20 Sep 2017


Brussels, Brussels Daily, IFA in Brussels


Sustained high levels of EU agri-food exports confirmed in latest trade report


The latest monthly agri-food trade report, published today by the European Commission, confirms a high level of European agri-food exports positively increasing the trade balance to €2.2 billion.

The European agri-food exports rose to €11.3 billion in July 2017, a 7% increase compared to July 2016. The most significant growths are exports towards the USA and Russia (for the products not included in the Russian embargo), with respectively an added €194 million and €104 million compared to last year.

However, exports towards Saudi Arabia, Libya and the UAE have considerably decreased. Respectively, compared to last year, this fall corresponds to – €156 million, – €50 million and – €40 million.

As for sectors, spirits and liqueurs have increased the most with €169 million more than in July 2016, followed by milk powders with €107 million added this year.

EU agri-food imports have also increased value of 9%, in comparison to last year, allowing a positive agri-food trade balance of more than €2 billion. More information here


The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada enters into force provisionally.

Welcoming this milestone in the EU’s trade policy, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “This agreement encapsulates what we want our trade policy to be – an instrument for growth that benefits European companies and citizens, but also a tool to project our values, harness globalisation and shape global trade rules. This trade deal has been subject to an in-depth parliamentary scrutiny which reflects the increased interest of citizens in trade policy. The intense exchanges on CETA throughout this process are testimony to the democratic nature of European decision making and I expect Member States to conduct an inclusive and thorough discussion in the context of the ongoing national ratification processes of the agreement. Now it’s time for our companies and citizens to make the most out of this opportunity and for everyone to see how our trade policy can produce tangible benefits for everyone”.  More information here

Commission creates forum of experts to overcome cross border obstacles

To unlockthe full economic potential of EU border regions, home to 150 million citizens, the Commission is launching a “Border Focal Point”. In line with President Jean-Claude Juncker‘s call to ensure fairness in our single market in his 2017 State of the Union speech, the Border Focal Point will help border regions cooperate better with a set of concrete actions. It will improve access to jobs and services such as health care and public transport systems, and facilitate cross-border business. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “Over a quarter of Europe’s wealth is produced in its border regions but their full economic potential remains untapped. We are looking at a gold mine of opportunities, just waiting to be explored.” The Border Focal Point will consist of Commission experts in cross border issues, who will offer advice to national and regional authorities, by gathering and sharing good practices via a new EU-wide online network. This initiative is part of a wider Communication on “Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions”. A press release, a memo and case studies of cross border obstacles and good practices are available online.


EU strengthens its Syria crisis response through additional funding to UNICEF

With an additional €90 million support from the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis, the European Union is enabling UNICEF to provide critical services and support to Syrian refugee and host community children and young people in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The additional EU funding was signed on Tuesday by Commissioner Johannes Hahn and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in the margins of the UN General Assembly. This latest contribution brings the total funding from the EU Trust Fund for UNICEF’s work on the Syria crisis response to nearly €200 million and will enable UNICEF to provide critical education and protection services to some 260,000 Syrian refugee and host community children and young people in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, so that they can attend school and learn. You can find the full press release here.


EU announces additional humanitarian funding for Iraq

The European Commission will announce today an additional €10 million in humanitarian assistance to Iraq, bringing the total EU humanitarian contribution to this crisis to €350 million since 2015. The announcement comes as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides co-chairs the Ministerial-level event on Iraq in the margins of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York: “The end of the Mosul military campaign has marked the beginning of a new phase of international support to Iraq. The EU is committed to continue being at the forefront of the humanitarian response. The protection of civilians is paramount and the international community must work together to help Iraqis rebuild their lives. Our additional funding announced today is for the most vulnerable Iraqis, including survivors of violence, children who have lost their parents and childhood to the war. The European Union will stand by them for as long as it takes.” The new funding aims to provide lifesaving support to the affected populations in retaken areas and those affected by displacement, including in the aftermath of the Mosul military campaign. It will also provide psychosocial and mental health support to the survivors of violence during the conflict. More information on EU support to Iraq in our factsheet here.


Creating a stronger and more integrated European financial supervision for the Capital Markets Union

European consumers, investors and businesses will benefit from stronger and more integrated financial markets, thanks to plans by the Commission to reform the EU’s supervisory architecture.The European Commission is today proposing reforms to pave the way for further financial integration and a full Capital Markets Union, to promote jobs, growth and investments in Europe and to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union. President Juncker underlined the importance of the Capital Markets Union, one of the Commission’s flagship projects, in his State of the Union Address. The proposals also include steps to foster the development of financial technologies (FinTech) and to make sure that sustainability considerations are systematically taken into account in supervisory practices at the European level. Once adopted, the proposals will improve the mandates, governance and funding of the ESAs for banking (European Banking Authority, EBA), for securities and financial markets (European Securities and Markets Authority, ESMA), and for insurance and pensions (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, EIOPA). To ensure a uniform application of EU rules and promote a true Capital Markets Union, the proposals also entrust ESMA with direct supervisory power in specific financial sectors. In addition, the Commission is proposing targeted changes to the composition and organisation of the ESRB, which monitors stability risks for the financial system as a whole. For more information, please consult the press release, Q&A and factsheet. .


Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of joint control of Unica by UniHold and Triton

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Unica of the Netherlands by Triton of the Channel Islands and Unihold of the Netherlands. Unica, previously solely controlled by UniHold, supplies specialised mechanical, electrical and ICT services. Unihold is a holding and financing company with interests in heat and cold storage installations and technical services. Triton is a private equity company that invests in a variety of business sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlaps between the companies’ activities. 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.8609.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Serena by Balder and Varma

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Serena Properties AB (“Serena”) of Finland by Fastighets AB Balder (“Balder”) of Sweden, together with the current parent Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company (“Varma”) of Finland. Serena is active in the Finnish real estate market for commercial use, specialising in retail properties such as grocery stores and discounters. Balder is a real estate company which owns, manages and develops residential and commercial properties and hotels. Varma is a mutual pension insurance company. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of its limited impact on the market structure and given the limited overlaps in Finland. 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.8576.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over AutoGravity by VW Credit and Daimler

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over AutoGravity Corporation by VW Credit Inc., both of the US, and Daimler AG of Germany. AutoGravity provides a comparison service solution for vehicle financing and leasing to consumers in the US via a smartphone app or via its website. VW Credit serves Volkswagen’s retail customers and dealers in the US offering financial products and services such as retail leasing and financing for new and used vehicles. Daimler is active in the manufacture and distribution of passenger cars and commercial vehicles, and also in the provision of financial services. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of its 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 website, in the public case register under the case number M.8591.




EU at UN General Assembly: Official Opening and a high number of bilaterals

The 72nd UN General Assembly officially opened on Tuesday in New York, with the participation of the high-level EU Delegation, including First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini alongside the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. First Vice-President Timmermans addressed an event co-hosted by the European Union and the United Arab Emirates on Oceans and Climate, where he stressed the need to tackle the challenges of plastics in our oceans and the need for an integrated approach with industry and NGOs to tackle it effectively. He also spoke at the OGP high-level event on Rebuilding Trust in Government, where he focussed in particular on the need to enhance transparency in order to gain the trust of citizens. High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini held a high number of bilateral meetings, including with US Vice-President Pence and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, with whom she discussed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the latest worrying developments in North Korea and the situation in Syria. She also met with the Colombian President Santos, Foreign Minister of El Salvador and Foreign Minister of Venezuela. Together with Commissioner Hahn, she had meetings with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry and Lebanese Foreign Minister Bassil as well as President of Ukraine Poroshenko and Prime Minister Kvirikashvili of Georgia. She also met with Presidents Vučić of Serbia and Thaçi of Kosovo. Commissioner Avramopoulos held a number of bilateral meetings, including with Egyptian President Al-Sissi; he also discussed common actions on migration with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Grandi and Director General of the International Organisation for Migration Swing. Commissioner Mimica addressed the EU co-hosted event on Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment where he underlined that quality infrastructure means building roads, ensuring long-term local jobs in maintenance and climate resilience for rainy seasons. He also highlighted the need for ambitious global efforts to ensure clean, green and reliable energy for all at the launch event of the report on Financial Flows for Energy Access and participated in a ministerial-level meeting on the Central African Republic. Furthermore, the EU and UN will jointly launch today their new “Spotlight Initiative” to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. With the EU as its main contributor in the order of half a billion Euro, the initiative will provide large-scale, targeted support to fight and prevent gender-based violence. A press release and Q&A MEMO will be available here as of 20h00 tonight. You can also watch the interventions of High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Mimica on EbS+. Commissioner Stylianides addressed a high-level event on Collective Private Sector Disaster Risk Reduction, Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery, besides a number of bilateral meetings, including with UNHCR Grandi, new Administrator of UNDP Steiner and Director of the International Rescue Committee Miliband. The annual EU event in the margins of UNGA this year gathered Erasmus and Erasmus+ alumni from around the world. Follow the events online under #UNGA, @EUatUN, @eu_eeas and find audio-visual material on EbS.


Commissioner King in Budapest

EU Security Union Commissioner Julian King will be in Budapest, Hungary tomorrow to discuss issues related to security, in particular information exchange and cybersecurity. In the morning, Commissioner King will have a working breakfast with Szabolcs Takács, State Secretary for European Union Affairs, before meeting with the Hungarian National Assembly’s Committee on European Affairs. Commissioner King will then meet with Krisztián Kecsmár, Minister of State for European and International Judicial Cooperation, Ministry of Justice, before visiting the Hungarian Passenger Information Unit and then having a working lunch with Dr Sándor Pintér, Minister of the Interior of Hungary. In the afternoon, the Commissioner will meet with Detlef Schröder, Deputy Director of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL).


Vice-President Katainen in Finland

Vice-President Katainen will be in Finland from 21-22 September. He will participate at the EU Ministerial Committee of the Finnish government to discuss the proposals included in the State of the Union; and he will meet with Mr. Matti Saarelainen, Director of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, to discuss cybersecurity. He will give a keynote speech in an EU Seminar at the Bank of Finland and participate in a working lunch with Mr Olli Rehn, member of its management board. Vice-President Katainen will visit the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and he will give a keynote speech at the Helsingin Suomalainen Klubi (Helsinki Finnish Club). During his visit, he will participate in two public events: a Citizens’ Dialogue at the University of Helsinki, following the State of the Union speech, also focusing on EU career opportunities for students; and an EU seminar organised by think-tank Kansio on the Future of Europe and the EU defence package, where he will deliver a keynote address.



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

The earthquake that struck Mexico yesterday has caused many deaths and casualties. This came only two weeks after another devastating earthquake hit the country. Our heartfelt condolences and thoughts go out to the victims, their families and loved ones. As President Juncker underlined in his letter to President Peña Nieto, the European Union stands in solidarity with our Mexican friends. We salute the first responders who are there from the beginning to help and save lives in this difficult time. We are in touch with the Mexican authorities and stand ready to help. Our capabilities to provide urgent support have been put on alert, as our Emergency Response Coordination Centre is monitoring the situation on the ground.

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