Brussels Daily
26 Jul 2017


Brussels Daily


US draft bill on Russia sanctions: European Commission ready to act to protect European interests

On the basis of a presentation by President Juncker and Vice-President Katainen, the College of Commissioners discussed today the state of play of the US draft Bill on Russia sanctions (“Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act 2017”). Commissioners expressed their concerns notably because of the draft Bill’s possible impact on EU energy independence. The Bill as endorsed by the US House of Representatives demonstrates that a number of these concerns are being taken into account. It nevertheless foresees the imposition of sanctions on any company (including European) which contributes to the development, maintenance, modernisation or repair of energy export pipelines by the Russian Federation. Depending on its implementation, this could affect infrastructure transporting energy resources to Europe, for instance the maintenance and upgrade of pipelines in Russia that feed the Ukraine gas transit system. It could also have an impact on projects crucial to the EU’s diversification objectives such as the Baltic Liquefied Natural Gas project. While the College underlined the importance of the sanctions regime against Russia and its strict implementation, it expressed concerns about the possible negative political consequences of the draft Bill. As reiterated at the G7 in May, new sanctions should always be coordinated between allies. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The EU is fully committed to the Russia sanctions regime. However, G7 unity on sanctions and close coordination among allies are at the heart of ensuring the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. This is a core objective that the EU and the US share. The US Bill could have unintended unilateral effects that impact the EU’s energy security interests. This is why the Commission concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days. America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last”. The EU is currently raising its concerns via all diplomatic channels with the US and its counterparts. The Commission will continue to closely monitor the on-going legislative process in the US and the subsequent implementation of the Bill and will act swiftly if and when needed.

World aquariums against marine litter: Commissioner Vella launches global campaign in Monaco

Tomorrow, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella will launch “World Aquariums Against Marine Litter” campaign, where aquariums across the world fill one of their exhibitions with plastic to show the global reality of marine litter. Commissioner Vella said: “Aquariums are a television screen to the ocean. This campaign on marine litter is urgent and welcome. The world’s aquariums have decided to become the ocean’s ‘breaking news’ to avoid becoming its history channel. This summer, millions of visitors across the globe will visit an aquarium. To bring change we must show them the reality of plastic pollution”. 10 million tonnes of litter end up in the oceans every year. Almost one hundred aquariums across five continents have joined the campaign. The event is taking place at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, hosted by Prince Albert II of Monaco, with the United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director, Erik Solheim, and World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), CEO Doug Cress. The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the upcoming Our Ocean conference (Malta, 5-6 October). Hosted by the European Union for the first time, this high-level international event brings together ocean champions from government, civil society and business. Video on the campaign is available here and coverage of the event will be available on EbS+.


EU Helps France fight Forest Fires

France has activated the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism this afternoon as forest fires are ravaging southern regions of the country and Corsica. The national authorities requested a firefighting aircraft through the mechanism and EU support is already on its way.  Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: “The EU stands in full solidarity with France. In an immediate response, the European Commission has helped mobilise a Canadair aircraft from Italy through our Civil Protection Mechanism. Earlier this month, France helped Italy fighting forest fires and now Italy is showing its support to France. This is EU solidarity at its best. Our thoughts are with all those affected and the brave first responders working in difficult conditions”.  More information here


European Commission acts to preserve the rule of law in Poland

The European Commission acts today to protect the rule of law in Poland. The Commission substantiates its grave concerns on the planned reform of the judiciary in Poland in a Rule of Law Recommendation addressed to the Polish authorities. In the Commission’s assessment, this reform amplifies the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland already identified in the rule of law procedure started by the Commission in January 2016. The Commission requests the Polish authorities to address these problems within one month. The Commission asks the Polish authorities notably not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges. If such a measure is taken, the Commission stands ready to immediately trigger the Article 7(1) procedure – a formal warning by the EU that can be issued by four fifths of the Member States in the Council of Ministers. The Commission also decides to launch an infringement proceeding against Poland for breaches of EU law. The College will immediately send a Letter of Formal Notice once the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation is published. At the same time, the Commission recalls its offer to pursue a constructive dialogue with the Polish Government. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The Commission is determined to defend the rule of law in all our Member States as a fundamental principle on which our European Union is built. An independent judiciary is an essential precondition for membership in our Union. The EU can therefore not accept a system which allows dismissing judges at will. Independent courts are the basis of mutual trust between our Member States and our judicial systems. If the Polish government goes ahead with undermining the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Poland, we will have no other choice than to trigger Article 7.” First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Our Recommendations to the Polish authorities are clear. It is time to restore the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal and to either withdraw the laws reforming the judiciary or bring them in line with the Polish Constitution and with European standards on judicial independence. Polish courts like the courts of all Member States are called upon to provide an effective remedy in case of violations of EU law, in which case they act as the “judges of the Union” and must comply with the requirements of the independence of the judiciary in line with the Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We want to resolve these issues together in a constructive way. The Commission’s hand remains extended to the Polish authorities for dialogue, and we welcome any steps to amend these laws in line with our Recommendations”. More information is available in the press release published here.


Security Union: College of Commissioners adopts progress report

The 9th Security Union progress report, adopted by the College of Commissioners today, highlights the recent steps taken to prevent terrorist financing through trafficking in cultural goods and improve the interoperability of EU information systems. Based on a comprehensive assessment of EU security policy since 2001, the report also highlights the remaining gaps and challenges to be addressed. A press release and factsheet on the report and a factsheet on ‘A Europe that protects’ will be available online at the start of the press conference by Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King which will take place following the College read-out by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and the press conference on migration by Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, and which will be live on EbS.


Passenger Name Records: European Court of Justice Opinion on envisaged EU-Canada PNR agreement

Following today’s Opinion of the European Court of Justice on the envisaged EU-Canada PNR agreement, a European Commission statement will be issued soon here.


European political parties: Committee of independent eminent persons now complete

Following today’s nomination by the Commission, former Commissioners Meglena Kuneva and António Vitorino will join Ms Maria Emilia Casas and Mr Carlo Casini, nominated by the European Parliament, as well as Ms Rebecca Adler-Nissen and Mr Christoph Möllers, nominated by the Council, as members of the Committee of independent eminent persons. The role of the Committee is to deliver opinions to the Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations whenever the latter is requested by the European Parliament, the Council or the Commission to check whether a European political party or foundation is observing the basic European values laid down in Article 2 TEU, as set out by the Regulation on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations. Appointments to the Committee are non-renewable and run until six months after the first session of a newly elected European Parliament.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Soda Aromatic by Toray Industries and Mitsui & Co

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of joint control over Soda Aromatic Co by Toray Industries Inc. and Mitsui & Co Ltd., all three of Japan. Soda develops, manufactures and sells fragrance, flavour and aroma chemicals. Toray is mainly active in the manufacturing and sale of fibres, textiles, plastics, various chemicals and IT related products. Mitsui is active globally in a variety of areas including development of infrastructure, mineral and metal resources, transportations systems, chemicals, energy and corporate development. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as the jointly controlled entity will have no significant activities within the European Economic Area. 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.8498.




Commissioner Stylianides and Avramopoulos in Greece tomorrow

Tomorrow Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will be in Athens to announce a new wave of emergency support projects to improve conditions for refugees in Greece. Since March 2016, the European Commission can fund humanitarian aid for people in need within the EU territory through the Emergency Support Instrument, which is part of the EU’s overall efforts to support Greece in managing the refugee crisis. A joint press conference by Commissioner Stylianides and Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, together withGreek Minister for migration policy Ioannis Mouzalas, Mayor of Athens Giorgos Kaminis and representative of UNHCR in Greece Philippe Leclerc, is scheduled for 11:00 CET and will be shown on EBS. A press release will be made available tomorrow with full details on the new aid programmes.



DAILY NEWS 26 – 07 -2017

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