31 Oct 2017


Brussels, Brussels Daily

EU-Cuba: new landmark agreement entering into force on 1 November 2017

A new chapter in EU-Cuba relations will be marked tomorrow, on 1 November 2017, with the start of provisional application of the first ever agreement between the European Union and Cuba – the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA).“The EU and Cuba are truly turning a page, and the new chapter of our partnership begins now – with the provisional application of our new agreement. Today the European Union gets closer to Cuba and all Cuban citizens as the country goes through economic, political and social modernisation“, said the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/VicePresident Federica Mogherini, adding:“We Europeans are tied to Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean by a shared history, culture, values, and aspirations for the present and the future”.The PCDA comprises three main chapters on political dialogue, cooperation and sector policy dialogue as well trade cooperation. A full press release is available online. More information on the EU-Cuba relations is available on the website of the EU Delegation to Cuba and a factsheet on the EU-Cuba relations is available as well.

Equal Pay Day: Statement by First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioners Thyssen and Jourová

Today, the average hourly pay of women in Europe is 16.3% lower than that of men. European Equal Pay Day, which falls on 3 November this year, marks the moment when women effectively stop getting paid compared to their male colleagues, with almost two months of the year remaining. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Commissioner Marianne Thyssen and Commissioner Věra Jourová said: “Gender equality, including equal pay for men and women, is one of the EU’s founding values. But it is still far from a reality. For the past years, the gender pay gap has basically refused to budge. This means that women work for two months a year for free in comparison to their male colleagues. This is a shocking and unacceptable injustice in the 21st century Europe. We urgently need to make progress with this stubborn issue, which affects women and our societies on many other points: Women still tend to work in lesser-paid sectors, get fewer promotions and are underrepresented in management positions. And single-parent households with women as the sole breadwinner are more exposed to poverty, including child poverty and consequent disadvantages. Pay gap is not the only problem. Recent revelations on sexual harassment underline the sometimes hostile working environments which women also have to face, with obvious consequences for their professional development and well-being. The European Commission wants to lead the way to fight this injustice.” Read the full statement here. EU-wide and national infographics are available here.


EUROSTAT: September 2017 – Euro area unemployment at 8.9% – EU28 at 7.5%

The euro area (EA19) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 8.9% in September 2017, down from 9.0% in August 2017 and from 9.9% in September 2016. This is the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since January 2009. The EU28 unemployment rate was 7.5% in September 2017, stable compared to August 2017 and down from 8.4% in September 2016. This remains the lowest rate recorded in the EU28 since November 2008. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European UnionFull text available here


EUROSTAT: Flash estimate – October 2017 – Euro area annual inflation down to 1.4%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 1.4% in October 2017, down from 1.5% in September 2017, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Full text available here


EUROSTAT: Preliminary flash estimate for the third quarter of 2017 – GDP up by 0.6% in both the euro area and the EU28 – +2.5% in both areas compared with the third quarter of 2016

Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.6% in both the euro area (EA19) and in the EU28 during the third quarter of 2017, compared with the previous quarter, according to a preliminary flash estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the second quarter of 2017, GDP had grown by 0.7% in both zones.  Full text available here



Employment: Report confirms effectiveness of EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund

Today the Commission has published its report on the performance of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in 2015 and 2016. The report reaffirms the role of the Fund as a flagship demonstration of European solidarity within the limits of its set-up and budgetary availabilities, having helped close to 19,500 workers to adjust to changing trade patterns and consequences of the economic and financial crisis in that period. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: “Today’s results demonstrate the added value of the Globalisation Fund in helping redundant workers who have difficulties to find a new job. The assistance worth €70 million of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund has paid off: in 2015 and 2016, 9,072assisted workers were re-employed, despite the challenging labour market situation these people faced. This year’s tenth anniversary of the Fund marks it as a proof of European solidarity to workers falling victim to mass lay-offs caused by globalisation or the crisis.”9,072 workers, or close to half of the workers who participated in the Globalisation Adjustment Fund measures, had found new jobs or were self-employed after one year, at the end of the implementation period of the measures. An additional 645 people were at that time in education or training to increase their future employability. Member States also reported that the personal situation, employability and self-confidence of the workers concerned had visibly improved thanks to the Globalisation Adjustment Fund assistance and services. More information can be found in this press release.


Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Mongolia enters into force

On 1 November, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and Mongolia enters into force. The High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini said: “The European Union and Mongolia are consolidating their strong ties, based on shared values and interests, and a common will to work more closely together. The entry into force of our Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, combined with the establishment of a European Union Delegation in Ulaanbaatar, which will take place in the coming days, consolidates existing areas of cooperation and engagement, and deepens and diversifies relations further in areas of mutual interest, for the sake of our peoples.” Replacing the 1993 Agreement on trade and economic cooperation, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement strengthens the existing relationship between the EU and Mongolia, consolidates existing areas of cooperation and engagement, and deepens and diversifies relations further in areas of mutual interest. The entry into force of the PCA coincides with the opening of an EU Delegation in Mongolia, for which implementing the Agreement will be a top priority. A full press release is available online. More information on EU-Mongolia relations is available on the website of the EU Delegation to Mongolia and a factsheet on the new Agreement is available online.


Rohingya crisis: Commissioner Stylianides visits Bangladesh and reaffirms EU humanitarian support

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has started a two-day visit to Bangladesh, to assess the situation on the ground and visit EU aid projects that are addressing the Rohingya refugee crisis. His visit comes a week after the EU and its Member States pledged more than 50% of the USD 344 million total funding raised at the international Conference on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis held in Geneva. “Here in Bangladesh the scale of this emergency is painfully clear to see; this is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world. The EU has decisively stepped up its aid to Rohingya communities. The Rohingya people are not alone in these difficult times. We commend and support the generous approach of the Bangladeshi authorities. At the same time, the European Union continues to insist on full aid access in Myanmar and is working to address the situation in Northern Rakhine State. Beyond aid, it is crucial that every refugee is registered properly and that Myanmar takes all necessary steps to allow them a voluntary and dignified return in secure conditions.“, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner Stylianides is today visiting the Kutupalong camp in the Cox’s Bazar area, where an EU funded project is helping over 100,000 people, mostly vulnerable children and women, gain access to essential services. The Commissioner will also hold meetings with government officials of Bangladesh and humanitarian partners to discuss the international community’s response to the crisis and Bangladesh’s needs moving forwards. Read the full press release here. Audiovisual coverage will be available here.


Digital contract rules: amended proposal on sales of goods across the EU

The Commission adopted today an amended proposal to extend the scope of the proposed Directive on online and other distance sales of goods to cover sales of goods offline.The initial proposal on the online sale of goods was presented in December 2015 together with the proposal on the supply of digital content as part of the Commission’s commitment to deliver on its Digital Single Market Strategy. Its aim is to break down the barriers due to differences in contract law which hinder cross-border online trade. The amendments to the proposal follow calls to align the rules applicable to online and offline sales more closely and avoid fragmentation. The Commission had already committed, when adopting the initial proposal, to assess the need of coherent rules on the basis of the analysis of existing consumer legislation. These results were introduced into discussions between the co-legislators. Given the increasing importance of both online and offline sales for consumers and businesses, this amended proposal will ensure that they benefit from on a coherent legal framework across EU borders. The amended proposal will now be transmitted to Parliament and Council to continue the ongoing legislative process. The new proposal is available here.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of sole control over Fels-Werke by CRH

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of sole control over Fels-Werke of Germany by CRH of Ireland. Fels-Werke is active in mining, processing and distribution of lime and limestone products, gypsum and mortar in Germany, the Czech Republic and Russia. CRH is active in the manufacture and distribution of various building materials, including aggregates, cement, lime and concrete worldwide. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there is limited geographic overlap between the companies’ activities, so that they are only remote competitors. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8626.


State aid: Commission approves PLN 1 billion public support for intermodal transport in Poland

The European Commission has approved a PLN 1 billion (around €238 million) aid scheme to support the construction, modernisation and upgrade of intermodal transport infrastructure in Poland. The scheme will also support the purchase of specialised equipment (e.g. lifting and transhipment equipment, telematics and satellite systems) required for intermodal transport, as well the purchase and modernisation of specialised rolling stock. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary to improve the competitiveness of intermodal transport services in Poland and that it is proportionate in accordance with EU State aid rules. The aid will be available to intermodal operators and rolling stock leasing companies. The Polish government will support up to 50% of the eligible costs, through funding from the EU Cohesion Fund. The scheme will be in place until 31 December 2023.More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.48093.




Commissioner Jourová on official visit to Finland

Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová is in Helsinki today. She just delivered a keynote speech on “Justice systems and rule of law in the EU: the ripe time for change” at the Finland 100 years event dedicated to Finnish and European perspectives to the rule of law. She said: “Rule of law is a bedrock of European democracies and one of the core values of the European Union. That’s why one of the priorities of the Commission for next year is to look at ways how to strengthen the enforcement of rule of law in the European Union. The judicial system in the EU is like a chain of Christmas lights. When one light goes off, others don’t light up and the chain is dark.”  The event was concluded by a press point with the Finnish Minister of Justice, Anti Häkkänen, and the Estonian Minister of Justice, Urmas Reinsalu. Commissioner Jourová will also meet Minister Häkkänen for a bilateral meeting. In the afternoon, she will visit a vocational school, benefitting from the European Social Fund to develop the promotion of gender equality and better bridge education and working life. She will participate in a roundtable with businesses on digital topics, including the general data protection regulation. Commissioner Jourová will also visit Vantaa prison and discuss how prison staff can detect radicalisation and violent extremism. Her last visit at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland will focus on artificial intelligence. Commissioner Jourová‘s keynote speech on rule of law is available online and on EbS, where you can also find other pictures and videos from her trip.

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