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  1. newsCommission launches reflection on harnessing globalisation

     

    Following the Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe presented on 1 March, the Commission is publishing today its Reflection Paper on Harnessing Globalisation.

    Based on a fair assessment of the benefits and downsides of globalisation, today's Paper aims to launch a debate on how the EU and its Member States can shape globalisation in a way that anticipates the future and improves the lives of Europeans.

    Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the Commission, said: "Globalisation is good for the European economy overall, but this means little to our citizens if the benefits are not shared fairly and more evenly. Europe must help rewrite the global rulebook so that free trade becomes fair trade. So that globalisation becomes sustainable and works for all Europeans. At the same time, we must focus our policies on getting people the education and skills they need to keep up with the evolution of our economies. Better redistribution will help guarantee the social cohesion and solidarity this Union is based on."

    Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "Globalisation is a formidable force bringing benefits to Europe and the rest of the world but also many challenges. To preserve the benefits of openness but also address its drawbacks, Europe must promote a stronger rules-based global order, act resolutely against unfair practices, make our societies more resilient and our economies more competitive in the face of a fast changing environment."

    The reflection paper takes an honest look at what globalisation has brought to the EU. The fact is that, even if the EU has greatly benefitted from globalisation, it has also brought many challenges. Around the world, globalisation has helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and enabled poorer countries to catch up. For the EU, global trade has boosted EU economic growth, with every €1 billion of additional exports supporting 14,000 jobs. Cheaper imports also benefit poorer households in particular. But these benefits are not automatic nor are they evenly distributed among our citizens. Europe is also impacted by the fact that other countries do not all share the same standards in areas such as employment, environmental or safety standards, meaning that European companies are less able to compete on price alone with their foreign counterparts; this can lead to factory closures, job losses or downward pressure on workers' pay and conditions.

    However, the solution lies neither in protectionism nor in laissez-faire politics. The evidence presented in the Reflection Paper shows clearly that globalisation can be beneficial where it is properly harnessed.  The EU must ensure a better distribution of the benefits of globalisation by working together with Member States and regions as well as with international partners and other stakeholders. We should seize together the opportunity to shape globalisation in line with our own values and interests.

    Today's Reflection Paper opens up a vital debate on how the EU can best harness globalisation and respond to its opportunities and challenges:

    • On the external front, the paper focuses on the need to shape a truly sustainable global order, based on shared rules and a common agenda. The EU has always stood for a strong and effective 'multilateral' global rulebook and should continue to develop it in a way that addresses new challenges and ensures effective enforcement. For example, the EU could push for new rules to create a level-playing field by addressing harmful and unfair behaviour like tax evasion, government subsidies or social dumping. Effective trade defence instruments and a multilateral investment court could also help the EU act decisively against countries or companies that engage in unfair practices.
    • On the domestic front, the paper suggests tools to protect and empower citizens through robust social policies and providing the necessary education and training support throughout their lives. Progressive tax policies, investing in innovation and strong welfare policies could all help redistribute wealth more fairly. Meanwhile, use of EU structural funds to assist vulnerable regions and the EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund (see Factsheet on the EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund) to help displaced workers find another job can help mitigate negative impacts.

    Background

    Around a third of our national income comes from trade with the rest of the world. As overseas markets have grown, European exports have grown supporting higher-paid jobs. By specialising in what they do best, countries can produce more for less, boosting consumers' purchasing power. People travel, work, learn and live freely in different countries. They interact with each other on the web, sharing their ideas, cultures and experiences. Students have online access to courses run by leading universities across the world. International competition and scientific cooperation have accelerated innovation. Globalisation has also lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and enabled poorer countries to catch up.

    But globalisation also brings challenges. Many Europeans are concerned that globalisation leads to inequality, job losses, social injustice, or lowering environmental, health or privacy standards. They sometimes also feel threatened in their identities, traditions and ways of living. These concerns must be recognised and addressed.

    Harnessing globalisation, shaping the world for the better, promoting high standards and values outside Europe, protecting our citizens from unfair practices, and making our societies resilient and our economies more competitive are all key priorities for this Commission.

    The reflection paper on the harnessing globalisation follows up on the White Paper on the Future of Europe presented on 1 March, which set out the main challenges and opportunities for Europe in the coming decade. The White Paper marked the beginning of a process for the EU27 to decide on the future of their Union. To encourage this debate, the European Commission, together with the European Parliament and interested Member States, will host a series of 'Future of Europe Debates' across Europe's cities and regions.

    The paper on the harnessing globalisation will be followed by a series of reflection papers on:

    • deepening the Economic and Monetary Union, on the basis of the Five Presidents' Report of June 2015;
    • the future of Europe's defence;
    • the future of EU finances.

    For More Information

    Reflection paper on harnessing globalisation

    Factsheet: European Globalisation Adjustment Fund - Ten Years of European Solidarity

    Follow First Vice-President Timmermans on Facebook and Twitter

    Follow Vice-President Katainen on Facebook and Twitter

    IP/17/1230 Brussels, 10 May 2017 Copyright European Union

  2. newsEU rules to make more books available for blind people informally agreed with Council

    New rules to make more books available in formats designed for blind and visually impaired people were informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on Wednesday.


    The agreed legislation aims to ensure that people who are blind, visually impaired or have other problems reading print have access to more books, journals, newspapers, magazines and sheet music in formats like Braille, audiobooks and large print.


    Parliament and Council negotiators agreed on:


    • copyright exceptions: blind people and their organisations will no longer need to ask permission from the holder of copyright to make accessible format books and other print material,

    • improved cross-border circulation: blind people will have access to more special format books from EU and non-EU countries that have signed the Marrakesh Treaty; in this context, Parliament’s negotiators ensured that no commercial availability checks prior to the exchange of accessible format books will be required, and

    • optional compensation: member states will have the option of establishing limited compensation schemes for publishers when their books are turned into accessible format copies.

    The new rules will bring the EU’s laws into line with its international commitments under the Marrakesh Treaty, signed by the EU in 2014.


    Quote

     

    Rapporteur Max Andersson (Greens/EFA, SE) said: “I am happy that we were able to reach a compromise that secures the cross-border exchange of published works for people who are blind or visually impaired. Now, it is important that the ratification process can start as soon as possible, so that the EU can join the rest of the countries that have already ratified the Marrakech treaty. It is time for the blind and visually impaired to finally get improved access to books in accessible formats.”


    Next steps

     

    The agreed text now needs to be formally approved by the Legal Affairs Committee, Parliament as a whole and the Council before entering into force. EP plenary is scheduled to vote on the agreed text in July (TBC). 


    Quick facts


    The European Blind Union estimates that there are upwards of 30 million blind and partially sighted persons in Europe, and the World Blind Union puts the worldwide figure at 285 million. While estimates of the share of published books available in accessible formats for visually impaired persons range from 7% to 20% in the EU, in developing countries it is estimated to be as low as 1%.

    REF. : 20170509IPR73921 Updated: ( 11-05-2017 - 10:46 JURI Press release - Justice and home affairs10-05-2017 - 22:20 Copyright European Union

  3. newsBrexit: MEPs want EU and UK to take care of citizens’ rights first

    The EU and the UK government should negotiate a deal on the situation and rights of citizens as a matter of urgency and before starting the other Brexit talks, MEPs say.


    In a joint hearing organised by the committees of Civil Liberties, Employment and Petitions, most MEPs underlined the “moral duty” to end the uncertainty created for both EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in the EU since the June referendum.


    The EU should let go of the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” in negotiations, because a quick solution for citizens’ rights is a matter of priority. “Let´s do this first”, they concurred.


    Parliament´s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the House might adopt a resolution on this issue, probably after the summer recess.


    In a plenary resolution adopted on 5 April, Parliament stressed that citizens’ interests must come first in the negotiations between the EU and the UK government with fair and equal treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU.

     

    Quotes

    Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee, said: "Today's hearing shows that the European Parliament stands ready to fulfil its role in the negotiations by working hard with our constituents, our home governments and the EU institutions to ensure the voices of concerned citizens are being heard.  Human beings come first, we are not commodities and what happens on citizens’ rights sets the tone for the entire negotiation and relationship for a generation to come, so we must get it right".


    Renate Weber (ALDE, RO), Vice-Chair of the Employment Committee, added: "I strongly believe that when thinking about Brexit consequences, there is no greater concern than the fate of EU citizens who study, work and settle in the UK and also visitors, and of those British citizens who work or live in EU 27. Brexit will have a direct impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers and students, on millions of tourists, as citizens' mobility and rights are at the heart of the European project. We have worked hard to guarantee citizens' uninterrupted access to all kind of benefits, and these rights should be safeguarded."


    Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE), Chair of the Petitions Committee stated: “The Brexit decision has created uncertainty for three million citizens from other member states living in the UK, as well as for the 1.2 million British citizens currently living in the EU. These people are anxious and frightened about their future and their concerns must therefore be our top priority, and issues related to citizens’ rights solved first of all. We shall never forget that this concerns real people, they are not just pawns in the negotiations. This is about basic human values and about common decency. Only by putting the citizens first can we achieve a fair result in the end”.


    You can catch up with the debate via Video on Demand

     

    EMPL LIBE PETI Press release - European citizenship11-05-2017 - 18:54 Copyright European Union

    REF. : 20170509IPR73934
  4. newsSpring 2017 Economic Forecast: steady growth ahead

    Brussels, 11 May 2017

    The European economy has entered its fifth year of recovery, which is now reaching all EU Member States. This is expected to continue at a largely steady pace this year and next.

    In its Spring Forecast released today, the European Commission expects euro area GDP growth of 1.7% in 2017 and 1.8% in 2018 (1.6% and 1.8% in the Winter Forecast). GDP growth in the EU as a whole is expected to remain constant at 1.9% in both years (1.8% in both years in the Winter Forecast).

    Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: "Today's economic forecast shows that growth in the EU is gaining strength and unemployment is continuing to decline. Yet the picture is very different from Member State to Member State, with better performance recorded in the economies that have implemented more ambitious structural reforms. To redress the balance, we need decisive reforms across Europe from opening up our products and services markets to modernising labour market and welfare systems. In an era of demographic and technological change, our economies have to evolve too, offering more opportunities and a better standard of living for our population."

    Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "Europe is entering its fifth consecutive year of growth, supported by accommodative monetary policies, robust business and consumer confidence and improving world trade. It is good news too that the high uncertainty that has characterised the past twelve months may be starting to ease. But the euro area recovery in jobs and investment remains uneven. Tackling the causes of this divergence is the key challenge we must address in the months and years to come.”

    Global growth to increase

    The global economy gathered momentum late last year and early this year as growth in many advanced and emerging economies picked up simultaneously. Global growth (excluding the EU) is expected to strengthen to 3.7% this year and 3.9% in 2018 from 3.2% in 2016 (unchanged from the Winter Forecast) as the Chinese economy remains resilient in the near term and as recovering commodity prices help other emerging economies. The outlook for the US economy is largely unchanged compared to the winter. Overall, net exports are expected to be neutral for the euro area's GDP growth in 2017 and 2018.

    A temporary rise in headline inflation

    Inflation has risen significantly in recent months, mainly due to oil price increases. However, core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and unprocessed food prices, has remained relatively stable and substantially below its long-term average. Inflation in the euro area is forecast to rise from 0.2% in 2016 to 1.6% in 2017 before returning to 1.3% in 2018 as the effect of rising oil prices fades away.

    Private consumption to slow with inflation, investment remaining steady

    Private consumption, the main growth driver in recent years, expanded at its fastest pace in 10 years in 2016 but is set to moderate this year as inflation partly erodes gains in the purchasing power of households. As inflation is expected to ease next year, private consumption should pick up again slightly. Investment is expected to expand fairly steadily but remains hampered by the modest growth outlook and the need to continue deleveraging in some sectors. A number of factors support a gradual pick-up, such as rising capacity utilisation rates, corporate profitability and attractive financing conditions, also through the Investment Plan for Europe.

    Unemployment continues to fall

    Unemployment continues its downward trend, but it remains high in many countries. In the euro area, it is expected to fall to 9.4% in 2017 and 8.9% in 2018, its lowest level since the start of 2009. This is thanks to rising domestic demand, structural reforms and other government policies in certain countries which encourage robust job creation. The trend in the EU as a whole is expected to be similar, with unemployment forecast to fall to 8.0% in 2017 and 7.7% in 2018, the lowest since late 2008.

    The state of public finances is improving

    Both the general government deficit-to-GDP ratio and the gross debt-to-GDP ratio are expected to fall in 2017 and 2018, in both the euro area and the EU. Lower interest payments and public sector wage moderation should ensure that deficits continue to decline, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years. In the euro area, the government deficit to-GDP ratio is forecast to decline from 1.5% of GDP in 2016 to 1.4% in 2017 and 1.3% in 2018, while in the EU the ratio is expected to fall from 1.7% in 2016 to 1.6% in 2017 and 1.5% in 2018. The debt-to-GDP ratio of the euro area is forecast to fall from 91.3% in 2016 to 90.3% in 2017 and 89.0% in 2018, while the ratio in the EU as a whole is forecast to fall from 85.1% in 2016 to 84.8% in 2017 and 83.6% in 2018.

    Risks to the forecast are more balanced but still to the downside

    The uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook remains elevated. Overall, risks have become more balanced than in the winter but they remain tilted to the downside. External risks are linked, for instance, to future US economic and trade policy and broader geopolitical tensions. China's economic adjustment, the health of the banking sector in Europe and the upcoming negotiations with the UK on the country's exit from the EU are also considered as possible downside risks in the forecast.

    Background

    This forecast is based on a set of technical assumptions concerning exchange rates, interest rates and commodity prices with a cut-off date of 25 April 2017. Interest rate and commodity price assumptions reflect market expectations derived from derivatives markets at the time of the forecast. For all other incoming data, including assumptions about government policies, this forecast takes into consideration information up until and including 25 April 2017. Unless policies are credibly announced and specified in adequate detail, the projections assume no policy changes.

    Further information

    Spring 2017 Economic Forecast

    European Economic Forecast – explanatory website

    Follow Vice-President Dombrovskis on Twitter: @VDombrovskis

    Follow Commissioner Moscovici on Twitter: @Pierremoscovici

    Follow DG ECFIN on Twitter: @ecfin

    Press release - Winter 2017 Economic Forecast: Navigating through choppy waters

    Winter 2017 Economic Forecast

    IP/17/1237 © European Union 2017

  5. newsEuropean Commission takes next step in Article 50 process by recommending draft negotiating directives

    The College of Commissioners has today sent a recommendation to the Council to open the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. It includes draft negotiating directives. This legal mandate follows the adoption on Saturday by the European Council of political guidelines.

    Today's text complements the guidelines and provides the necessary details to conduct the first phase of the negotiations. This reflects the two-phased approach put forward by the leaders of the 27 Member States and prioritises those matters which are necessary to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union.

    The negotiating directives cover 4 main areas. Safeguarding the status and rights of citizens – EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27 – and their families is the first priority of the negotiations. The Commission's recommendation also states clearly that agreement on the principles of the financial settlement must be reached before it is possible to move on to the second phase of the negotiations. The negotiations should not undermine in any way the Good Friday Agreement. Solutions should be found to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. Finally, arrangements must be found regarding dispute settlement and the governance of the withdrawal agreement.

    Michel Barnier, Union negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations with the UK, said "With our recommendation today, we are on track to make sure that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union happens in an orderly fashion. This is in the best interests of everyone. As soon as the UK is ready, we shall start negotiating in a constructive manner."

    Next steps

    Today's recommendation will be sent to the Council, where it is set to be adopted by the General Affairs Council on 22 May.

    Background

    On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union. The European Council adopted its political guidelines on 29 April 2017. The negotiations will, at all times, be conducted in light of the European Council guidelines and in line with the Council's negotiating directives and with due regard to the European Parliament's resolution of 5 April 2017.

    For More Information

    Q&A on today's recommendation

    Text of the recommendation

    European Council guidelines

    Q&A on Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union

    Task Force on Article 50 Negotiations with the United Kingdom (TF50) webpage

    IP/17/1170 Brussels, 3 May 2017 Copyright European Union

  6. newsMEPs vote to lower VAT on e-books, aligning them with printed books

    EU citizens could pay less for e-books after plans to allow member states to reduce VAT on e-publications were backed in committee on Wednesday.


    An EU Commission proposal to enable member states to charge a reduced rate of VAT on e-books, which would bring them into line with VAT levied on printed matter, was backed by the 48 votes to 1 with 2 abstentions in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.


    "Our way of reading has changed rapidly over recent years. Now, it makes no sense to apply a double standard whereby an online newspaper is taxed higher than a printed one you buy in a shop. This new directive will give Member States the option to align VAT on digital content with printed matter," said the rapporteur Tom Vandenkendelaere (EPP, BE).


    Currently, e-books have to be taxed at an EU minimum standard rate of 15%, whereas member states are free to charge the reduced rate of at least 5% -- and in some cases, even zero-rates -- on printed publications.


    Music and videos, as well as publications predominantly consisting of music and video content, would continue to be taxed at the standard VAT rate.

     

    Next steps


    The proposal will now be voted by Parliament as a whole on May 31st or June 1st.

    REF. : 20170502IPR73133 Updated: ( 04-05-2017 - 09:02

    ECON Press release - Economic and monetary affairs / Taxation03-05-2017 - 18:43 Copyright European Union

  7. newsAntitrust: Commission accepts commitments from Amazon on e-books

    The European Commission has adopted a decision that renders legally binding the commitments offered by Amazon. The commitments address the Commission's preliminary competition concerns relating to a number of clauses in Amazon's distribution agreements with e-book publishers in Europe.

    Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Today's decision will open the way for publishers and competitors to develop innovative services for e-books, increasing choice and competition to the benefit of European consumers. Amazon used certain clauses in its agreements with publishers, which may have made it more difficult for other e-book platforms to innovate and compete effectively with Amazon. We want to ensure fair competition in Europe's e-books market worth more than 1 billion euros."

    With today's decision Amazon will no longer enforce or introduce these clauses in agreements with publishers. These commitments will contribute to fair competition in the platform economy.

    The Commission opened an investigation in June 2015 because it had concerns about clauses included in Amazon's e-books distribution agreements that could have breached EU antitrust rules. These clauses,sometimes referred to as "most-favoured-nation" clauses, required publishers to offer Amazon similar (or better) terms and conditions as those offered to its competitors and/or to inform Amazon about more favourable or alternative terms given to Amazon's competitors. The clauses covered not only price but many aspects that a competitor can use to differentiate itself from Amazon, such as an alternative business (distribution) model, an innovative e-book or a promotion.

    The Commission considered that such clauses could make it more difficult for other e-book platforms to compete with Amazon by reducing publishers' and competitors' ability and incentives to develop new and innovative e-books and alternative distribution services. The clauses may have led to less choice, less innovation and higher prices for consumers due to less overall competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) in e-book distribution.

    Amazon has sought to address the Commission's concerns by offering not to enforce, introduce or to change the terms of its agreements with publishers. It amended its proposal following feedback received from interested parties on the suitability of Amazon's originally proposed commitments.

    Today, the Commission has concluded that the amended final version of the commitments offers a timely, effective and comprehensive solution to the competition concerns it had identified. They will help ensure that innovation for e-books by publishers and other third parties can benefit companies other than Amazon and protect effective competition for e-books to the benefit of consumers.

    More specifically, Amazon has offered the following commitments:

    • Not to enforce (i) relevant clauses requiring publishers to offer Amazon similar non-price and price terms and conditions as those offered to Amazon's competitors or (ii) any such clauses requiring publishers to inform Amazon about such terms and conditions. The commitments cover in particular provisions related to alternative/new business models, release date and catalogue of e-books, features of e-books, promotions, agency price, agency commission and wholesale price.
    • To allow publishers to terminate e-book contracts that contain a clause linking discount possibilities for e-books to the retail price of a given e-book on a competing platform (so-called Discount Pool Provision). Publishers are allowed to terminate the contracts upon 120 days' advance written notice.
    • Not to include, in any new e-book agreement with publishers, any of the clauses mentioned above, including Discount Pool Provisions.

    Image EN

    The commitments apply for a period of 5 years and to any e-book in any language distributed by Amazon in the EEA.

    If Amazon were to breach the commitments, the Commission could impose a fine of up to 10% of Amazon's total annual turnover, without having to find a violation of the EU competition rules.

    Background

    Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 54 of the EEA Agreement prohibit the abuse of a dominant position which may affect trade and prevent or restrict competition.

    The Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into such arrangements in June 2015. The Commission took the preliminary view that Amazon may have abused its dominant position on the markets for the retail distribution of English and German language e-books to consumers by requesting parity conditions in its e-books agreements with publishers. The Commission invited comments from interested parties on a previous version of the commitments offered by Amazon on 24 January 2017.

    Article 9 of the EU's Antitrust Regulation (Regulation 1/2003) allows the Commission to conclude antitrust proceedings by accepting commitments offered by a company. Such a decision does not reach a conclusion on whether EU antitrust rules have been infringed but legally binds the company to respect the commitments. A policy brief on commitment decisions under Article 9 is available here.

    More information, including the full version of the commitments is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number 40153.

    IP/17/1223 Brussels, 4 May 2017 Copyright European Union

  8. newsEU proposes enhanced partnership with Africa on peace and security, and job creation for youth

     

    The European Commission and the High Representative/ Vice-President have set out today the EU's political priorities and concrete proposals for a stronger strategic partnership with Africa.

    The European Commission and the High Representative / Vice-President present today a revitalised framework for joint action, to build a stronger strategic partnership between Europe and Africa for more prosperity and stability in the two continents. The Communication presents innovative proposals in a number of key areas – such as peace and security, migration, job creation or energy – based on priorities defined by African countries and stepping up the existing fruitful cooperation between the two continents. This comes ahead of the Africa-EU Summit in November this year, which will put a specific focus on youth.

    At this occasion, High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini said: "2017 is the year for a new impetus of the partnership between Europe and Africa: every obstacle we may face is a common challenge, and Africa's hope is our hope. A strong Africa matters to Europe; our friendship matters to our people. Only by joining forces and working in partnership can we provide our youth with a more hopeful and peaceful future. Today, we don't simply look at what we can do for Africa but what we can do with Africa, together".  

    Neven Mimica, Commissioner in charge of International Cooperation and Development, added: "We propose several ideas and concrete measures on how to translate our priorities for the years to come into action, notably to foster growth and to create more jobs, especially for youth. We have a solid offer on the table and we now want to discuss it further with EU Member States and with African partners so that this offer materializes into something concrete and visible. More than ever citizens on both sides of the Mediterranean need to see that the Africa-Europe strategic partnership is a reality which goes beyond words."

    Today's proposal identifies three objectives for building an EU-Africa alliance to address common global and regional challenges: 

    •- a stronger mutual engagement and increased cooperation bilaterally and in the international arena, based on common values and shared interests,

    •- security, on land and on sea, and the fight against transnational threats

    •- sustainable and inclusive economic development in Africa, in order to create the jobs that the continent needs.

    Concrete actions are proposed around two mains strands.

    The first one aims to achieve more resilient states and societies, through closer cooperation and action in order to prevent conflicts, improve conflict management; strengthen governance systems, and manage migration and mobility. 

    The second strand will aim to create more and better jobs, especially for youth. It develops concrete proposals for attracting responsible and sustainable investment, for example with the recently proposed External Investment Plan, which is expected to leverage up to €44 billion of private investment. Further proposals concern the cooperation in renewable energy, agriculture, agribusiness and the blue economy as well as advancement of knowledge and skills. For example, the Commission proposes to launch an African Youth Facility, which will expand the scope of Erasmus+, or to support digital innovation in Africa.

    The Joint Communication will now be presented to the Council and the European Parliament. 

    Today, the Commission also presented its Digital4Development approach, outlining ideas on how to promote information and communication technologies in developing countries and mainstream digitalisation into EU development policy.

    Background:

    The EU is Africa's closest neighbour and main partner. Collectively, the EU is Africa's main foreign investor, main trading partner (offering free access to the EU market via Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), Free Trade Agreements and the Everything But Arms initiative), a key security provider (through the African Peace Facility alone, the EU channelled substantial funding amounting to over EUR 2 billion since 2004), and its first source of remittances and ODA (€21 billion 2015 EU collectively). An ever closer network of human contacts and exchanges strengthens the bonds between the peoples.

    The policy priorities and initial set of concrete initiatives set out today, to be coordinated and implemented with EU Member States and further developed jointly with African partners, come in response to Africa's own Agenda 2063 and build on the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy.

    For more information:

    Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council for a new impetus of the Africa-EU Partnership

    Q&A on the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council for a new impetus of the Africa-EU Partnership

    Thematic factsheets related to the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council for a new impetus of the Africa-EU Partnership

    IP/17/1189 Brussels, 4 May 2017 Copyright European Union

  9. newsOpen day: visit Parliament in Brussels and find out how it works

    Others Article - Institutions04-05-2017 - 16:41
    Poster: Open doors Brussels_2017_EN Poster: Open doors Brussels_2017_EN

    Parliament opens its doors to the public in Brussels this Saturday from 10.00 to 18.00 CET. It's an opportunity to explore the plenary chamber, join a guided tour and take part in debates. In addition visitors enjoy the chance to be among the first to visit the House of European History, a new museum that is opening its doors on the same day.


    Like every year, Parliament opens to the public to celebrate Europe Day, marking the speech by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman that led to the foundation of the European Union. It allows people to visit Parliament and the other EU institutions and discover what Europe is and how it works by taking part in different activities.


    Throughout the day there are guided tours in English, French, Dutch and German. There will also be three interesting debates:


    11:30-12:30     Media and education in times of post-truth
    12:30-13:15     Maternity leave
    13:15-14:00     Free rail pass


    As a special treat this year, the House of European History, a new museum next to Parliament, is also launched on Saturday. Visit it to discover a treasure of artifacts and memories linked to Europe’s history and the EU.

    REF. : 20170502STO73029 Copyright European Union
  10. 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.

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