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European Commission London Office weekly news round-up
Main news from Brussels this week
European Commission focuses on jobs, growth and security in its EU budget 2020 proposal
On 5 June, the European Commission proposed an EU budget of €168.3 billion for 2020 underpinning a more competitive European economy, solidarity and security in the EU and beyond. This budget is the seventh and last one under the current 2014-2020 long-term EU budget framework. It is designed to optimise funding for existing programmes as well as new initiatives and to boost the European added value. The 2020 budget will go to the following priority areas: competitive economy and young people; strengthening security and solidarity in the EU and beyond; and tackling climate change. Twenty-one percent of the overall proposed budget for 2020 will go to tackle climate change. This aligns with the ambitious target of spending 20% of the EU's current long-term budget on activities that address climate change. The 2020 budget will be negotiated between EU governments and the newly elected European Parliament.
European Commission recommends to EU governments to advance sustainable and inclusive economic growth
On 5 June, the European Commission adopted its 2019 country-specific recommendations, providing economic policy guidance to all EU member states for the next 12 to 18 months. The Commission also recommended closing the excessive deficit procedure for Spain and adopted a number of documents under the Stability and Growth Pact.
2019 U-Multirank university ranking
The sixth and largest ever edition of the U-Multirank university ranking, scoring more than 1,700 universities from 96 countries, was published on 4 June. Every year, U-Multirank compares higher education institutions' performance in areas that matter most to students. A map showing the universities with top overall performance is a new feature U-Multirank added to this year's edition. European higher education institutions are doing very well: EDHEC Business School (France), Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) and the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) are among the top performers. U-Multirank also analyses the international openness of universities worldwide. Results show that the more universities cooperate internationally, the more satisfied their students are with their learning experience. These universities also do better in knowledge transfer and research impact.
Europe announces eight sites to host world-class supercomputers
Eight member states will host the EU's first supercomputers which will support Europe's researchers, industry and businesses in developing new applications in a wide range of areas, from designing medicines and new materials to fighting climate change. The European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC) selected sites in Sofia (Bulgaria), Ostrava (Czechia), Kajaani (Finland), Bologna (Italy), Bissen (Luxembourg), Minho (Portugal), Maribor (Slovenia) and Barcelona (Spain). They supercomputers will support the development of major applications in areas including personalised medicine, drug and material design, bio-engineering, weather forecasting and climate change. Of the 28 countries participating in the joint undertaking, 19 will be part of the consortia operating the centres with a total budget of €840 million. The exact funding arrangements for the new supercomputers will be reflected in hosting agreements to be signed soon.
All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here
EU and the UK
More UK bathing sites record "excellent" ratings but fall short of the best in Europe
Just over 63% of UK bathing waters site met the European Union's highest ‘excellent' and most stringent quality standards for water cleanliness in 2018, according to figures published on 6 June. This is an improvement on 2017 ratings, but still falls short of the EU excellent average of around 85%, with four EU countries (Cyprus, Malta, Austria and Greece) achieving the highest rating for 95% of their bathing sites. However, 96.4% of UK bathing sites met the minimum quality requirements, better than the EU average of 95.4%. The European Bathing Water Quality Report provides a good indication of where the best quality bathing waters are likely to be found this summer.
Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here
EU in the media this week
Every week, we pick out one of the week's most interesting stories or comment pieces….which does not mean we agree with everything it says:
"Europe, take note: in Denmark, the humanitarian left is on the rise" by Michael Strange in the Guardian
EU fact of the week
20,000 more young people get the chance to explore Europe
Almost 95,000 young Europeans applied for a free travel pass in the third round of the DiscoverEU initiative. Around 20,000 18-year-olds have now been selected for up to 30 days travel between 1 August 2019 and 31 January 2020. The third round of the DiscoverEU initiative attracted applications from young people from all EU member states during a two-week period that ended on 16 May 2019. The winners were selected based on award criteria and taking into account national quotas for each EU member state.
Tweet of the week
During the meeting with UK’s Electoral Commission @ElectoralCommUK we discussed the issue of EU citizens voting in the last @Europarl_EN elections. We agreed to follow up on the complaints and remain in contact to get to the bottom of the problem.
— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) June 3, 2019
Quote of the week
“The employment and social outlook in Europe is developing in the right direction: we are still at record levels of employment with now 241 million people in jobs in Europe. Unemployment, at 6.4% in April, is now below the lowest point attained before the crisis. The improvement is even more remarkable for young people, whose unemployment rate went from a peak of almost 24% in spring 2013 to 14.2% today. And poverty and social exclusion are going down. This shows that our policies are bearing fruit. The European Pillar of Social Rights is crucial to continue delivering. It is the basis for all future policies and investment priorities for improving working and living conditions across the EU”, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said on 5 June whilst presenting the European Commission economic policy recommendations for EU member-states for the next 12 to 18 months, known as the 2019 European Semester.