Europeans see immigration and terrorism as the major challenges facing the EU at the moment, and they support the political priorities of the European Commission. These are two key results of the latest Standard Eurobarometer survey published today. The survey was carried out between 21 and 31 May 2016 in 34 countries and territories.
On Wednesday 27 July, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, appointed Michel Barnier, former Vice-President of the European Commission and former French Minister, as Chief Negotiator in charge of leading the Commission Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the TEU.
During his official visit to Malta, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement, Johannes Hahn, participated in a Public Seminar on the European Neighbourhood Policy: The Challenges we face in the South. The seminar, which was organised by the European Commission Representation in Malta in collaboration with the Strickland Foundation, took place on Thursday 21 July at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Valletta.
On Thursday 21 July, Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement, was in Malta to discuss the upcoming EU Presidency and to participate in a public debate organised by the European Commission Representation and the Strickland Foundation.
The European Commission Representation supported the University of Malta in hosting the 3rd Offshore Energy and Storage Symposium, OSES 2016, held between 13 and 15 July 2016 in Malta. The annual event is co-organised in collaboration with the Universities of Edinburgh, Nottingham, Leeds and Windsor. Focusing on energy storage and offshore renewables, OSES 2016 provides a platform for academics and industry from around the world to share the latest developments in technology, economics and policy, through presentations and networking sessions.
Following the Council decision of 12 July 2016 that Spain and Portugal did not take effective action to correct their excessive deficits, on Wednesday 27 July the Commission recommended a new fiscal adjustment path for both countries. The College of Commissioners also recommended that the fine be cancelled for both countries, a recommendation which the Council will need to approve, amend or reject. The Council is not bound by the Commission recommendation but can increase the fine to up to 0.2% of GDP under EU rules.
Following the nomination by British Prime Minister David Cameron of Sir Julian King as the candidate to replace outgoing Commissioner Lord Hill, President Jean-Claude Juncker received him on Monday 11 July for an interview. The purpose of the interview was to determine the candidate's ability to serve as a European Commissioner, particularly in light of Article 17(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which states that: "The members of the Commission shall be chosen on the ground of their general competence and European commitment from persons whose independence is beyond doubt."
Following the attempted coup that took place in Turkey on 15 July 2016, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk and the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini jointly stated that "Turkey is a key partner for the European Union. The EU fully supports the democratically elected government, the institutions of the country and the rule of law. We call for a swift return to Turkey's constitutional order. We continue to follow closely the developments and to coordinate with the 28 EU Member States."
On 12 July 2016, the Council adopted the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) endorsed by the European Council in June. This ultimately concludes the 2016 European Semester cycle in which economic policy is coordinated to provide a structured analysis of the Member States' economic, fiscal and employment plans.
On Tuesday 26 July, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the Single Digital Gateway, an instrument that will provide user-friendly access to information, e-procedures and advice services throughout Europe. Citizens and businesses who want to move to another EU country, do business or buy products from abroad are often confronted with a lack of information available online, limited access to assistance and no possibility to use e-procedures across borders. As a result, they do not move to, or buy or sell to other EU countries, which in turn stifles job creation and slows down economic growth.