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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)

Daily News 29 / 11 / 2017

Intellectual property: Protecting Europe’s know-howand innovation leadership 

The Commission today presents measures to ensure that intellectual property rights (IPR) are well protected, thereby encouraging European companies, in particular SMEs and start-ups, to invest in innovation and creativity. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Europe’s economic growth and competitiveness largely depends on our many entrepreneurs investing in new ideas and knowledge. This package improves the application and enforcement of intellectual property rights and encourages investment in technology and product development in Europe.” Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “Today we boost our collective ability to catch the ‘big fish’ behind fake goods and pirated content which harm our companies, our jobs, our health and safety. We are also placing Europe as a global leader with a patent licensing system conducive to the roll-out of the Internet of Things from smartphones to connected cars.” Today’s initiatives will make it easier to act efficiently against breaches of IPR, facilitate cross-border litigation, and tackle the fact that 5% of goods imported into the EU (worth €85 billion) are counterfeited or pirated. When it comes to Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), the Commission encourages fair and balanced licensing negotiations which ensure that companies are rewarded for their innovation while allowing also others to build on this technology to generate new innovative products and services. Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Bieńkowska will hold a press conference following the College meeting which will be broadcasted live here. A press release, a MEMO and three factsheets (on Intellectual Property Rights, and Why IPRs matter, and on SEPs) are available. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 229 80379; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040)

L’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation- Présentation des orientations de la Commission pour une politique agricole commune flexible, juste et durable

Le collège des commissaires a adopté aujourd’hui les orientations de la Commission pour simplifier et moderniser la politique agricole commune (PAC) dont les principaux objectifs demeurent le soutien aux agriculteurs et le développement d’une agriculture durable et verte. L’initiative phare présentée dans la Communication, intitulée “l’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation”, consiste à renforcer les compétences des États membres en matière de choix et de modalités d’affectation des ressources de la PAC afin d’atteindre des objectifs communs ambitieux dans les domaines de l’environnement, de la lutte contre le changement climatique et de la durabilité. Jyrki Katainen, vice-président chargé de l’emploi, de la croissance, de l’investissement et de la compétitivité, a déclaré: «La politique agricole commune nous accompagne depuis1962. Nous devons veiller, d’une part, à ce qu’elle continue de fournir aux consommateurs des denréesalimentaires saines et de qualité tout en créant des emplois et de la croissance dans les zones rurales,et, d’autre part, à ce qu’elle évolue parallèlement aux autres politiques.“. Phil Hogan, commissaire pour l’agriculture et le développement rural, a dit: «La Communication publiée aujourd’hui apporte l’assurance que la politique agricole commune permettra la réalisation d’objectifs nouveaux et émergents, tels que la promotion d’un secteur agricole intelligent et résilient, le renforcement de la protection de l’environnement et de l’action en faveur du climat et la consolidation du tissu socio-économique dans les zones rurales.” La structure actuelle à deux piliers sera maintenue, mais l’approche plus simple et plus flexible qui est prévue comprendra les mesures  précises visant à permettre la réalisation des objectifs convenus au niveau de l’UE. Chaque pays de l’UE élaborera ensuite son propre plan stratégique – qui sera approuvé par la Commission – dans lequel il indiquera comment il envisage d’atteindre les objectifs. Les propositions législatives mettant en œuvre les objectifs définis dans la Communication seront présentées par la Commission avant l’été 2018, après la proposition du cadre financier pluriannuel. La Communication sur “l’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation” est en ligne. Un communiqué de presse ainsi qu’un mémo seront disponibles en ligne dans toutes les langues au début de la conférence de presse du Vice-Président Katainen et du Commissaire Hogan (aux alentours de 12h45) sera retransmise en direct sur EbS. (Pour plus d’informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

Brexit: European Commission proposes legislative amendments for the relocation of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority from London

The European Commission has today made two legislative proposals to amend the founding Regulations of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA). This follows last week’s agreement in the margins of the General Affairs Council (Article 50 format) to move the EMA and the EBA from London to Amsterdam and Paris, respectively. The Commission is acting swiftly in order to provide legal certainty and clarity, ensuring that both Agencies can continue to function smoothly and without disruption beyond March 2019. Under the ordinary legislative procedure, the co-legislators (the European Parliament and the Council) are expected to give priority to the handling of these legislative proposals. (full press release available here) (For more information: Margaritis Schinas: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229-91382, Daniel Ferrie – Tel.: +32 229 86500)

 

Commission proposes to extend Single Resolution Board Chair’s term of office

The European Commission has today proposed to extend the mandate of Ms Elke König, Chair of the Single Resolution Board (SRB), for five years as of 24 December 2017. Ms König, a German national, was appointed Chair of the SRB at the end of 2014 for an initial period of three years. Ms König, a former President of the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, has spent all her career in the financial and insurance sector. In 2010 and 2011, Ms König was a member of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in London. Today’s decision follows a hearing of the SRB Board’s plenary session on 10 October 2017. The proposal will now be transmitted to the European Parliament for approval, and the Council will also be informed. Following that approval, the Council would have to adopt an implementing decision to extend the mandate (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

64 millions d’euros du fonds de Cohésion pour un environnement mieux protégé en Croatie

Le Fonds de Cohésion de l’UE investit 64,3 millions d’euros dans des infrastructures de gestion de l’eau dans l’agglomération de Varaždin, au Nord du pays. “Ce projet est un nouvel exemple concret de la valeur ajoutée d’une Union européenne qui se soucie de l’environnement et de la santé de ses citoyens,” a commenté la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu. Plus de 200 km d’égout et 108 postes de pompages vont être construits dans le cadre de ce projet financé par l’UE, qui contribuera à protéger l’environnement et assurer un accès à une eau plus saine pour près de 95 000 personnes.  Les travaux devraient être achevés à l’automne 2021. (Pour plus d’informations:Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Better rail connections in Sicily thanks to Cohesion policy investments

Over €105 million from the European Regional Development Fund is invested in the modernisation of the Messina-Palermo railway line, on the section between the Fiumetorto train station and the village of Ogliastrillo. The EU-funded project covers the doubling of the tracks, for enhanced safety and reduced travel time between the two Sicilian cities. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu commented: “This project will give a boost to tourism, shorten travel time and promote clean mobility in this beautiful region; that is EU money well spent.” TheMessina-Palermo line is an important section of the Italian national and regional transport plan, and it is also part of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), stretching from Finland and Sweden in the North to the southern Italian ports and Malta in the South. Works should be completed in December 2019. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel .: +32 229 58615, Sophie Dupin from Saint-Cyr – Tel .: +32 229 56169)

EU delivering on climate commitments through enhanced global partnerships

To cooperate more closely with major economies to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change and on environmentally-friendly practices more broadly, the European Union has launched new strategic partnerships. These include a programme co-financed by the EU’s Partnership Instrument (worth €20 million) and co-financed by the German International Climate Initiative with €5 million) to advance bilateral cooperation on climate change and contribute to improved public awareness. In addition, and following the 14th EU – India Summit which reinforced the strategic importance of India as a key partner of the European Union in the fields of climate action, environment, climate change and urbanisation, the EU is also launching a programme entitled “Business Support to the EU-India Policy Dialogues”, worth €3.8 million, to develop the EU – India partnership further by promoting sustainable energy, urbanisation and environmentally friendly practices, with technical solutions from EU businesses. This will also contribute to an increased and diversified presence of EU companies in the Indian market. See the full press release here. (For more information:Maja Kocijančič – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)

State aid: Commission approves €3.1 million investment aid for CO2 transport infrastructure in The Netherlands

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, Dutch plans to grant €3.1 million of public support to the company OCAP CO2 B, for the construction of CO2 transport infrastructure in PrimA4a, in the Greenport of Aalsmeer. This measure is expected to reduce 21 kilotonnes of CO2 emissions per year. In particular, the infrastructure will transport waste CO2 (e.g. from Shell) to greenhouses in the PrimA4a horticulture area, which need CO2 for their crop growth. Currently, these greenhouses produce their own CO2 using heating systems such as cogeneration systems or gas fired boilers. In summer, when heating is not needed, the greenhouses nevertheless use their heating systems for the sole purpose of CO2 generation. Thanks to this measure, greenhouses in future will be able to use excess waste CO2 instead. This will benefit the environment by reducing the use of primary energy sources to produce CO2. The Commission assessed and approved the measure by applying principles set out under the Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State aid for Environmental protection and Energy. More information on today’s decision will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.48816. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition du contrôle conjoint d’ADTIM par DIF et CDC

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition du contrôle en commun de la société ADTIM basée en France, par les sociétés DIF Management Holding B.V. (“DIF”) basée aux Pays Bas, et la Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (“CDC”) basée en France. ADTIM est une société délégataire de service public d’un organisme public local français (Syndicat mixte Ardèche Drôme Numérique) qui fournit des services de télécommunications. DIF est un gestionnaire de fonds indépendant qui investit dans des projets d’infrastructure à long terme liés au capital-investissement. CDC est un établissement public français à statut juridique spécial, exerçant des activités d’intérêt général, dont la gestion de fonds privés. La Commission a conclu que l’acquisition envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence compte tenu de son impact très limité sur la structure du marché. L’opération a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du 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.8602. (Pour plus d’informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Curaeos Holding by EQT

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Curaeos Holding B.V. of the Netherlands by EQT Fund Management S.à.r.l. of Luxembourg. Curaeos Holding is an international dental services provider which owns dental clinics, dental labs and a dental products distribution business. It also operates a migraine clinic in Germany. EQT is an investment fund making investments primarily in Northern and Continental Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because EQT is not engaged in any business activity related to Curaeos Holding’s business. 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.8698.  (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition de Maersk Olie og Gas par Total

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition de la société danoise Maersk Olie og Gas A/S par l’entreprise française Total S.A. Maersk Olie og Gas est présente dans les secteurs de l’exploration, la production et le négoce de pétrole brut et de gaz naturel. Total est un producteur et fournisseur international d’énergie, intégré et présent dans tous les secteurs de l’industrie pétrolière et gazière. La Commission a conclu que l’ operation envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence du fait de la faiblesse relative des parts de marchés combinées à l’issue de l’opération. L’operation 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.8662. (Pour plus d’informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Eurostat: Household energy prices in the EU down compared with 2016

In the European Union (EU), household electricity prices slightly decreased (-0.5%) on average between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2017 to stand at €20.4 per 100 kWh. Across the EU Member States, household electricity prices in the first half of 2017 ranged from below €10 per 100 kWh in Bulgaria to more than €30 per 100 kWh in Denmark and Germany. A press release is available here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyan – Tel.: +32 229 80379)

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

Latest daily news

L’UE investit pour une eau potable plus saine et accessible en Roumanie

155 millions d’euros du Fonds de Cohésion sont investis dans 6 grands projets d’infrastructure afin d’améliorer la collecte, le traitement et la distribution de l’eau à travers le pays. La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu a déclaré: « La politique de Cohésion investit pour que chacun ait en permanence accès à une eau saine ; c’est la santé de nos citoyens et notre environnement que nous préservons ainsi. »  Ces 6 projets comprennent : (1) 51 millions d’euros pour améliorer l’accès à l’eau pour 179 000 habitants, dans le comté de Vaslui. Ce projet, qui concerne les zones urbaines de Vaslui, Barlad, Husi et Negresti, comprend la construction et rénovation de plus de 130 km de réseau. (2) 46 millions d’euros pour, notamment, la construction et modernisation de 7 stations de traitement de l’eau dans le comté de Prahova, pour le bénéfice de 167 000 habitants. (3) 12.6 millions d’euros pour un meilleur accès à l’eau potable dans le comté de Satu Mare, avec notamment le forage de 4 puits et 40 km d’extension du réseau d’égout. (4) 21 millions d’euros pour des travaux dans le comté de Maramureş, avec en particulier l’extension sur près de 60 km du réseau de distribution d’eau, pour une population de 230 000 personnes. (5) Dans le comté de Dâmbovița, 6.3 millions d’euros pour, notamment, la rénovation de 2 réservoirs et 10 km de réseau de distribution d’eau additionnel. (6) 18 millions d’euros pour, entre autres, la construction et rénovation de 18 puits et de 3 stations de traitement de l’eau dans le comté d’Argeș, pour près de 200 000 personnes. (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Smoother, faster road connections in Greece thanks to EU investments

The Commission welcomes the inauguration today of the Ionian Highway, construction of which has been 100% supported by Cohesion Policy funds thanks to the exceptional measures the Commission put forward in the 2015 “A New Start for Growth and Jobs in Greece” plan. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “The EU invests to improve the everyday lives of Greek citizens with safer roads and reduced travel time. Better transport connections also mean new economic opportunities and faster growth. The Ionian Highway is a new token of steadfast EU solidarity and friendship with Greece.” The new, 200 km-long highway connects the city of Ioannina in the region of Epirus (North-Western Greece) to Antirrio, in Western Greece, and cuts travel time by two hours. The highway reaches the Peloponnesus peninsula in the South, via the EU-funded Rio-Antirrio bridge and, in the North, allows smoother access to Greece’s neighbours countries in the Western Balkans. The Ionian highway is one of the 5 EU-funded motorway concessions in the country, with the Moreas Motorway in the Peloponnesus, the Aegean Motorway linking Athens to Thessaloniki, the Olympia Motorway from Corinth to Patras and the middle section of the E65 Motorway in Central Greece. They have been supported with €3.6 billion of EU funds. By seamlessly connecting Greece with the rest of Europe along a strategic trans-European network and allowing a smooth flow of people and goods, those 5 motorways make a key contribution to a steady economic growth in the country. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

State aid: Commission approves German rescue aid to Air Berlin

The European Commission has endorsed under EU State aid rules Germany’s plans to grant Air Berlin a temporary €150 million bridging loan. The measure will allow for the orderly wind-down of the insolvent airline Air Berlin without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. The purpose of the loan is to allow Air Berlin to continue operations in the coming months, with the aim of maintaining its services while it concludes ongoing negotiations to sell its assets. At the end of the process, Air Berlin is expected to cease operating and exit the market. Rescue and restructuring aid are among the most distortive types of State aid and can only be granted to companies once these have exhausted all other market options. The Commission found that the measure will help to protect the interests of air passengers and to maintain air passenger services. At the same time, the strict conditions attached to the loan, its short duration and the fact that Air Berlin is expected to cease operations at the end of the process, will reduce to a minimum the distortion of competition potentially triggered by the State support. The Commission therefore concluded that the measure is compatible with EU State aid rules. The full press release is available online in EN, DE and FR. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture by Centerbridge Partners and Enel in the Greek wind power sector

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by Centerbridge Partners, L.P. of the USA and Enel S.p.A. of Italy. The joint venture does not carry out any business activity yet, its object is to build and operate seven wind farms at Kafireas (Euboea) in Greece with a total installed capacity of 154 MW. Centerbridge Partners is an investment management firm focused on private equity and distressed investment opportunities. Enel is an Italian multinational company active in the production and distribution of electricity and gas. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the limited overlaps between the companies´ activities.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.8592. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Eurostat: Le volume des ventes du commerce de détail en baisse de 0,3% dans la zone euro, en baisse de 0,2% dans l’UE28

En juillet 2017 par rapport à juin 2017, le volume des ventes du commerce de détail corrigé des variations saisonnières a diminué de 0,3% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,2% dans l’UE28, selon les estimations d’Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. En juin, le commerce de détail avait progressé de 0,6% dans la zone euro et de 0,5% dans l’UE28. En juillet 2017 par rapport à juillet 2016, l’indice des ventes de détail s’est accru de 2,6% dans la zone euro et de 2,7% dans l’UE28. Un communiqué de presse Eurostat est à votre disposition en ligne. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)

 

Application for 2018 edition of the Women Innovators Prize opens today

The European Commission launches today the fifth edition of the EU Prize for Women Innovators which will be awarded to women entrepreneurs who successfully brought their outstanding innovations to market. The first prize is €100.000, second and third prizes of €50.000 and €30.000 respectively and a special prize of €20.000 will be dedicated to the Rising Innovator Award. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “The EU Prize for Women Innovators gives public recognition to outstanding women entrepreneurs and inspires other women to follow in their footsteps. We have seen some exceptional achievements since the start of the competition. For example, the 2017 winners created an innovation lab bringing together scientists and artists, or invented the first ever digital tablet for blind users. I look forward to seeing many more fresh ideas and talent in the new edition of the contest.” The contest is open to women across the EU or from countries associated to Horizon 2020 who have founded or co-founded their company and benefitted from public or private research and innovation funding. Applications have to be submitted by 15 November 2017 and the winners’ names will be announced on International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018. Further information for the competition can be found here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 229 80379)

 

STATEMENTS

Statement on the humanitarian situation in Myanmar

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has issued a statement on the ongoing situation in Myanmar: “Unrestricted humanitarian access, including for aid workers, is critical to reaching 350,000 vulnerable people in Rakhine State. They must be allowed to do their job to try to prevent the further deterioration of an already serious humanitarian situation. I call on all sides to de-escalate tensions and fully observe international human rights law, and in particular to refrain from any violence against civilians. Many Rohingya civilians are suffering greatly and are now fleeing the violence across the border into Bangladesh. They must not be turned back or deported. We greatly appreciate the hospitality extended by the Government and people of Bangladesh for many decades. The assistance and protection of the Bangladeshi authorities regarding these new refugees is crucial until the situation in Rakhine State has stabilised and they can safely return. The European Union is committed to supporting all efforts to bring a return to aid deliveries in Rakhine State and is working tirelessly with all stakeholders to achieve this.” The statement is available here. Commissioner Stylianides visited Rakhine State in Myanmar in May earlier this year where he announced EU humanitarian funding. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

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

Raising Domestic Revenues, Resisting Protectionism Key to Funding Sustainable Development Goals, Speakers Tell Economic and Social Council Forum

The Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up opened its expert segment today with a panel discussion and set of three thematic round tables dedicated to garnering the vast resources required to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Alexander Trepelkov, Director of the Financing for Development Office in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Forum’s expert segment would focus on the state of implementation in all “action areas” of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted in 2015 to fund the world’s sustainable development framework.  “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said.

In the morning, the Forum took part in a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, formed in 2015 to follow up on the Addis Agenda.  Five panellists highlighted the report’s findings and offered proposals for spurring global growth.

Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said a central recommendation was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures.  While trade generated higher productivity, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization had raised concerns.  The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation.

Another major focus must be to raise domestic revenues, said Siddarth Tiwari, Director of the Strategy Policy and Review Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015.  While easier said than done, it required the most attention.

Richard Kozul-Wright, Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said the biggest problem was the global slowdown in public and private investment.  The reasons for that included sluggish global demand following policy mistakes in advanced economies, corporate rent-seeking that had dampened productive investment, and high debt dependence.  He called for a new global strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals.

The morning also featured a round table on “domestic and international public resources”, covering action areas A and C of the Addis Agenda.  Four panellists outlined ways to mobilize resources, with Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City, stressing that subnational governments generated as much as 40 per cent of public investment.

On that point, Philippe Orliange, Director of Agence Française de Développement, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and $3 trillion in assets, the International Development Finance Club had a key role to play in domestic resource mobilization as it could finance local governments.

Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Cooperation Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said his organization was catalysing investment in “Sustainable Development Goal-critical” sectors, and collaborating with the United Nations to develop the “total official support for sustainable development” – a new measure to better understand today’s global financing landscape.

Two afternoon round tables took up issues of “domestic and international private business and finance” and “debt and systemic issues”, respectively.  In the first, moderator Preeti Sinha, Senior President of the YES Institute, said “Sustainable Development Goal finance” should be led by the private sector, as $3 trillion would be needed annually.  The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.

In the second round table, panellist Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development at Latindadd Fundación Jubileo in Bolivia, said that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy.  It had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples.  As such, it was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.

The Forum on Financing for Development follow-up will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, 25 May, to continue its expert segment.

Opening Remarks

ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Director of the Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, opened the expert segment of the Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up, which he said would focus on the state of implementation in all action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  It also would allow for addressing new and emerging topics, with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development report serving as a guide for the discussion.  Led by the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the report contained input from more than 50 United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and offices, regional commissions and others.  “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said.  The goal was for the Task Force analysis to support States in implementing the Addis Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Panel Discussion

The Forum held a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, moderated by Shari Spiegel, Chief, Policy Analysis and Development, Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  The panel featured presentations by Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General, WTO; Siddarth Tiwari, Director, Strategy Policy and Review Department, IMF; Richard Kozul-Wright, Director, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, UNCTAD; Pedro Conceição, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP; and David Kuijper, Adviser, Financing for Development, World Bank Group.

Ms. SPIEGEL said the Task Force report contained an opening segment on the implementation of the Addis Agenda, a thematic chapter, and subsequent chapters on each area of that instrument.  It had found that slow growth and a challenging economic environment, while improving, had hampered implementation of the Agenda.  It was unlikely that the goal of eliminating poverty would be achieved by 2030.  The Task Force also had found that long-term investment in infrastructure and addressing vulnerabilities through social protection floors and a global safety net were needed.  Those two issues, if done right, could create a positive cycle, by helping to achieve the Goals and fostering growth.

Mr. AGAH said one of the report’s central recommendations was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures.  The benefits of opening trade were broad and deep.  Trade generated higher productivity, increased competition, more choice and better prices in the marketplace.  Yet, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization, trade and technology had raised concerns about the trade system.  Governments must ensure its benefits reached more people.  The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation.  WTO had a unique role in fostering equitable trade relations underpinned by common rules agreed by its members.  Strengthening the WTO was essential, he said, calling on Governments and institutions to ensure that the benefits were better understood.  Unequal levels of digital development had limited some countries’ participation in e-commerce.  While access to information and communications technology was necessary, it was not the only factor required for all people to benefit from online trade.

Mr. TIWARI said there was no silver bullet that would “get us to the end” of the Addis Agenda.  International, regional, national and subnational efforts across all areas were needed.  Following the 2008 financial crisis, public and private investment in infrastructure had fallen.  Yet infrastructure was vital for sustaining growth in many countries.  In more than half of low-income countries, the revenue-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio hovered around 15 per cent, which was generally inadequate to provide even basic services, minus wage and other payments.  Thus, a key focus moving forward would be to raise domestic revenues.  The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015.  While “easier said than done”, it required the most attention.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said the report’s first chapter called for a new growth strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Goals.  “We don’t have that growth strategy yet,” he said.  Since the 2008 crisis, growth had slowed and inequality had risen, what the IMF called the “new normal”.  The biggest challenge today was the slowdown in public and private investment, and as the Goals represented a call for the biggest investment push in modern history, a major question centred on why investment had slowed.  There were three reasons, first of which was slowing global demand, which impacted profit expectations and was attributed to policy mistakes in advanced economies, notably a one-sided reliance on monetary policy to stimulate demand, which had increased global instability, and distributional constraints.  The second reason was the “financialization of corporate strategies”.  Corporations had moved into short-term, rent-seeking behaviour which was detrimental to long-term productive investment.  The third reason was the drag from high debt dependence, with debt stocks having risen by $50 trillion since 2008.  Investment had declined across the board in both developed and developing countries.  In seeking a new global growth strategy, those systemic challenges must be addressed.  There was an essential need for developing countries to expand their fiscal space, while a far more ambitious set of mechanisms must be created to address debt overhang and related problems.

Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said the Goals were “coming to life”, known by the public and increasingly being integrated into national plans, strategies and budgets.  Countries today were asking UNDP how to prioritize their plans to achieve the Goals, and then finance those priorities.  One Addis Agenda recommendation had to do with integrated national financing frameworks, which he called visionary, as countries required a holistic approach.  Part of those efforts involved aligning resources to implement the Goals.  The report referred to development finance assessments, which helped countries establish a baseline for financing flows and policy institutions to help them formulate national financing frameworks.  Another recommendation had to do with vulnerability.  It was becoming clear that a major risk to implementation of the Goals had to do with how countries suffered shocks, whether from conflict, trade or climate.  Thus, the report addressed social protections and financing instruments that allowed countries to address systematic shocks, and referred to State-contingent financing instruments in that context.

Mr. KUIJPER addressed the issue of countries and markets that were under stress — whether from fragility, environmental factors or displacement.  Three quarters of the global poor lived in such countries and it was important to tackle the transformation required in them in an innovative manner.  The main obligation was to connect growth opportunities to the global financial system, with a view to connecting them to long-term finance.  There were two ways to do that.  One was through official development assistance (ODA).  The fundamentals that fostered risk could not be addressed unless there were significant channels of ODA to those countries.  A second way centred on gender.  Globally, some countries were losing 5 to 30 per cent of growth due to a lack of gender-sensitive policies and others that led to the advancement of women’s position in the economy.

Mr. TIWARI, responding to a second question by Ms. Spiegel, said the medium-term forecast for developing countries was lower than projected in 2015, with growth between 2015 and 2020 weaker mainly for oil producers and exporters.  Budget revenues had fallen, as had net flows to low-income countries.  As to why investment was not increasing, he said there was no liquidity in terms of raising capital.  Before 2008, productivity and the share of labour income were falling, which likely had constrained investment.  Public balance sheets were strained.  “Productivity needs to rise,” he said.  Without it, neither public nor private investment would increase.  Innovation, a major productivity driver, also must increase and be inclusive.  He advocated skills development, without which large parts of the population would be left behind.  He cited Denmark and Singapore with national strategies and skill development programmes as two countries that had kept up with a changing landscape.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said “getting the macroeconomics right” was fundamental to building the sustainable growth path that the world needed.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was rightly ambitious.  It was unclear, however, whether there was an ambitious environment in which to pursue it.  He called 1947 “the year that multilateralism started”.  The IMF had opened, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had been initiated, the United Nations had been established, its regional commissions had held their first conference, importantly, on trade and employment, and the Marshall Plan — the most ambitious development cooperation plan in history — had been inaugurated.  Ambition was an issue to place on the table.

Mr. CONCEIÇÃO agreed that productivity must increase, especially through technology use.  However, evidence had shown a delinking between labour productivity increases and average family earnings in both developed and developing countries.  “We have to examine the role of technology,” he said.  On one hand, there was no lack of savings.  On the other, investment needs were massive, even without the Goals and notably for infrastructure.  ODA was relevant for countries that had shifted to a higher income level but were still vulnerable.

Mr. KUIJPER agreed that the spirit of 1947 must return.  “We need to create a similar kind of momentum behind this Agenda,” he said, citing an enormous challenge of “getting the financing for development process right”.  The creation of good ideas required a process in which many ideas could flow.

Mr. AGAH said the issue of inclusive growth must start with trade, markets productive capacity and competitiveness.  Each country, depending on its economic and political situation, could adapt complementary policies in investment, infrastructure or other areas to achieve its goals.

In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) commented that its data and measurement frameworks were global public goods.  Bangladesh’s delegate asked Mr. Tiwari whether it was possible to address domestic resource mobilization, without addressing illicit flows, through international cooperation.  A speaker from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that page 33 of the Task Force report referred to tobacco taxation, which he called a “low-lying fruit” as a revenue stream for financing development.  Algeria’s delegate said the report’s section on trade did not fully consider recommendations of the joint report by WTO, the World Bank and IMF, and asked whether its content would be integrated into the next Task Force report.  The European Union representative welcomed the well-balanced report, and contributions by OECD, asking whether the 2018 Forum, to be held from 23 to 26 April, would have the latest data available.  Ms. SPIEGEL replied to the latter question that the Task Force could not update the report with the latest OECD data, due to printing deadlines.  However, the website could be updated.

Responding to those queries, Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said there was potential for innovative financing mechanisms.

Mr. KUIJPER, on the issue of tobacco taxation, said lessons could be learned from other experiences in innovation.

Mr. AGAH said that how well countries negotiated outcomes from the Doha round of trade talks depended on those involved.  The report by WTO, IMF and the World Bank had a slightly different focus.  Trade gains could never be equally distributed.  There would always be losers.  He advocated for examining competitiveness, and how well countries participated in markets.

Mr. TIWARI said a chapter in IMF’s World Economic Outlook examined labour income, which had fallen over the years, due in part to technology.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said trade gains were always significant in a perfectly competitive and informed marketplace and uncertain in an imperfect one.

Round Table A

Following the panel discussion, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international public resources”.  Moderated by Pooja Rangaprasad, Policy Coordinator, Financial Transparency Coalition, it featured presentations by Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City; Elfrieda Steward Tamba, Commissioner General, Liberia Revenue Authority; Philippe Orliange, Director, Agence Française de Développement; and Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Cooperation Directorate, OECD.

Opening the discussion, Ms. RANGAPRASAD said that the Addis Agenda recognized the centrality of mobilizing and effectively using domestic resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and of complementing those efforts through scaled-up international public financial support, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable countries.  Policies to increase tax revenues had important implications for gender bias since women spent a larger portion of their income on basic goods while also getting paid lower wages than men.  Therefore, it was necessary to look into gender budgeting as a tool while also increasing commitments for dedicating aid and resources for gender equality.

Mr. BRADLEY citing a recent OECD study which showed that subnational governments currently generated as much as 40 per cent of the public investment, said that, when 30 per cent of national resources were granted to local governments, they were able to produce 50 per cent of the public investment.  In Belize, cash transfers from the central Government represented only 6 per cent of the annual budget for the Belize City council and the actual sum transferred had remained constant for the past 15 years despite an increasing population.  Local governments in Belize had filled the finance gap through creative strategies, which in turn required strong local leadership with a commitment to transparency and meaningful citizen engagement.  National Governments must create and supplement the legal, structural and policy frameworks that allowed empowered local governments to develop into relevant, effective and complementary branches of government.

Ms. TAMBA, noting that Africa hosted 65 per cent of the world’s ultra-poor and Liberia stood third among the least developed countries in the region, recalled the dip in Liberia’s economy due to the Ebola outbreak.  Nevertheless domestic revenue had increased between 2006 and 2013 due to strong growth and smart reforms in revenue administration.  She cited effective tools for public financing at the local level such as budget appropriations through the Country Development Fund and social contracts with endowed countries through the Social Development Fund.  In the last five years, Liberia had received $238 million in grants and $191 million in loans from international sources, representing 9 per cent and 7 per cent of the country’s total revenue respectively.  Stressing the importance of strengthening local systems for better resource management, she said that development banks had an important role in providing financing for sustainable development in Liberia.  The impact of ODA could also be maximized by building a social contract for eliminating leaks in revenue flow caused by transfer pricing, money-laundering, poor legislation and illicit flows.

Mr. ORLIANGE, calling development finance the “third pillar of development”, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and cumulative assets of $3 trillion, the International Development Finance Club had a key role in domestic resource mobilization which could finance local governments.  There was also international recognition of the role of development banks as key implementing entities for international funds such as the Green Climate Fund.  The Club provided a collaborative platform for practitioners of development finance, as members could exchange experiences, disseminate best practices, identify areas of common interest for cooperation, and combine their financial and intellectual resources.  The Club’s key aim was to advocate for measuring and mainstreaming climate finance and facilitating access to financing for projects and their preparation.  The Club was fully aligned with the development finance agenda, he said, calling on the United Nations system and the Forum to bear in mind the potential of development banks.

Mr. DA SILVA, noting that his organization was the custodian of ODA, said that development aid had reached a new peak in 2016 as refugee costs had increased.  ODA still represented as much as 70 per cent of external financing for many least developed countries, and his organization was also catalysing investment in Sustainable Development Goal-critical sectors and strengthening development finance accountability and incentives.  Going beyond ODA statistically and analytically, it was necessary to put in place better measurement frameworks.  His organization was collaborating with the United Nations systems in developing the total official support for sustainable development which would help better understand the new international financing landscape.  Turning to the global outlook on financing for development, he said that OECD was supporting that through innovative research on financing, policy synergies and trade-offs, as well as by creating a nexus between external thinkers and practitioners.

A speaker from the IMF then took the floor, saying that while there had been enormous progress, figures showed that in half of the lowest income countries, less than 15 per cent of GDP was being raised through tax revenues.  The Fund aimed to help developing countries with revenue outcomes by improving the structure and fairness of national tax systems.  Highlighting the importance of international cooperation in revenue reforms, she said that it was crucial to harness synergies between major international financial institutions.  The Fund had worked with partner institutions to create a platform for collaboration on taxation.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Algeria asked the panellists how to improve accountability in the use of public financing.  A representative of Citigroup commented on the importance of harnessing private-sector resources to improve development financing.  Belgium’s representative said his Government followed a policy of giving tax exemptions to public financing projects, while a civil society representative noted that some countries in both the North and South followed regressive taxation policies which adversely affected resources available for public financing.

Responding to those queries, Mr. DA SILVA said that total official support for sustainable development could provide an added value to the discussion on transparency and accountability.  Stressing the importance of new sources of information, he added that it was important to get the total official support for sustainable development methodology endorsed widely so that it could be used for effective stock-taking.

Mr. ORLIANGE said that development banks were built to take risks that others couldn’t take, and therefore, instead of focusing on short-term gains, they could provide financing over the long term, whether for infrastructure or social programmes.  On the question of regressive taxation, he said that it was difficult to finance public policy if taxation rates were too low.  Countries had to take national decisions about their own policies but “if you have regressive taxation, you are digging the inequalities deeper,” he said.

Ms. TAMBA said that domestic resource mobilization was especially crucial in Africa and with the changing international taxation landscape, Liberia and Africa as a whole stood to benefit.  She called on developed countries to “walk the talk.”

Mr. BRADLEY said that in order to be meaningful, all strategies and interventions for improving the quality of life should be owned by the community.  Decentralization was crucial to achieving that, and a multilevel government framework based on transparency and trust would enable people to see local government as a relevant development partner.  The magic of local government was that it was closest to people, and it was positioned to listen to the concerns of women, indigenous people and other vulnerable groups.

Round Table B

In the afternoon, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international private business and finance”.  Moderated by Preeti Sinha, Senior President, YES Institute, it featured presentations by Courtney Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations; Hervé Duteil, Managing Director, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Finance for the Americas, BNP Paribas; Naohiro Nishiguchi, Executive Managing Director, Japan Innovation Network; Nidia Reyes, Chief of Competitive Intelligence, Banca de las Oportunidades, Colombia; and Leora Klapper, Lead Economist, Development Research, World Bank Group.

Ms. SINHA quoted Mahatma Gandhi to say “the rich must live more simply so that the poor may simply live”.  All countries were developing countries in that they were struggling to address climate change and other social issues.  The 2030 Agenda offered a way to bring public and private finance together.  YES Bank, founded by Rana Kapoor, had a market capitalization of $10 billion, showing that “emerging markets do offer returns”.  Sustainable Development Goals finance should be led by the private sector, followed by the United Nations, as $3 trillion would be needed annually.  The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.

Mr. RATTRAY said following the Addis Agenda, many felt that “something was missing”.  There was a need for a State-based mechanism that would unlock the trillions of dollars needed per year to finance development.  The new body — the Group of Friends — had 56 members, many of whom were ambassadors, along with experts from the United Nations, the private sector and think tanks.  States had a legitimate role in reorienting the financial system towards the Goals.  Most assets under its management were held by insurance, private wealth and mutual funds.  Central to its efforts to attract capital was convening a broad array of stakeholders.  The Group of Friends engaged stakeholders to holistically assess risk by having investors price in externalities.  It also worked with regulators to prevent capital from being misallocated.  There was a need to foster domestic capacity to develop “bankable” projects, he said, noting that the Group was working with Blackrock in that context.

Mr. DUTEIL described the need to place the goal of financing sustainability “on the business map”.  BNP Paribas had traditionally mapped its business along economic, civic, environmental and social pillars, but then further mapped it along the 17 Goals, setting targets and incentives.  As a result, the first of its 13 public key performance indicators was that 15 per cent of its loans to companies must finance projects or companies that directly addressed one of the Goals.  Today, that percentage was 16.5 per cent.  Realizing those 13 indicators would also directly affect the compensation of its top officers.  BNP Paribas was also implementing a shadow carbon price into the credit analysis of its counterparties in key sectors.  In unlocking private pools of capital, much of the challenge revolved around return, risk, liquidity and time horizons.  Noting that $41 trillion would change hands from the “Baby Boomers” to the “Gen X” and “Millennial” generations, he said that impact investing, which represented less than 0.5 per cent of portfolios, would remain small and “the privilege of the happy few who have a few billion to spare”.  The good news was that banks were in the business of creating bridges between capital and projects in need of funding.  As an example, he described a sustainable bond linked to the Goals that was recently issued by the World Bank and underwritten by BNP Paribas.  The bond directly financed sustainable projects around the world supported by the World Bank but offered to investors a return linked to the stock performance of a basket of equities issued by corporations which directly supported the Goals through at least 20 per cent of their activities.  While banks could create new financing tools for the Goals with the support of partners like multilateral development banks, those products still had to be distributed and bought.  That was where positive regulation that encouraged impact investing could solve part of the conundrum.

Mr. NISHIGUCHI said that in 2016, UNDP and the Japan Innovation Network had launched the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform to engage the private sector in increasing the pipeline of bankable projects to help achieve the Goals.  The Platform had 300 individual members and 75 companies, with more expected to join this year.  It was critical for any private-sector player to create a “passage” between the Goals and cash flow.  To do so, it was important to understand the innovation process, especially the incubation stage.  It was important to have a high-quality incubation stage, as it would articulate the challenges (the Goals), the client value and the business model.  The operational stage captured the business plan, the finance and the roll out.  He underscored the need to look at the Goals, not as corporate social responsibility, but as a business programme.  Thematic sessions organized for specific Goals had produced hypothetical business models and involved countries including Kenya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania.  To increase the pipeline, the private sector must regard the Goals as an innovation not an operational project, as well as connect multiple Goals as a way to deepen solutions.  A typical enemy was a silo mentality, he said, stressing that achieving the Goals required a collaborative approach.

Ms. REYES focused on collaborative approaches to ensure innovation in the provision of financial services.  Colombia’s financial inclusion policy was based on an 11-year commitment to provide resources and transfer both capital and innovation to the private sector to help meet the needs of low-income people.  Simplified mechanisms had been created, establishing limits to the amounts that could be held in products that could reach low-income people, such as inclusive insurance.  In the case of microcredit and small loans, which did not exceed $460, the bank tried to make interest rates more flexible to incorporate the risk involved in supporting a segment of the population that would otherwise not be able to access lending.  In the future, Colombia would focus on raising more financial products and using them effectively, as well as deepening financial inclusion in the rural sector, as many products in Latin American countries were concentrated in urban areas.  Alternative mechanisms were needed to help small businesses access financing.  Colombia had brought together all Government and private entities involved in raising the level of economic and financial education.

Ms. KLAPPER said today’s discussion on raising financing for Governments and the private sector must be widened to include households and small- and medium-sized firms, as well as savings and payments.  The Bank’s Findex data measured how people saved, borrowed and managed payments, she said, explaining that there had been double-digit growth since 2001, when data were first collected.  India’s biometric identification system allowed the Government to roll out 200 million such accounts for people to access cheap food and fuel.  In China, merchant store keepers could now do financial transactions in rural areas.  Indeed, access to digital payments could help achieve the Goals.  In India, the roll out of bank branches had reduced poverty by 15 percentage points, while insurance projects in Ghana had also reduced poverty.  Financial inclusion could promote innovation.  In India and Bosnia and Herzegovina, giving entrepreneurs access to savings products and credit had led to growth, and in turn, more women’s economic empowerment.  In Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines and elsewhere, offering a woman an account had led to greater spending on food and household goods, even washing machines.  There were obstacles, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which had a $2 trillion shortfall in needed credit, which was hampered by a weak credit information structure and “movable collateral registries” which made it difficult for banks to assess risks.  Research by Harvard University had found that firms investing more in sustainable standards had higher market performance and profitability.

In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the United Nations Global Compact said foreign direct investment and corporate capital investment should be driven by a principles-based approach.  Otherwise, fundamental rights could be undermined.  A revolution was needed for new financial instruments that cut across the asset classes and Goals alike.  He asked about public policy frameworks that could mobilize private finance.  Japan’s delegate asked for ideas on a risk-sharing mechanism, and about the Government’s role in the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform.  Chile’s delegate asked about challenges in implementing the various projects, while Uganda’s delegate asked about mobile money transfers substantively contributed to poverty reduction or simply “income smoothing”.  Peru’s delegate asked about progress in expanding financial services to people in poverty, as well as best practices for financial literacy and consumer protection.

A speaker from PRI, an association of 1,700 financial organizations managing $70 trillion, said one question commonly raised was whether a mechanism was in place to monitor the allocation of capital to be used for the Goals.  Canada’s delegate asked how the United Nations could help develop the pipeline of bankable projects, and more broadly about the asymmetry of information regarding risk, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and whether the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform accepted companies from outside Japan.  A speaker representing civil society described an erosion of public interest by public-private partnerships, in part because of heavy contractual clauses with implications for Governments.  There was a great role for private financing, especially through small enterprises, which required different types of business support to build capacity and participate in markets.

Mr. RATTRAY responded that in mobilizing resources, countries must be assisted in developing capital markets, which was not simple.  They must also be encouraged to have a higher savings rate, which similarly would not happen overnight.  “We are conscious that the clock is ticking,” he stressed.

Mr. DUTEIL replied that public policy could mobilize capital at scale.  France had enacted a “90:10” scheme for companies with more than 50 employees, obliging them to offer employees access to funds that invested 5 to 10 per cent in impact investing, allocated to non-listed small- and medium-sized enterprises.  The result had been massive and offered an example of how public policy could be positive without being coercive.  Another example was the Tropical Landscapes Financing Facility, whereby investors invested in well-known entities, which in turn, redistributed the funds to small farmers.

Mr. NISHIGUCHI said the Platform would work with private sector, Governments and non-governmental organizations from any country, and was particularly interested in speaking with start-up communities.  Governments could help connect the Platform with start-ups and support the incubation stage, which would be a huge boost to creating bankable projects.

Ms. REYES said supporting the private sector in taking a risk on high-risk sectors involved co-financing incentives, as well as transferring technical assistance to them.  There was much to be done in terms of technology transfer.  On financial literacy, it was important to define objectives in a work plan coordinated among all players.

Ms. KLAPPER said financial inclusion should reduce poverty because it allowed people to invest in education and business opportunities.  It also prevented poor adults from falling into poverty during a crisis, such as the death of a family member.  There was evidence that in an emergency people received support from a geographically and socially wider group of friends.  On financial literacy, no academic literature had found that traditional textbook-based financial literacy worked.  What appeared to be better were “teachable moments” for explaining interest compounding, for example.  Fintech had positively impacted rural farmers repaying credit loans in sub-Saharan Africa, for example.

Round Table C

The Forum then held its final round table for the day, on “debt and systemic issues”.  Moderated by Siddharth Tiwari, Director, Strategy and Policy Review Department, IMF, it featured presentations by Angus Friday, Ambassador of Grenada to the United States; Camillo von Müller, Economist, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany; Marilou Uy, Executive Director, International Group of 24 (G24) Secretariat; and Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development, Latindadd Fundación Jubileo, Bolivia.

In his opening remarks, Mr. TIWARI said that the IMF was committed to strengthening global financial architecture.  The issues ranged from completing IMF quotas in governance reform to addressing gaps in global safety nets.  It was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.

Mr. FRIDAY said that from the lens of a small island developing State such as his, it was necessary to acknowledge debt sustainability challenges and recognize the need for urgent solutions.  Since 1950, there had been 184 natural disasters in the Caribbean, resulting in damages worth $8 billion.  In Grenada alone, the hurricane in 2004 caused a 200 per cent loss of its GDP.  Emphasizing the links between years of extreme weather events and high levels of indebtedness, he said that debt restructuring had not worked successfully because there was a stepping up of interest rates and not enough local ownership.  The financial crisis and the impact on tourism had caused Grenada to default on its debt payments at the end of 2014.  In response, Grenada had brought together civil society and Government to create a social compact on spending and financing.  Grenada had also introduced a hurricane clause in its contracts with lenders, noting that the debts would be deferred in the event of a hurricane.  As of Tuesday, the IMF had completed its sixth review of Grenada and the country had passed with flying colours.

Mr. VON MULLER said that state-contingent debt instruments had an important role to play in the international financial architecture, in building resilience and improving sustainability.  Noting that the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 had formulated a clear mission with regard to such instruments in the Chengdu communiqué, she said that during its G-20 presidency, Germany had responded to the call for further analysis of their technicalities, opportunities and challenges.  The history of state-contingent debt instruments showed the importance of contract designs, as well as the incentives and data credibility.  While GDP-linked bonds could be beneficial instruments when designed to generate fiscal space in difficult economic times, it was necessary to take steps to reduce the costs of insurance and carefully assess international demand.

Ms. UY said that global financial reforms had a wide range of effects on developing countries.  The Addis Agenda had acknowledged the importance of creating a coherent and inclusive global financial architecture.  The international monetary system must mitigate tensions and promote stability while supporting growth strategies of individual countries.  That was particularly important for emerging economies, whose growth rates had slowed recently.  While macroeconomic and structural policies constituted the first line of defence, in a highly interconnected globe efforts to manage global economic headwinds needed to be supported by multilateral action.  While the opening of financial borders had helped create capital flows, there were persistent problems with capital flow measures.  Policy differences between different countries could cause exchange-rate volatility, which in turn, created uncertainty and disrupted investment.  Better policy coordination was necessary and the IMF could play an important role in that.

Ms. MIRANDA said that it was vital to understand the composition of debt, which could originate from a variety of sources.  Besides traditional external credits for fiscal gaps, there were also sovereign bonds issued by other countries, including lower middle-income countries.  Furthermore, there was domestic debt and corporate debt, which had been rising in the last few years.  Subnational debt, from local governments and State-owned enterprises, could lead to fiscal risk.  Moreover, public-private partnerships could also give rise to debt.  While the Addis Agenda had reaffirmed the importance of a timely and independent debt restructuring process, it was necessary to go beyond those principles.  Reminding the Council that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy, she called attention to the negative social impacts of debt, saying that it had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples.

In the ensuing discussion, representatives of civil society highlighted the importance of responsible investment and safety nets, and asked about the growth of the shadow banking system, which included lightly regulated hedge funds.  Yet another representative of civil society asked about the lack of movement in regulating financial markets while a fourth representative noted that the “elephant in the room” underlying the debt issue was the classical mismatch between currencies.

Responding, Mr. FRIDAY agreed with the need for stronger safeguards and noted that more and more extreme weather events could be expected in the future.  Therefore, hurricane clauses should be automatically included, particularly for small island developing States.  Mr. MULLER said that GDP-linked bonds should be seen as part of a toolkit that contributed to debt sustainability.  Ms. UY said that it was time to assess the impact of financial sector regulatory reforms.

Mr. TIWARI said that the promise of jobs and higher incomes hinged crucially on creating the right environment for sustainable growth.  Infrastructure was a prerequisite for that kind of growth.  The strengthening of standards regulating financial instruments had resulted in unintended consequences such as the shift to shadow banks.  Ms. MIRANDA stressed the importance of transparency and open data, which she noted was a challenge not only for international financial institutions, but also for States.  Debt could be a symptom that there was something wrong in the economy, and therefore, it was necessary to look at the larger picture including tax systems, she said.