital Education Action Plan put forward by the Commission in January which aims to ensure that young people are not only digitally confident but digitally competent. Initiatives of the Action Plan include supporting schools with high-speed broadband connections, scaling up a new self-assessment tool for schools on the use of technology for teaching and learning (SELFIE) and a public awareness campaign on online safety, media literacy and cyber hygiene. Also tomorrow, Commissioner Navracsics will, with Bulgarian Youth Minister Krasen Kralev, hold a Citizens’ Dialogue at the European Youth Conference. These conferences take place under each EU Presidency as part of the Structured Dialogue process. Commissioner Navracsics will then deliver the closing address alongside the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov. The conference provides an opportunity for discussion ahead of the upcoming new EU Youth Strategy and proposals for the future Erasmus programme and the European Solidarity Corps post-2020. See also two factsheets on the Digital Skills Gap in Europeand A Digital Single Market for the benefit of all Europeans

Commissioner Vella and Commissioner Crețu in Malta to discuss the future of cohesion policy

Today and tomorrow, Commission for Regional policy Corina Creţu and Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vellaare in Malta to discuss cohesion policy after 2020, with members of the Maltese government and citizens. In Gozo, the Commissioners will meet Elena Dalli, Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Justyne Caruana, Minister for Gozo and Aaron Farrugia, Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds and Social Dialogue. Both Commissioners will also visit the EU-funded Xewkija Industrial Park and participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue on the future of cohesion policy for Malta and Gozo. Tomorrow in Valletta, Commissioner Creţu will visit EU-funded projects in the field of sustainable urban development, tourism and transport. “Cohesion policy has had tangible benefits for Malta and Gozo with many emblematic projects having been realised thanks to EU funds,” said Commissioner Vella. Commissioner Creţu added: “I’m here to invite the Maltese people – government and citizens alike – to join the discussion on cohesion policy after 2020; it is ultimately about what Europe we want in the future.”

Commissioner Gabriel in Sofia to discuss High-Performance Computing and participate to Bulgaria’s signature of Declaration on Genomic Databanks

Tomorrow, Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, will attend Sofia Digital Forum 2018 to discuss Europe’s High-Performance Computing (HPC) strategy in the Digital Single Market alongside Europe’s leading stakeholders in the field. This event is organised by the Bulgarian Presidency in collaboration with the Commission to raise awareness on the role of High Performance Computing (HPC) to transform Europe’s digital future. The session is opened by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. At 9:15 (GMT+3), the Commissioner will give a speech, outlining the significance of EuroHPC Joint Undertaking for South and Eastern European scientific, economic and societal developments and market competitiveness. The conference follows the announcement in January that the Commission plans to invest jointly with the Member States in building a world-class European supercomputers infrastructure (press release). At 15:00 (GMT+3), Commissioner Gabriel will oversee the signing of Declaration on Genomic Databanks by Bulgaria, joining 13 EU Member States who signed this declaration during the Digital Day 2018 on 10 April in Brussels. The signatory Member States of the Declaration committed to cooperate closely in order to overcome data silos, lack of interoperability and fragmentation of smaller national initiatives. See also a factsheet on A Digital Single Market for the benefit of all Europeans.

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