Motion for a resolution on the situation in Yemen – B8-2017-0653

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the statements on Yemen and its humanitarian situation made by the Spokesperson of Secretary-General of the United Nations, by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Yemen of 16 November 2015 and 3 April 2017 and to the Council Conclusions of 17 July 2017 on addressing the risk of famine;

–  having regard to the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Yemen, and to that of the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, on the humanitarian situation in Yemen of 11 November 2017,

–  having regard to the Integrated Response Plan: Yemen Cholera Outbreak by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), updated on 23 May 2017, and to its Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen for January-December 2017,

–  having regard to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in particular those of 14 April 2015 (S/RES/2216), 24 February 2016 (S/RES/2266) and 23 February 2017 (S/RES/2342),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Yemen, in particular those of 9 July 2015(1), of 25 February 2016(2) and of 15 June 2017(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 February 2014 on the use of armed drones(4),

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations and to the principles of international humanitarian law,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the long-standing confrontation between the Houthis and the Yemeni Government has continued for more than two and a half years, leading the country to a humanitarian crisis that is currently the worst in the world; whereas there is widespread starvation and a fast-spreading cholera outbreak on an enormous scale with over 925 000 suspected cholera cases and more than 2 200 associated deaths;

B.  whereas the Saudi Arabia led-coalition – backed by the United States and comprising the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan –has been the main cause of death of Yemeni civilians since the start of an airstrike campaign on 26 March 2015 aimed at restoring President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to power; whereas this coalition has committed grave violations, including strikes on homes, markets, hospitals and schools, that have resulted in many thousands of civilian deaths, mostly of women and children;

C.  whereas, under the pretext of a ballistic missile allegedly being fired by the Houthis and intercepted by Saudi Arabia on its way to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has re-imposed a near-total blockade, closing Yemen’s land, sea and air borders on 6 November 2017; whereas the recent reopening of the port of the city of Aden is clearly insufficient; whereas the coalition’s blockade of fuel and the targeting of civilian infrastructure are in violation of international humanitarian law;

D.  whereas Saudi Arabia and the US President have both accused Iran of being responsible for firing the ballistic missile; whereas Iran has denied this accusation and the Houthis have insisted that they produced the missile by themselves in Yemen;

E.  whereas over 50 000 civilians have been killed, injured or maimed during the conflict; whereas the UN is urgently calling on the authorities and the various factions to allow sustained access to the besieged cities, which would allow it to deliver help to people in need, as the war in Yemen has been ranked in the most severe category of humanitarian crises; whereas thousands of refugees have managed to flee to neighbouring countries;

F.  whereas Yemen is now at the centre of the world’s largest food security crisis, with around 80 % of the Yemeni population – approximately 21 million people – in urgent need of some form of humanitarian aid that would alleviate their desperate need for food, medicines and fuel;

G.  whereas malnutrition and cholera are interconnected; whereas 17 million people in Yemen are food insecure, including 7 million facing famine, 3.3 million who are acutely malnourished and 462 000 children in the grip of severe acute malnutrition;

H.  whereas extensive violations by the Ansar Allah armed group, including the use of landmines, have been reported; whereas there have also been instances of extrajudicial executions by the forces of President Hadi and allied parties and armed groups; whereas Yemeni parties to the conflict are responsible for the indiscriminate shelling of civilians and civilian facilities, the denial of humanitarian access, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances and torture;

I.  whereas the country is facing a humanitarian catastrophe, including a risk of famine, aggravated by the cholera outbreak; whereas air strikes, shelling and violence continue to force Yemeni families from their homes, leading to millions of internally displaced people (IDPs); whereas over 8 million people have lost reliable and safe access to drinking water as most of the water network has been destroyed by fighting; whereas most Yemenis lack adequate access to health care assistance;

J.  whereas, according to Save the Children, 130 children die in Yemen every day; whereas at least 1.8 million children have had to drop out of school, in addition to the 1.6 million who were not in school before the conflict began;

K.  whereas women in Yemen have traditionally been highly vulnerable to abuses such as child marriage and violence, as there is no legal minimum age of consent in the country; whereas women have less access than men to medical care, property ownership, education and training; whereas their situation has been worsened by the conflict, and an estimated 2.6 million women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence; whereas the number of child marriages has increased significantly in the past two years; whereas around 30 % of displaced households are headed by women; whereas medicines for many chronic diseases are no longer available, and whereas Yemen has one of the highest maternal death rates; whereas malnourished, pregnant and lactating women are more likely to contract cholera and have a higher risk of bleeding, adding considerably to the risk of complications and death during childbirth;

L.  whereas around 280 000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, are in Yemen, the only country in the Arab Peninsula which is a signatory to the Refugee Convention and the Protocol; whereas these refugees are also in need of protection as a result of the worsening of the conflict; whereas some 30 600 Somalis have reportedly already returned to Somalia, and the UNHCR has established Return Help Desks;

M.  whereas the conflict and the security vacuum it has caused have led to the dangerous expansion of extremist groups in the country; whereas Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has consolidated its presence and Da’esh has continued its campaign of attacks and assassinations;

N.  whereas UN-sponsored talks have been frozen and a political solution to the conflict seems far from being achieved;

O.  whereas Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world; whereas before the start of the war, half of Yemenis already lived below the poverty line, two-thirds of young people were unemployed and basic social services were on the verge of collapse;

P.  whereas the conflict has been depicted as one between Shias and Sunnis in an attempt to obscure the real geopolitical reasons behind it; whereas Saudi Arabia is accusing the Houthis of being backed by Iran and regards them as a threat to Saudi security; whereas the complexity of the conflict in Yemen has some of the elements of a proxy war; whereas this is clear from the strong Al-Qaeda presence, the separatist movements and Zaidi Shia rebels in the north, as well as battles between the Houthis and armed groups in the south; whereas the conflict has fostered the expansion of Da’esh-affiliated groups in the country;

Q.  whereas the EU and the UN have imposed an arms embargo on Yemen, and the EU has imposed targeted sanctions against Houthi leaders; whereas, at the same time, 17 EU Member States, including the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy and Germany, continue to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia; whereas the UK, France and Spain, in particular, have significantly increased their supply of weapons to actors involved in the conflict;

R.  whereas the US holds the al-Annad military air base in Yemen, near the southern city of al-Houta, where Americans have commanded drone strikes against suspected members of the local Al-Qaeda branch; whereas the US drone strikes and the extrajudicial killings carried out in Yemen since 2002 have contributed to the destabilisation of the situation in the country; whereas, according to reports on Yemen issued by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights (OHCHR), drone strikes have killed more civilians than alleged terrorists/Al-Qaeda members;

S.  whereas there has been a dramatic increase in lethal drone operations in Yemen since the Trump Administration took office, with a massive increase of 231 per cent since 2016 and at least 115 confirmed strikes this year, including two ground raids; whereas there is evidence that EU Member States such as the UK, Italy and Germany are providing both direct and indirect support for such lethal operations by providing intelligence and other operational support;

T.  whereas the geographical location of Yemen at the mouth of the Red Sea, which leads to the Suez Canal and opens on to the Gulf of Aden, has strategic importance linked to significant maritime routes and energy resources;

1.  Is deeply concerned about the escalation of the conflict in Yemen, which has led to the current humanitarian crisis, with the situation becoming even more dramatic with the restoration of the full blockade by Saudi Arabia;

2.   Condemns the use of violence against civilians by any party to the conflict or by terrorists or other armed groups, as such acts have led the country into a severe humanitarian crisis and resulted in thousands of civilians being wounded and killed, and in several million displaced persons; expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims;

3.   Condemns the indiscriminate military strikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen which continue to be the leading cause of civilian deaths; condemns, furthermore, the blockade re-imposed by Saudi Arabia on Yemen and urges for it to be completely lifted; calls on Saudi Arabia and its coalition to ensure that all ports and land routes remain open in order to allow urgent humanitarian relief for the Yemeni population;

4.   Reiterates its full support for the efforts of the UN and the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen; is convinced that there can only be a political solution to the conflict in Yemen; calls, therefore, on all parties in Yemen to agree as a matter of urgency to a cessation of hostilities, to be monitored by the United Nations as a first step towards the resumption of peace talks leading to Yemeni-led inclusive political negotiations, with a view to restoring peace in the country;

5.   Reminds all parties, especially Saudi Arabia and its coalition, of their responsibility to ensure compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, which means protecting civilians, refraining from targeting civilian infrastructure, and providing safe and unimpeded access to the country for humanitarian organisations;

6.   Is convinced that Saudi intervention is aimed at reinforcing its control in the region, and that this will only bring more suffering to the Yemeni people and deeper divisions between the peoples in the Middle East; is concerned about the increasing tension in the region exacerbated by the unilateral measures taken by Saudi Arabia towards other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council such as Qatar;

7.   Calls on the parties to the conflict to take all necessary steps to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against the civilian population, including sexual and gender-based violence; strongly condemns the violations of the rights of the child; expresses grave concern over reports of the use of child soldiers by Houthi, Ansar Al-Sharia and government forces, and at children’s limited access to basic health care and education; calls for those responsible for violations and abuses of human rights law, or violations of international humanitarian law, to be held accountable for their actions;

8.   Strongly criticises the intensive arms trade of Member States with various countries in the region, as in the cases of the UK, Spain, France and Germany; calls for an immediate suspension of arms transfers and military support to Saudi Arabia and to its coalition partners; reiterates its call on the Council to impose an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia given the serious allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia in Yemen and the fact that the continued licensing of weapon sales to Saudi Arabia would therefore be in breach of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008(5);

9.   Deplores the fact that no independent international investigation has been initiated into the coalition airstrike on a crowded funeral ceremony in Sana’a on 8 October 2016, which, according to the report of the Panel of Experts on Yemen of 27 January 2017, killed 132 people and wounded 695;

10.   Expresses its concern over the ability of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Da’esh to benefit from the deterioration of the political and security situation in Yemen; recalls that all acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, and regardless of when, where and by whom they are committed;

11.   Is convinced that any long-term solution should address the underlying causes of poverty and instability in the country and also fulfil the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people; reaffirms its support for any peaceful political effort to protect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen;

12.   Deeply regrets the lack of attention paid in the past two and a half years by the international community and mass media to the conflict that has motivated the current humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen;

13.   Rejects any foreign military intervention in the country, be it Saudi or Iranian, Arab or Western; is very concerned at the escalation of tensions in the region, which has been compounded by statements by President Trump on Iran’s involvement; underlines that the war in Yemen is not simply a conflict between Shias and Sunnis; denounces the instrumentalisation of religious differences, in particular by Saudi Arabia, to instigate political crises and sectarian wars;

14.   Condemns the EU’s connivance and complicity with dictatorships in the region; is highly critical of the role played by the various Western interventions of recent years in exacerbating conflicts in the area; states that there can be no military solution to the conflicts in the region; rejects the use of the notion of ‘responsibility to protect’, also used as a pretext by different parties to the conflict in Yemen, as it violates international law and does not offer an adequate legal basis for justifying the unilateral use of force;

15.   Calls on the international community, and in particular on Member States such as the UK, France, Spain and Germany, to end arms transfers to all warring parties in the country and, therefore, to take the necessary measures to prevent their direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to, or for the benefit of, designated individuals and entities and those acting on their behalf or at their direction in Yemen, in line with the UN Arms Embargo on Yemen, as defined in paragraph 14 of UNSC resolution 2216 (2015);

16.   Condemns the increasing use of drones for extraterritorial operations by the US under the Obama Administration and the further increase under the Trump Administration; firmly opposes the use of drones in extrajudicial and extraterritorial killings; demands a ban on the use of drones for this purpose pursuant to its aforementioned resolution of 27 February 2014 on the use of armed drones, which in paragraph 2(a) and (b) calls on the Vice-President / High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Member States and the Council to ‘oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial targeted killings’ and to ‘ensure that the Member States, in conformity with their legal obligations, do not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states’;

17.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government of Yemen, and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the UN General Assembly.

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EU pledges additional €30 million for the Rohingya crisis at Geneva donors’ conference

The European Union is co-hosting today in Geneva a ‘Pledging Conference on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis’. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has announced the EU’s contribution of an additional €30 million for the Rohingya communities in Bangladesh. This comes on the top of over €21 million in overall EU assistance already allocated to Rohingya and host communities in both Bangladesh and Myanmar, bringing total EU support for this year to over €51 million. “Today, we stand united for the right cause. The cause of stateless people who have suffered for too long: the Rohingya. The Rohingya deserve nothing less than every other human being in the world. They deserve a future. We have a moral duty to give these people hope. Our humanitarian support will work to provide essentials like water, sanitation, food, healthcare, protection, and education”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “Beyond the immediate response, we need to think of long-term solutions for Rohingya and host populations alike. Whilst the focus should remain on creating an enabling environment for safe and dignified voluntary returns of Rohingya to Myanmar, we need to also ensure that local communities, who are already facing enormous challenges, are not left behind and that we provide them medium and long-term development assistance. Any solution has to inevitably include political dialogue with all parties involved.” Commissioner Stylianides will travel to Bangladesh next week to meet with Rohingya refugees and visit EU aid projects in the affected areas.Read the full press release here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Commission proposes €5.4 million from Globalisation Fund for former retail workers in Greece and Finland

Today, the European Commission has proposed to provide Greece with €2.9 million euro and Finland with €2.5 million euro from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) following a significant number of redundancies in the Greek and Finnish retail sector. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: “The retail sector in both Greece and Finland has been hit hard by the economic crisis and changing trade patterns. The proposed support from Europe’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund now aims at helping these redundant workers to adapt their skills and facilitate their transition to new jobs or help them set up their own enterprises.” Greece applied for support from the Globalisation Fund following the dismissal of 725 workers in 9 enterprises operating in the retail sector. The redundancies occurred mainly in the Attica region, but ten other regions have also been affected by the layoffs. The measures co-financed by the Globalisation Fund will help the 725 former retail workers by providing them with occupational guidance and counselling; vocational training; contribution to business start-up; hiring incentives; and job-search and training allowances. Finland, on the other hand, applied for support from the EGF following the dismissal of 1,660 workers in three retail enterprises. Thanks to this financial support, 1,500 Finnish redundant workers will be offered support and guidance to find new jobs, for example through vocational and re-training courses. The proposals now go to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for approval. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: high performance of EU agri-food exports continues

Published today by the European Commission, the latest monthly trade report shows that European agri-food exports remain strong for August 2017 further increasing the trade balance to €2.4 billion. The European agri-food exports rose to €11.5 billion in August 2017, an 8% increase compared to July 2017. Highest increases of monthly exports were again towards Russia and the USA, with respectively an added €153 million and €108 million compared to 2016. By sector, exports of wine and vermouth and milk powders have increased the most with respectively an extra €130 million and an added €123 million compared to last year. EU agri-food imports have also increased by 4% compared to the same time last year, resulting in a surplus of €2.4 billion in the agri-food trade balance.This month’s report focuses on agri-food trade with Russia. After an initial drop, both in banned products and non-banned products, EU exports of non-banned products to Russia resumed growth and reached € 6 299 million in the period September 2016 to August 2017, which represents an increase in value by 14% compared to the previous period. This brings back Russia now to be the 4th biggest export destination for EU agri-food products, just before Japan. The full report is online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Ahead of Commissioners’ participation in Council discussion on Digital Single Market: Commission publishes new study to support 5G roll-out

Ahead of tomorrow’s Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council that will concentrate on most pertinent Digital Single Market issues, the Commission published today the latest study on spectrum assignments that will support the EU’s work towards successful 5G deployment. The results affirm that licence duration and auction prices influence investments in better network coverage. For example, there is a tendency for higher investment levels in countries that have awarded longer licences. There is additionally evidence that high spectrum prices can be associated with lower 4G availability. These findings will provide supplementary input to the ongoing negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal for new EU telecoms rules – the European Electronic Communications Code. Tomorrow’s Council meeting in Luxembourg aims to accelerate progress on the Digital Single Market legislative files, in particular on spectrum and 5G deployment. Additionally, the Ministers hold a follow-up debate on cybersecurity following the European Council conclusions, the Tallinn Digital Summit and the Commission’s proposals to scale up the EU’s response to cyber-attacks. For the Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Commissioner Julian King in charge of Security Union, as well as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel will participate. The European Electronic Communications Code is crucial for creating the Digital Single Market, as it will boost investments in high-speed and quality networks. It provides the necessary basis for the 5G roll-out at the same time all across the EU. Read more about the topic in the proposal from 2016. Further details on the spectrum assignments study can be found here. Spectrum factsheet will be available soon here. Overview factsheets on the Digital Single Market can be found here: state of play, timeline, cybersecurity. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)

 

Commission publishes report and its proposal on sustainable development following the latest negotiating round with Mercosur

The Commission’s report from the latest round of trade negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur – the block including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – is now online. The Commission has also made available online its negotiating proposal on the enforcement of the trade and sustainable development chapter. Both publications come as part of the Commission’s commitment to a more transparent trade policy. Other EU negotiating proposals for an agreement with Mercosur are available here. During the round held between 2 and 6 October, all issues were covered and talks advanced in a number of areas. The round report includes details on all of them, including trade in goods and services, technical barriers to trade, government procurement, as well as intellectual property rights (including geographical indications). As regards market access, the EU fulfilled now its commitment by putting on the table the remaining elements of its market access offer in time with a view to reaching a political agreement by the end of the year. This is a well-calibrated offer that takes into account Europe’s agricultural sensitivities. The EU remains committed to reaching a comprehensive, balanced and ambitious trade agreement with Mercosur. Both sides agreed to hold the next round in Brasilia from 6 to 10 November. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

Citizens’ Initiative: Commission receives organisers of ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative 

This morning, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis received the organisers of the ‘Stop Glyphosate’ European Citizens’ Initiative, after they collected and submitted to the Commission over 1 million signatures in support of their Initiative.  This is the 4th successful European Citizens’ Initiative so far. The ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative calls on the European Commission “to propose to member states a ban on glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use”. In line with the Citizens’ Initiative regulation, the Commission has invited the organisers to Brussels to present their ideas in more depth. A public hearing will also be arranged in the European Parliament to allow all stakeholders to present their views, and then the Commission will decide, within 3 months of submission of the Initiative (on Friday 6 October 2017), whether to act by proposing legislation, act in some other way to achieve the goals of the Initiative, or not act at all; all three options are possible under Article 11(4) of the Treaty of the European Union. In all cases, the Commission will present a Communication explaining its reasoning. The European Citizens’ Initiative is a valuable tool in the hands of citizens, and allows them to contribute to shaping EU law and policy. The Commission recently presented a proposed reform of the Citizens’ Initiative Regulation, to make the tool even more accessible to citizens and to encourage its wider use. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Maritime Transport: passenger ships will be safer thanks to the EU

The European Commission welcomes the final adoption of a number of legal texts to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules by the Council of the EU today. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “The adoption of these new safety rules is an important deliverable in our EU maritime year. At times when citizens expect the European Union to protect them, we are sending a clear message: your safety is our priority.” The adopted package ensures that the passenger ship safety rules are clear, proportionate and deliver a common level of safety for EU citizens. For example, once fully implemented by Member States, all competent authorities will have immediate access to passenger data in case of emergency and all passenger ships longer than 24 meters made of steel and aluminium will be built according to common European safety standards. The adopted package is a result of proposals made by the European Commission in June 2016, following recommendations made within the Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme. The new rules will enter into force 20 days after the publication in the Official Journal. More information is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

 

EU announces €106 million support package for people affected by the crises in Sudan

The European Commission has announced a €106 million support package – €46 million in humanitarian assistance and €60 million for development – to directly assist people in Sudan affected by forced displacement, undernutrition, disease outbreaks and recurrent extreme climatic conditions. Some 4.8 million people in Sudan currently need urgent assistance. The announcement comes as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is currently in Sudan, visiting EU humanitarian aid projects in South Darfur. “Here in Sudan the humanitarian situation continues to be critical. Millions have been displaced for many years in Darfur. Our new EU funding is crucial to respond to the needs of the increasing numbers of refugees, notably from South Sudan, and internally displaced people, as well as of the hosting communities. The humanitarian aid I am announcing today will help bring life-saving relief to the most vulnerable populations. Full humanitarian access throughout the country is crucial so that humanitarian workers can deliver aid safely to those in need”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union is committed to directly support the people of Sudan. Our new development aid will boost our ongoing efforts through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. It addresses the needs of the most vulnerable Sudanese communities and offer livelihood opportunities, by better linking the EU’s humanitarian and development work in Sudan”. The full press release is available here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

Commission warns Vietnam over insufficient action to fight illegal fishing

The Commission is continuing its fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing worldwide by warning Vietnam, with a “yellow card”, about the risk of it being identified as a non-cooperating country. Today’s decision highlights that Vietnam is not doing enough to fight illegal fishing, due to the lack of an effective sanctioning system to deter IUU fishing activities and the lack of action to address illegal fishing activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels in waters of neighbouring countries, including Pacific Small Island Developing States. Furthermore, Vietnam has a poor system to control landings of fish that is processed locally before being exported to international markets, including the EU. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “With this action today we demonstrate our firm commitment to fight illegal fishing globally. We cannot ignore the impact that illegal activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels are having on marine ecosystems in the Pacific. We invite the Vietnamese authorities to step up their fight so we can reverse this decision quickly. We are offering them our technical support.” The decision does not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. The “yellow card” is considered as a warning and offers the possibility for Vietnam to take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe. To this end the Commission has proposed an action plan to support the country in addressing the identified shortcomings. A press release is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

La Commission approuve trois nouvelles indications géographiques de Croatie, Danemark et France

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d’inscription de trois nouveaux produits dans le registre des indications géographiques: le «Danbo» (IGP), le «Kintoa» (AOP) et le «Varaždinsko zelje» (AOP). Provenant du Danemark, le Danbo est un fromage affiné à pâte demi-dure élaboré à base de lait de vache. L’appellation Danbo est une combinaison des deux noms danois Dan et Bo. Etymologiquement, Dan est le dérivé scandinave de Danerne, nom désignant le peuple des Danois, tandis que Bo signifie «l’habitant». Le nom Danbo est ainsi l’appellation historique d’un habitant du Danemark. Le Kintoa provient de France et plus particulièrement du Pays basque français. Il s’agit d’une viande de porc issue de la race «Pie noir du Pays basque». Le terme Kintoa trouve son origine dans ce qu’on appelait le droit de quinta: depuis le XIIIème siècle, les rois de Navarre autorisaient les éleveurs de porcs à les emmener en transhumance dans les montagnes royales de Navarre et en échange, ils prélevaient un porc sur cinq, d’où le nom donné à ce droit (quinta).  Enfin, le Varaždinsko zelje est un chou de Croatie cultivé dans le département de Varaždin au nord du pays. Les membres de la famille, toutes générations confondues, participent à la récolte et se transmettent ainsi l’expérience et le savoir-faire nécessaires pour effectuer la récolte manuelle du produit. Ces trois appellations vont rejoindre plus de 1405 produits déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données DOOR. Pour plus d’informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (Pour plus d’information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185;Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of legal support service firm CPA by LGP

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of CPA Global Group (CPA) of the UK by Leonard Green & Partner, L.P. (LGP) of the US. CPA is active in the legal support services sector, more specifically in patent renewal and related services. LGP is a private equity investment firm, which primarily focuses on companies providing services, including consumer, business and healthcare services, as well as retail. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies are not active on the same or related markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8650. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Eurostat: Transmission des données du déficit et de la dette pour 2016 – 2ème notification, déficit public de la zone euro et de l’UE28 respectivement de 1,5% et 1,7% du PIB, dette publique à 88,9% et 83,2%

Le déficit ainsi que la dette publique se sont réduits en termes relatifs en 2016 par rapport à 2015, tant dans la zone euro (ZE19) que dans l’UE28. Le ratio du déficit public par rapport au PIB a baissé dans la zone euro, passant de 2,1% en 2015 à 1,5% en 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 2,4% à 1,7%. Le ratio de la dette publique par rapport au PIB a reculé dans la zone euro, passant de 89,9% à la fin de l’année 2015 à 88,9% à la fin de l’année 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 84,5% à 83,2%. Dans ce communiqué de presse, Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne, fournit les données relatives au déficit et à la dette des administrations publiques, sur la base des chiffres déclarés par les États membres lors de la deuxième notification de 2017 pour les années 2013 à 2016, dans le cadre de l’application de la procédure concernant les déficits excessifs (PDE). Cette notification est fondée sur le système des comptes nationaux SEC 2010. Ce communiqué de presse inclut également des données sur les dépenses et recettes des administrations publiques. Le communiqué EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Šefčovič in Luxembourg for second Energy Union Tour

On Monday 23 October, Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič will be in Luxembourg for the second Energy Union Tour. The Vice-President will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider as well as the Minister for the Environment and Climate Carole Dieschbourg. Vice-President Šefčovič will promote the different components of the Energy Union stressing the need for investment in the clean energy transition which is at the heart of the Clean Energy for All Europeans proposals. Further he will call on the Luxembourgish authorities to use its forward-looking “Third Industrial Revolution” Strategy and its new “Climate Pact” to meet the goals of the Energy Union. The Vice-President will also visit the LuxÉnergie biomass co-generation plant. Ahead of his visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “Luxembourg is making good progress towards its 2020 climate and energy targets, as its emissions decreased by 16 percent between 2005 and 2016. I believe that the recently adopted “Climate Pact” between the state and municipalities is an excellent way forward and even a model for others. Local involvement and leadership is vital for our success in this area.” information on the 2017 Energy Union tour are available here. More information on the Energy Union is available here. More information on the Commission’s website here (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.:+32 229 52589)

 

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen in Facebook live chat

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will participate today Monday 23 October at 15.00 CET in a Facebook live chat on “Trade and the Global Economy” on the European Commission’s Facebook page. Following the State of the Union speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission unveiled in September a progressive and ambitious trade package. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “Global trade needs to be proactively shaped and managed to ensure it is fair, projects values and remains firmly anchored in a rules-based system. With the rising threat of protectionism and weakened commitment of large players to global trade governance, the EU must step up to take the lead. Our approach is balanced and responsible: we open markets, but we also set high rules and standards to govern globalisation, and we make sure there is a level playing-field. Trade enables EU’s industry to thrive, it creates opportunities for SMEs to export and allows them to create jobs.”(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

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

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EU pledges additional €30 million for the Rohingya crisis at Geneva donors’ conference

The European Union is co-hosting today in Geneva a ‘Pledging Conference on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis’. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has announced the EU’s contribution of an additional €30 million for the Rohingya communities in Bangladesh. This comes on the top of over €21 million in overall EU assistance already allocated to Rohingya and host communities in both Bangladesh and Myanmar, bringing total EU support for this year to over €51 million. “Today, we stand united for the right cause. The cause of stateless people who have suffered for too long: the Rohingya. The Rohingya deserve nothing less than every other human being in the world. They deserve a future. We have a moral duty to give these people hope. Our humanitarian support will work to provide essentials like water, sanitation, food, healthcare, protection, and education”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “Beyond the immediate response, we need to think of long-term solutions for Rohingya and host populations alike. Whilst the focus should remain on creating an enabling environment for safe and dignified voluntary returns of Rohingya to Myanmar, we need to also ensure that local communities, who are already facing enormous challenges, are not left behind and that we provide them medium and long-term development assistance. Any solution has to inevitably include political dialogue with all parties involved.” Commissioner Stylianides will travel to Bangladesh next week to meet with Rohingya refugees and visit EU aid projects in the affected areas.Read the full press release here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Commission proposes €5.4 million from Globalisation Fund for former retail workers in Greece and Finland

Today, the European Commission has proposed to provide Greece with €2.9 million euro and Finland with €2.5 million euro from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) following a significant number of redundancies in the Greek and Finnish retail sector. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: “The retail sector in both Greece and Finland has been hit hard by the economic crisis and changing trade patterns. The proposed support from Europe’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund now aims at helping these redundant workers to adapt their skills and facilitate their transition to new jobs or help them set up their own enterprises.” Greece applied for support from the Globalisation Fund following the dismissal of 725 workers in 9 enterprises operating in the retail sector. The redundancies occurred mainly in the Attica region, but ten other regions have also been affected by the layoffs. The measures co-financed by the Globalisation Fund will help the 725 former retail workers by providing them with occupational guidance and counselling; vocational training; contribution to business start-up; hiring incentives; and job-search and training allowances. Finland, on the other hand, applied for support from the EGF following the dismissal of 1,660 workers in three retail enterprises. Thanks to this financial support, 1,500 Finnish redundant workers will be offered support and guidance to find new jobs, for example through vocational and re-training courses. The proposals now go to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for approval. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: high performance of EU agri-food exports continues

Published today by the European Commission, the latest monthly trade report shows that European agri-food exports remain strong for August 2017 further increasing the trade balance to €2.4 billion. The European agri-food exports rose to €11.5 billion in August 2017, an 8% increase compared to July 2017. Highest increases of monthly exports were again towards Russia and the USA, with respectively an added €153 million and €108 million compared to 2016. By sector, exports of wine and vermouth and milk powders have increased the most with respectively an extra €130 million and an added €123 million compared to last year. EU agri-food imports have also increased by 4% compared to the same time last year, resulting in a surplus of €2.4 billion in the agri-food trade balance.This month’s report focuses on agri-food trade with Russia. After an initial drop, both in banned products and non-banned products, EU exports of non-banned products to Russia resumed growth and reached € 6 299 million in the period September 2016 to August 2017, which represents an increase in value by 14% compared to the previous period. This brings back Russia now to be the 4th biggest export destination for EU agri-food products, just before Japan. The full report is online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Ahead of Commissioners’ participation in Council discussion on Digital Single Market: Commission publishes new study to support 5G roll-out

Ahead of tomorrow’s Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council that will concentrate on most pertinent Digital Single Market issues, the Commission published today the latest study on spectrum assignments that will support the EU’s work towards successful 5G deployment. The results affirm that licence duration and auction prices influence investments in better network coverage. For example, there is a tendency for higher investment levels in countries that have awarded longer licences. There is additionally evidence that high spectrum prices can be associated with lower 4G availability. These findings will provide supplementary input to the ongoing negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal for new EU telecoms rules – the European Electronic Communications Code. Tomorrow’s Council meeting in Luxembourg aims to accelerate progress on the Digital Single Market legislative files, in particular on spectrum and 5G deployment. Additionally, the Ministers hold a follow-up debate on cybersecurity following the European Council conclusions, the Tallinn Digital Summit and the Commission’s proposals to scale up the EU’s response to cyber-attacks. For the Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Commissioner Julian King in charge of Security Union, as well as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel will participate. The European Electronic Communications Code is crucial for creating the Digital Single Market, as it will boost investments in high-speed and quality networks. It provides the necessary basis for the 5G roll-out at the same time all across the EU. Read more about the topic in the proposal from 2016. Further details on the spectrum assignments study can be found here. Spectrum factsheet will be available soon here. Overview factsheets on the Digital Single Market can be found here: state of play, timeline, cybersecurity. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)

 

Commission publishes report and its proposal on sustainable development following the latest negotiating round with Mercosur

The Commission’s report from the latest round of trade negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur – the block including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – is now online. The Commission has also made available online its negotiating proposal on the enforcement of the trade and sustainable development chapter. Both publications come as part of the Commission’s commitment to a more transparent trade policy. Other EU negotiating proposals for an agreement with Mercosur are available here. During the round held between 2 and 6 October, all issues were covered and talks advanced in a number of areas. The round report includes details on all of them, including trade in goods and services, technical barriers to trade, government procurement, as well as intellectual property rights (including geographical indications). As regards market access, the EU fulfilled now its commitment by putting on the table the remaining elements of its market access offer in time with a view to reaching a political agreement by the end of the year. This is a well-calibrated offer that takes into account Europe’s agricultural sensitivities. The EU remains committed to reaching a comprehensive, balanced and ambitious trade agreement with Mercosur. Both sides agreed to hold the next round in Brasilia from 6 to 10 November. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

Citizens’ Initiative: Commission receives organisers of ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative 

This morning, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis received the organisers of the ‘Stop Glyphosate’ European Citizens’ Initiative, after they collected and submitted to the Commission over 1 million signatures in support of their Initiative.  This is the 4th successful European Citizens’ Initiative so far. The ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative calls on the European Commission “to propose to member states a ban on glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use”. In line with the Citizens’ Initiative regulation, the Commission has invited the organisers to Brussels to present their ideas in more depth. A public hearing will also be arranged in the European Parliament to allow all stakeholders to present their views, and then the Commission will decide, within 3 months of submission of the Initiative (on Friday 6 October 2017), whether to act by proposing legislation, act in some other way to achieve the goals of the Initiative, or not act at all; all three options are possible under Article 11(4) of the Treaty of the European Union. In all cases, the Commission will present a Communication explaining its reasoning. The European Citizens’ Initiative is a valuable tool in the hands of citizens, and allows them to contribute to shaping EU law and policy. The Commission recently presented a proposed reform of the Citizens’ Initiative Regulation, to make the tool even more accessible to citizens and to encourage its wider use. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Maritime Transport: passenger ships will be safer thanks to the EU

The European Commission welcomes the final adoption of a number of legal texts to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules by the Council of the EU today. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “The adoption of these new safety rules is an important deliverable in our EU maritime year. At times when citizens expect the European Union to protect them, we are sending a clear message: your safety is our priority.” The adopted package ensures that the passenger ship safety rules are clear, proportionate and deliver a common level of safety for EU citizens. For example, once fully implemented by Member States, all competent authorities will have immediate access to passenger data in case of emergency and all passenger ships longer than 24 meters made of steel and aluminium will be built according to common European safety standards. The adopted package is a result of proposals made by the European Commission in June 2016, following recommendations made within the Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme. The new rules will enter into force 20 days after the publication in the Official Journal. More information is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

 

EU announces €106 million support package for people affected by the crises in Sudan

The European Commission has announced a €106 million support package – €46 million in humanitarian assistance and €60 million for development – to directly assist people in Sudan affected by forced displacement, undernutrition, disease outbreaks and recurrent extreme climatic conditions. Some 4.8 million people in Sudan currently need urgent assistance. The announcement comes as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is currently in Sudan, visiting EU humanitarian aid projects in South Darfur. “Here in Sudan the humanitarian situation continues to be critical. Millions have been displaced for many years in Darfur. Our new EU funding is crucial to respond to the needs of the increasing numbers of refugees, notably from South Sudan, and internally displaced people, as well as of the hosting communities. The humanitarian aid I am announcing today will help bring life-saving relief to the most vulnerable populations. Full humanitarian access throughout the country is crucial so that humanitarian workers can deliver aid safely to those in need”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union is committed to directly support the people of Sudan. Our new development aid will boost our ongoing efforts through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. It addresses the needs of the most vulnerable Sudanese communities and offer livelihood opportunities, by better linking the EU’s humanitarian and development work in Sudan”. The full press release is available here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

Commission warns Vietnam over insufficient action to fight illegal fishing

The Commission is continuing its fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing worldwide by warning Vietnam, with a “yellow card”, about the risk of it being identified as a non-cooperating country. Today’s decision highlights that Vietnam is not doing enough to fight illegal fishing, due to the lack of an effective sanctioning system to deter IUU fishing activities and the lack of action to address illegal fishing activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels in waters of neighbouring countries, including Pacific Small Island Developing States. Furthermore, Vietnam has a poor system to control landings of fish that is processed locally before being exported to international markets, including the EU. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “With this action today we demonstrate our firm commitment to fight illegal fishing globally. We cannot ignore the impact that illegal activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels are having on marine ecosystems in the Pacific. We invite the Vietnamese authorities to step up their fight so we can reverse this decision quickly. We are offering them our technical support.” The decision does not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. The “yellow card” is considered as a warning and offers the possibility for Vietnam to take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe. To this end the Commission has proposed an action plan to support the country in addressing the identified shortcomings. A press release is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

La Commission approuve trois nouvelles indications géographiques de Croatie, Danemark et France

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d’inscription de trois nouveaux produits dans le registre des indications géographiques: le «Danbo» (IGP), le «Kintoa» (AOP) et le «Varaždinsko zelje» (AOP). Provenant du Danemark, le Danbo est un fromage affiné à pâte demi-dure élaboré à base de lait de vache. L’appellation Danbo est une combinaison des deux noms danois Dan et Bo. Etymologiquement, Dan est le dérivé scandinave de Danerne, nom désignant le peuple des Danois, tandis que Bo signifie «l’habitant». Le nom Danbo est ainsi l’appellation historique d’un habitant du Danemark. Le Kintoa provient de France et plus particulièrement du Pays basque français. Il s’agit d’une viande de porc issue de la race «Pie noir du Pays basque». Le terme Kintoa trouve son origine dans ce qu’on appelait le droit de quinta: depuis le XIIIème siècle, les rois de Navarre autorisaient les éleveurs de porcs à les emmener en transhumance dans les montagnes royales de Navarre et en échange, ils prélevaient un porc sur cinq, d’où le nom donné à ce droit (quinta).  Enfin, le Varaždinsko zelje est un chou de Croatie cultivé dans le département de Varaždin au nord du pays. Les membres de la famille, toutes générations confondues, participent à la récolte et se transmettent ainsi l’expérience et le savoir-faire nécessaires pour effectuer la récolte manuelle du produit. Ces trois appellations vont rejoindre plus de 1405 produits déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données DOOR. Pour plus d’informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (Pour plus d’information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185;Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of legal support service firm CPA by LGP

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of CPA Global Group (CPA) of the UK by Leonard Green & Partner, L.P. (LGP) of the US. CPA is active in the legal support services sector, more specifically in patent renewal and related services. LGP is a private equity investment firm, which primarily focuses on companies providing services, including consumer, business and healthcare services, as well as retail. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies are not active on the same or related markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8650. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Eurostat: Transmission des données du déficit et de la dette pour 2016 – 2ème notification, déficit public de la zone euro et de l’UE28 respectivement de 1,5% et 1,7% du PIB, dette publique à 88,9% et 83,2%

Le déficit ainsi que la dette publique se sont réduits en termes relatifs en 2016 par rapport à 2015, tant dans la zone euro (ZE19) que dans l’UE28. Le ratio du déficit public par rapport au PIB a baissé dans la zone euro, passant de 2,1% en 2015 à 1,5% en 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 2,4% à 1,7%. Le ratio de la dette publique par rapport au PIB a reculé dans la zone euro, passant de 89,9% à la fin de l’année 2015 à 88,9% à la fin de l’année 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 84,5% à 83,2%. Dans ce communiqué de presse, Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne, fournit les données relatives au déficit et à la dette des administrations publiques, sur la base des chiffres déclarés par les États membres lors de la deuxième notification de 2017 pour les années 2013 à 2016, dans le cadre de l’application de la procédure concernant les déficits excessifs (PDE). Cette notification est fondée sur le système des comptes nationaux SEC 2010. Ce communiqué de presse inclut également des données sur les dépenses et recettes des administrations publiques. Le communiqué EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Šefčovič in Luxembourg for second Energy Union Tour

On Monday 23 October, Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič will be in Luxembourg for the second Energy Union Tour. The Vice-President will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider as well as the Minister for the Environment and Climate Carole Dieschbourg. Vice-President Šefčovič will promote the different components of the Energy Union stressing the need for investment in the clean energy transition which is at the heart of the Clean Energy for All Europeans proposals. Further he will call on the Luxembourgish authorities to use its forward-looking “Third Industrial Revolution” Strategy and its new “Climate Pact” to meet the goals of the Energy Union. The Vice-President will also visit the LuxÉnergie biomass co-generation plant. Ahead of his visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “Luxembourg is making good progress towards its 2020 climate and energy targets, as its emissions decreased by 16 percent between 2005 and 2016. I believe that the recently adopted “Climate Pact” between the state and municipalities is an excellent way forward and even a model for others. Local involvement and leadership is vital for our success in this area.” information on the 2017 Energy Union tour are available here. More information on the Energy Union is available here. More information on the Commission’s website here (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.:+32 229 52589)

 

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen in Facebook live chat

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will participate today Monday 23 October at 15.00 CET in a Facebook live chat on “Trade and the Global Economy” on the European Commission’s Facebook page. Following the State of the Union speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission unveiled in September a progressive and ambitious trade package. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “Global trade needs to be proactively shaped and managed to ensure it is fair, projects values and remains firmly anchored in a rules-based system. With the rising threat of protectionism and weakened commitment of large players to global trade governance, the EU must step up to take the lead. Our approach is balanced and responsible: we open markets, but we also set high rules and standards to govern globalisation, and we make sure there is a level playing-field. Trade enables EU’s industry to thrive, it creates opportunities for SMEs to export and allows them to create jobs.”(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

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

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Daily News 23 / 10 / 2017

MIL OSI – Source: European Union

Headline: Daily News 23 / 10 / 2017

EU pledges additional €30 million for the Rohingya crisis at Geneva donors’ conference
The European Union is co-hosting today in Geneva a ‘Pledging Conference on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis’. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has announced the EU’s contribution of an additional €30 million for the Rohingya communities in Bangladesh. This comes on the top of over €21 million in overall EU assistance already allocated to Rohingya and host communities in both Bangladesh and Myanmar, bringing total EU support for this year to over €51 million. “Today, we stand united for the right cause. The cause of stateless people who have suffered for too long: the Rohingya. The Rohingya deserve nothing less than every other human being in the world. They deserve a future. We have a moral duty to give these people hope. Our humanitarian support will work to provide essentials like water, sanitation, food, healthcare, protection, and education”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “Beyond the immediate response, we need to think of long-term solutions for Rohingya and host populations alike. Whilst the focus should remain on creating an enabling environment for safe and dignified voluntary returns of Rohingya to Myanmar, we need to also ensure that local communities, who are already facing enormous challenges, are not left behind and that we provide them medium and long-term development assistance. Any solution has to inevitably include political dialogue with all parties involved.” Commissioner Stylianides will travel to Bangladesh next week to meet with Rohingya refugees and visit EU aid projects in the affected areas.Read the full press release here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)
 
Commission proposes €5.4 million from Globalisation Fund for former retail workers in Greece and Finland
Today, the European Commission has proposed to provide Greece with €2.9 million euro and Finland with €2.5 million euro from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) following a significant number of redundancies in the Greek and Finnish retail sector. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: “The retail sector in both Greece and Finland has been hit hard by the economic crisis and changing trade patterns. The proposed support from Europe’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund now aims at helping these redundant workers to adapt their skills and facilitate their transition to new jobs or help them set up their own enterprises.” Greece applied for support from the Globalisation Fund following the dismissal of 725 workers in 9 enterprises operating in the retail sector. The redundancies occurred mainly in the Attica region, but ten other regions have also been affected by the layoffs. The measures co-financed by the Globalisation Fund will help the 725 former retail workers by providing them with occupational guidance and counselling; vocational training; contribution to business start-up; hiring incentives; and job-search and training allowances. Finland, on the other hand, applied for support from the EGF following the dismissal of 1,660 workers in three retail enterprises. Thanks to this financial support, 1,500 Finnish redundant workers will be offered support and guidance to find new jobs, for example through vocational and re-training courses. The proposals now go to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for approval. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)
 
Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: high performance of EU agri-food exports continues
Published today by the European Commission, the latest monthly trade report shows that European agri-food exports remain strong for August 2017 further increasing the trade balance to €2.4 billion. The European agri-food exports rose to €11.5 billion in August 2017, an 8% increase compared to July 2017. Highest increases of monthly exports were again towards Russia and the USA, with respectively an added €153 million and €108 million compared to 2016. By sector, exports of wine and vermouth and milk powders have increased the most with respectively an extra €130 million and an added €123 million compared to last year. EU agri-food imports have also increased by 4% compared to the same time last year, resulting in a surplus of €2.4 billion in the agri-food trade balance.This month’s report focuses on agri-food trade with Russia. After an initial drop, both in banned products and non-banned products, EU exports of non-banned products to Russia resumed growth and reached € 6 299 million in the period September 2016 to August 2017, which represents an increase in value by 14% compared to the previous period. This brings back Russia now to be the 4th biggest export destination for EU agri-food products, just before Japan. The full report is online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)
 
Ahead of Commissioners’ participation in Council discussion on Digital Single Market: Commission publishes new study to support 5G roll-out
Ahead of tomorrow’s Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council that will concentrate on most pertinent Digital Single Market issues, the Commission published today the latest study on spectrum assignments that will support the EU’s work towards successful 5G deployment. The results affirm that licence duration and auction prices influence investments in better network coverage. For example, there is a tendency for higher investment levels in countries that have awarded longer licences. There is additionally evidence that high spectrum prices can be associated with lower 4G availability. These findings will provide supplementary input to the ongoing negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal for new EU telecoms rules – the European Electronic Communications Code. Tomorrow’s Council meeting in Luxembourg aims to accelerate progress on the Digital Single Market legislative files, in particular on spectrum and 5G deployment. Additionally, the Ministers hold a follow-up debate on cybersecurity following the European Council conclusions, the Tallinn Digital Summit and the Commission’s proposals to scale up the EU’s response to cyber-attacks. For the Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Commissioner Julian King in charge of Security Union, as well as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel will participate. The European Electronic Communications Code is crucial for creating the Digital Single Market, as it will boost investments in high-speed and quality networks. It provides the necessary basis for the 5G roll-out at the same time all across the EU. Read more about the topic in the proposal from 2016. Further details on the spectrum assignments study can be found here. Spectrum factsheet will be available soon here. Overview factsheets on the Digital Single Market can be found here: state of play, timeline, cybersecurity. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)
 
Commission publishes report and its proposal on sustainable development following the latest negotiating round with Mercosur
The Commission’s report from the latest round of trade negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur – the block including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – is now online. The Commission has also made available online its negotiating proposal on the enforcement of the trade and sustainable development chapter. Both publications come as part of the Commission’s commitment to a more transparent trade policy. Other EU negotiating proposals for an agreement with Mercosur are available here. During the round held between 2 and 6 October, all issues were covered and talks advanced in a number of areas. The round report includes details on all of them, including trade in goods and services, technical barriers to trade, government procurement, as well as intellectual property rights (including geographical indications). As regards market access, the EU fulfilled now its commitment by putting on the table the remaining elements of its market access offer in time with a view to reaching a political agreement by the end of the year. This is a well-calibrated offer that takes into account Europe’s agricultural sensitivities. The EU remains committed to reaching a comprehensive, balanced and ambitious trade agreement with Mercosur. Both sides agreed to hold the next round in Brasilia from 6 to 10 November. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)
 
Citizens’ Initiative: Commission receives organisers of ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative 
This morning, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis received the organisers of the ‘Stop Glyphosate’ European Citizens’ Initiative, after they collected and submitted to the Commission over 1 million signatures in support of their Initiative.  This is the 4th successful European Citizens’ Initiative so far. The ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative calls on the European Commission “to propose to member states a ban on glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use”. In line with the Citizens’ Initiative regulation, the Commission has invited the organisers to Brussels to present their ideas in more depth. A public hearing will also be arranged in the European Parliament to allow all stakeholders to present their views, and then the Commission will decide, within 3 months of submission of the Initiative (on Friday 6 October 2017), whether to act by proposing legislation, act in some other way to achieve the goals of the Initiative, or not act at all; all three options are possible under Article 11(4) of the Treaty of the European Union. In all cases, the Commission will present a Communication explaining its reasoning. The European Citizens’ Initiative is a valuable tool in the hands of citizens, and allows them to contribute to shaping EU law and policy. The Commission recently presented a proposed reform of the Citizens’ Initiative Regulation, to make the tool even more accessible to citizens and to encourage its wider use. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Maritime Transport: passenger ships will be safer thanks to the EU
The European Commission welcomes the final adoption of a number of legal texts to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules by the Council of the EU today. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “The adoption of these new safety rules is an important deliverable in our EU maritime year. At times when citizens expect the European Union to protect them, we are sending a clear message: your safety is our priority.” The adopted package ensures that the passenger ship safety rules are clear, proportionate and deliver a common level of safety for EU citizens. For example, once fully implemented by Member States, all competent authorities will have immediate access to passenger data in case of emergency and all passenger ships longer than 24 meters made of steel and aluminium will be built according to common European safety standards. The adopted package is a result of proposals made by the European Commission in June 2016, following recommendations made within the Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme. The new rules will enter into force 20 days after the publication in the Official Journal. More information is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)
 
EU announces €106 million support package for people affected by the crises in Sudan
The European Commission has announced a €106 million support package – €46 million in humanitarian assistance and €60 million for development – to directly assist people in Sudan affected by forced displacement, undernutrition, disease outbreaks and recurrent extreme climatic conditions. Some 4.8 million people in Sudan currently need urgent assistance. The announcement comes as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is currently in Sudan, visiting EU humanitarian aid projects in South Darfur. “Here in Sudan the humanitarian situation continues to be critical. Millions have been displaced for many years in Darfur. Our new EU funding is crucial to respond to the needs of the increasing numbers of refugees, notably from South Sudan, and internally displaced people, as well as of the hosting communities. The humanitarian aid I am announcing today will help bring life-saving relief to the most vulnerable populations. Full humanitarian access throughout the country is crucial so that humanitarian workers can deliver aid safely to those in need”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union is committed to directly support the people of Sudan. Our new development aid will boost our ongoing efforts through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. It addresses the needs of the most vulnerable Sudanese communities and offer livelihood opportunities, by better linking the EU’s humanitarian and development work in Sudan”. The full press release is available here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

Commission warns Vietnam over insufficient action to fight illegal fishing
The Commission is continuing its fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing worldwide by warning Vietnam, with a “yellow card”, about the risk of it being identified as a non-cooperating country. Today’s decision highlights that Vietnam is not doing enough to fight illegal fishing, due to the lack of an effective sanctioning system to deter IUU fishing activities and the lack of action to address illegal fishing activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels in waters of neighbouring countries, including Pacific Small Island Developing States. Furthermore, Vietnam has a poor system to control landings of fish that is processed locally before being exported to international markets, including the EU. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “With this action today we demonstrate our firm commitment to fight illegal fishing globally. We cannot ignore the impact that illegal activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels are having on marine ecosystems in the Pacific. We invite the Vietnamese authorities to step up their fight so we can reverse this decision quickly. We are offering them our technical support.” The decision does not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. The “yellow card” is considered as a warning and offers the possibility for Vietnam to take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe. To this end the Commission has proposed an action plan to support the country in addressing the identified shortcomings. A press release is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

La Commission approuve trois nouvelles indications géographiques de Croatie, Danemark et France
La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d’inscription de trois nouveaux produits dans le registre des indications géographiques: le «Danbo» (IGP), le «Kintoa» (AOP) et le «Varaždinsko zelje» (AOP). Provenant du Danemark, le Danbo est un fromage affiné à pâte demi-dure élaboré à base de lait de vache. L’appellation Danbo est une combinaison des deux noms danois Dan et Bo. Etymologiquement, Dan est le dérivé scandinave de Danerne, nom désignant le peuple des Danois, tandis que Bo signifie «l’habitant». Le nom Danbo est ainsi l’appellation historique d’un habitant du Danemark. Le Kintoa provient de France et plus particulièrement du Pays basque français. Il s’agit d’une viande de porc issue de la race «Pie noir du Pays basque». Le terme Kintoa trouve son origine dans ce qu’on appelait le droit de quinta: depuis le XIIIème siècle, les rois de Navarre autorisaient les éleveurs de porcs à les emmener en transhumance dans les montagnes royales de Navarre et en échange, ils prélevaient un porc sur cinq, d’où le nom donné à ce droit (quinta).  Enfin, le Varaždinsko zelje est un chou de Croatie cultivé dans le département de Varaždin au nord du pays. Les membres de la famille, toutes générations confondues, participent à la récolte et se transmettent ainsi l’expérience et le savoir-faire nécessaires pour effectuer la récolte manuelle du produit. Ces trois appellations vont rejoindre plus de 1405 produits déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données DOOR. Pour plus d’informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (Pour plus d’information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of legal support service firm CPA by LGP
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of CPA Global Group (CPA) of the UK by Leonard Green & Partner, L.P. (LGP) of the US. CPA is active in the legal support services sector, more specifically in patent renewal and related services. LGP is a private equity investment firm, which primarily focuses on companies providing services, including consumer, business and healthcare services, as well as retail. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies are not active on the same or related markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8650. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Eurostat: Transmission des données du déficit et de la dette pour 2016 – 2ème notification, déficit public de la zone euro et de l’UE28 respectivement de 1,5% et 1,7% du PIB, dette publique à 88,9% et 83,2%
Le déficit ainsi que la dette publique se sont réduits en termes relatifs en 2016 par rapport à 2015, tant dans la zone euro (ZE19) que dans l’UE28. Le ratio du déficit public par rapport au PIB a baissé dans la zone euro, passant de 2,1% en 2015 à 1,5% en 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 2,4% à 1,7%. Le ratio de la dette publique par rapport au PIB a reculé dans la zone euro, passant de 89,9% à la fin de l’année 2015 à 88,9% à la fin de l’année 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 84,5% à 83,2%. Dans ce communiqué de presse, Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne, fournit les données relatives au déficit et à la dette des administrations publiques, sur la base des chiffres déclarés par les États membres lors de la deuxième notification de 2017 pour les années 2013 à 2016, dans le cadre de l’application de la procédure concernant les déficits excessifs (PDE). Cette notification est fondée sur le système des comptes nationaux SEC 2010. Ce communiqué de presse inclut également des données sur les dépenses et recettes des administrations publiques. Le communiqué EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Šefčovič in Luxembourg for second Energy Union Tour
On Monday 23 October, Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič will be in Luxembourg for the second Energy Union Tour. The Vice-President will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider as well as the Minister for the Environment and Climate Carole Dieschbourg. Vice-President Šefčovič will promote the different components of the Energy Union stressing the need for investment in the clean energy transition which is at the heart of the Clean Energy for All Europeans proposals. Further he will call on the Luxembourgish authorities to use its forward-looking “Third Industrial Revolution” Strategy and its new “Climate Pact” to meet the goals of the Energy Union. The Vice-President will also visit the LuxÉnergie biomass co-generation plant. Ahead of his visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “Luxembourg is making good progress towards its 2020 climate and energy targets, as its emissions decreased by 16 percent between 2005 and 2016. I believe that the recently adopted “Climate Pact” between the state and municipalities is an excellent way forward and even a model for others. Local involvement and leadership is vital for our success in this area.” information on the 2017 Energy Union tour are available here. More information on the Energy Union is available here. More information on the Commission’s website here (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.:+32 229 52589)
 
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen in Facebook live chat
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will participate today Monday 23 October at 15.00 CET in a Facebook live chat on “Trade and the Global Economy” on the European Commission’s Facebook page. Following the State of the Union speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission unveiled in September a progressive and ambitious trade package. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “Global trade needs to be proactively shaped and managed to ensure it is fair, projects values and remains firmly anchored in a rules-based system. With the rising threat of protectionism and weakened commitment of large players to global trade governance, the EU must step up to take the lead. Our approach is balanced and responsible: we open markets, but we also set high rules and standards to govern globalisation, and we make sure there is a level playing-field. Trade enables EU’s industry to thrive, it creates opportunities for SMEs to export and allows them to create jobs.” (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)
 

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

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