29 Jun 2018


Brussels, Brussels Daily


Single Market: new EU rules guarantee less red tape for professional services

Yesterday the European Parliament, Council and Commission signed new rules into law to ensure that national regulation on professional services does not create unnecessary obstacles to the free movement of professionals. The directive requires Member States to thoroughly assess the costs and benefits of envisaged legislation on professional services by carrying out a “proportionality test”. Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: “The new Directive will help our professionals and particularly young graduates benefit from the Single Market. It will help Member States to design their legislation and boost Europe’s best asset, the Single Market. Better rules for professional services have the potential to create 700.000 jobs and lead to wider choice and lower prices for consumers.” The directive on a “proportionality test” guides Member States in regulating professional services and provides for transparency and involvement of interested parties when adopting new rules. The Commission tabled the proposal in January 2017 among other measures to give the EU services economy a fresh boost. Around 50 million people – 22% of the European labour force – work in professions to which access is conditional upon the possession of specific qualifications or for which the use of a specific title is protected (e.g. engineers, lawyers or architects). Regulation can be warranted for a number of professions, for example those linked with health and safety. But there are many cases where unnecessarily burdensome rules make it difficult for qualified candidates to access these jobs. This is also to the detriment of consumers. Under EU law, a Member State needs to establish whether new national professional requirements are necessary and balanced. The Directive ensures a coherent and consistent approach for this assessment by streamlining and clarifying how Member States should ensure that national rules on professional services are necessary and balanced. Member States have now two years to transpose the new rules into national law.


Better Regulation: REFIT Platform adopts new opinions for making EU laws more effective and efficient

The REFIT Platform, launched under the Juncker Commission’s Better Regulation Agenda, met today and adopted three new Opinions on how to make existing EU laws more effective and efficient in the fields of water, renewable energy and nature protection as well as health claims and the hygiene package. This brings the total number of REFIT Platform Opinions to 83.  The Commission will report on the follow-up to these new Opinions in the Work Programme for 2019 which it will adopt in October. Today’s meeting, chaired by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, also included a discussion of the planned stocktaking of the Better Regulation Agenda and the contribution of the REFIT Platform to recent Commission proposals; in particular the 10 Opinions adopted by the REFIT Platform in the field of agriculture were discussed, and how they were taken into account in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the CAP programme in the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027. All Opinions can be found on the REFIT Platform website, and a video on the Platform’s role is available here.

Better Regulation: REFIT Platform adopts new opinions for making EU laws more effective and efficient

The REFIT Platform, launched under the Juncker Commission’s Betterr 2021-2027. All Opinions can be found on the REFIT Platform website, and a video on the Platform’s role is available here.


New EU rules ensure better protection for 120 million holidaymakers this summer

As of Sunday 1 July, travellers booking package holidays will enjoy stronger consumer rights. Not only will traditional package holidays be covered, the new rules will also protect consumers who book other forms of combined travel, including self-customised packages, where the traveller chooses different elements from a single point of sale online or offline. The new rules will also introduce protection for ‘linked travel arrangements’ when the traveller purchases travel services at one point of sale, but through separate booking processes, or, after having booked one travel service on one website, is invited to book another service on a different website. Vera Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “Booking your holidays online is easy, but if something goes wrong you want to be sure to be fully protected. The new package travel rules are now adapted to the digital age and the new ways of booking holidays. Travellers will also benefit from new rights and be well protected in case the operator goes bankrupt. The new rules will also make it easier for travel businesses to offer their services cross-border.” The new rules will benefit consumers even more with, for instance: stronger cancellation rights, money-back and repatriation in case of bankruptcy or accommodation if the return journey cannot be carried out. The new rules will also benefit businesses, with clearer rules making cross-border activities easier or modernised information requirements. A press release and factsheet are available online.


Juncker Plan gives boost to medical university in Poland and agricultural feed producer in France

The European Investment Bank (EIB) Group has signed two new agreements under the Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). First, it is providing a €27.3 million loan to Poznań Medical University to help it build a new medical simulations centre and research laboratories as well as to upgrade two of its hospital wards. Second, just two months after announcing a loan programme set to mobilise €1 billion in investment in the bio-economy sector, the EIB has signed the first deal under this programme: a €50 million loan for the Roullier Group in Brittany, France, to finance their research and development activities for their animal and plant feed products. Commenting on the Poznań Medical University deal, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “As a former cardiac surgeon, I can whole-heartedly understand the importance of research and advancement in medical science to ensure high quality care and services. I am happy to see that Poznań will greatly benefit in these domains, thanks in part to a loan guarantee from the European Fund for Strategic Investments. Investing in this project is investing in the people of Poland, and Europe.” Full press releases can be found here.



Commissioner Mimica in Mauritania for the African Union Summit

On behalf of the European Union, Commissioner Mimica will participate in the 31st African Union Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania. This summit will focus on combatting corruption and supporting Africa’s transformation towards sustainable development. Commissioner Mimica will also co-host together with African Union Chair, President Paul Kagame, the AU-EU joint side event “Women in Power”. A joint press release will be made available tomorrow here. Commissioner Mimica will also sign two programmes, for a total amount of €47.6 million under the 11th European Development Fund. Commissioner Mimica said: “Mauritania is a strategic partner for security and stability in the Sahel. It has designed a solid path towards sustainable development and recently adopted an ambitious new growth and prosperity strategy on which we are fully aligned. The two programs I will sign, amounting to €47.6 million, will improve the lives of citizens by promoting investments in rural areas and strengthening the judicial system.” During his trip to Mauritania, Commissioner Mimica will also meet the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the President of Sierra Leone. He will also participate in the sixth Board Meeting of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative. The press release and a factsheet are available online.


Trade: International meeting in Brussels to end trade in torture instruments

Representatives of the countries involved in the Alliance For Torture Free Trade are meeting today in Brussels to share expert information and exchange best practices related to the control of the trade in goods used for torture and capital punishment. The Alliance was launched during the UN General Assembly, in September 2017 as joint initiative by the European Union Argentina and Mongolia, and comprises now already nearly 60 countries. In her opening speech, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström reflected on the fact that trade policy cannot end torture by itself, but it can do its part in the broader fight. “I have long believed in using trade as a way to leverage change in the world. This is why we include provisions on the environment, human and labour rights, and other issues in our trade agreements. When it comes to fighting torture, trade can create an impact,” she said. The event is attended by a total number of 70 representatives from 38 different countries and the European Union, as well as non-governmental organisations working towards elimination of torture and defence of human rights worldwide. The Alliance aims to make it harder to trade in goods used for torture and capital punishment, to coordinate rules between countries and to exchange best practices. The participating countries have committed themselves to several goals, including controlling and restricting exports of items used for torture such as batons with metal spikes, electric shock belts, grabbers that seize people while electrocuting them, chemicals used to execute people and the forced injection systems that go with them. They also committed to set up a platform for customs authorities to monitor trade flows and identify new products on the market, to put appropriate legislation in place and to exchange practices for its efficient enforcement. The EU has in place since 2005 a tough legislation on trade in goods used for torture or the death penalty that has already reaped results. However, this legislation only applies in Europe. The Alliance is a way to prevent circumvention of existing rules, stop trade and restrict availability of such goods globally.


Eurostat: Over one third of EU’s population did not take a tourism trip in 2016

In 2016, 62% of the EU population (aged 15 or over) made at least one tourism trip for personal purposes. Half (50%) went on at least one domestic tourism trip with at least one overnight stay in 2016 and nearly one third (32%) took at least one trip abroad. Nearly half (48%) of the Europeans who did not make any trip reported that this was at least partially due to financial reasons. 20% of non-tourists mentioned health problems, while another 20% revealed that they did not want to travel. Other reasons for not taking a tourism trip included work or study commitments, brought up by 16%, while 13% mentioned family commitments. Financial issues are cited as the main obstacle for all age groups, except for those aged 65+ where health reasons are the most frequently mentioned barrier. This information, extracted from an article published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, shows a selection of data on tourism available at Eurostat. A Eurostat press release is available here.


Eurostat: Flash estimate – June 2018 – Euro area annual inflation up to 2.0%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 2.0% in June 2018, up from 1.9% in May 2018, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Full text available here


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Minimax Viking by Intermediate Capital Group

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Minimax Viking of Germany by Intermediate Capital Group of the UK. Minimax Viking manufactures and supplies fire suppression systems and related detection and control systems. Intermediate Capital Group is active in assets management, with investment portfolios in Europe, Asia Pacific and the US. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there is no overlap between the activities of Minimax Viking and Intermediate Capital Group. 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.8943.




Commissioner Moscovici in Athens, Greece

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, will be in Athens from 2 to 3 July. The visit comes following the comprehensive agreement reached at the Eurogroup meeting of 21 June which provides the basis for a successful conclusion of the stability support programme for Greece in August. Commissioner Moscovici will hold a number of meetings while in Athens including with President Prokópis Pavlópoulos; Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras; and Mr Euclid Tsakalotos, Minister of Finance. He will also meet Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, President of New Democracy and Ms Fofi Gennimata, President of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. Commissioner Moscovici will also participate in an exchange of views with members of the Hellenic Parliament. A series of factsheets on the stability support programme for Greece are available here.


Single Market: Commissioner Bieńkowska to participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue in Poland

Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska participates later today in a Citizens’ Dialogue in Opole (Poland) along with Danuta Jazłowiecka, Member of the European Parliament, and Andrzej Buła, Marshal Office of the Opolskie Voivodeship. The discussion will focus on the Single Market, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. It will take stock of the numerous successes of the Single Market achieved since its creation 25 years ago. There will also be ample opportunity to debate on the recent Commission proposal for the Single Market programme for the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027. The Citizens’ dialogue will start at 15.00 (CEST). Registration is open and you can watch the event live here.

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