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IFA President Tim Cullinan said that the CAP budget must be the top priority for the new Taoiseach Michael Martin at today’s EU Council meeting.


“Recent national political events mustn’t distract from the importance of the meeting this weekend. The future of Irish agriculture is at stake,” he said.


“While progress has been made on the budget IFA estimates that the CAP budget is 9% lower, in real terms than the budget for the previous seven years,” he said.


“We are particularly concerned about the allocation for direct payments in Pillar one. The current proposal will not be sufficient to even sustain the Basic Payment Scheme at the same level as 2020,” he said.


The IFA President said, “The Taoiseach has to be crystal clear that there can be no cut to any farmer payments. IFA has been campaigning for an overall CAP budget that would cover inflation and the extra asks placed on farmers”.


“It is not sustainable to expect farmers to take on more and more measures for the public good while receiving less funding. It the EU wants us to do more, then they must increase funding in line with any extra asks,” he said.


IFA’s European Director Liam MacHale, who is based in Brussels, is at the talks.



COVID-19: Commission presents guidelines for border measures to protect health and keep goods and essential services available

Today, the Commission presented guidelines to Member States on health-related border management measures in the context of the COVID-19 emergency. The aim is to protect citizens’ health, ensure the right treatment of people who do have to travel, and make sure essential goods and services remain available. Commissioners Kyriakides and Johansson have presented the guidelines to EU Ministers of Health and of Home Affairs at their first joint video meeting starting at 11am this morning. President von der Leyen said: “Our measures to contain the Coronavirus outbreak will be effective only if we coordinate on the European level. We have to take exceptional measures to protect the health of our citizens. But let’s make sure goods and essential services continue to flow in our internal market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food. It’s not only an economic issue: our single market is a key instrument of European solidarity. I am in discussion with all Member States so that we confront this challenge together, as a Union.” The guidelines set out principles for an integrated approach to an effective border management to protect health while preserving the integrity of the internal market. People identified as at risk of spreading COVID-19 should have access to appropriate health care, either in the country of arrival or in the country of departure, and this should be coordinated between the two. Free circulation of goods is also crucial to maintain availability of goods. This is particularly crucial for essential goods such as food supplies including livestock, vital medical and protective equipment and supplies. More generally, control measures should not cause serious disruption of supply chains, essential services of general interest and of national economies and the EU economy as a whole. The full press release with more information is available online. (For more information: Adalbert Jahnz – Tel.: +32 2 295 31 56; Laura Berard – Tel.: +32 489 06 63 21; Ciara Bottomley – Tel.: +32 460 76 03 33)

Read the European Commission – Daily News in full here

Changing the way we produce and consume: new action plan for the circular economy

Today, the European Commission adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan – one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal – the new European agenda for sustainable growth. With measures throughout the product life cycle, the new Action Plan aims to make our economy fit for a green future, to strengthen our competitiveness while protecting the environment and to give new rights to consumers. Building on work carried out since 2015, the new plan focuses on the design and production of a circular economy, with the aim of ensuring that the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible . Executive Vice President for the European Green Pact, Frans Timmermans, said: “To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, to preserve our natural environment and strengthen our economic competitiveness, we need a fully circular economy. There is enormous potential to be harnessed for both businesses and consumers. With today’s plan, we are launching actions to transform the way products are made and allow consumers to make sustainable choices for their own benefit and that of the environment. “The Commissioner of the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said:” We have only one planet Earth and by 2050 we will consume it as if we have three. The new plan will make circularity the mainstream of our lives and accelerate the green transition of our economy. Future-oriented actions will create business and job opportunities, give new rights to European consumers, exploit innovation and digitalisation and, like nature, will make sure nothing is wasted. The Commission will ensure that the transition to a circular economy offers opportunities for everyone and leaves no one behind. The Circular Economy Action Plan presented today as part of the EU industrial strategy outlines measures to make sustainable products the norm in the EU, empower consumers and reduce waste production. It focuses on the sectors that use the most resources and where the potential for circularity is high: electronics and ICT, batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastic, textiles, construction and food. A press release is available here and a question and answer here. (For more information: Vivian Loonela – Tel .: +32 229 66712; Daniela Stoycheva – Tel .: +32 229 53664)


COVID-19: The European Commission steps up its response to the Coronavirus outbreak on all fronts

After participating in the EU leaders’ videoconference yesterday, President von der Leyen announced several additional measures to step up the EU response to the Coronavirus outbreak on all fronts. President von der Leyen said: “The crisis we face because of Coronavirus has both a very significant human dimension, and a potentially major economic impact. It is therefore essential that we act decisively and collectively, to contain the spread of the virus and help patients, and to counter the economic fallout.” President von der Leyen also called Prime Minister Conte yesterday to express the EU’s solidarity with the Italian people, and will continue to discuss specific measures to support the country with the Italian authorities. At EU level, the Commission mobilised €140 million of public and private funding for promising research on vaccines, diagnosis and treatment. The Commission will also strengthen its coordination role and will liaise on a daily basis with national Health and Internal Affairs Ministers to discuss the necessary measures. In addition to this, we are taking stock of the available protective equipment and respiratory devices as well as their production and distribution capacity. To that effect, Commissioner Breton held a videoconference with high-level representatives of EU big manufacturing companies of Personal Protective Equipment who expressed their willingness to increase production in order to face the increasing demand. A follow-up videoconference will take place next week. On the economic front, the Commission will set up a Corona Response Investment Initiative aiming to channel €25 billion worth of investment to directly support the national health care systems, SMEs, labour markets and other vulnerable parts of the EU economy. It will use €7.5 billion of unspent structural funds and the release of some €17.5-€18 billion of further structural funding. The Commission also announced targeted legislation yesterday to temporarily alleviate airlines from their airport slot usage obligations under EU law. This measure will release pressure on the whole aviation industry and in particular on smaller airlines. A press release is available online with the full list of measures. A dedicated webpage on the EU actions to the Coronavirus outbreak is also available online.  (For more information: Eric Mamer – Tel.:+32 229 94073; Dana Spinant – Tel.: +32 2299 0150; Vivian Loonela – Tel.:+32 229 66712;  Stefan de Keersmaecker – Tel.:+32 229 84680;Sonya Gospodinova – Tel.: +32 229 66953)


European Commission publishes 2019 General Report on the Activities of the European Union

The 2019 edition of the EU General Report highlights the European Green Deal announced by President von der Leyen in December. The Green Deal seeks to make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050, while creating jobs, improving people’s health and quality of life, caring for the environment and leaving no one behind. The report also shows how the EU is delivering for Europeans. In 2019, the European economy enjoyed its seventh consecutive year of growth, employment reached a record high and unemployment fell to 6.3%, its lowest level since the beginning of the century. The Investment Plan for Europe mobilised over €439 billion in investment across Europe. The EU also reaffirmed its position as a leading trade power. In 2019, it saw its agreements with Japan and Singapore enter into force, concluded negotiations for an agreement with the Mercosur trading bloc, and signed a deal with Vietnam. On border management, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex)’s reinforced mandate entered into force, giving it the operational capacity and powers needed to effectively support Member States on the ground. The Agency will be equipped with its own standing corps of border guards, has a stronger mandate on returns and can cooperate more closely with non-EU countries. The report also presents the changes in leadership of the different European institutions in 2019, including the European Parliament, European Council, and European Commission. The publication of the General Report fulfils the Commission’s legal obligation under Article 249(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to publish an annual report on the activities of the European Union. It is available in all official languages of the EU as a fully illustrated book and in an interactive online version. (For more information: Dana Spinant – Tel.: +32 2299 0150)

Read the European Commission – Daily News in full here

The first 100 days of the von der Leyen Commission: the first big steps on our journey

This morning, President von der Leyen presented the main challenges facing her Commission on the 100th day of her mandate during a press conference. The Commission is now dealing with new, pressing priorities, namely the situation at the Greek-Turkish border and the COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, we remain committed to driving the work on the twin transition, towards a green and digital Europe. The von der Leyen Commission is therefore acting on all fronts. Tonight, President von der Leyen will meet Turkish President Erdoğan to discuss solutions to end the pressure at the EU’s external borders. In parallel, the Commission is coordinating an EU-wide effort to solve the issue of unattended minors on the Greek islands. As regards the COVID-19 outbreak, the Commission’s Response Team is working with the Member States on preparedness, risk assessment, joint procurement and funding of research on diagnostics, treatment and vaccines. In view of these new priorities, President von der Leyen highlighted the need for a swift agreement on the next long-term EU budget, today more than ever. On the twin transition that Europe facing, the von der Leyen Commission has moved from talk to action within its first 100 days. The European Green Deal has sent a clear message worldwide and the European Climate Law presented last week has turned the hard ambition of becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 into hard legislation. In the digital area, the Commission has introduced milestones, with a common position of risks linked to 5G networks rollout, a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and a Data Strategy. The President’s opening remarks at the press conference will be soon available here. A press release and factsheets are also available online, as well as an op-ed by President von der Leyen: ‘Move fast, build to last: Europe’s new generation’.(For more information: Eric Mamer – Tel.: +32 229-94073; Dana Spinant – Tel.: +32 229 90150)

Sustainable Finance: Commission welcomes expert group reports on EU taxonomy and the EU Green Bond Standard

Today, the Commission has welcomed the publication by the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance of a report on the EU’s classification of green economic activities – or taxonomy – and a report on the EU Green Bond Standard. The Technical Expert Group is made up of members from across civil society, academia, business and the finance sector, and assists the Commission in developing policies on sustainable finance. Today’s report on taxonomy contains recommendations on the design of the EU’s ‘green list’, including guidance on how companies and financial institutions can use it. The Commission will use this report as a basis to develop rules setting out the EU’s classification of green activities for climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, said: “Sustainable finance will be essential to mobilise much-needed financing to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. These reports by the Technical Expert Group are welcome as they provide excellent input for us to develop our final standards on climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. They will also help us establish EU green bond standards as part of broader measures to spur the take-up of sustainable finance in Europe.” The Commission will adopt the classifications for climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation in the form of Delegated Acts by the end of 2020, as set out in the Taxonomy Regulation. In addition, the report on the EU Green Bond Standard provides further guidance for businesses and market participants on how to use the recommendations made in June 2019 by the Technical Expert Group. The Commission will use an upcoming public consultation on sustainable finance to explore a possible initiative for an EU Green Bond Standard. The Technical Expert Group will continue to meet in an advisory role until the end of September 2020 and provide advice on various sustainable finance topics. The Commission will organise a web-based stakeholder dialogue on these final reports (available here) on 12 March. (For more information: Daniel Ferrie – Tel.: +32 229 86500; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Read the European Commission – Daily News in full here

Commission welcomed European Parliament’s approval of EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements

The European Commission welcomed the decision by the European Parliament to approve the EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements. The trade agreement will eliminate virtually all tariffs on goods traded between the two sides and will guarantee – through its strong, legally binding and enforceable commitments on sustainable development – the respect of labour rights, environmental protection and the Paris Agreement on climate. Commissioner for Trade, Phil Hogan, commented: “The EU-Vietnam agreement has a huge economic potential, a win for consumers, workers, farmers and businesses. And it goes well beyond economic benefits. It proves that trade policy can be a force for good. Vietnam has already made great efforts to improve its labour rights record thanks to our trade talks. Once in force, these agreements will further enhance our potential to promote and monitor reforms in Vietnam.” This is the most comprehensive trade agreement between the EU and a developing country. With the Parliament’s adoption yesterday, the Council can now conclude the trade agreement. Once the Vietnamese National Assembly also ratifies the trade agreement, it can enter into force, most likely in early summer 2020. A press release is available online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel.: +32 229 51383)

Read the European Commission – Daily News in full here

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