EU risk assessments in food sector: EC launching public consultation on transparency
The European Commission is launching today a public consultation on the transparency and the independence of risk assessments and scientific studies as a follow-up to its response to the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) on glyphosate. The public consultation is also based on the current evaluation of the General Food Law. Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis said: “The Commission is fulfilling its commitment made when responding to the ECI and is initiating a process to reinforce the trust in the EU’s scientific assessment in the area of food safety. I call on all interested parties – NGOs, stakeholders, public authorities – to contribute to the consultation launched today. This will allow the Commission to table – as promised – a legislative proposal this spring which will address this issue, as well as reinforce the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) governance model and support the long term excellence of its scientific capacity”. The consultation will remain open until 20 March 2018 and is available here.
Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: EU remains a strong exporter of agri-food products
Published today by the European Commission, the latest monthly trade report shows that the value of EU agri-food exports reached €12.7 billion in November 2017. With EU agri-food imports at a value of €10 billion, the latest monthly trade balance is now at about €2.7 billion. For the 12-months period November 2016 to November 2017, EU agri-food exports increased by 5.6 % in value terms, compared to the same period one year ago. Major gains in annual values have been achieved in agri-food exports to the USA, Russia and several Asian markets: China, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong. Wine, milk powder and infant food have had good export performance over the last 12 months. EU agri-food imports increased the most for palm oil oilseeds and unroasted coffee and tea. The full report is online.
Commission welcomes progress in approval of the modernised EU’s trade defence rules
Today, the international trade committee of the European Parliament endorsed the political agreement reached between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament on 5 December 2017 on the modernisation of the EU’s trade defence instruments. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “Today’s resoundingly positive vote means that the EU is one step closer to having the necessary tools to tackle unfair trading practices quickly and effectively. Together with the recently-agreed changes to our anti-dumping methodology, the EU’s toolbox of trade defence instruments will be even better suited to deal with global challenges. I now look forward to the speedy adoption of this decision by plenary of the European Parliament. The EU stands for open and rules-based trade, but we must ensure that others do not take advantage of our openness. The EU stands ready to defend its industry and workers from unfair competition.” The changes to the EU’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy regulations will make the EU’s trade defence instruments more adapted to the challenges of the global economy: they’ll become more effective, transparent and easier to use for companies. In some cases they will also enable the EU to impose higher duties on dumped products. The details of the agreement reached in December are now presented in a dedicated factsheet. The new rules will enter into force once the European Parliament and the Council conclude the respective ongoing approval procedures.
Boost of €100 million for microfinance and social enterprises in Europe from the Investment Plan for Europe
Investment in microfinance and social enterprises is set to receive a significant boost. The EU’s financing programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) will receive an additional €100 million for its Guarantee scheme from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core of the Investment Plan for Europe. In light of this top-up, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “Thanks to the €100 million EFSI top-up the EU will be able to boost access to finance to micro-entrepreneurs and social enterprises across the continent. The extra funding is expected to mobilise about €1.9 billion in financing for micro-entrepreneurs, in particular vulnerable groups such as the unemployed, young people, and migrants, as well as social enterprises. Through the programme for Employment and Social Innovation, the European Commission shows its commitment to foster sustainable employment for the most vulnerable people in the labour market. It will enable thousands of new jobs to be created.” The financial support comes on top of the original EaSI Guarantee instrument worth €96 million, for a combined overall investment of €196 million. In order to continue to highlight the need for investment in social infrastructure, a High-Level Task Force on “Investing in social infrastructure in Europe” was set up in January 2017 on the initiative of the European Association of Long Term Investors. Today the Task Force, chaired by former Commission President Romano Prodi and former French Minister Christian Sautter, presented its report at the Commission in the presence of Vice-President Katainen.