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Summer 2018 Interim Economic Forecast: Resilient Growth amid increased uncertainty

The Spring 2018 Economic Forecast published today shows that growth is set to remain strong in 2018 and 2019, at 2.1% this year and 2% next year in both the EU and the euro area. However, after five consecutive quarters of vigorous expansion, the economic momentum moderated in the first half of 2018 and is now set to be 0.2 percentage points lower in both the EU and the euro area than had been projected in the spring. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “European economic activity remains solid with 2.1% GDP growth forecast for the euro area and the EU28 this year. Nevertheless, the downward revision of GDP growth since May shows that an unfavourable external environment, such as growing trade tensions with the US, can dampen confidence and take a toll on economic expansion. The growing external risks are yet another reminder of the need to strengthen the resilience of our individual economies and the euro area as a whole.” Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “Growth in Europe is set to remain resilient, as monetary policies stay accommodative and unemployment continues to fall. The slight downward revision compared to the spring reflects the impact on confidence of trade tensions and policy uncertainty, as well as rising energy prices. Our forecast is for a continued expansion in 2018 and 2019, although a further escalation of protectionist measures is a clear downside risk. Trade wars produce no winners, only casualties.” The full press release is available in all languages here. The Summer 2018 Interim Economic Forecast is available here.

 

Preparation of the Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings, 12-13 July 2018

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici will represent the Commission at the Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings taking place today and tomorrow. Today’s Eurogroup meeting will provide the Commission with an opportunity to present the Summer 2018 Interim Economic Forecast. The Eurogroup will discuss the budgetary situation in the euro area as a whole, focusing on the prospects for 2019 and receive a presentation from the Chairman of the European Fiscal Board (EFB), Niels Thygesen, on the EFB’s recently published report. The Commission and the European Central Bank will present the main findings from their post-programme surveillance missions to Ireland and Spain. The Eurogroup will also discuss the outcome of the June Euro Summit and issues related to the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. Commissioner Moscovici will participate in the press conference following the meeting. At tomorrow’s ECOFIN meeting, the Council will discuss the Commission’s proposal to introduce more flexibility for Member States to apply the same low VAT rates to e-publications as they can currently apply to traditional books. Ministers are expected to look at a proposal which would introduce the possibility for Member States to apply a temporary reverse charge mechanism for VAT. They will also exchange views on the outcome of the June meeting of the European Council. Finally, the Austrian Presidency will present ministers with its work programme in the field of economic and financial affairs. Vice-President Dombrovskis will participate in the press conference following the ECOFIN meeting.

 

Member States’ compliance with EU law: room for improvement

Today’s 35thAnnual Report on monitoring the application of EU law sets outhow the Commission monitored and enforced EU law in 2017. The online Single Market Scoreboard (edition 2018), also published today and marking the 25th anniversary of the EU Single Market, shows that whilst most barriers to the free movement of persons, services, goods and capital are being eliminated, in some fields the situation is stalling or even worsening. Each failure to correctly and timely apply EU law denies citizens and businesses the rights and the benefits they enjoy under EU rules. On the EU infringements proceedings, the Annual Report for 2017 shows a slight decrease by 5.91% of open infringement cases compared to the previous year. On the Single Market Scoreboard, the best performing countries were Finland, Denmark and Slovakia, while the highest number of red cards (performance below average) was given to the Czech Republic, Ireland and Greece. The Single Market remains Europe’s most precious asset for the millions of citizens and businesses, and the Commission is committed to ensure, by checking on the implementation of EU Single Market rules, that they benefit each day from the freedom to live, work, shop and trade across the Member States. For the 2017 Annual Report, a full press release and an EU-28 fact sheet are available online as well as 28 fact sheets by country. For the EU Single Market Scoreboard (edition 2018), see the performance overview and the performance per Member State (28 EU + 3 EEA). Finally, answers on the frequently asked questions on the general EU infringement procedure are available here.

EU and Georgia strengthen cooperation in civil protection and disaster risk management

The European Commission and the Emergency Management Service of Georgia will sign an administrative arrangement in Tbilisi enhancing ties in civil protection and disaster risk management. The administrative arrangement outlines key areas of cooperation on disaster prevention, preparedness and response on issues such as forest fires, floods and search and rescue missions. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: “The signature of this arrangement is an important step to foster even closer cooperation between the EU and Georgia. To protect people, property and environment from disasters more effectively, we all need to be better prepared. I am very pleased to seal during my visit to Tbilisi our renewed and strengthened cooperation in civil protection”. To attend the signing of the agreement Commissioner Stylianides is visiting Tbilisi where he will also meet with the Prime Minister Mr Mamuka Bakhtaze, the Speaker of the National Parliament Mr Irakli Kobakhizde and other officials. Read the full press release here.

 

eGoverment: Commission welcomes agreement on Single Digital Gateway

The Commission welcomes the vote today in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament on the Regulation establishing a Single Digital Gateway, following the agreement reached by the co-legislators. The gateway is part of the EU’s effort to make it easier for citizens and companies to benefit from all the opportunities that the Single Market has to offer. Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said: “The initiative will greatly benefit EU citizens living, studying or working in another EU country and businesses which are active cross-border, but also the many people and companies who decide to stay in their home country. It is estimated that the gateway could help companies save more than €11 billion per year, and EU citizens up to 855.000 hours of their time annually.” The Single Digital Gateway will be a central, online and easily accessible entry point for people and companies looking for complete, accurate and up-to-date information, administrative procedures and assistance services linked to their Single Market rights. The gateway will not only provide citizens and businesses with information about applicable rules, but also direct them towards assistance services when further help is needed and allow them to complete national administrative procedures online. Any procedure currently available online for domestic users will be accessible to users from other Member States. Information and explanations will be made available in an EU language that is understandable for cross-border users. 21 key administrative procedures will have to be made fully available online, including requests for a birth certificate, to register a car, to declare income tax or enrol for university. The Single Digital Gateway will also reduce cross-border red tape by introducing the ‘once-only’ principle. This means that if citizens and businesses need to submit supporting data or documents as part of administrative procedures, they can ask for this to be exchanged directly between authorities. Overall, the gateway incentivises Member States to adopt ambitious e-government strategies to offer modern and efficient public service. An agreement was reached by EU negotiators only a year after the proposal was put forward by the Commission. Formal approval by the Parliament and the Council is expected in September. The Single Digital Gateway will be launched two years later in 2020. More information here.

 

Cambodia: EU mission assesses human rights and labour situation

A delegation of the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) visited Cambodia from 5 to 11 July 2018 to evaluate the situation following recent worrying human rights and labour rights developments in the country. The European Union will now analyse as a matter of priority the information gathered during the mission to consider further steps. The mission took place in the framework of the EBA trade scheme that allows Cambodia to export all products (except arms and ammunition) into the EU, free of quotas and tariffs provided respect of a number of international conventions. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “The Everything But Arms initiative has had a significant impact on development and poverty eradication in Cambodia. Nevertheless, the recent worrying developments in the country have called for a closer assessment of whether Cambodia is fulfilling its commitments. The discussions during our EU mission have focused on the serious decline in the area of political and electoral rights, as well as a curbing of civil society activities. There are also deficiencies when it comes to land dispute resolution mechanisms, and serious threats to freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. We will now analyse the facts and consider further steps. Removing Cambodia from the trade scheme is a measure of last resort, if all our other efforts have failed to address these concerns.”  The EU is the main export destination, accounting for 40% of Cambodia’s overall exports. The EBA has brought important benefits to the Cambodian economy. EBA has contributed in particular to significant job creation and growth in the textile sector, which accounts for 75% of Cambodia’s exports to the EU. The EU has stepped up its engagement with Cambodia (GSP report of January 2018) in response to serious concerns about the continuing deterioration of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, as flagged also by the European Parliament and the Council.See Commission websitefor more information on EU-Cambodia trade relations and the Everything But Arms scheme. Press release is also available online.

 

State aid: Commission approves public funding for five ferry connections between Croatian islands and mainland

The European Commission has found Croatian plans to grant HRK 250 million (€34 million) to ensure regular ferry connections on five routes between Croatian islands and the mainland to be in line with EU State aid rules. The public support will be granted to maritime companies, which will be selected through public tenders organised by the Agency for Coastal Lines and Maritime Traffic (Agencija za obalni linijski pomorski promet) and will cover the difference between revenues from ferry tickets and the cost of operating the ferries regularly throughout the year so as to allow, for example, the islands’ inhabitants to commute daily to work or study. The Commission assessed the measures under EU State aid rules on services of general economic interest (SGEI) and EU rules on maritime cabotageand found that the State aid in question will contribute to the connectivity and development of the islands without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “For citizens living on Croatian islands, a connection to the mainland is essential. So I’m happy that we are approving public support for ferry connections ensuring the link between five Croatian islands and the rest of Croatia not only during the peak tourist season in the summer, but throughout the year.” The full press release is available online here

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Reydel by Samvardhana Motherson Group

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Reydel Automotive Holdings B.V. and Reydel Automotive Management B.V. (together ‘Reydel’) by Samvardhana Motherson Automotive Systems Group B.V., all of the Netherlands. Reydel is a designer and manufacturer of automotive interior products, including instrument panels, door panels, console modules, cockpit modules and decorative parts. Samvardhana Motherson develops, produces and distributes exterior mirrors, interior mirrors, blind spot detection systems, plastic components such as automotive exterior and interior modules, and is a supplier of instrument panels, cockpit modules, door panels, floor consoles and bumpers. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the companies’ moderate combined market position resulting from the proposed transaction. 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.8911.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Vice-President Šefčovič convenes trilateral gas talks with Russia and Ukraine in Berlin

On the initiative of Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič trilateral ministerial talks with Russia and Ukraine on the long-term transit of gas to Europe will take place on 17 July in Berlin, Germany. Ministers of the respective governments – namely Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Ukrainian Minister for Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin – as well as representatives of the two relevant commercial entities will be present. The EU is committed to facilitating this trilateral process which in the past, proved to be effective in reaching tangible, successful results. Ahead of the meeting, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “Constructive and stable cooperation between Russia and Ukraine in the field of energy is of utmost importance for both countries and the European Union. The need for a continued, long-term transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to the EU in a reliable, commercially viable way is an indispensable part of it. It is clear that time is of the essence. The negotiations that lie ahead of us are complex and therefore, require full attention and constructive engagement. As proven in the past, a trilateral process is the most effective platform to seek a satisfactory solution to the gas matters important for involved parties and to gas transit via Ukraine beyond 2019.” The trilateral meeting starts at 14:30 CET and takes place in the premises of the Commission’s Representation in Berlin. While the talks are not be open to the media, Vice-President Šefčovič will debrief during a subsequent press point there. Europe by Satellite will transmit it LIVE. Media accreditation is required by registering at Laura.BETHKE@ec.europa.eu and sending the surname, passport/national ID number and the media organisation title. The deadline is Monday 16 July 16:00 CET.

MEX/18/4484

Briefing paper: The Commission’s proposal for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework

On 2 May 2018 the Commission published a package of legal proposals and accompanying explanatory documents for the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – a seven-year budget for the European Union for the 2021-2027 period.

In this briefing paper released today the focus is on the proposed MFF Regulation, the MFF Communication and the accompanying Spending Review.

 

Speech by Michel Barnier at the European American Chamber of Commerce

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me first thank the European American Chamber of Commerce, its President James Rosener, and Executive Director Yvonne Bendinger-Rothschild for inviting me.

It is a timely occasion to talk about Brexit.

I am happy to be in the United States to make the European voice on Brexit heard.

After Brexit, with 27 countries, 440 million consumers and 22 million businesses, we will remain a major partner for the US and a global player.

*

Let me now make a few introductory remarks.

1/ I deeply regret, as a politician and a citizen, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. It is my conviction that we are stronger together.

Brexit will necessarily have a cost.

The United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union’s Single Market and the Customs Union.

This means that Brexit will create friction to trade that does not exist today.

For various economic sectors, this will have an impact on value chains, which are currently closely integrated across national borders of European countries.

This will impact in particular manufacturing and logistics, as well as the agricultural and food sectors.

The cost of Brexit will be substantially higher for the UK than for the EU. But Brexit is clearly a “lose-lose” situation for both.

On both sides of the Channel, businesses, including subsidiaries of US firms, should analyse their exposure to the other side and be ready, when necessary, to adapt their logistical channels, supply chains and existing contracts.

They should also prepare for the worst case scenario of a “no deal”, which would result in the return of tariffs, under WTO rules.

The “no deal” is not our objective. By the way, you do not need a negotiator for no deal. We are negotiating to avoid the “no deal”, but it still cannot be excluded.

Our objective is to reach an agreement by October on the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU. This would allow proper time for the British and European Parliaments to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement before the UK actually leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

*

2/ Over the last few months, we have made progress in the negotiations, as you can see in this draft Withdrawal Agreement which we have published – more or less 80%. In particular:

We reached a deal to protect 4.5 million European citizens in the UK and British nationals in the EU.

We agreed that all decisions taken at 28 will be financed at 28.

We agreed on a transition period of 21 months during which the economic status quo between the EU and the UK will be maintained. It will give business more time to adapt.

However, a number of major issues remain open.

In particular, we need to find solutions for the difficult issue of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Historically, alongside other partners such as the US, the EU has played an important role in supporting the peace process in Ireland.

And a key feature of the peace process was to make the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland invisible.

This was facilitated obviously by the fact that both Ireland and Northern Ireland were part of the EU.

We need to avoid a hard border and the UK has committed to this.

As the same time we need to protect the EU’s external border to preserve the integrity of our market.

***

3/ We want an ambitious future relationship with the UK – not only in trade, but also in police and judicial cooperation and foreign policy, security and defence.

However, the basis for such cooperation between the UK and the 27 EU countries will necessarily be different.

Therefore, the level of integration will have to be lower than it is today.

Because what the Single Market creates is the most developed form of free trade among sovereign countries. It is as close as it gets to a domestic market.

*

Since we are in New York, only a few miles away from Wall Street, let me take the example of financial services.

Within the EU Single Market, companies established in the UK can provide their services across the entire European Union – we call it “passporting”.

Many US financial institutions decided to establish their European hub in London to have these passporting rights and to be able to service clients across Europe.

This is made possible by the EU Single Market, where EU countries are bound by a common framework, and in particular:

By a single rulebook, which we have reviewed following the financial crisis to increase the resilience of our financial institutions and markets. In doing so, we have implemented the G20 roadmap, just as the US did with the Dodd-Franck Act.

By coordinating or centralising supervision of this single rulebook for banks, insurance companies and financial markets.

By ensuring the uniform interpretation of the single rulebook by the European Court of Justice.

Outside of this common “ecosystem” of regulation, supervision and enforcement, there can be no passporting. The UK has recognised this point, in Ms. May’s Mansion House speech.

But the UK still wants continuity. It would want the EU to accept UK standards by means of a system of mutual recognition.

The UK needs to understand that the EU cannot accept such mutual market access without all the safeguards that underpin it.

This would go against all our objectives:

  • First, ensuring financial stability,
  • Second, protecting investors,
  • Third, securing market integrity
  • And fourth, maintaining a level playing field.

These objectives would not be reached if financial institutions could passport in the EU and serve clients based on a licence by the supervisors of a third country.

I do not know of any country in the world that would accept such a loss of sovereignty.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

That being said, I think that we should have a close relationship with the UK, also in financial services.

This is our common interest.

I see a number of ways to achieve this.

First, the EU Single Market is open to third countries, in general, to the US, and also to the UK. And it will remain so.

In the EU, free movement of capital is open to third countries.

As regards market access to provide financial services, the European Council made clear that our future Free Trade Agreement with the UK should include the right of establishment, with EU rules applying.

Secondly, the EU has a long history of relying on the regulation and supervision of third countries.

This is what the G20 calls deference, what you call in the US substituted compliance, and what we call in the EU equivalence.

To date, the EU has adopted more than 200 so-called equivalence decisions covering more than 30 foreign jurisdictions, including of course the US. This integrates financial markets and facilitates the work of financial operators in the EU and the foreign jurisdiction.

Today, to be very clear, we are in the EU the most open jurisdiction in the world for financial services.

Why would this equivalence system, which works well, including for the US industry, not work for the UK? Why?

Thirdly, in order to draw lessons from the financial crisis and limit the risks in the future, EU countries collectively developed more effective financial regulation and supervision.

And we were very happy to do this hand-in-hand with the UK.

I can personally testify it: for five years, I was in charge of financial services for the Commission and all these regulations, but two – short selling and banker bonuses – have been adopted in full agreement with the UK.

We need to keep this joint regulatory effort in mind, and be ready to exchange our ideas for future rules in the context of close and voluntary regulatory cooperation.

Here also, we have a regulatory dialogue with the US. We could build on this experience with the UK.

Fourthly, we will of course cooperate with the UK – as we do with the US – in international fora such as the Financial Stability Board and the Basel committee.

The world of finance is global and interdependent. We have a mutual interest in working together, not separately.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

One thing is clear: we will not change who we are as the European Union because the UK is leaving.

The EU is and will remain the most open market in the world.

No other jurisdiction operates a framework that is more open, comprehensive and rules-based for foreign jurisdictions.

US companies are well aware of this. Many of them have been able to take a leading role in EU markets.

Open markets for financial services are an asset for the EU and will remain so in the future.

Thank you for your attention.

MAIN NEWS

Commission implements 2018 Work Programme commitment to withdraw 15 pending legislative proposals

Following its announcement in the 2018 Commission Work Programme, the Commission today formally withdrew 15 pending legislative proposals, after consulting Parliament and Council. In line with the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making and the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission, the reason for each withdrawal was set out in Annex IV of the Commission Work Programme 2018. The Commission responded in May to the observations made by the Parliament. This annual exercise allows the co-legislators to focus their attention on the priority files that have a realistic chance of making progress, in line with the Joint Declarations on legislative priorities.

 

Eurostat: Volume of retail trade unchanged in euro area

In May 2018 compared with April 2018, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade did not change in the euro area (EA19) and increased by 0.3% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In April, the retail trade volume decreased by 0.1% in the euro area and increased by 0.3% in the EU28. In May 2018 compared with May 2017 the calendar adjusted retail sales index increased by 1.4% in the euro area and by 2.3% in the EU28. More information here

 

 
 

Commission implements 2018 Work Programme commitment to withdraw 15 pending legislative proposals

Following its announcement in the 2018 Commission Work Programme, the Commission today formally withdrew 15 pending legislative proposals, after consulting Parliament and Council. In line with the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making and the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission, the reason for each withdrawal was set out in Annex IV of the Commission Work Programme 2018. The Commission responded in May to the observations made by the Parliament. This annual exercise allows the co-legislators to focus their attention on the priority files that have a realistic chance of making progress, in line with the Joint Declarations on legislative priorities.

 

Eurostat: Volume of retail trade unchanged in euro area

In May 2018 compared with April 2018, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade did not change in the euro area (EA19) and increased by 0.3% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In April, the retail trade volume decreased by 0.1% in the euro area and increased by 0.3% in the EU28. In May 2018 compared with May 2017 the calendar adjusted retail sales index increased by 1.4% in the euro area and by 2.3% in the EU28. More information here

 

Commission and World Bank put forward solutions to make life easier for businesses in the EU

Today the Commission and the World Bank are publishing Doing Business in the European Union, a new report assessing what supports or hinders entrepreneurs in setting up and expanding businesses in 25 cities in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Slovakia. The report identifies solutions to improve local business environments and save time and costs for companies in 5 key areas: starting a business; dealing with construction permits; enforcing contracts; getting electricity; and registering property. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “This report shows how to make the life of businesses and entrepreneurs easier. The future Cohesion Policy for 2021-2027 will continue to support Member States’ efforts to make EU regions more attractive places to work and invest in.” Indeed, the Commission has been working closely with national and regional authorities, in the context of Cohesion Policy, to improve the way they invest EU funds and to set the right conditions for growth and job creation. Under the Catching up initiative, the Commission, in partnership with the World Bank, provides tailored support to a number of low-growth and low-income regions to guide structural reforms that can help EU and national investments unleash their full potential and attract more private capital. This publication is the second in a series of report on business environments in the EU; most EU Member States should be covered by these reports in the future. For more information: see the World Bank press release

 

Nuclear safety: Comprehensive risk and safety assessments of the Belarus nuclear power plant completed

The Peer Review Report of the EU Stress Test in Belarus has been presented today. The review has been carried out by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group. The Commission welcomes the completion of this work and looks forward to the next phase of the process and continue working on the proper implementation of the findings. Nuclear safety is paramount in the European Union, and even more so when new facilities are being built and operating on the EU borders. The Commission has continually expressed its readiness to work with and support any non EU country to undertake a comprehensive peer review process and this support has been extended to Belarus. The full Peer Review Report will be published tomorrow Wednesday. A full press release is available online.

 

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of GlobalLogic by Partners Group and CPPIB

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over GlobalLogic Holdings Limited of the US by Partners Group AG of Switzerland and Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (“CPPIB”) of Canada. GlobalLogic provides outsourced software development and related consultancy services to a variety of sectors. Partners Group is a global private markets and investment management company. CPPIB is a professional investment management organisation that invests assets transferred to it by the Canadian Pension Plan. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlap between the companies’ activities. 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.8972.

 

STATEMENTS

 

President Juncker to the European Parliament on occasion of the start of the Austrian Council presidency

Austria took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 July, and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz presented the country’s programme of activities to the Plenary of the European Parliament on Tuesday, 3 July. On the occasion, President Juncker welcomed the Austrian presidency in his keynote speech, and said: “I look forward to this Austrian Presidency […] I have known Sebastian Kurz for many years and I know that he is led by European convictions. The same is true for the Austrian Federal Government. […] The government program of the Austrian Federal Government has a clear pro-European tonality.” “[…] We will have to work together a lot. The Commission’s offer is that we do this in friendship and in mutual understanding, and I am convinced that we will succeed,” President Juncker continued, as he highlighted the Commission would propose strengthening the European border and coast guard in September. He also said that he would like to see the conclusion of the reform of the Common European Asylum System by the end of the year. President Juncker also pleaded for a consistent focus of the Austrian Presidency on the advancement of the next multiannual financial framework. In this context, he said: “If we finish too late and are not ready on 1 January 2019, we lose thousands of research grants in Europe and we will not be able to support tens of thousands of students and teachers with the Erasmus program.”The debate with MEPs was followed by a joint press conference by Presidents Juncker and Tajani with Austrian Chancellor Kurz. President Juncker and the College of Commissioners will pay an official visit to Vienna at the end of this week. The keynote speech by President Juncker is available online and can be watched on EbS.

MEX/18/4348

MAIN NEWS

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.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

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.

MEX/18/4325

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