General Government

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary‑General.

**Migrants Day

Today is International Migrants Day.  In his message for the Day, the Secretary‑General stressed that solidarity with migrants has never been more urgent.  He said that evidence overwhelmingly shows that migrants generate economic, social and cultural benefits for societies everywhere and yet hostility towards them is growing around the world.  He called for international cooperation in managing migration to ensure that its benefits are most widely distributed and that migrants’ human rights are protected.

Today at 2 p.m., the Secretary‑General will be taking part in a panel discussion at UNICEF House, which you are welcome to attend.  And my guests today at the briefing will include Béla Hovy, Chief of the Migration Section of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Béla will be discussing the International Migration Report 2017, which the Department produced, and also here will be Leonard Doyle, the Head of Communications for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

**Middle East

Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed members of the Security Council today in an open meeting — that’s part of the regular, the periodic briefing on the situation in the Middle East, as well as the briefing on the follow‑up to resolution 2334 (2016), passed just about a year ago.  He said that he is particularly concerned as to the future of our collective efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  The Secretary‑General, he recalled, has been clear that ending the occupation and realizing the two‑state solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine, is the only way to achieve such a vision.  Today, however, he warned, there is a growing risk that the parties may revert to unilateral actions.  His full statement is online and I believe the Council went into closed consultations.

**Mali

Our colleagues from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) tell us that a patrol — a UN patrol — hit a suspected improvised explosive device in Kidal city this morning.  One peacekeeper was slightly wounded.  In response to the attack, the Mission deployed a Quick Reaction Force and an explosive ordnance disposal team to secure and clear the incident site and to recover a vehicle that was damaged.  This follows four separate attacks against peacekeeping personnel and premises in Kidal on Friday, all of which were repelled by peacekeepers.  One peacekeeper was severely wounded.  Two UN Mission staff and two civilians were slightly wounded, as well, and they were immediately given medical attention.  In a statement over the weekend, the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, strongly condemned the attacks on peacekeepers that also put civilians at risk, adding that the Mission would continue to repel all attacks in a similar robust manner.

**Nigeria

The Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, today deplored Saturday’s deadly ambush on a convoy carrying humanitarian food supplies for people impacted by conflict.  He also expressed grave concern over the limitations that attacks of this nature may have on the delivery of life‑saving supplies to people in need in north‑east Nigeria.  Four civilians are reported to have been killed in the ambush that took place on the road between Dikwa and Gamboru, in Borno State.  Aid items destined to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people have also been destroyed.

**Lebanon

The Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Pernille Dahler Kardel, met separately this morning with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.  She said she also met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri last week.  Ms. Kardel, who arrived in Lebanon last week, discussed with Lebanon’s top leaders the key issues that are on the agenda between Lebanon and the UN.  She underscored the UN’s continued support for Lebanon on crucial issues related to peace and security, stability and socioeconomic development.

**Yemen

Humanitarian organizations working in Yemen released a joint statement yesterday on allegations of corruption and bias in the provision of relief assistance, in which they condemned in the strongest terms allegations put forward by the parties to the conflict in Yemen without proper substantiation.  The humanitarian partners in Yemen emphasized that they maintain their neutrality and do not take sides with any of the parties to the conflict.  Meanwhile, clashes and air strikes are reportedly continuing in southern Hodeidah Governorate, about 100 km south of Hodeidah.  Renewed clashes along the south‑west coast have reportedly caused significant civilian displacement, although comprehensive displacement estimates are not yet available.  That’s it.  I will stop there and take some questions, and then we’ll have Brenden [Varma], and then we’ll go to our guests.  Mr. Lee.  Why not?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure.  I’m… And I’m… you’ve just spoke about Yemen, and I… I may have missed it.  This airstrike in Ma’rib, did you address that?

Spokesman:  No.  We’re aware of the… we’re very much aware of the reports, and we continue to call on the parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international law not to target civilians or civilian infrastructure, among other items.

Question:  Sure.  I guess just to follow… it seems it’s a pretty well‑sourced report, and it seems these were women on the way to a… to a wedding…?

Spokesman:  I mean, we’ve seen… as I said, you know… I’ve seen the reports.  We’re just not in a position to confirm them.  I mean, the reports as they stand are fairly horrific by any standard…

Question:  What I meant to ask was this… in… in creating that list under Children and Armed Conflict, it seemed that the Secretary‑General concluded or said that the Saudi‑led Coalition had taken steps to… to avoid these things.  And so I’m wondering whether an incident like this calls into… is it… is it… is it an aberration?  What were those steps that they took?

Spokesman:  Well, obviously, the steps they had briefed us upon is better command and control and more detailed information as to where… I guess, better targeting.  I mean, I… you know, they’ve told us they’ve taken steps.  I mean, obviously, those are for the military side of the Coalition led by Saudi Arabia.  All of these events, as events around the world, are obviously… continue to be checked and rechecked by our staff and would be then put into the relevant reports.

Okay.  And I do have a statement on the attacks over the weekend in Pakistan:  The Secretary‑General strongly condemns the attack on a Methodist church in Quetta in Pakistan.  He extends his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to those injured.  He calls for the perpetrators of the attack to be brought to justice.  Yes, in the back?

Question:  Thank you.  On Honduras, the Organization of American States (OAS) have asked for the elections… presidential elections to be held again because of the many irregularities.  Does the Secretary‑General share these concerns, or what is his opinion on the elections?  And I have another question afterwards.

Spokesman:  Sure.  I mean, we’ve been, obviously, following the developments over the last few weeks in Honduras very closely, especially in the wake of the elections.  As far as the Secretary‑General is concerned, he reiterates his call for leadership with responsibility in this crucial moment and for a solution to differences within the mechanisms established by the Electoral Law.  He again urges calm and restraint.  He’s aware of the questions raised by the preliminary electoral observation reports of the Organization of American States and the European Union and of the pronouncements of the Secretary General of the OAS.  Yes, ma’am, and then Walter.  Yes, you.  Yep?

Question:  Hi.  [Inaudible] a few weeks ago, [António] Guterres proposed several internal change at the UN.  Could you please make some comments about the progress in the process of reforms?

Spokesman:  Sure.  The process of reform of the United Nations is not an easy one.  The proposals on management reform, on the peace and security pillar, on the development system reform are continuing.  There are very deep and detailed consultations with Member States, often led by the Secretary‑General himself.  We do hope to have more a public update, at least on the development system report, in the next few days to share with you.  But the work is continuing, and we very much continue to hope and hope we will receive the full support of the Member States for these efforts.  Ma’am?

Question:  Hi.  Eve from Al Arabiya.  So, we saw the Secretary‑General’s report on the implementation of 2231 (2015).  Does the Secretary‑General believe that there’s clear evidence of Iran’s involvement in supplying the Houthis with weapons?

Spokesman:  Sure, I mean, I know there was some exchanges last week with the Spokesman characterizing the conclusions of the report to 2231.  I just want to make it clear that we do not wish to characterize the conclusions and information contained in the report in any way.  The information and the Secretary‑General’s words in the report are clear, and the conclusions speak for themselves.  Walter?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  This morning, a new Government was sworn in in Austria.  It includes the right‑wing Freedom Party.  Does the Secretary‑General have any comment?

Spokesman:  You know, we obviously… we’re aware of these latest developments and the formation of the government.  Austria is obviously a very important partner to the United Nations, and I hope to have a bit more to say on this shortly.  Evelyn.  Sorry.  I thought you had raised your hand but… Sorry, Linda, or one of you.  Whoever’s holding the mic, so since Linda is holding the mic, go ahead.

Question:  Thank you, Steph.  I just wanted to ask a question about the migration report that said that there are about 260 million people living in countries other than their birth, that of their birth, and that it’s… there’s been a 50 per cent rise since 2000.  I just have a question about policy… UN policy towards migration.  I mean, within those numbers, are they… does that include legal immigration, you know, where there are patterns and people follow that, or does it include sort of everyone, migrants who decide that they want to leave their countries, go wherever they go, and then have the right to stay in the country…?

Spokesman:  I think it’s a very interesting and detailed questions, and I will let our guest, Béla Hovy, from Department of Economic and Social Affairs, answer that question, because [he] is much more learned in this process than I ever will be.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I… this is… it may be a different kind of UN reform or changes, but I’d wanted to ask you, I’ve become aware that… that… that… you know, throughout the building, there’s various changes to called like flex… flex space or hot desking.  So I learned of… protocol… the protocol office, which is here on this floor, is being moved down to 3B, and I’m told that it’s going to cost $500,000 to essentially rip out the… the configuration that was put in just under the Capital Master Plan.  So, I’m wondering, I mean, I know that there are competing mandates on the Secretary‑General, but how can you justify the… the… the… the… a recently renovated space being torn down at… at pretty substantial cost when the… when the UN is also saying it shouldn’t face budget cuts?

Spokesman:  I don’t know the exact cost.  The whole point of shared space is to make much more efficient use of the space that we have in this building, which enables us to stop renting and paying tenants outside of the UN Headquarters.  So, we’re freeing up a space that we’re paying rent on.  So, obviously, there are some costs involved in the creation of that space, but in the long term, it will be a cost saving.

Question:  But in the case of protocol, like, are there prot… are there offices of protocol that are based in the Albano or in other buildings?  And… and… and was it considered sort of, basically for the next three months at least, you’re going to have diplomats going down to 3B to get whatever information they need and…

Spokesman:  I think anytime an organization is being reformed or a space is being refurbished, it involves some inconvenience.  The whole point is about better use and more efficient use of the space that we have and cutting down on costs of rental properties.

Question:  But was any of this known at the time that the Capital Master Plan built up these spaces that they would, in fact, be torn out at greater costs within two years or three years?

Spokesman:  That I cannot answer.  Yes, sir.  And then… sorry, then we’ll go to you, Evelyn.

Question:  Thank you again.  On Mexico, Congress just approved a national security law that could further endanger human rights, according to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other experts of the UN in Geneva.  Does the Secretary‑General has… have any comments, or is he concerned about this decision?

Spokesman:  I can’t speak to that, because I haven’t seen those reports.  So, right now I would leave you with what the High Commissioner says and what other experts have said.  If I have something from the Secretariat, I will share it with you.  Walter, I know you… I have some more information for you, which is that the Secretary‑General congratulates the Austrian government led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.  As Austria is a long‑standing partner of the United Nations, the Secretary‑General trusts that the new government will continue to strengthen the bonds of international cooperation, uphold shared ideals, and play a leading role in the promotion of peace and security and to promote human rights, foster greater equality and minority rights.  Evelyn?

Question:  Thank you, Steph.  On Yemen, [inaudible] months ago [inaudible] investigate, quote, mishaps, tragedies that their air force had inflicted and that these would be publicized.  Has the UN ever seen any of these or…

Spokesman:  I will check if we’ve gotten any updates.

Correspondent:  And the SG gave a very nice comment on his reform on Friday night.

Spokesman:  Alright, I will leave you with Brenden for a brief briefing, and then we will go get our guests.  Thank you.

General Market

Briefing – PETI Fact-Finding Mission to Taranto (17-19 July 2017) – Environmental topics in Taranto: ILVA plant and ENI refinery (Petitions: 0760/2007, 2207/2013, 1107/2011, 0024/2012) – PE 571.403 – Committee on Petitions

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General Information

Motion for a resolution on the Commission Work Programme 2018 – B8-2017-0450

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Council declaration on competitiveness of 19 February 2016,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Better Law-Making,

–  having regard to the final report of 24 July 2014 of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, entitled ‘Cutting Red Tape in Europe – Legacy and Outlook’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 entitled ‘Towards improved single market regulation’(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality(2),

–  having regard to Rule 37(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the best economic and social support that the Member States can offer their citizens to ensure improved quality of life is a growing economy with low inflation and high rates of employment and wage growth, generating the resources required to fund investment for the future, improved infrastructure and public services;

B.  whereas the Member States face significant economic challenges in a difficult global marketplace which can only be met by creating dynamic, competitive economies with rising levels of productivity and innovation;

C.  whereas security is a serious concern in an era of domestic and international threats;

D.  whereas public opinion has grown increasingly wary of a Union which appears to be taking on powers and responsibilities that are more fittingly exercised at the level of its Member States, their regional and local authorities or by citizens themselves;

E.  whereas EU citizens clearly seek a Union with a light touch which facilitates cooperation among its Member States in areas where this can add value, but above all which respects the essential principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and conferral;

PART 1: EUROPE IS AT A CRITICAL JUNCTURE

General principles to shape the 2018 work programme

1.  Underlines the fact that the Member States are the democratic foundation of the EU and that the Commission in its proposals for 2018 must attach sufficient importance to involving national and regional governments in its work;

2.  Calls on the Commission to keep new proposals to a minimum in 2018, focusing on areas in which European cooperation can add value in line with the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and conferral;

3.  Calls for the refashioning of EU policies and programmes in order to allow Member States greater local control over and more flexibility in how they seek to meet agreed European objectives;

4.  Insists that the Commission increase the level of consultation on possible future proposals with Member States, regional and local governments, and citizens directly; underlines the importance of allowing sufficient time for feedback and the use of more ‘white papers’ and ‘green papers’ to set out various different options;

5.  Emphasises the importance of delivering value for money and pursuing a policy of zero tolerance in cases of mismanagement and fraud;

6.  Underlines the importance to the EU of being outward-looking and developing close economic, commercial and strategic ties with friends and allies, particularly those who are close neighbours;

Priorities for 2018

7.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise measures in 2018 that will enable the EU to support its Member States in reforming their economies so as to achieve long-term sustainable growth, job creation and prosperity;

8.  Believes that, at EU level, a crucial instrument to improve the economic outlook is the advancement of the better law-making agenda; calls on the Commission, therefore, to develop the agenda with ambition, in particular:

–  the SME and competitiveness tests as part of the impact assessments,

–  the setting of burden reduction targets,

–  the Annual Burden Survey, and

–  the work of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board;

and calls on the Commission to ensure that micro-enterprises are exempted as far as possible from all legislative proposals so that new start-ups and entrepreneurs can be encouraged;

9.  Calls for the focus to remain on growth-friendly fiscal consolidation; believes that boosting investment should not be seen as an alternative to necessary structural reforms;

10.  Stresses the importance of competition policy enforcement in creating a level playing field that fosters innovation, productivity, job creation and investment by all players across the single market and across all business models, including SMEs;

11.  Emphasises the importance of progress in tackling the migration crisis in a way that demonstrates much more sensitivity to widespread concerns within the Member States over uncontrolled migration by providing feasible policy suggestions, and that respects the prerogatives of sovereign Member States in this field;

12.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise the negotiation of new trade deals with third countries to secure lower prices for European consumers and bigger markets for European producers, generating new jobs and greater prosperity;

13.  Highlights the importance of the implementation of circular economy policies with a focus on the fight against food waste; calls on the Commission to encourage the Member States to cooperate and exchange good practices;

14.  Reiterates the need to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; highlights the genuine importance of achieving the full accessibility of products, services and environments, which is essential for enabling their full participation in society;

15.  Recalls the need to promote work-life balance for non-official carers who care for dependent relatives (the elderly, children, persons with disabilities) without being in official employment;

16.  Emphasises the need for a positive and amicable conclusion of the Brexit negotiations, recognising the great contribution that the UK has made to the EU over 40 years, so as to ensure a strong economic and political partnership between the Union and the UK for the future that respects the reasonable requirements and interests of all parties;

PART 2: SPECIFIC PROPOSALS FOR THE WORK PROGRAMME DELIVERING ON THE 10 PRIORITIES

1.  ‘A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment’

Better law-making

17.  Reminds the Commission that any legislative proposals should be subject to a thorough impact assessment and cost-benefit analysis; asks the Commission to ensure that each impact assessment is targeted so as to demonstrate the possible effects on businesses and the market, and that the proposals are made only if the intended effect is proportionate;

18.  Emphasises the importance of the Commission including SMEs and competitiveness tests in all impact assessments, notwithstanding the fact that this will help to ensure that companies, SMEs in particular, are not overburdened by legislation; calls on the Commission to roll out the use of the SME Test across all DGs and to cooperate in a more systematic fashion with the Regulatory Scrutiny Board in order to ensure a more structured application of the test in the same manner as it was executed in Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 and Directive 2011/7/EU;

19.  Strongly suggests that the Commission initiate a ‘cooling off’ period following the conclusion of trilogue negotiations for the completion of an impact assessment and subsidiarity check; invites the Commission to provide for an evaluation and possible follow-up of the independence of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board in fulfilling its role of supervising and providing objective advice on respective impact assessments; calls on the Commission to recognise that the Better Regulation Agenda has an essential local/regional dimension, which is not necessarily addressed through subsidiarity, by expanding its regulatory impact assessment processes (as distinct from ‘territorial impact assessments’) to examine the financial and administrative impact of existing and new standards on local/regional governments;

20.  Underlines the importance of the annual burden survey (ABS), agreed as part of the IIA on Better Law-Making, as a vital tool to identify and monitor, in a clear and transparent manner, the results of the Union’s efforts to avoid and reduce any overregulation and administrative burdens, especially since they affect SMEs; believes that the ABS must be used to identify the burdens imposed both by the Commission’s individual legislative proposals and acts and by individual Member States’ transposition and interpretation of legislation, known as ‘gold-plating’;

21.  Calls on the Commission to follow up on the recommendations set out in the annual reports of 2012, 2013 and 2014 on subsidiarity and proportionality; notes, in particular, calls made in the reports for a factually substantiated analysis of all proposals put forward by the Commission on subsidiarity and proportionality grounds; calls for consideration of proportionality (in addition to subsidiarity) in reasoned opinions from national parliaments, which would require a revision of the treaties, for an evaluation of the number of national parliaments required for a yellow card to be triggered, and for the time limit for the submission of subsidiarity opinions by national parliaments to be extended;

22.  Underlines calls in the reports for Commission assessments of proportionality to discard proposals with disproportionate burdens on competitiveness and SMEs; recalls that a green card for national parliaments has been requested and that Parliament has asked the Commission to undertake a subsidiarity check and full impact assessment at the conclusion of legislative negotiations, to ensure that subsidiarity and proportionality are respected once proposals have been amended;

23.  Calls on the Commission, pursuant to the relevant provisions of the new IIA, to put forward proposals for establishing burden reduction targets in key sectors as a matter of urgency; calls on the Commission to aim for a 25 % reduction by 2020 of the economic costs linked to regulatory burdens for businesses in each policy area, with a longer-term target of halving the burden of existing Union regulations by 2030; strongly encourages the Commission to apply immediately the ‘for each new standard created two old standards are to be repealed’ formula, by considering the benefits of introducing regulatory offsetting, whereby new rules that add to administrative and regulatory burdens can only be imposed if a corresponding double cut in existing burdens can be identified;

24.  Calls on the Commission (and on Parliament) to recognise that democratically elected local and regional governments, and their representative associations, are part of the European law-making process; requests specifically that they be exempted from the Transparency Register obligations, as is already the case for individual regions;

25.  Calls on the Commission to pay more careful attention to ensuring transparency and the separation of powers through stricter compliance with the provisions of Article 290 TFEU, and therefore to refrain from using delegated acts to pass genuine legislative measures that should be adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure;

26.  Underlines the continued importance of the REFIT Agenda and subsequent legislative proposals following the cumulative impact assessment; calls on the Commission to include the Seveso III Directive under the REFIT rolling programme and to focus primarily on the impact on businesses, particularly SMEs, and their ability to make long-term investments, as well as its effect on the possible relocation of EU-based chemical production;

27.  Notes the Commission proposals on the European Pillar of Social Rights, which seek to strengthen the social dimension of the EU; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to ensure, while pursuing its priorities, that all initiatives under the auspices of the European Pillar of Social Rights fully respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

28.  Calls on the Commission to systematically review the social acquis, which consists of more than 50 directives developed since 1958, and to identify opportunities for further simplification and burden reduction, including through the withdrawal or repeal of legislation where appropriate;

29.  Recognises that women continue to be under-represented in the labour market; believes in this regard that flexible employment contracts, including temporary and part-time contracts, can play an important role in increasing the participation of groups that might otherwise have been excluded from the labour market; considers it inappropriate for the Commission to put forward legislative proposals, including a framework directive on decent work, that would seek to restrict the use of such contracts in the Member States;

30.  Recalls Article 155 TFEU; calls on the social partners, in the context of current and future framework agreements, to embrace the improved regulation tools, increase the use of impact assessments, and refer agreements proposing legislative action to the Commission’s Regulatory Scrutiny Board;

Budgetary means

31.  Notes that the Commission must publish its proposal for a new multiannual financial framework (MFF) before 1 January 2018, as set out in Article 25 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013; considers that the next MFF must develop a pathway towards a modern EU budget that adequately addresses current challenges, such as the migrant and refugee crisis, the threat of terrorism, and the UK’s withdrawal from the Union; believes that the Commission should therefore undertake a comprehensive spending review before the negotiations on the next MFF, in order to systematically evaluate each policy area under the EU budget in terms of efficiency, added value and contribution towards overall EU priorities; urges the Commission, furthermore, to align the next MFF with the political cycles of both the Commission and Parliament in order to improve the political ownership and, by extension, accountability of the Union’s multiannual budget; believes that the MFF ceilings agreed in 2013 should be maintained;

32.  Notes that the Commission will consider proposals from the High Level Group on Own Resources, including new candidates for own resources; urges the Commission not to call for tax-raising powers for the EU; advocates not abandoning the established guidelines on the current system of own resources, such as the balance between the budget and current traditional own resources (for example tariffs and sugar levies), or those on own resources based on gross national income (GNI) believes that own resources should be presented in a clear and uniform way in national budgets in order to ensure the transparency and comparability of the EU’s revenue;

33.  Considers that the Commission should develop an improved system of budgetary control which is proportionate to the benefits achieved through EU funding; considers that an integral part of this system should be its reporting, which ought to be sufficiently transparent and detailed, including the reporting of information on the recipients of EU funds and whether payments have been made on time; believes that the performance, cost-effectiveness and results achieved via EU funding should always be scrutinised in order to ascertain the sustainable, long-term effects of EU expenditure; recalls Parliament’s call for a dedicated Commissioner for Budgetary Control, replacing one of the existing Commissioners, to work with Member States to resolve cases of fraud and mismanagement; calls for the preparation of proposals to reform the Court of Auditors to serve as both an audit and evaluation authority, undertaking or commissioning independent evaluations of Union programmes;

Transport

34.  Underlines the need to continue development of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) and their core network corridors as a matter of priority, in order to link the transport networks of all EU regions and solve problems such as the lack of appropriate infrastructure, accessibility and low interoperability between the eastern and western parts of the EU; stresses the need for synergy between the financial resources of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the Structural and Investment Funds in order to ensure the best use of all available EU funding; stresses, however, that while the focus of CEF 2.0 should be on innovative financing tools and combining various types of resources, a sufficient proportion of its grants should be set aside for transport infrastructure projects that would not attract private investment owing to different market conditions in different parts of the EU;

Research

35.  Calls on the Commission, in its mid-term review and given the level of detail required in a Horizon 2020 project proposal, to introduce stricter selection criteria at the first application stage, as a large number of applicants are investing time and effort in producing a full proposal at the second stage with little likelihood or confidence of success; is concerned that this problem is particularly serious for SMEs;

36.  Stresses the need for applied research, particularly research that leads to better knowledge, skills and practices, to ensure that new technologies are used in the best possible manner; calls on the Commission to better balance the needs of fundamental, applied and translational research and development, to ensure efficient, fast translation of new discoveries into real technologies and products;

Skills and education programmes

37.  Stresses that the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET2020) and the Commission’s new Skills Agenda should complement national actions and support Member States in their efforts to develop formal and informal education and training systems, with a view in particular to improving reading, writing and numeracy skills;

38.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the expert community and relevant stakeholders, including parents’ organisations, are actively engaged in policy development;

39.  Calls on the Commission to assess the effectiveness and added value of EU culture and education programmes, paying particular attention to the Europe for Citizens programme, and to promote the simplification of procedures and sound financial management at all levels;

Regional development and cohesion policy

40.  Calls on the Commission to provide a strong indication of how it envisages that post-2020 cohesion policy will be funded and structured and of any reforms to the existing regime; believes that dialogue between all institutions must be prioritised in order to create a transparent decision-making process; stresses the need to express the current ceilings for commitment and payment appropriations under heading 1(b) as a proportion of EU GDP in the overall EU budget;

41.  Asks the Commission to carry out further studies to ensure that cohesion policy is having its intended impact at beneficiary or project level; believes that this is particularly important given that only an estimated 25 % of the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and CEF for the 2014-2020 programming period will have been allocated by the end of 2018;

42.  Acknowledges that the Omnibus Regulation made a number of important changes focused on simplification, streamlining and flexibility; believes that more can be done to ensure that technical assistance is properly targeted, monitored and evaluated; believes in addition that the Commission should empower local actors by tackling complex approval procedures, late payments to recipients and issues with combining sources of funding, and by promoting grassroots approaches such as Community-Led Local Development;

2.  ‘A Connected Digital Single Market’

43.  Calls on the Commission to present proposals to establish the general principle of the free movement of data and to remove data localisation restrictions across the EU;

3.  ‘A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’

44.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the socio-economic consequences of the new electricity market design, particularly in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region, which is likely to bear higher energy transition costs than other EU Member States;

45.  Is concerned about the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive and calls on the Commission to work with Member States following consistent guidelines to ensure effective implementation; supports the ‘efficiency first’ principle where appropriate and believes that targets should be proportionate and realistic;

4.  ‘Deeper and Fairer Internal Market with a Strengthened Industrial Base’

46.  Calls on the Commission to present proposals based upon its assessment of the Motor Insurance Directive (Directive 2009/103/EC), in particular on the resolution of issues facing vehicle users arising from the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Vnuk v Triglav, and to consider other improvements for citizens seeking insurance, such as recognition of periods without insurance claims in Member States other than the State in which the insurance is sought, in order that citizens may benefit from offers available to consumers of those Member States;

47.  Urges the Commission when drafting the revision of the Posted Workers Directive (Directive 96/71/EC) to keep in mind both the proper functioning of the internal market and the principle of freedom to provide services; urges the Commission when drafting civil law rules on robotics to take into account the sector-specific approach proposed by Parliament in order to encourage innovation and respect the different stages of robotic development in the different sectors and between Member States;

48.  Calls, following the outcomes of the Committee of Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector, for the swift adoption of the 3rd and 4th Real Driving Emissions (RDE) packages with the aim of establishing a precise definition of the conditions under which current CO2 and NOx limits are to be fulfilled;

49.  Notes that key provisions of the Biocidal Products Regulation on the approval of suppliers and the registration of active substances used for treated articles face significant compliance issues owing to low awareness among affected businesses; strongly urges the Commission to build on the work already undertaken as part of the recent fitness check on the most relevant chemicals legislation (excluding REACH), as well as related aspects of legislation applied to downstream industries, and to include the Regulation under its 2018 REFIT Agenda, with specific regard to the financial and administrative burdens faced by SMEs and micro-enterprises when compiling approval dossiers for the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA);

50.  Notes the financial and regulatory challenges for Member States in complying with the Nitrates Directive (Directive 91/676/EEC), which is often considered a poor example of effective EU legislation, with numerous infringement cases still pending; emphasises the need to harmonise its reporting cycle with that of the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC, WFD) so that the same monitoring data can be used for the reviews of both Directives, and to limit and simplify nitrate planning requirements which have proven an unnecessary bureaucratic burden for the agricultural sector; urges the Commission to add to the work undertaken in its 2012 fitness check of EU fresh water policy, and to include a systematic review of the Nitrates Directive in its 2018 REFIT Agenda in order to streamline cumbersome requirements and reduce compliance costs;

51.  Notes that current operational frameworks and data instruments regarding rules for vitamins and minerals used as ingredients of food supplements under the Food Supplements Directive (2002/46/EC) are often mentioned as an example of weak and obsolete EU legislation, with numerous harmonisation gaps across the EU, in terms not only of regulatory fields and inter-agency cooperation, but also of national divergences on the wide range of nutrients and ingredients that may also be present in food; calls on the Commission to revise the work already done and to cooperate closely with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in reviewing the current state of the European health food market, making due use of scientific research;

52.  Underlines the need to ensure continued investment in the creative cycle and access to high-quality audiovisual media content for consumers, while enhancing protection for minors and supporting the production and distribution of European works; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to follow through on its commitment to carrying out impact assessments and taking evidence-based measures, and to encourage the sharing of best practices across Member States and in industry, while recalling the principle of cultural sovereignty;

Fisheries

53.  Welcomes the progress being made by the EU’s fishing fleets in achieving the aims and objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), notably Article 2 concerning environmentally sustainable fisheries; calls on the Commission to support and continue to promote (Eco-) labels as a mechanism for recognising good quality fish caught in a sustainable way and for guaranteeing sea-to-plate traceability; calls on the Commission to ensure that the CFP and the landing obligation are implemented in a sound manner within realistic time frames; calls on the Commission to continue working closely with fishermen and scientists to identify and forecast where choke species may occur and to develop research solutions such as innovative fishing techniques, for example pulse fishing;

54.  Stresses the need for the Commission to revise Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006 (the Mediterranean Regulation), in particular the part that refers to the ban on the use of certain traditional gears and the provisions that relate to the specific characteristics of fishing gears; has concerns about the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a multi-annual plan for small pelagic stocks in the Adriatic Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks, which contains the new management framework;

55.  Calls on the Commission to find a pragmatic solution with regard to industrial fisheries in order to regulate and limit the practice of using valuable fish resources for fishmeal, in particular when it comes to vulnerable ecosystems in the Baltic Sea; calls on the Commission to review existing legislation to support small-scale fisheries in particular and to elaborate on their definition; stresses the need for the Commission to review the existing legislation with a view to introducing the seasonal closure period for cod fisheries in the Baltic Sea, so as to limit the fishing of cod juveniles;

Agriculture

56.  Welcomes the twelve-week public consultation held by the Commission and the fact that President Juncker and Commissioner Hogan have recognised that the CAP needs to be revitalised and receive sufficient funding; hopes that input from farmers, citizens and organisations received during this consultation will shape the future CAP; stresses that the CAP should ensure that taxpayers receive value for money from the investment they make in agriculture, while moving towards the equalisation of direct payments across the Member States and ensuring that the EU can maintain and increase its food-producing potential;

57.  Is disappointed at the lack of action to ensure the more efficient use of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which would improve food and energy production; stresses that soil degradation continues to be a major constraint in EU agricultural production;

58.  Is concerned about the way in which the Commission has dealt with a number of delegated acts; reminds the Commission that delegated acts should address technical and administrative adjustments and not introduce politically-driven agricultural measures into the CAP, thereby bypassing the ordinary legislative procedure;

59.  Stresses that more voluntary tools must be made available to EU farmers under pillar II to enable them to deal with increased price volatility and prolonged periods of low prices; calls on the Commission to work with Member States in developing the EU’s risk management toolkit; stresses that the main income-stabilising tool for farmers is direct payments under pillar I; calls on the Commission to explore measures that would ensure market transparency throughout the entire food supply chain;

60.  Calls on DG AGRI to work closely with DGs EMPL and GROW to ensure a real focus on the agri-food sector; notes that if the EU’s agri-food sector is to be competitive on the world market, efforts must be concentrated on job creation, growth and investment in all holdings irrespective of type and size, so that production potential is maximised; stresses that if Europe is to develop its precision farming methods and agri-technologies, the Commission should work with Member States to plan for investment in technical or higher-level agricultural training and education;

5.  ‘A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union’

61.  Highlights the importance of the achievement of the Capital Markets Union; stresses, however, that any further legislative proposals should be made only if the intended effects cannot be achieved by non-legislative means;

62.  Highlights that non-legislative steps, including the encouragement of market-driven solutions and the effective enforcement of competition and single market laws, might offer the best way forward in some areas;

63.  Calls on the Commission to recognise that diversity among business models and the financial markets of Member States can constitute strengths worth protecting for Europe as a whole;

64.  Stresses the importance of amending regulation to align it with international agreements, for example the ongoing Basel commitments;

65.  Welcomes the work of the Commission and Member States to actively promote the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and the use of tax havens, drawing on the expertise of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in fostering good tax governance;

66.  Calls for strict adherence to the no-bail-out clause as a commendable option for reforming the economic governance framework;

67.  Highlights the importance of monitoring the implementation of existing Banking Union legislation and enhancing dialogue with sector experts to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of adopted legislation;

6.  ‘Trade’

68.  Supports the continued efforts of the Commission to negotiate specific provisions designed to improve the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises to engage in trade and investment; recognises the proliferation of integrated global supply chains in international trade patterns; asks the Commission to pursue a digital trade strategy that takes into account the opportunities it offers to small and medium-sized businesses by facilitating access to global markets; recommends that this strategy endeavour to improve connectivity and capacity-building for e-commerce by eliminating unjustified restrictions on cross-border data flows, providing that adequate rules promoting open, trusted and secure digital trade are in place; encourages the Commission to advance the digital trade agenda in ongoing and future free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations and at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as the organisation must continue to represent a flexible and dynamic forum for negotiations;

69.  Calls on the Commission to review the current ACP-EU trade framework governed by the Cotonou Agreement, which will expire in 2020; notes that this is a good opportunity to evaluate the relationship and work on a new model that takes into account evidence-based findings on impact, effectiveness, EU added value and current changes in the international context; believes that the new outline should aim to support economic growth in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and their integration into the global economy; asks the Commission, therefore, to develop a clear and strong trade policy that includes, but is not limited to, private sector development, trade facilitation and reciprocal liberalisation; calls on the Commission to do so in line with the principle of policy coherence for development;

70.  Recognises and supports the approach taken in the Trade for All Strategy, namely including anti-corruption provisions in future trade agreements, given the known role that corruption plays in facilitating illegal trade; requests that the Commission pursue a trade policy that tackles illegal trade when negotiating with trade partners; recommends doing so in line with the existing international trade frameworks negotiated at multilateral level;

7.  ‘An Area of Justice and Fundamental Rights Based on Mutual Trust’

71.  Believes that full interoperability of EU databases in the area of justice and home affairs, to which relevant national authorities have adequate access, including to biometric data, is essential for a more effective fight against organised crime and terrorism; urges the Commission to develop standards for current and future databases that incorporate the principles of security by design and, where applicable, purpose limitation by default; believes, furthermore, that EU systems and the Member States must be able to use information from and exchange information with international databases, such as those managed by Interpol; urges the Commission to work with Member States to ensure the permanent and good-quality uploading of relevant information to EU databases;

72.  Believes that work on new or updated databases should be a priority, including the Entry-Exit System (EES), the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), the SIS II package, Eurodac, the European Police Records Index System (EPRIS) and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), and that proper funding should be made available for putting them in place; urges the Commission to follow technological developments continuously in order to improve the information systems, bearing in mind the importance of speed and reliability for their usability;

73.  Supports the upcoming revision of the Cybersecurity Strategy; calls on the Commission to review existing legislation in the area of cybercrime and to put forward a proposal which establishes a clear framework for the relationship between private companies and law enforcement authorities in the fight against organised crime and radicalisation online, while considering the security of personal data processing and the risk of data breach;

74.  Calls for more work to be done to counter online propaganda, in particular that which promotes extremist ideologies, but also whose aim is to destabilise, such as propaganda efforts coordinated from Russia; calls for the more appropriate funding of Europol’s Internet Referral Unit;

75.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate the exchange of best practices on countering radicalisation in prisons in the EU;

8.  ‘Towards a New Policy on Migration’

76.  Calls on the Commission to step up efforts to conclude an agreement with all relevant parties in Libya in order to stem the illegal inflow of third country nationals into EU territory;

77.  Encourages the Commission both to continue negotiations with third countries on return and readmission agreements as a crucial part of a fair asylum system and to review the Return Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC) to evaluate whether it still provides an adequate legal framework for EU return policy; believes that at Member State level voluntary resettlement can be used as an instrument for providing international protection;

78.  Supports the objective of establishing strict asylum procedures and conditions in the Member States; believes, however, that Member States are and must remain ultimately responsible for their borders, labour market policies, and access to social welfare, healthcare, housing and education;

79.  Believes that more efforts are needed to ensure support for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, including by pooling resources, as it takes on important new tasks, including the future ETIAS Central Unit;

9.  ‘A Stronger Global Actor’

80.  Calls for regular reviews of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) to ensure that it addresses the constantly evolving situations on the EU’s eastern and southern borders; further insists that the work and budgets of the European External Action Service (EEAS) are properly scrutinised and accounted for; believes that this evaluation should focus not only on whether the money is spent correctly, but also on whether ENP objectives have been achieved;

81.  Encourages cooperation between the EU, its Member States and international organisations, including the UN, NATO, and the Commonwealth, ensuring recognition of shared global foreign policy, security and humanitarian challenges, and national competence in these areas;

82.  Insists that the promotion of human rights remains an important dimension of the EU’s foreign policy objectives and all its relations with third countries, including in areas such as religious freedom, freedom of expression, political freedom, the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities, and the rights of minority groups, including LGBTI people;

83.  Calls for the continued exertion of diplomatic pressure, including the use of targeted sanctions against individuals, groups and the Russian Government, in order to peacefully resolve the conflict in Ukraine; insists on strict adherence to the non-recognition-policy for Russian-occupied Crimea;

84.  Encourages further international cooperation in seeking a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that achieves a secure and universally recognised Israel existing alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian State;

Security

85.  Recognises NATO as the cornerstone of European defence and security policy and resists any measures that will undermine the EU’s links with international defence partners; urges the Commission to work with Member States to achieve the target set for NATO members of spending 2 % of GDP on defence;

86.  Calls on the Commission to examine the objectives and cost-effectiveness of EU civilian missions under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) with a view to developing more effectively an area of genuine and useful complementarity with the role of other organisations;

87.  Encourages, as the largest contributor to international action against anti-personnel landmines (APL), a review of the EU’s targeting and funding of mine action in order to bring such action to a successful conclusion within the shortest possible time frame;

88.  Proposes the identification of research funding and practical action in the field of cybersecurity, particularly the protection of infrastructure and the strengthening of national resilience, in order to determine where the greatest added value lies, taking into account work carried out by other organisations;

Development

89.  Believes that the role of the public sector is fundamental to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); believes that the private sector, under free and fair trade conditions, is the driver of wealth creation and economic growth in all market economies, generating 90 % of jobs and income in developing countries; notes that according to the UN, the private sector accounts for 84 % of GDP in developing countries and has the capacity to provide a sustainable base for lower aid dependence and domestic resource mobilisation;

90.  Calls on the Commission to establish a clear, structured, transparent and accountable framework governing partnerships and alliances with the private sector in developing countries; calls, furthermore, for the setting-up at EU level of sectorial, multi-stakeholder platforms, bringing together the private sector, civil society organisations (CSOs), NGOs, think tanks, partner governments, donors and other stakeholders, in order to provide information about opportunities for participating in public-private partnerships (PPPs), exchange best practices, and provide technical support on the legal framework and the challenges expected to arise from collaborative development interventions;

91.  Welcomes the EIB’s role in local private sector development; underlines the fact that the EIB’s support for microfinance has already been particularly successful, with just EUR 184 million in microcredits sustaining 230 500 jobs in microenterprises around the world, and that these microcredits have a strong gender perspective, generating twice as many jobs for women as for men; calls on the Commission and the Member States to acknowledge the success of microfinance policies by means of an increase in available financial resources; notes that the EIB devotes additional resources to microfinance through the EU’s external lending mandate in all the developing countries in which it is active;

92.  Recalls that Sustainable Development Goal 3 clearly states that by 2030 everyone should be able to enjoy good mental and physical health throughout their lives; underlines the fact that, each year, 100 million people fall into poverty as a result of health costs which are disproportionate to their incomes, and that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over one third of the world’s population, and over 50 % in Africa, does not have access to medicines, owing to inequalities such as lower education levels and income, limited access to information, poor infrastructure, and restricted access to medical points in rural areas, with a corresponding lack of diagnoses, leading to a lack of treatment and minimal access to medication;

93.  Recalls that the aim should be to reach people who need healthcare wherever and whenever they need it, with due respect for the sovereignty of the third countries concerned, while acknowledging that the availability of medicines is affected by conflicts and crises, as are all aspects of healthcare systems; believes that in such cases emergency response systems are necessary to effectively prevent and/or respond to possible outbreaks;

10. ‘A Union of Democratic Change’

94.  Calls on the Commission to initiate an IIA with a view to enabling the genuine involvement of the national parliaments’ network in the EU’s legislative process, in accordance with the inseparable principles of conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality; calls on the Commission, to that end, to:

–  de facto extend the scrutiny period within which national parliaments can issue a reasoned opinion from eight to twelve weeks;

–  encourage and examine reasoned own-initiative opinions from national parliaments suggesting that the Commission initiate a legislative act within its area of competences (‘green card’);

–  consider any reasoned opinion on the non-compliance of a draft Union legislative act with the principle of subsidiarity as ‘politically binding’ if it has achieved the established threshold of a third of the votes allocated to the national parliaments, and consequently undertake to instantly and completely remove the challenged draft act;

–  welcome the parliamentarisation and modernisation of the Luxembourg Compromise as regards reasoned opinions issued by national parliaments on topics they deem to be of ‘very important national interest’ that oppose the adoption of or participation in a given draft act, and invites the Council to hold comprehensive discussions with a view to reaching a consensus;

–  welcome the right of national parliaments to recall and review implementing or delegated acts adopted by the Commission, as well as their right to full cooperation on requests submitted by any national parliamentary inquiry committee when a European matter is concerned;

–  review any directive or regulation if requested to do so by the national parliaments;

–  introduce an automatic sunset clause for certain acts after five or ten years;

–  initiate the repatriation of so-called shared competences if national parliaments achieving a third of the votes consider that objectives have not, in the light of experience, been sufficiently met through the ordinary legislative procedure and that competences would be best returned to Member States and/or regional and local authorities;

95.  Calls on the Commission to initiate an ordinary treaty revision procedure under Article 48 TEU with a view to proposing the changes to Article 341 TFEU and Protocol 6 necessary to enable Parliament to decide on the location of its seat and internal organisation;

96.  Calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal to amend the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union to the effect that ‘any judge who has taken part in the consideration of the case may annex to the judgment either a separate opinion, concurring with or dissenting from that judgment, or a bare statement of dissent’;

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97.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the European Council, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

General Market

Daily News 14 / 06 / 2017

EU institutions welcome the end of roaming charges in the EU 

As of tomorrow, 15 June 2017, roaming charges in the EU will no longer apply. On this occasion, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani and Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union stated: “The European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier. The end of roaming charges is a true European success story. From now on, citizens who travel within the EU will be able to call, text and connect on their mobile devices at the same price as they pay at home. Eliminating roaming charges is one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU. Over the last 10 years, our institutions have been working hard together to fix this market failure. Each time a European citizen crossed an EU border, be it for holidays, work, studies or just for a day, they had to worry about using their mobile phones and a high phone bill from the roaming charges when they came home. Roaming charges will now be a thing of the past. As of tomorrow, you will be able to remain connected while travelling in the EU, for the same price as at home.” The full statement by the three EU institutions is available here. An overview of the new roaming rules is available on the roaming website. Details on how roam like at home works in practice are available in all official EU languages in the frequently asked questions, general factsheet, detailed factsheet as well as a recent MEMO. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524;Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel. +32 229 67083; Johannes Bahrke – Tel. +32 22958615)

President Juncker addresses the plenary of the European Parliament on the Commission’s preparations ahead of the European Council on 22 and 23 June 2017

This morning President Juncker addressed the Plenary of the European Parliament ahead of the next European Council on 22 and 23 June, in which he covered the Commission’s ongoing work in the areas of defence, security, climate change, migration and solidarity among EU Member States. He stressed the importance of common work on defence and security through all tools provided by the Treaties, especially following the recent terrorist attacks: “In Europe, determination will always triumph over fear” he said, repeating that such attacks “will not undermine our resilience”‘. He highlighted the Commission’s reflection paper on the future of European defence of last week stressing that “whichever road we go down, our ever closer partnership with NATO will remain the cornerstone of Europe’s defence and security”.  President Juncker reiterated that “global security requires much more than solely efforts on military expenses”, namely that “European and global stability also depend on our efforts in development cooperation and in the fight against climate change”. Addressing the issue of migration, President Juncker recalled the European Union’s role in the protection of our external borders through the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard saying that “never have our external borders been as well protected as today“. Stressing the importance of solidarity in migration, he underlined that it cannot be “a one-way street”. Member States have to play their role. The fact that they are not, is therefore why the Commission has launched infringement procedures – not to sanction Member States, but to ensure the application of jointly agreed European Union law, the President explained. The full speech is available here. President Juncker also addressed the European Parliament this morning, following President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the COP 21 Climate Agreement. President Juncker said that this is “more than a sad event. It is a sign of abdication from common action in dealing with the fate of our planet. […] We are disappointed and we regret the decision”. President Juncker underlined that “the abandonment of Paris by the U.S. administration will not mean the end of the Agreement.”  Reiterating that the EU will not renegotiate the Agreement, President Juncker said “We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is the time for action, now it is the time for implementation”, adding that the European Union “will step up our climate diplomacy and collaboration with other partners”. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Arias Cañete will co-host a major gathering with his Chinese and Canadian counterparts to implement Paris and accelerate the clean energy transition. The full speech of President Juncker is available here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

Procédures d’infraction du mois de juin: la Commission prend des mesures en vue d’une mise en œuvre complète, correcte et en temps utile du droit de l’Union européenne dans l’intérêt des citoyens et des entreprises

Pour aider les citoyens et les entreprises à tirer pleinement profit du marché intérieur, la Commission européenne noue un dialogue permanent avec les États membres qui ne respectent pas le droit européen et, au besoin, ouvre des procédures d’infraction à leur égard. Les décisions prises aujourd’hui, dans le cadre des décisions régulières d’infraction, comprennent 12 lettres de mise en demeure, 25 avis motivés et un renvoi à la Cour de justice de l’UE. Elle clôt également 101 dossiers en cours lorsque l’État membre concerné, en coopération avec la Commission, a résolu le problème et assuré le respect du droit de l’Union et que, dès lors, une saisine de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne n’est pas nécessaire. Un résumé des principales décisions et les références des communiqués de presse correspondants figurent ici. Les aspects essentiels des procédures d’infraction de l’UE sont énoncés ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Uldis Šalajevs – Tel.: +32 229 67560)

 

The Commission welcomes the European Parliament’s approval of its proposal to increase EU financial support following natural disasters

Yesterday the European Parliament gave its green light to the Commission’s proposal to provide special EU support to disaster-stricken regions, by covering up to 95% of the costs of the reconstruction works. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: “Natural disasters can occur anywhere and anytime and EU citizens need to know that in times of need, the EU cares and is ready to step up its support. I very much welcome the vote of the European Parliament, as it means the proposal will soon enter into force and Member States will be able to activate this mechanism as soon as they need it.” The Commission proposed this amendment to the Cohesion policy Regulation in the wake of the earthquakes which struck four regions in Central Italy in 2016. President Juncker had announced that the EU would stand by Italy and its citizens, and help fully reconstruct the areas damaged, including the Basilica of San Benedetto in Norcia. But with this proposal, any Member State affected by a natural disaster will be able to activate this form of EU support. Member States struck by earthquakes, floods or severe droughts and forest fires can activate this special EU support from day one of a disaster, and for disasters that have occurred since the beginning of the current programming period, i.e. 1 January 2014. This would supplement EU Solidarity Fund assistance and provide a quick and efficient EU assistance to regions in distress. The proposal now has to be formally approved by the Council before entering into force. Commissioner Crețu issued a statement when the European Parliament and the Council had reached a provisional agreement on the proposal. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Juncker Plan backs loan to support environmentally-sustainable projects in Poland

The Juncker Plan has backed a European Investment Bank loan agreement with Bank Ochrony Środowiska, a bank specialising in supporting environmentally-friendly projects, which will unlock EUR 75 million for small and medium-sized businesses in Poland. Some 40% of this amount is expected to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and waste management projects. This agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI is the central pillar of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said: “The European Fund for Strategic Investments is playing an important role in facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized businesses across Europe. Over 16,000 Polish businesses are already set to access EFSI-backed loans which will allow them to grow, innovate and hire new employees. Today’s agreement is especially encouraging, given that it supports projects which will contribute to creating a greener, more sustainable future.” The Juncker Plan is now expected to trigger over EUR 6.4 billion in investments in Poland and EUR 194 billion across Europe. For the latest figures country-by-country, see here. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

Energy Union: the EU Cohesion Policy invests to improve energy security in Poland

€112.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund will be invested in the construction of a 167 km-long natural gas pipeline between the cities of Lwówek and Odolanów, in the Polish region of Wielkopolska. The EU-funded project also includes the construction of interconnections in Krobia, Kotowo, Lwówek and Odolanów, and of supporting infrastructure. Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu said: “This project directly contributes to the implementation of the Energy Union, by improving Poland’s energy security. It will also help provide households and businesses with additional and affordable gas sources and as such boost economic competitiveness in the country and the neighbouring regions.” The Lwówek – Odolanów pipeline will connect the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in the city of Świnoujście, in North-West Poland, to the existing gas transmission, storage and distribution infrastructure. It was defined as a project of common interest (PCI) and has the potential to export gas to Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. As such, it is an important part of the North-South gas interconnections in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe. In the 2014-2020 period, €69 billion under the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds are supporting the EU’s Energy Union targets. More information on the contribution of the ESI Funds to the Energy Union is available here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

EU boosts cooperation with key international partners to support its foreign policy objectives

The European Commission has adopted the Annual Action Programme 2017 (AAP 2017) of the Partnership Instrument, approving 19 new projects totalling more than €87 million. These projects will increase the impact of the European Union and help to achieve our objectives across a number of policy areas. A particular focus of this year’s Action Programme is climate action, clean energy, biodiversity and green diplomacy. The European Union has recently reiterated its full commitment to implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate action, and therefore to the promotion of secure, affordable, climate-friendly and sustainable energy sources. As a global leader in this field, the European Union will implement projects with partners in Asia and Latin America to enhance environmental resilience, to increase energy efficiency, and to assist the transition towards low carbon economies. Other priority areas of EU foreign policy, such as migration management and trade, are also reflected in the AAP 2017, in particular through supporting dialogue and cooperation on migration and mobility with India, and engaging with civil society in trade policy-making processes. Funding under the Partnership Instrument will also go towards fighting inequality, promoting responsible business and championing decent work opportunities in Latin America, notably for women and young people, as well as actions to support the European Union’s own public and cultural diplomacy. A full press release is available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)

 

Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigations into Nike’s, Sanrio’s and Universal Studios’ licensing and distribution practices

The European Commission has launched three separate antitrust investigations into whether certain licensing and distribution practices of Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios illegally restrict traders from selling licensed merchandise cross-border and online within the EU Single Market. The Commission will investigate whether the three companies, in their role as licensors of rights for merchandising products, may have breached EU competition rules by restricting their licensees’ ability to sell licensed merchandise cross-border and online. These practices may ultimately harm consumers by preventing them from benefiting from greater choice and lower prices, both online and offline. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “The Commission is investigating whether Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios are restricting cross border and online sales of merchandising products. We are going to examine whether the licensing and distribution practices of these three companies may be denying consumers access to wider choice and better deals in the Single Market”. The full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Eurostat: First quarter of 2017 compared with the fourth quarter of 2016 – Employment up by 0.4% in both the euro area and in the EU28 – +1.5% and +1.4% respectively compared with the first quarter of 2016

The number of persons employed increased by 0.4% in both the euro area (EA19) and in the EU28 in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2016, employment increased also by 0.4% in both areas. Commenting on the figures, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: “Employment has never been as high as now in both the EU and the euro area. Job creation has been the top priority of this Commission and our efforts are paying off: Since the Juncker Commission took up office in 2014, about 6.9 million jobs have been created. But we can’t stop here, as too many people are still excluded from the labour market. We need to act jointly so all Member States could enjoy the same progress. This is why the European Pillar of Social Rights is so important: its aim is to help Member States grow more closely together, towards better working and social conditions for all.” A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

 

Eurostat: La production industrielle en hausse de 0,5% dans la zone euro

En avril 2017 par rapport à mars 2017, la production industrielle corrigée des variations saisonnières a augmenté de 0,5% 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 mars 2017, la production industrielle avait progressé de 0,2% dans la zone euro et de 0,3% dans l’UE28. En avril 2017 par rapport à avril 2016, la production industrielle a augmenté de 1,4% dans la zone euro ainsi que dans l’UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)

 

 
ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioner Vella co-host a high-level event on EU Arctic Policy in Oulu (Finland), 15-16 June

On 15-16 June, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini will co-host, together with the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Timo Soini, a high-level event on the European Union’s Arctic Policy in Oulu, Finland. The conference, featuring speakers from both EU and non-EU countries, will look at innovative approaches to addressing the challenges confronting the Arctic. Commissioner Vella said: “The European Union has a deep understanding that environmental and climate protection brings not just green benefits, but geopolitical stability. On the Arctic, just as on the Paris Agreement I can assure you that the EU is solid. That is something that will not melt under any political heat.” High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will speak to the press alongside the Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä at 16:30 and Commissioner Vella and Minister Soini will hold a press conference at 18.30, both at the Oulu Music Hall and available on EbS. In the morning of the 16 June, there will be the high-level Arctic Stakeholder Forum and in the afternoon the annual Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ Dialogue. The full programme of the Conference is available here. Live streaming of the conference is available online, and for the ‘1st panel session: The Arctic is local and global – increasing expectations’ and for the ‘2nd panel session: The Arctic – a Northern light for innovation’, both on 15th June, on EbS. For more information on the EU’s Arctic policy, visit the website. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen attend Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Council

Tomorrow, 15 June, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will attend the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Council (EPSCO). First, Ministers will hold a policy debate on the 2017 European Semester, and adopt Council conclusions onstrategies for making work pay following the informal meeting of EU Social Affairs and Employment Ministers on 3 April, and the Court of Auditor’s special report on youth unemployment. Ministers are also expected to adopt a general approach on the Commission’s second proposal to better protect workers from cancer-causing chemicals under the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. Several progress reports will also be discussed, including on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive as well as the proposed revision of the coordination of social security systems, on equal treatment, on women on company boards, and on the accessibility requirements for products and services as proposed under the Commission’s Accessibility Act. During lunchtime, Ministers will also hold a first informal debate on the European Pillar of Social Rights. A first press conference will take place at 12:45, with Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Thyssen and Minister for European Affairs and Equality of Malta, Helena Dalli. At the end of the Council meeting, a second press conference will take place, foreseen around 18:30, with Commissioner Thyssen, Maltese Minister for Education and Employment, Evarist Bartolo, and Maltese Minister for Family and Social Solidarity, Michael Falzon. Both press conferences can be followed here. More information as regards the Council agenda is available here. (For more information:Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

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