20 Oct 2017


Brussels, Brussels Daily


European Council – Day 1: focus on migration, security, defence and external relations

At the European Council of 19-20 October, EU leaders discussed a number of important issues. Migration was high on the agenda. EU leaders welcomed the progress made so far to control external borders and significantly reduce irregular migration and reaffirmed their commitment to the current approach. Concerning the Central Mediterranean, leaders underlined the significant contribution made by Italy, and recognised the need to ensure adequate funding for North Africa through the EU Trust Fund for Africa. President Juncker said “we are reaching our limits […] if we want to be as present as possible in Africa, mainly in the northern part of Africa, we have to increase the financial means which we have at our disposal. Member States have committed only €175 million to the Trust Fund. This is not enough”. On the digital front, the 28 EU leaders underlined the need to step up work to complete the Digital Single Market, particularly regarding the Commission’s cybersecurity package and measures to tackle illegal content online. President Juncker said yesterday, “there is a clear need to speed up the work during the next 18 months”. Security, defence and external relations were also on the agenda, where leaders reaffirmed their full commitment to the Iran nuclear deal, and held discussions on Turkey and North Korea. Today, the 28 Heads of State of Government discussed the Leaders’ Agenda during a breakfast session, before meeting at 27 to discuss the state of play regarding Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. Arriving at the European Council this morning, President Juncker made a strong call in favour of deepening Economic and Monetary Union, stating that “Business as usual is not an option. We need to make the Eurozone and EU decision-making more efficient.” A press conference is scheduled for 13:00 CET with Presidents Juncker and Tusk and Prime Minister Rätas, which will be broadcast live on EbS.


European Council –  (Art. 50) conclusions, 20/10/2017

The European Council (Art. 50) on 20 October 2017 adopted conclusions on the state of the Brexit negotiations.  European Council (Art. 50) conclusions, 20/10/2017

President Juncker in Spain to receive the Premio Princesa de Asturias de la Concordia award

Today, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, together with the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, will travel to Spain to receive, on behalf of the European Union, the Premio Princesa de Asturias de la Concordia award. The three Presidents will deliver speeches at the award ceremony which will take place in Oviedo as of 6.30 pm. The ceremony, which His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain will open, will be broadcast live on EbS. It will be followed by a reception, in the presence of all award-winners for 2017 and Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain. More information is available online here, also in Spanish. The European Union was awarded the Premio Princesa de Asturias de la Concordia award from Spain in June. In their statement on that occasion, the three Presidents called it “a significant recognition in a year marked by the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.” The full statement is available online here.


Switzerland joins the European efforts to build the next generation of supercomputers

Switzerland is the 11th country to sign the EuroHPC declaration on high-performance computing (HPC) that aims at developing a world-class supercomputing infrastructure based on European technology. Vice-President Andrus Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, and Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, welcomed this new commitment: “We are very pleased that Switzerland – one of our long-time partners in high-performance computing – is joining the European effort to develop supercomputers in Europe. This will enhance Europe’s leadership in science and innovation, help grow the economy and build our industrial competitiveness.” An integrated world-class high-performance computing infrastructure capable of at least 1018 calculations per second (so-called exascale computers) will additionally benefit the daily lives of European citizens: for example, from personalised medicine to safer transport systems or increased online fraud detection. Additionally to the signature ceremony, Commission published today the first results of the public consultation on high-performance computing. The respondents identified three main problems as harming the HPC development in Europe: limited interaction between industry and academia, deep fragmentation of HPC programmes and Europe’s dependency on non-EU suppliers for critical technologies and systems. The lack of sufficient resources and insufficient access to HPC resources for science were also flagged during the consultation. A clear majority of respondents confirmed the need for action at EU level. The results of the consultation will help the Commission to define a new legal and financial instrument by the end of 2017, building on the EuroHPC declaration and goals. The EuroHPC declaration was originally launched and signed in Rome in March 2017 during the Digital Day by France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Belgium signed the declaration in June 2017, Slovenia in July 2017, and Bulgaria last week. All other Member States are invited to join in the future. Further details on the EuroHPC are available here, for the results of public consultation see here.




EU to co-host pledging conference on the Rohingya refugee crisis

The European Union will co-host the upcoming Pledging Conference on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis, with Kuwait, in Geneva on 23 October, in partnership with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The conference will be an important moment for the international community to respond to and address this major refugee crisis. “As co-host of this high-level event, the EU is actively encouraging all donors to contribute to a successful conference. It is an important moment to demonstrate solidarity, common approaches and a strong humanitarian face of the international community to meet the needs of the many people that have fled their homes,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The European Union continues, as a matter of priority, to address the situation in Myanmar directly with the Myanmar authorities. The EU has reiterated the need for an end to violence, including for the Myanmar authorities to cease military operations; on full humanitarian access to all humanitarian aid workers, including for the UN and international NGOs; and for the government to establish a credible and practical process for the voluntary return of all those who fled their homes to their places of origin. The draft conference programme is available here.


Commissioner Thyssen participates in Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

On Monday 23 October, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will participate in the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO), taking place in Luxembourg. First of all, EU Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs will discuss the compromise text drafted by the Estonian Presidency regarding the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive, with the aim to adopt a general approach. Ministers are also expected to reach a partial general approach on the Commission’s proposal to modernise the rules on the coordination of social security systems in the EU. Ahead of the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth, taking place on 17 November in Sweden, Ministers will also discuss their endorsement of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Finally, the Council is due to endorse the main messages of the Employment and Social Protection Committee in view of the 2018 European Semester cycle for economic policy coordination. Ministers will also hold a lunch debate on fair labour mobility. More information on the Council meeting can be found here. A press conference will follow after the meeting, timing to be confirmed.


23 October Commissioner Oettinger: Citizens’ Dialogue in Berlin

Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger, in charge of Budget and Human Resources, will hold a Citizens’ Dialogue in Berlin. In the context of the reflection on the Future of EU finances, the Commissioner will gather citizens’ views on the priorities of the next multiannual budget of the EU ahead of its presentation in May 2018. Mr Oettinger will also follow-up on President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union address and discuss the most important challenges ahead of our Union, like migration and security and social affairs. Citizens and media can follow the debate live as of 12:15 (CEST). They can ask their questions to Commissioner Oettinger via the Facebook page of the European Commission’s Representation in Berlin here. Later the same day, Commissioner Oettinger will deliver a keynote speech in the University Potsdam, on the Future of Europe and digital transformation.

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