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EU and Mexico reach new agreement on trade

The European Union and Mexico reached last Saturday, 21 April, a new agreement on trade, part of a broader, modernised EU-Mexico Global Agreement. The agreement in principle brings the EU’s trade relationship with Mexico into the modern era, tearing down most of the remaining barriers to trade. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Trade can and should be a win-win process and today’s agreement shows just that. With this agreement, Mexico joins Canada, Japan and Singapore in the growing list of partners willing to work with the EU in defending open, fair and rules-based trade.” Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström added: “In less than two years the EU and Mexico have delivered a deal fit for the economic and political challenges of the 21st century. We now open a new chapter in our long and fruitful relationship, boosting trade and creating jobs.” Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, said: “This deal is very positive for our agri-food sector, creating new export opportunities for our high-quality food and drink products, which in turn will create support more jobs and growth, particularly in rural areas.” The agreement – once finalised and approved – will benefit both companies and consumers across Europe and advance the EU’s values-based trade policy agenda. For more information see the press release, MEMO and a joint statement from Saturday, as well as the dedicated webpage with factsheets, exporters’ stories and the text of the agreement in principle(to be published soon). A press conference by Commissioner Malmström and Commissioner Hogan can be watched online.

 

Special Eurobarometer: How fair do Europeans think life in the EU is?

A new poll, published today, shows that most Europeans think life is generally fair, but have concerns over justice, political decisions and income inequality. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, which conducted the Eurobarometer, said: “Fairness is a crucial part of building a more resilient, cohesive Europe. Our initiatives in this area need to be based on sound evidence, but at the same time take Europeans’ values and perceptions into account. I am proud that the JRC’s work is helping us increase our knowledge on both counts, making a vital contribution to our efforts to build a better Europe for the future.” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made fairness in the EU the cornerstone of his political priorities. To support this effort with scientific evidence, the Commission’s science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre, produced its first Fairness Report last year. The results of the Special Eurobarometer survey published today will help shed light on the wider questions of perceived unfairness in employment, education, health and society at large. The Eurobarometer, a report and accompanying country fiches for all EU Member States are published here. A full press release is available online.

High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioners Avramopoulos and King attend G7 meeting in Toronto

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos and Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King will participate today and tomorrow in the G7 meeting of Foreign and Security Ministers in Toronto, Canada, joining the EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini who has been participating in the meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers since Sunday. High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini and the Foreign Minister of Canada, Chrystia Freeland yesterday announced that they will co-host a meeting of all women foreign ministers in Canada this September.  Building on the outcome of the G7 Interior Ministers meeting in Ischia, Italy last October, Commissioners Avramopoulos and King will join Ministers from Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America to discuss steps towards building a more secure world. The discussions will focus in particular on the fight against terrorism, the prevention of violent extremism online and offline, trafficking in human beings, and building resilience against the cyber threat and new forms of hybrid warfare. There will also be a joint discussion with Ministers of Foreign Affairs on Russia, disinformation, foreign terrorist fighters and reinforcing democracy.

New recommendation to support cross-border market access for defence and security SMEs

Today the Commission issued a recommendation on cross-border market access for sub-suppliers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the defence sector. It outlines actions national authorities can take to support SMEs and make it easier for them to take part in defence procurement contracts. Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “Innovative SMEs are a vital part of the EU defence industry. But they face too many barriers to participating in defence procurement, particularly across borders. Today’s recommendation should foster a more dynamic defence market, creating opportunities for SMEs and providing better value for public money.” This recommendation also includes actions to be taken on the EU and national level, such as using national and European funding for defence-oriented SMEs and intermediate companies and addressing skills needs in the defence sector. The recommendation was announced in the 2016 European Defence Action Plan (EDAP), where the Commission envisaged work to strengthen an open and competitive defence market in Europe in order to help companies operate across borders and encourage Member States to get the best value for money when procuring in the defence area. As part of the Action Plan, the Commission has already launched last year the European Defence Fund.

Whistleblower protection: Commission sets new, EU-wide rules

The European Commission is proposing a new law to strengthen whistleblower protection across the EU. Recent scandals such as Dieselgate, Luxleaks, the Panama Papers or the ongoing Cambridge Analytica revelations show that whistleblowers can play an important role in uncovering unlawful activities that damage the public interest and the welfare of our citizens and society. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Many recent scandals may never have come to light if insiders hadn’t had the courage to speak out. But those who did took enormous risks. So if we better protect whistleblowers, we can better detect and prevent harm to the public interest such as fraud, corruption, corporate tax avoidance or damage to people’s health and the environment. There should be no punishment for doing the right thing. In addition, today’s proposals also protect those who act as sources for investigative journalists, helping to ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of the media are defended in Europe.” Today’s proposal will guarantee a high level of protection for whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law by setting new, EU-wide standards. The new law will establish safe channels for reporting both within an organisation and to public authorities. It will also protect whistleblowers against dismissal, demotion and other forms of retaliation and require national authorities to inform citizens and provide training for public authorities on how to deal with whistleblowers. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality added: “The new whistleblowers’ protection rules will be a game changer. In the globalised world where the temptation to maximise profit sometimes at the expense of the law is real we need to support people who are ready to take the risk to uncover serious violations of EU law. We owe it to the honest people of Europe.  A Press Release, Memo and Factsheet are all available online.

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Italian State loan to Alitalia

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether Italy’s bridge loan to Alitalia totalling €900 million constitutes State aid and whether it complies with EU rules for aid to companies in difficulty. Italy notified the State loan granted to Alitalia in January 2018 as rescue aid within the meaning of EU State aid rules, namely the Commission’s Rescue and Restructuring Aid Guidelines. This followed a number of complaints received by the Commission in 2017, alleging that the loan constitutes State aid that it is not compatible with the applicable EU rules. The Commission’s current view is that the State loan may constitute State aid. It will now investigate further whether the loan satisfies the conditions under the Guidelines. The opening of an in-depth investigation provides all interested parties with an opportunity to comment on the measure. It does not prejudge in any way the outcome of the investigation. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The Commission has a duty to make sure that loans given to companies by Member States are in line with the EU rules on State aid. We will investigate whether this is the case for Alitalia.” A full press release is available online in EN


ANNOUNCEMENTS

Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region: Commissioner Hahn meets young people from the region and Commissioner Stylianides inaugurates a photo exhibition on the EU response to the Syrian crisis

Today Commissioner Hahn is hosting an event organised by the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis. Young people, students and young entrepreneurs from Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, who have all benefitted from EU Trust Fund projects will raise their voice, share their aspirations and visions for their countries, and their messages for the Brussels II conference with Commissioner Hahn. The event will also feature the pianist Aeham Ahmad, who in 2013 risked his life to play the piano in the besieged city of Yarmouk aiming at transmitting a message of hope and joy to his fellow citizens facing the siege. Thanks to his music, Aeham has now become an advocate for the cause of refugees all over Europe. An exhibition featuring EU Trust Fund projects will follow Ahmad’s performance. On the same day at 14h at the Justus Lipsius building of the European Council, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will inaugurate a photo exhibition dedicated to the concrete results of EU Humanitarian Aid Operations in both Syria and neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. It tells the personal stories of Syrians that received this aid, showing individual stories of survival, resilience and human determination to rebuild life as normal as possible. WFP, UNICEF, UNHCR, ICRC and Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC) have contributed with pictures. These two events will conclude the run-up to the Brussels II Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region #SyriaConf2018, due to kick off tomorrow. Both events will be broadcast live on EbS.

High-level Conference to discuss results of Environmental Footprint pilot phase

What is the environmental footprint of a smartphone battery, pasta or dairy products? Consumers, businesses and investors have a growing interest in the environmental performance of products they buy, produce, and finance. A conference in Brussels on 23- 25 April 2018 discusses how to generate reliable, and comparable information to make this happen. The Environmental Footprint Final Conference will discuss the results, experiences and lessons learned from the pilot phase to develop a harmonised method for calculating the environmental footprint of products and organisations. Participants will discuss the challenges and opportunities linked to such a tool: common rules for measuring impacts, reducing companies’ costs, and stimulating fair competition.

Citizens’ Dialogue: Commissioner Andriukaitis in Austria

On Tuesday, Commissioner Andriukaitis will be in Vienna to meet with Ms Beate Hartinger-Klein, the Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection of Austria and to attend the 1st International Animal Welfare Summit 2018. The Commissioner will also hold a Citizens’ Dialogue that will be webstreamed here. “I am looking forward to engaging in dialogue with the people of Austria on important topics such as food safety, food waste, sustainable food production in Europe and the role that consumers play in these areas of discussion”, said Commissioner Andriukaitis ahead of the visit.

MEX/18/3506

Ladies and gentlemen,

Congratulations on this great initiative. It reflects very well on the sector that you were able to come together to agree this Code of Conduct.

We all know that data is one of the “hot topics” in the EU policy bubble at the moment, and your contribution is a very welcome attempt to demonstrate the specific situation of the agri-food sector in relation to data sharing.

The fact that you were the first sector to come forward with such a contribution is a great credit to you all.

Clearly the challenge is not only to generate data but to utilize and share it in a smart and fair way.

In agriculture the era of big data is upon us, and it is important that we get this right. It will be a pre-condition for further modernising our sector and to make progress in making precision agriculture the rule and not the exception.

I see marvellous new technologies and data-driven solutions every week in my work. When I visited the JRC in Italy last year we explored the possibility of using satellite technology to assist in farm controls, which could eliminate a huge layer of costly bureaucracy.

Last July I visited the Innovation Campuses of John Deere and Claas in Germany, and they are making astonishing strides in on-farm precision agriculture.

At the end of March European the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer.

The commitments submitted by Bayer to address some of the competition concerns include a commitment to grant a licence to its entire global digital agriculture product portfolio and pipeline products to ensure continued competition on this emerging market.

From an agri-food perspective, digital solutions have the potential to transform the efficiency and sustainability of holdings of all sizes. And data availability and sharing is fundamental to their success.

We need to protect the farmer in relation to the data they generate. Transparency and fairness must be built into all system from the start.

Farmers must have access to the data they share and safeguards in place to protect their data output. If we get this right from the start, we can avoid a situation where we are forced to take retroactive measures later on, as happened recently with UTPs in the food supply chain.

As we move towards a more modern and more climate-friendly CAP, technological and data-driven solutions will be more important than ever.

To reach this Promised Land, we need better broadband, connectivity and infrastructure. We need improved advisory services and access to training for farmers. We need deeper synergies between the CAP and other EU policies, notably Research & innovation.

There is a lot of potential, but we need to invest to make this potential into reality; we need to invest in people, in ideas and in businesses. We need to support digital infrastructure but we also need to empower farmers and other rural citizens to develop on and off-line solutions.

Your Code of Conduct is an important milestone, so let me conclude by once more congratulating you and thanking you for this excellent initiative.

23/04/2018

IFA’s Angus Woods discussed details of recent MEP visit to Brazil meat plants and farms with French MEP Michel Dantin today in Brussels

23/04/2018

IFA’s Angus Woods and Kevin Kinsella met with Commissioner Phil Hogan at the launch of the EU Code of Conduct on Ag Date Sharing in Brussels today

23/04/2018

 

IFA’s National Beef Chairman & Chairman of Beef Civil Dialogue Group Angus Woods and Kevin Kinsella met with Raluca Rusu, DG Agri today in Brussels in preparation for the CDG meeting.

19/04/2018

IFA’s Gerry Gunning is attending COPA meeting on CAP today in Brussels and emphasised the importance of Member States Farming Associations ‘playing their part’ in the political debate for the MFF

18/04/2018

IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy and Pekka Pesonen  COPA/COGECA led delegation to meet Maria Åsenius, Head of Cabinet Commissioner Malmström on the removal of Anti Dumping measures for Ammonium Nitrate

18/04/2018

IFA in Brussels today arguing for the removal of anti dumping measures on fertiliser at a hearing with DG Trade – the removal would mean huge savings on fertiliser costs for EU farmers

12/04/2018

IFA President Joe Healy and Elaine Farrell discussing UTP proposals with Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels

12/04/2018

Discussion with Mairead McGuinness MEP on  the UTP proposals outlined this morning by Commission Phil Hogan at the European Parliament Agriculture Committee

 

12/04/2018

Joe Healy in discussion with Joost Korte DG Employment in the European Parliament  following the proposals  on UTPs this morning in the European Parliament

 

14/04/2018

IFA’s Niamh Brennan with the Copa-Cogeca’s WP Chairman of Pigmeat, Mr Antonio Tavares at a meeting in Brussels today

 

 

 

09/04/2018

IFA’s Joe Brady National Committee Chairman for Rural Development is attending the COPA workshop on ANC’s in Brussels today

 

05/04/2018

IFA’s Gerry Gunning outlines IFA’s support for a 1.2% of GNI contribution to the EU budget for a strong CAP at today’s COPA Working group on CAP

29/03/2018

Liam MacHale IFA Brussels asked for French Minister for Agriculture Stéphane Travert’s support for the sensitive beef sector in ongoing Mercosur negotiations

 

 

 

 

28/03/2018

IFA President Joe Healy met with Mairead McGuinness, MEP,  on CAP budget, Brexit, farm incomes and farmers share from market place in Brussels today

 

 

 

 

28/03/201

 

Liam MacHale at the FNSEA Congress in Tours, France, with Joseph Ponthier, President FWA Belgium, Henri Brichart Vice President, FNSEA, and Simon SCHLÜTER,  DBV Brussels Office

 

 

 

 

27/03/2018

 

IFA President Joe Healy and Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan at the Forum for the Future of Agriculture in Brussels

 

 

 

 

27/03/2018

 

IFA President Joe Healy asked for a strong CAP budget supporting active farmers and pointed out the unfair margin returned to farmers and supported Commissioner Hogan ‘stamping out Unfair Trading Practices’

 

 

 

 

27/03/2018

 

IFA President Joe Healy discussed current Mercosur negotiations on beef with representatives of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and the Mission to Brussels.

 

 

 

27/03/2018

 

IFA President Joe Healy discussed current Mercosur negotiations on beef with representatives of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and the Mission to Brussels.

 

 

 

27/03/2018

 

IFA President Joe Healy with former Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler at Forum for Future of Agriculture in Brussels today

 

23/03/2018

 

Pat Farrell IFA Animal Health Chair and Tomas Bourke discuss Veterinary Medicine Regulation issues which affect Irish farmers with Katie Power Assistant to Mairead McGuinness MEP

 

 

 

23/03/2018

 

IFA’s Tomas Bourke with National Chairman for Animal Health Pat Farrell attending the COPA Working group for Animal Health & Welfare in Brussels today

 

 

 

 

22/03/2018

IFA President Joe Healy at the COPA-COGECA Presidency meeting with Henri Brichart, French Farming Association, FNSEA in Brussels today

 

 

 

22/03/2018

IFA President Joe Healy met with Mairead McGuinness, MEP, in the European Parliameent today to discuss upcoming legislative proposal on Unfair Trading Practices

 

 

 

19/03/2018

IFA Brussels Director, Liam MacHale underlined the need for strong support for the EU Agriculture Budget with Minister Helen McEntee in Brussels this evening

 

 

 

14/03/2018

An IFA delegation met with Tom Tynan of Commissioner Hogan’s Cabinet and DG Agri officials today on the investigation into anti-dumping measures for ammonium nitrate

 

 

 

14/03/2018

IFA with representatives from COPA-COGECA and AGPB France, met with Jens Schaps, DG Agri on antidumping measures on ammonium nitrate today in Brussels

 

 

 

09/03/2018

IFA’s Liam MacHale and Ethan Cleary with Tom Kelly, Teagasc at the Commission event on role of Thematic Networks in Agriculture Innovation in Brussels

 

 

 

09/03/2018

IFA’s Ethan Cleary attending Commission presentation in Brussels on Thematic Network’s – ‘How to interact better with farmers and speed up innovation’

 

 

 

08/03/2018

IFA’s Liam MacHale and Christian Staat, Cabinet of Budget Commissioner Gűnther Oettinger addressed a group of Bavarian Young Farmers in Brussels this evening

 

08/03/2018

IFA’s Liam MacHale and Jean Pierre Fleury of French Beef Association met DG Sante’s Michael Scannell and Cristina Lado re Chief Vets follow up visit to Brazil meat plants

 

 

 

07/03/2018

Liam MacHale addressed a group of FG Councillors along with ICOS led by Deirdre Clune MEP in the European Parliament today

 

 

 

28/02/2018

IFA’s Liam MacHale today spoke on Research & Innovation in Agrifood at an event in organised by UCD Dublin in the European Parliament

 

 

 

26/02/2018

IFA’s Liam MacHale took part in a discussion on Brexit with a Finna Faily Party a delegation in the European Parliament

 

 

 

23/02/2018

IFA President Joe Healy is chairman of today’s COPA Praesidium meeting of EU Farming Association Presidents in Brussels

 

 

 

22/02/2018

IFA told Commissioner Andriukaitis that accepting lower SPS standards or non enforced standards in a Mercosur agreement would affect Europe’s beef farmers most.

 

 

 

22/02/2018

Liam MacHale participating in discussion with Commissioner for Health & Food Safety, Vytenis  Andriukaitis at the COPA Praesidium today

 

 

 

19/02/2018

The IFA Dairy Team is in Brussels today to discuss dairy markets, milk price outlook, and what to do to reduce SMP stock without damaging the market.

 

 

 

16/02/2018

IFA’s Maura Canning and National Farm Family Chair Caroline Farrell with Sweden’s Lotta Folkesson, Chair of COPA Women’s Committee In Brussels today

 

 

 

12/02/2018

Liam MacHale discussed CAP and Brexit issues along with IBEC’s Doreen Burke with group of Cork Institute of Technology Business Students in Louvain yesterday

 

 

07/02/2018

IFA President Joe Healy met with Commissioner Phil Hogan today in Brussels and presented him with a copy of the IFA 2017 Annual Report

 

07/02/2018

Kevin Keary from Commissioner Hogan’s Cabinet outlining to the COPA-COGECA Food Chain Meeting, chaired by Joe Healy IFA President, the process and timing for EU Legislation on the Fair Food Chain

 

 

07/02/2018

Joe Healy chairing the COPA-COGECA Food Chain Meeting in Brussels this morning discussing what’s needed in EU legislation to curb unfair trading practices

 

 

05/02/2018

IFA National Grain Chairman Mark Browne reporting on the challenges of the Irish tillage sector to the working party on Cereals at COPA Working Party in Brussels today

 

 

31/01/2018

Angus Woods with Fiona Simson, President of Australian National Farmers’ Federation following roundtable discussions in Brussels today

 

 

31/01/2018

Angus Woods highlighting the joint threats of Brexit, CAP reform and  Mercosur in discussions with Australia’s National Farmers’ Federation in Brussels

 

 

31/01/2018

IFA’s Liam MacHale meeting with Béla Kocsy Director of the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture to discuss issues in the beef sector today

 

 

29/01/2018

Joe Healy highlighted risk to sensitive European beef sector in any Mercosur deal at meeting with Rumen Porozhanov Agriculture Council President in Brussels today

 

 

29/01/2018

IFA President Joe Healy and Livestock Chair Angus Woods  in Brussels on way to defend Irish agriculture in a meeting with Sandra Gallina, DG Trade, Chief EU Negotiator on Mercosur

 

29/01/2018

Joe Healy being interviewed by European TV outside of the EU Council on Mercosur

 

27/01/2018

IFA President Joe Healy met with Minister Doyle on Sunday evening to discuss upcoming Mercosur negotiations in Brussels

 

 

23/01/2018

IFA’s Thomas Ryan and Shane Cogan presenting IFA guide on Smart farming to DG Clima / DG Environment and JRC in Brussels

 

17/01/2018

IFA CAP team meeting with Tassos Haniotis, Director of Economic Analysis DG Agri to discuss CAP issues this morning

 

11/01/2018

Elaine Farrell participated in Brexit Phase 2 discussions at the COPA Brexit task force meeting today in Brussels

 

11/01/2018

Liam MacHale with Macra na Feirme President James Healy attending European Young Farmer’s Association CEJA meeting in Brussels.

 

11/01/2018

Richie Flynn meeting Chairman Carlos Iturgaiz  at the Sustainable Agriculture hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels

03/01/2018

EU and Mexico reach new agreement on trade

The European Union and Mexico today reached a new agreement on trade, part of a broader, modernised EU-Mexico Global Agreement. Practically all trade in goods between the EU and Mexico will now be duty-free, including in the agricultural sector.

Simpler customs procedures will further benefit the EU’s industry, including in sectors like pharmaceuticals, machinery and transport equipment. The agreement also lays down progressive rules on sustainable development. Among other things, the EU and Mexico have committed to effectively implementing their obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change. It will also be the first EU trade agreement to tackle corruption in the private and public sectors.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Trade can and should be a win-win process and today’s agreement shows just that. Mexico and the EU worked together and reached a mutually beneficial outcome. We did it as partners who are willing to discuss, to defend their interests while at the same time being willing to compromise to meet each other’s expectations. With this agreement, Mexico joins Canada, Japan and Singapore in the growing list of partners willing to work with the EU in defending open, fair and rules-based trade.

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström added: “In less than two years the EU and Mexico have delivered a deal fit for the economic and political challenges of the 21st century. We now open a new chapter in our long and fruitful relationship, boosting trade and creating jobs. Today’s agreement also sends a strong message to other partners that it is possible to modernise existing trade relations when both partners share a clear belief in the merits of openness, and of free and fair trade.”

Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, said: “This agreement proves yet again the value of the EU leading from the front globally in promoting open and rules-based trade. Our commitment is to deliver benefits for our citizens at home through closer cooperation with our partners abroad. This deal is very positive for our agri-food sector, creating new export opportunities for our high-quality food and drink products, which in turn will create support more jobs and growth, particularly in rural areas.”

Today’s agreement – once finalised and approved – will benefit both companies and consumers across Europe and advance the EU’s values-based trade policy agenda. The agreement in principle struck today brings the EU’s trade relationship with Mexico into the modern era, tearing down most of the remaining barriers to trade.

Since the previous EU-Mexico trade agreement came into force in 2000, trade between the EU and Mexico has risen at a rate of around 8% per year, resulting in an overall increase of 148% in trade in goods over the period. Despite these positive results, there was still a wide margin for improving the trade relationship that the new agreement is addressing, by making virtually all trade in goods duty-free.

The main elements of the agreement

1) Agricultural exports from the EU are set to benefit the most,such as poultry, cheese, chocolate, pasta, and pork.

The agreement will, in particular:

  • provide preferential access for many cheeses such as Gorgonzola and Roquefort, which currently are up to 20%, and gain significant new access for many others within annual quotas;
  • secure a considerable volume for milk powder exports in one of the largest markets, starting with 30,000 tonnes from entry into force, rising to 50,000 tonnes after 5 years.
  • allow the EU to substantially increase its pork exports to Mexico, with duty-free trade for virtually all pork products;
  • eliminate tariffs for products like chocolate (currently up to 30%) and pasta (currently up to 20%);
  • ensure the protection from imitation for 340 distinctive European foods and drink products in Mexico, so-called geographical indications, such asComté cheese from France,Queijo São Jorge cheese from Portugal, Szegedi szalámi from Hungary, and Magiun de prune Topoloveni plums from Romania.This means that EU producers of traditional delicacies are not struggling against copies, and when consumers buy these products they can do so knowing they are buying the real thing.

When it comes to customs procedures, the new agreement will bring in new rules to simplify and speed up paperwork and physical checks at Mexican customs.

2) The agreement includes a comprehensive trade and sustainable development chapter, which sets the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection; introduces a new dialogue with civil society in all areas of the agreement, strengthens the EU and Mexico’s actions on sustainable development and climate change, notably the obligations both sides undertook under the Paris Agreement on climate change; and maintains and fully safeguards Member States’ right to organise public services the way they choose.

The agreement also includes an explicit reference to the precautionary principle that, already enshrined in the EU treaties, allows the EU to keep products out of its market as long as there is no scientific certainty that they are safe.

It will also be the very first EU trade agreement to include provisions to fight corruption, with measures to act against bribery and money laundering. The broader Global Agreement, of which the trade agreement is an integral part, also covers the protection of human rights, as well as chapters on political and development cooperation.

3) The agreement isa big step forward in giving companies mutual access to government contracts in both the EU and Mexico public procurement markets.EU and Mexican companies will be placed on an equal footing, irrespective of whether they present a bid in Mexico or in the EU. Mexico has also committed itself to enter into negotiations with the Mexican States to allow EU firms to tender for contracts at State level by the time the agreement is signed.

4) This opening goes hand in hand with setting a level playing-field: we agreed a high level of protection of intellectual property rights. This protects EU research and development and guarantees fair pay for EU artists, as well as the 340 traditional EU delicacies mentioned above.

5) The new agreement opens up trade in services, such as financial services, transport, e-commerce, and telecommunications. The agreement will also help develop an favourable environment for a knowledge-based economy, with a new chapter on digital trade. This will remove unnecessary barriers to online trade, like charging customs duties when downloading an app, and will put in place clear rules to protect consumers online.

6) On investment protection, the agreement improves investment conditions and includes the EU’s new Investment Court System, ensuring transparency and the right of governments to regulate in the public interest, and will also ensure that Mexico and the EU work towards the setting up of a Multilateral Investment Court.

Overall, this agreement will strengthen Europe’s leadership in shaping globalisation by putting in place trade rules that are in line with the EU’s core values and safeguard the EU’s interests and sensitivities. In doing so, it contributes to addressing challenges identified in the reflection paper on Harnessing Globalisation presented by the Commission as part of the White Paper process.

Next Steps

Today’s agreement in principle includes the most important elements of the agreement. In some chapters, technical details still need to be tied up. Based on today’s agreement in principle, negotiators from both sides will continue their work to resolve the remaining technical issues and finalise the full legal text by the end of the year. Then, the Commission will proceed with the legal verification and translation of the agreement into all official EU languages, and will subsequently submit it for approval by the European Parliament and Council of the European Union.

Background

The negotiations for the new agreement with Mexico started in May of 2016 based on negotiating directives from the Council. They were conducted according to the Commission’s high transparency standards. In addition to close scrutiny from the European Parliament and Member States, the Commission ensured access to information about the progress in the negotiations by publishing regular reports from the negotiating rounds, as well as negotiating proposals.

The trade pillar is part of a broader Global Agreement, which sets the framework for the EU’s relationship with Mexico and covers issues of broader shared interest that go beyond trade, including political issues, climate change and human rights.

In 1997, Mexico was the first country in Latin America to sign a Global Agreement with the EU. This came into force in 2000, and will be replaced by the new agreement once it is ratified.

For More Information

Agreement in Principle [available soon]

MEMO

Joint statement

Video material from the today’s ministerial meeting

Dedicated webpage

Factsheets

Exporters’ stories

EU and Mexico trade relations

MAIN NEWS

Citizens’ Dialogue in Ireland: Commissioner Hogan discusses the future of food and farming

Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan will today participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue on the future of food and farming in Kilkenny, Ireland. Entitled “Making CAP 2020 work for you”, the dialogue will focus on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and its implications for Irish farmers. Commissioner Hogan will be joined on stage by Mr. Joe Healy, President of the Irish Farmers’ Association. Commissioner Hogan presented on 29 November the orientations proposed by the European Commission on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. This Citizens’ Dialogue is part of a series of engagements between the Commission and key stakeholders in the agri-food sector that are ongoing throughout the Union since the adoption of the Commission’s Communication. Citizens’ Dialogues are a regular feature of the daily work of the Juncker Commission. All Members of the Commission travel to regions and cities across Europe to engage in dialogue with citizens and listen to their views and expectations concerning the future of the Union. Since the beginning of the mandate, over 130 dialogues were held in more than 80 towns. Today’s Dialogue with Commissioner Hogan will start at 19h and will be web-streamed here.

 

EUROSTAT: Europe 2020 employment indicators-Employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the EU reached a new peak at 72.2% in 2017-Nine Member States already achieved their 2020 targets

In 2017, the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the European Union (EU) stood at 72.2%, up compared with 2016 (71.1%). The Europe 2020 strategy target is to reach a total employment rate for people aged 20 to 64 of at least 75% in the EU by 2020. This objective has been translated into different national targets in order to reflect the situation and possibilities of each Member State to contribute to the common goal. Full text available here

 

Trade Defence: Commission extends anti-dumping duties on steel ropes and cables from China for another five years

Following a review the Commission today decided to continue imposing anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese steel ropes and cables. Anti-dumping duties of 60.4% have been in place since 1999 and this is the third expiry review, extending measures at the same level for a further 5 years. As a result of a previous anti-circumvention investigation, products consigned from Morocco and the Republic of Korea are also subject to these duties.The expiry review investigation found evidence that dumping from Chinese companies would continue should measures be allowed to lapse, which would have a negative financial impact on the EU steel industry. Steel ropes and cables have a wide variety of uses, including in the fishing, maritime, mining, forestry and constructions sector. The EU market is estimated to be worth around €500 million and the EU industry is present in at least 14 Member States, including Germany, Italy, Poland and the UK.The steel sector is a vital industry for the European Union’s economy and occupies a central position in global value chains, providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of European citizens. The global surplus in steelmaking capacity has driven down steel prices to unsustainable levels in recent years and had a damaging impact on the steel sector, as well as related industries and jobs. The EU is using therefore the full potential of its trade defence toolbox to ensure a level-playing-field for its producers and their ability to maintain jobs in the sector. 53 measures are now in place on steel and iron products, including 27 on products coming from China. The regulation can be found here.

Safer and cleaner cars: Commission welcomes European Parliament green light to tightening rules

Following the political agreement reached in December 2017, yesterday the European Parliament formally voted in favour of the Commission’s proposal for a fully overhauled type-approval framework. Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, welcomed the vote: “One important complaint we heard on Dieselgate was that the EU failed to act. In reality our margin of manoeuvre was limited. We now agreed on a fundamental reform that gives the Commission the power to make sure manufacturers will no longer get away with cheating. The new rules will give us cleaner cars on our way to zero emission and safer cars for the roll-out of autonomous driving.” The new framework will raise the quality level and independence of vehicle type-approval and testing, increase checks of cars that are already on the EU market and strengthen the overall system with European oversight. After formal adoption in Council in the coming weeks and publication in the Official Journal, the Regulation will become mandatory as of 1 September 2020 for all new vehicle models. The new rules go hand in hand with other Commission initiatives such as the proposal for a new deal for consumers, which in a Dieselgate-type scenario will allow victims of unfair commercial practices to obtain remedies collectively through a representative action. In its efforts to bring down emissions from vehicles the Commission has introduced new and improved car emissions tests which became mandatory in September 2017. The Commission recently held a public consultation on its proposal to further improve these tests. This proposal will be voted on in the Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles (TCMV) in the coming weeks.

State aid: Commission approves €56 million public support scheme to promote shift of freight from road to rail in Sweden

The European Commission has found a Swedish public support scheme to encourage a shift of freight transport from road to rail to be in line with EU State aid rules.  The measure will promote EU environmental and transport objectives, whilst maintaining competition in the Single Market. In Sweden, around 40% of freight is transported by road, 40% by water and just over 20% by rail. The new scheme has an overall budget of SEK 563 million (approximately €56 million) and will run until 2019, and aims to increase the share of rail transport. The aid takes the form of a subsidy to railway companies that carry freight, with the objective of channelling part of the advantage to end customers, incentivising them to switch to rail transport. The Commission found that the scheme is beneficial for the environment and mobility, supporting rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport, while also decreasing road congestion. The Commission concluded that the measure is compatible with EU State aid rules, in particular the 2008 Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number SA.49749. (

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in Egypt for new strategic partnership on energy

Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete will be in Egypt on 22-24 April for a high-level visit with government officials and energy stakeholders. He will meet the President of the Egyptian Republic, His Excellency Abdelfatah Al-Sisi, and members of the Egyptian Government, namely the Prime Minister, the Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy and the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. On behalf of the Commission he will sign a Memorandum of Understanding for Strategic Cooperation in Energy between the EU and Egypt. The Commissioner will also meet with European energy companies and open the EU-Egypt Sustainable Energy Business Forum & Exhibition. Furthermore, an on-site visit to the Zohr onshore gas facility in Port Said is foreseen. The visit is a key element of the external dimension of the Energy Union, a political priority of the Juncker Commission. Ahead of his visit, Commissioner Arias Cañete said: “The EU and Egypt are strategic partners on energy. The potential for an even closer energy cooperation between the EU and Egypt is enormous, and I hope this visit will herald a new phase of closer and more intense relations amongst us. Egypt can lead the way of the clean energy transition in the Eastern Mediterranean and thus contribute to the Paris climate goals and the worldwide decarbonisation effort. Likewise, Egypt is becoming an upcoming important gas and electricity hub that can provide energy security for the EU and for the entire region. There is much to gain in terms of access to new sources of energy and market opportunities, for European and Egyptian citizens and businesses alike. The EU stands ready to support Egypt in its energy market reforms and to boost sustainable energy investment.” More information on the website of the Commission’s website.

Hannover industrial show: Commission debates EU Industrial Strategy

On 22-23 April, Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Commissioners Günther H. Oettinger and Elżbieta Bieńkowska participate in the Hannover Messe 2018, one of the world’s largest trade fairs. In 2016, the Commission presented the EU’s Strategy for low-emission mobility and in 2017 the renewed Industrial Policy Strategy – both advocating a Europe that embraces technological change and continues pioneering on smart, innovative and sustainable industry. The Commissioners will take the opportunity to engage with the most daring and forward-looking businesses – be it in the field of automation, batteries, digital innovation or software development. Vice-President Šefčovič and Commissioner Oettinger will attend the official opening ceremony together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Vice-President Šefčovič participates in a dialogue on the EU Battery Alliance and delivers a key note speech on the future of EU mobility. The speech will be followed by a panel discussion focused on automation and decarbonisation, which Commissioner Bieńkowska also joins. Both will meet Mr Stephan Weil, Prime Minister of Lower Saxony (Germany). Commissioner Bieńkowska will furthermore hold separate meetings with Ildefonso Guajardo Real, Minister of Economy of Mexico, and Dieter Kempf, President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI). Commissioner Oettinger will participate in a lunch discussion with representatives of industries on investing in industrial digitisation. He will also deliver keynote speeches at two events on digital transformation.

Culture: Commissioner Navracsics attends international cultural heritage forum in Brussels

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport, Tibor Navracsics will participate in the ‘Forum on the International Perspectives of the European Year of Cultural Heritage’ in Brussels on Monday, 23 April. The event will highlight the international aspect of cultural relations and start a wider discussion on how culture – in the framework of the European Year and beyond – can improve relations between countries and communities. Commissioner Navracsics said: “Diplomacy is often led by politicians. Cultural diplomacy is different. It empowers citizens and civil society to recognise the intertwined nature of our societies, history and culture in the hope they can build a better tomorrow. The European Year of Cultural Heritage is a true embodiment of that aspiration and the perfect catalyst to promote the EU’s international strategy.” Organised by the Cultural Diplomacy Platform, the Forum is a concrete outcome of the EU strategy for international cultural relations launched by Commissioner Navracsics and EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini in June 2016. Central to that strategy is the acknowledgement of culture as a resource that helps drive economic growth and strengthen international partnerships. A Spotlight brochure on the European Year of Cultural Heritage is available online. The closing remarks will be covered by EbS.

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