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COLLEGE MEETING: A Europe that listens: Citizens’ Dialogues and Citizens’ Consultations [updated on 11/12/2018 at 15:58]

Ahead of the European Council, the European Commission is today releasing a progress report on Citizens’ Dialogues and Citizens’ Consultations. The report is based on contributions from citizens and will feed into EU Leaders’ discussions on 13-14 December 2018. Since the start of the Juncker Commission, 160,000 citizens of all nationalities, ages, races, religions and from across the political spectrum have now taken part in over 1,200 town-hall style debates in city halls, universities, factories and other places all across the European Union. The message from citizens is resounding: Europeans want an active role in shaping the future of their Union. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Debate and dialogue has been part of this Commission’s work from day one. We launched a permanent dialogue with citizens, with my whole team of Commissioners covering every part of our Union to hear hopes, fears, expectations and new ideas. The feedback we got shows how keen Europeans are not only to speak their mind but to be involved in decision-making. Europe must become stronger and more united, but this is only possible if it becomes more democratic.” Today’s interim report on the White Paper process will be presented to Member States at the December 2018 European Council. A final report will then be presented at the first EU27 Summit in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May 2019, just a few weeks ahead of the European elections. The full press release is available online.

Read the European Commission – Daily News in full here

Food safety: more transparency, better risk prevention say the European Parliament

  • Public access to all information about safety 
  • A common European Register of commissioned studies should be set up 
  • The agency could request additional studies 

Members of the European Parliament want the European Food Safety Agency to publish safety studies before a product is authorised to go on to the market.

A proposal to allow the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) to work more efficiently and transparently was adopted by Parliament on Tuesday by 427 votes in favour, 172 against and 67 abstentions.

The revised rules aim to make risk assessment more transparent and ensure that the studies used by EFSA to authorise a product to be put on the market are reliable, objective and independent.

A new pre-submission procedure has been introduced, to allow the application process to be speeded up, as EFSA may provide advice to the applicant on how to provide all required information.

Additional studies to those submitted by companies

A common European Register of commissioned studies should be set up, to deter companies that are applying for authorisation from holding back unfavourable studies. If there is some doubt about the evidence provided by the companies, the agency could also consult third parties to identify whether other relevant scientific data or studies exist.

Parliament also agreed on a set of criteria to decide what kind of information can be kept confidential, e.g. the trademark under which a product will be marketed or detailed descriptions of preparations.

After the vote, rapporteur Renate Sommer (EPP, DE) stated that she cannot support the result of the vote and wants her name withdrawn from this file.

Background

The proposal is a follow-up to the European Citizens’ Initiative on glyphosate, especially to concerns expressed in the initiative regarding the transparency of the scientific studies used to evaluate pesticides. It also follows a fitness check of the General Food Law, launched in 2014 and completed in January 2018 by the Commission.

Next steps

Parliament will now enter into negotiations with EU Ministers for a first reading agreement.

On 11 December 2018, the Council endorsed the agreement reached with the European Parliament on the EU budget for 2019.

The total commitments are set at €165.8 billion, which is an increase of 3.2% compared with the 2018 budget as amended over the past months. Payments amount to €148.2 billion, 2.4% more than in 2018.

Leeway of €1.3 billion is left available under the ceilings of the multiannual financial framework to allow the EU to react to unforeseen events and needs.

This is a solid budget which boosts support for the EU’s priorities, ensures strong European added value and keeps sufficient margins in case new needs arise next year. It will help to effectively manage migration, benefit researchers and young people, and support economic growth across Europe.

Hartwig Löger, minister for finance of Austria and chief Council negotiator for the 2019 EU budget

Continued focus on growth and young people

To support growth and job creation, commitments of €23.3 billion were agreed under subheading 1a (competitiveness for growth and jobs), which is 6.1% more than in 2018.

This includes a strong boost for Horizon 2020, which gets €12.3 billion to support research and innovation, an increase of 9.8% on 2018. The Connecting Europe Facility is also reinforced, receiving €3.8 billion to fund infrastructure projects across Europe (37.0% more than in 2018). €367 million (+3.7%) are allocated to COSME to provide support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

In line with the EU’s priorities, young people will also benefit from more opportunities.

Erasmus+ gets a significant boost, with €2.8 billion provided for youth exchanges, 19.5% more than in 2018. The Youth Employment Initiative receives an additional €350 million to help young people looking for a job in regions with high unemployment. More possibilities will also become available for volunteering and work in projects through the European Solidarity Corps, for which support is more than tripled compared with 2018 (€143 million).

Strengthened support for migration management and security

In the field of migration and security, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund is considerably strengthened, with €1.1 billion allocated to migration management (+55.9% compared with 2018). The Internal Security Fund will receive €534 million.

Additional funds are earmarked for several agencies in charge of responding to the current migration and security challenges, such as Frontex, European Asylum Support Office, Europol and eu-LISA.

In line with the agreement reached between the member states in June 2018, the 2019 EU budget will contribute €1.45 billion to the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey to support Syrian refugees with essentials such as healthcare and schooling.

This comes on top of other funds supporting the external dimension of migration.

Other key elements

In order to help the EU move towards its climate targets, the 2019 EU budget also reinforces environmental and climate action, with €558 million made available under the LIFE programme, 6.7% more than in 2018.

As in the 2018 budget, pre-accession funds for Turkey have been reduced vis-à-vis the financial programming in view of the situation as regards democracy, rule of law and human rights in this country. The cut in the 2019 budget amounts to €146.7 million.

An additional €1.2 million is provided in the 2019 budget to the European External Action Service for hiring extra staff to deal with strategic communications and the fight against disinformation.

This budget is based on the premise that the UK will continue to contribute to and participate in the implementation of EU budgets until the end of 2020 in line with the draft Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK and the EU.

 Headings 2019 EU budget (in € billion)
Commitments Payments
1. Smart and inclusive growth 80.527 67.557
– 1a. Competitiveness for growth and jobs 23.335 20.522
– 1b. Economic, social and territorial cohesion 57.192 47.035
2. Sustainable growth: natural resources 59.642 57.400
3. Security and citizenship 3.787 3.527
4. Global Europe 11.319 9.358
5. Administration 9.943 9.945
Special instruments 0.577 0.412
TOTAL 165.795 148.199

Background and next steps

The budgetary conciliation period laid down in the treaties ended on 19 November without agreement between the Council and the Parliament on the EU budget for 2019. The Commission therefore presented a new draft budget on 30 November.

In order to formally adopt the EU budget for 2019, the Council today adopted its position on the Commission’s new draft budget, taking into account the agreement reached with the Parliament on 4 December.

The Parliament is scheduled to vote on the 2019 EU budget on 12 December.

Updated Agenda highlights

The European Council on 13-14 December 2018 will focus on the EU’s long-term budget, single market, migration and external relations. EU27 leaders will also discuss Brexit on Thursday and the euro area on Friday.

At the start of the meeting, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, representing the Austrian presidency, will provide an overview of progress on the implementation of earlier European Council conclusions.

EU budget for 2021-2027

The European Council will have a first substantial exchange of views on the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework on the basis of a progress report by the presidency of the Council.

Single market

Following its conclusions of March 2018, and based on the Commission assessment of remaining barriers and options for action to tackle these barriers, the European Council will review the state of play regarding a fully functioning single market.

Migration

The European Council will return to the implementation of its comprehensive approach to migration, in accordance with its conclusions of June 2018.

Citizens’ Consultations

EU leaders will assess the outcome of Citizens’ Dialogues and Citizens’ Consultations held in the EU member states. The discussion will be based on the report prepared by the current and incoming presidencies, which identifies a number of concerns and expectations on the part of the citizens in terms of concrete results from the EU.

External relations

The European Council will discuss preparations for the upcoming summit with the League of Arab States on 24-25 February 2019.

In the light of events, the European Council may address other specific foreign policy issues.

Fighting disinformation

EU leaders will also revert to the issue of disinformation, on the basis of the action plan to be presented by the High Representative and the Commission, in cooperation with the member states and in line with its earlier conclusions.

BREXIT

The EU27 leaders will meet on Thursday to discuss Brexit.

“We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification. As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario.”

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

Euro Summit

EU leaders will discuss the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union on the basis of a report by the Eurogroup.

The Euro Summit is expected to take concrete decisions and provide guidance on the way forward on EMU deepening.

MAIN NEWS

Plant health: Commission and Member States present list which paves the way for more plant safety across the EU 

Today, Member States backed the Commission’s proposal for a set of measures that enhance the level of plant protection in the EU. At a Committee meeting in Brussels, experts from all EU countries approved a high-risk plants list, which includes 39 high-risk plants (35 plants for planting, 1 fruit, 1 vegetable and 1 wood). The purpose of the list is to ensure that their introduction in the EU will be provisionally prohibited until a full risk assessment is completed. The list also enlarges the current scope of regulated plant material that needs to be accompanied by a specific phytosanitary certificate when imported. This will take effect from 14 December onwards. The certification requirement doesn’t apply to bananas, pineapples, coconuts, durians and dates as they do not represent a risk for the European agricultural production. In addition, the Member States approved a decision that will require a detailed view on the information and risk assessment procedures to be followed on the high risk material before getting possible access to the EU market. On top of that, an update of the current import requirements in particular for fruits was agreed. Finally, with a view to further boost phytosanitary safety across the continent, a harmonised minimum level for import inspections of newly regulated plant material will be introduced, from December 2019 onwards. Welcoming the vote, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner in charge of Health and Food Safety, said : “A swift implementation of the Plant Health Regulation is of the utmost importance since it will not only reinforce our domestic fight against pests which can have major impact on the economy, but also strengthen the controls at the EU’s border. To make it work, I call on Member States to step up the reinforcement and thepreparation of the necessary resources, notably in terms of personnel, to deal with this fight.”  As a next step, the Commission will adopt the different regulatory actions which set the legal basis for all the measures, in the course of January 2019. For more information see here.

Report on EU-Egypt relations: Investing in socio-economic development and inclusive growth

The EU and Egypt undertook closer cooperation according to the conclusions drawn by the report released today on the partnership between the EU and Egypt for the period from June 2017 to May 2018. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: Egypt, its stability and development are key to the European Union, its Member States and the entire region. That is why we signed our partnership priorities last year and reinforced our already strong engagement with and for the Egyptian people. We are determined to continue our work, together, to address all the challenges we have to face, for the sake of our citizens.”Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn added: “In the last year we stepped up our action to support Egypt reforming its economy, working for a sustainable and inclusive growth. For the EU it is imperative that the young generation, women and the most vulnerable members of the society are included in this process. The EU will continue to support Egypt tacking socio-economic challenges and will keep working together for the stability and prosperity of the region.” The report highlights that the implementation of the priority areas defined in the EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities is well on track, with notable challenges remaining in particular in the field of the rule of law, human rights, fundamental freedoms and space for civil society. The full press release and the report are available online.

 

Read the European Commission – Daily News in full here


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