Representation in Ireland

EU

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Council President Donald Tusk, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

In the run-up to tomorrow's G20 conference, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have signed an agreement to go forward with opening up key EU-Japan markets.

Ireland's exports to Japan in 2015 were worth over €7 billion, while we imported almost €2.8 billion worth of goods and services (CSO figs). A deal with Japan gives Irish businesses, and agriculture in particular, major new opportunities.

06/07/2017

There is a very complete package of facts and stats published by the Brussels press service for which you will get live links on this webpage.

Attached is one of these, a closer look at trade in agriculture with Japan, particularly important for Ireland.

The European Union and Japan have reached today an agreement in principle on the main elements of an EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. This will be the most important bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU and as such will for the first time include a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

For the EU and its Member States, the Economic Partnership Agreement will remove the vast majority of duties paid by EU companies, which sum up to €1 billion annually, open the Japanese market to key EU agricultural exports and increase opportunities in a range of sectors. It sets the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection, fully safeguards public services and has a dedicated chapter on sustainable development. It also builds on and reinforces the high standards for the protection of personal data that both, the EU and Japan, have recently entrenched in their data protection laws.

The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and Prime-Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe made the announcement on the conclusion of the agreement in principle during the EU-Japan Summit.

President Juncker said: "Today we agreed in principle on an Economic Partnership Agreement, the impact of which goes far beyond our shores. Through this agreement, the EU and Japan uphold their shared values and commit to the highest standards in areas such as labour, safety, environmental or consumer protection. Through mutual adequacy decisions, we also make a strong commitment to uphold the fundamental right of data protection. Together, we are sending a strong message to the world that we stand for open and fair trade. As far as we are concerned, there is no protection in protectionism. Only by working together will we be able to set global standards. This will be the message that the EU and Japan will bring together to the G20 tomorrow."

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström added: "This agreement has an enormous economic importance, but it is also a way to bring us closer. We are demonstrating that the EU and Japan, democratic and open global partners, believe in free trade. That we believe in building bridges, not walls. With Japan being the fourth largest economy of the world with a big appetite for European products, this is a deal that has a vast potential for Europe. We expect a major boost of exports in many sectors of the EU economy."

Phil Hogan, Commissioner in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development said: "This is a win-win for both partners, but a big win for rural Europe. The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is the most significant and far-reaching agreement ever concluded in agriculture. Today, we are setting a new standard in trade in agriculture. Tariffs on wine exports will disappear from day one of entry into force. For wine producres this means a saving of €134 million a year. Equally the Austrian Tiroler Speck, the German Münchener beer, the Belgian Jambon d'Ardenne, the Polska Wódka as well as over 200 other EU Geographical Indications will now enjoy the same level of protection in Japan that they have in Europe."

The Economic Partnership Agreement will increase EU exports and create new opportunities for European companies, big and small, their employees and consumers. The value of exports from the EU could increase by as much as €20 billion, meaning more possibilities and jobs in many EU sectors such as agriculture and food products, leather, clothing and shoes, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and others.

With regards to agricultural exports from the EU, the agreement:

  • scraps duties on many cheeses such as Gouda and Cheddar (which currently are at 29.8%) as well as on wine exports (currently at 15% on average);
  • will allow the EU to increase its beef exports to Japan substantially, while on pork there will be duty-free trade in processed meat and almost duty-free trade for fresh meat;
  • ensures the protection in Japan of more than 200 high-quality European agricultural products, so called Geographical Indications.

The agreement also opens up services markets, in particular financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport. It:

  • guarantees EU companies access to the large procurement markets of Japan in 48 large cities, and removes obstacles to procurement in the economically important railway sector at national level;
  • protects sensitive economic sectors of the EU, for instance in the automotive sector, with transition periods before markets are opened.

The agreement will also strengthen Europe's leadership in shaping globalisation and the rules of global trade according to our core values and will safeguard the EU's interests and sensitivities. In doing so, it contributes to address some of the challenges identified in the reflection paper on Harnessing Globalisation presented by the Commission as part of the White Paper process.

Next Steps

Today's agreement in principle covers most aspects of the Economic Partnership Agreement. In some chapters technical details still need to be ironed out, and there are also chapters that remain outside the scope of the agreement in principle. For instance, on investment protection. The EU has put its reformed Investment Court System on the table and will reach out to all our partners, including Japan, to work towards the setting up of a Multilateral Investment Court. Other areas that require further work include regulatory cooperation and the general and institutional chapters.

Based on today's agreement in principle, negotiators from both sides will continue their work to resolve all the remaining technical issues and conclude a final text of the agreement by the end of the year. Then, the Commission will proceed to the legal verification and translation of the agreement into all EU official languages, and will consequently submit it for the approval of EU Member States and the European Parliament.

For More Information (please go to original Brussels webpage referenced above to get these links live)

Memo: key elements of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

Thematic factsheets on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement 

Infographics on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

Exporters' stories: European exporters entering the Japanese market 

Agreed chapters and negotiating documents

The agreement in principle – report submitted to Member States

Blog post by Commissioner Malmström: Agreement with Japan

Transparency in the negotiations: meetings and documents

More on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

More on trade relations between the EU and Japan

 

Publications

/ireland/file/60-reasons-coverjpg_en60-reasons-cover.jpg 60 Good Reasons for the EU – Why we need European Union The European idea was put into words on 9 May 1950 by the French Foreign Minister Robert...Read more

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Cows being milked

New rules increasing the public intervention ceiling for Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP) from 218 000 tonnes to 350 000 tonnes formally enter into force today. This move follows a strong take-up of SMP intervention in response to the current market crisis, and follows on from the exceptional measures announced by the Commission at the March Agriculture Council.

29/06/2016

The increase in the intervention ceiling comes at a moment when the volumes of SMP bought up so far this year have already reached 296 525 tonnes, of which 218 000 tonnes via "fixed price" intervention and 78 525 tonnes via intervention tenders. This latter figure includes bids for 15 127 tonnes of SMP from twelve Member States which were accepted by the Commission last week under the tender system at a maximum price of € 169,8/100 kg (the intervention price) - as backed by last Thursday's CMO Committee. With the increased ceiling now in place, intervention buying-in of SMP has now reverted to the fixed price system. See a detailed breakdown of the quantities bought-in under public intervention and/or stored in private storage, per week and per Member State.

In his statement on the market situation to Monday's Council of Agriculture Ministers in Luxembourg, Commissioner Phil Hogan confirmed that: "The Commission is working on a support package for the dairy sector, with financial resources if necessary".

Further information

European Commission statement: SMP Intervention ceiling formally raised

We note the media reports stating that in the event of a UK withdrawal from the EU, English would cease to be an official language of the EU.

This is incorrect. The Council of Ministers, acting unanimously, decide on the rules governing the use of languages by the European institutions. In other words, any change to the EU Institutions'  language regime is subject to a unanimous vote of the Council, including Ireland.

27/06/2016

These provisions are contained in Article 342 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
 

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EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan
EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan

EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: "I regret but respect the decision of the British people to leave the European Union.  I echo the call of President Juncker for a swift and decisive negotiation, pursuant to Article 50, in the interests of both sides.  It's essential that we set in train the essential steps to bring clarity and stability to the 27 member bloc as quickly as possible."

23/06/2016

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EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

President Schulz, President Tusk and Prime Minister Rutte met this morning in Brussels upon the invitation of European Commission President Juncker. They discussed the outcome of the United Kingdom referendum and made the following joint statement:

23/06/2016

"In a free and democratic process, the British people have expressed their wish to leave the European Union. We regret this decision but respect it.

This is an unprecedented situation but we are united in our response. We will stand strong and uphold the EU's core values of promoting peace and the well-being of its peoples. The Union of 27 Member States will continue. The Union is the framework of our common political future. We are bound together by history, geography and common interests and will develop our cooperation on this basis. Together we will address our common challenges to generate growth, increase prosperity and ensure a safe and secure environment for our citizens. The institutions will play their full role in this endeavour.

We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty. We have rules to deal with this in an orderly way. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the procedure to be followed if a Member State decides to leave the European Union. We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union. Until this process of negotiations is over, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations that derive from this. According to the Treaties which the United Kingdom has ratified, EU law continues to apply to the full to and in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a Member.

As agreed, the “New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union”, reached at the European Council on 18-19 February 2016, will now not take effect and ceases to exist. There will be no renegotiation.

As regards the United Kingdom, we hope to have it as a close partner of the European Union in the future. We expect the United Kingdom to formulate its proposals in this respect. Any agreement, which will be concluded with the United Kingdom as a third country, will have to reflect the interests of both sides and be balanced in terms of rights and obligations.”

Further information

UK Referendum on Membership of the European Union: Questions & Answers

Frequently Asked Questions about accessing medical treatment in other countries in Europe

The rules and procedures to access medical treatment in another Member State differ depending on the purpose and duration of your stay there. You may be on a temporary stay,...Read more

The European Commission has found the prolongation of an Irish scheme for the orderly winding-up of credit unions to be in line with EU state aid rules, and in particular with the 2013 Banking Communication.

19/06/2016

The objective of the scheme is to safeguard financial stability when a credit union becomes unable to meet regulatory requirements. It allows Ireland to provide aid for transferring the assets and liabilities (with the possible exception of the premises) of a failing credit union to an acquirer through a competitive process. This will help to achieve the maximum value for the assets and liabilities, ensuring that the aid is limited to the minimum necessary for ensuring an orderly winding-up and that no buyer gains an undue economic advantage through the acquisition of under-priced assets and liabilities. The scheme is valid until 31 December 2016. The Commission initially approved the scheme in December 2011. It was prolonged several times, the last time in December 2015.

More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.45522

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Why are so many highly-qualified young people working in low-skilled jobs when 40% of European companies say they can't find the right people to grow their business?

The European Commission says there are serious skills mismatches and gaps in the EU's labour market and today announced 10 actions it wants to take at European level.

12/06/2016

Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: "With millions of people in the EU currently out of work, we need to do all we can to help equip them with the right skills for the evolving labour market. Today's 10-point action plan sets out areas where the EU can help make a difference, from ensuring better recognition of qualifications across EU borders, to a Skills Guarantee that helps low-skilled adults learn essential literacy, numeracy and digital skills."    

Forty-per cent of Europeans lack the basic digital skills necessary for today's fast-changing labour market. And even in 2016, 70 million Europeans [1] lack sufficient reading, writing and numeracy skills.

Citing a lack of relevant skills to match labour market needs and problems with mutual recognition of qualifications, the Commission's 10 point plan covers a broad range of labour market bottle-necks. 

They will be rolled out over the next two years, with some being launched today. (Note for information: Legal competence for education and training lies with Member States, but as countries have similar challenges and opportunities such as skills mismatches, skills shortages and insufficient workers' mobility, digital needs, ageing workforces, brain drain, or migratory flows, the Commission plays a coordinating role through common initiatives, frameworks and guidelines, and by sharing expertise and good practice.)

The 10 Actions proposed:

  • A Skills Guarantee to help low-skilled adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and progress towards an upper secondary qualification.
  • A review of the European Qualifications Framework for a better understanding of qualifications and to make better use of all available skills in the European labour market.
  • The "Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition" bringing together Member States and education, employment and industry stakeholders to develop a large digital talent pool and ensure that individuals and the labour force in Europe are equipped with adequate digital skills.
  • The ‘Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills’ to improve skills intelligence and address skills shortages in specific economic sectors.
    Other actions will be launched later this year and in 2017:
  • A "Skills Profile Tool for Third Country Nationals" to support early identification and profiling of skills and qualifications of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants.
  • A revision of the Europass Framework, offering people better and easier-to-use tools to present their skills and get useful real-time information on skills needs and trends which can help with career and learning choices.
  • Making Vocational Education and Training (VET) a first choice by enhancing opportunities for VET learners to undertake a work based learning experience and promoting greater visibility of good labour market outcomes of VET.
  • A review of the Recommendation on Key Competences to help more people acquire the core set of skills necessary to work and live in the 21st century with a special focus on promoting entrepreneurial and innovation-oriented mind-sets and skills.
  • An initiative on graduate tracking to improve information on how graduates progress in the labour market.
  • A proposal to further analyse and exchange best practices on effective ways to address brain drain.
     

Further information

European Commission press release: Ten actions to help equip people in Europe with better skills

Fact sheet: Ten actions to help equip people in Europe with better skills - Frequently asked questions

Country specific factsheets

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New Eurostat figures show that 88% of Dubliners are happy with the air quality in their city, the highest in Europe along with Vienna and Helsinki (also 88%). The inhabitants of Bucharest (22%), Sofia (28%) are the least happy with their air quality.

12/06/2016

When it comes to noise levels, Dubliners (82%) has the highest share of inhabitants who are satisfied with noise levels followed by Helsinki (81%). The inhabitants of Bucharest (31%) and Sofia (36%) are once again the least satisfied.

These figures were published by Eurostat to mark World Environment Day on Sunday 5 June and refer to 2015. See the full Eurostat press release here.

Eurostat comparative tables on air quality and noise levels

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