Tag Archives: PolicyFisheries

Press Releases: U.S. Engagement in the 2015 ASEAN Regional Forum

On August 6 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Secretary of State John Kerry led the United States’ delegation to the 22nd Meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), an annual gathering of foreign ministers and senior officials representing 26 countries from Pakistan to the Pacific Rim and the European Union. The ARF is a regional foreign minister-level forum for promoting security, and this year it addressed pressing political and security issues including: marine environmental protection and conservation; the South China Sea; concerns over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s proscribed nuclear and ballistic missile programs and human rights situation; the humanitarian crisis emanating from the irregular maritime movement of people in Southeast and South Asia and the Mediterranean; and regional cooperation on issues ranging from cyber-security to non-proliferation to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR). The ARF ministers adopted the U.S. co-sponsored Statement on Strengthened Cooperation on Marine Environmental Protection and Conservation and Secretary Kerry announced a new USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership with an initial commitment of $4.3 million that will address the threat of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Southeast Asia.

Ministers also endorsed ARF activities that occurred during the past year and approved over 30 proposals for the coming year. These activities cover several key security areas, including: preventive diplomacy; maritime security; disaster response; counterterrorism and transnational crime; and nonproliferation and disarmament. The United States is actively engaged in these areas and is committed to working through the ARF to shape a rules-based order that is stable, peaceful, open and free.

Preventive Diplomacy
A top priority for U.S. engagement in the ARF is advancing the forum from a body focused on confidence building to one capable of preventive diplomacy. Preventive diplomacy refers to timely, non-coercive and peaceful methods consistent with international law to deal with disputes and conflict.

In July, the United States, Thailand, and New Zealand co-chaired the ARF Track 1.5 Symposium on Preventive Diplomacy in Bangkok, and last October the United States, China, Brunei, and New Zealand hosted the ARF Training Course on Preventive Diplomacy in Beijing. These events are aimed at promoting and shaping the advancement of Preventive Diplomacy within the ARF after 20 years of focusing on confidence-building measures (CBMs).

Building on momentum from these events, the United States with support from the United States Institute of Peace plans to partner with Vietnam and Brunei to hold a preventive diplomacy training course in Vietnam early next year. This event will capitalize on regional think tank and academic expertise to help develop an effective, comprehensive approach to regional preventive diplomacy.

The United States submitted input to the ARF Annual Security Outlook, which provides a comprehensive outline of U.S. security policies and capabilities in the region, to encourage full transparency in military resources and strategy among ARF members.

Maritime Security
With over 40 percent of the world’s seaborne trade flowing through the Asia-Pacific, maintaining open sea lines of communication and ensuring freedom of movement and other lawful uses of the sea are critical for regional security and stability. As a Pacific nation, the United States continues to prioritize maritime security cooperation through the promotion of freedom of navigation, international law, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and unimpeded lawful commerce.

Together with Singapore, Vietnam, and China, the United States sponsored the ARF Statement on Strengthened Cooperation on Marine Environmental Protection and Conservation that was endorsed by the foreign ministers at the meeting. This statement acknowledges the vital importance of marine ecosystems and resources to food security, human health, and economic well-being in the Asia-Pacific and calls on ARF participants to cooperate on efforts to reduce pollution, conserve coastal and marine areas, manage fisheries and combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

IUU fishing practices threaten biodiversity, food security, and livelihoods in the region. Secretary Kerry announced a new USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership, with an initial commitment of $4.3 million, to address this threat and help to implement regional initiatives and projects. This program implemented in partnership with the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, includes measures designed to promote national policies that support sustainable and legal fishing, increase transparency of fishery supply chains, and facilitate international research cooperation.
The United States, Japan, and the Philippines hosted the Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM) on Maritime Security in Honolulu in April, which is the first year of a three-year co-chairmanship. The agenda focused on building confidence and sharing best practices on multiple issues, including the marine environment, maritime safety, piracy, and combatting IUU fishing. Participants also exchanged views on pressing maritime security issues in the region, including concerns over recent developments in the South China Sea, where tensions have risen over disputed territorial and maritime claims. The United States continues to encourage greater multilateral cooperation through increased transparency and confidence building as it continues its co-chairmanship of the Maritime Security ISM for another two years.

In March, Japan, Malaysia, India, and the United States co-chaired a seminar in Tokyo on counter-piracy. This event highlighted the challenges in addressing piracy and armed robbery, particularly for coastal countries in Asia.

Disaster Relief
Seventy percent of all natural disasters occur in the Asia-Pacific, costing the region $68 billion annually over the past ten years. Through continued, dedicated efforts, ARF participants have made considerable progress in the area of disaster relief, using lessons learned to improve the capabilities of ASEAN’s Coordination Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) and its goal to achieve “One ASEAN, One Response” by 2020.

The United States participated in the 2015 ARF Disaster Relief Exercises (DiREx), a biennial exercise which was held this year in Kedah, Malaysia. Co-chairs Malaysia and China addressed sensitive but critical issues that can hamper effective disaster response, including customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) protocols, coordination mechanisms, and the need to consider the East Asia Summit (EAS) Rapid Disaster Response (RDR) guidelines. Since its inception in 2009, the United States has supported this event, including its role as the first co-chair. In order to strengthen regional cooperation and improve regional disaster response, the United States expects to continue to participate and support DiREx in the future with USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, U.S. Pacific Command, and other U.S. agencies.
Climate change is a complex strategic factor with significant economic, societal, and political implications. Initiatives to adapt to a changing climate are already underway in the Asia-Pacific, including in the ARF, where the United States, Thailand, and Brunei intend to co-chair a climate change adaptation workshop to build regional awareness and capacity to address this challenge.
The United States co-chaired a workshop with Australia and Malaysia to develop a common framework for the region’s numerous HA/DR exercises among its various fora—namely the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), ARF, the ASEAN Defense Minister’s Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) and the East Asia Summit (EAS). This workshop marked the first time members have met to address regional HA/DR needs, capacities, and roles as well as synchronizing training activities and exercises in order to better coordinate life-saving relief efforts during future disasters.

Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime
The ARF addresses five core areas in its work on counterterrorism and transnational crime: illicit drugs; cyber security; counter-radicalization; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) issues; and trafficking in persons (TIP). The ARF is making efforts to improve collaboration among regional governments to address these issues:

The United States is working with Singapore to conduct the next in a series of cyber workshops focused on developing CBMs for the region. As national security interests are increasingly tied to cyberspace, the development of confidence building measures that facilitate increased transparency, greater cooperation, and improved capacity within the region is essential to reducing the risk of future conflict.

The ARF Cross-Sectoral Security Cooperation on Bio-Preparedness and Disaster Response project, led by the United States and the Philippines, is a series of workshops and activities designed to implement the best practices approved by the 20th ARF. Participants in the events can use these activities as a basis for developing their respective national guidelines and enhancing regional capacity for preparedness and collective response to a biological event. An outcome of the first workshop conducted in August 2014 was a template for national bio-preparedness that ARF participants can use for these purposes. The next event is a tabletop exercise in Manila this month aimed at validating the draft template for national bio-preparedness.

In March, the United States and Malaysia co-chaired a workshop on mitigating demand for illegal wildlife trafficking in the Asia-Pacific. This joint U.S.-Malaysian effort attracted a high level of interest, with participants including the Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment. This event complemented wildlife trafficking-related activities in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and other fora, as well as the work of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).

Also in March, the United States and Myanmar co-chaired in Nay Pyi Taw the ARF Workshop on Security, Stability, and International Migration in the ASEAN Region. This workshop reviewed ARF priorities in promoting the benefits of legal, safe, and orderly migration and in addressing the security challenges associated with irregular migration. Furthermore, the workshop emphasized the role of regional cooperation in promoting the rights of migrant workers and ways to strengthen regular migration processes at the national and transnational levels, including during times of crises.

In September, the United States and the Philippines are hosting the ARF Workshop on First Response Support for Victims of Terrorism and other Mass Casualty Events in Manila. This workshop will bring together policymakers and practitioners to promote good practices regarding the treatment of victims of terrorist attacks and other mass casualty events.

Nonproliferation and Disarmament
The ARF is the premier regional venue for multilateral cooperation on nonproliferation and disarmament issues through tangible capacity building programs and open discussions to coordinate efforts and build common understanding.

Working with other ARF members, the United States led an effort to institutionalize the discussion on nonproliferation and disarmament issues in the ARF and to develop a work plan of activities that promotes balance across the three central pillars of the global nonproliferation regime: preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technology, and advancing global disarmament efforts.

The agenda of the 7th ARF ISM on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (NPD) considered international mechanisms as well as tools, resources, and capacity-building for WMD threat reduction together with preventing and countering WMD proliferation which included export control regimes, UNSCR 1540, the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Nuclear Security Summit, and assistance programs from other countries.
Space Security

Capitalizing on the first ARF Space Security Workshop, the United States, China, Russia, and Laos plan to co-chair a follow-on workshop to explore the benefits of outer space for ASEAN Member States, address current issues facing the space environment, and assess approaches to space security to ensure the benefits for future generations.

Momentum gathers for international agreement to combat rogue fishing

Photo: ©FAO Abdelhak Senna

Fishing boats prepare for the day’s work near Tangiers, Morocco.

30 July 2015, Rome – Growing numbers of countries are ratifying an international agreement to combat illegal fishing, fueling interest in how best to implement the instrument.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is estimated to strip between $10 billion and $23 billion from the global economy, and its impacts undermines the way fish stocks are managed to make it a double concern around the world.

To help tackle the problem, FAO brokered the adoption in 2009 by its Member countries of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

The agreement comes into force when 25 countries have deposited their instrument of ratification, known as acceptance of accession; so far, 12 countries have done so, the latest being Iceland in June. Two more states will soon join them.
“Port state measures” generally refer to actions taken to detect illegal fishing when ships come to port.

The Agreement promotes collaboration between fishermen, port authorities, coast guards and navies to strengthen inspections and control procedures at ports and on vessels. Importantly, it also allows states to prevent the landings of catches derived from IUU fishing by vessels regardless of the flag they fly.

“The Agreement aims to harmonize port controls in order to prevent illegally caught fish from ever entering international markets through ports,” said Blaise Kuemlangan, Chief of FAO’s Development Law Service. “The ability to turn away vessels taking part in IUU fishing will greatly reduce opportunities for selling their catch, decreasing IUU fishing worldwide,” he added.

The Agreement will enable better compliance with the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which seeks to promote the long-term sustainability of the sector.

Illicit fishing, which includes operating without authorization, harvesting protected species, using outlawed fishing gear and violating quota limits, may account for up to 26 million tonnes of seafood a year, more than 15 percent of the total global output. Besides economic damage, it poses risks to local biodiversity and food security in many countries.

Workshop for coastal African countries

To assist countries in building their capacity to implement the Agreement, FAO has convened a series of workshops in all world regions.

The sixth in the series, funded by the Government of Norway and covering West Africa, ran this month in Praia, Cabo Verde. Fifty participants from 16 African coastal countries took part, along with experts from the European Union, the International Maritime Organization, the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the COMHAFAT Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation Among African States Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, the Pew Charitable Trust and the WWF.

“Fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a key priority along the Atlantic coast of Africa, where IUU fishing contributes to overfishing, creating negative effects for the economies of these countries,” said Remi Nono Womdim, FAO Representative in Cabo Verde.

Gabon is the only local country to have ratified the Agreement, but several others are close to completing the process.

“Many countries in the region have the will to address IUU fishing, but require the most cost-effective tools and an understanding about how these can be implemented at the legal, policy and institutional level,” said Womdim.

Ratification of the treaty requires countries to designate ports that foreign vessels can use and to block entry to ships known or believed to have been involved in IUU, as well as share information with other governments of vessels discovered to be carrying an IUU catch.

In addition to Gabon, signatories that have completed the ratification process are Chile, the European Union, Iceland, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Uruguay.

Malaysia, Cuba taken off US human trafficki…

NNA – The United States Monday took Malaysia and Cuba off its blacklist of countries failing to combat modern-day slavery, leaving Washington open to criticism that politics is swaying the often-contentious rankings in its annual human trafficking report.

Thailand, downgraded with Malaysia last year because of pervasive labor abuses in its lucrative fishing industry, remained on the blacklist. That will add to the growing strains in its once-strong relations with Washington. Critics contend that Malaysia’s upgrade is related to its participation in a U.S.-backed trade agreement among Pacific Rim countries. Thailand is not part of the proposed agreement.

Secretary of State John Kerry formally launched the annual U.S. assessment of how 188 governments around the world have performed in fighting the flesh trade and other forms of exploitative labor.

Cuba has for several years been stuck on the lowest ranking, “tier 3,” amid allegations, denied by Havana, of coerced labor with Cuban government work missions abroad. Its upgrade comes a week after the U.S. and Cuba formally restored diplomatic relations after a half-century of estrangement. The U.S. also removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in late May.

Undersecretary of State Sarah Sewall cited Cuba’s progress in addressing sex trafficking but voiced concern the island nation’s government has failed to recognize the problem of forced labor. She denied political considerations had come into play in the rankings.

The Trafficking in Persons Report is one of several annual assessments issued by the department on human rights-related topics, but it’s unusual in that it ranks nations, which can ruffle diplomatic feathers. It is based on the actions governments take, rather than on the scale of the problem in their countries. Globally, more than 20 million people are believed to be affected in industries such as mining, construction, the sex trade, and domestic service.

President Barack Obama now has 90 days to determine whether to apply sanctions against tier 3 governments. The president can block various types of aid and could withdraw U.S. support for loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But the U.S. often chooses not to, based on its national security interests, as it did last year for both Thailand and Malaysia, which Washington views as important partners in its strategic outreach to Asia.

Among the 23 nations still stuck at tier 3 are Iran, Libya, North Korea, Russia, Syria and Zimbabwe.

Uzbekistan was promoted after two years on the blacklist. The department cited a government prohibition on forced labor of children in the 2014 cotton harvest, although it said government-compelled use of adults in the harvest remained “endemic.”

Other nations upgraded from tier 3 were the Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua New Guinea and Saudi Arabia. Those downgraded to tier 3 were Belarus, Belize, Burundi, Comoros, the Marshall Islands and South Sudan.

Malaysia’s upgrade is likely to raise the most hackles in Congress and among human rights activists. Earlier this month, 19 U.S. senators wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry urging that Malaysia stay on the blacklist. One hundred and sixty House members also registered concern, arguing that an upgrade would not be merited and would appear driven by “external considerations.”

Malaysia is one of 12 nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the key economic plank of Obama’s Asia policy. The nations’ trade ministers are meeting in Hawaii this week, hoping to close on the agreement after years of negotiations. Malaysia’s ranking is contentious as an anti-trafficking amendment to legislation crucial for the deal’s eventual ratification by Congress limits the president’s ability to secure free trade agreements with countries assigned to tier 3.

“By upgrading Malaysia, the U.S. is selling out victims of human trafficking,” said Melysa Sperber, director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking. “It also undermines the integrity of the report and jeopardizes the credibility that has been built up over many years.”

Sewall cited the strengthening of Malaysia’s anti-trafficking law and the increase in the number of trafficking investigations and prosecutions in the period covered by the report – which ended March 31. But she said the number of convictions remained low – decreasing from 2013.

Like Thailand, Malaysia has faced intense international criticism over trafficking of stateless Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladesh aboard overcrowded boats. Dozens of graves as well as pens likely used as cages for migrants have been found in abandoned jungle camps on both sides of the Thai-Malaysian border.

Sewall said the discovery of the mass graves in Malaysia happened almost two months beyond the current reporting period. She said Malaysia still has “much room for improvement.”

The Thai Embassy in Washington “strongly disagreed” with its retention on tier 3. It said in a statement the evaluation “does not accurately reflect the reality and fails to take into account significant efforts undertaken by the Thai Government on all fronts during the past year.”

On Friday, Thai state prosecutors recommended charges against more than 100 people, including a Thai army general, implicated in trafficking of migrants.

Thailand also remains under the spotlight over slavery in Southeast Asia’s fishing industry. A year-long Associated Press investigation has led to more than 800 people being rescued or repatriated in recent months. In April, the EU gave Thailand six months to drastically combat illegal and unregulated fishing or face a seafood import ban.–AP

================A.A.M

Daily News 10 / 07 / 2015

Tenth round of TTIP negotiations

From 13 to 17 July, the tenth round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the EU and the US will take place in Brussels. On Monday 13 July, at the opening of the week-long round of negotiations, there will be a possibility for accredited photo and audio-visual media to cover the handshake between EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero and US chief negotiator Dan Mullaney, which will take place in the VIP Corner of the Berlaymont at 10:30. Video footage and photo material will be made available on the audio-visual website of the European Commission. The Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission will also organise a stakeholder event at the Management Centre Europe (MCE) on Wednesday 15 July, to ensure that a plurality of interests is taken into account during the negotiations and beyond. Accredited journalists have the possibility to attend the event with prior registration. The EU and US chief negotiators will hold the closing press conference on Friday 17 July at 15.30 in the European Commission’s press room, which can be followed live via EbS. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185, Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

Energy: Central Eastern and South Eastern European countries join forces to create an integrated gas market

EU and Energy Community countries in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe have agreed to work together to develop a competitive gas market in the region. The European Commission and the Central East South Europe Gas Connectivity (CESEC) High Level Group established a regional priority infrastructure roadmap in order to develop missing infrastructure so that Member State of the region have access to at least three different sources of gas. A number of gas projects have been identified as top priority in a signed Memorandum of Understanding. The European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: “This region is very important for Europe, in particular when we look at security of energy supply. The improvement of infrastructure through realistic and feasible projects is crucial to diversify energy resources and strengthen the region’s resilience to supply shocks.” EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete underlined that “regional cooperation is a cornerstone of our work on closer integration of energy markets. Whilst every country has to face its specific energy issues, addressing them together can offer cheaper and more effective solutions.” A well-connected EU energy market where energy flows freely across borders and no Member State remains isolated from the EU energy networks is a pre-condition for creating a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy. The press release is available here. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

EU pledges €450 million to Ebola affected countries

Today the European Commission will pledge approximately €450 million to support the recovery of the three countries most affected by Ebola – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. This will be announced by Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management and EU Ebola Coordinator, Christos Stylianides, at the International Ebola Recovery Conference taking place in New York and organised by the United Nations. Announcing the funding, Commissioner Stylianides said: “The emergency is not over until we are down to zero Ebola cases. With some new cases in Liberia we remain on high alert and our determination to eradicate Ebola is stronger than ever. Now is not the time to pull back. A press release and a factsheet are available online. (For more information: Alexandre Polack Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

EU and Mauritania sign a sustainable fisheries partnership agreement

Today, the European Union and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania have concluded an agreement that will allow EU fishermen to fish in Mauritanian waters for four years. Under this protocol, the EU fleet will be allowed to fish in Mauritanian waters for shrimp, demersal fish, tuna and small pelagic fish, up to a total of 281 500 tonnes a year, under improved operational conditions. In addition to catches paid for by the European fleet, the EU will dedicate € 59.125 million per year to the partnership, of which € 4.125 will be used to support local fishing communities in Mauritania. EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella welcomed the agreement: “Signing the EU’s largest fisheries partnership agreement with Mauritania brings two major benefits: To our fishermen, it means certainty and good fishing opportunities at value for money for the next four years. For the region as a whole, it contributes to stability and the sustainable management of fisheries resources.” More information available on the DG MARE website. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

Commission publishes Quarterly Report on the Euro Area (QREA)

Today the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs publishes its Quarterly Report on the Euro Area, featuring an in-depth analysis of topical economic trends. The Vol 14 N2 of the QREA will be available at 14:00. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

Building the REFIT Platform: Commission launches call for better regulation experts

Today the Commission has published a call for expressions of interest for membership of the stakeholder group of the new REFIT Platform. Announced as part of the Commission’s Better Regulation agenda, the Platform will bring together high-level experts from Member States and business people (including from SMEs), representatives of social partners, NGOs and the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. It will collect suggestions from any interested party and will bring forward concrete ideas for reducing regulatory and administrative burdens in a way that is fully consistent with the policy objectives of EU regulation. The Commission will react to all suggestions, explaining how it intends to follow up. More information is available on the REFIT website. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

 

European Structural and Investment Funds: Commission establishes a High Level Group on simplification

This morning the Commission adopted the decision setting up the High Level Group of Independent Experts on Monitoring Simplification for Beneficiaries of the European Structural and Investment Funds, which creation was announced by Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu on 9 June.  The group’s purpose is to assess the uptake by the Member States of simplification opportunities to access and use the Funds, in order to reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries. The call for applications for membership is open from today until 10 August. The group shall consist of a maximum of twelve members appointed in a personal capacity and will be chaired by Former Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas. It will hold its first meeting on 20 October in Brussels. Commissioner Crețu said: “I am pleased to see this High Level Group see the light of day. It should deliver its first recommendations as early as the end of this year, as its work should be relevant for the implementation of the current programming period and in the perspective of the post-2020 framework.” More information on how the Commissioner helps Member States manage Cohesion Policy funds and on Regional Policy is available online. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Latest Short-Term Outlook for EU agricultural markets

A report on the short-term market outlook for EU arable, dairy and meat markets has been published by the European Commission today. This regular exercise concludes that EU dairy deliveries are expected to finish the calendar year just 1% higher than in 2014, despite the end of dairy quotas at the start of April. With the continuation of the Russian import ban, more milk is likely to be channelled into skimmed milk powder and butter, rather than cheese. With regard to cereals, after last year’s record crop (329 million tonnes of cereals – about 14% above average), exports are estimated close to 60% above average. Moreover, this year’s cereal harvest is forecast to be higher than average levels (+6%) for the third year in a row. In the meat sector, pigmeat production is expected to increase further in 2015, driven by low feed prices and a slightly higher breeding sows herd. Poultrymeat production continues its steady development. Beefmeat production is also likely to rise in 2015, boosted by cow herd developments and export opportunities. Relatively good prices and favourable forage conditions support an increasing herd and production in the sheep sector. This additional meat on the market translates in an average 1.4% (1kg) increase in consumption per capita this year, after the strong recovery already observed in 2014. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Schmolz Bickenbach steel distribution business by Jacquet Metal Service

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of six subsidiaries of Schmolz+Bickenbach AG of Germany by Jacquet Metal Service SA of France. All entities are active in distribution of steel products, namely stainless, carbon and speciality steels via stockholding centres throughout the EU. The Commission’s investigation found that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as the market share increments are modest, the switching costs for customers are low, and customers will continue to have an adequate number of alternative suppliers in all relevant markets. The transaction was examined under the ordinary merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7576. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of WFS Global Holding by Platinum Equity Group

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of WFS Global Holding (”WFS”) of France by Platinum Equity Group (“Platinum”) of the United States. WFS provides airport cargo as well as ramp and passenger handling services in various airports within the European Economic Area (EEA). Platinum is a private equity firm focused on acquiring and operating companies in a broad range of businesses, such as information technology, telecommunications, logistics, metal services, manufacturing and distribution. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, in particular because the companies are not active in the same markets. 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.7658. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Ursa by KKR

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Ursa Insulation Holding BV of Spain by investment company KKR & Co. LP. of the United States. Ursa provides insulation materials, such as glass mineral wool and extruded polystyrene. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because none of the KKR portfolio companies is active in insulation materials, or is an actual or potential customer or supplier for Ursa. 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.7660. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of KS by Harng in retail sector

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of KS Premium Holding (‘KS’) of Germany by Harng Central Department Store Ltd. (‘Harng’) of Thailand. Harng is active in manifold sectors such as merchandising, retailing, real estate, restaurants and accommodation mostly in South-East Asia. KS holds three premium department stores in Germany, including Kaufhaus des Westens (‘KaDeWe’) in Berlin. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as there are no overlaps between the companies’ activities in the European Economic Area (EEA). The operation was examined under the simplified merger procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7668. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Maxeda by Ardian and Goldentree Asset Management

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Maxeda DIY Group (‘Maxeda’) of the Netherlands by Ardian France S.A. (‘Ardian’) of France and Goldentree Asset Management LP (‘GTAM’) of the US. Ardian and GTAM are private equity investment firms. Maxeda is active in the sale of various construction and home improvement products through do-it-yourself retail stores. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as there are no overlaps between the companies’ activities in the European Economic Area (EEA). The operation was examined under the simplified merger procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7683. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

 

EUROSTAT: EU population up to 508.2 million at 1 January 2015

On 1 January 2015, the population of the European Union was estimated at 508.2 million, compared with 506.9 million on 1 January 2014. During the year 2014, 5.1 million babies were born in the EU, while 4.9 million persons died, meaning that the EU recorded a positive natural change of its population of 0.2 million, double that of 2013. The remainder of the change is driven mainly by net migration. Germany (81.2 million residents), France (66.4 million), the United Kingdom (64.8 million) and Italy (60.8 million) are the most populated EU Member States. Together, they are home to more than half of the EU population. These figures come from an article published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Some other interesting facts and an infographic about EU population are also published on the Eurostat website. A press release is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin.: +32 229 58659)

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Commissioner Hogan on official visit to Sofia, Bulgaria

Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, is today (10 July 2015) on official visit in Sofia, Bulgaria. He will meet with the Bulgarian President, Mr Rossen Plevneliev, with the Prime Minister, Mr Boyko Borissov, and with the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Ms Desislava Taneva. Together with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture, he will open a factory for meat processing financed by the Bulgarian Rural Development Programme. Commissioner Hogan will also deliver a speech to the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Food and will participate in a European debate with Ms Meglena Kuneva, Deputy Prime Minister for European Policies Coordination and Institutional affairs, as well as with Ms Desislava Taneva. They will discuss the key role of Agriculture and Rural Development for jobs creation and investment. In addition to these political meetings, he will also launch the Initiative for Social Empowerment (ISE)’s pilot project empowering disadvantaged communities (predominately women and Roma) from rural areas to start their own micro-enterprises in local herbal products. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56 185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

Calendar

Commissioner’s weekly activities

CALENDRIER du 29 juin au 5 juillet 2015

(Susceptible de modifications en cours de semaine)

Déplacements et visites

Lundi 29 juin

EU-China Summit, in Brussels. President Jean-Claude Juncker and Ms Cecilia Malmström participate. After the Summit, Ms Cecilia Malmström attends the signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding on intellectual property rights, at the European Council.

EU-China Business Summit, in Brussels. President Jean-Claude Juncker, Mr Jyrki Katainen and Ms Cecilia Malmström participate. Mr Jyrki Katainen speaks during the session “New Opportunities for EU-China Investment Cooperation”.

President Jean-Claude Juncker gives a speech at the 2015 EU-China Urbanisation Partnership Forum, in Brussels.

Mr Frans Timmermans delivers the opening speech at the conference ‘Better Regulation: The Way Forward’, organised by the European Small Business Alliance, in Brussels.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva in Italy (29-30/06). On 29/06: meets with Ms Emma Bonnino, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Honorary President, Women for Expo, in Milan, delivers a keynote speech at the Women’s Forum within Expo Milano 2015, in Milan, takes part in the conference “Beyond Austerity. Europe and the “New Way”, in Turin.

Mr Andrus Ansip receives Ms Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook.

Mr Andrus Ansip receives Members of the European Producers Club.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis is on a European Semester country visit to Sweden.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives Mr Xu Shaoshi, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China, for an exchange of views on investment.

Mr Günther Oettinger meets with the Committee on Media of the German Bundestag, in Berlin.

Mr Johannes Hahn participates in the Informal Eastern Partnership Dialogue, in Minsk.

Ms Cecilia Malmström speaks at a conference on EU-China Intellectual Property Cooperation in the Charlemagne building, Brussels.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Mr Gao Hucheng, Chinese Minister of Commerce.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Ms Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.

Mr Neven Mimica receives Mr Alexander Rondos, EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete participates in the United Nations High-Level Event on Climate Change, New York.

Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis in Riga: attends the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) Stakeholder Forum 2015 Riga Health Conference.

Ms Marianne Thyssen receives Ms Cathy Berx, Governor of Antwerp.

Mr Phil Hogan at Milan EXPO: attends board meeting of Agri-Food Chain Coalition.

Mr Jonathan Hill in London (29-30/06). On 29/06: meets with Mr Ross McEwan, CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group; meets with Mr Xavier Rolet, CEO of the London Stock Exchange Group; meets with Mr Neeraj Sahai, President, Standard & Poors; meets with Mr Michel Madelain, President and COO, Moody’s Investors Service.

Ms Violeta Bulc opens the Sustainable Transport Forum, in Brussels.

Ms Vĕra Jourová in Ljubljana: meets with Mr Miro Cerar, Prime Minister; meets with Mr Goran Klemenčič, Minister for Justice; meets with Ms Anja Kopač Mrak, Minister for Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities; meets with Chairpersons of Parliamentary Committees; meets with Mr Zvonko Fiser, State Prosecutor General; meets with Ms Sonja Šmuc, Exectuive Director of the Managers Association; meets with Mr Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister for Economic Development and Technology.

Mr Tibor Navracsics attends the official presentation of the Commander’s Cross of the order of Merit to Mr Jürgen Haase, at the Polish Permanent representation, in Brussels.

Ms Margrethe Vestager in Copenhagen: gives akeynote speech and participates in the debate at Mandag Morgen about competition policy; meets with Mr Søren Pape Poulsen, leader of the Danish Conservative People’s Party; meets with Mr Peder Holk, CEO Novozymes.

Mr Carlos Moedas receives Mr Wan Gang, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology.

Mr Carlos Moedas takes part in the 2nd China High Level Innovation Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), in Brussels.

 

Mardi 30 juin

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives a delegation of mayors from Bulgaria.

President Jean-Claude Juncker gives the keynote speech at the 40 years of the International Press Association event (IPA), in Brussels.

Mr Frans Timmermans receives Mr Armin van Buuren, representative of BUMA/Stemra, the Dutch music authors’ association.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva in Italy (29-30/06). On 30/06: visits and meets with Commission staff at European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, in Ispra.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives representatives ofthe European Australian Business Council to discuss the Investment Plan for Europe.

Mr Günther Oettinger receives representatives of National Initiatives Industry in Digital Era.

Mr Johannes Hahn receives Mr Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Mr Johannes Hahn opens the UNRWA exhibition ‘I Am Not a Statistic’ in the European Parliament, in Brussels.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives representatives of the European Australian Business Council.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives the Rt Hon Lord Francis Maude of Horsham, Minister of State for Trade and Investment of the United Kingdom.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete gives a closing speech at the ENSREG Conferenceon nuclear safety regulators, Brussels.

Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos is in Budapest: meets with members of the Hungarian government.

Ms Marianne Thyssen delivers a keynote speech at the conference “Towards barrier -free Europe. European Disability Card”, in Brussels.

Ms Marianne Thyssen receives Dr. Guy Liagre, General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches.

M. Pierre Moscovici à Madrid: participe à un séminaire au Ministère de l’Économie et de la Compétitivité sur le thème “Spain: from stabilisation to growth, the role of the financial sector programme in the recovery of the spanish economy” puis rencontre la Commission de l’économie et de la compétitivité et la Commission mixte pour l’Union européenne du Congrès des Députés.

09:00 Mr Christos Stylianides visits the European Defence Agency, in Brussels.

Mr Phil Hogan in Rome: visits the Italian Parliament.

Mr Jonathan Hill in London (29-30/06). On 30/06: gives a keynote speech at the TheCityUK Annual Conference 2015.

Ms Violeta Bulc is in Toulouse: visits Airbus facilities and meets with Mr Tom Enders, Airbus Group CEO.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska in Italy, at EXPO MILANO, where she delivers a keynote speech to the High-Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain.

Mr Tibor Navracsics takes part in the Sport Intergroup session in the European Parliament, Brussels.

Mr Tibor Navracsics receives representatives of the European Sport Federation.

Ms Corina Creţu receives Ms Silvana Koch-Mehrin, former Vice-President of the European Parliament and founder of the Women In Parliaments Global Forum.

Mr Carlos Moedas attends a meeting with the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel at the European Parliament, in Brussels.

Mr Carlos Moedas receives Mrs Catia Bastiolli, CEO of Novamont.

Mr Carlos Moedas receives Mr Bruno Bobone and Mr Pedro Madura Rodriguez, President and Secretary General of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce.

 

Mercredi 1 juillet

College meeting

President Jean-Claude Juncker attends the presentation of Julien Priestley’s book “The Making of a European President” together with President Schulz at the European Parliament.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva receives a delegation of mayors from Bulgaria.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva receives Mr Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Mr Maroš Šefčovič participates and gives a speech at the World Summit on Climate and Territories, in Lyon, France.

Mr Günther Oettinger delivers a speech at the UNConvention of European Young Innovators, in Brussels.

Mr Johannes Hahn opens the exhibition ‘Women of Srebrenica’ in Berlaymont building, in Brussels.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete receives Mr Marcin Korolec, special envoy for climate and former Minister of Environment of Poland.

Mr Karmenu Vella receives Mr Proceso Alcala, Philippine Secretary of Agriculture.

Mr Karmenu Vella receives Mr Kenneth Bengtsson, President of EuroCommerce.

Ms Marianne Thyssen attends the prize-giving ceremony of the 2nd European Award for Social Entrepreneurship and disability: Promoting Social Investment, in Brussels.

Mr Pierre Moscovici receives Mr Yu Guangzhou, Chinese Minister for Customs.

Mr Pierre Moscovici receives Mr Luc Frieden, Vice-Chairman of Deutsche Bank.

Mr Christos Stylianides visits Ukraine (01-02/07).

Mr Jonathan Hill participates in a roundtable discussion with the Enterprise Forum at the European Parliament, in Brussels.

Ms Violeta Bulc attends the Digital Transport and Logistic Forum, in Brussels.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives Mr Artur Mas, President of the Generalitat of Catalonia.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska in Italy, Rome, where she delivers a keynote speech at the conference “Development, Growth and Innovation in strategic high-tech sectors”.

 

Jeudi 2 juillet

President Jean-Claude Juncker and Mr Pierre Moscovici address the TAXE-ECON Committee of the European Parliament.

President Jean-Claude Juncker attends the opening ceremony of the Luxemburgish Presidency, in Brussels.

Mr Frans Timmermans is in Vienna: meets with Mr Werner Faymann, Chancellor, Mr Reinhold Mitterlehner, Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Economy and Ms Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Minister of the Interior; meets with the leaders of the Austrian Parliamentary Groups; meets with Austrian social partners to discuss better regulation; meets with young leaders in business, media, culture and social innovation; participates in a Citizens’ Dialogue with Vice-Chancellor Mitterlehner.

Mr Andrus Ansip delivers a speech at the Forum “Observatory on Europe”- ImprovingEuropean Integration and Competitiveness for Growth”, in Brussels.

Mr Maroš Šefčovič takes the Energy Union Tour to Portugal, Lisbon: meets with Mr Pedro Passos Coelho, Prime Minister of Portugal; meets with Mr Jorge Moreira da Silva, Minister of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy; exchanges views with the Parliamentary Committees on EU Affairs, Environment and Economy; meets with stakeholders and discusses in the framework of the Energy Union Dialogue with energy operators, consumer protection organisation, industrial representatives and citizens.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis is on the European Semester country visit to Luxembourg.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives the Board of Directors of EuroCommerce to discuss the Investment Plan for Europe.

Mr Jyrki Katainen speaks at the conference “Making the EU services market an engine for growth”, in Brussels.

Mr Johannes Hahn in Austria: delivers the opening speech at the Michael Fischer Gedenksymposion “Die Kunst des Dialogs”, in Salzburg; participates in the WB6 Energy Ministerial Meeting, in Vienna.

Ms Cecilia Malmström in Sweden: attends the “political festival” Almedalen, in Visby; participates in three seminars on TTIP and one on current affairs in the EU.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete receives Mr Markus Beyrer, Director General of BusinessEurope.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete receives Mr Jyri Häkämies, CEO of the Finnish Industries.

Mr Karmenu Vella attends a High-Level meeting of European Network of Maritime Clusters (ENMC).

Mr Karmenu Vella receives Mr Sotiris A. Bouzeas, CEO Greek Challenge.

Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis delivers a speech at the European Patients’ Forum (EPF) conference on cross-border healthcare directive.

Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis receives representatives of the Thalidomide Campaign Team.

Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis receives representatives of EUROCARE.

Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis receives representatives of Sanofi Pasteur MSD.

Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos receives Mr Angel Guria, Secretariat General of the OECD.

Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos meets with Mr Colin Crowell, Vice President of Public Policy of Twitter.

M. Pierre Moscovici participe à un déjeuner-débat avec l’association “Françaises d’Europe”, à Bruxelles.

Ms Violeta Bulc attends an event in Brussels Airport on the topic of civil aviation.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska delivers a keynote speech at the conference “Making the EU services market an engine for growth“, in Brussels.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska receives representatives of the European Ceramic Industry Association.

Ms Vĕra Jourová receives Mr Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor.

Ms Margrethe Vestager receives Ms Sharon White, CEO of Ofcom.

Mr Carlos Moedas receives Mr Sang Woo Kim, President of Samsung Electronics Europe.

 

Vendredi 3 juillet

Meeting of the College of Commissioners with the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in Luxembourg.

Mr Jyrki Katainen participates in the high-level signature event of an agreement with La Banque Internationale à Luxembourg to finance SMEs through the EFSI and InnovFin, in Luxembourg.

 

Samedi 4 juillet

 

Dimanche 5 juillet

Prévisions du mois de juillet:

06-09/07 European Parliament plenary session, in Strasbourg

13/07 Agriculture and Fisheries Council, in Brussels

13/07 Eurogroup, in Brussels

14/07 Economic and Financial Affairs Council, in Brussels

20/07 Foreign Affairs Council, in Brussels

24/07 Economic and Financial Affairs Council, in Brussels

 

Prévisions du mois d’août:

 

Prévisions du mois de septembre:

07-10/09 European Parliament plenary session, in Strasbourg

11/09 Eurogroup, in Brussels

14/09 General Affairs Council, in Brussels

16/09 European Parliament plenary session, in Brussels

18/09 Environment Council, in Brussels

 

Prévisions du mois d’octobre:

01-02/10 Competitiveness Council, in Luxembourg

05/10 Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, in Luxembourg

05/10 Eurogroup, in Brussels

05-08/10 European Parliament plenary session, in Strasbourg

06/10 Economic and Financial Affairs Council, in Luxembourg

08/10 Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, in Luxembourg

08-09/10 Justice and Home Affairs Council, in Luxembourg

12/10 Foreign Affairs Council, in Luxembourg

13/10 General Affairs Council, in Luxembourg

14/10 European Parliament plenary session, in Brussels

15-16/10 European Council, in Brussels

22-23/10 Agriculture and Fisheries Council, in Luxembourg

26/10 Environment Council, in Luxembourg

26/10 Foreign Affairs Council, in Luxembourg

26-29/10 European Parliament plenary session, in Strasbourg

 

Prévisions du mois de novembre:

09/11 Eurogroup, in Brussels

10/11 Economic and Financial Affairs Council, in Brussels

11/11 European Parliament plenary session, in Brussels

13/11 Economic and Financial Affairs Council, in Brussels

16-17/11 Foreign Affairs Council, in Brussels

17/11 General Affairs Council, in Brussels

23/11 Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council, in Brussels

23-26/11 European Parliament plenary session, in Strasbourg

26/11 Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, in Brussels

27/11 Foreign Affairs Council, in Brussels

30/11-01/12 Competitiveness Council, in Brussels

 

Prévisions du mois de décembre:

30/11-01/12 Competitiveness Council, in Brussels

02/12 European Parliament plenary session, in Brussels

03-04/12 Justice and Home Affairs Council, in Brussels

07/12 Eurogroup, in Brussels

08/12 Economic and Financial Affairs Council, in Brussels

08/12 Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, in Brussels

10-11/12 Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, in Brussels

14-15/12 Agriculture and Fisheries Council, in Brussels

14-17/12 European Parliament plenary session, in Strasbourg

15/12 General Affairs Council, in Brussels

15/12 Foreign Affairs Council, in Brussels

16/12 Environment Council, in Brussels

17-18/12 European Council, in Brussels

 

Permanence DG COMM le WE du 27 au 28 juin:

Vanessa Mock, +32 (0)460 764 687   

Permanence RAPID – GSM: +32 (0) 498 982 748

Service Audiovisuel, planning studio – tél. : +32 (0)2/295 21 23