College holds an Orientation Debate on the procedures for the adoption of delegated and implementing acts
In his State of the Union Speech in September 2016, President Juncker said, “It is not right that when EU countries cannot decide among themselves whether or not to ban the use of glyphosate in herbicides, the Commission is forced by Parliament and Council to take a decision. So we will change those rules.” Today, the College of Commissioners followed up on the President’s statement with an Orientation Debate on possible ways to ensure that political responsibility is taken where the applicable legislation requires. This initiative is included in the priorities of the Commission’s Work Programme for 2017. In recent years the Commission has been regularly obliged to take decisions on very sensitive issues when Member States have not been able to take a position, in particular with regards to topics like GMOs or glyphosate. Since the beginning of its mandate, the Juncker Commission has taken a number of internal measures to ensure that a political debate is held at the level of the College before submitting proposals for delegated or implementing acts on sensitive subjects. To ensure that the political responsibility is also assumed by other decision-making bodies, as identified by the co-legislator, the Commission will present a proposal on 14 February to revise the Comitology Regulation. The College also discussed today a number of open comitology procedures.
State of the Energy Union: Europe’s energy transition on track
In line with its commitment to report annually on the state of the Energy Union, the European Commission is publishing today its second State of the Energy Union Report. This report looks at the progress made since the publication of the first State of the Energy Union in November 2015. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and renewable energy, Europe is well on track to reach its 2020 targets. To further drive this process, the Commission today is announcing a new Energy Union tour. Maroš Šefčovič, the Vice-President responsible for the Energy Union, said: “The Energy Union is about more than energy and climate; it is about accelerating the fundamental modernisation of Europe’s entire economy, making it low-carbon, energy and resource efficient, in a socially fair manner. Now that a large part of the relevant legislative proposals are on the table, 2017 should be the year of implementation. This message I will bring to Member States during the new Energy Union tour, which I will launch on 3 February”. Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said: “Europe is well on track to meet its 2020 climate and energy targets. Despite the current geopolitical uncertainties, Europe is forging ahead with the clean energy transition. Renewable energy is now cost-competitive and sometimes cheaper than fossil fuels, employs over one million people in Europe, and has reduced our fossil fuels imports bill by €16 billion.” Read the press release and two memos (Progress Energy Efficiency and Progress Renewables) online. The Second State of the Energy Union Communication and all accompanying documents adopted today can be found here.
NEWS IN FULL
Surviving veterans of the famous Farmers’ Rights Campaign of 1966 were honoured at an IFA event to mark the 50th anniversary of the Campaign this week. Take a look at this video which traces the history of the campaign.
Main results below results in full here
Facilitating the use of EU cohesion policy funding
Ministers welcomed the adoption by the Council on 14 November of a regulation that allows member states experiencing financial difficulties to take advantage of higher EU co-financing rates under cohesion policy. The regulation will help Cyprus, Greece and any other countries that might receive financial assistance to make easier use of EU cohesion policy funding. It does not increase the total amounts for these countries.
Ministers were also informed by the Presidency of the state of play of work within the Council on a regulation simplifying the rules governing the European structural and investment (ESI) funds – the so-called omnibus regulation.
Results and first assessment of new elements of EU cohesion policy
Ministers exchanged views on the results achieved in the years 2007-2013 and on a first assessment of new elements of cohesion policy and ESI funds for the period 2014-2020. The discussion focused on the main objectives of the policy, the measures taken to achieve them and how the results have been communicated to citizens.
Mid-term review of the multi-annual financial framework 2014-2020
The Council gave broad support to the Slovak presidency’s latest proposal on the mid-term review of the multi-annual budgetary framework. One member state still has a reservation and could not yet give its agreement. The presidency proposal provides for increased financial support to help the EU to cope with current challenges. Additional budgetary flexibility would allow the EU to deal more effectively and quickly with unforeseen events. The proposed changes would also help to avoid the excessive accumulation of unpaid bills.
“Our compromise is designed to make the EU’s budgetary framework fit for the remaining years of the 2014-2020 period by providing more money to address the migration crisis, reinforce security, boost growth and create jobs. And it would avoid undue pressure on member states’ national budgets at a time of continuing efforts to consolidate public finances. We are now going to inform the European Parliament about all the elements supported by the Council. The revised regulation needs the Parliament’s consent, and we hope we will get it soon.”
Ivan Korčok, chief negotiator for the MFF of the Slovak Presidency of the Council
December European Council
Ministers started preparations for the December European Council by discussing an annotated draft agenda. At their meeting on 15 December EU leaders will address four items:
- migration, where they will set orientations for further work on partnership frameworks, assess the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement and discuss the reform of the EU asylum system
- security, with a focus on the implementation of the security agenda and EU cooperation on external security and defence
- economic and social development, youth, where they will take stock of progress on the European fund for strategic investments and on the fight against youth unemployment
- external relations with a focus on Russia and the Netherlands referendum on the EU-Ukraine association agreement
Rule of law mechanism
Ministers exchanged views on the experience so far of the Council’s annual rule of law dialogue established in December 2014 to promote and safeguard the rule of law. The presidency will draft a note reflecting the views expressed and suggestions made to further improve the rule of law dialogue.