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Latest EU News from European Law Monitor

  1. To what extent can the UK stop EU benefit tourists from coming in as an EU Member?

    This is a key question as
    -    It was a major factor in the EU Referendum
    -    Lack of control over our borders was heavily pushed by a number of Leave campaigners
    -    It is still an important factor for many voters

    The aim of this article is to discuss whether or not it is true that the UK cannot stop people coming in just to claim benefits as an EU Member. This is an important question as a significant number of people are under the impression that
    -    Any EU national can move to another EU country without any controls.
    -    We can’t stop benefit tourists
    -    We can’t stop terrorists and criminals from coming in.
    -    We don’t know who is coming in.

    In fact, free movement is a very specific right. It gives you the right to:
    -    Move to another EU country if you have a job lined up.
    -    Go and look for work in another EU Member State, provided you have the money to support yourself so you do not have to claim benefits. You can only job-seek for up to six months and after that you can be sent home, unless you have the funds to support yourself so you don’t need to claim benefits, and you are actively seeking work.
    -    Study in another EU Member State provided you have got the means to support yourself whilst you are a student or set up a business in another EU country.

    Free movement is not an absolute right. Member States have the power to over-ride the free movement provisions on the grounds of Public Policy, Public Security and/or Public Health. Further information on the powers of Member States to either exclude someone or kick them out can be found in Article 27 of Directive 2004/38.

    A number of people are concerned about EU benefit tourists coming to the UK, when they have no intention of working, and just claiming benefits from the moment they arrive.  Two points should be made regarding this:

    Firstly, under EU law, the UK government does not need to pay benefits to any EU national until they have been here at least three months (see Directive 2004/38). The UK government passed a law stating that people from other EU countries could claim benefits from the moment they arrived.This was a decision of the UK government and not a requirement under EU law.

    Furthermore, the ECJ issued a key judgement in the case of Dano (2014) , confirming that under the free movement rules if you have no intention of working and you don’t have the means to support yourself and your family, then you do not meet the criteria necessary to invoke a right of residence under the free movement rules, which would entitle you to those benefits. Therefore, you can be kicked back home under these circumstances, as you don’t meet the free movement criteria.

    In conclusion, free movement is not a blank cheque. You do not have the right, under the free movement rules, to just move to another EU country and claim benefits from the moment you arrive. The whole idea behind the free movement rules is that you should only exercise your right to move to another EU Member State if you are not going to be claiming benefits. You have got to be able to support yourself, and if you become an unreasonable burden on the country you have moved to then you can be sent back to your own EU country.

    Directive 2004/38/EC makes clear that as long as someone exercising their free movement rights does not become an unreasonable burden on the benefits system of the host Member State they should not be expelled or kicked out. Therefore, an expulsion measure should not be the automatic consequence of needing to claim benefits.  The host Member State should examine whether it is a case of temporary difficulties and take into account how long they have lived there, the personal circumstances and the amount of benefits granted in order to consider whether the beneficiary has become an unreasonable burden on the benefits system. If someone has become an unreasonable burden then they can be kicked out of the country they are claiming benefits from, and sent back to their own EU country. Therefore, if someone is becoming a burden on the UK, the UK government has the power to kick them out of the UK.

  2. newsTajani in London: “Citizens deserve certainty regarding their post-Brexit future”

    Antonio Tajani stressed the importance of a deal to safeguard people’s rights in the wake of Brexit during a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May this morning. "The European Parliament's message is clear: strongly defending their interests is our first priority,” he said. The Parliament President was in London to discuss the institution’s position on the Brexit negotiations, which was adopted in plenary on 5 April. He also invited May to address the Parliament.


    In a press conference following the meeting, Tajani underlined the importance of an agreement on the rights of Europeans living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU: The students, workers and families are valuable members of society and deserve some certainty regarding their future."


    In addition to meeting the Prime Minister, Tajani was also due to meet representatives from NGOs to discuss what people’s main concerns were regarding the Brexit negotiations.

    REF. : 20170420STO71817 Updated: ( 21-04-2017 - 11:14 Copyright European union

  3. Acquisition of citizenship in the EU-EU Member States granted citizenship to fewer persons in 2015-Moroccans, Albanians and Turks remain the main recipients

    Brussels, 21 April 2017

    In 2015, around 840 000 persons acquired citizenship of a Member State of the European Union (EU), down from 890 000 in 2014 and 980 000 in 2013. Since 2010, more than 5 million persons in total were granted a citizenship of an EU Member Sate. Of the total number of persons obtaining the citizenship of one of the EU Member States in 2015, 87% were non-EU citizens.

    According to Eurostat, in 2015, the UK granted citizenship to 118000 people from India, Pakistan and Nigeria.

    Full text available on EUROSTAT website

    STAT/17/1057

  4. newsInvestment Plan for Europe: EUR 150 million to finance green shipping

    The European Investment Bank and Dutch bank ABN Amro will sign an agreement today to support investments for greening the European shipping fleet. This framework is the first with a financial institution in the Netherlands and is supported by the “Connecting Europe Facility” and was made possible by the ”EFSI” (European Fund for Strategic Investments), central pillar of the Juncker Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe. 

    The framework guarantee agreement will ensure that promoters of sustainable projects in the maritime transport sector can benefit from favourable financial terms as a result of the EIB's AAA rating. The facility is open for both retrofitting of existing shipping as well as for projects that envisage the construction of new vessels with a green innovation aspect, it applies to both inland shipping and seagoing operators. 

    “The Bank received a clear signal from the market that there was a financing gap for the greening of shipping fleets.” said EIB vice-president Pim van Ballekom. “By allowing the EIB to take more risk, the Investment Plan for Europe enabled us to create a new instrument to support shipping companies in complying with the European sustainability standards. This is the second agreement under a EUR 750 million EFSI Green Shipping Guarantee Programme, which was set up after numerous discussions with Dutch counterparts from the public and private sector. We are really looking to ship owners to make use of it so that we can implement it in other countries as well.”

    Daphne de Kluis, CEO Commercial Clients ABN AMRO added: “We are very happy we can support the Juncker plan through this initiative. The EIB facility is an extra stimulus for ABN AMRO to stimulate our shipping clients to look for sustainable solutions. It fits perfectly with our other efforts to promote sustainable solutions in this important sector.”

    EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "Financing the transition to more sustainable transport systems and networks requires a commitment to invest. Today's agreement demonstrates that the Investment Plan can play an important role in mobilising private finance to support this transition."

    This sector risk bearing programme is meant for projects that will improve the environmental performance of transport vessels in terms of diminishing the emission of pollutants as well as increasing fuel efficiency. Projects should be proposed to the ABN Amro Bank and will be subject to their eligibility and risk acceptance criteria.

    Copyright European Union

  5. newsWestern Mediterranean: Actions for the sustainable development of the blue economy

    Brussels, 19 April 2017

    Today the European Commission launches a new initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean region.

    The region covers economic hubs like Barcelona, Marseille, Naples and Tunis. It also includes tourist destinations like the Balearic Islands, Sicily and Corsica.

    The sea's biodiversity is under severe pressure with a recent report by scientists from the Joint Research Centre indicating that 50% has been lost in the last 50 years. In addition to this are recent security and safety concerns from the increase in migration from the South to the North.

    This initiative will allow EU and neighbouring countries to work together to increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

    Karmenu Vella,Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: "Millions of holiday makers have a happy association with the Western Mediterranean. Like the millions more who live across the region, they understand the fragile link between conserving national habitats and traditions and ensuring economic viability. Blue economy is important for each of the countries involved and they have recognised the strength of working together."

    Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: ''This new regional initiative recognises and taps into the economic potential of the Mediterranean Sea and its coast lines to further enhance economic growth, contribute to job creation and eventually the stabilisation of the region. It is an important step towards closer coordination and cooperation among participating countries."

    The initiative is the fruit of years' of dialogue between ten countries of the Western Mediterranean region who are ready and willing to work together on these shared interests for the region: five EU Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta), and five Southern partner countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia). It follows up on the Ministerial Declaration on Blue Economy endorsed by the Union for Mediterranean (UfM) on 17 November 2015.

    The goals of the initiative

    By fostering cooperation between the ten countries concerned, this initiative has three main goals:

    1. A safer and more secure maritime space
    2. A smart and resilient blue economy
    3. Better governance of the sea.

    Gaps and challenges have been identified and a number of priorities and targeted actions have been set for each goal.

    For Goal 1 priorities include cooperation between national coast guards and the response to accidents and oil spills. Specific actions will focus on the upgrade of traffic monitoring infrastructure, data sharing and capacity building. For Goal 2 priorities include new data sourcing, biotechnology and coastal tourism. For Goal 3, priority is given to spatial planning, marine knowledge, habitat conservation and sustainable fisheries.

    The initiative will be funded by existing international, EU, national and regional funds and financial instruments, which will be coordinated and complementary. This should create leverage and attract funding from other public and private investors

    This "Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy of the Western Mediterranean" is another example of the EU's successful neighbourhood policy. Barely three weeks ago, the EU secured a 10-year pledge to save Mediterranean fish stocks. The MedFish4Ever Declaration, signed by Mediterranean ministerial representatives from both Northern and Southern coastlines on 30 March, involves 8 Member States (Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, and Cyprus) and 7 third countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro). The two projects will enhance each other in protecting the region's ecological and economic wealth.

    Background

    The initiative is based on the Commission's long-standing experience with sea basin and macro-regional strategies (such as the Atlantic Strategy, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region). It is also based on over two decades of work within the 5+5 Dialogue, which has created strong ties between the participating countries. Furthermore, the initiative builds on other EU policies linked to the region, such as the European Neighbourhood Policy Review priorities and the recent Communication on International Ocean Governance.

    The initiative is presented in two documents. A Communication outlines the main challenges, shortcomings and the possible solutions. A Framework for Action presents the identified priorities, actions and projects in detail, with quantitative targets and deadlines to monitor progress over time. Some of the actions could extend well beyond the countries in question and even beyond the sub-basin.

    For More Information

    Communication

    Framework for Action

    MEMO/17/1001

    MEDFISH4ever Declaration

    Ocean governance

    Blue Growth

    IP/17/924 Copyright European Union

  6. newsNew EU rules to ensure safety of medical devices

    Brussels, 5 April 2017

    Ranging from simple contact lenses and sticking plasters to sophisticated pacemakers and hip replacements, medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices are important to our health and quality of life.

    People rely on these devices every day and expect them to be safe and incorporate the latest progress in science and innovation. The current rules on the safety and performance of medical devices in the EU were harmonised in the 1990s. To reflect the substantial technological and scientific progress in this sector over the last 20 years, the Commission proposed to update the rules to improve the safety of medical devices for EU citizens, create the conditions to modernise the sector and to consolidate its role as a global leader.

    Why do we need new regulations on medical devices?

    Problems with diverging interpretation of the existing rules as well as certain incidents -e.g. with breast implants and metal hips - highlighted the weaknesses of the current legal system and damaged the confidence of patients, consumers and healthcare professionals in the safety of medical devices.

    To address this, the Commission proposed two Regulations on medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices in 2012. To ensure harmonised application of the rules throughout the EU, the two new Regulations will replace the three existing Directives on medical devices. The new rules significantly tighten the controls to ensure that medical devices are safe and effective and at the same time foster innovation and improve the competitiveness of the medical device sector. The new rules also better reflect the most recent scientific and technological progress and set the gold standard for medical device regulation globally. The revised rules also provide the conditions needed to consolidate the role of the EU in the long-term as a global leader in the sector.

    What are the main benefits for patients and consumers?

    The new Regulations pave the way to a more patient-friendly environment, where transparency and patients' information and choice are a priority; where patients can benefit from innovative, highly performing devices and new therapies become possible. The new rules introduce:

    • better protection of public health and patient safety. In particular high-risk devices are going to be subject to stricter pre-market control. Certain aesthetic devices (such as coloured contact lenses or equipment for liposuction) presenting high-risk to consumers and practices such as reprocessing of single-use devices are included in the scope of the new Regulations and made subject to a stricter and more harmonised regime. Rules on clinical evaluation and clinical investigation (and, for in-vitro diagnostic medical devices, performance studies) are generally strengthened and stricter requirements on the use of hazardous substances are introduced.
    • a comprehensive EU database on medical devices (EUDAMED) that will contain a living picture of the lifecycle of all products being available on the EU market. A large part of the information will be made publicly available, including a newly introduced summary of safety and performance for all Class III and implantable devices. The Commission is required to set up the database by spring 2020 and to maintain it thereafter.
    • a new device identification system based on a unique device identifier (UDI)that will allow easier traceability of medical devices,
    • an 'implant card' for patients containing information about implanted medical devices that will make information easily available and accessible to the particular patient.
    • a robust financial mechanism to ensure patients are compensated in case they receive defective products. The Regulations require manufacturers to have measures in place to provide sufficient financial coverage in respect of their potential liability. Such financial coverage shall be proportionate to the risk class, type of device and the size of the enterprise. This should allow patients to be rapidly and effectively compensated, also in case of financial bankruptcy of the relevant company.

    Which products are affected by the new regulations?

    In line with the current system, all medical devices, in vitro diagnostic medical devices and their accessories fall under the new regulations. In addition, certain aesthetic products such as coloured contact lenses or equipment for liposuction that need to be just as safe as existing medical devices will also be covered.

    Under the new Regulations, both medical devices and in vitrodiagnostic medical devices are divided into four risk classes. Depending on the risk class of the product, a different conformity assessment procedure is foreseen before the product can be placed on the EU market. In case of medium or high risk classes, Notified Bodies might be involved in the process.

    Why did an agreement take so long to reach?

    Effective and efficient rules on medical devices are extremely important to ensuring high levels of health and safety protection for EU citizens. At the same time, they are very technical and sensitive, and they had to be considered thoroughly.

    After three years of discussions at the expert level, the ministers of all EU countries agreed on 5 October 2015 on the general approach to the medical devices package. The European Parliament and the Council agreed on a final text on 15 June 2016. Based on this agreement and following the legal-linguistic finalisation of the text, the Council voted its first reading position for the two texts on 7 March 2017. The same texts were then adopted without modification by the European Parliament with an early second reading on 5 April 2017, which closed the legislative procedure.

    The new rules will now start to apply 3 years after publication of the Regulation for medical devices and 5 years after publication for in vitro diagnostic medical devices. New requirements on Notified Bodies and the provisions of the new governance structure will already be applicable six months after the adoption, therefore by the end of this year.

    Will the new rules be able to keep up with the future progress?

    The final Regulations contain very important changes to the current system to enable the sector to produce safer and more innovative devices and help address future challenges. The new Regulations contain many provisions to increase security and regulatory certainty (harmonised rules on drug-device combination products, tissue engineering, nanoscience, personalised medicine, substance based devices and genetic tests) and take into account the latest developments in the sector (medical software, apps, cybersecurity).

    To help boost innovation in the sector, the EU-wide database on medical devices (EUDAMED), supported by a new device identification system based on a unique device identifier (UDI), will make big sets of data in the field of medical devices available within the EU. By producing more innovative devices, medical device manufacturers will also be able to offer solutions for disease prevention or early diagnosis that will in turn make the healthcare sector more affordable, by for example helping to prevent or reduce hospitalisation.

    Will the transition to the new rules create any disruptions to the availability of medical devices? What are the arrangements?

    It is crucial to ensure that the new rules enter into force without any unreasonable delays and they do not create any serious disruption of the medical devices supply. The Commission, competent Authorities, Notified Bodies and all other stakeholders will work together to ensure that the transition to the new regime is smooth and successful. The Regulations foresee that certificates issued under the current Directives can remain valid for a certain additional period after the general application date of the two Regulations (3 years after the entry into force for medical devices and 5 years for the in vitro diagnostic medical devices). Moreover, a set of exemptions from clinical investigation requirements have been introduced for products placed on the market under the current Directives, provided that their clinical evaluation is based on sufficient clinical data and that they are in compliance with relevant common specifications. These regulatory developments will also create new opportunities for qualified staff. The Commission will work with stakeholder organisations and Member states authorities to organise relevant information and training within their constituencies required to carry out these changes.

    How will the governance of the new regulations make the medical devices and in vitrodiagnostic medical devices safer? How will the market surveillance be improved?

    The strengthened European governance of the new system is one of the main improvements. The Regulations introduce:

    • a new Medical Device Coordination Group (MDCG), composed of Member States experts and chaired by the Commission;
    • increased cooperation between Member States in the field of vigilance and market surveillance;
    • a mandatory coordinated assessment of multinational clinical investigations.

    As a result, a true European mechanism will be put in place for the regulatory management of medical devices. It will allow more frequent exchange of information, so regulatory decisions by either Member States or Commission can be taken on a more informed basis. Under this new governance, it should be easier to address safety issues and scandals on the EU territory and act quicker whenever required and appropriate.

    What will be the role of notified bodies?

    Currently, medical devices are not subject to a pre-market authorisation by a regulatory authority. Medium and high-risk devices require a conformity assessment procedure, involving an independent third party known as a ‘notified body'. Notified Bodies used to be designated and monitored by the Member States and acted under the control of the national authorities. In 2013, joint assessments of Notified Bodies were introduced, with members from other Member States and the Commission involved in the designation procedure. Under the new framework, the successful experience of the joint assessments is reinforced. Under the new Regulations, independent experts could be required to provide an opinion to the Notified Body on certain high-risk products before the final decision on the certification of the product is taken. This will help a Notified Body to make more informed decisions and stimulate a process of continuous learning. It will help drive innovation while preserving a high level of safety and performance of products.

    How will the scrutiny mechanism for assessment of high-risk devices work?

    For certain high risk devices, the new Regulations require the Notified Bodies to consult with an expert panel before placing the device on the market. According to this procedure, an expert panel could provide a scientific opinion to the notified body on its assessment of the manufacturer's clinical file. While the notified body would not be bound by the opinion, it would have to provide a justification for not following it. All relevant documents regarding the opinion and the final decision of the notified body would be publicly available in EUDAMED.

    What will be the impact of the new rules on the industry? Will they result in additional costs for companies and SMEs in particular?

    The medical devices sector is a global leader and a major employer in Europe: it employs more than 500,000 people in over 25,000companies. The sector is driven by small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and the new Regulations will help the EU industry to maintain and further expand its leadership role on the global scale, by making it more competitive and more solid in a complex global environment. This will be the result of three main factors:

    • simplified administrative procedures - under the new framework, registration of devices and operators will have to be done only once at the EU level. This is a major change compared to today's situation where in many cases manufacturers might be required to register their products in all Member States where those products are placed on the market.
    • increased legal certainty - growth and competitiveness build on the existence of a stable set of legal requirements. Contrary to a Directive, a Regulation is directly applicable in all Member States: this will help to avoid varying conditions for patients and industry in different countries. The new texts also include precise and detailed clarifications of the scope of the new rules, a list of clear obligations of relevant economic operators as well as an indication of the specific exemption regimes which apply to certain devices or practices such as in-house devices or reprocessing of single-use devices.
    • increased credibility and reputation of the overall system - industry's reputation is highly sensitive to the credibility of the EU medical device system as a whole. Various incidents as well as public reports regarding an alleged “uneven approach” among the bodies responsible for certification and approval of medical devices have damaged the confidence of patients and healthcare professionals in the safety of the devices they use every day, while confirming some weaknesses in today's legislation. The new Regulations address the shortcomings of the current legislation and aim to increase the overall confidence in the medical device market.

    These advantages should counterbalance the extra costs incurred by companies due to compliance with the higher safety standards and new requirements contained in the new Regulations. Specific needs of SMEs have been addressed in the texts particularly in relation to new requirements on financial coverage for manufacturers, person responsible for regulatory compliance and fees charged by Notified Bodies. This gives a potential boost to SMEs active in this sector.

    What are the rules on reprocessing single-use medical devices?

    Some devices are intended to be discarded after they have been used once. However, under properly controlled conditions some such devices can be safely reused. The regulation on medical devices contains minimum requirements on reprocessing of single-use medical devices. Reprocessing may only take place when authorised under national law and in accordance with the provisions of the medical devices Regulation. When reprocessing is allowed, the entity that wants to reprocess the device must assume the same obligations as a manufacturer. However, a different regime is applied in the case of reprocessing by health institutions and by third parties on the request of health institutions. Such regime includes compliance of reprocessing with common specifications or national provisions and harmonised standards to be certified by a notified body.

    Is the regulation addressing the issue of risks of use of nanomaterials used for medical devices?

    The new Regulation on medical devices lays down a dedicated classification rule for devices incorporating or consisting of nanomaterials. The critical factor is the potential for nanomaterials to be in contact with membranes inside the body. Those devices presenting a high or medium potential for such contact will fall under the highest risk class and thus be subject to the most stringent conformity assessment procedures.

    For further information

    IP/17/847

    MEMO/17/848 Copyright European Union

  7. newsHate speech and fake news: remove content, impose fines, foster media literacy?

    Plenary Session Press release - Institutions05-04-2017 - 17:24

    MEPs worry about the proliferation of hate speech and fake news, particularly in social media, they said in a debate on Wednesday. But they disagreed on how best to respond. Ideas aired included removing false and defamatory content, imposing fines to non-cooperative companies and fostering media literacy.


    Many speakers called on internet companies to step up their efforts to ensure that false and defamatory content is removed quickly. Some asked the European Commission to explore the possibility of proposing new EU legislation in this field.


    But there were warnings against censorship and public control of media outlets. Several MEPs also said it is necessary to improve media literacy among citizens, especially youngsters, given that social media are now the main information source for many of them.

     

    You can catch up with the debate via Plenary on Demand

    REF. : 20170329IPR69072 Updated: ( 06-04-2017 - 08:58 Copyright European Union

  8. news

    Red lines on Brexit negotiations


    An overwhelming majority of the house (516 votes in favour, 133 against, with 50 abstentions) adopted a resolution officially laying down the European Parliament’s key principles and conditions for its approval of the UK's withdrawal agreement. Any such agreement at the end of UK-EU negotiations will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.


    MEPs stress the importance of securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU. They also point out that the UK remains an EU member until its official departure, and that this entails rights but also obligations, including financial commitments which may run beyond the withdrawal date.


    The resolution warns against any trade-off between security and the future EU-UK economic relationship, opposes any sort of cherry picking or a piecemeal economic relationship based on sector-specific deals, and reiterates the indivisibility of the four freedoms of the single market - free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. 


    Finally, the resolution says that only when “substantial progress” has been made in talks on how the UK is to leave the EU can discussions begin on possible transitional arrangements. These arrangements must not last longer than three years, while an agreement on a future relationship can only be concluded once the UK has left the EU.


    Citizens first


    Citizens’ interests must be at the forefront right from the beginning, says the resolution, which goes on to note that Irish citizens “will be particularly affected”. MEPs urge all parties to remain committed to the Northern Ireland peace process and avoid a hard border. The special circumstances presented by this situation must therefore be addressed as a matter of priority in the withdrawal agreement.


    The resolution also warns the UK against any attempt to limit rights linked to the freedom of movement before it effectively withdraws from the EU and asks the EU-27 to examine how to address the fear of British citizens that Brexit will lead to the loss of their current EU citizenship rights.


    Negotiating principles


    MEPs call for both sides to act in good faith and full transparency so as to ensure an orderly exit.


    The resolution notes that it would be a breach of EU law for the UK to negotiate trade agreements with third countries before it left the EU, and warns against the UK engaging in bilateral talks with one or some EU member states on the withdrawal proceedings or the EU-UK future relationship.


    Continued obligations

     

    The UK will continue to enjoy its rights as a member of the EU until its departure.  At the same time, however, it will also have to shoulder its obligations, including financial obligations stemming inter alia from the current long-term EU budget. Such financial commitments could run beyond the date of departure, the resolution adds.


    European Parliament closely involved


    The European Parliament intends to build on the elements set out in this resolution as the negotiations develop, for example by adopting further resolutions, including on specific matters or sector-specific issues, the resolution says.


    Plenary debate on Brexit before the vote

     

    Earlier, leaders of the European Parliament political groups debated their priorities in the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The crucial role of MEPs during the negotiations was underlined by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who also took part in the debate. 


    Opening the debate, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said that “Parliament’s vote will be decisive for the final outcome of the conditions for the UK’s withdrawal and for future EU-UK relations. The recent terrorist attacks make it clear that all European countries will need to continue working closely with each other.”


    The debate showed wide cross-party support for giving top priority to protecting the interests of the citizens most affected by Brexit. The majority of group leaders also underlined that whereas it was important for the talks to take place in a serene atmosphere, the EU 27 would need to remain united and strongly defend their own interests.  All left-leaning groups also said that maintaining high levels of social protection would be a top priority for them.


    Several leaders stressed that Brexit must serve as a catalyst for renewing the EU in that it demonstrates how intrinsically bound together the member states are.


    Leaders of the EFDD and ENF groups rejoiced at the launch of the withdrawal process and accused the EU of seeking to “punish” the UK. 

    Click on individual names to watch the full statements


    Opening by President Tajani

    Manfred Weber (EPP, DE)

    Gianni Pittella (S&D, IT)

    Helga Stevens (ECR, BE)

    Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE)

    Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL, DE)

    Philippe Lamberts (Green/EFA, BE)

    Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK)

    Marcel De Graaf (ENF, NL)

    Danuta Hübner, Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Committee

    Ian Borg, for the Council Presidency

    Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

    Michel Barnier, EU Brexit negotiator

    REF. : 20170329IPR69054 Updated: ( 06-04-2017 - 16:51 Copyright European Union

  9. news

    End of roaming: final hurdle cleared

    MEPs removed the last hurdle on the way to full abolition of retail “roaming” surcharges in a vote on Thursday.


    The abolition of retail roaming surcharges, now scheduled for 15 June 2017, will enable consumers to call text and use mobile data for the same cost at home and while travelling in another EU country. and transfer data across borders from another EU member state for the same cost as at home.


    “This is a great victory for European consumers”, said rapporteur Miapetra Kumpula-Natri (S&D, FI). “We can now celebrate the fact that from 15 June on there will be no more roaming fees. Users travelling in across Europe will be able to check emails, use maps, upload photos on the social media, phone and text home without extra cost.”


    Parliament removed the final hurdle – wholesale price caps – by endorsing an informal deal on them, already informally agreed with the Council, by 549 votes to 27and 50 abstentions.


    Background


    The informal agreement between the Parliament and Council on wholesale price caps defines how much telecoms operators can charge each other for using their networks to carry cross-border “roaming” calls. Wholesale roaming prices indirectly affect consumers’ final bills.


    Lower caps for data transfers would enable EU consumers to access more more data such as audio-visual content when travelling from a country to another. This could also open up markets for small and virtual telecoms operators.

    Procedure:  Co-decision (first reading agreement)

    REF. : 20170329IPR69066 Updated: ( 06-04-2017 - 12:40 Copyright European Union

  10. newsBrexit: MEPs set out conditions for approving UK withdrawal agreement

    The Conference of Presidents endorsed a motion for a resolution drawn up by the leaders of four political groups and the Constitutional Affairs Committee, in which they set out their conditions for a final approval by the European Parliament of any withdrawal agreement with the United Kingdom. The draft resolution will be debated and voted on by the full house next Wednesday.

    The motion attaches great importance to fair treatment of EU-27 citizens and stresses the need for reciprocity and non-discrimination between UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK.


    Continued obligations


    The UK must continue to both enjoy all its rights and respect all its obligations under the EU Treaty until it leaves, including financial commitments under the current EU long-term budget, even if those go beyond the withdrawal date. This also means that the UK must continue to accept the four freedoms, the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, general budgetary contributions and adherence to the EU’s common trade policy until it leaves. MEPs insist on the importance of addressing the issue of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.


    “An orderly exit is an absolute requirement and a precondition for any potential future EU-UK partnership. This is not negotiable. The privilege of Union membership comes with responsibilities and these responsibilities mean guaranteeing the four freedoms. The four freedoms are the glue that binds it together and are indivisible,” said Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament.


    Sincere cooperation


    The groups and the Constitutional Affairs Committee note that it would be against EU law for the UK to begin negotiations on possible trade agreements with third countries before it has left the EU and they also expect sincere cooperation from the UK in negotiations on EU legislation in other policy areas until it leaves. They warn that bilateral agreements between the UK and one or more remaining EU countries, for instance in respect of UK-based financial institutions, would be in breach of the EU Treaties. 


    “For us, it is an absolute priority to settle citizens’ rights as soon as possible. It needs to be the first issue to be tackled in the negotiations. Citizens should not become bargaining chips”, stressed EP coordinator on Brexit for the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt.


    No better status outside the EU than inside


    MEPs are adamant that the benefits of being a member of the EU cannot be the same for a country which leaves the EU. The future relationship between the EU and the UK could, however, be an association agreement, says the motion, drawn up by Manfred Weber of the EPP, Gianni Pittella of the S&D, Guy Verhofstadt of the ALDE and Philippe Lamberts and Ska Keller of the Greens/EFA) as well as Constitutional Affairs Committee chair Danuta Hübner. Such an agreement would require continued respect by the UK of EU standards in the fields of the environment, climate change, fighting tax evasion and avoidance, fair competition, trade and social policy.


    Transitional arrangements


    MEPs agree that talks can start on possible transitional arrangements based on plans for the future relationship between the EU and the UK, but only if and when good progress has been made towards the withdrawal agreement. A future relationship agreement can only be concluded once the UK has actually left the EU and a transitional arrangement may not last longer than three years.

    Detailed infomation on the legal and procedural issues involved in the UK withdrawal are available here.

    This report was published by the European Parliamentary Research Service, and covers whether Art 50 may be revoked.

    REF. : 20170329IPR69014

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