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EU set to sign trade and investment agreements with Vietnam

The Council of Ministers today approved the EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements, paving the way for their signature on Sunday 30 June in Hanoi. President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “I welcome the decision taken today by EU Member States. After Singapore, the agreements with Vietnam are the second to have been concluded between the EU and a Southeast Asian country, and represent stepping stones to a greater engagement between Europe and the region. It is also a political statement by two partners and friends standing together for open, fair and rules-based trade.” Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “I am very pleased to see that Member States have given a green light to our trade and investment agreements with Vietnam. Vietnam is a vibrant and promising market of more than 95 million consumers and both sides have much to gain from stronger trade relations. Beyond the clear economic benefits, this deal also aims to strengthen respect for human rights as well as protecting the environment and workers’ rights. I welcome Vietnam’s engagement in the process so far – their recent ratification of the International Labour Organisation Convention on collective bargaining is an excellent example of how trade agreements can encourage higher standards.” The agreements are set to bring unprecedented benefits for European and Vietnamese companies, consumers and workers, while promoting respect for labour rights and the fight against climate change under the Paris Agreement. For more information, see the press release available online, as well as documents on the dedicated webpages. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

Read the European Commission – Daily News in full here


Dual Food Quality:  Commission releases study assessing differences in the composition of EU food products

Since his State of the Union Address in 2017, President Jean-Claude Juncker has been committed to addressing the issue of dual quality of products. The European Commission has taken forward different initiatives and today has published a study following tests of food products across the EU using the same methodology, in order to better understand the dual quality of food products in the EU.Analysing nearly 1,400 food products in 19 EU countries, the study, carried out by the Commission’s in-house science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre, shows that 9% of the compared products differed in composition, although the front-of-pack was identical. A further 22% of products with a different composition had a similar front-of-pack. The study did not show a consistent geographical pattern. Based on the new methodology developed, national competent authorities will now be able to perform the case-by-case analysis required to determine misleading practices prohibited under EU consumer law. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, said: “Some Europeans feel branded food products they buy are different, perhaps worse, compared to those available elsewhere. The Commission called on our scientists to help objectively assess the extent of such differences on the single market. The results are mixed: while I am happy that they found no evidence of an East-West divide in the composition of branded food products, I am worried that they uncovered up to one third of tested products having different compositions while being identically or similarly branded.” Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: “There will be no double standards in Europe’s single market. With the new laws penalising the dual quality and strengthening the hands of the consumer authorities, we have the tools at hand to put an end to this practice. European consumers will be able to do their shopping in full trust that they buy what they see.” The Commission launches today a new call for proposals with a total budget of €1.26 million to strengthen consumer organisations’ capacities to test products and identify potentially misleading practices. The deadline for applications is 6 November 2019. The study is available online. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Commission publishes recommendations on improving the Single Market for food

Today the Commission published the final report of the High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain, which provides recommendations in the areas of fair and efficient trading practices, competitiveness and price transparency. Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for the Internal Market Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said: “The Forum has done important work to counter unfair trading practices, improve producer cooperation and improve transparency in the food supply chain. Today’s report points towards a number of important outstanding issues. By improving the Single Market for food, we can boost the efficiency of the food sector and create new jobs.” The Juncker Commission has been developing the industrial policy in the agro-food sector and related policy measures, which contribute to a better functioning of the food supply chain. The Forum, consisting of representatives of consumers, NGOs, food chain operators and Member States, assisted the Commission with this task. Building on the work of the Forum, the Commission has put forward proposals to address unfair trading practices, improve producer cooperation and introduce greater price transparency. To increase transparency, the Forum proposes to create a price composition indicator to be launched in autumn. It will show how consumer expenditure is distributed within the food supply chain. The tender for this project has been opened today. The report also highlights the lack of harmonised rules and uneven enforcement in certain areas as well as problems with territorial supply constraints. Furthermore, the report provides recommendations on how to better respond to consumer concerns on dual food quality and provide better information to them. The Forum gave a mandate to the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) to develop a common methodology for comparing the quality of food products across the EU. The JRC then conducted a pan-European testing campaign of food products, the results of which have been published today by the European Commission. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040)


Commissioner Arias Cañete in Germany to discuss the integrated national energy and climate plan

Today, Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, will be in Germany to present the  Commission’s long-term vision for a climate-neutral economy by 2050, adopted by the Commission last November. He will first meet Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, to exchange views on climate neutrality objectives and to discuss growth opportunities arising from the modernisation and transition towards a climate neutral economy. Later today, the Commissioner will meet Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment. Their meeting will focus on the importance of ambitious and rigorous National Energy and Climate plans to maintain the EU leading position in the fight against global warming. Discussions will also cover Energy Union governance process specific points, the Emission Trading System, carbon pricing and nuclear energy. This visit is part of a number of country visits by the Commissioner aimed at discussing the Commission’s long-term vision with Member States, in order to identify the most cost efficient and socially fair measures and policies to deliver on the Paris Agreement temperature goals. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Lynn Rietdorf – Tel.: +32 229 74959)


Commissioners Vytenis Andriukaitis attends e-commerce food conference in Berlin

Today, June 24, Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis in charge of Health and Food Safety will be in Berlin to attend the conference on e-Commerce of food: ‘International Conference on Trends and Official Control’. The conference, co-organized by the European Commission and the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) aims to bring together key stakeholders from across the e-Commerce of food sector. The Commissioner will deliver a welcome speech to open the event at 13.00 CET upon arrival. Following his, the speeches from Julia Klöckner, the German Federal Minister for Agriculture, Herbert Dorfmann, MEP, and Helmut Tschiersky, President of the BVL, will also be heard. Later that afternoon, Commissioner Andriukaitis will take part in a panel discussion on the responsibility of market places and fulfilment centres. The next morning on Tuesday June 25, the Commissioner visits the AMAZON FRESH Fulfillment Centre in Berlin. Ahead of his visit, Commissioner Andriukaitis said: “This event is very timely as the EU is already one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world and we expect more and more people, especially younger generations, to buy food products online in the coming years. Whilst Internet shopping brings opportunities for consumers and businesses, we need to make sure that safety, authenticity and transparency are respected. The EU new official controls legislation has already foreseen the tools to make enforcement possible and to protect our citizens.” (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


Read the European Commission – Daily News in full here


IFA President Joe Healy said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar must tell his fellow leaders at this week’s EU Council that Ireland will not ratify a bad Mercosur deal.

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IFA President Joe Healy has called on the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene at the highest levels in Brussels to stop a bad EU-Mercosur trade deal, which would do untold damage to our €3bn beef and livestock sector.

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Reacting to the draft EU regulation on the €100m Brexit beef fund circulated in Brussels today, IFA President Joe Healy said Minister Creed must reject all conditionality in the draft regulation that does not relate to the actual income losses experienced by beef and suckler farmers.

This draft regulation reflects the preliminary views of the Commission services, it has been sent to Member States for comment and it is not yet the official position of the Commission.

Joe Healy said, “This Brexit beef fund is for retrospective beef price losses that farmers have already incurred. Restructuring is a totally separate matter; it was not mentioned by Commissioner Hogan when the scheme was announced and was not part of the IFA submission on Brexit losses. This aid must not be made conditional on restructuring,” he said.

Joe Healy stressed, “Every cent of this fund must go directly to farmers and under no circumstances can any of it be diverted elsewhere. It would be wrong if the Commission and the Minister were now to embark on a convoluted process to take the good out the scheme by tying it up in knots”.

“The message from farmers is clear that this funding must get to the farmers who have incurred the losses and need it most, as soon as possible,” he said.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said Commissioner Hogan made it clear when the fund was announced that it was “for farmers who had suffered substantial market disturbance and it must be paid out as soon as possible.”

He said IFA is clear that the funding must go to farmers who sold prime finished cattle since last autumn and to suckler farmers.

“IFA has set out six principles as regards how the funding should be allocated. We are currently consulting with our members through regional meetings,” he said.


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