Tag Archives: FundamentalRights

Montenegro's local authorities enter 2018 in upbeat mood

In meeting with the European Committee of the Regions, Montenegro’s mayors focus on efforts to spread benefits of economic growth and to prepare for EU membership.

Montenegro’s local leaders projected optimism about the country’s progress towards membership of the European Union in a meeting with the European Committee of the Regions on 8 December, noting that public support for accession to the EU remains strong and expressing confidence that the country’s communities will be well prepared to meet EU obligations.

The mood at the mayors, who met in Danilovgrad at the invitation of Mayor Branislav Djuranović, has been lifted by comments in recent months by Jean-Claude Juncker in which the European Commission’s president has said that he hopes Montenegro will become a member by 2025, by strong economic growth and by the national government’s inclusive approach to the EU negotiations. The government in Podgorica has, they said, sought to ensure that municipalities have a voice in shaping Montenegro’s positions in negotiations with the EU, and the country’s minister for European affairs, Aleksandar Pejović, spoke at the meeting, answering questions at length.

The mayors were speaking at a meeting of a joint consultative committee created on one side by the European Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly for local and regional leaders, and, on the other side, by the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro. The joint consultative committee met for the first time in November 2012, with the aim of helping Montenegro’s local and regional authorities on issues such as decentralisation, regional and cross-border cooperation, fundamental rights, good governance, and administration. Around 70% of EU legislation requires action by regions and cities.

On this occasion, the committee, which meets twice a year, focused on economic development using Montenegro’s local resources and on sustainable tourism. Peter Janech of the World Tourism Organization, a United Nations agency, highlighted lessons from this year’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, while Christine Chang from Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council spoke about boosting entrepreneurial ecosystems in regions for young entrepreneurs. Members of the CoR shared their approach to regenerating post-industrial regions and to giving small communities a national and international profile.

Mr Pejović said that the government was drawing on experience from the EU’s Danube strategy and Adriatic-Ionian macro-region, to boost the capacity of central and local administration in project development and implementation, and suggested that, as another step, courses should be created for local authorities, as part of an effort to equip them with the skills and capacity to apply for the EU’s structural funds. He praised the level of cooperation across the region that has been generated by the ‘Berlin process’, which has concentrated on cross-border infrastructure as part of an effort to encourage economic integration in the western Balkans. He said, however, that the government in Podgorica would like to see more attention paid to business. According to a recent survey, support for EU accession remains at over 70%, with 22% of the population consistently opposed.

Mr Pejović said that Montenegro is looking to spread the benefits of over 3% annual growth in the national economy around the country and, in particular, to develop tourism in a sustainable fashion. Montenegro is one of only a small number of countries with a minister responsible for both sustainable development and tourism, partly reflecting the importance of tourism to the country’s economy. Year to year, the sector accounts for between 22% to 25% of gross domestic product.

Jelena Drenjanin (SE/EPP), the committee’s co-chairwoman and member of Huddinge Municipal Council, praised the Montenegrin government for helping the professional development of local civil servants and for making changes to the law on the financing of local government, but stressed that more needed to be done to boost local government’s self-sufficiency and in the recruitment and training of local officials. The other co-chairman of the committee is Aleksandar Bogdanović, mayor of the Old Royal Capital Cetinje.

Montenegrin mayors in the committee – Slavoljub Stipjepović (Podgorica), Zoran Srzentić (Bar), Aleksandar Žurić (Bijelo Polje), Dejan Medojević (Mojkovac), Veselin Grbović (Nikšić), Mirko Đačić (Pljevlja), Miomir Vujačić (Šavnik), and Veselin Vukićević (Žabljak) in addition to Mr Djuranović and Mr Bogdanović – said that tourism has been important in the economy’s expansion, which has resulted in Montenegro becoming a net importer of labour, but the benefits have been unevenly shared, with unemployment high in the north of the country, attributable in part to a change in the fortunes of the region’s industries. One possibility is to try to develop winter tourism in the north. At present, tourists currently primarily come to Montenegro in the summer and stay in the south of the country.

Kevin Peel (UK/PES) spoke of efforts by his city, Manchester, to revitalise its economy in the wake of deindustrialisation. Andres Jaadla (EE/ALDE), a member of town council of Rakvere, emphasised the importance of towns and small communities identifying an approach that would distinguish them from others. Rakvere, a town of roughly 16,000 in Estonia, projects itself as ‘crazy but smart’, coupling a drive towards a green, knowledge-based economy with cultural activities as its Punk Song Festival, its Green Christmas rock festival and the Men Dance Festival.

Thomas Hagleitner from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations stressed the need for Montenegro to continue its reforms, saying that accession in 2025 cannot be taken for granted. The European Commission plans on 6 February to publish a “Strategy for a successful EU accession of Serbia and Montenegro”, identifying the critical steps that Montenegro needs to take, notably related to the rule of law, fundamental rights and the fight against corruption. Montenegro has opened 28 of 35 negotiating chapters, and has provisionally closed three of the chapters.

Other members of the CoR’s delegation were: Arnoldas Abramavičius(LT/EPP); Matteo Bianchi (IT/NI); Dimitrios Birmpas(EL/PES); Mario D’Attis(IT/EPP); Gillian Ford(UK/European Alliance); and Andreja Potočnik(SL/ALDE).

Text adopted – Towards a digital trade strategy – P8_TA-PROV(2017)0488 – Tuesday, 12 December 2017 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 207(3) and 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS),

–  having regard to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA),

–  having regard to the WTO Work Programme on E-commerce,

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration by G7 ICT Ministers at the Meeting in Takamatsu, Kagawa on 29 and 30 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Declaration on the Digital Economy in Cancun in 2016,

–  having regard to the Dynamic Coalition on Trade at the Internet Governance Forum,

–  having regard to the ongoing EU trade negotiations with third countries,

–  having regard to the agreement in principle announced by the Commission on 6 July 2017 on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement,

–  having regard to Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce)(1)
,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)(2)
,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 October 2015 entitled ‘Trade for All: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy’ (COM(2015)0497),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 entitled ‘Digitising European Industry’ (COM(2016)0180),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 entitled ‘European Cloud Initiative – Building a competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe’ (COM(2016)0178),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 23 June 2017 on trade and investment barriers (COM(2017)0338),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 January 2017 entitled ‘Building A European Data Economy’ (COM(2017)0009),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (COM(2017)0010),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 13 September 2017 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union (COM(2017)0495),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 2 May 2017 entitled ‘Digital4Development: mainstreaming digital technologies and services into EU Development Policy’ (SWD(2017)0157),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on a new forward-looking and innovative future strategy for trade and investment(3)
,

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 February 2016 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)(4)
,

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2015 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)(5)
,

–  having regard to the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development and the outcome document adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015 entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

–  having regard to the upcoming 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 10 to 13 December 2017, where e-commerce is likely to be discussed,

–  having regard to the UN International Telecommunication Union’s initiatives in support of Developing Countries (ITU-D),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 8(1) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and to Article 16(1) of the TFEU,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of freedom of speech on Freedom of Expression and the private sector in the digital age (A/HRC/32/38) and on the role of digital access providers (A/HRC/35/22),

–  having regard to the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, adopted by the Council (Foreign Affairs) on 12 May 2014,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, European Treaty Series No 108, and the additional protocol thereto,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on transatlantic data flows(6)
,

–  having regard to the Commission report to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation of the Trade Policy Strategy Trade for All – Delivering a Progressive Trade Policy to Harness Globalisation (COM(2017)0491).

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0384/2017),

A.  whereas technological developments, access to the open internet and the digitalisation of the economy are an engine for growth as they enable companies particularly start-ups, micro-enterprises and SMEs, to create new opportunities in developing, ordering, producing, marketing or delivering products and services, and to reach customers all over the globe at a faster pace and lower cost than ever before; whereas emerging technologies such as distributed ledger technology have the potential to enhance digital trade by improving the transparency of international contracts and expediting the transfer of value; whereas trade in physical goods has been replaced by increasing amounts of cross-border transfers of digital content, sometimes blurring the distinction between goods and services;

B.  whereas data collection, data aggregation and the ability to transfer data across borders has the potential to be a key driver of innovation, productivity and economic competitiveness;

C.  whereas the globalisation and digitalisation of our economies and of international trade have enabled businesses to grow and provided economic opportunities for citizens; whereas the digitalisation of traditional industries affects supply chains, manufacturing and services models, which could lead to job creation in new industries, but could also disrupt current jobs and lead to precarious working conditions as more and more tasks traditionally performed by humans are either automated or off-shored, or both; stresses in this regard that the necessary social flanking measures must be put in place for them to benefit the whole society, such as strong education and training policies, active labour market policies and measures to overcome the digital divide;

D.  whereas the digital economy requires a rules-based framework, including modern trade rules which can reconcile the rapid changes in the market with the rights of consumers, providing the policy space and room for new regulatory initiatives needed by governments to defend and strengthen the protection of human rights;

E.  whereas access to a free, open and secure internet is a prerequisite for rules-based trade and development in the digital economy; whereas the principle of net neutrality should be a key part of the EU’s digital trade strategy in order to allow for fair competition and innovation in the digital economy, while ensuring freedom of speech online;

F.  whereas investment in infrastructure and access to skills remain key challenges to connectivity and, therefore, digital trade;

G.  whereas the UN’s SDGs stress that providing universal and affordable access to the internet for people in least developed countries by 2020 will be crucial for fostering development, as the development of a digital economy could be a driver of jobs and growth, e-commerce being one opportunity to increase the numbers of small exporters, export volumes and export diversification;

H.  whereas women can benefit as entrepreneurs and as workers from better access to global markets, and as consumers from lower prices, whereas many challenges and inequalities still hinder women’s participation in the global economy, as many of women in low- and middle-income countries, still have no access to the internet;

I.  whereas e-commerce is also booming in developing countries;

J.  whereas governments around the world are engaging in digital protectionism by putting up barriers that hinder market access and direct investment, or create unfair advantages for domestic companies; whereas a number of broad measures in third countries taken in the name of national (cyber)security have an increasingly negative impact on trade in ICT products;

K.  whereas foreign companies currently benefit from far greater access to the European market than Europeans do to third countries; whereas many of our trade partners are increasingly closing their domestic markets and resorting to digital protectionism; whereas the EU should anchor its digital trade strategy in the principles of reciprocity, fair competition, smart regulation and transparency with a view to restoring consumers’ trust and restoring a level playing field for businesses;

L.  whereas geo-blocking should be put to an end and no forms of unjustified discrimination based on a customer’s nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market should take place in the future;

M.  whereas the building blocks that preserve the open internet in the EU’s digital single market, including principles such as fair competition, net neutrality and intermediary liability protections, should be promoted in all trade negotiations; whereas the global dimension of digital trade makes the WTO the natural venue for the negotiation of a rule-based multilateral framework; whereas the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017 provides the platform for launching such a process;

N.  whereas the European Union is bound by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, including Article 8 thereof on the right to the protection of personal data, by Article 16 TFEU on the same fundamental right, and by Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU); whereas the right to privacy is a universal human right; whereas high data protection standards help to build trust in the digital economy among European citizens and thus foster the development of digital trade; whereas promoting high data protection standards, in particular as regards sensitive data, and facilitating international trade must go hand in hand in the digital era, in order to support freedom of expression and information, e-commerce, and encryption, and to reject digital protectionism, mass surveillance, cyber espionage and online censorship;

O.  whereas digital trade must protect endangered wildlife species, and whereas online market places must ban the sale of wildlife and wildlife products on their platforms;

P.  whereas private companies are increasingly setting norms and standards in the digital economy, which will have a direct impact on citizens and consumers, as well as on domestic and international trade and at the same time accelerate the development of technological solutions to safeguard business and customers;

Q.  whereas the OECD recommendations against base erosion and profit shifting and the EU’s plans for a common consolidated corporate tax base have highlighted the need to address a number of tax challenges, including those posed by the digital economy; whereas taxes should be paid where profits are made; whereas a more transparent, efficient and fair system for calculating the tax base of cross-border companies should prevent profit shifting and tax avoidance; whereas a coherent EU approach to taxation in the digital economy is necessary to achieve fair and effective taxation of all companies and to create a level playing field; recalls that trade agreements should include a clause on tax good governance that reaffirms the parties’ commitment to implementing agreed international standards in the fight against tax evasion and avoidance;

R.  whereas, according to the OECD, up to 5 % of goods imported into the EU are counterfeited, resulting in substantial losses in jobs and tax revenues;

S.  whereas sensitive sectors such as audio-visual services, and fundamental rights such as the protection of personal data, should not be subject to trade negotiations;

T.  whereas digital trade must also aim to promote the growth of SMEs and start-ups, and not only that of multinationals;

U.  whereas Mexico fulfils the conditions for accession to Council of Europe Convention No 108 on data protection;

V.  whereas the protection of personal data is non-negotiable in trade agreements, and whereas data protection has always been excluded from EU trade negotiation mandates;

W.  whereas trade agreements can be a lever to improve digital rights; whereas the inclusion of provisions on net neutrality, a ban on forced unjustified data localisation requirements, data security, security of data processing and data storage, encryption and intermediary liability in trade agreements can strengthen, in particular, the protection of freedom of speech;

1.  Underlines that the EU, as a community of values and the world’s biggest exporter of services, should set the standards in international rules and agreements on digital trade flows based on three elements: (1) ensuring market access for digital goods and services in third countries, (2) ensuring that trade rules create tangible benefits for consumers and (3) ensuring and promoting respect for fundamental rights;

2.  Stresses the need to bridge the digital divide in order to minimise potential negative social and development impacts; underlines, in this regard, the importance of promoting female participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), of removing barriers to lifelong learning, and of closing gender gaps in access to and in the use of new technologies; calls on the Commission to explore further how current trade policy and gender equality are linked and how trade can promote women’s economic empowerment;

3.  Notes that the network effect of the digital economy enables one company or a small number of companies to hold a large market share, which could lead to excessive market concentration; stresses the importance of promoting fair and effective competition in trade agreements, in particular between digital service providers such as online platforms, and users such as micro-enterprises, SMEs and start-ups, and of promoting consumer choice, reducing transaction costs, ensuring non-discriminatory treatment of all market players and avoiding the creation of dominant positions that distort the markets; stresses, in this context, the importance of including net neutrality as a key part of its digital trade strategy; considers that a digital trade strategy must be complemented by a reinforced and effective international framework for competition policy, including by increased cooperation between competition authorities and strong competition chapters in trade agreements; calls on the Commission to ensure that businesses and companies comply with competition rules and that there is no discrimination against competitors to the detriment of consumers’ interests;

4.  Stresses that access to secure broadband internet connectivity and digital payment methods, effective consumer protection, in particular redress mechanisms for online cross-border sales, and predictable customs procedures, are essential elements in relation to enabling digital trade, sustainable development and inclusive growth;

5.  Considers that trade agreements should provide for increased cooperation between consumer protection agencies and welcomes initiatives to foster consumer trust-enhancing measures in trade negotiations, such as disciplines on electronic signatures and contracts and unsolicited communications; highlights that the rights of consumers must be protected and must not in any event be diluted;

6.  Underlines that SMEs in developing countries make up the majority of businesses and employ the majority of manufacturing and service sector workers; recalls that facilitating cross-border e-commerce can have a direct impact on improving livelihoods, fostering higher living standards and boosting economic development;

7.  Recalls that nothing in trade agreements shall prevent the EU and its Member States from maintaining, improving and applying its data protection rules; recalls that personal data can be transferred to third countries without using general disciplines in trade agreements when the requirements – both at present and in the future – enshrined in Chapter IV of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data(7)
and in Chapter V of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, are fulfilled; recognises that adequacy decisions, including partial and sector-specific ones, constitute a fundamental mechanism in terms of safeguarding the transfer of personal data from the EU to a third country; notes that the EU has only adopted adequacy decisions with four of its 20 largest trading partners; recalls the importance of guaranteeing, in particular through adequacy dialogues, the transfer of data from third countries to the EU;

8.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise and speed up the adoption of adequacy decisions, provided that third countries ensure, by reason of their domestic law or their international commitments, a level of protection ‘essentially equivalent’ to that guaranteed within the EU; calls on the Commission to adopt, and to make public, updated and detailed binding procedures with a specific timeframe for reaching these decisions, while fully respecting the powers of national supervisory authorities and the opinion of Parliament;

9.  Recalls that the ability to access, collect, process and transfer data across borders has become increasingly important for every type of company that delivers goods and services internationally; notes that this matters for both personal and non-personal data and includes machine-to-machine communication;

10.  Urges the Commission to draw up rules for cross-border data transfers as soon as possible which fully comply with the EU’s existing and future data protection and privacy rules; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to incorporate into the EU’s trade agreements a horizontal provision, which fully maintains the right of a party to protect personal data and privacy, provided that such a right is not unjustifiably used to circumvent rules for cross-border data transfers for reasons other than the protection of personal data; considers that such rules and provisions should form part of all new and recently launched trade negotiations with third countries; stresses that any disciplines in this regard should be exempted from the scope of application of any future chapter dealing with investment protection;

11.  Calls on the Commission to strictly prohibit unjustified data localisation requirements in free trade agreements (FTAs); considers that the removal of such requirements should be a top priority, and emphasises that the relevant data protection legislation should be adhered to; regrets attempts to use such requirements as a form of non-tariff barrier to trade and as a form of digital protectionism; considers that such protectionism seriously hampers opportunities for European businesses in third country markets and undermines the efficiency benefits of digital trade;

12.  Calls on the Commission to put forward, as soon as possible, its position on cross-border data transfers, unjustified data localisation requirements, and data protection safeguards in trade negotiations, in line with Parliament’s position, so as to include it in all new and recently launched negotiations and to avoid the EU being sidelined in international trade negotiations;

13.  Calls on the Commission to combat measures by third countries, such as ‘buy local’ policies, local content requirements or forced technology transfers, to the extent that they are not justified by UN-led programmes on closing the digital divide or TRIPS-related exceptions, so as to ensure that European companies can operate in a fair and predictable environment;

14.  Stresses that the EU should continue to pursue its efforts at bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral level to ensure that third countries offer a level of openness towards foreign investments equivalent to that of the EU, and that they maintain a level playing field for EU operators; welcomes the EU’s proposal for a regulation establishing a framework for review of foreign direct investments into the Union and supports its objectives to better protect critical infrastructures and technologies;

15.  Underlines that a digital trade strategy must be fully in line with the principle of net neutrality and safeguard the equal treatment of internet traffic, without discrimination, restriction or interference, irrespective of its sender, receiver, type, content, device, service or application; recalls, moreover, that traffic management measures should be permitted only in exceptional cases where they are strictly necessary, and only for as long as necessary, to comply with legal requirements, preserve the integrity and security of the network or prevent impending network congestion;

16.  Strongly deplores third country practices which make market access conditional on the disclosure and transfer to state authorities of the source codes of the software that companies intend to sell; considers that such measures are disproportionate as a blanket requirement for market access; calls on the Commission to prohibit signatory governments to FTAs from engaging in such activities; stresses that the foregoing should not prevent state authorities from promoting transparency of software, encouraging the public disclosure of source code through free and open-source software, as well as sharing data through open data licenses;

17.  Recalls that in some cases local presence requirements are necessary to ensure effective prudential supervision or regulatory oversight and enforcement; reiterates its call on the Commission, therefore, to undertake limited commitments in Mode 1, so as to avoid regulatory arbitrage;

18.  Notes that pro-development technology transfer requirements should not be ruled out by disciplines on digital trade;

19.  Calls on the Commission to prohibit third country authorities from requiring the disclosure or transfer of details of the (cryptographic) technology used in products as a condition of manufacturing, selling or distributing these products;

20.  Notes that the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights and investments in R&D are a precondition on the EU’s knowledge-based economy, and that international cooperation is key to combating the trade in counterfeited goods throughout the entire value chain; encourages the Commission, therefore, to push for the worldwide implementation of international standards such as the WTO TRIPS Agreement and the WIPO Internet Treaties; recalls that legal protection throughout the EU, both online and offline, is needed for new creations since it will encourage investment and lead to further innovations; stresses, however, that trade agreements are not the place to extend the level of IP-protection for rights holders by providing for more extensive copyright enforcement powers; stresses that access to medicines in third countries should not be challenged on the basis of IP protection; stresses that trade in counterfeited goods requires a distinctly different approach to IP infringements in the digital economy;

21.  Exhorts the Commission to keep a close eye on ICANN’s gTLD Program, which expands domain names to thousands of generic names, and to guarantee, in line with its commitment to a free and open internet, the protection of rights holders, in particular those relating to geographical indications;

22.  Calls on the Commission to use trade agreements to prevent parties from imposing foreign equity caps, to lay down pro-competitive wholesale access rules for incumbent operators’ networks, to provide transparent and non-discriminatory rules and fees for licensing, and to secure genuine access to last-mile infrastructures in export markets for EU telecom providers; recalls that rule-based competition in the telecommunications sector leads to higher quality services and lower prices;

23.  Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts towards developing a set of binding multilateral disciplines on e-commerce in the WTO, and to continue focusing on concrete and realistic deliverables;

24.  Calls on the Commission to urgently re-launch TiSA negotiations in line with Parliament’s adopted recommendations; espouses the view that the EU should seize the window of opportunity to take the lead to set state-of-the art global digital standards;

25.  Recalls that, since 1998, members of the WTO have upheld a moratorium on tariffs on electronic transmissions; stresses that such tariffs would entail unnecessary additional costs for businesses and consumers alike; calls on the Commission to transform the moratorium into a permanent agreement on banning tariffs on electronic transmissions, subject to careful analysis of the implications in the area of 3D printing;

26.  Calls on the Commission to use trade agreements to promote the interoperability of ICT standards that benefit both consumers and producers, notably in the context of a secure Internet of things, 5G and cybersecurity, while not circumventing legitimate fora for multi-stakeholder governance which have served the open internet well;

27.  Considers that particular consideration should be given to the increasing number of consumers and individuals who are selling and buying items on the internet and are caught up in burdensome customs procedures for goods purchased online; recalls the need to put in place simplified, tax- and duty-free customs treatment of items sold online and returns unused; recalls that the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement aims to speed up customs procedures and improve their accountability and transparency; stresses the need to digitise customs information and management via online registration and operation of information, which should facilitate clearance at the border, cooperation in fraud detection, anti-corruption efforts and transparency of prices relating to customs; believes that the broader use of tools such as online dispute settlements would be beneficial for consumers;

28.  Calls on the Commission to encourage signatories of trade agreements to include, in the telecommunications chapter of their FTAs, provisions making both international roaming fees and the fees applied to international calls and messages transparent, fair, reasonable and consumer-oriented; calls on the Commission to support policies that promote cost-oriented retail prices for roaming services with a view to reducing prices, promoting transparency and preventing commercial practices that are unfair or in any way negative for consumers;

29.  Recognises that the principles of the E-commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) have contributed to the development of the digital economy by creating favourable conditions for innovations and by guaranteeing freedom of speech and the freedom to conduct a business; recalls that the Commission is bound by the EU acquis
in its trade negotiations;

30.  Calls on the Commission to further mainstream digital technologies and services into the EU’s development policy, as outlined, inter alia, in the Digital4Development agenda; calls on the Commission to use trade agreements to improve and promote digital rights; recognises that only 53,6 % of all households worldwide have access to the internet; deplores the fact that there is still a significant digital divide; calls on the Commission to increase investments in digital infrastructure in the Global South in order to bridge this digital divide, including by stimulating public-private partnerships, but while still respecting the development effectiveness principles; notes in this context the contribution of the UN ITU-D in the creation, development and improvement of telecommunication and ICT equipment and networks; urges the Commission to make investments in broadband infrastructure in developing countries contribute integrally to, and contingent on, respect for a free, open and secure internet and to develop adequate solutions to promote mobile internet access; stresses that such investments are particularly important for local micro, small & medium enterprises, especially in developing countries, in order to enable them to interact digitally with multinational enterprises and to access global value chains; recalls that facilitating cross-border e-commerce can have a direct impact on improving livelihoods, fostering higher living standards and boosting economic development; recalls the contribution that such endeavours could make to gender equality since a great number of these companies are owned and run by women; reiterates that digital trade could also be a resource for public administrations and thus support the development of e-government;

31.  Stresses that it is imperative that any digital trade strategy must be fully in line with the principle of policy coherence for development, and should in particular seek to promote and enable start-ups and micro, small & medium enterprises to engage in cross border e-commerce, recalling the contribution this could make to gender equality;

32.  Considers that digital issues should also feature more prominently in the EU’s Aid for Trade policy to facilitate the growth of e-commerce via increased support for innovation and infrastructure and access to financing, notably via micro finance initiatives, as well as assistance in increasing online visibility for e-commerce businesses in developing countries, facilitating platform access and promoting the availability of e-payment solutions and access to cost-effective logistics and delivery services;

33.  Stresses that any digital trade strategy, including its flanking measures, must be fully in line with and contribute to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; notes that SDG 4 on quality education: providing free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education to all girls and boys, SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, SDG 8.10 on promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, in particular by strengthening the capacity of domestic financial institutions and expanding access to financial services, as well as SDG 9.1 on developing reliable and resilient infrastructure with a focus on equitable access for all and SDG 9.3 on increasing the access of small enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets, are particularly relevant in this regard;

34.  commits to updating its digital trade strategy every 5 years;

35.  Highlights that the deployment of and access to infrastructure, especially in rural, mountainous and remote areas, that is adequate in coverage, quality and security and supports net neutrality, is crucial for digitising European industry and increasing e-governance;

36.  Supports the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 on ICT standardisation priorities for the digital single market (COM(2016)0176); stresses that while ICT standardisation must continue to be primarily industry led, voluntary and consensus driven, based on the principles of transparency, openness, impartiality, consensus, effectiveness, relevance and coherence, a clearer set of priorities for ICT standardisation, together with high-level political support, will boost competitiveness; notes that this process should make use of the instruments of the European Standardisation System and involve a wide range of stakeholders, both within the EU and at international level, to ensure delivery of improved standard-setting processes, in line with the Joint Initiative on Standardisation; calls on the Commission to foster the emergence of global industry standards under EU leadership for key 5G technologies and network architectures, notably through the exploitation of the 5G public-private partnership (5G PPP) results at the level of key EU and international standardisation bodies;

37.  Notes the efforts made by the WTO to advance its work programme on e-commerce; asks the Commission to seek the further expansion of the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement to include more products and more WTO members, and takes note of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires scheduled for December 2017; asks the Commission to consult European businesses and Member States as soon as possible on its position on e-commerce and other digital trade matters to be agreed at the conference in order to ensure a united European position;

38.  Believes that digital trade should be further facilitated in procurement policies, including by taking advantage of possibilities to provide services remotely and by enabling European companies, particularly SMEs, to obtain access to public and private procurement;

39.  Stresses the importance of international standards on digital equipment and services, especially in the area of cybersecurity; asks the Commission to work to ensure the introduction of basic cybersecurity measures into Internet of things products and cloud‑based services;

40.  Stresses that even though the Digital Single Market strategy addresses many of the problems facing digital trade, EU companies still face significant global obstacles such as non-transparent regulations, government intervention and unjustified data location or data storage; points out that some of the key actions of the Digital Single Market strategy, such as the EU cloud initiative and the copyright reform, have an international dimension that could be addressed in a European digital trade strategy;

41.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the EEAS.

(1) OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0299.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0041.
(5) OJ C 265, 11.8.2017, p. 35.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0233.
(7) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.

Daily News 12 / 12 / 2017

College meeting: Glyphosate: Commission responds to European Citizens’ Initiative and announces more transparency in scientific assessments

With the Communication adopted today, the Commission replies to the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides” and commits to presenting a legislative proposal in 2018, to further increase the transparency and quality of studies used in the scientific assessment of substances. Following a thorough scientific assessment of all available data on glyphosate concluding that there is no link between glyphosate and cancer in humans, and a positive vote by Member States’ representatives on 27 November 2017, the Commission today adopted a renewal of the approval of glyphosate for 5 years. In addition, in responding to the European Citizens’ Initiative, the European Commission announces measures to make the process to authorise, restrict or ban the use of pesticides more transparent in the future. Today’s Communication sets out the way forward: it provides a detailed explanation of EU rules on pesticides, and announces a legislative proposal for spring 2018 to enhance the transparency, quality and independence of scientific assessments of substances. It furthermore announces future amendments to the legislation to strengthen the governance of the conduct of relevant studies. The press release in all EU languages as well as MEMO are available online. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

College meeting: Security Union: Commission closes information gaps to better protect EU citizens

Today, the European Commission has proposed to close information gaps by upgrading EU information systems for security, border and migration management and making them work together in a smarter and more efficient way. The measures will enable information exchange and data sharing between the different systems and ensure that border guards and police officers have access to the right information exactly when and where they need it, whilst ensuring the highest data protection standards and full respect of fundamental rights. In the context of recent security and migratory challenges, the proposal will ensure greater safety of EU citizens by facilitating the management of the EU’s external borders and increasing internal security. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: At this moment our EU information systems for security and border management are working separately which slows down law enforcement. With our proposal they will become fully interoperable.” Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Today we are delivering the final and most important element of our work to close gaps and remove blind spots in our information systems for security, borders and migration.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said:“This is an ambitious new approach to managing and using existing information: more intelligent and targeted; connecting the dots to protect EU citizens while also protecting data by design and by default.” The press conference by Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos andCommissioner for the Security Union Julian King will take place in Strasbourg today at 16:00 and will be streamed live on EbS. A press release, Q&A and factsheets on closing the information gap and EU Information Systems are available online. The Commission is today also reporting on progress made on other security related priority files in its 12thSecurity Union report, taking stock of actions to deny terrorists the means to act, strengthen cyber resilience, counter radicalisation online and offline and build up the external security dimension. A video highlighting the actions taken by the Commission to better protect Europeans is also available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229  67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

 

College meeting: EU proposes a modernised partnership with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific countries

The European Commission has today presented a recommendation to the Council, including a proposal for negotiating directives. This is an important milestone towards opening negotiations with the countries of the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP). High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, stated: “The EU and the ACP countries represent together more than 100 countries, and more than half of the United Nations member states. Together, we have an important role in shaping the global agenda and international cooperation. As an essential part of our commitment to multilateralism, modernising our ACP-EU partnership will allow us to jointly tackle today’s global challenges of building peaceful and resilient states, ensuring respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and democratic principles.” Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, stated: “Renewing our partnership with the ACP countries is a unique opportunity to shape a true partnership of equals, moving beyond traditional donor-recipient perceptions. Only together can we achieve sustainable development. Only our joint commitment can lead us to tangible results in areas such as economic growth, jobs and investment or climate change and bring forward the sustainable development agenda.” The recommendation by the Commission sets out the basis and the main orientations for a modernised political partnership between equals, focusing on common interests and values, and going beyond development policy only. A press release and a MEMO are available online. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

#InvestEU: Commission and European Investment Bank Group welcome final adoption of extended and improved European Fund for Strategic Investments

Today Members of the European Parliament voted to adopt the Regulation to extend and enhance the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. This successful final step follows the agreement in principle reached by the European Parliament and Member States on 13 September. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The Investment Plan has brought real benefits to companies across Europe. And we want to do more. We listened to the feedback we received on how the European Fund for Strategic Investments works and we have made some improvements. We are making the EFSI’s investment decisions even more transparent and providing more technical support at a local level. We are also extending the EFSI’s lifetime to end-2020 and its investment target to €500 billion. The EFSI has already helped create 300,000 jobs – let’s keep up the momentum”. The extended EFSI will in particular provide even more financial support to smaller companies. Moreover, a provisional agreement was found this morning between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council on how to simplify the blending of EFSI with Cohesion Policy funds. (For more information on EFSI 2.0 see the press release, Q&A and factsheet. For all Investment Plan- and EFSI-related news and results, see the Investment Plan website or contact Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57361)

 

Cohesion Policy: negotiators agree on more flexibility, less red tape and simpler blending with the EFSI

Today, the negotiators of the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the mid-term review of the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy regulation. Key objectives of this review were cutting red tape for the beneficiaries of the funds and simplifying combination with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Juncker Plan, to help finance riskier yet promising projects. “I welcome this agreement,” said Commissioner Crețu,“Making Cohesion Policy even simpler and more flexible is high on our agenda, also for the post 2020 period; we are doing it for entrepreneurs, businesses and citizens.” On the basis of the High Level Group on Simplification‘s proposals, to get reimbursed by the EU, beneficiaries will now be able to use estimates, such as flat rates for certain categories of costs; staff, insurance or rent, for instance. As regards simpler blending with EFSI, negotiators decided to bring further clarifications on the existing possibilities and to give incentives to national and local authorities managing EU-funded projects: from now on Cohesion Policy funds invested in EFSI projects won’t require national co-financing anymore. The revised regulation will also open the possibility for combined financial instruments where Cohesion Policy contribution covers the first loss.  Finally, the agreement also includes the possibility of introducing a new priority for investments entirely dedicated to the integration of migrants in Cohesion Policy programmes across Europe. “The migration challenge showed that flexibility in Cohesion Policy investments is more needed than ever; this new provision will help Member States deal with this challenge in the long-term,” added Commissioner Crețu. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

European Defence Fund: Commission welcomes Member States’ agreement

The Commission welcomes EU Ministers’ agreement (‘general approach’) on its proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), a key pillar of the European Defence Fund announced by President Juncker in September 2016 and launched in June 2017. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “We are making great strides in developing the European Security and Defence Union that our citizens expect. By developing defence capabilities together, Member States will spend taxpayer money more efficiently and produce cutting-edge, fully interoperable technologies and equipment.” Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “We have made rapid progress thanks to the very efficient Estonian Presidency and the engagement of the Member States. I now count on the European Parliament’s support, and invite Member States and industry to start putting forward project proposals eligible for funding. In parallel, we are already making progress on defence research, where we hope to sign the first grant agreements in the coming weeks.” As part of the European Defence Fund, the Commission presented a legislative proposal for a dedicated defence and industrial development programme. With this programme, the EU will create incentives for Member States to cooperate on joint development of defence equipment and technology through co-financing from the EU budget (€500m for 2019 and 2020). Some of the collaborative defence projects under Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), formally established yesterday, may be eligible and receive a higher rate of co-financing if they fulfil the criteria of the programme. The capability strand of the European Defence Fund is complemented by full and direct EU funding for defence research, with €90m from the EU budget (2017-2019) allocated for defence research grants. The first research grants in the areas of drones, strategic technology foresight and protection and equipment for soldiers will be signed in the coming weeks. President Juncker has been calling for a stronger Europe on security and defence since his election campaign, and made the case for creating a fully-fledged European Defence Union by 2025, most recently in his 2017 State of the Union address. More information on the European Defence Fund is available here. (For more information:Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyon – Tel. +32 229-80379)

Sommet «One Planet »: La Commission dévoile un plan d’action pour la planète

Deux ans après l’accord de Paris, l’UE joue clairement un rôle moteur dans la lutte contre le changement climatique. La Commission a pris part au sommet One Planet organisé par le président français Emmanuel Macron à Paris aujourd’hui. Lors de ce sommet, la Commission a présenté son plan d’action pour la planète, qui contient 10 initiatives de nature à rendre l’économie plus moderne et la société plus juste. Le président Juncker a déclaré: «Le moment est venu d’élever notre niveau d’ambition collective en matière d’action pour le climat et d’enclencher tous les leviers d’action, qu’ils soient réglementaires, financiers ou autres, ce qui nous permettra d’atteindre les objectifs ambitieux que nous nous sommes fixés. C’est un impératif dicté par nos conditions de vie actuelles et celles des générations futures. Le moment est venu d’agir ensemble pour la planète. Demain, il sera déjà trop tard. Nous aurions besoin d’au moins 4 planètes pour continuer à vivre, produire et consommer comme nous le faisons aujourd’hui. Or, nous n’en avons qu’une.» La délégation de la Commission a été conduite par le Vice-président chargé de l’Union de l’énergie, Maroš Šefčovič, qui sera accompagné par le Vice-président pour l’euro et le dialogue social, également chargé de la stabilité financière, des services financiers et de l’union des marchés des capitaux, ValdisDombrovskis et le Commissaire chargé à l’action pour le climat et de l’énergie, Miguel Arias Cañete. L’accord de Paris envoie un message clair aux marchés de capitaux et aux investisseurs, publics et privés: la transition mondiale vers l’énergie propre est inéluctable. La Commission voit également en l’accord de Paris l’occasion pour les entreprises de l’UE de conserver et d’exploiter leur avantage en tant que pionnières lorsqu’il s’agira de promouvoir les énergies renouvelables et l’efficacité énergétique ou de développer d’autres technologies à faible intensité de carbone concurrentielles sur le marché mondial. L’UE montre l’exemple et met en place les conditions favorables à l’accélération de l’investissement public et privé dans l’innovation et la modernisation dans tous les principaux secteurs de l’économie. Plus d’information est disponible dans l’IP/17/5163 et MEMO/17/5224. Une nouvelle page web de la Commission sur le One Planet Summit fournit plus d’informations. (Pour plus d’informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Commission challenges researchers and innovators to turn sunlight into sustainable fuel

The Commission launched today a competition on artificial photosynthesis. The €5 million award will go to the best prototype that produces sustainable fuel by combining sunlight, water and carbon from the air. The competition was opened during the high-level One Planet Summit in Paris. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Europe is the world leader in innovative clean energy solutions that help tackle climate change. This new prize and other EIC Horizon Prizes will move these efforts up a gear by challenging bright minds to think outside the box and come up with novel technologies that improve our daily lives and help protect the planet.” Artificial photosynthesis, considered one of the most promising breakthrough technologies for producing clean energy, mimics the process of natural photosynthesis. Once fully developed, this technology will provide sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels for a range of applications in industry, housing and transport. Overall, the EU will invest €2.2 billion during the next three years in developing sustainable clean energy technologies under Horizon 2020. These investments will focus on four interrelated areas: renewables, energy efficient buildings, electro-mobility and storage solutions, including €200 million to support the development and production in Europe of the next generation of electric batteries. The prize is the second of six European Innovation Council (EIC) Horizon Prizes and is run under Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme. More information is available in a news item, the prize page and the EIC website. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040; Maud Noyon – Tel. +32 229-80379)

Plan d’investissement pour l’Europe: premier financement vert dans le secteur du transport maritime, 150 millions d’euros à Brittany Ferries

La Banque Européenne d’Investissement (BEI), Société Générale et Brittany Ferries ont signé le premier accord de financement maritime vert dans le cadre du programme Green Shipping Guarantee. Cet accord a été rendu possible grâce au soutien de la garantie du Fonds européen pour les investissements stratégiques (FEIS), qui constitue le principal pilier du Plan Juncker. Le nouveau navire “Honfleur” sera le premier ferry alimenté au gaz naturel liquéfié (GNL) opéré par Brittany Ferries qui confirme ainsi son intention de développer le GNL. Celui-ci est actuellement la source de carburant la plus propre, ce qui contribue à une amélioration significative de la performance environnementale de la flotte et à la transition vers une mobilité à faible taux d’émissions. Pierre Moscovici, commissaire pour les affaires économiques et financières, la fiscalité et les douanes a déclaré à ce sujet: «Ce financement permettra à Brittany Ferries d’améliorer l’efficacité énergétique de ses navires et de réduire ainsi leur empreinte écologique. Ce projet bas carbone va dans le sens de l’histoire, alors que le One Planet Summit est sur le point de commencer. Et les projets à énergie propre seront sans cesse plus nombreux à être financés dans le cadre du Fonds Européen pour les Investissements Stratégiques 2.0.» (Pour plus d’information sur les projets et les résultats du Plan Juncker, voir le site web ou contacterJohannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tél.: +32 229 57361)

 

Des fonds européen supplémentaires pour les entreprises et l’innovation en Italie

665 millions d’euros du Fonds européen de développement régional (FEDER) vont être ajoutés au budget du programme italien de la politique de Cohésion “Entreprises et Compétitivité“. Plus précisément, 362 millions d’euros seront entièrement dédiés à la compétitivité des petites et moyennes entreprises dans tout le pays, un montant qui inclut 220 millions d’euros qui viendront abonder le programme italien de l’Initiative pour les PME. Ce programme vise à assurer un meilleur accès aux financements aux entreprises et startups en investissant les fonds de la politique de Cohésion à travers des instruments financiers. 287 million d’euros seront ensuite investis dans des projets innovants, dont 49 million pour les régions du Centre-Nord et les 238 millions restants pour les régions du Sud de l’Italie (Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia, Sardegna) afin de soutenir la stratégie nationale de spécialisation intelligente et favoriser la coopération entre les centres de recherche du Sud et du reste du pays. La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu a commenté: “Un coup de pouce à la recherche, à l’innovation et aux PME en Italie, et notamment dans le Sud, voilà la recette de la création d’emplois de qualité, d’une compétitivité durable et de davantage de cohésion dans tout le pays.” L’argent provient de l’enveloppe supplémentaire d’1,6 milliard d’euros de fonds européens que l’Italie va recevoir suite à l’ajustement technique, c’est-à-dire la réévaluation en 2016 de tous les budgets nationaux de la politique de Cohésion pour la période 2014-2020, afin de prendre en compte l’impact de la crise. (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

The European Union adopts new assistance programme to improve health services in Libya

The Commission adopted a new €10.9 million health programme which will support Libyan people to get better access to healthcare. The EU-funded action will directly benefit the population of Libya and improve their access to healthcare. Measures will include assistance to maternal and new-born health, trainings for future nurse and midwifery, and the establishment of a national prevention strategy at primary health care level countrywide. “The European Union stands by the Libyan population in these challenging times. This new assistance shows our commitment to alleviate the suffering of the Libyan population by improving healthcare, an essential public good“, commented Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. A full press release is available online. The factsheet EU – Libya Relations is also available. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

 

EU Trust Fund for Africa: new actions to support refugees and foster stability in the Horn of Africa

The European Commission will announce today a set of new actions under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to support refugees and host communities in the Horn of Africa region. At this occasion, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union stands by refugees and local populations in the Horn of Africa. With these new actions, we are stepping up our support – to protect vulnerable migrants, to create economic opportunities on the ground and to foster stability in the region.” The new actions will focus for example on providing energy access to refugees and local populations, delivering basic social services in refugee-hosting districts, as well as help to provide education in emergencies and create employment opportunities on the ground. The new measures build on previously approved programmes, worth a total of €665 million. They are aimed at providing regional sustainable solutions to irregular migration and forced displacement under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. A press release and a MEMO will be available around 18.00 today. (for more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of Skybox by CVC and Providence

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Skybox Security, Inc. (‘Skybox’) of the US by CVC Capital Partners SICAV-FIS S.A. (‘CVC’) of Luxembourg and Providence Equity Partners, L.L.C. (‘Providence’) of the US. Skybox is active in IT security and IT vulnerability management. CVC provides investment advice and manages investments. Providence is a private equity investor in the media and communications sectors globally. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there are only limited overlaps between the activities of the 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.8706. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition de contrôle commun de l’hôtel Le Méridien Nice par Foncière des Régions et Marriott International

La Commission Européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition de contrôle commun de Le Méridien Hôtel à Nice, par Foncière des Régions (“FDR”), société basée en France, et Starwood, une filiale de Marriott International, Inc., dont le siège est aux Etats Unis. Le Méridien Nice est un hôtel 4 étoiles situé à Nice (France). FDR est un groupe français d’investissement immobilier dont le portefeuille d’actifs commerciaux comprend principalement des bureaux ainsi que des biens résidentiels et des hôtels. Marriott est une société hôtelière diversifiée qui agit comme un gestionnaire et franchiseur d’hôtels et de propriétés à temps partagé. FDR acquerra indirectement le contrôle commun de Le Méridien Nice avec Starwood qui gère l’hôtel en vertu d’un contrat de gestion. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence,compte tenu de son impact limité sur la structure du marché.L’opération a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée de contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d’affaire M.8685. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

EUROSTAT: Faits et chiffres sur la mondialisation de l’économie – Caractéristiques du commerce et des investissements de l’UE

La mondialisation, qui peut être définie comme une intégration croissante de l’économie mondiale, inclut la circulation des biens, des services, des personnes, des capitaux et des technologies. Elle a des répercussions sur les entreprises, les gouvernements et les citoyens, dans la mesure où le commerce et l’investissement mondialisés modifient de façon notable les modes de consommation et de production, impulsent la transformation des marchés du travail et favorisent le transfert de technologies ainsi que la restructuration industrielle. Les statistiques peuvent aider à mieux comprendre l’ampleur de ces répercussions. C’est précisément l’objet de la toute nouvelle publication intitulée «Globalisation patterns in EU trade and investment», publiée aujourd’hui par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. Une communiqué de presse Eurostat est à votre disposition en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kina Malinowska – Tel.: +32 22951383)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commission appoints two Directors to its digital department

The Commission decided today to appoint Mr Pearse O’ Donohue to the position of Director for Future Networks and Ms Lucilla Sioli to the position of Director for Digital Industry, respectively, in its Communications Networks, Content and Technology department (DG CNECT). Mr O’ Donohue, an Irish national, joined the Commission in 1995. After having worked on labour law issues for some time, including as member of the private office of Commissioner Padraig Flynn, most of Mr O’ Donohue’s career focused on telecommunications, including as deputy head of the private office of Vice-President Neelie Kroes. He first became Head of Unit in 2008 being responsible for Radio Spectrum Policy and is currently Head of Unit for Cloud and Software in DG CNECT, in addition to being acting Director for Future Networks there. Ms Lucilla Sioli, an Italian national, joined the Commission first in 1997. Throughout her career Ms Sioli worked on issues relating to the digital economy, including broadband, as well as country monitoring, through the Digital Economy and Society Index and the European Semester. Since 2015, she led the development of digital skills policies, managing the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and heading the reflection on digitisation and labour markets. She first became Head of Unit in 2009 being responsible for Economic and Statistical Analysis in DG CNECT and is currently Head of Unit for Digital Economy and Skills there. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Commissioner Jourová in Japan to make progress on data flows

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, will visit Japan from 13 to 15 December. The main focus of her visit will be to make progress on the data protection discussions with the aim to reaching an adequacy decision as soon as possible in 2018.  To that end, she will meet the Personal Information Protection Commissioner, Masao Horibe and Members of the Japanese Parliament working on data protection. She will also discuss the entry into force of the General Data Protection Rules with the Japan Business Federation, Keidanren. Her visit will be an opportunity to build ties with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Vice Minister Ogushi on digital topics, such as Artificial Intelligence or robotics. As first Justice European Commissioner to visit Japan, Commissioner Jourová will meet the Ministry of Justice’s Senior Vice Minister Hanashi to discuss the existing judicial cooperation with Japan. She will exchange views with Minister for internal affairs and communication Noda and with Members of the Parliament on gender equality policy. Finally, she will also discuss data privacy with civil society organisations, including consumer groups. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

Commissioner Navracsics visits Ireland

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, will be in Dublin tomorrow, 13 December, for a series of high-level meetings and events. Tomorrow morning at Dublin Castle, he will open the Creative Ireland Forum, hosted by Irish Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, in the presence of the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar. The Forum is also the platform for launching the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in Ireland where the Heritage Council is the national coordinator. In the afternoon, the Commissioner will hold a Citizens’ Dialogue on youth and the future of Europe with Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, at the Royal Irish Academy before addressing the Joint Oireachtas (Parliamentary) Committee on EU Affairs on recent developments in education policy. He will then visit Dublin City University where he will among others learn about a project funded by the Erasmus+ programme that supports teachers in working with gifted students in regular classrooms. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tél .: +32 229 56184)

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

Daily News 12 / 12 / 2017

College meeting: Glyphosate: Commission responds to European Citizens’ Initiative and announces more transparency in scientific assessments

With the Communication adopted today, the Commission replies to the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides” and commits to presenting a legislative proposal in 2018, to further increase the transparency and quality of studies used in the scientific assessment of substances. Following a thorough scientific assessment of all available data on glyphosate concluding that there is no link between glyphosate and cancer in humans, and a positive vote by Member States’ representatives on 27 November 2017, the Commission today adopted a renewal of the approval of glyphosate for 5 years. In addition, in responding to the European Citizens’ Initiative, the European Commission announces measures to make the process to authorise, restrict or ban the use of pesticides more transparent in the future. Today’s Communication sets out the way forward: it provides a detailed explanation of EU rules on pesticides, and announces a legislative proposal for spring 2018 to enhance the transparency, quality and independence of scientific assessments of substances. It furthermore announces future amendments to the legislation to strengthen the governance of the conduct of relevant studies. The press release in all EU languages as well as MEMO are available online. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

College meeting: Security Union: Commission closes information gaps to better protect EU citizens

Today, the European Commission has proposed to close information gaps by upgrading EU information systems for security, border and migration management and making them work together in a smarter and more efficient way. The measures will enable information exchange and data sharing between the different systems and ensure that border guards and police officers have access to the right information exactly when and where they need it, whilst ensuring the highest data protection standards and full respect of fundamental rights. In the context of recent security and migratory challenges, the proposal will ensure greater safety of EU citizens by facilitating the management of the EU’s external borders and increasing internal security. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: At this moment our EU information systems for security and border management are working separately which slows down law enforcement. With our proposal they will become fully interoperable.” Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Today we are delivering the final and most important element of our work to close gaps and remove blind spots in our information systems for security, borders and migration.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said:“This is an ambitious new approach to managing and using existing information: more intelligent and targeted; connecting the dots to protect EU citizens while also protecting data by design and by default.” The press conference by Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos andCommissioner for the Security Union Julian King will take place in Strasbourg today at 16:00 and will be streamed live on EbS. A press release, Q&A and factsheets on closing the information gap and EU Information Systems are available online. The Commission is today also reporting on progress made on other security related priority files in its 12thSecurity Union report, taking stock of actions to deny terrorists the means to act, strengthen cyber resilience, counter radicalisation online and offline and build up the external security dimension. A video highlighting the actions taken by the Commission to better protect Europeans is also available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229  67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

 

College meeting: EU proposes a modernised partnership with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific countries

The European Commission has today presented a recommendation to the Council, including a proposal for negotiating directives. This is an important milestone towards opening negotiations with the countries of the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP). High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, stated: “The EU and the ACP countries represent together more than 100 countries, and more than half of the United Nations member states. Together, we have an important role in shaping the global agenda and international cooperation. As an essential part of our commitment to multilateralism, modernising our ACP-EU partnership will allow us to jointly tackle today’s global challenges of building peaceful and resilient states, ensuring respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and democratic principles.” Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, stated: “Renewing our partnership with the ACP countries is a unique opportunity to shape a true partnership of equals, moving beyond traditional donor-recipient perceptions. Only together can we achieve sustainable development. Only our joint commitment can lead us to tangible results in areas such as economic growth, jobs and investment or climate change and bring forward the sustainable development agenda.” The recommendation by the Commission sets out the basis and the main orientations for a modernised political partnership between equals, focusing on common interests and values, and going beyond development policy only. A press release and a MEMO are available online. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

#InvestEU: Commission and European Investment Bank Group welcome final adoption of extended and improved European Fund for Strategic Investments

Today Members of the European Parliament voted to adopt the Regulation to extend and enhance the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. This successful final step follows the agreement in principle reached by the European Parliament and Member States on 13 September. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The Investment Plan has brought real benefits to companies across Europe. And we want to do more. We listened to the feedback we received on how the European Fund for Strategic Investments works and we have made some improvements. We are making the EFSI’s investment decisions even more transparent and providing more technical support at a local level. We are also extending the EFSI’s lifetime to end-2020 and its investment target to €500 billion. The EFSI has already helped create 300,000 jobs – let’s keep up the momentum”. The extended EFSI will in particular provide even more financial support to smaller companies. Moreover, a provisional agreement was found this morning between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council on how to simplify the blending of EFSI with Cohesion Policy funds. (For more information on EFSI 2.0 see the press release, Q&A and factsheet. For all Investment Plan- and EFSI-related news and results, see the Investment Plan website or contact Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57361)

 

Cohesion Policy: negotiators agree on more flexibility, less red tape and simpler blending with the EFSI

Today, the negotiators of the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the mid-term review of the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy regulation. Key objectives of this review were cutting red tape for the beneficiaries of the funds and simplifying combination with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Juncker Plan, to help finance riskier yet promising projects. “I welcome this agreement,” said Commissioner Crețu,“Making Cohesion Policy even simpler and more flexible is high on our agenda, also for the post 2020 period; we are doing it for entrepreneurs, businesses and citizens.” On the basis of the High Level Group on Simplification‘s proposals, to get reimbursed by the EU, beneficiaries will now be able to use estimates, such as flat rates for certain categories of costs; staff, insurance or rent, for instance. As regards simpler blending with EFSI, negotiators decided to bring further clarifications on the existing possibilities and to give incentives to national and local authorities managing EU-funded projects: from now on Cohesion Policy funds invested in EFSI projects won’t require national co-financing anymore. The revised regulation will also open the possibility for combined financial instruments where Cohesion Policy contribution covers the first loss.  Finally, the agreement also includes the possibility of introducing a new priority for investments entirely dedicated to the integration of migrants in Cohesion Policy programmes across Europe. “The migration challenge showed that flexibility in Cohesion Policy investments is more needed than ever; this new provision will help Member States deal with this challenge in the long-term,” added Commissioner Crețu. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

European Defence Fund: Commission welcomes Member States’ agreement

The Commission welcomes EU Ministers’ agreement (‘general approach’) on its proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), a key pillar of the European Defence Fund announced by President Juncker in September 2016 and launched in June 2017. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “We are making great strides in developing the European Security and Defence Union that our citizens expect. By developing defence capabilities together, Member States will spend taxpayer money more efficiently and produce cutting-edge, fully interoperable technologies and equipment.” Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “We have made rapid progress thanks to the very efficient Estonian Presidency and the engagement of the Member States. I now count on the European Parliament’s support, and invite Member States and industry to start putting forward project proposals eligible for funding. In parallel, we are already making progress on defence research, where we hope to sign the first grant agreements in the coming weeks.” As part of the European Defence Fund, the Commission presented a legislative proposal for a dedicated defence and industrial development programme. With this programme, the EU will create incentives for Member States to cooperate on joint development of defence equipment and technology through co-financing from the EU budget (€500m for 2019 and 2020). Some of the collaborative defence projects under Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), formally established yesterday, may be eligible and receive a higher rate of co-financing if they fulfil the criteria of the programme. The capability strand of the European Defence Fund is complemented by full and direct EU funding for defence research, with €90m from the EU budget (2017-2019) allocated for defence research grants. The first research grants in the areas of drones, strategic technology foresight and protection and equipment for soldiers will be signed in the coming weeks. President Juncker has been calling for a stronger Europe on security and defence since his election campaign, and made the case for creating a fully-fledged European Defence Union by 2025, most recently in his 2017 State of the Union address. More information on the European Defence Fund is available here. (For more information:Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyon – Tel. +32 229-80379)

Sommet «One Planet »: La Commission dévoile un plan d’action pour la planète

Deux ans après l’accord de Paris, l’UE joue clairement un rôle moteur dans la lutte contre le changement climatique. La Commission a pris part au sommet One Planet organisé par le président français Emmanuel Macron à Paris aujourd’hui. Lors de ce sommet, la Commission a présenté son plan d’action pour la planète, qui contient 10 initiatives de nature à rendre l’économie plus moderne et la société plus juste. Le président Juncker a déclaré: «Le moment est venu d’élever notre niveau d’ambition collective en matière d’action pour le climat et d’enclencher tous les leviers d’action, qu’ils soient réglementaires, financiers ou autres, ce qui nous permettra d’atteindre les objectifs ambitieux que nous nous sommes fixés. C’est un impératif dicté par nos conditions de vie actuelles et celles des générations futures. Le moment est venu d’agir ensemble pour la planète. Demain, il sera déjà trop tard. Nous aurions besoin d’au moins 4 planètes pour continuer à vivre, produire et consommer comme nous le faisons aujourd’hui. Or, nous n’en avons qu’une.» La délégation de la Commission a été conduite par le Vice-président chargé de l’Union de l’énergie, Maroš Šefčovič, qui sera accompagné par le Vice-président pour l’euro et le dialogue social, également chargé de la stabilité financière, des services financiers et de l’union des marchés des capitaux, ValdisDombrovskis et le Commissaire chargé à l’action pour le climat et de l’énergie, Miguel Arias Cañete. L’accord de Paris envoie un message clair aux marchés de capitaux et aux investisseurs, publics et privés: la transition mondiale vers l’énergie propre est inéluctable. La Commission voit également en l’accord de Paris l’occasion pour les entreprises de l’UE de conserver et d’exploiter leur avantage en tant que pionnières lorsqu’il s’agira de promouvoir les énergies renouvelables et l’efficacité énergétique ou de développer d’autres technologies à faible intensité de carbone concurrentielles sur le marché mondial. L’UE montre l’exemple et met en place les conditions favorables à l’accélération de l’investissement public et privé dans l’innovation et la modernisation dans tous les principaux secteurs de l’économie. Plus d’information est disponible dans l’IP/17/5163 et MEMO/17/5224. Une nouvelle page web de la Commission sur le One Planet Summit fournit plus d’informations. (Pour plus d’informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Commission challenges researchers and innovators to turn sunlight into sustainable fuel

The Commission launched today a competition on artificial photosynthesis. The €5 million award will go to the best prototype that produces sustainable fuel by combining sunlight, water and carbon from the air. The competition was opened during the high-level One Planet Summit in Paris. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Europe is the world leader in innovative clean energy solutions that help tackle climate change. This new prize and other EIC Horizon Prizes will move these efforts up a gear by challenging bright minds to think outside the box and come up with novel technologies that improve our daily lives and help protect the planet.” Artificial photosynthesis, considered one of the most promising breakthrough technologies for producing clean energy, mimics the process of natural photosynthesis. Once fully developed, this technology will provide sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels for a range of applications in industry, housing and transport. Overall, the EU will invest €2.2 billion during the next three years in developing sustainable clean energy technologies under Horizon 2020. These investments will focus on four interrelated areas: renewables, energy efficient buildings, electro-mobility and storage solutions, including €200 million to support the development and production in Europe of the next generation of electric batteries. The prize is the second of six European Innovation Council (EIC) Horizon Prizes and is run under Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme. More information is available in a news item, the prize page and the EIC website. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040; Maud Noyon – Tel. +32 229-80379)

Plan d’investissement pour l’Europe: premier financement vert dans le secteur du transport maritime, 150 millions d’euros à Brittany Ferries

La Banque Européenne d’Investissement (BEI), Société Générale et Brittany Ferries ont signé le premier accord de financement maritime vert dans le cadre du programme Green Shipping Guarantee. Cet accord a été rendu possible grâce au soutien de la garantie du Fonds européen pour les investissements stratégiques (FEIS), qui constitue le principal pilier du Plan Juncker. Le nouveau navire “Honfleur” sera le premier ferry alimenté au gaz naturel liquéfié (GNL) opéré par Brittany Ferries qui confirme ainsi son intention de développer le GNL. Celui-ci est actuellement la source de carburant la plus propre, ce qui contribue à une amélioration significative de la performance environnementale de la flotte et à la transition vers une mobilité à faible taux d’émissions. Pierre Moscovici, commissaire pour les affaires économiques et financières, la fiscalité et les douanes a déclaré à ce sujet: «Ce financement permettra à Brittany Ferries d’améliorer l’efficacité énergétique de ses navires et de réduire ainsi leur empreinte écologique. Ce projet bas carbone va dans le sens de l’histoire, alors que le One Planet Summit est sur le point de commencer. Et les projets à énergie propre seront sans cesse plus nombreux à être financés dans le cadre du Fonds Européen pour les Investissements Stratégiques 2.0.» (Pour plus d’information sur les projets et les résultats du Plan Juncker, voir le site web ou contacterJohannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tél.: +32 229 57361)

 

Des fonds européen supplémentaires pour les entreprises et l’innovation en Italie

665 millions d’euros du Fonds européen de développement régional (FEDER) vont être ajoutés au budget du programme italien de la politique de Cohésion “Entreprises et Compétitivité“. Plus précisément, 362 millions d’euros seront entièrement dédiés à la compétitivité des petites et moyennes entreprises dans tout le pays, un montant qui inclut 220 millions d’euros qui viendront abonder le programme italien de l’Initiative pour les PME. Ce programme vise à assurer un meilleur accès aux financements aux entreprises et startups en investissant les fonds de la politique de Cohésion à travers des instruments financiers. 287 million d’euros seront ensuite investis dans des projets innovants, dont 49 million pour les régions du Centre-Nord et les 238 millions restants pour les régions du Sud de l’Italie (Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia, Sardegna) afin de soutenir la stratégie nationale de spécialisation intelligente et favoriser la coopération entre les centres de recherche du Sud et du reste du pays. La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu a commenté: “Un coup de pouce à la recherche, à l’innovation et aux PME en Italie, et notamment dans le Sud, voilà la recette de la création d’emplois de qualité, d’une compétitivité durable et de davantage de cohésion dans tout le pays.” L’argent provient de l’enveloppe supplémentaire d’1,6 milliard d’euros de fonds européens que l’Italie va recevoir suite à l’ajustement technique, c’est-à-dire la réévaluation en 2016 de tous les budgets nationaux de la politique de Cohésion pour la période 2014-2020, afin de prendre en compte l’impact de la crise. (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

The European Union adopts new assistance programme to improve health services in Libya

The Commission adopted a new €10.9 million health programme which will support Libyan people to get better access to healthcare. The EU-funded action will directly benefit the population of Libya and improve their access to healthcare. Measures will include assistance to maternal and new-born health, trainings for future nurse and midwifery, and the establishment of a national prevention strategy at primary health care level countrywide. “The European Union stands by the Libyan population in these challenging times. This new assistance shows our commitment to alleviate the suffering of the Libyan population by improving healthcare, an essential public good“, commented Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. A full press release is available online. The factsheet EU – Libya Relations is also available. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

 

EU Trust Fund for Africa: new actions to support refugees and foster stability in the Horn of Africa

The European Commission will announce today a set of new actions under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to support refugees and host communities in the Horn of Africa region. At this occasion, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union stands by refugees and local populations in the Horn of Africa. With these new actions, we are stepping up our support – to protect vulnerable migrants, to create economic opportunities on the ground and to foster stability in the region.” The new actions will focus for example on providing energy access to refugees and local populations, delivering basic social services in refugee-hosting districts, as well as help to provide education in emergencies and create employment opportunities on the ground. The new measures build on previously approved programmes, worth a total of €665 million. They are aimed at providing regional sustainable solutions to irregular migration and forced displacement under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. A press release and a MEMO will be available around 18.00 today. (for more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of Skybox by CVC and Providence

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Skybox Security, Inc. (‘Skybox’) of the US by CVC Capital Partners SICAV-FIS S.A. (‘CVC’) of Luxembourg and Providence Equity Partners, L.L.C. (‘Providence’) of the US. Skybox is active in IT security and IT vulnerability management. CVC provides investment advice and manages investments. Providence is a private equity investor in the media and communications sectors globally. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there are only limited overlaps between the activities of the 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.8706. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition de contrôle commun de l’hôtel Le Méridien Nice par Foncière des Régions et Marriott International

La Commission Européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition de contrôle commun de Le Méridien Hôtel à Nice, par Foncière des Régions (“FDR”), société basée en France, et Starwood, une filiale de Marriott International, Inc., dont le siège est aux Etats Unis. Le Méridien Nice est un hôtel 4 étoiles situé à Nice (France). FDR est un groupe français d’investissement immobilier dont le portefeuille d’actifs commerciaux comprend principalement des bureaux ainsi que des biens résidentiels et des hôtels. Marriott est une société hôtelière diversifiée qui agit comme un gestionnaire et franchiseur d’hôtels et de propriétés à temps partagé. FDR acquerra indirectement le contrôle commun de Le Méridien Nice avec Starwood qui gère l’hôtel en vertu d’un contrat de gestion. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence,compte tenu de son impact limité sur la structure du marché.L’opération a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée de contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d’affaire M.8685. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

EUROSTAT: Faits et chiffres sur la mondialisation de l’économie – Caractéristiques du commerce et des investissements de l’UE

La mondialisation, qui peut être définie comme une intégration croissante de l’économie mondiale, inclut la circulation des biens, des services, des personnes, des capitaux et des technologies. Elle a des répercussions sur les entreprises, les gouvernements et les citoyens, dans la mesure où le commerce et l’investissement mondialisés modifient de façon notable les modes de consommation et de production, impulsent la transformation des marchés du travail et favorisent le transfert de technologies ainsi que la restructuration industrielle. Les statistiques peuvent aider à mieux comprendre l’ampleur de ces répercussions. C’est précisément l’objet de la toute nouvelle publication intitulée «Globalisation patterns in EU trade and investment», publiée aujourd’hui par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. Une communiqué de presse Eurostat est à votre disposition en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kina Malinowska – Tel.: +32 22951383)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commission appoints two Directors to its digital department

The Commission decided today to appoint Mr Pearse O’ Donohue to the position of Director for Future Networks and Ms Lucilla Sioli to the position of Director for Digital Industry, respectively, in its Communications Networks, Content and Technology department (DG CNECT). Mr O’ Donohue, an Irish national, joined the Commission in 1995. After having worked on labour law issues for some time, including as member of the private office of Commissioner Padraig Flynn, most of Mr O’ Donohue’s career focused on telecommunications, including as deputy head of the private office of Vice-President Neelie Kroes. He first became Head of Unit in 2008 being responsible for Radio Spectrum Policy and is currently Head of Unit for Cloud and Software in DG CNECT, in addition to being acting Director for Future Networks there. Ms Lucilla Sioli, an Italian national, joined the Commission first in 1997. Throughout her career Ms Sioli worked on issues relating to the digital economy, including broadband, as well as country monitoring, through the Digital Economy and Society Index and the European Semester. Since 2015, she led the development of digital skills policies, managing the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and heading the reflection on digitisation and labour markets. She first became Head of Unit in 2009 being responsible for Economic and Statistical Analysis in DG CNECT and is currently Head of Unit for Digital Economy and Skills there. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Commissioner Jourová in Japan to make progress on data flows

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, will visit Japan from 13 to 15 December. The main focus of her visit will be to make progress on the data protection discussions with the aim to reaching an adequacy decision as soon as possible in 2018.  To that end, she will meet the Personal Information Protection Commissioner, Masao Horibe and Members of the Japanese Parliament working on data protection. She will also discuss the entry into force of the General Data Protection Rules with the Japan Business Federation, Keidanren. Her visit will be an opportunity to build ties with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Vice Minister Ogushi on digital topics, such as Artificial Intelligence or robotics. As first Justice European Commissioner to visit Japan, Commissioner Jourová will meet the Ministry of Justice’s Senior Vice Minister Hanashi to discuss the existing judicial cooperation with Japan. She will exchange views with Minister for internal affairs and communication Noda and with Members of the Parliament on gender equality policy. Finally, she will also discuss data privacy with civil society organisations, including consumer groups. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

Commissioner Navracsics visits Ireland

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, will be in Dublin tomorrow, 13 December, for a series of high-level meetings and events. Tomorrow morning at Dublin Castle, he will open the Creative Ireland Forum, hosted by Irish Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, in the presence of the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar. The Forum is also the platform for launching the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in Ireland where the Heritage Council is the national coordinator. In the afternoon, the Commissioner will hold a Citizens’ Dialogue on youth and the future of Europe with Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, at the Royal Irish Academy before addressing the Joint Oireachtas (Parliamentary) Committee on EU Affairs on recent developments in education policy. He will then visit Dublin City University where he will among others learn about a project funded by the Erasmus+ programme that supports teachers in working with gifted students in regular classrooms. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tél .: +32 229 56184)

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

Speech by Michel Barnier at the Centre for European Reform on 'The Future of the EU'

Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Centre for European Reform, and its Director, Charles Grant, for inviting me today.

If I may say so, it is good to see that this UK-based centre is stepping up its presence in Brussels. Good timing!

It feels a bit unusual to speak about Brexit here.

Because this is a conference on the future of the EU.

And Brexit is about disentangling the UK from the EU, and settling the past.

But Brexit could prove to be a turning point in the European project.

For future historians, the year 2016 – with the UK referendum, the change of power in Washington, geopolitical tensions, terrorist attacks, and the rise of populist parties – will perhaps be seen as a time of awakening.

2016 could become the moment when the EU realised that it had to stand up for itself. And that nobody would do for us what we don’t do for ourselves.

In 2012, the UK Prime Minister published a table to show his strong support of the Single Market and incidentally his support for the Commissioner in charge of the Single Market.

It shows that, in 2050, there will be no European countries left in the G8. But by remaining together, the 27 will stay, in the long term, in the top 5.

We need to continue speaking with one voice in the world. Even though we speak many different languages, as the novelist Fernando Pessoa said. Otherwise we will not sit at the table where decisions are made.

And we also need to act together to build a stronger Europe.

  • The Eurozone needs a more complete Banking Union and a fiscal capacity with a finance minister. The EU needs a more integrated Capital Markets Union. Such increased risk sharing needs common rules and common enforcement.
  • The EU needs a stronger capacity to prevent and tackle internal and external threats – with stronger cooperation in fighting terrorism, but also with respect for fundamental rights.
  • The EU needs a truly common foreign policy and European defence.
  • The EU needs to lead on global challenges, from climate change to openness in trade based on its social market economy. And it needs to continue leading in global financial regulation, to make finance work for the real economy.
  • And we need more solidarity in our Union – with a humane and efficient migration policy, and a strong pillar of social rights, as agreed last Friday in Gothenburg.

This stronger European Union will want to have a close relationship with the UK.

We have a shared history – it started long before the last 44 years.

That is why the “no deal” is not our scenario. Even though we will be ready for it.

I regret that this no deal option comes up so often in the UK public debate.

Only those who ignore, or want to ignore, the current benefits of European Union membership can say that no deal would be a positive result.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There are three keys to building a strong partnership with the UK.

First, we need to agree on the terms for the UK’s orderly withdrawal.

The 27 Member States and the European Parliament have been always very clear on what this means.

And we have been consistent:

  • on citizens’ rights;
  • on settling the accounts accurately; we owe this to taxpayers as well as to all those benefiting from EU-funded projects, in the UK and the EU;
  • on Ireland.

Let me say a few words on Ireland specifically.

We need to preserve stability and dialogue on the island of Ireland.

We need to avoid a hard border.

I know that this point is politically sensitive in the UK.

It is not less sensitive in Ireland.

Some in the UK say that specific rules for Northern Ireland would “endanger the integrity of the UK single market”.

But Northern Ireland already has specific rules in many areas that are different to the rest of the UK.

Think of the “all-Island” electricity market, or of the specific regulations for plant health for the whole island of Ireland.

Think of rules that prevent and handle animal disease, which I know well as a former Minister for Agriculture.

There are over one hundred areas of cross-border cooperation on the island of Ireland.

Such cooperation depends in many cases on the application of common rules and common regulatory space.

We have nearly finished our common reading of the Good Friday Agreement. We have agreed on the principles for the Common Travel Area.

The UK and the EU have recognised that Ireland poses specific challenges. And that the unique circumstances there require a specific solution.

On the EU side, we must preserve the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union at 27. The rules for this are clear.

The UK said it would continue to apply some EU rules on its territory. But not all rules.

What is therefore unclear is what rules will apply in Northern Ireland after Brexit. And what the UK is willing to commit to, in order to avoid a hard border.

I expect the UK, as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to come forward with proposals.

The island of Ireland is now faced with many challenges.

Those who wanted Brexit must offer solutions.

***

The second key is the integrity of the Single Market.

Public debate on what leaving the EU means needs to be intensified. Everywhere. Not only in the UK.

There are two contradicting sound bites from ardent advocates of Brexit:

  • The UK will finally “set itself free” from EU regulations and bureaucracy, some claim.
  • Others claim that – after Brexit – it will still be possible to participate in parts of the Single Market. Simply because we have been together for more than four decades, with the same rules, and we can continue to trust each other.

None of these views seems to offer a sound basis for going forward.

The same people who argue for setting the UK free also argue that the UK should remain in some EU agencies. But freedom implies responsibility for building new UK administrative capacity.

On our side, the 27 will continue to deepen the work of those agencies, together. They will share the costs for running those agencies. Our businesses will benefit from their expertise. All of their work is firmly based on the EU Treaties which the UK decided to leave.

Those who claim that the UK should “cherry-pick” parts of the Single Market must stop this contradiction.

The Single Market is a package, with four indivisible freedoms, common rules, institutions and enforcement structures. The UK knows these rules like the back of its hand. It has contributed to defining them over the last 44 years. With a certain degree of influence…

We took note of the UK decision to end free movement of people.

This means that the UK will lose the benefits of the Single Market. This is a legal reality.

The EU does not want to punish, once again.

It simply draws the logical consequence of the UK’s decision to take back control.

On financial services, UK voices suggest that Brexit does not mean Brexit –Brexit means Brexit, everywhere.

They say there would be no changes in market access for UK-established firms.

They say joint UK-EU Rules would be decided in a new “symmetrical process” between the EU and the UK, and outside of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

This would contradict the April European Council guidelines, which stress the autonomy of EU decision-making, the integrity of our legal order and of the Single Market.

The legal consequence of Brexit is that UK financial service providers lose their EU passport. This passport allows them to offer their services to a market of 500 million consumers and 22 million businesses.

But the EU will have the possibility to judge some UK rules as equivalent, based on a proportional and risk-based approach. And in those areas where EU legislation foresees equivalence.

The global financial crisis was not so long ago.

It destroyed value and millions of jobs.

It was the cause of social suffering, including in the UK.

Let’s not have a short memory! We will not compromise on financial stability – we will never compromise on financial stability – in the EU and in the Eurozone.

Globally, we will continue our regulatory cooperation in the G20, in the Financial Stability Board, and perhaps even through bilateral regulatory dialogues, like we have with the United States.

We will remain committed to convergence of global rules. And avoid fragmentation of financial markets.

Once again, the integrity of the Single Market is not negotiable.

The Single Market is one of our main public goods. It is the main reason why countries around the world – such as China, Japan, and the US – look to us as a strong partner.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

The UK will, of course, have access to the Single Market. But this is different from being part of the Single Market.

And a good deal on our future relationship should facilitate this access as much as possible. And avoid a situation where trade would happen under the WTO rules for goods and services.

To achieve this, there is a third key: we need to ensure a level playing field between us.

This will not be easy. For the first time ever in trade talks, the challenge will be to limit divergence of rules rather than maximise convergence.

There will be no ambitious partnership without common ground in fair competition, state aid, tax dumping, food safety, social and environmental standards.

It is not only about rules or laws. It is about societal choices – for health, food standards, our environment and financial stability.

The UK has chosen to leave the EU. Does it want to stay close to the European model or does it want to gradually move away from it?

The UK’s reply to this question will be important and even decisive because it will shape the discussion on our future partnership and shape also the conditions for ratification of that partnership in many national parliaments and obviously in the European Parliament. I do not say this to create problems but to avoid problems.

Ladies and gentlemen,

If we manage to negotiate an orderly withdrawal, fully respect the integrity of the Single Market, and establish a level playing field, there is every reason for our future partnership to be ambitious.

This is our preferred option. This is why we have started internal preparations with Member States. To be ready to talk about the future, as soon as we will have agreed on how to settle the past.

The EU will of course be ready to offer its most ambitious FTA approach.

And the future partnership should not be limited to trade. It should be based on our common values. We need to work together to protect the security of our citizens, to combat crime and terrorism, in Europe and globally and logically we will need to cooperate on foreign and defence challenges.

But in none of these fields, the EU will wait for the UK. We must continue to advance.

We are negotiating new free trade agreements in addition to the ones we already have with 60 countries.

We will continue to develop our internal market and to make it fit for digitalisation; we will step up our investment in research and innovation; we will continue to use the strength of this internal market to shape globalisation.

We will continue to show solidarity to refugees, while better protecting our external borders and tackling root causes of migration, notably by continuing our development policy, in particular with Africa, where the EU and the UK will keep a mutual interest.

And we are developing our defence cooperation, with unprecedented steps taken to set up a European Defence Fund and, last week, to finally launch the Permanent Structured Cooperation on which I worked closely with Chris Patten at the time – a very different time.

Against the backdrop of global turmoil in an interconnected world, Europe is today more necessary than ever. The future of Europe is more important than Brexit.

But in all these fields, the EU is willing to cooperate with the UK. And it will be in the UK’s interest to have a strong EU as a close partner.

I hope that these ideas and orientations will help the discussion that John Bruton, Monique Ebell, Peter Mandelson and also Paul Adamson with now have on squaring the Brexit circle, in which I find myself.

Thank you for your attention.