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European Commission London Office weekly news round-up
Main news from Brussels this week
Breaking down barriers to cross-border investments and accelerating delivery
On 12 March, the European Commission set out proposals to boost the cross-border market for investment funds, promote the EU market for covered bonds as a source of long-term finance and ensure greater certainty for investors in the context of cross-border transactions of securities and claims.
Proposals to make EU visa policy stronger, more efficient and more secure
On 14 March, the Commission proposed to reform the EU's common visa policy to adapt it to evolving security concerns, challenges linked to migration and to new opportunities offered by technological developments. The proposed changes will make it easier for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa to come to Europe. They will facilitate tourism, trade and business, whilst strengthening security and mitigating irregular migration risks.
Continuous efforts needed to sustain progress under the European agenda on migration
The Commission reported on progress made under the European agenda on migration and set out key actions to be taken in future. More than 285,000 migrants have been rescued by EU operations in the Mediterranean since February 2016. Almost 34,000 persons – more than 96% of all eligible applicants registered – have been relocated with almost all member states contributing. The decrease in irregular arrivals has been confirmed throughout 2017 and the first months of 2018. 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.
Additional funds for Syrian refugees
On 14 March, the Commission mobilised additional funding for the Facility for Refugees in Turkey which has so far given 500.000 children access to education and is supporting 1.2 million refugees with monthly cash transfers. The Commission proposed to mobilise the second €3 billion tranche of the Facility, with €1 billion from the EU budget and called on member states to follow suit quickly so that the successful and effective work of the Facility can continue.
Measures to reduce non-performing loans in the banking sector
On 14 March, the Commission proposed 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. The proposals include: ensuring sufficient loss coverage by banks for future NPLs; enabling accelerated out-of-court enforcement of loans secured by collateral; further developing secondary markets for NPLs and a technical blueprint for how to set up national Asset Management Companies (AMCs). The Commission's second progress report on the reduction of NPLs in Europe shows that the decline of NPL stocks is continuing.
Remarks by Vice-President Dombrovskis
Proposals for a European Labour Authority and for access to social protection
On 13 March, the European Commission presented its proposal for a European Labour Authority and an initiative to ensure access to social protection for all workers and the self-employed.
FAQ on the European Labour Authority
FAQ on the Commission's proposal to improve access to social protection for all workers and the self-employed
All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here
EU and the UK
President Juncker on the guidelines on the framework of future EU-UK relations
On 13 March, President Juncker highlighted that further clarity is needed from the UK to reach an understanding on the future relationship. Speaking to MEPs, 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." The President added that this is especially important with regards to Ireland.
President Juncker's full speech
UK conservation projects amongst Natura 2000 finalists – vote for your favourite
Three projects involving UK conservationists are amongst 25 finalists selected for a public vote in the 2018 Citizens' Natura Award. The Shiant Isles recovery project, Loch Leven and a joint conservation project to save the Egyptian vulture in which the RSPB takes part were selected from nine projects involving UK participants. The annual award recognises the time, dedication and efforts Europeans invest in safeguarding threatened species and habitats in the Natura 2000 network (see also picture of the week).
Two UK SMEs receive EU funding for innovative projects
Two British SMEs will receive up to €2.5 million (£2.2m) each of EU funding for their innovative projects: a novel filter which purifies air and a device enabling better assessment of patients with head injuries. The funding will help them finance innovation activities such as demonstration, testing, piloting and scaling up. The companies will also benefit from free business coaching and business acceleration services.
For upcoming events, please have a look at our newsletter
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:
EU fact of the week
Motor vehicles triggered most UK safety alerts in 2017
The European Commission 2017 report on the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products shows that in 2017 motor vehicles triggered the highest number of safety alerts in the UK. Electrical goods were the other category that generated a big number of alerts. This EU database ensures information is quickly shared between consumer protection authorities and enables swift and coordinated action to remove any dangerous product from the EU market.
Tweet of the week
Those who are responsible for the
#nervegas attack in #Salisbury in the #UK must see very clearly that there is unequivocal, unwavering and very strong European solidarity with the British people and the British Government. @theresa_may @EU_Commission @EUCouncil @Europarl_EN
Quote of the week
"Never sacrifice the future for the present,"
Pierre Mendès France, quote used by Michel Barnier, the EU's Chief Negotiator while speaking to the European Parliament about Brexit negotiations on 13 March
Picture of the week
Loch Leven, one of the three UK conservation projects amongst the Natura 2000 finalists