The Commission is today proposing an ambitious and comprehensive package of measures to tackle non-performing loans (NPLs) in Europe, capitalising on the significant progress already made in reducing risks in the banking sector. With today's far-reaching measures, the Commission is delivering on the Council's Action Plan to address the high stock of NPLs and prevent their possible future accumulation. It builds on ongoing efforts by Member States, supervisors, credit institutions and the EU: this has led to stocks of NPLs declining in recent years across banks and EU countries.
The Commission is today proposing to reform the EU's common visa policy to adapt the rules to evolving security concerns, challenges linked to migration and new opportunities offered by technological developments. The proposed changes to the Visa Code will make it easier for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa to come to Europe, facilitating tourism, trade and business, whilst strengthening security and mitigating irregular migration risks.
Ahead of the March European Council, the Commission is reporting today on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration and sets out further key actions to be taken, including as set out in the Commission's roadmap from December 2017 towards a comprehensive deal on migration by June 2018. The decrease in irregular arrivals has been confirmed throughout 2017 and the first months of 2018, while work is ongoing to save lives, tackle root causes, protect Europe's external borders, and further strengthen cooperation with international partners. However, with the overall situation remaining fragile, additional efforts, notably stepped up financial resources, will be needed jointly from the Member States and the EU to ensure a continued, effective response to the migration challenge.
Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg this morning, President Juncker highlighted that further clarity is needed from the UK to reach an understanding on the future relationship, when he said: "As the clock counts down, with one year to go, it is now time to translate speeches into treaties; to turn commitments into agreements; broad suggestions and wishes on the future relationship to specific, workable solutions."
Today, the European Commission is taking more concrete new initiatives to further deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights. More specifically, the Commission presents its proposal for a European Labour Authority, as announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, as well as an initiative to ensure access to social protection for all workers and self-employed. These initiatives are accompanied by a Communication on the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which will be closely linked to the European Semester of policy coordination.
Today, the European Commission releases its 2017 report on the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products. The report shows that in 2017, the Rapid Alert System was increasingly used by national authorities with more than 2,000 alerts on dangerous products circulated through the system. Toys, for example several models of the popular fidget spinners, cars and motorcycles, topped the list of dangerous products detected and removed from the market.
The European Commission is today taking a major step towards the development of a Capital Markets Union (CMU) by promoting alternative sources of financing and removing barriers to cross-border investments.
While the CMU will benefit all Member States, it will particularly strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union by promoting private risk-sharing.
The ninth Steering Committee meeting of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey took place in Brussels today, chaired by the European Commission. The meeting brought together representatives of EU Member States and Turkey. Members of the European Parliament also participated as observers. The Commission confirmed the quick and efficient delivery of the EU's commitment to assist Syrian refugees and their host communities in Turkey
The Commission is marking International Women's Day with the release of its 2018 report on equality between men and women, as well as a presentation of a report on women in tech. We are not there yet. The Commission has acted to trigger change. It put forward a proposal to improve the work-life balance of working families, an Action plan to tackle the gender pay gap and called to put an end to violence against women through funding and awareness-raising actions. The 2018 gender equality report shows that progress has stalled in certain areas: women still take on the majority of caring responsibilities in families, the gender pay gap has stagnated at 16% for years and violence against women remains a problem.
The European Commission is today unveiling its strategy for a financial system that supports the EU's climate and sustainable development agenda. As our planet increasingly faces the unpredictable consequences of climate change and resource depletion, urgent action is needed to adapt to a more sustainable model. Around €180 billion of additional investments a year are needed to achieve the EU's 2030 targets agreed in Paris, including a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions. This is why, on the basis of the recommendations set out by the High-Level Expert Group on sustainable finance (HLEG), the Commission is today setting out a roadmap to boost the role of finance in achieving a well-performing economy that delivers on environmental and social goals as well.