Brexit preparedness: Commission intensifies “no-deal” customs preparedness outreach to EU businesses
The European Commission has today stepped up its “no-deal” outreach to EU businesses in the area of customs and indirect taxation such as VAT, given the risk that the United Kingdom may leave the EU on 30 March this year without a deal. The outreach campaign launched today is part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to prepare for the UK’s exit of the European Union without a deal, in line with the European Council (Article 50) conclusions of December 2018, calling for intensified preparedness work for all scenarios. This campaign should help to inform businesses that want to continue trading with the UK after 30 March on what they need to do to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. Preparing for the UK becoming a non-EU country is of paramount importance if significant disruption for EU business is to be avoided. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “With the risk of a no-deal Brexit increasing as we get closer to March 29, the European Commission and national customs authorities are working hard to be ready to introduce checks and controls on goods flowing between the EU and the UK. This is key to protecting our consumers and our internal market. A lot depends on the ability of businesses trading with the UK to get up to speed with the customs rules that will apply on day one in case of no deal. There is no time to lose and we are here to help with the information campaign.” Today’s launch aims to raise awareness amongst the EU’s business community, especially SMEs. A range of material has today been made available to businesses, including a simple 5-step checklist, providing an overview of the steps that need to be taken. While the overall impact of a “no-deal” scenario cannot be mitigated, today’s campaign should complement national efforts to inform EU businesses and help to reach out to affected businesses in the EU27 Member States. Preparatory work, supported by the Commission, is also underway in Member States to ensure that national customs infrastructure and logistics are ready to deal with a no-deal scenario. A press release in online. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: +32 229 8718)
Transforming the power sector: New report about integrating renewable energy
The Commission hosts a launch event of a report on innovations that will transform the power sector on Tuesday 19 February in Brussels. The report “Innovation Landscape for a Renewable-Powered Future: solutions to integrate variable renewables” by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will be presented by IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin in the presence of Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete. With its “Clean Energy for All Europeans” –package the EU has already started the modernisation and transformation towards a climate neutral economy. Implementing the package will further boost innovation, and the EU can continue to show leadership and support the rest of the world by exporting innovative solutions in the fight against climate change. The Commission’s vision “Clean Planet for All” aims at modernising the EU’s economy making it the first major economy to become climate neutral by 2050. The vision foresees a central role for renewable energy in this transition. IRENA is the global intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a renewable energy future, and serves as a platform for international co-operation and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Lynn Rietdorf – Tel.: +32 229 74959)
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis in Turin, Italy
On 20 February, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, will travel to Turin, Italy, to attend the 4th edition of the International Food Journalism Festival. He will deliver the keynote speech at the festival, and will present awards to the winners of the “Journalism in food safety and information to consumers” award. Ahead of his visit to Italy, Commissioner Andriukaitis said, “Food safety and food quality are areas that touch the lives of Europeans directly every day, so it is good to see them becoming more and more engaged in these topics. In the age of disinformation and fake news it is essential to have high quality journalism ensuring that the information to the public is always true and accurate. Therefore I will be glad to meet and award journalist awarded at this event.” He will then travel to Madrid on 21 February, where he will meet with Ms Maria Luisa Carcedo, the Spanish Minister of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare, and Mr Luis Planas, the Spanish Minister for Agriculture. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)
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EU mobilizes € 45 million for small farms in rural Africa
Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica is in Rome today for the launch of the new Agribusiness Capital Fund (ABC), which will help achieve the objectives of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Investment and Development. sustainable jobs. Speaking at the launch of the fund, organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Commissioner Mimica said: “The EU is committed to boosting investment in agricultural enterprises, enhancing livelihoods and to create sustainable jobs in rural areas, particularly in communities that are traditionally underserved. The ABC fund will allow us to do that, and that is why it has our full support. The EU has made 45 million euros available to the fund. In addition, the Government of Luxembourg and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, an international non-governmental organization, contribute 5 million euros and 5 million dollars respectively to the fund. The fund is set up by IFAD. For more details, the full press release is available online. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz From Gordejuela – Tel .: +32 229 65322, Christina Wunder – Tel: +32 229 92256)
EU invests €116.1 million to improve the quality of life of Europeans
The European Commission today announced an investment of €116.1 million for the latest integrated projects to be funded under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. The funding will support projects in Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia. Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: “LIFE Integrated Projects are a perfect example of EU funds making a real difference on the ground, improving the quality of life of millions of European citizens. The new investment will help Member States to tap into resources to respond to citizens’ concerns on air and water quality and halt the loss of biodiversity.” Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: “The Commission proposed to build on the positive experience with climate mainstreaming and further strengthen climate action in the next EU long-term budget. This increase in ambition will strengthen climate action in key areas, such as agriculture and rural development and external action, and increase dedicated funding for climate action under the LIFE programme.” A full press release and Annex are available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel: +32 229-56186; Daniela Stoycheva – Tel.: +32 229 53664; Lynn Rietdorf – Tel: +32 229-74959)
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MEPs urge EU states to ensure better care of transported animals
- More unannounced and risk-based checks and tougher penalties for offenders
- Minimise transport time and transport carcasses rather than live animal(“ develop a strategy to shift from export of live animals to carcasses, when possible”)
- Better enforcement of existing rules, with the help of new technology
The EU and its member states must better enforce existing rules on protecting transported animals and penalise all offenders, Parliament said on Thursday.
In a resolution, adopted by 411 votes in favour to 43 against, with 110 abstentions, MEPs renewed Parliament’s 2012 call for a strong and uniform enforcement of the 2005 EU law on protecting transported animals, currently poorly applied in some EU states.
The EU Commission should impose penalties on member states failing to apply EU rules correctly, MEPs say. EU states should prosecute breaches with effective and harmonised penalties, including confiscating vehicles and compulsory retraining for staff.
Stricter checks and better transport vehicles
MEPs also want to deploy modern technology to improve enforcement of current rules, including geolocation systems to track animals’ location and the duration of journeys, and a real-time feedback loop between points of departure and arrival. They push for a new 2020-2024 animal welfare strategy and a clear definition of what constitutes fitness for transport.
Parliament calls on national authorities to:
- carry out more unannounced and risk-based checks,
- inform authorities in all countries along the transport route if a breach is identified,
- suspend or withdraw transporter’s license for repeat offenders
- ban non-compliant vehicles and vessels, and
- adapt ports to animal-welfare requirements and improve pre-loading checks.
MEPs also want a science-based update of EU rules on transport vehicles to ensure sufficient ventilation and temperature control, appropriate drinking and liquid feed systems, reduced stocking densities and vehicles adapted to the needs of each species.
Cutting transport time and dealing with exports
Animal journey times should be as short as possible, Parliament says. MEPs support local, mobile or on-farm slaughter and meat-processing facilities close to the place of rearing, short distribution circuits and direct sales. They also want the Commission to specify appropriate journey times for different species and to develop a strategy to shift from live animal transport to transport of meat-and-carcass and germinal products, when possible.
MEPs also insist that unless transport standards in non-EU countries are aligned to EU ones and properly enforced, the EU should seek to mitigate the differences through bilateral agreements or, if not possible, ban transport of live animals to these countries.
“Actors in the transport chain need to live up to their obligations, whether they are farmers, traders of animals, veterinarians, or transport companies. We have now made it clear to the Commission and the member states that they must do so, either by enforcing current rules properly or by looking into new policy tools to apply new technology and minimise transport times”, said rapporteur Jørn Dohrmann (ECR, DK).
“This applies to non-EU countries too. As the European Court of Justice said, the EU is responsible for animals even after they have left its territory. Therefore, either those countries ensure as high a level of protection for transported animals as we do or we should ban exports of live animals to those countries”, he added.
The resolution recommends setting up an inquiry committee on the welfare of animals transported within and outside the EU at the beginning of the next parliamentary term. The committee should properly investigate reported ill-treatment of transported animals and the lack of enforcement of existing EU rules.
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme: over €353 million to support more than 2,350 scientists
The Commission will award grants worth a total of €273 million to 1,351 researchers across the European Research Area. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships will help excellent scientists find a cure for paediatric cancer, make agricultural systems more resilient to climate change, and fight plastic waste pollution. Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “I congratulate the 1,351 outstanding researchers who faced intense competition to be awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. They will tackle some of the key challenges facing our societies, helping to build a resilient, fair, and competitive Europe. I am also delighted that through our new Widening Fellowships pilot scheme, we will grant 33 additional Fellowships to excellent researchers in European countries currently less represented in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.” The funding, which is part of the EU’s Horizon 2020programme for research and innovation, represents an increase of €24.3 million compared to the previous call in 2017. As part of another strand which provides co-funding for regional, national and international programmes, the Commission also announced today that the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions will support 14 doctoral and 14 post-doctoral research training programmes from nine EU Member States and one associated country with up to €80 million over five years supporting around 1,000 additional scientists. More details on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie ActionsIndividual Fellowships and the Co-funding of regional, national and international programme as well as a factsheet on Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions are available online. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel. +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184; Marietta Grammenou – Tel.: +32 229 83583)
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Commission puts in place duties on subsidised biodiesel from Argentina
Today, the Commission imposed definitive anti-subsidy measures on imports of biodiesel from Argentina. In parallel, the Commission adopted a decision accepting sustainable price commitments (known as undertakings) from eight Argentine producers and the Argentinian Chamber of Biofuels (CARBIO) that will exempt the exporting producers from the duties within an agreed import limit.
The undertaking is expected to eliminate the damaging effects of the subsidised imports. To ensure compliance to their commitment in this respect, the Commission will carefully monitor the implementation of the undertaking. The duties for those who would not respect this “price undertaking” range from 25% to 33.4%.
The entry into force of the duties concludes an intensive year-long investigation. The Commission’s analysis showed that Argentine subsidised production threatens the economic situation of the EU industry and that imposing trade defence measures would be in line with the overall EU interest. The Commission’s approach had received broad support from the EU Member States.
The regulation imposing the duties, as well as the decision concerning the price undertaking are available online.