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  1. newsNorth Korea: Council aligns its sanction lists with the latest UN Security Council resolution

    The Council has added 9 persons and 4 entities - including the state-owned Foreign Trade Bank (FTB) - to the lists of those subject to an asset freeze and  travel restrictions, transposing part of the new sanctions imposed by UN Security Council resolution 2371 (2017).

    This resolution was adopted on 5 August 2017 in response to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s ongoing nuclear-weapon and ballistic missile-development activities, in violation and flagrant disregard of previous UN Security Council resolutions.

    The decision brings the total number of persons under restrictive measures against the DPRK to 62 persons and 50 entities as listed by the UN. In addition, 41 persons and 7 entities are designated by the EU autonomously.

    The Council will work on the swift transposition of the other sanctions included in UN security Council resolution 2371.

    The EU has implemented all UN Security Council resolutions adopted in response to the DPRK's nuclear programmes and nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes. In addition, the EU has also imposed autonomous restrictive measures against the DPRK, complementing and reinforcing the UN sanctions regime.

    The legal acts were adopted by written procedure. They will be published in the Official Journal of 11 August.

  2. newsQuestions and Answers: Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)

     

    What is the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)?

    Launched nearly four decades ago, in 1979, the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) is primarily an IT tool designed to swiftly exchange information between national authorities on health risks related to food and feed.

    A member country of the network that identifies a health hazard informs the rest of the system's network on the product concerned and the measures taken to address the risk. Measures include: withholding, recalling, seizing or rejecting products. This rapid exchange of information allows all RASFF members to check in real time whether they are also affected and if urgent action is needed. The authorities of affected countries have the responsibility to take the necessary emergency measures, including giving direct information to the public, withdrawing products from the market, and making controls on the ground.

    What are the criteria for a member country to send a notification?

    Members of RASFF (see below question) must immediately notify the Commission via the system when they have information regarding a serious health risk deriving from food or feed. The specific criteria triggering a notification are set out in the legislation[1].

    Who are the members of RASFF?

    - all EU Member States  

    - EEA countries (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) and the EFTA Secretariat coordinating the input from the EEA countries

    - the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and

    - the European Commission as manager of the system.

    - following an agreement that came into force on 1 January 2009, Switzerland is a partial member of the system as far as border rejections of product of animal origin are concerned.

    Why do we need RASFF?

    RASFF underpins the swift exchange of information among public health authorities on food and feed related risks. This tool enables all RASFF members to take coordinated, coherent and simultaneous actions with the objective to ensure the highest possible level of consumer protection.

    How does it work in practice?

    All starts with the notification by a member of the RASFF network of the existence of a serious, direct or indirect, risk to public health linked to food or feed. This information reaches the European Commission (as manager of the system), which in turn verifies the notification and immediately transmits it to the other members of the network.

    A common template is used to provide all relevant and useful information including identification of the product, hazard(s) found, measure(s) taken and information on tracing the product.

    Upon receiving the information, other member countries check if they are concerned. If the product is on their market they are able to trace it using the information in the notification. They report back on what they have found and what measures they have taken for a transparent and mutual information of all RASFF members. In case of products from the EU, the Member State from which the product originates also reports on the outcome of its investigations with regard to the origin, distribution and cause of the problem identified. This allows other member countries to take rapid action if and when needed.

    In addition, following a notification by a member of RASFF, the system allows member countries to request clarification as regards the timing, scope or nature of notification. For instance when there is evidence that an incident could have been reported earlier, it is possible to ask the notifying country for an explanation.

    What is predominantly notified in RASFF?

    Around half of the notifications concern controls at the outer EEA borders[2], at points of entry or border inspection posts when a consignment was not accepted for import (marked as “border control – consignment detained”) or when a sample was taken for analysis at the border (marked as "screening") and the consignment was released (marked as “border control - consignment released”).

    Official controls on the internal market come next.

    Finally, other notifications can arise from a consumer complaint, a company notifying the outcome of a check it carried out on its own account, or a food poisoning incident.

    What action can the Commission take if a Member State of the EU fails to notify in a timely manner?

    If a EU Member State does not notify in a timely manner, the Commission may launch an infringement procedure against that Member State for failure to comply with its obligations under EU law.

    Who has what powers to take action when a problem is detected?

    When a problem is detected, it is the task of the national food and feed authorities to take action. This includes any action necessary to immediately address the risk but also to prevent a similar risk reoccurring. A whole range of actions are carried out and reported back through RASFF: withdrawal or recall of the products and their possible destruction, information to the public, re-dispatch to origin etc. If there is a need for emergency (safeguard) measures at EU level, the Commission and EU Member States can decide on these measures using a rapid procedure[3]. Such measures are binding with immediate effect.

    What happens if a food safety issue reported through RASFF is a result of fraud?

    The EU Food Fraud Network (FFN) can be mobilised to allow for swift and efficient cooperation in cases of cross-border violations of the legislation. Created in July 2013 following the horse meat scandal, the FFN is comprised of the EU Member States' national food fraud contact points and of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety.

    It handles potential food fraud cases whether arising from a RASFF notification or following official controls in a RASFF member where there is an indication that a possible violation of food law requirements might be taking place, which are motivated by the prospect of economic or financial gain. The national contact points of the FFN and the European Commission are in permanent contact.

    Since August 2016 an IT tool supports the FFN by giving member countries the means to rapidly confirm a suspicion of fraud. Thanks to this tool, authorities in charge may liaise bilaterally (or multilaterally) to get information in order to build a case for action leading potentially to administrative sanctions or judicial proceedings.

    What is the difference between RASFF and the Food Fraud Network?

    RASFF is a key tool to ensure the cross-border flow of information to swiftly react when risks to public health are detected in the food chain, whereas the Food Fraud Network (FFN), facilitated by the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation (AAC) IT tool allows member countries to liaise bilaterally (or multilaterally) to rapidly confirm a suspicion of fraud.

    Under RASFF, the Commission's has a role to verify the RASFF notifications and inform third countries, whereas the Food Fraud Network is primarily a means for member countries to exchange information to help them build a case for action leading potentially to administrative sanctions or judicial proceedings.

    As regards the FFN, in normal cases the Commission does not intervene in bilateral exchanges of information through AAC. Its role is more to facilitate the use of the IT tool through helpdesk, training, ensuring diligent responses from member countries and proper closing when case brought to an end, notably with regard to personal data protection aspects. It should also be noted that cases of fraud are much more difficult to assess, and a variety of obstacles could lead to a longer time frame for members' response.

    What is iRASFF?

    iRASFF is the new online application through which all 32 RASFF member countries can transmit new notifications about products presenting a risk or provide follow-up to previously transmitted notifications by other members. It functions like an online interactive platform and has a specific workflow to allow members of the network to collaborate on the notifications in a transparent way. It is designed to function both at national and EU level. Another benefit is that it links RASFF notifications to other systems such as the Trade and Control System (TRACES) and the food fraud IT system more efficiently.

    What is the RASFF consumers' portal and what does it do?

    Launched on 13 June 2014, the RASFF consumers' portal provides practical and timely information drawn from the RASFF on consumer recall notices and public warnings issued by food safety authorities and business operators. It supplements information made public on the RASFF notifications – which is actually only a small portion of the information transmitted in the network.

    For more information

    Infographic

    Website of RASFF

    [1] Article 50 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, OJ L 60, 1.3.2002, p. 70-80

    [2]  Since 2009 Switzerland is included.

    [3] Article 53 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, OJ L 60, 1.3.2002, p. 70-80

    MEMO/17/2461

    Brussels, 10 August 2017 Copyright European Union

  3. news10 years since the start of the crisis: back to recovery thanks to decisive EU action

     

    The global financial crisis began 10 years ago and led to the European Union's worst recession in its six-decade history. The crisis did not start in Europe but EU institutions and Member States needed to act resolutely to counter its impact and address the shortcomings of the initial set-up of the Economic and Monetary Union. Decisive action has paid off: today, the EU economy is expanding for the fifth year in a row. Unemployment is at its lowest since 2008, banks are stronger, investment is picking up, and public finances are in better shape. Recent economic developments are encouraging but a lot remains to be done to overcome the legacy of the crisis years. The European Commission is fully mobilised to deliver on its agenda for jobs, growth and social fairness.

    Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said: "Thanks to the determined policy response to the crisis the EU economy is now firmly recovering and the Economic and Monetary Union is stronger than before. We need to build on this progress, completing the financial union, reforming our economies to foster convergence, inclusiveness and resilience, and maintaining sustainable public finances. In doing so, we should pursue a balanced approach where risk reduction and risk sharing go hand-in-hand and the unity of the single market is preserved."

    Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, responsible for Economic Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "Ten years after the global crisis began, the recovery of the European economy has firmed and broadened. We must use this positive momentum to complete the reform of our Economic and Monetary Union. Not all legacies from the past correct automatically. We have seen greater social and economic divergences develop in and among Member States. It is essential that our work going forward contributes to the real and sustained convergence of our economies."

    Ten years ago today, on 9 August 2007, BNP Paribas became the first major bank to acknowledge the impact of its exposure to sub-prime mortgage markets in the United States, having to freeze exposed funds. In the years that followed, what was initially a financial crisis turned into a banking crisis and a crisis of sovereign debt, soon affecting the real economy. The European Union fell into the worst recession in its history, which left deep marks on our citizens, companies and Member States' economies.

    In this adversity, EU institutions and Member States took strong political decisions to contain the crisis, preserve the integrity of the euro and to avoid worse possible outcomes. The EU has worked to regulate the financial sector and improve economic governance; bolster new and common institutional and legal frameworks; establish a financial firewall for the euro area; support countries in financial distress; improve Member States' public finances; pursue structural reforms and encourage investment; fight youth unemployment; improve banking sector supervision; increase the ability of financial institutions to cope with future challenges; and establish ways to manage and better prevent possible crises.

    As a result of these actions, Europe's Economic and Monetary Union has been significantly overhauled and the European economy – and notably the euro area economy – is back in shape. The European recovery is sustained and unemployment is steadily going down. The number of Member States belonging to the euro has increased from 12 to 19 and the euro is now the second-most important currency in the world. Out of the eight EU Member States that received financial assistance, only Greece is still under a programme and is due to exit it in mid-2018. Only three Member States are now subject to the corrective arm of the Stability and Growth Pact, the so-called Excessive Deficit Procedure, down from 24 Member States at the height of the crisis. The Juncker Plan, or Investment Plan for Europe, launched in November 2014, is now set to trigger more than €225 billion across all Member States.

    As robust as it is today, the EMU remains incomplete and the journey of the euro has just started. From the Five Presidents' Report of June 2015 to the reflection paper on the Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union of May 2017, a lot of initiatives were taken in recent years to draw the lessons from the crisis and prepare the EU even better for future challenges.

    For More Information

    Reflection Paper on Deepening the Economic and Monetary Union

    The Five Presidents' Report

    The White Paper on the Future of Europe

    Reflection paper on the social dimension of Europe

    Reflection paper on harnessing globalisation

    Follow Vice-President Dombrovskis on Twitter: @VDombrovskis

    Follow Commissioner Moscovici on Twitter: @Pierremoscovici

    *Factsheet "10 years since the start of the crisis: back to recovery thanks to decisive EU action – in numbers" updated on 10/08/2017 at 12:00 to correct a graphical error.

    IP/17/2401 Brussels, 9 August 2017 Copyright European Union

  4. newsEuropean Commission starts assessment of Member States' applications to host the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority

     

    The application procedure to host the two UK-based EU agencies, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA), came to a close at midnight last night, 31 July 2017.

    The European Commission will now assess all offers in an objective manner and on the basis of the criteria set out by President Jean-Claude Juncker and President Donald Tusk, and endorsed by the Heads of State or Government of the EU27 at the European Council (Article 50 format) on 22 June 2017.

    The Commission's assessment will be published online on 30 September 2017. The Council will then have a political discussion based on this assessment at the General Affairs Council (Article 50 format) in October 2017. In order to allow for a smooth and timely relocation of the two agencies, a final decision will be taken at the General Affairs Council (Article 50 format) in November 2017.

    Interested Member States had until midnight on 31 July to submit their offers to the European Commission and the Council. All offers will be made available on the website of the Council.

    Background

    The decision to relocate the EMA and the EBA – both of which are currently situated in London – is for the governments of the 27 Member States to take. Their relocation is a direct consequence of the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union, as notified to the European Council on 29 March 2017. It does not form part of the Brexit negotiations, but is to be discussed exclusively between the other 27 EU Member States. The Commission has repeatedly called for a quick decision on the transfer, as the EMA and the EBA are two key EU regulatory bodies which must continue to function smoothly and without disruption beyond March 2019.

    For More Information

    Applications to host the EMA and EBA

    Decision on the procedure for relocation of EU agencies currently located in the UK

    IP/17/2202 Brussels, 1 August 2017 Copyright European Union

  5. newsEU school children to receive milk, fruit and vegetables

    Brussels, 31 July 2017

    The new EU school fruit, vegetables and milk scheme will be in place on 1 August, ready to be implemented across the Union as of the first day of the 2017/2018 school year.

    Aimed at promoting healthy eating habits among children, the scheme will include the distribution of fruit, vegetables and milk products, as well as dedicated educational programmes to teach pupils about the importance of good nutrition and to explain how food is produced.

    This single scheme merges and optimises the existing projects that last year reached over 20 million children. Although participation is optional, all 28 Member States indicated they will take part in the initiative in the 2017/2018 school year. The UK government has chosen not to participate in the fruit and vegetable scheme.

    Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "I am very pleased that the new school scheme will be introduced tomorrow. The scheme provides valuable support to millions of European schoolchildren and thousands of farmers in every Member State. Such support has proven particularly important for farmers in recent years and the increased funding will enhance the value of this support. In addition, the new scheme meets my priority of simplification through the integration of the former school milk and vegetable schemes. Finally, I am happy to be involved with an initiative with Commissioners Andriukaitis and Navracsics to promote a healthy lifestyle and I am convinced that this scheme has a valuable part to play."

    Fresh fruit, vegetables and drinking milk will be given as a priority to school children. Processed products such as soup, fruit compotes, juice, yoghurts and cheese may also be distributed if this choice is approved by the national health authorities. No added sugar, salt and fat are allowed unless the national health authorities permit limited quantities.

    Besides deciding on the exact way to put the scheme in place,like the inclusion of thematic educational measures and other agricultural products, Member States have the option to top up the EU aid with national aid for financing the scheme.

    This choice of products shall be based on health and environmental considerations, seasonality, variety and availability with priority to EU products. Member States may encourage local or regional purchasing, organic products, short supply chains, environmental benefits, agricultural quality schemes.

    Of the €250 million EU funding agreed for 2017–2018 school year, roughly €150 million will be allocated for fruit and vegetables and €100 million for milk.

    The new school scheme forms part of Commissioner Hogan's simplification agenda. It allows for greater synergies and efficiencies in the implementation of the new scheme, and complements other measures in the areas of health and education policies.

    From 1 August 2017, the two current schemes - the School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme and the School Milk Scheme - will be brought under a single legal framework. The new rules aim at greater efficiency, more focused support and an enhanced educational dimension.

    Currently, 24 Member States take part in the old fruit and vegetable scheme and 28 in the old milk scheme. Last year, around 20 million children benefited from the milk scheme and around 11.7 million children from the fruit and vegetables scheme.

    Annex: EU aid for school year 2017/2018 

     

    Member State

    Definitive allocation for school fruit and vegetables

    in EUR

    Definitive allocation for school milk

    in EUR

    Belgium

    3 367 930

    1 650 729

    Bulgaria

    2 677 109

    1 167 367

    Czech Republic

    4 082 903

    1 842 407

    Denmark

    2 386 393

    1 606 402

    Germany

    25 826 315

    10 947 880

    Estonia

    565 888

    732 225

    Ireland

    2 007 779

    900 398

    Greece

    3 218 885

    1 550 685

    Spain

    12 932 647

    6 302 784

    France

    17 990 469

    17 123 194

    Croatia

    1 720 946

    800 354

    Italy

    21 704 956

    9 261 220

    Cyprus

    390 044

    400 177

    Latvia

    813 091

    745 497

    Lithuania

    1 134 661

    1 091 333

    Luxembourg

    343 568

    193 000

    Hungary

    3 885 599

    1 972 368

    Malta

    372 747

    144 750

    Netherlands

    7 063 251

    2 401 061

    Austria

    2 946 591

    1 278 933

    Poland

    14 985 916

    11 047 202

    Portugal

    3 283 397

    2 220 981

    Romania

    6 866 848

    10 865 578

    Slovenia

    727 411

    363 811

    Slovakia

    2 185 291

    1 020 425

    Finland

    1 599 047

    3 824 689

    Sweden

    0

    9 245 859

    United Kingdom

    0

    4 219 008

    Total

    145 079 683

    104 920 317

    For more information

    News item on the adoption of the new scheme

    IP/17/2183 Copyright European Union

  6. newsA European spring? Latest Standard Eurobarometer shows Optimism is on the rise

     

    One year after the referendum in the UK, an increasing majority of people in the EU are optimistic about the future of the European Union.

    Close to a majority of Europeans are now also optimistic about the state of their national economy. Trust in the European Union is growing – it is at its highest level since 2010, and support for the euro is greater than it has been since 2004. Moreover, a majority of respondents, from eleven non-EU countries polled for the first time, say they have a positive view of the EU. These are some of the key results from the latest Standard Eurobarometer survey published today with the Flash Eurobarometer survey “Future of Europe – Views from outside the EU”.

    I Optimism about the future of the European Union and the state of national economies

    The future of the European Union: most Europeans are optimistic and their trust in the EU institutions is growing

    A majority of Europeans (56%) are optimistic about the future of the EU – an increase of six percentage points compared to autumn 2016. The most significant increases can be observed in France (55%, +14 points since last Autumn), Denmark (70%, +13 points) and Portugal (64%, +10 points).

    Trust in the EU continues to be on the rise and stands at 42% (up from 36% in autumn 2016 and 32% in autumn 2015). It has increased most strongly in France (41%, +15 points), in Denmark (56%, +11 points) and in Estonia (55%, +11 points). It has also increased by 10 points in Germany, reaching 47%.

    As in the two previous surveys of spring and autumn 2016, the levels of trust in national parliaments and governments have also increased to 36% and 37% respectively, but remain below the levels of trust in the EU.

    40% of Europeans have a positive image of the EU (+5 points since autumn 2016) with the number of respondents with a positive image increasing in 24 Member States, in particular in France (40%, +11 points), Denmark (42%, +10 points) and Luxembourg (57%, +10 points).

    Finally, 68% of Europeans feel they are citizens of the EU, which is the highest level ever shown by this indicator.

    The economy: more positive feelings and strong support for the euro

    Close to half of Europeans think that the current situation of their national economy is ‘good' (46%, +5 percentage points since autumn 2016). This proportion has increased significantly in recent years (+20 points since spring 2013; +26 points since spring 2009).

    Although large differences remain between Member States, positive assessments of the situation of national economies are gaining ground in 22 Member States, in particular in Finland (59%, +19 points), Portugal (33%, +18 points), Belgium (60%, +11 points) and Hungary (41%, +11 points).

    In the euro area, close to three-quarters of respondents support the euro (73%, +3 points), which is the highest score reached since autumn 2004. 80% of respondents or more support the euro in six countries: Slovakia, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Slovenia and Luxembourg.

    II For the first time, terrorism is seen as the major challenge facing the EU

    Terrorism is now on top of the issues that citizens cite when it comes to challenges that the EU is currently facing (44%, +12 percentage points since autumn 2016). Immigration, which has been a top concern since spring 2015, is now the second most frequently cited challenge (38%, -7 points). It is well ahead of the economic situation (18%, -2 points), the state of Member States' public finances (17%, unchanged) and unemployment (15%,-1 points). Terrorism is the number one concern for the EU in 21 Member States while this was the case in one country only in autumn 2016. Terrorism and immigration are mentioned as the top challenges in all countries except for Portugal and Sweden.

    At the national level, the main concerns remain unemployment (29%,-2 points) and immigration (22%,-4 points) although both are declining. Health and social security are now in the third place (20%, +2 points), followed by terrorism for which the increase is noticeable (19%, +5 points). The economic situation, which was the main concern at the national level in autumn 2011, is now in fifth place (16%, -3 points).

    III Future of Europe – Views from outside the EU survey

    For the first time, the Eurobarometer survey assessed the image of the European Union in eleven non-EU countries[1]. These countries represent 49% of the world population and 61% of global GDP. In the three most populated of these countries (China, India and the USA), at least three quarters of respondents have a positive view of the EU.

    Respondents in most of the countries covered by the survey have a positive view of the EU: 94% in Brazil, 84% in China, 83% in India, 76% in Japan, 79% in Canada, 75% in the USA, 67% in Australia and 54% in Turkey. At the same time respondents in countries closer to the EU (Russia, Norway and Switzerland) tend to have mixed feelings (between 43% and 46% have a positive view of the EU).

    The survey also shows that the EU is globally perceived as “a place of stability in a troubled world” in the countries polled – with important differences, from 82% in India thinking that way to 49% in Turkey - but this is not the case in Russia where only 33% share this view and 61% the opposite.

    Background

    The “Spring 2017 - Standard Eurobarometer” (EB 87) was conducted through face-to-face interviews between 20 and 30 May 2017. A total of 33,180 people were interviewed across the EU Member States and in the candidate countries[2].

    The Flash Eurobarometer 450 “Future of Europe – Views from outside the EU” was conducted through telephone interviews between 20 and 25 February 2017. A total of 11,035 people were interviewed in 11 non-EU countries.

    The Standard Eurobarometer 'First results report' published today outlines Europeans' attitudes towards the EU, as well as citizens' main concerns and perceptions of the economic situation.

    For More Information

    - Standard Eurobarometer 87

    - The report for the Flash Eurobarometer survey 450 “Future of Europe – Views from outside the EU”

    [1] Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States of America

    [2] The 28 European Union (EU) Member States, five candidate countries (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania) and the Turkish Cypriot Community in the part of the country that is not controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

    IP/17/2127 Brussels, 2 August 2017 Copyright European Union

  7. news23 cities offer to host UK-based EU agencies

    The Council has received 27 proposals by the member states, related to 23 cities, to host  the EU agencies currently based in the UK. There have been 19 offers to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and 8 for the European Banking Authority (EBA). All offers are available on the website of the European Council.

    The two agencies will need to be relocated in the context of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The future locations need to be decided by common agreement of the EU27 member states. On 22 June 2017, in the margins of the European Council (Article 50), the EU27 leaders endorsed a specific procedure for this decision. The first step was the submission of offers by the member states by 31 July 2017. 

     

    Infographic - Relocation of the two EU agencies currently based in the UK European Medicines Agency

     
    These are the cities proposed to host the EMA, as on 1 August 2017:
    • Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
    • Athens (Greece)
    • Barcelona (Spain)
    • Bonn (Germany)
    • Bratislava (Slovakia)
    • Brussels (Belgium)
    • Bucharest (Romania)
    • Copenhagen (Denmark)
    • Dublin (Ireland)
    • Helsinki (Finland)
    • Lille (France)
    • Milan (Italy)
    • Porto (Portugal)
    • Sofia (Bulgaria)
    • Stockholm (Sweden)
    • Malta (Malta)
    • Vienna (Austria)
    • Warsaw (Poland)
    • Zagreb (Croatia)

    The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU. The EMA is essential to the functioning of the single market for medicines in the EU.

    European Banking Authority

    These are the cities proposed to host the EBA, as on 1 August 2017:  

    • Brussels (Belgium)
    • Dublin (Ireland)
    • Frankfurt (Germany)
    • Paris (France)
    • Prague (Czech Republic)
    • Luxembourg-City (Luxembourg)
    • Vienna (Austria)
    • Warsaw (Poland)

     The European Banking Authority (EBA) works to ensure effective and consistent prudential regulation and supervision across the European banking sector. Among other tasks, the EBA assesses risks and vulnerabilities in the EU banking sector through regular risk assessment reports and EU-wide stress tests.

    Assessment criteria

    The applications will be assessed on the basis of six criteria agreed by the 27 member states: 

    • guarantees that the agency will be operational when the UK leaves the EU
    • accessibility of the location
    • schools for the children of the staff
    • access to the labour market and health care for the employees' families 
    • business continuity
    • geographical spread

    Next steps

    The Commission will publish an assessment of the offers based on the agreed criteria by 30 September 2017. Ministers will have a political discussion based on the Commission's assessment in October 2017 in the margins of the General Affairs Council (Art. 50).

    The decision will be taken in the margins of the General Affairs Council (Art.50) in November 2017 by a vote of the 27 ministers. All offers will be submitted to the vote unless they are withdrawn by the countries concerned. The vote will consist of successive voting rounds as needed, with the votes cast by secret ballot and each of the 27 member states having the same number of votes.

    Copyright European Union

  8. newsSpeaking points by Michel Barnier at the press conference following the second round of Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom

    Brussels, 20 July 2017

    Good afternoon to all of you,

    Thank for your patience which is a critical virtue for any negotiation.

    Ladies and gentlemen, David and I and our teams have just finished a few minutes ago the second round of negotiations.

    In our first round in June we agreed on the organisation of the negotiations.

    Our second round, which began on Monday, was about the presentation of our respective positions.

    Our objective was to start working on substance and also to continue building trust between us.

    I said last week that I wanted to identify the points where we agree and the points where we disagree.

    This was possible this week for the issues on which there was a clear British position.

     

    Mesdames et Messieurs,

    Sur la substance, c'est d'abord la question des droits des citoyens qui est une priorité partagée par l'Union européenne, les 27 Etats membres, le Parlement européen et le Royaume-Uni.

    La position britannique détaillée sur ce sujet nous a permis de commencer à identifier des points de convergence et des points de divergence.

    Nous avançons maintenant dans une direction commune.

    Mais il reste une divergence fondamentale sur la manière de garantir ces droits, et sur plusieurs autres points, comme les droits des futurs membres de la famille ou l'exportation de certains bénéfices sociaux.

    Les citoyens doivent pouvoir trouver dans l'accord de retrait lui-même la certitude juridique dont ils ont besoin dans leur vie quotidienne.

    Franchement, de notre côté, nous ne voyons aucune autre manière pour garantir la pérennité de ces droits européens exercés.

    Et évidemment, toute référence aux droits européens implique son contrôle par la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne.

    L'enjeu de la prochaine session de négociation sera donc de clarifier les raisons de ces divergences, en gardant toujours à l'esprit notre objectif commun que les citoyens concernés puissent continuer à vivre comme aujourd'hui.

    Sur le règlement financier maintenant, le Royaume-Uni avait reconnu la semaine dernière l'existence d'obligations vis-à-vis de l'Union au-delà de la date du retrait et la nécessité de solder ces engagements. Tout comme d'ailleurs, l'Union européenne l'avait déjà reconnu.

    Evidemment, seule cette reconnaissance permet d'engager le plus vite possible le travail sur l'identification précise des obligations à solder.

    La position de l'Union européenne, rendue publique le 29 mai, est le résultat d'un passage en revue de tous les engagements qui, de notre point de vue, doivent être couverts par l'accord de retrait. Et cette semaine, nous avons détaillé l'analyse juridique de ces engagements.

    Comme je l'ai dit très clairement à David, une clarification de la position du Royaume-Uni est indispensable pour négocier et pour aboutir à des "progrès suffisants" sur ce dossier financier, qui est inséparable des autres dossiers du retrait.

    Nous voulons - et nous y travaillons - une sortie ordonnée du Royaume-Uni, comme il l'a décidé. Et une sortie ordonnée exige de solder les comptes.

    Nous savons bien que cet accord-là ne se formera pas dans une discussion par petits pas, not through incremental steps

    Aussitôt que le Royaume-Uni sera prêt à préciser la nature de ses engagements, nous serons prêts à en discuter avec les négociateurs britanniques.


    On Ireland, we had a first discussion on the impact of Brexit on two key subjects: the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area.

    We agree that the important issue of the Good Friday Agreement, in all its dimensions, requires more detailed discussions. In particular, more work needs to be done to protect North-South cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    Today, that cooperation is embedded in the common framework of EU law and EU policies.

    We need to better understand how the UK intends on ensuring the continuation of this cooperation after Brexit.

    We also agreed that the UK should clarify in the next session how it intends on maintaining the Common Travel Area after leaving the EU.

     

    Enfin, sur les autres sujets de la séparation, nous avons eu un échange de vues sur le champ à couvrir, sur les moyens d'apporter de la clarté juridique là où le Brexit crée des incertitudes, par exemple pour les producteurs, distributeurs, vendeurs de marchandises, mais aussi pour la coopération policière ou pour les citoyens ou entreprises engagés dans des procédures judiciaires qui sont en cours.

    Et nous, nous avons expliqué nos positions sur la base des sept papiers que nous avons publiés.

    Nous avons pris note des précisions du Royaume-Uni sur certains sujets, et de son intention de clarifier ses positions lors des prochains rounds de négociation.

    Le premier round était celui de l'organisation.

    Le second round a été celui de la présentation.

    Le troisième round doit être celui de la clarification.

    En août, nous aurons besoin declarification :

    • sur le règlement financier,
    • sur les droits des citoyens,
    • sur l'Irlande, notamment le Common Travel Area et le Good Friday Agreement d'abord.
    • sur les autres sujets de la séparation, pour lesquels l'expérience de cette semaine prouve que nous progressons mieux lorsque nos positions respectives sont claires.

    SPEECH/17/2108

    Copyright European Union

  9. newsEU consumers show growing demand for cross-border online shopping, new survey reveals

     

    The 2017 edition of the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard shows that more and more EU consumers are shopping online and that their trust in e-commerce has increased, in particular in buying online from other EU countries.

    For retailers, however, the Scoreboard shows that many are still reluctant to expand their online activities and continue to have concerns about selling online to consumers in other EU countries. Such concerns are mainly linked to a higher risk of fraud and non-payment in cross-border sales, different tax regulations, differences in national contract law and in consumer protection rules.

    While consumer conditions have improved overall since the last Scoreboard, the levels of trust, knowledge and protection still vary greatly between EU Member States.

    Commissioner Jourová said: "My priority has been to improve trust of the people and smaller retailers in the Digital Single Market. Consumers are now more confident when they shop online. And we've equipped them with a quick procedure to get their money back if something goes wrong, even when buying from another country. The challenge now is to encourage more businesses to respond to this growing demand."

    More trust in e-commerce but barriers remain, including for retailers

    The Scoreboard shows that consumer trust in e-commerce has dramatically increased. In ten years the share of Europeans buying online has almost doubled (from 29.7% in 2007 to 55% in 2017). Since the last Scoreboard consumers' levels of trust have increased by 12 percentage points for purchases from retailers located in the same country and by 21 percentage points for purchases from other EU Member States.

    Although there has been much progress, the Scoreboard shows that consumers are still facing obstacles when trying to buy from online retailers based in another EU country. For example, 13% of respondents reported a payment being refused and 10% were refused delivery of products to their country.

    As for retailers, only 4 out of 10 of those currently selling online said that they are considering selling both domestically and across borders in the coming year. Many still have concerns about selling online in other countries, namely because of a higher risk of fraud, differences in national tax regulations or national contract law rules, or differences in consumer rules.

    This is why the Commission has made a proposal for modern digital contract rules to harmonise contract rules for online sales of goods, and to promote access to digital content and online sales across the EU.

    Awareness of consumer rights improving, but still low and uneven levels across the EU

    Compared to the previous edition of the Scoreboard, consumers are more aware of their rights. On average, 13% of consumers are aware of their key rights (an increase of 3.6 percentage points since 2014).

    However, consumer conditions are generally better in northern and western EU countries than eastern and southern ones. 94.5% of Finns complain when they encounter a problem, for example, whereas only 55.6% of Bulgarians do so. Exposure to unfair commercial practices, such as the use of aggressive marketing techniques, also varies greatly: 40.9% of Croatians are affected, in comparison to 3.4% of Austrians.

    To tackle these issues, the Commission is working on a proposal to update consumer rules. The aim is to make sure that every European consumer is aware of their rights and that these rights are correctly enforced throughout the EU.

    Retailers' insufficient knowledge of consumer rights

    The 2017 Scoreboard shows that retailers' knowledge of consumer rules hasn't improved since the previous edition. Only 53.5 % of their answers to questions on basic consumer rights were correct. Again the level of knowledge varies between countries, with only 36.2% of Croatian retailers knowing these rights compared to 62.3% of retailers in Germany.

    Room for improvement with the speed of handling complaints

    While consumers are finding fewer reasons to complain, the ones who have done so are more satisfied with how their complaints are handled.

    However, almost one third of consumers decided not to complain, as they considered the sums involved were too small (34.6%) or that the procedure would have taken too long (32.5%).

    This is why the Commission has improved the Small Claims procedure (since 14/07/2017), which now allows consumers to benefit from a fast-track online procedure for claims up to €5,000. The Commission is also encouraging out-of-court settlements with the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform, which offers easy online access to alternative dispute entities for online transactions.

    Background

    The Consumer Scoreboards provide an overview of how the Single Market works for EU consumers. Published since 2008, they aim to ensure better monitoring of consumer rights and provide evidence to inform policy.

    There are two types of Scoreboard, which are published in alternate years and based on large scale surveys:

    • The Consumer Conditions Scoreboard, which monitors national conditions for consumers in three areas: 1. knowledge and trust, 2. compliance and enforcement, 3. complaints and dispute resolution. It also examines progress in the integration of the EU retail market and in e-commerce.
    • The Consumer Markets Scoreboard,which tracks the performance of over 40 consumer markets on the basis of key indicators such as trusting that sellers comply with consumer protection rules, the comparability of offers, the choice available in the market, the extent to which consumer expectations are met, and the detriment caused by problems that consumers encounter. Other indicators, such as switching and prices, are also monitored and analysed (2016 edition).            

    Graph 61

    graph 59

    For more information

    Report

    Factsheet

    Infographic

    Consumer Scoreboards

    Digital Single Market

     

    IP/17/2109

    Brussels, 25 July 2017 Copyright European Union

  10. newsThe European Commission acts today to protect the rule of law in Poland.

    The Commission substantiates its grave concerns on the planned reform of the judiciary in Poland in a Rule of Law Recommendation addressed to the Polish authorities. In the Commission's assessment, this reform amplifies the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland already identified in the rule of law procedure started by the Commission in January 2016. The Commission requests the Polish authorities to address these problems within one month. The Commission asks the Polish authorities notably not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges. If such a measure is taken, the Commission stands ready to immediately trigger the Article 7(1) procedure[1] – a formal warning by the EU that can be issued by four fifths of the Member States in the Council of Ministers.

    The Commission also decides to launch an infringement proceeding against Poland for breaches of EU law. The College will immediately send a Letter of Formal Notice once the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation is published.

    At the same time, the Commission recalls its offer to pursue a constructive dialogue with the Polish Government.

    President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The Commission is determined to defend the rule of law in all our Member States as a fundamental principle on which our European Union is built. An independent judiciary is an essential precondition for membership in our Union. The EU can therefore not accept a system which allows dismissing judges at will. Independent courts are the basis of mutual trust between our Member States and our judicial systems. If the Polish government goes ahead with undermining the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Poland, we will have no other choice than to trigger Article 7."

    First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Our Recommendations to the Polish authorities are clear. It is time to restore the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal and to either withdraw the laws reforming the judiciary or bring them in line with the Polish Constitution and with European standards on judicial independence. Polish courts like the courts of all Member States are called upon to provide an effective remedy in case of violations of EU law, in which case they act as the "judges of the Union" and must comply with the requirements of the independence of the judiciary in line with the Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We want to resolve these issues together in a constructive way. The Commission's hand remains extended to the Polish authorities for dialogue, and we welcome any steps to amend these laws in line with our Recommendations."

    1. Rule of Law Recommendation

    The Rule of Law Recommendation adopted today complements two previous Recommendations, adopted on 27 July and 21 December 2016, and concerns the lack of an independent and legitimate Constitutional review in Poland. As it stands, the Polish authorities have still not addressed the concerns identified in the first two Recommendations. Moreover the Polish authorities have now taken additional steps which aggravate concerns about judicial independence and significantly increase the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland.

    The Commission's Rule of Law Recommendation sent today to Poland covers four new legislative actsnow adopted by thePolish Parliament which in the Commission's assessment will increase the systemic threat to the rule of law: the Law on the Supreme Court, the Law on the National Council for the Judiciary (both 'vetoed' on 24 July by the President of the Republic), the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation (signed by the President of the Republic on 25 July and awaiting publication and entry into force); and the Law on the National School of Judiciary (published and in force since 13 July). These Laws, in their current form, will structurally undermine the independence of the judiciary in Poland and have an immediate and very significant negative impact on the independent functioning of the judiciary.

    In particular, the dismissal of Supreme Court judges will seriously aggravate the systemic threat to the rule of law. The Commission therefore asks the Polish authorities not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of the Supreme Court judges. Should the Polish authorities take such measures, the Commission is ready to immediately activate the mechanism set out in Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union.

    On the basis of its Rule of Law Recommendation, the Commission invites the Polish government to address the concerns outlined within one month and to inform the Commission of the steps taken.

    2. Infringement procedure on the basis of EU law

    The College of Commissioners also took a decision to prepare an infringement procedure for the possible breach of EU law. The College is ready to send a Letter of Formal Notice concerning the Law on the Ordinary Courts as soon as it is officially published. The Commission's key legal concern identified in this law relates to the discrimination on the basis of gender due to the introduction of a different retirement age for female judges (60 years) and male judges (65 years). This is contrary to Article 157 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Directive 2006/54 on gender equality in employment. In the Letter of Formal Notice, the Commission will also raise concerns that by giving the Minister of Justice the discretionary power to prolong the mandate of judges which have reached retirement age, as well as to dismiss and appoint Court Presidents, the independence of Polish courts will be undermined (see Article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) in combination with Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights).

    Next steps

    The Commission's Recommendation invites the Polish Government to address the problems within one month, and to inform the Commission of the steps taken to that effect. The Commission stands ready to pursue a constructive dialogue with the Polish Government. With regards to the infringement procedure, the Commission will send the Letter of Formal Notice once the Law on the Ordinary Courts is published.

    Background

    The rule of law is one of the common values upon which the European Union is founded. It is enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. The European Commission, together with the European Parliament and the Council, is responsible under the Treaties for guaranteeing the respect of the rule of law as a fundamental value of our Union and making sure that EU law, values and principles are respected. Events in Poland led the European Commission to open a dialogue with the Polish Government in January 2016 under the Rule of Law Framework. The Framework – introduced by the Commission on 11 March 2014 – has three stages (see graphic in Annex 1). The entire process is based on a continuous dialogue between the Commission and the Member State concerned. The Commission keeps the European Parliament and Council regularly and closely informed.

    The European Parliament has consistently supported the Commission's concerns, including in the two Resolutions of 13 April and 14 September, 2016. On 16 May 2017, the Commission informed the General Affairs Council of the situation in Poland. A very broad majority of Member States supported the Commission's role and efforts to address this issue, and called upon the Polish Government to resume the dialogue with the Commission.

    A wide range of other actors at the European and international levels have expressed their deep concern about the reform of the Polish justice system: representatives of the judiciary across Europe, including the Network of Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union and the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, the Venice Commission, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the United Nations Human Rights Committee as well as numerous civil society organisations such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights and Democracy Network.

    For more information:

    [1]Article 7.1 of the Treaty on European Union provides for the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members, to determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the common values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty (see Annex II). The Commission can trigger this process by a reasoned proposal.

      

    Annex I – Rule of Law Framework

    1

    Annex II – Article 7 Treaty on European Union

    1.   On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure.

    The Council shall regularly verify that the grounds on which such a determination was made continue to apply.

    2.   The European Council, acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2, after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations.

    3.   Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.

    The obligations of the Member State in question under the Treaties shall in any case continue to be binding on that State.

    4.   The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide subsequently to vary or revoke measures taken under paragraph 3 in response to changes in the situation which led to their being imposed.

    5.   The voting arrangements applying to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council for the purposes of this Article are laid down in Article 354 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

    IP/17/2161

    Copyright European Union

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