Trade defence, autumn economic forecast and progress reports on EU enlargement

A new methodology for trade defence will help ensure free and fair trade. The Commission expects economic growth to continue at moderate pace. The enlargement package underlines that a credible enlargement process is driving transformation and anchoring stability. The College also briefly discussed the outcome of the U.S. Presidential elections.

Changes to the EU’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy legislation

The European Commission proposed a new method for calculating dumping on imports from countries where there are significant market distortions, or where the state has a pervasive influence on the economy.

The purpose is to make sure that Europe has trade defence instruments that are able to deal with current realities – notably overcapacities – in the international trading environment, while fully respecting the EU’s international obligations in the legal framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The overall aim of the EU is to ensure that global trade is free and fair.

The EU needs to ensure that its trade defence instruments (TDIs) remain effective in dealing with significant market distortions in certain countries, which encourage exporters to dump their products on the EU market. This causes damage to European industries that ultimately can result in job losses and factory closures, as has been the case recently in the EU steel sector.

Today’s proposal should be seen in the context of the October European Council’s call for an urgent and balanced agreement on the Council position on the comprehensive modernisation of all trade defence instruments by the end of 2016. Reforming the anti-dumping methodology would be an important part of the reforms needed, on top of the modernisation of all TDIs which the Commission proposed back in 2013.

Autumn 2016 Economic Forecast

In its Autumn Economic Forecast released today, the European Commission expects economic growth in Europe to continue at a moderate pace against a challenging backdrop marked by increased global uncertainty. The European Commission expects GDP growth in the euro area at 1.7% in 2016, 1.5% in 2017 and 1.7% in 2018. GDP growth in the EU as a whole should follow a similar pattern and is forecast at 1.8% this year, 1.6% in 2017 and 1.8% in 2018.Recent labour market gains boosted by reforms are encouraging and investment is forecast to grow by 3.3% this year, 3.1% in 2017 and 3.5% in 2018. Public finances are expected to continue improving. Borrowing costs remain supportive to growth due to exceptionally accommodative monetary policy. This good news is being counterbalanced by a number of hindrances to growth and the weakening of supportive factors. In the coming years, the European economy will no longer be able to rely on the supportive oil prices or on euro currency depreciation. Political uncertainty, slow growth outside the EU and weak global trade weigh more on growth prospects than in the spring.

2016 Enlargement Package

The European Commission adopted today its annual Enlargement Package. It assesses where the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey stand in implementing key political and economic reforms, and what needs to be done to address the remaining challenges. The European Commission reiterated the EU’s continued support for these efforts and called on the governments of the enlargement countries to embrace the necessary reforms more actively and truly make this their political agenda. In view of serious backsliding when it comes to respect of rule of law and fundamental rights, the Commission called on Turkey, as a candidate country, to observe the highest standards in these areas; it also recommended a conditional opening of accession negotiations with Albania. One of the main findings is that enlargement policy continues to deliver results and reforms are moving forward in most countries, albeit at different speeds. A continued commitment to the principle of “fundamentals first” therefore remains essential. The Commission stressed that efforts should continue to be focused on the rule of law, including security, fundamental rights, democratic institutions and public administration reform, as well as on economic development and competitiveness.

Relocation and Resettlement progress report

The College adopted its latest progress report on the EU’s emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken since 28 September 2016. With an additional 1,157 persons resettled since the last report, Member States have continued to deliver on their commitment to provide legal channels for people in need of protection, bringing the total up to 11,852 – more than half of the agreed 22,504 under the July 2015 scheme. Regarding relocation, the overall positive trend over the past few months is confirmed with an additional 1,212 relocations taking place during the reporting period. After one year into the relocation and resettlement schemes, the Commission expects Member States to step up their efforts to deliver on their commitment and to fully comply with their obligations.

Other issues

The College also briefly discussed the outcome of the Presidential elections in the United States of America. In a joint letter of congratulations to President-Elect Donald Trump, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President underlined the importance of the strategic partnership between the EU and the United States and the need to consolidate the transatlantic relations.

Finally, marking the recent two-years in office of the Juncker-Commission on 1 November, the members of the College received presentations showing the progress on the political priorities in the first two years of this Commission.

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