Brussels Daily
20 Jul 2017


Brussels Daily


Agriculture: Commission launches crops’ market observatory

The Commission launched today a market observatory for crops to ensure more transparency and increase availability of market data for European farmers and traders. A range of market information and short-term analysis will be made available on a new dedicated website. The observatory consists of 14 organisations representing various stages of the grain supply chain. A board of 23 market experts will meet twice a year, chaired by the Commission. Speaking at the inaugural meeting, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said: “Today’s meeting is the fulfilment of a commitment to extend to the crops sector the successful story of the Market Observatories for Milk, Meat and Sugar. The EU Crops sector plays a key role for the global competitiveness of European agriculture. It is therefore our ambition for the Observatory to become an additional and useful tool to manage the market more effectively“. Crops production is an essential part of the EU farming activity, with over 300 million tonnes of cereals, 30 million tonnes of oilseeds and five million tonnes of protein crops produced every year.


Today, Member States representatives voted in favour of European Commission’s proposal to reduce the presence of acrylamide in food.

Once implemented, the new regulation will require that food business operators (FBOs) apply mandatory measures to reduce the presence of acrylamide, proportionate to the size and nature of their establishment.Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, welcomed the vote: ”Today we took an important step in protecting the health and well-being of citizens. The text agreed today will now be sent to the Council and the European Parliament. The two institutions will have three months to examine it before final adoption by the Commission. The entry into force could be foreseen spring 2018. The Commission is also planning to initiate discussions on additional measures, such as setting maximum levels of acrylamide in certain foods without delay once this Regulation is adopted. More information here


Smarter, greener, more inclusive?-How is the European Union progressing towards its Europe 2020 targets?-A mixed picture

The Europe 2020 strategy, adopted by the European Council in June 2010, is the European Union‘s agenda for jobs and growth for the current decade. As a main objective, the strategy strives to deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion in the Member States, while reducing the impact on the natural environment. To reach this objective, the EU has adopted targets to be reached by 2020 in five areas: employment, research & development (R&D), climate change & energy, education and poverty reduction.  Full text available here

First quarter of 2017-Seasonally adjusted government deficit down to 0.9% of GDP in the euro area-Down to 1.0% of GDP in the EU28

In the first quarter of 2017, the seasonally adjusted general government deficit to GDP ratio stood at 0.9% in the euro area (EA19), a decrease compared with 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2016. In the EU28, the deficit to GDP ratio stood at 1.0%, a decrease compared with 1.2% in the previous quarter. Full text available here


First quarter of 2017 compared with fourth quarter of 2016-Government debt up to 89.5% of GDP in euro area-Up to 84.1% of GDP in EU28

At the end of the first quarter of 2017, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA19) stood at 89.5%, compared with 89.2% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2016. In the EU28, the ratio also increased from 83.6% to 84.1%. Compared with the first quarter of 2016, the government debt to GDP ratio fell in both the euro area (from 91.2% to 89.5%) and the EU28 (from 84.3% to 84.1%).  Full text available here


Customs Union: EU customs seized over 41 million fake goods at EU borders last year

New figures released by the European Commission today show that customs authorities detained more than 41 million fake and counterfeit products at the EU’s external border in 2016. The goods had a total value of over €670 million. Everyday products which are potentially dangerous to health and safety – such as food and drink, medicines, toys and household electrical goods – accounted for over a third of all intercepted goods. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “A high level of protection of intellectual property is crucial to support growth and create jobs. Fake goods pose a real threat to health and safety of EU consumers and also undermine legal businesses and state revenues. Studies show that the EU is particularly exposed to imports of counterfeit products. I want to pay tribute to the hard work of customs authorities in combating these fake goods. They need support and resources to enable them to protect us all from the dangers that they can pose. Cooperation between law enforcement authorities should be strengthened and risk management systems upgraded to protect the EU from goods infringing on intellectual property rights.” Cigarettes were the top category (24%) for articles detained and toys the second largest group (17%), followed by foodstuffs (13%) and packaging material (12%). The number of intercepted articles rose by 2% compared to 2015. The Commission’s report on customs actions to enforce IPR has been issued annually since 2000 and is based on data transmitted by Member States’ customs administrations to the Commission. The data provide valuable information which supports the analysis of intellectual property rights infringements and helps other institutions such as the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the OECD to map economic data and the most common routes for counterfeiters. A more detailed press release is available here. The full report can be consulted here.


Juncker Plan backs upgrades to the University of Latvia’s campus and enhanced access to finance for SMEs

The Juncker Plan has backed European Investment Bank Group loan agreements with the University of Latvia and ProCredit, a bank which specialises in lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Both agreements, made in two separate transactions, were made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”. The loan to the University of Latvia will finance the construction of new state-of-the-art facilities for the University’s science, social and humanities faculties. The agreement with ProCredit is expected to generate some EUR 450 million in financing for SMEs. Commenting on the agreement with the University of Latvia, Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis said: “Investing today in the facilities our students need to realise their full potential is an investment in our future economic growth. Today’s agreement demonstrates that the Juncker Plan can deliver for jobs and growth whilst also contributing to wider objectives, such as ensuring that Europe maintains its competitiveness in research and innovation. I trust that these new facilities will serve generations of Latvian students and will help them to excel.” As of June 2017, the Juncker Plan is expected to trigger over EUR 390 million in investments in Latvia and EUR 209 billion across Europe. For the latest figures country-by-country, see here. Full press releases are available here.


EU steps up humanitarian assistance in Libya

The European Commission has today announced an additional €10 million in humanitarian aid for those most in need in Libya as violence and instability continue to affect vulnerable populations. This is part of the EU’s broader support for Libya to address the ongoing crisis in the country, which includes funding of €220 million allocated through various support programmes, including the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.The European Commission is stepping up support for the worrying humanitarian situation in Libya. Our new funding aims to help humanitarian organisations respond to urgent needs, especially in terms of access to emergency health services and essential medicines. We urge all parties to the conflict to ensure immediate, safe and unrestricted humanitarian access so all in need receive lifesaving assistance. We stand by all those suffering as a result of the conflict and are committed to pursuing our impartial and neutral humanitarian response to help those that need it most.” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. A full press release is available here.


Commission launches public consultation on Health and Care in the Digital Single Market

Today the European Commission launches a public consultation on how Europe should promote digital innovation in health and care, for the benefits of citizens and health systems in Europe. The input will feed into a new policy Communication to be adopted by the end of 2017, as announced in the recent review of the Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy.

Welcoming the initiative Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioners Vytenis Andriukaitis, Mariya Gabriel and Carlos Moedas stated:

‘We are dedicated to improving European citizens’ quality of living by improving Europe’s health, care and research systems by using digital technologies to their full potential. This consultation will help us identify ways to offer citizens, medical professionals and researchers better access to health data, prevention, rapid response to pandemic threats, personalised treatments and care. We are considering new digital initiatives to deliver on the free movement of patients and data, to support the modernisation of national health systems, and to bring together scattered evidence and innovative knowledge from across Europe. At the heart of our policies, citizens and their wellbeing are our first priority.’ More information here


EU reinforces its strong partnership with Colombia, focussing on rural reforms

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, reaffirms the EU’s strong and long-standing partnership with Colombia during an official visit to Colombiatomorrow, where he will meet with President Juan Manuel Santos. At the heart of this partnership stands the EU’s commitment to support the implementation of the Colombian peace agreement, with a particular emphasis on comprehensive rural reforms. In this context, Commissioner Mimica said: “Restoring rural areas that were affected by the prolonged armed conflict is at the heart of Colombia’s peace agreement, and an important priority for our development cooperation with the country. Together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, we will support Colombia’s efforts to build lasting peace by strengthening rural communities and agricultural productivity”. Commissioner Mimica, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, will launch a joint initiative for Colombia. Through this initiative, the EU will support the Colombian government institutions that are involved in food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture by means of targeted policy assistance and capacity building. These actions will help to implement the comprehensive rural reform, which is one of the priorities of the Peace Agreement signed in November 2016. The initiative can be considered a significant step forward towards achieving sustainable development in the country, as it focuses in particular on improving the situation of the poor in rural areas, the capacity of the State in conflict–affected areas, and rural development. Commissioner Mimica will also participate in the fair AgroExpo in Bogota. Read the full press release here.


Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a mobile payments joint venture by Bitė, Tele2 and Telia in Lithuania

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture by UAB Bitė Lietuva (Bitė), UAB Tele2 (Tele2) and Telia Lietuva AB (Telia), all of Lithuania. The joint venture will provide mobile payment services to businesses and consumers in Lithuania. Bitė is controlled by the US investment firm Providence Equity. Tele2 is part of the Tele2 Group, ultimately controlled by the Swedish investment company Kinnevik. Telia is part of the Swedish Telia Company AB. Bitė, Tele2 and Telia are active in the supply of retail mobile telecommunications services in Lithuania. In addition, Telia provides colocation services in Lithuania, hosting other companies’ servers in its data centers. The Commission assessed the impact of the transaction on the nascent market for mobile payment services in Lithuania.The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns given the minor overlap between the joint venture’s envisaged activities and the parents’ potential activities in the supply of mobile payment services. Moreover, the Commission found that the joint venture’s parents would not have the ability, or incentive, to shut out rivals, in particular due to the presence of alternative means for competitors of the joint venture to securely store information and to authenticate users. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8251.



High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini travels to Kuwait

At the invitation of the Emir of Kuwait, EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will travel to Kuwait on July 23 to discuss the situation in the Gulf and mark the EU’s full support for Kuwait’s ongoing mediation efforts. The HR/VP will notably meet with H.H. the Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs of Kuwait and Emissary for the Gulf crisis, as well as withH.E. Marzouq Al-Ghanem, Speaker of the National Assembly of Kuwait. Photos and videos of the visit will be available on EbS. 



DAILY NEWS 20 – 07 -2017-

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