Main news from Brussels this week
G7 in Brussels
On 4-5 June 2014, a G7 summit was hosted in Brussels by the European Union, represented by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. The summit discussed the situation in Ukraine and relations with Russia as well as other foreign policy topics, the global economy, trade, energy security, climate change and development. The two-day meeting began at 8 p.m. on Wednesday 4 June and ended on Thursday 5 June at 3 p.m.
G7 leader's communiqué
Brussels G7 Summit Declaration
Country Specific Recommendations
On 2 June, the European Commission proposed a series of country specific recommendations focusing on what can realistically be achieved in the next 12-18 months to make growth stronger, more sustainable and more inclusive, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU's long-term growth and jobs plan.
These recommendations will be discussed by EU leaders at an EU summit on 26-27 June. The Council – in this case national Finance Ministers – will then adopt final texts. Through this annual process, Member States agree collectively on what each government needs to do individually to consolidate and build on the signs of economic recovery now being seen.
The proposed recommendations for the UK were on budgetary policy, the housing market, youth employment, child poverty and childcare, finance for SMEs and infrastructure. Among the recommendations were:
- Increasing housing supply;
- Addressing London housing price rises – adjust Help to Buy 2;
- Engaging employers to address skills mismatches;
- Implementing Universal Credit and other welfare reforms to deliver work incentives and support;
- Improving the availability of affordable, quality childcare;
- Ensuring that the Business Bank really delivers as planned, promoting access to bank and non-bank financing;
- Supporting challenger bank emergence;
- Tracking progress on the plan – delivering regular transparent updates on the infrastructure side.
Full recommendation for the UK
Twelve UK universities win EU translation teaching label
Twelve British universities, more than in any other EU country, have won European Commission recognition for the quality of their translation teaching at master’s level. The Commission unveiled the list of universities granted membership of its European Master's in Translation (EMT) network on 2 June. The network recognises translation courses that meet agreed professional standards and market requirements and member universities can use the EMT logo as a quality label to promote their teaching.
UK business and academics join world’s largest civilian robotics programme
The European Commission this week launched the world's largest civilian research and innovation programme in robotics, involving some 180 EU companies and research organisations. Covering areas such as manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and households, the SPARC initiative is the EU’s industrial policy effort to strengthen Europe’s position in the global robotics market. This new public-private partnership, under the umbrella of euRobotics, is expected to create over 240,000 jobs in Europe, and increase Europe’s share of the global market to 42% (a boost of €4 billion per year, £3.244 billion).
Trilateral energy meeting between the EU, Russia and Ukraine
Following receipt of payment of 786 million USD (£467.4 million) by Gazprom from Naftogaz, a trilateral meeting on energy security between EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak and Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan took place in Brussels on Monday 2 June. Real progress has been made. Intensive discussions led to a bilateral meeting between the CEOs of Gazprom and Naftogaz who discussed key commercial issues for a settlement of the ongoing gas supply questions. The CEOs of Gazprom and Naftogaz have developed an approach in which both companies will further consult and continue talks in the next days. It was agreed that as long as these talks are ongoing: there will be no interruption of delivery; there will be no prepayment for gas deliveries for June and no party will go to Stockholm for arbitration.
5th Access City Award competition
This week, the European Commission opened the competition for the fifth 'Access City Award 2014', the European award for accessible cities. The annual prize recognises and celebrates cities for their efforts to make it easier for disabled and older people to gain access to public areas such as housing, children’s play areas, public transport or communication technologies. Cities with at least 50,000 inhabitants have until 10 September 2014 to submit their entries. The European Commission will present the awards on 3 December 2014 in Brussels, at the annual "European Day of People with Disabilities Conference". The UK has yet to win but last year Belfast was shortlisted among the seven best.
All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here