Latest News

Brussels Daily
Page 3


EUROSTAT: Fourth quarter of 2017 compared with the third quarter of 2017 – Employment up by 0.3% in the euro area and by 0.2% in the EU28 – +1.6% and +1.5% respectively compared with the fourth quarter of 2016

The number of persons employed increased by 0.3% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.2% in the EU28 in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the third quarter of 2017, employment increased by 0.4% in the euro area and by 0.2% in the EU28.These figures are seasonally adjusted. More information here.

EU Visa Policy: Commission puts forward proposals to make it stronger, more efficient and more secure The Commission is today proposing to reform the EU’s common visa policy to adapt the rules to evolving security concerns, challenges linked to migration and new opportunities offered by technological developments. The proposed changes to the Visa Code will make it easier for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa to come to Europe, facilitating tourism, trade and business, whilst strengthening security and mitigating irregular migration risks. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Every year, millions of travellers visit the EU and boost our travel and tourism industry. With the reforms we propose today it will become easier and faster for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa while security standards will be enhanced to better detect and stop those who are not. The new rules will also make sure our common visa policy can help improve our cooperation with non-EU countries when it comes to the return of irregular migrants.” Today’s amendments to the Visa Code are the first step of the reform of the common EU visa policy – a proposal to update the Visa Information System (VIS) will follow in spring this year. A press release, Q&A and a factsheet are available online.


European Agenda on Migration: Continuous efforts needed to sustain progress

Ahead of the March European Council, the Commission is reporting today on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration and sets out further key actions to be taken, including as set out in the Commission’s roadmap from December 2017 towards a comprehensive deal on migration by June 2018. The decrease in irregular arrivals has been confirmed throughout 2017 and the first months of 2018. However, with the overall situation remaining fragile, additional efforts, notably stepped up financial resources, will be needed jointly from the Member States and the EU to ensure a continued, effective response to the migration challenge. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “We need to maintain this momentum and work hard to take further steps forward, including finding agreement on the reformed asylum system. Some of these actions are very urgent, such as honouring the financial contributions Member States committed to. Managing migration remains a high priority for our citizens and we will only achieve this through a truly comprehensive and collective engagement.” High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “The strategy we have put in place to manage migration in partnership with key countries, UN organisations and the African Union is delivering. Cooperation and shared responsibilities are key to effectively address this global challenge. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “With arrivals down by almost 30% compared to the pre-crisis year 2014, the time is ripe to speed up and intensify our efforts across the board – not to slow down.” A press release and factsheets on the EU-Turkey Statement and the Central Mediterranean Route.


EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: the Commission proposes to mobilise additional funds for Syrian refugees

Following through on its commitment to support Syrian refugees in Turkey, the European Commission is today mobilising additional funding for the Facility for Refugees which has so far given 500.000 children access to education and is supporting 1.2 million refugees with monthly cash transfers. The Commission proposes to mobilise the second €3 billion tranche of the Facility, with €1 billion from the EU budget and calls on Member States to follow suit quickly so that the successful and effective work of the Facility can continue. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: “Today the Commission takes the first step in the mobilisation of additional support under the Facility for Syrian Refugees in Turkey. The publication of the second annual report clearly highlights the positive results achieved so far and how vital and effective the Facility is, in supporting the most vulnerable refugees and their host communities in Turkey, thus reducing migratory pressures. I call on Member States to fulfil the commitments taken to mobilise an additional €3 billion, allowing us to continue our indispensable assistance.” Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for European Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management, said: “From helping children attend school to giving vulnerable families access to essential services, the EU’s humanitarian aid for refugees in Turkey has delivered tangible results. 1.2 million refugees have benefitted from EU humanitarian support through our largest ever cash assistance programme. The new funding will allow us to continue working with Turkey and humanitarian organisations to assist vulnerable refugees and their host communities.” A press release as well as a factsheet on the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey are available online.


Reducing Risk in the Banking Union: Commission presents measures to accelerate the reduction of non-performing loans in the banking sector

The Commission is today proposing an ambitious and comprehensive package of measures to tackle non-performing loans (NPLs) in Europe, capitalising on the significant progress already made in reducing risks in the banking sector. With today’s far-reaching measures, the Commission is delivering on the Council’s Action Plan to address the high stock of NPLs and prevent their possible future accumulation. It builds on ongoing efforts by Member States, supervisors, credit institutions and the EU: this has led to stocks of NPLs declining in recent years across banks and EU countries. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “As Europe and its economy regain strength, Europe must seize the momentum and accelerate the reduction of NPLs. This is essential to further reduce risks in the European banking sector and strengthen its resilience. With fewer NPLs on their balance sheets, banks will be able to lend more to households and businesses. Our proposals build on the significant risk reduction already achieved in recent years, and must be an integral part of completing the Banking Union through risk reduction and risk sharing.”The Commission is also presenting its second progress report on the reduction of NPLs in Europe, showing that the decline of NPL stocks is continuing. You can find the full press release, MEMO and factsheet online.



 High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini in Rome on 15 March for two ministerial-level events

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini will travel to Rome on 15 March. In the morning, the High Representative/Vice-President will participate in the Ministerial Conference on UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, where more than 90 countries and international organisations will be represented to discuss ways to increase financial support to UNRWA for solving the acute funding crisis the Agency is facing and to move forward the necessary reforms. The European Union is a strong supporter of the work of UNRWA, including through its predictable and reliable financing, in order to secure the continuity of the Agency’s vital operations that ensure Palestine refugees in and outside of Palestine access to basic services such as education, health and jobs, pending resolution of their situation. In the afternoon, the High Representative will participate in the Rome II Ministerial Meeting to support the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces, organised under the aegis of the International Support Group for Lebanon and hosted by the Italian Foreign Ministry. The EU is a longstanding supporter of Lebanon’s security sector and has been accompanying the Lebanese authorities and other international partners’ efforts to ensure the stability and security of the country for years. Federica Mogherini will confirm EU’s continued commitment in this regard. Audio-visual coverage of the visit will be available on EbS.


 Vice-President Šefčovič in Bulgaria for second Energy Union Tour

Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič will be in Bulgaria on 14-15 March for the second Energy Union Tour. He will meet Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova, and MPs from the Bulgarian parliament’s Energy and European Affairs committees. Their discussions will focus on Bulgaria’s progress towards its 2020 targets for energy efficiency, renewables and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, its energy security situation, and the development of its internal energy market. The Vice-President will also deliver a keynote speech at a conference on ‘The role of non-governmental organizations for improving the energy policy and the legal basis in the field of energy – challenges in South East Europe’. Ahead of his visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “I will encourage Bulgaria to deliver its national 2030 energy and climate plan in a comprehensive way, in a timely fashion and with involvement of civic society. The plans are not mere ink on paper but a strong signal towards investors whom we need on board for the energy transition to succeed. Our estimates show that achieving the EU’s 2030 targets could lead to an increase of 1.2% in GDP of Bulgaria, more than the EU average. As Bulgaria is currently at the EU’s helm, I am also looking forward to discussing the state of play of the Clean Energy package legislative proposals as well as the Gas directive revision. The Bulgarian Presidency plays a vital role in getting us across the Energy Union’s finish line“. Please find more information on the Commission’s website.


Commissioner King in Sweden to discuss cooperation on security

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King will be in Sweden tomorrow where he will meet Minister for Justice, Mr Morgan Johansson and National Police Commissioner, Mr Anders Thornberg. Commissioner King will also address members of the Committee on Justice at the Swedish Parliament and deliver a speech at the Swedish Security Awards Säkerhetsgalan 2018. Later in the afternoon, he will visit the National Council for Crime Prevention.


General Affairs Council (Art. 50), 20/03/2018

Agenda highlights

The Council, meeting in an EU27 format, will discuss the draft guidelines on the framework for a future relationship with the UK after Brexit. Ministers will look at the text ahead of the European Council (Article 50) meeting later in the week, where the EU27 leaders will adopt the guidelines.

These guidelines will serve as a mandate for the EU negotiator to start discussing the framework for the future relationship, with the aim of reaching an overall understanding. That understanding will be reflected in a political declaration accompanying the withdrawal agreement and referred to in it.

In addition, the Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, will update ministers on the state of play of the Brexit negotiations.


European Council (Art.50), 22-23/03/2018

Agenda highlights

The European Council (Art. 50), in an EU 27 format, will review the state of the negotiations following the United Kingdom’s notification of its intention to leave the EU and adopt additional guidelines.

Read annoted agenda here



President Juncker addresses the European Parliament on the guidelines on the framework of future EU-UK relations and on preparations ahead of the European Council meeting of 22 and 23 March 2018

Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg this morning, President Juncker highlighted that further clarity is needed from the UK to reach an understanding on the future relationship, when he said: “As the clock counts down, with one year to go, it is now time to translate speeches into treaties; to turn commitments into agreements; broad suggestions and wishes on the future relationship to specific, workable solutions.” The President added that this is especially important with regards to Ireland. “Both the United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed that there should be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement must be preserved in all its dimensions. And life for citizens on both sides of the border should be the same as it is today”, President Juncker said, underlining the unity within the European Union and the 27 Member States when it comes to Ireland. “For us, this is not an Irish issue. It is a European issue“, he said. “It is all for one and one for all – that is what it means to be part of this Union”. The full text of President Juncker‘s speech is available online here. The European Commission published the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on 28 February. More information is available here. In a second intervention in the European Parliament today, and following his recent tour of the Western Balkans, President Juncker said that the March European Council is about focussing on building a stronger, more democratic and united Union. Addressing the US decision to impose restrictions on steel and aluminium, President Juncker underlined that in the run-up to the Council, the Commission will continue to make the point that exports from the European Union are clearly not a threat to the United States’ national security: “We will defend our workers, we will defend our industry, and we will do so respecting the rules that the world agreed to under the WTO”, he said. Ahead of the Spring European Council, which will have a strong focus on economic affairs, President Juncker underlined that strengthening the European Union means investing in the architecture of our Economic and Monetary Union, and that now is the time do this as Europe’s economy grows; this includes completing the Banking Union, and developing the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund, he said, stressing that “this is a means to creating the conditions for a better, more prosperous and fairer life for all our citizens”. The full text of the speech is available online here.


COLLEGE MEETING: Commission adopts proposals for a European Labour Authority and for access to social protection: delivering further on the European Pillar of Social Rights

Today, the European Commission is taking more concrete new initiatives to further deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights. More specifically, the Commission presents its proposal for a European Labour Authority, as announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, as well as an initiative to ensure access to social protection for all workers and self-employed. These initiatives are accompanied by a Communication on the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which will be closely linked to the European Semester of policy coordination. Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “Europe is now steadily growing and employment is on the rise, but we have to ensure that growth is more inclusive to the benefit of all. This package sets out a number of steps to make that happen: by making sure the rules for people to live and work across the European Union are well known and enforced, by following up on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, pushing the broader momentum for social rights, and by focusing on access to social protection. A stronger social Europe is a more sustainable Europe.” Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, added: “Our work to ensure fair labour mobility culminates in today’s proposal for a European Labour Authority. This is essential for a well-functioning European labour market. It will help citizens and businesses on the move find the right information and strengthen cooperation between the Member States to enforce fair and effective rules. And with our proposal on access to social protection, we are working with Member States to make sure that nobody is left behind. Our aim is to ensure that people have access to adequate benefits no matter how the new world of work evolves.” Commissioner Thyssen‘s press conference on the topic can be watched here. More information is available in this press release, as well as in a detailed memo on the European Labour Authority and a second memo on the Recommendation for access to social protection for workers and self-employed. The main points of the proposals are summarised in a factsheet on the Labour Authority and one on access to social protection. Finally, you can find an update on the implementation of the Pillar of Social Rights in this factsheet.


Commission welcomes adoption of far-reaching new transparency rules for tax advisers in the EU

The Commission has welcomed the political agreement reached by EU Member States today on new transparency rules for intermediaries – such as tax advisers, accountants, banks and lawyers – who design and promote tax planning schemes for their clients. The decision was taken by EU Economic and Financial Affairs ministers at their meeting in Brussels this morning. First proposed by the Commission in June 2017, the new measures build on a multitude of ambitious rules to fight tax avoidance and to boost tax transparency already agreed at EU level under the Juncker Commission. Once in force, tax intermediaries who provide their clients with complex cross‑border financial schemes that could help avoid tax will be obliged to report these structures to their tax authorities. In turn, EU Member States will exchange this information with each other, further increasing scrutiny around the activities of tax planners and advisers. Following the agreement, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “The new rules agreed today confirm the EU as the world leader in tax transparency. EU tax administrations will now have access to the information they need to put an end to the aggressive tax planning schemes eroding their tax bases. I warmly congratulate Member States who have again reaffirmed their commitment to more openness and better cooperation, facilitating fairer and more effective taxation throughout the EU.” A press release, updated MEMO and factsheet are available.


Bright and bold innovators to receive €94.25 million EU funding to scale uptheir businesses

57 small and medium-sized companies have been selected for funding under the Horizon 2020 European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot, which aims to nurture breakthrough innovation. The companies, which underwent face-to-face interviews with a jury of innovators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, will receive a total amount of €94.25 million. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “With the European Innovation Council pilot, we set out to support high-flying entrepreneurs with breakthrough ideas and a clear ability to create new markets. This very first group of innovators certainly has that potential.” Examples of the projects include a 3D printer for food, an innovative treatment for breast cancer, multi-active cardboard packaging that extends the shelf life of vegetables by 40% or a new type of biodegradable bioplastic. Each project will receive up to €2.5 million (€5 million for health projects) to finance innovation activities such as demonstration, testing, piloting and scaling up. The companies will also benefit from free business coaching and business acceleration services. Most companies come from the fields of health, engineering and information & communication technology (ICT), and are based in Spain (13), the Netherlands (6), followed by France and Finland (both 5) and thirteen other countries. The funding comes from the SME Instrument, which has been brought under the umbrella of the EIC pilot. The EIC pilot was launched in 2017 bringing together the parts of the research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 that provide funding, advice and networking opportunities for those at cutting edge of innovation. More information is available in a news item.


Trade: China remains chief concern in latest EU report on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights

The European Commission published yesterday its latest report on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in countries outside the EU. The report helps the Commission to update its list of “priority countries” and to focus its efforts and resources on the specific areas of concern with the aim of protecting European companies and consumers from counterfeiting and piracy worldwide. The report also highlights a particular problem with counterfeit pharmaceuticals and copyright piracy. China continues to be the top priority for the EU because of persistent and longstanding problems. More than 80% of the seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods come from China or Hong Kong. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “Today’s report highlights just some of the problems that EU companies and consumers face both in Europe and worldwide. Intellectual property theft – such as counterfeiting and piracy – stifles innovation and erodes confidence with our trading partners. This is a particular problem in China which still accounts for the vast majority of seized counterfeit and pirated goods, although some progress has been made. I hope that this report, along with our upcoming Counterfeiting and Piracy Watch-List, will be an incentive for other countries to act on this issue in their own jurisdictions.” This report is one of a number of initiatives that the Commission is undertaking to protect EU intellectual property and consumers. A public consultation was recently launched to help identify the Commission’s new Counterfeiting and Piracy Watch-List, which will highlight both on and off-line marketplaces outside the EU where counterfeiting, piracy or other forms of intellectual property abuse are common practice.


Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture by ELG Haniel and Iberinox

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture by ELG Haniel GmbH of Germany and Iberinox 88 S.A. of Spain. The joint venture will be active in the trade of raw materials for the steel industry. ELG Haniel and Iberinox are both active worldwide in the trade of raw materials for the steel industry. Following the transaction, the joint venture will take over Iberinox’ business with the exception of the activities of its subsidiary Acerec, which will continue its current business unaffected by the proposed concentration. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the limited market shares of the parent companies. 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.8606.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Robyg by Goldman Sachs and Centerbridge

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Robyg S.A. of Poland by The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and Centerbridge Partners L.P., both of the US. Robyg S.A. is active in the construction and sale of flats and commercial real estate in Poland. The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is active in global investment banking, securities and investment management. Centerbridge Partners L.P. is active in investment management, focused on private equity and distressed investment opportunities. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited impact it would have on the market. 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.8816.


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Concesionaria Mexiquense by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and IFM Investors

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Concesionaria Mexiquense S.A. de C.V. (“Conmex”) of Mexico by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (“CDPQ”) of Canada and IFM Investors Pty Ltd of Australia.  Conmex is active in the building and operation of the group of toll roads that which form the Mexiquense Beltway in Mexico. CDPQ is a global institutional investor which manages funds mainly for public and para-public pension as well as insurance plans. IFM Investors is a global investment manager with assets under management across infrastructure, listed equities, private capital and debt investments. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns in the European Economic Area because Conmex solely operates in Mexico and in markets unrelated to those in which CDPQ is active. 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.8811.



Commission launches Knowledge Centre to boost food quality and step up the fight against food fraud

Responding to consumer concerns about food quality and fraudulent practices concerning food, the European Commission will tomorrow launch a Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality, operated by the Joint Research Centre. The Knowledge Centre, a network made up of experts in and outside the Commission, will support EU policymakers and national authorities by providing access to, and sharing up-to-date scientific knowledge on food fraud and food quality issues. Ahead of the launch, Commissioner Navracsics said: “The quality of the food we eat is important to all of us, and because food fraud is a transnational criminal activity, the EU has a clear role to play in the response. The launch of the Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality will help protect the integrity of the EU food chain and safeguard the quality of food products, generating a clear added-value for Europeans.” Commissioner Jourová said: “The Commission takes the issue of food quality and unjustified differentiation very seriously and has already taken a number of concrete steps to tackle the issue. This newly created Knowledge Centre will further contribute to collecting and processing science-based evidence. Its work will also contribute to developing a common testing methodology, which in turn will help us apply and enforce food and consumer protection laws.” Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, who is responsible for the Joint Research Centre, will launch the new Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality in Strasbourg in the presence of Vice-President for the Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, and Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vêrá Jourová. A full press release is available online. You can find more information about the Joint Research Centre here. 


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

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici will represent the European Commission at today’s Eurogroup and tomorrow’s ECOFIN meeting. Today, the ministers will continue the discussion on the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union, in preparation for the Euro Summit which will take place in the margins of the European Council on 22-23 March. The Eurogroup will also take stock of progress made with the stability support programme for Greece and discuss inflation and exchange rate developments ahead of the upcoming International Monetary Fund spring meetings. Commissioner Moscovici will participate in the press conference following the meetingwhich can be followed live on EbS. On Tuesday,ministers are expected to agree on a package of measures to reduce risks in the banking sector and on new transparency rules for tax planning intermediaries. They will update the EU’s common list of tax havens, which was first agreed in December. Ministers will also discuss Country Reports under the 2018 European Semester process, as well as macroeconomic imbalances in some Member States. The preparation of the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors that is going to take place in Buenos Aires on 19-20 March is also on the agenda. Vice-President Dombrovskis will participate in the press conference following the ECOFIN.


Capital Markets Union: breaking down barriers to cross-border investments and accelerating delivery The European Commission is today taking a major step towards the development of a Capital Markets Union (CMU) by promoting alternative sources of financing and removing barriers to cross-border investments. While the CMU will benefit all Member States, it will particularly strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union by promoting private risk-sharing. Building on progress already achieved since the launch of the CMU in 2015, today’s proposals will boost the cross-border market for investment funds, promote the EU market for covered bonds as a source of long-term finance and ensure greater certainty for investors in the context of cross-border transactions of securities and claims. The CMU is one of the priorities of the Juncker Commission to strengthen Europe’s economy and stimulate investments to create jobs. It aims to mobilise and channel capital to all businesses in the EU, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that need resources to expand and thrive. Quick adoption of these proposals by the European Parliament and the Council will enable businesses and investors to benefit more fully from Single Market opportunities. You can find the full press release, MEMO and factsheet online.


Protecting European consumers: toys and cars top the list of dangerous products detected

Today, the European Commission releases its 2017 report on the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products. In 2017, the system was increasingly used by national authorities with more than 2,000 alerts on dangerous products circulated through the Rapid Alert System. Toys, for instance several models of the popular fidget spinners, cars and motorcycles topped the list of dangerous products detected and removed from the markets. The Rapid Alert System is an important tool for the enforcement of EU consumer laws by national consumer authorities. To further improve the enforcement, the Commission will unveil its ‘New Deal for Consumers’ in April, which aims at modernising the existing rules and improving the protection of consumers. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “European consumer rules guarantee that only safe products are sold in the EU. If this is not the case, the Rapid Alert System supports authorities to react quickly and remove any products that might cause injuries. Thanks to this system, we are keeping our children safe and preventing fatal accidents on our roads. This is a good example of how to efficiently enforce EU consumer rules. Unfortunately, in many other areas we need to improve enforcement and make sure consumers can benefit from their rights. This is what our upcoming ‘New Deal for Consumers’ is all about.” The 2,201 alerts sent through the Rapid Alert System prompted nearly 4,000 follow-up actions, such as the withdrawal of products from the market. This shows that all national authorities closely monitored the alerts in the system and took all necessary measures to help make the market safer for consumers. A press release, Q&A and factsheets are available online.


Tackling disinformation online: Expert Group advocates for more transparency among online platforms 

In a report handed over today to Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel, the High-Level Expert Group on Fake News and Disinformation spread online suggests a definition of the phenomenon and makes a series of recommendations. The independent experts advocate for a Code of Principles that online platforms and social networks should commit to. The report complements the first insights from a public consultation and Eurobarometer survey also published today. These contributions will feed into the preparation of a Communication on tackling disinformation online, that the Commission will publish in spring. Commissioner Gabriel said: “Thanks to the High-Level Expert Group and to Professor Madeleine de Cock Buning for the great work in steering the group to meet the tight deadlines. With all the opinions gathered and the extensive collective expertise, we now have at our disposal a wide array of material that will help us put forward a number of tangible options to better address the risks posed by disinformation spread online.” The expert group recommends to promote media literacy to counter disinformation; develop tools for empowering users and journalists to tackle disinformation; safeguard the diversity and sustainability of the European news media; continuing research on the impact of disinformation in Europe. It also advocates for a Code of Principles that online platforms and social networks should commit to. Further details are available in the press release. 


EU expands its support to Libyan municipalities to enhance access to basic and social services for migrants and Libyans

A new programme worth €50 million, to improve the living conditions and resilience of vulnerable populations in key Libyan municipalities has been adopted under the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (North of Africa window). The new actions will benefit migrants, refugees, Internally Displaced Persons, returnees and host communities alike. Formulated jointly by the European Commission and Italy, the new programme will enhance access to basic and social services for vulnerable people and support local governance, in particular in the Libyan municipalities most affected by migratory flows. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “We have been working very closely in recent years with the central and local Libyan authorities, with civil society and with all the actors that can bring peace and stability to a country exposed to many challenges. The municipalities play a key role and have our support. With this decision today, we continue the essential help to and for Libyan municipalities to strengthen governance and public services in the most vulnerable areas. This programme is meant to address the needs of migrants and of the local communities that are particularly exposed to the migratory flows. The European Union will continue to stay at the side of Libyans and of all the people in need“. Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, underlined: “Today’s new programme demonstrates that the European Union remains committed to assist Libya in responding to the pressing needs of the most vulnerable people and to strengthen local governance across the country. We are committed to supporting the kind of changes in Libya that can help bring stability in the country, which is a key priority for addressing the migration issue and many of the country’s other challenges.” The full press release as well as updated factsheets on the North of Africa Window and Libya.


Commission hosts working lunch with business representatives on the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Taxation and Customs Union, will tomorrow meet leaders of major European companies to discuss the way forward on the Commission’s proposals for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB). The working lunch, co-hosted by Paul Tang MEP, is part of a series of discussions with stakeholders to advance the negotiations on the CCCTB. It provides another opportunity to engage with representatives of companies including Vodafone, BP, Heineken and Air Liquide. Ahead of the meeting, Commissioner Moscovici said: “The goal of this Commission has always been to ensure that all companies pay their fair share of tax where they generate profits. At the same time, large companies have pointed to a need for simpler tax rules in Europe. The CCCTB would create a robust tax system fit for the 21st century. Tomorrow we will discuss ways to create momentum behind the Commission’s ambitious proposals.” The Commission re-launched the CCCTB in 2016 to provide Member States with an entirely new system for taxing multinationals, in a way that will make the EU more business-friendly while also eliminating the main channels of profit-shifting. The CCCTB will make it easier and cheaper to do business in the Single Market and will act as a powerful tool against tax avoidance.


Eastern Partnership meeting under a new institutional set-up: keep on delivering for the benefit of citizens

Representatives from EU Member States and the six Partner countries Armenia, AzerbaijanBelarusGeorgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine met today in Brussels and agreed on the key priorities for 2018 to deliver on the commitments taken at the Eastern Partnership Summit of 24 November 2017. Opening the event, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations stated: “I welcome the strong commitment by all partners to deliver on the issues that have a meaningful impact on lives of citizens across the Eastern Partnership. Today’s meeting, provided us with the opportunity to agree on what we can achieve together throughout 2018, on the basis of the “20 Deliverables for 2020” commitment“. The meeting focused on the role of the renewed Eastern Partnership in delivering results for the benefit of people according to the “20 Deliverables for 2020” agenda under a new institutional set-up. This was the first meeting organised under the new institutional structure which was officially adopted at the Eastern Partnership Summit to ensure a more results-oriented approach. The new set-up aims at supporting more efficiently the reform processes in the six partner countries in the following four priority areas: 1. Stronger economy: economic development and better market opportunities; 2. Stronger governance: strengthening of institutions and good governance; 3. Stronger connectivity: enhancing connectivity, notably in the areas of transport and energy, as well as environment and climate change; 4. Stronger society: increasing mobility and contacts between people. The speech of Commissioner Hahn is available online. Photos and videos of the meeting are available on EbS.


Commission addresses regulatory barriers to innovation by signing second Innovation Deal on batteries for electric vehicles

Today, the European Commission takes another step to help overcome perceived regulatory barriers to innovation. An Innovation Deal will be signed this afternoon by eight partners from national and regional authorities as well as innovators from France and the Netherlands, aiming to tackle whether regulation is conducive to environment-friendly and industrially-efficient recycling and re-use of electric vehicle batteries. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “The electric vehicle revolution is a testimony to how innovation generates growth and fundamentally changes society for the better. In order for Europe to stay in the lead of this innovation race, we need to work together with innovators and authorities to make sure our laws do not hamper innovation. This Innovation Deal will clarify the regulatory landscape in this area, and boost demand for electric vehicles.” Commissioner Karmenu Vella, in charge of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, added: “Innovation in electric vehicles helps the European economy and citizens. This Deal will provide a framework to identify barriers to the reuse of batteries from electric vehicles and explores ways to ensure that EU rules promote their recycling and reuse – the European circular economy in action.” EU leadership in the transition to clean and sustainable energy is a big priority to the Commission and has therefore brought together a European Battery Alliance to ensure competitive and innovative battery manufacturing in Europe. The Commission launched the concept of Innovation Deals in the scope of its Circular Economy package. The first Innovation Deal on wastewater treatment was signed on 7 April 2017. A news item will be available from 4pm. More information on Innovation Deals and Commission initiatives for battery production in Europe is online.


State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into restructuring support for Romanian energy producer CE Hunedoara

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether various public support measures from Romania in favour of energy producer Complexul Energetic Hunedoara are in line with EU rules on State aid to companies in difficulty. EU State aid rules only allow a state intervention for a company in financial difficulty under specific conditions, requiring in particular that the company is subject to a sound restructuring plan to ensure its return to long-term viability, that the company contributes to the cost of its restructuring and that any competition distortions are limited. At this stage, the Commission has doubts whether the proposed restructuring plan could restore the long-term viability of the company without continued State aid. First, CE Hunedoara entered into insolvency proceedings in 2016 (currently suspended), with more than €500 million debt owed to various State bodies. This includes part of the rescue loan Romania granted CE Hunedoara in 2015, a loan financing the repayment of the incompatible State aid but also additional loans of around €73 million, which Romania has granted to CE Hunedoara since 2015 to keep the company afloat. Second, the restructuring plan does not foresee a discernible contribution of CE Hunedoara to the costs of restructuring nor measures to limit possible distortions of competition as a result of the significant State support.  The Commission will now investigate further to find out whether its initial concerns are confirmed. At the same time, the Commission will continue to work closely with Romanian authorities to find a viable solution for CE Hunedoara’s assets that will ensure they continue to supply electricity, reduce costs for consumers and limit the burden on Romanian taxpayers. The opening of an investigation gives interested third parties the opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The full press release is available online in here



Commissioner Mimica in New York for the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls

On 12 March, Commissioner for International Development and Cooperation Neven Mimica will be in New York to participate in the Commission on the Status of Women‘s 62nd Session, which will examine the challenges and opportunities for empowering rural women and girls. In the margins of this, the European Union will host a side event called “Under the Spotlight: Ending Violence against ALL Women and Girls”. In this context, Commissioner Mimica said: “Through the Spotlight Initiative, we want to reach the most remote and vulnerable areas, which traditional programmes do not reach. In cooperation with partners we continue investing in infrastructure, technology, quality services, social protection and opportunities for women and girls to enhance their skills and build their capacities, leaving no one behind”. During the side event on Monday, Commissioner Mimica will welcome high-level advocates who are working to end violence against women and girls, including United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, Under-Secretary-General & Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Secretary General of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid, Presidential Secretary for Women of Guatemala Ana Leticia Aguilar Theissen. The Spotlight Initiative is currently supported by the EU’s contribution of €500 million, while other donors and partners are invited to join. The meeting will be live-streamed on UN Web TV, and media accreditations are possible here. Join the conversation on social media under @GlobalGoalsUN #SpotlightENDViolence #CSW62.




Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Meeting at technical level

o Technical clarification to the Joint Report on the financial settlement


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Meetings at technical level

o Technical clarification to the Joint Report on citizens’ rights

o Other separation issues


Meetings at Coordinators’ level

o Ireland / Northern Ireland

o Transition


Thursday, 15 March 2018

Meeting at technical level

o Other separation issues


Additional meetings at Coordinators’ level may be scheduled.

1 2 3 4 5 6 416
Copyright 2018 © - The Irish Farmers Association - Web Design Dublin by Big Dog