Representation in United Kingdom

EU in the UK

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

12/04/2019

Main news from Brussels this week

Facebook commits to greater transparency on use of consumers' data thanks to EU-wide action

On 9 April the European Commission and consumer protection authorities welcomed Facebook's updated terms and services which will enable consumers to better understand how their data is used by the social network to sell targeted adverts . The new terms detail what services Facebook sells to third parties based on the use of their user's data, how consumers can close their accounts and for what reasons accounts can be disabled. These developments follow exchanges between the Commission and national authorities to ensure Facebook fully disclosed its business model in plain language for users.

More information

EU-China Summit rebalances the strategic partnership

The 21st EU-China Summit took place on 9 April in Brussels, providing a forum for  advancing bilateral and multilateral agendas, including state aid control, competition policy, energy co-operation, railway corridors. The EU pledged to work for a more balanced economic relationship with China while pursuing deeper engagement on global and multilateral issues, including reform of the World Trade Organisation. President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk represented the European Union alongside the premier of the People's Republic of China, Li Keqiang.

More information

Commission takes forward work on guidelines for artificial intelligence ethics

On 8 April, the European Commission presented the next steps towards building trust in artificial intelligence. Following extensive and constructive engagement from many stakeholders including businesses, academia and civil society, the Commission launched a pilot phase to ensure that the development of ethical guidelines for Artificial Intelligence (AI) development can be implemented in practice. The Commission wants to hear from industry, research institutes and public authorities.

More information

New European Criminal Records Information System on convicted third country nationals

On 5 March, the EU ministers approved the creation of a European Criminal Records Information System on convicted third country nationals based on a Commission proposal. The central system will improve the exchange of criminal records information on convicted non-EU-citizens and stateless persons through ECRIS, the existing European Criminal Records Information System.

More information

EU foreign investment screening regulation enters into force

A new EU framework for screening foreign direct investments entered into force on 10 April 2019. The framework will create a cooperation mechanism where member states and the Commission will be able to exchange information and raise concerns related to specific investments; allow the Commission to issue opinions when an investment poses a threat to the security or public order of more than one member state, or when an investment could undermine a project or programme of interest to the whole EU, such as Horizon 2020 or Galileo.  It will also encourage international cooperation on investment screening, including sharing experience, best practices and information on issues of common concerns and set certain requirements for member states who wish to maintain or adopt a screening mechanism at national level. Member states will retain the last word whether a specific investment operation should be allowed or not in their territory.

More information

All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here


EU and the UK

17 UK SMEs awarded €50,000 of EU funding to bring innovations to market

Seventeen UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were selected on 11 April for €50,000 of EU funding to help get their innovations to market faster under the latest round of the European Innovation Council SME Instrument. The companies will also get free coaching and business acceleration services.

More information

European Commission issues practical guidance to member states in 5 areas of "no-deal" Brexit preparedness

On 10 April, the European Commission took stock of the European Union's intense ‘no-deal' preparations and issued practical guidance to member states covering citizens' residence and social security entitlements, data protection, medicine and medical devices, police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and fisheries. The measures will ensure the smooth practical implementation of EU and national contingency measures if the United Kingdom were to leave the EU without a deal, whilst maintaining a coordinated approach throughout any such ‘no-deal' phase.

More information

Brexit preparedness

EU prepared to support European farmers in possible "no-deal" Brexit scenario

At a press conference on 8 April, Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan stated that the EU remained focused on protecting the agriculture and farming interests of EU citizens in the event of a "no-deal" Brexit. For instance, the Common Agricultural Policy has existing tools that can be activated in the event of market disturbances acting as safety nets, such as public intervention, private storage, crisis prevention and risk management. The Commission also published  in its Market Access Database detailed information on the rules the UK would apply to imports from the EU in the event of a “no-deal” scenario. Based on information made publicly available by the UK authorities, the database contains information for 121 countries and now provides the same level of information for exports to the UK as for any other EU third country trade partner, such as the US or China.

Full statement of Commissioner Hogan

Brexit preparedness

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

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:

'The myth of the Great British Brexit trade policy' by James Kirkup in the Spectator


EU fact of the week

Record start in 2019 for EU agri-food trade

The value of EU agri-food exports in January 2019 increased for the fourth year in a row to reach a new record level of €11.2 billion, according to the latest monthly agri-food trade report published on 11 April. Agri-food imports to the EU also increased to €10.8 billion bringing the monthly trade value to more than €22 billion, compared to €21 billion in January 2018. The EU trade surplus increased to €0.4 billion, compared to €0.3 billion a year ago. On a year-on-year basis, the value of agri-food imports greatly increased from the USA (+14%). EU import values also went up for agri-food products coming from Russia, Ukraine, China, Tunisia and Pakistan. The main export destinations for EU products remain the USA, followed by China, Switzerland, Japan and Russia.

More information


Tweet of the week 


Quote of the week

“EU development cooperation helps improve life opportunities for millions of people across the world. The EU and its member states have invested over €74 billion in development in 2018 – over half the world's development efforts. In the future, the EU and its member states should not only maintain our leading position, but also keep up efforts to further increase our development assistance.” Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica commenting on OECD's Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) finding that the EU continued to be world's biggest development aid donor in 2018.


Picture of the week

/unitedkingdom/file/blackholejpg-0_enblack_hole.jpg

Black hole unveiled
.

EU-funded researchers played a key role in the project to obtain the first ever image  of a black hole unveiled on 10 April.  The image was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope, a global scientific collaboration involving more than 200 scientists from around the world.

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

05/04/2019

EU and the UK

European Commission President addresses MEPs on UK's withdrawal from the EU

On 3 April, Jean Claude Junker updated MEPs on the state of the negotiations on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels. The President said the best way forward was for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement to avoid a disorderly Brexit and he would do everything possible to avoid a disorderly Brexit.  Since December 2017 the Commission has published 91 preparedness notices, 32 non-legislative acts, 19 legislative proposals, three Communications, as well as holding 72 seminars and supporting EU27 in their preparations.

Full statement of President Juncker to the European Parliament

Provisional agreement reached on visa-free travel to the EU for UK nationals in case of “no-deal” Brexit

On 3 April, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the Commission's proposal to grant UK nationals visa-free travel to the EU after the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. This means that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. The visa-free travel for UK nationals is conditional upon the UK also granting reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel for all EU citizens, in line with the principle of visa reciprocity. The agreement was adopted with 502 votes to 81 and 29 abstentions by the European Parliament on 4 April and now needs to be formally approved by the Council. , This would apply as of midnight on 12 April 2019 should the UK leave the EU in a "no deal" scenario or at the end of the transition period as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement. 

Brexit preparedness

EU prepared for “no-deal” Brexit scenario in the areas of public health and food safety

The EU regrets, but respects the UK's decision to leave the EU. While the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK remains the best possible outcome, the EU has prepared for a possible “no-deal” scenario in the area of public health, in particular on the crucial topics of pharmaceutical products and medical devices, as well as on food safety. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, currently also in charge of the health & food safety*, presented the EU preparedness in the field at a press conference on 4 April in Brussels. Note: *Vytenis Andriukaitis has taken a temporary leave from the European Commission to campaign for Lithuania’s presidential elections on 12 May.

Full statement of Vice-President Katainen

More information on the movement of live animals and animal by products

More information on prevention of medicines shortages

Customs authorities in the EU ready for ‘no-deal' Brexit

On 3 April, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs presented the preparedness of the customs authorities in the EU for a 'no-deal' Brexit. The overall impact of such a scenario cannot be mitigated, but preparations continue within member states, supported by the Commission, and much has already been achieved to ensure that national customs infrastructure and logistics are ready. Commission and member state outreach to businesses on customs and indirect taxation has also helped EU27 traders dealing with the UK to get ready to comply with customs obligations if a ‘no-deal' scenario materialises. A range of material is available for businesses, including a simple 5-step checklist and a more comprehensive guide to customs

Brexit preparedness

Transport Commissioner presents preparations in the transport sector for “no-deal” Brexit

Violeta Bulc, Commissioner for transport, presented on 4 April the EU's contingency and preparedness measures in the transport sector given the increasing risk the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Agreed by member states and the European Parliament in record time, they will limit the most significant disruptions caused by a possible “no-deal” scenario. Covering airroad and rail transport the measures will allow for the continuation of safe basic connectivity between the EU and the UK for a limited period of time, provided that the UK maintains an adequate level of safety standards and gives reciprocal treatment to EU companies and operators. 

Brexit preparedness

EU contingency plans to mitigate the impact of “no-deal” Brexit on fisheries

Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries Karmenu Vella presented on 5 April contingency measures to mitigate the impact on fisheries in case of a “no-deal” Brexit. The acts tabled by the European Commission in January were agreed in record time by member states and the European Parliament at the end of March. The first measure amends EU rules on the sustainable management of the external fleets by creating the legal framework for continued reciprocal fishing access by EU and UK vessels to each other's waters during 2019, provided the UK grants such access for EU vessels. The second measure allows fishermen and operators from EU member states to receive compensation for the temporary cessation of fishing activities due to Brexit under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.  This will help to off-set some of the impacts of a sudden closure of UK waters to EU fishing vessels.

Brexit preparedness

European Commission concludes UK tax scheme gave illegal tax advantages

On 2 April, the European Commission announced that a UK tax scheme is partly justified and does not constitute state aid, insofar as it ensures the proper functioning and effectiveness of the relevant tax rules. However, the Commission found that the UK gave certain multinationals a selective advantage by granting them an unjustified exemption from UK anti–tax avoidance rules. This is illegal under EU state aid rules and the UK must now recover the undue tax benefits.

More information

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

For upcoming events, please have a look at our newsletter


Main news from Brussels this week

Better implementation of EU environment rules protects citizens and enhances life quality

On 5 April, the European Commission published the second Environmental Implementation Review (EIR); part of its initiative launched in 2016 to improve the implementation of European environmental policy and commonly agreed EU rules. The review maps out the situation of in each EU country and identifies the causes of implementation gaps. It helps to find solutions before problems become urgent and aims to assist national decision-makers by outlining the priorities requiring attention. Full implementation of EU environmental legislation could save the EU economy around €55 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment and help protect citizens and enhance their quality of life.

More information

United Kingdom report

Toys and cars on top of the list of dangerous products in the EU

On 5 April, the European Commission released its 2018 report on the Safety Gate for dangerous products, the former Rapid Alert System. The report reveals national authorities exchanged 2,257 alerts on dangerous products. Toys were the most notified product category (31%), followed by motor vehicles (19%), and clothing, textiles and fashion items (10%), while the main dangers flagged were chemical risks and injuries (25% each) followed by the choking risk for children (18%).

More information

Stronger EU consumer protection rules

On 2 April, the European Parliament and the Council have reached a provisional agreement on stronger and more robust enforcement of consumer protection rules. The main improvements will be strengthened consumer rights when buying online, effective penalties and clear rules to tackle the issue of dual quality of products in the EU. The European Commission proposed the new rules in April 2018 as part of a series of measures – New Deal for Consumers - to  strengthen EU consumer law enforcement amid the growing risk of EU-wide infringements.

More information

European Union launches WTO cases on ICT and pharmaceuticals

On 2 April, the EU brought two disputes in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against India and Turkey, respectively targeting unlawful import duties on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products and unlawful measures on pharmaceuticals. In both cases, there are significant economic interests and important legal principles at stake for the EU. The total value of affected European exports is estimated to be more than €1 billion a year.

More information

European Commission sends statement of objections to BMW, Daimler and VW for restricting competition on emission cleaning technology

On 5 April, the European Commission informed BMW, Daimler and VW its preliminary view that they have breached EU antitrust rules from 2006 to 2014 by colluding to restrict competition on the development of technology to clean the emissions of petrol and diesel passenger cars and in so doing European consumers may have been denied the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology., The three car manufacturers now have the opportunity to respond to our findings."

More information

All this week's key European Commission announcements 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:

'Leaked file shows contrasts for Britons in EU after no-deal Brexit' by Daniel Boffey in the Guardian


EU fact of the week

Fewer people died on European roads in 2018 but more efforts needed to half road deaths by 2020

In 2018, there were around 25,100 fatalities in EU road accidents according to preliminary figures published on 4 April by the European Commission. This is a decrease of 21% compared to 2010 and 1% compared to 2017. With an average of 49 road deaths per one million inhabitants, this confirms that European roads are by far the safest in the world. But it also shows the EU is not on track to reach the target of halving the number of road deaths by 2020. The EU countries with the best road safety results in 2018 were the United Kingdom (28 deaths/million inhabitants), Denmark (30/million), Ireland (31/million) and Sweden (32/million). Countries with a higher-than-average decrease in road deaths from 2017 to 2018 were Slovenia (-13%), Lithuania (-11%), Bulgaria (-9%) and Slovakia and Cyprus (both -8%). The countries with the highest fatality rate were Romania (96/million), Bulgaria (88/million), Latvia (78/million) and Croatia (77/million).

More information


Tweet of the week 

Jean-Claude Juncker‏ @JunckerEU

Si le Royaume-Uni est en mesure d'approuver l'accord de retrait avec une majorité viable d'ici au 12 avril, alors l'Union européenne devrait accepter une prorogation jusqu’au 22 mai.

I will do everything to prevent a disorderly #Brexit. https://europa.eu/!fY34Pt 

— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) April 3, 2019


Quote of the week

“For a year now Europeans can travel with their online content all across Europe – another success of the Digital Single Market. Together with the effective abolition of roaming charges and the new rules against unjustified geoblocking, the Digital Single Market is breaking down digital barriers for the benefit of consumers and businesses. We are very pleased to see that Europeans actively use their new digital rights”, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip on 1 April, marking the one-year anniversary since Europeans can use their online subscription to films, sports events, e-books, video games or music services as they travel across the EU thanks to the regulation on portability of online content services


Picture of the week

/unitedkingdom/file/juvenestranslatoresjpg_enjuvenes_translatores.jpg

Juvenes Translatores
Juvenes Translatores

The UK winner of the EU competition for best translation 'Juvenes Translatores' Ms Natalia Glazman from the Woldingham School in Surrey, receiving her award from the Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther Oettinger (right) and the Director-General of DG for Translation of the European Commission Rytis Martikonis (left) at a ceremony in Brussels on 4 April.

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

29/03/2019

EU and the UK

EU completes preparations for possible “no-deal” Brexit on 12 April

On 25 March, the European Commission announced it had completed its “no-deal” Brexit preparations. Since December 2017, the European Commission has been preparing for the possible scenario of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement and has published 90 preparedness notices, three Commission Communications, and has made 19 legislative proposals (see below). In addition, the Commission has held extensive technical discussions with the EU27 member states both on general issues of preparedness and contingency work and on specific sectorial, legal and administrative issues. The Commission has now also completed its tour of capitals of the 27 EU member states during which time officials provided clarifications on the Commission's preparedness and contingency action and  discussed national preparations and contingency plans. The visits showed a high degree of preparation by member states for all scenarios.

More information

Brexit preparedness

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

For upcoming events, please have a look at our newsletter


Main news from Brussels this week

New EU rules on road safety will help save lives from 2022

On 26 March, the EU institutions reached a provisional political agreement on the revised General Safety Regulation which will introduce  from 2022 new mandatory safety technologies in European vehicles to help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our roads. In May 2018, the Commission proposed to make certain vehicle safety measures mandatory, including systems that reduce the dangerous blind spots on trucks and buses and technology that warns the driver in case of drowsiness or distraction. Advanced safety features will reduce the number of accidents, 90% of which are due to human error, pave the way towards increasingly connected and automated mobility and boost the global innovation and competitiveness edge of the European car industry. The new rules are now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council.

More information

European copyright reform gets parliamentary endorsement

On 26 March, the European Parliament voted in favour of the new Copyright Directive designed to bring tangible benefits to citizens, all creative sectors, the press, researchers, educators and cultural heritage. The European Commission welcomed the endorsement of its proposal by MEPs stating the directive protects creativity in the digital age and ensures that the EU citizens benefit from wider access to content and new guarantees to fully protect their freedom of expression online. The adopted text will now need to be formally approved by the Council of the European Union in the coming weeks. Once published in the Official Journal of the EU, member states will have 24 months to transpose the new rules into their national legislation.

More information

EU scores final victory in the WTO Boeing dispute

On 28 March, the EU welcomed the ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Appellate Body, vindicating the EU's long held position that the United States has taken no steps to comply with WTO rules on support to Boeing. The ruling concludes definitively that the US has continued to illegally subsidise the company despite previous rulings condemning this behaviour. This has caused significant harm to its European competitor Airbus. The WTO sided with the EU in its argument that several US measures, notably the Washington State tax programme and business incentives from South Carolina are in fact subsidies. The Appellate Body dismissed all of the US appeal points. The decision marks the final step in the compliance proceedings in this long running debate launched in 2012. The EU expects the United States to promptly comply with this final ruling. 

More information

New rules on single–use plastics to reduce marine litter

On 27 March, the European Parliament agreed on the ambitious measures proposed by the Commission to tackle marine litter coming from the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on European beaches, as well as abandoned fishing gear and oxo-degradable plastics. The Single-Use Plastics Directive will now need the approval of the EU government minister, then national governments will have two years to transpose the legislation into national law.

More information

European Parliament confirms that the 2017 EU budget was well-managed

On 26 March, the European Parliament gave its final approval to the way in which the European Commission, in cooperation with member states, managed and implemented the EU budget in 2017. The positive vote follows the European Court of Auditors' decision to give the EU annual accounts a clean bill of health for the 11th year in a row, finding them true and fair. Before taking its decision, the Parliament examines the accounts, the balance sheet and the report on the management of the budget prepared by the Commission, as well as the European Court of Auditors' annual report and any relevant special reports.

More information

European Commission fines Nike £10.7 million for restricting cross-border sales

On 25 March, the European Commission fined Nike €12.5 million (£10.7 million) for banning traders from selling licensed merchandise to other countries within the EEA. This restriction concerned merchandising products of some of Europe's best-known football clubs and federations for which Nike held the licence.

More information

All this week's key European Commission announcements 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:

'MEPs approve sweeping changes to copyright law' by Alex Hern in the Guardian


EU fact of the week

Record 240 million people in employment across the EU

The spring edition of the European Commission's Employment and Social Developments in Europe  Quarterly Review published on 25 March shows that a record 240 million people have now a job in the European Union, with permanent jobs on the rise. At the same time, unemployment is the lowest it has ever been this century, at 6.5% in January 2019. Hours worked are finally above the peak of 2008. Most of the jobs created are permanent and full time jobs. Growth is unequal however and the combination of labour shortages in some member states and the lack of growth in others is slowing down EU employment rate growth overall.

More information


Tweet of the week


Quote of the week

“The European Union stays at the forefront of the international mobilisation to support the Venezuelan people. We are working on strengthening international cooperation to make sure that humanitarian aid, including this new commitment, reaches the people in need inside and outside Venezuela in an impartial manner and through independent channels, without any attempt to politicise the delivery of aid”, EU High Representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini announcing that EU will increases its emergency assistance to Venezuela by €50 million (£43 million) to €117.6 million (£100.8 million).


Picture of the week

/unitedkingdom/file/globalgovernancejpg_englobal_governance.jpg

Global governance
The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker took part in a meeting on Global Governance with Emmanuel Macron, President of France, Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany on 26 March in Paris

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

22/03/2019

Main news from Brussels this week

Google fined €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising

On 20 March, the European Commission fined Google €1.49 billion for illegal misuse of its dominant position in the market for the brokering of online search adverts. Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate and consumers, the benefits of competition. The fine represents 1.29% of Google's turnover in 2018 and takes account of the duration and gravity of the infringement. In 2018, Commission fined Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices strengthening the dominance of Google's search engine and in 2017, the Commission fined Google €2.42 billion for abusing its dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to Google's own comparison shopping service.

More information

Cyclone Idai: €3.5m EU emergency aid for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe

On 19 March, the Commission announced a €3.5 million emergency aid package in response to the widespread flooding and devastation caused by tropical cyclone Idai that hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe last week. The emergency aid will address the pressing humanitarian needs (shelter, hygiene, sanitation and health care) and EU technical experts will be sent to boost local response efforts to reach those in need.  The EU's Copernicus satellite system has been activated to identify needs and help the EU's humanitarian partners and the local authorities in their response. The aid package will be distributed on needs: €2 million will be provided in Mozambique, €1 million in Malawi and €0.5 million in Zimbabwe and comes in addition to an initial €250,000 of EU humanitarian assistance.

InvestEU: boosting private and public investment in Europe

The provisional agreement on the creation of the InvestEU – which builds on the success of the Investment Plan for Europe (see Fact of the Week) – is a crucial step towards making EU financing easier to access to boost EU jobs and growth.  InvestEU will bring together under one roof the European Fund for Strategic Investments and 13 other EU financial instruments currently supporting investment in the EU. InvestEU will be the Commission's flagship programme using public funding to support strategically important projects across the EU to help build a more sustainable, resilient and competitive European economy. It will further boost investment in key areas like artificial intelligence, circular economy, climate action, as well as social inclusion and skills.

More information

Capital Markets Union: stronger, safer and more integrated financial markets

On 21 March the Commission welcomed the political agreement reached by MEPs and EU government ministers on the core elements towards reforming European supervision in EU financial markets, including anti-money laundering. This is an important step to achieve not only a Single Rulebook, but also a consistent supervisory approach across the EU. The European Supervisory Authorities play a key role in achieving convergence of supervisory outcomes to ensure a level playing field for financial institutions and investors in the EU and ensuring investor and consumer protection. This is a precondition for a fully-fledged Capital Markets Union. The new rules will also confer new powers to the European Banking Authority to ensure there is no weak link in the EU when it comes to money laundering supervision and terrorist financing.

More information

rescEU: stronger, pan-European civil protection system enters into force

On 21 March, the EU's plan to strengthen the existing civil protection mechanism response to natural disasters, rescEU, entered into force. Numerous disasters have affected all regions of Europe in recent years causing hundreds of casualties and billions in damage to infrastructure.  New capacities (ie so-called rescEU reserve) include forest fighting planes, special water pumps, urban search and rescue as well as field hospitals and emergency medical teams. 

More information

€525 million for Eurodrone and other joint defence research and industrial projects

On 19 March, the Commission adopted work programmes to co-finance joint defence industrial projects worth up to €500 million in 2019-2020. A further €25 million has been earmarked to support collaborative defence research projects in 2019. The announcements kick-start the first EU-funded joint defence industrial projects under the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) which will focus on such areas as: drone technology, satellite communication, early warning systems, artificial intelligence, cyber-defence and maritime surveillance. From 2021, a fully-fledged European Defence Fund will foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base and contribute to the EU's strategic autonomy.

More information

€2 billion to fast forward the creation of the European Innovation Council

Ahead of the 21-22 March European Council discussion on innovation, industry and competitiveness, the Commission announced this week a €2bn injection to set up a European Innovation Council (EIC) to help turn Europe's scientific discoveries into businesses that scale up faster. The Commission also announced that 68 start-ups and SMEs have been selected for €120 million of EU funding under the existing EIC pilot, including two UK businesses: Smart Separations Ltd and ViVo Smart Medical Devices Ltd (details here). Overall, 1,276 highly innovative projects have already benefitted from over €730 million of EU funding since the EIC's pilot was launched in 2017. A further €10bn will be allocated under Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation funding programme for 2021-2027, with the EIC becoming a full-fledged reality from 2021.

More information

€27 million in humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan

On 20 March, the European Commission announced €27 million in humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable families affected by the devastating floods in early March which continue to affect large parts of the country. The new funding will provide food, emergency shelter, water and sanitation, protection and medical care. The EU will also continue to provide education for children who have had to leave their schools.

More information

All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here


EU and the UK

European Council Art50 summit

On Thursday, 21 March 2019, the EU27 leaders met to discuss Brexit. Leaders took note of the letter of Prime Minister Theresa May of 20 March 2019, in which she had requested to delay Brexit until 30 June 2019. They offered an extension until 22 May 2019.  It will be granted if the UK Parliament approves the withdrawal agreement next week. If it does not, EU leaders agree to delay Brexit until 12 April 2019, expecting the UK to "indicate a way forward before this date".

Council conclusions

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

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:

We’re edging away from Brexit – but both sides are set to lose by Rafael Behr, The Guardian

Why Remainers were shocked by the referendum result, but Leavers less so comment by James Kanagasooriam, The Spectator


EU fact of the week

InvestEU builds on the success of the Juncker Plan, or Investment Plan for Europe. Latest figures from the European Investment Bank, the Commission's strategic partner on the Juncker Plan, show that by March 2019, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) had mobilised almost €390 billion of investments. Operations approved under EFSI so far represent a total financing volume of €72.5 billion in all 28 member states. The EIB has approved 518 infrastructure projects supported by EFSI for €53.9 billion, while the European Investment Fund has approved 537 financing agreements for SMEs worth €18.6 billion. 929,000 small and medium companies will benefit from these agreements.

Total financing in the UK amounts to €2.2 billion and is set to trigger €20 billion in additional investments.


Tweet of the week

European Commission @EUCommission 

Most Europeans (83%) think disinformation is a problem for democracy. We welcome the positive progress from the signatories of our Code of Practice to fight disinformation in the run up to the #EUelections2019. Further efforts are needed. More → https://europa.eu/!Hr63yf 

https://twitter.com/EU_Commission/status/1108343823762157568


Quote of the week

 “The European Union will stand by its commitments made under the Paris Climate Agreement. As part of this agenda, the EU was an early mover on sustainable finance by recognising that boosting private capital is essential for supporting the transition towards a climate-neutral and sustainable economy. By now, other countries have made substantial progress in this area. It is time for us to join forces and make sustainable finance go global,” Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union.


Picture of the week

/unitedkingdom/file/tuskmayjpg_entusk_may.jpg

Tusk & May
European Council President Donald Tusk and UK Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of European Council, Brussels

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

15/03/2019

Main news from Brussels this week

EU updates list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions

On 12 March, EU finance ministers updated the EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, following an intense process of analysis and dialogue steered by the Commission. Ministers decided to blacklist 15 countries. Of those, five have taken no commitments since the first blacklist adopted in 2017: American Samoa, Guam, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobagoand US Virgin Islands. Three others were on the 2017 list but were moved to the grey list following commitments made, however, they are now to be blacklisted again for not having followed up: Barbados, United Arab Emirates and Marshall Islands. A further seven countries were moved from the grey list to the blacklist for the same reason: Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu and Dominica. Another 34 countries will continue to be monitored in 2019 (grey list), while 25 countries from the original screening process have now been cleared. The listing process has proven a true success as many countries have changed their laws and tax systems to comply with international standards on which the European Commission assessment is based. Over the course of last year, the Commission assessed 92 countries based on three criteria: tax transparency, good governance and real economic activity, as well as one indicator, the existence of a zero corporate tax rate.

More information

European Commission reviews relations with China and proposes 10 actions

On 12 March, the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini reviewed European Union-China relations and the related opportunities and challenges. They laid out ten concrete actions in a joint communication for EU Heads of State or Government to discuss and endorse at the European Council of 21 March in preparation for the next EU-China Summit scheduled for early April.

More information

EU mobilises renewed international support for Syria with record overall pledge of €8.3bn

The European Union and the United Nations co-chaired from 12 to 14 March 2019 the Brussels III Conference on support for Syria. The conference addressed the most critical humanitarian and resilience issues affecting Syrians inside their country and refugees in  their host communities, particularly in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The conference succeeded in mobilising pledges totalling €8.3 billion for 2019-20 and beyond, out of which €6.2 billion is for 2019 and longer-term pledges that span over the course of several years close to €2.1 billion. Of the overall pledge, around two-thirds come from the European Union which has contributed a total of €6.79 billion: €2.57 billion from the EU budget managed by the European Commission and €4.22 billion from EU member states. Out of the €2.57 billion from EU budget, €2.01 billion is committed for 2019 while €560 million has already been committed for 2020 for people in need inside Syria and in the region. A EU financial tracking report published at the eve of the conference showed that the EU and its member states contributed €4 billion in 2018, while the international community exceeded its pledge to the country by almost 40%. The EU institutions, Germany and the UK were the biggest grant donors to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Syria in 2018, while the European Investment Bank is the biggest loan donor for the 2018-2020 period.

More information

Simpler energy efficiency labels will help consumers make informed choices and save money

On 11 March, the European Commission adopted new energy efficiency labels for dishwashers, washing machines and washer-driers, refrigerators, lamps, electronic displays including televisions as well as commercial fridges. They are designed to make the energy efficiency information more understandable for consumers and help them make better informed purchasing choices. These new labels will enter into use and be on display in stores across Europe and on-line as of 1 March 2021.

More information

New rules for clean, connected and automated mobility on EU roads

On 13 March the European Commission adopted new rules stepping up the deployment of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) on Europe's roads. The new technology will allow vehicles to ‘talk' to each other, to the road infrastructure and to other road users – for instance about dangerous situations, road works and the timing of traffic lights. This will make road transport safer, cleaner and more efficient. The specifications establish the minimal legal requirements for interoperability between the different cooperative systems used.

More information

All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here


EU and the UK

President Juncker and Prime Minster May meet in Strasbourg

On 11 March, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and UK Prime Minister Theresa May had a meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to discuss the UK's withdrawal from the EU. After the talks the two leaders held a joint press conference.

Full statement of President Juncker at the press conference

More information:

  • Letter from President Juncker to President Tusk.
  • Commission Communication on the endorsement of the results of the discussions with the United Kingdom.
  • Instrument relating to the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom.
  • Joint statement supplementing the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier addresses the European Parliament

On 13 March EU Chief Negotiator for Article 50 negotiations Michel Barnier addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg and updated the MEPs on the state of the negotiations with the United Kingdom.

Full statement of Michel Barnier to the European Parliament

European Parliament adopts several “no-deal” Brexit contingency measures

The Commission welcomed on 14 March the swift adoption by the European Parliament of a number of “no-deal” contingency measures. These will help ensure that the EU is fully ready for a “no-deal” scenario on 29 March. The proposals adopted include: ensuring for a limited period of time basic air, road and rail connectivity, as well as allowing for continued reciprocal fishing access for EU and UK fisheries until the end of 2019 and the provision of compensation to fishermen and operators in such a scenario. Other proposals adopted include the continuation of the PEACE programme on the island of Ireland until the end of 2020, as well as protecting the rights of Erasmus+ participants, and certain social security entitlements of those people who exercise their right to free movement before the UK's withdrawal. Technical measures on ship inspections and the re-alignment North Sea–Mediterranean Core Network Corridor were also adopted.

Brexit preparedness

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

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:

'British drinkers raise a glass to EU ruling on tonic water' by George Parker in the Financial Times

'Ovarian cancer: Swansea University project to boost survival' in the BBC


EU fact of the week

Women in EU have first child on average at 29

In 2017, 5,075 million babies were born in the European Union (EU), compared with 5,148 million in 2016. The total fertility rate in the EU stood at 1.59 births per woman in 2017, compared with 1.60 in 2016. The highest total fertility rate since the start of comparable time series was in 2010 when it reached 1.62, still below the replacement level, which is considered to be 2.1 live births per woman.

More information


Tweet of the week


Quote of the week

“We should protect whistleblowers from being punished, sacked, demoted or sued in court for doing the right thing for society. These new, EU-wide whistleblowers' protection rules do exactly that and will make sure they can report in a safe way on breaches of EU law in many areas. This will help tackle fraud, corruption, corporate tax avoidance and damage to people's health and the environment. We encourage Member States to put in place comprehensive frameworks for whistleblower protection based on the same principles”, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans on newly adopted rules that will guarantee a high level of protection for whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law.


Picture of the week

/unitedkingdom/file/junckermayjpg-0_enjuncker_may_.jpg

Juncker May
The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and UK Prime Minister Theresa May met at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the evening of Monday, 11 March.

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

08/03/2019

Main news from Brussels this week

Ministers and MEPs agree on funding for high-performance infrastructure to better connect Europeans

On 8 March the European Commission welcomed the provisional agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) proposal, as part of the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027. The new programme will enable the European Union to lead the way to climate neutrality and support infrastructure for safe, clean, secure and connected mobility. It will also prioritise environmentally friendly modes of transport such as rail and the development of charging points for vehicles using alternative fuels. By making energy systems better interconnected, smarter and safer, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) will help complete the Energy Union and support the clean energy transition.

More information

EU makes it easier for insurers to invest in the real economy

On 8 March, the European Commission adopted new rules to help insurers to invest in equity and private debt and to provide long-term capital financing. The insurance industry is well-equipped to provide long-term finance by investing in equity and private debt, including of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), but the actual share of their investments in the real economy remains limited. As a result of the changes, insurers will have to hold less capital for such investments and will therefore find it more attractive to invest in the economy. This will further help mobilise private sector investment. The newly adopted rules, which take the form of a delegated regulation, amend the EU prudential rules for the insurance sector, known as Solvency II, and follow up from the mid-term review of the CMU action plan. The amendments will now be subject to a 3 month scrutiny period by the European Parliament and the Council.

More information

European Commission accepts commitments by Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros and Sky on cross-border pay-TV services

On 7 March, the European Commission made commitments offered by Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros and Sky legally binding under EU antitrust rules. These commitments address the Commission's concerns regarding certain clauses in these studios' film licensing contracts for pay-TV with Sky UK which prevented EU consumers outside the UK and Ireland subscribing to Sky UK's pay TV services to access films via satellite or online. They also required NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros to ensure that broadcasters other than Sky UK are prevented from making their pay-TV services available in the UK and Ireland. Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros have now committed not to apply these clauses in existing film licensing contracts for pay-TV with any broadcaster in the European Economic Area (EEA). They have also committed to refrain from (re)introducing such clauses in film licensing contracts for pay-TV with any broadcaster in the EEA. Similarly, Sky will neither apply existing clauses nor (re)introduce new ones in its film licensing contracts for pay-TV with Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros.

More information

European Commission fines car safety equipment suppliers €368 million in cartel settlement

On 5 March, the European Commission fined Autoliv and TRW a total of €368,277,000 for breaching EU antitrust rules. Takata was not fined as it revealed the cartels to the Commission. The companies took part in two cartels for the supply of car seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to European car producers. All three suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case.

More information

EU and Qatar reach aviation agreement

On 4 March, the European Commission and the State of Qatar initialled an aviation agreement, the first of its kind between the EU and a partner from the Gulf region. The agreement will upgrade the rules and standards for flights between Qatar and the EU and will set a new global benchmark by committing to strong, fair competition mechanisms,  including provisions not normally covered by bilateral air transport agreements, such as social or environmental matters.

More information

All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here


EU and the UK

European Commission acts to ensure professionals can fully benefit from the single market

On 7 March, European Commission took further steps in infringement procedures against 26 member states to ensure the full implementation of EU rules on the recognition of professional qualifications. Professionals in the EU single market can move across borders and practice their occupation or provide services in another member states. The EU has put rules in place to make it easier for professionals, such as doctors or architects, to have their professional qualifications recognised in another member state. The Commission sent reasoned opinions to 24 member states - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and complementary letters of formal notice to two member states - Estonia and Latvia, regarding the non-compliance of their national legislation and legal practice with EU rules on the recognition of professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC as amended by Directive 2013/55/EU). All member states concerned have now two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Without a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion to Estonia and Latvia, and to refer the other 24 member states to the Court of Justice of the EU.

More information

European Commission calls on eight member states to comply with EU law on hydroelectric power concessions

The European Commission decided on 7 March to send letters of formal notice to seven member states - Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and United Kingdom, and a second complementary letter of formal notice to Italy to ensure that public contracts in the hydroelectric power sector are awarded and renewed in conformity with EU law. The Commission considers that the legal frameworks and practices in the countries addressed by these infringement procedures do not fully comply with the Services Directive (Directive 2006/123/EC), EU rules on public procurement (Directive 2014/23/EU on the award of concession contracts) or the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services (Articles 49 and 56 of TFEU). The eight member states concerned now have two months to respond to the arguments raised by the Commission.

More information

European Commission clears acquisition of Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine by Kongsberg

On 4 March, the European Commission approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Rolls-Royce plc's commercial marine products, systems and aftermarket services business (“Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine”) of the UK by Kongsberg Gruppen ASA (“Kongsberg”) of Norway. Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine is the commercial marine business within the Rolls-Royce group that supplies components, systems and digital elements primarily for civil marine vessels. It does not include Rolls-Royce's power systems business. Kongsberg is the holding company of the Kongsberg group which supplies technological systems and solutions for use in the marine, defence, aerospace and oil and gas industries. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns given the minor horizontal and vertical relationships between the companies' activities.

More information

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

For upcoming events, please have a look at our newsletter


EU in the media this week

'Dear Europe, Brexit is a lesson for all of us: it’s time for renewal' by Emmanuel Macron in the Guardian


EU fact of the week

Record recycling rates and use of recycled materials in the EU

The recycling rates and use of recycled materials in the European Union are steadily growing. Overall the EU recycled around 55% of all waste excluding major mineral waste in 2016 (compared with 53% in 2010). The rate for recovering construction and demolition waste reached 89% (2016), the recycling rate of packaging waste exceeded 67% (2016, compared with 64% in 2010) while the rate of plastic packaging was over 42% (2016, compared with 24% in 2005). The recycling rate for municipal waste stood at 46% (2017, compared with 35% in 2007) and for the waste of electrical and electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, fridges and mobile phones, which include valuable materials which can be recovered (e-waste) in the EU reached 41% (2016, compared with 28% in 2010).

More information


Tweet of the week

Europe ranks among the safest and most equal places for #women in the world. The number of women in employment is at a historical high. #Europe is making progress but we must speed up change! #InternationalWomensDay  https://europa.eu/!gV66kW 

Jean-Claude Juncker @JunckerEU March 8th, 2019 


 Quote of the week

“The results of our common European approach on migration speak for themselves: irregular arrivals are now lower than before the crisis, the European Border and Coast Guard has brought joint EU border protection to a new level and together with our partners we work on ensuring legal pathways while stepping up returns. Looking ahead, it is essential to pursue our common approach but also to complete the ongoing reform of the EU's asylum system.” Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos presenting the progress made under the European Agenda on Migration over the past 4 years.

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

01/03/2019

Main news from Brussels this week

European Commission calls for policies promoting investments and fiscal responsibility to sustain EU growth in 2019

The European Commission adopted on 27 February its annual assessment of the economic and social situation in member states. It finds that challenges vary significantly across countries and commissioners called for appropriate and determined policy to promote investment, pursue responsible fiscal policies and implement well-designed reforms. The series of country-specific reports is part of the annual cycle of economic policy coordination at EU level, known as the European Semester

More information

European Commission asks online platforms for more details on progress in implementation of the code of practice against disinformation

The European Commission published on 28 February reports by Facebook, Google and Twitter on progress made in January 2019 on their commitments to fight disinformation. The three online platforms are signatories of the code of practice against disinformation and have been asked to report monthly on their actions in the run up to the European Parliament elections in May 2019. The Commission has also asked the platforms for more detailed information to monitor progress on the scrutiny of ad placement, transparency of political advertising, closure of fake accounts and marking systems for automated bots. The next monthly report covering activities done in February will be published in March 2019. This will allow the Commission to verify that effective policies ensuring the integrity of the electoral processes are in place before the European elections.

More information

EU launches new data sharing platform to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients with rare diseases

On 28 February to mark Rare Disease Day, the European Commission launched a new online knowledge-sharing platform to help improve the diagnosis and treatment for Europe's 30 million citizens living with a rare disease. The European Platform on Rare Diseases Registration will enable scientists, policymakers and patients make the most of data on rare diseases and new EU-wide standards for data collection and exchange will mean that data can more easily be compared across Europe.

More information

One Oscar and several Césars for EU supported films

EU funded films were again nominated across various categories at the 91st Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars. In the end it was British actress Olivia Colman who won the Oscar for the best actress in The Favourite. The Favourite, an Irish-UK-US coproduction by Yorgos Lanthimos, received €50,000 of EU funding for its development, via the Creative Europe MEDIA programme. During the weekend, some EU-supported films stood out during the 44th edition of the French César Awards held on Friday 22 February. In particular, Jusqu'à la garde by Xavier Legrand was one of the big winners of the night receiving up to five awards, including the César for best film. The other two EU-supported films awarded at the French ceremony were Dilili in Paris by Christophe Rossignon, which won best animated film, and Sink or Swim (Le Grand Bain) with Philippe Katerine as best supporting actor. The EU's MEDIA programme plays a crucial role in supporting Europe's audiovisual sector through the development, promotion and distribution of thousands of films as well as support to training programmes, film festivals, cinema networks and distribution platforms.

More information

EU invests over €10bn in innovative clean technologies

On 26 February, the European Commission announced an investment programme worth over €10 billion for low-carbon technologies to boost their global competitiveness. The Innovation Fund aims to create the right financial incentives for companies and public authorities to invest now in the next generation of low-carbon technologies and to give EU companies a first-mover advantage to become global technology leaders. The EU innovative climate action will also offer a range of benefits for the health and prosperity of Europeans with an immediate, tangible impact on people's lives – from the creation of local green jobs and growth, to energy-efficient homes with reduced energy bills, cleaner air, more efficient public transport systems in cities and secure supplies of energy and other resources. The Commission aims to launch the first call for proposals under the Innovation Fund in 2020, followed by regular calls until 2030.

More information

MEPs and ministers reach agreement on initiatives strengthening the Capital Markets Union

On 26 February, the European Parliament and member states reached agreement on several European Commission proposals aimed at strengthening the EU Capital Markets Union. In particular, MEPs and Ministers agreed new rules to promote the EU covered bonds market; on more proportionate and effective prudential rules for investment firms (IFR); and rules to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to tap market-based funding more easily and cheaply.

More information on:

EU rules on covered bonds

Simplified rules for investment firms

Access of SMEs to capital markets

All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here


EU and the UK

European Commission adopts “no-deal” Brexit contingency measures for railway safety and connectivity

On 26 February, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached a provisional political agreement on Brexit contingency measures for road transport proposed by the European Commission, which aims at limiting the most significant damage caused by a possible “no-deal” scenario. The regulation will allow United Kingdom operators to carry goods and passengers between the EU and the UK, provided the UK: grants EU operators equivalent rights; it continues to comply with relevant social and technical rules of the EU; and fair competition between EU and UK operators is ensured. It will also allow UK hauliers to carry out limited operations within the territory of the EU until the end of 2019. This contingency measure will have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council before it can enter into force.

European Commission's proposal

No-deal contingency plan

More on Brexit preparedness

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

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:

'Facebook and Twitter told us they would tackle ‘fake news’. They failed' by Julian King and Mariya Gabriel in the Guardian


EU fact of the week

EU provides over €161.5 million for humanitarian aid to Yemen in 2019

The European Commission announced on 26 February its intention to provide €161.5 million in humanitarian aid for 2019. The country is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, suffering widespread epidemics and malnutrition, brought about by the ongoing conflict. Over 24 million people (some 80% of the population) are in need of humanitarian assistance, with 3.5 million displaced people. Nearly 20 million Yemenis are in need of food assistance and approximately 10 million are on the brink of famine. This brings the total Commission's support to €710 million since the beginning of the crisis in 2015.

More information


Tweet of the week


 Quote of the week

“Two out of three women in the Pacific region suffer from domestic and gender-based violence. But it is not an exclusively “Pacific” problem - it is a global problem. We must all join forces with partner governments and civil society. With an additional €50 million investment we are building on and expanding existing efforts to help end violence against women and girls in the region.” Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica launching during his visit €50 million EU investment in a joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to tackle domestic violence in the Pacific region.


Picture of the week

/unitedkingdom/file/federicamogherinimetwithjordansprimeministerdromarrazzazjpg_enfederica_mogherini_met_with_jordans_prime_minister_dr_omar_razzaz.jpg

Federica Mogherini met with Jordans prime minister Dr Omar Razzaz
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini met with Jordan's Prime Minister Dr Omar Razzaz in London on 28 February. Ms Mogherini and Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn represented the EU at a high level investment forum focused on Jordan organised jointly by the governments of Jordan and the UK.

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

22/02/2019

EU and the UK

Joint statement on behalf of President Juncker and Prime Minister May

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and UK Prime Minister Theresa May met for talks in Brussels on 20 February and issued the following joint statement:

President Juncker and Prime Minister May met today to take stock of their efforts to deliver the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU, in line with the process launched by them on 7 February.

Their discussions covered:

  • which guarantees could be given with regard to the backstop that underlines once again its temporary nature and give the appropriate legal assurance to both sides. Both reconfirmed their commitment to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and to respect the integrity of the EU's internal market and of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister acknowledged the EU's position and notably the letter sent by President Tusk and President Juncker on 14 January. She welcomed the continued engagement of Task Force 50 with her team;
  • the role alternative arrangements could play in replacing the backstop in future, where they tasked the Commission's Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and Secretary of State Stephen Barclay with considering the process the European Commission and the UK will follow; and
  • whether additions or changes to the Political Declaration can be made that are consistent with the EU and UK Government positions and increase confidence in the focus and ambition of both sides in delivering the future partnership envisaged as soon as possible. The Commission's Chief Negotiator and the Secretary of State will follow up.

The two leaders agreed that talks had been constructive, and they urged their respective teams to continue to explore the options in a positive spirit. They will review progress again in the coming days, seized of the tight timescale and the historic significance of setting the EU and the UK on a path to a deep and unique future partnership.

President Juncker and Prime Minister May agreed to talk again before the end of the month.

The statement online

European Commission intensifies “no-deal” Brexit preparedness with customs information campaign to EU businesses

On 18 February the European Commission launched an outreach campaign on customs and indirect taxation, such as VAT, aimed at EU businesses, especially SMEs, wishing to continue trading with the UK in the event of a "no deal" scenario on 30 March. Whilst the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement continues to be the objective and priority of the Commission, the information campaign is part of the Commission's ongoing efforts to best prepare for the UK's departure without the Withdrawal Agreement being ratified.

More information and campaign materials

European Commission takes stock of the progress made on Brexit “no-deal” contingency legislation

The College of Commissioners was briefed on 20 February on progress of the Commission's contingency proposals in the undesirable but possible situation of a “no deal” Brexit. To date the Commission has tabled 19 legislative proposals on which good progress has been made in the European Parliament and the Council. Seven proposals have been adopted or agreed by the Parliament and the Council. Twelve proposals are still to be finalised by the co-legislators, but are advancing well. In addition, several non-legislative acts have been adopted, including 10 delegated acts, six implementing acts, as well as three Commission decisions. All texts are available here. As outlined in the Commission's previous Brexit Preparedness Communications, the EU's contingency measures will not – and cannot – mitigate the overall impact of a "no-deal" scenario, nor do they in any way compensate for the lack of preparedness or replicate the full benefits of EU membership or the favourable terms of any transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement. The proposals are temporary in nature, limited in scope and will be adopted unilaterally by the EU. They are not “mini-deals” and have not been negotiated with the UK. In addition to this legislative work, the Commission has also intensified its work on proactively informing the public about the importance of preparing for a “no-deal” Brexit. The Commission has published 88 preparedness notices, along with three detailed Brexit Preparedness Communications. The Commission continues to hold technical discussions with the EU27 member states both on general issues of preparedness and contingency work and on specific sectorial, legal and administrative preparedness issues.

More on Brexit preparedness

Political agreement on contingency measures for basic air connectivity in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit

On 19 February the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached a provisional agreement on the Commission's proposal to ensure basic air connectivity in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit. Under the proposal, cargo routes with third countries will be allowed for a limited period of five months so that the airlines concerned can wind down operations and re-route traffic as necessary. EU airlines partly owned by UK nationals will also be given six months to do what is necessary to achieve EU majority ownership and control.

More on Brexit preparedness

Wales' native plum gets EU protection

The European Commission approved on 19 February ‘The Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum' in the EU's register of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). The Denbigh plum is the only plum variety native to Wales and becomes the 72nd British food product to get EU protection from fake produce. Historically, this fertile region of North Wales has had a tradition and reputation for producing an array of soft fruit including plums, all of which would have been exhibited at the Vale of Clwyd Horticultural shows, which were famous annual events since the 1850s. The new denomination will be added to the list of EU 1,440 products already protected.

More information on quality products

European Commission opens in-depth investigation into British Capacity Market scheme

On 21 February the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation to determine whether the British Capacity Market scheme to safeguard security of electricity supply is in line with EU state aid rules. This follows the EU General Court's annulment of a previous Commission decision approving the scheme.

More information

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

For upcoming events, please have a look at our newsletter


Main news from Brussels this week

European Commission increases national support to farmers up to £21,800

The European Commission adopted on 22 February revised rules on state aid in the agriculture sector (the so-called de minimis aid), increasing the maximum amount that national authorities can use to support farmers (ie notably in times of crisis or to help eradicate animal diseases as soon as an outbreak occurs) without the need for prior approval from the Commission. This decision will allow EU countries to increase support for farmers without distorting the market, while reducing the administrative burden for national authorities. The maximum aid amount that can be distributed per farm over three years will rise from €15,000 (£13,000) to €20,000 (£17,500). In order to avoid any potential distortion of competition, each EU country has a maximum national amount which they cannot exceed. Each national ceiling will be set at 1.25% of the country's annual agricultural output over the same three-year period (up from 1% in the current rules). This is an increase in the national ceiling of 25%. If a country does not spend more than 50% of its total national aid envelope on one particular agricultural sector, it may increase even further the de minimis aid per farm to €25,000 (£21,800), and the national maximum to 1.5% of the annual output. This represents a 66% increase in the ceiling per farmer and a 50% increase in the national ceiling. The increased ceilings come into force on 14 March and can apply retroactively to aids fulfilling all the conditions.

More information

Changes to the calculation of financial sanctions in cases of infringements of EU law

The European Commission announced on 20 February it will adapt the method for calculating proposed financial sanctions when member states are referred to the Court of Justice for having infringed EU law, In future the Commission will use the number of MEP seats in the European Parliament allocated to each member state as opposed to the current vote weighting in the Council of Ministers to take into account a recent Court of Justice judgement to better reflect the institutional weight. The new method will lead to amounts that do not create unjustified differences between Member States and stay as close as possible to the amounts resulting from the current calculation method, which are both proportionate and sufficiently deterring. The Commission will apply the adapted calculation method from the date the communication is published in the Official Journal. Once the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU becomes legally effective, and irrespective of whether the Withdrawal Agreement enters into force or not, the Commission will recalculate the relevant averages and will adjust the figures accordingly.

Since the Commission believes that, in addition to relying on the Member States' GDP, the institutional weight should continue to be taken into account, a new method of reflecting that weight was needed.

More information

EU governments agree to strengthen EU visa rules

EU member states endorsed on 20 February the agreement reached by MEPs and EU government ministers on the Commission's proposal to modernise the EU's common visa policy, adapting the rules to evolving security concerns, challenges linked to migration and new opportunities offered by technological developments. The agreed changes will make it easier for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa to come to Europe, facilitating tourism, trade and business, whilst strengthening security and reducing irregular migration risks.

More information

EU institutions reach provisional agreement on the future European Defence Fund

On 20 February the EU institutions reached a partial political agreement on the European Defence Fund, which will foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base and contribute to the EU's strategic autonomy. The agreement is subject to further formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. The European Defence Fund, proposed by the Commission in June 2018 as part of the EU-long-term budget for the years 2021-2027, is an initiative to bolster the EU's ability to protect its citizens.

More information

All this week's key European Commission announcements 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:

The European Commission is political — it has no other choice, by Pierre Moscovici in the Financial Times


EU fact of the week

Two-thirds of the EU's fruit plantation area is concentrated in Spain, Italy and Poland

Almost 1.3 million hectares (ha) of land in the European Union (EU) were covered with fruit trees in 2017. A little over one third of this total was accounted for by apple orchards (473,500 ha, 37%), and another one fifth by orange groves (255 500 ha, 20%). Of the remainder, peach orchards covered 190,500 ha (15%), small citrus fruit trees producing satsumas and clementines in particular covered 139,600 ha (11%), pear trees covered 100,400 ha (8%), apricots covered 75,700 ha (6%) and lemon groves a further 60 100 ha (5%). The area planted with fruit trees accounted for around 1% of utilised agriculture area (173 million ha in 2016). Spain was the leading EU member state in terms of the production area of fruit in 2017 (422, 800 ha, or 33% of the EU total), followed by Italy (279,300 ha, or 22%) and Poland (167,300 ha, or 13%).

More information


Tweet of the week


Quote of the week

“Online shopping provides many opportunities for consumers. However, more than half of the websites show irregularities, in particular on how prices and discounts are advertised. This must stop as the consumers are often led to confusion and higher price than intended. I am appalled by the high number of the websites that have these problems – I hope they are unintended. Online traders need to fully respect EU consumer rules. National consumer authorities, with the assistance of the Commission, will now take the necessary steps to stop such unfair business practices", Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality comments on the results of an EU-wide screening of 560 e-commerce sites, published on 22 February.


Picture of the week

/unitedkingdom/file/gretathunbergjpg_engreta_thunberg.jpg

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, talks to Greta Thunberg
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, talks to Greta Thunberg, the Swedish student and climate activist whose action prompted the recent wave of school strikes for climate across Europe, at the "Civil society for rEUnaissance" event hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, 21 February.

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

15/02/2019

Main news from Brussels this week

European Commission publishes list of 23 countries with weak anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes

The European Commission adopted on 13 February a new list of 23 third countries identified with strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing frameworks. The aim is to protect the EU financial system by better preventing money laundering and terrorist financing from these high-risk third countries. As a result, banks and other entities covered by EU anti-money laundering rules will be required to apply increased checks (due diligence) on financial operations involving customers and financial institutions to better identify any suspicious money flows. The list has been established following an in-depth analysis and new methodology reflecting stricter criteria introduced by the fifth anti-money laundering directive since July 2018,

More information

Political agreement to modernise EU copyright rules

On 13 February, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a political agreement to adapt EU copyright rules, so that authors, performers and journalists are better remunerated for their works in a world where music streaming services, video-on-demand platforms, news aggregators and user-uploaded-content platforms have become the main gateways to access creative works and press articles. The new Copyright Directive also ensures that people can share links, use memes and upload copyright material and that research organisation can make the most of big data by applying tools like text and data mining.

More information

European Labour Authority will support fair labour mobility within the EU

On 14 February, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the Commission's proposal to establish a European Labour Authority (ELA). This new EU authority will support fair labour mobility within the EU, allowing citizens and businesses to seize the opportunities offered by the single market while supporting cooperation between national authorities, including preventing and tackling social fraud and abuse.

More information

Tighter rules for explosive precursors

EU governments endorsed on 14 February the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission's proposal to strengthen EU rules on explosive precursors. The reinforced rules will ensure stronger safeguards and controls on the sale of dangerous chemicals that can be misused for the production of home-made explosives.

More information

Green light for a pan-European pension product to help consumers save for retirement

On 13 February, the European Parliament and member states reached an agreement on the Commission proposal for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP). Helping to channel more savings to long-term investments in the EU, this is an important milestone for the Capital Markets Union. The agreement will provide savers with more choice when putting money aside for old age and will allow them to adapt their retirement savings to their needs. Savers will also benefit from greater competition which should be reflected in the price of products as providers will be able to sell the product anywhere in the EU under a common set of rules which will guarantee strong investor protection.

More information

All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here


EU and the UK

European Commission adopts “no-deal” Brexit contingency measures for railway safety and connectivity

The European Commission adopted on 12 February a proposal to help mitigate the significant impact on rail transport and connectivity between the EU and the UK should the United Kingdom leave the European Union on 30 March in a “no-deal” scenario. The proposal will ensure the validity of safety authorisations for certain parts of rail infrastructure for a strictly limited period of three months to allow long-term solutions in line with EU law to be put in place. This is, in particular, related to the Channel Tunnel and will be conditional on the United Kingdom maintaining safety standards identical to EU requirements. The measures will ensure the protection of rail-passengers, the safety of citizens and will avoid major disruptions of cross-border rail operations and shuttle services after the UK's withdrawal.

More information

More on Brexit preparedness

European Commission approves acquisition of joint control over Virgin Atlantic by Air-France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Group

On 12 February, the European Commission approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by Air France-KLM of a 31% joint-controlling interest in Virgin Atlantic Limited, which leads to joint control over Virgin Atlantic by Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Virgin Group. The Commission concluded the transaction would raise no competition concerns in the European Economic Area.

More information

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

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:

What is Article 13? The EU's copyright directive explained, by Chris Fox on BBC News


EU fact of the week

New EU rules cut red tape for citizens living or working abroad as of 16 February

New EU rules cutting bureaucratic formalities and costs for EU citizens living outside their home country apply as of 16 February 2019:

  • public documents (for example, birth, marriage, or the absence of a criminal record) issued in an EU country must be accepted as authentic by authorities in another member state without the need to carry an authenticity stamp;
  • the regulation also abolishes the obligation for citizens to provide a certified copy and a certified translation of their public documents. Citizens can request a multilingual standard form, available in all EU languages, to present as translation aid attached to their public document to avoid translation requirements;
  • the regulation sets safeguards against fraud: if a receiving authority has reasonable doubts about the authenticity of a public document, it will be able to check its authenticity with the issuing authority in the other EU country through an existing IT platform, the Internal Market Information System (IMI).

More information


Tweet of the week


Quote of the week

“The European Parliament's approval of the EU-Singapore trade and investment agreements marks a historical moment. This is the European Union's first bilateral trade agreement with a Southeast Asian country, a building block towards a closer relationship between Europe and one of the most dynamic regions in the world. We are forging closer economic and political ties with friends and partners who, like us, believe in open, reciprocal and rules-based trade. This is yet another win-win trade agreement negotiated by the European Union, an agreement that will create new opportunities for European producers, workers, farmers and consumers, while at the same time promoting cooperation and multilateralism.”, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, on the approval by the European Parliament of the trade and investment agreements between the EU and Singapore.


Picture of the week

/unitedkingdom/file/shareofenergypng_enshare_of_energy.png

Share of energy from renewable sources
.

In 2017, the share of energy from renewable sources in the European Union reached 17.5%, more than double the share in 2004 (8.5%), while 11 countries already achieved their 2020 targets, Eurostat announced.

/unitedkingdom/file/europehousejpg-0_eneurope_house.jpg

Europe House
Europe House

Each week we sum up Commission news of particular interest for the UK while also summarising UK events on EU-related subjects. All comments welcome at COMM-UK-PRESS@ec.europa.eu

08/02/2019

EU and the UK

Joint statement on behalf of President Juncker and Prime Minister May

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and UK Prime Minister Theresa May met for talks in Brussels on 7 February and issued the following joint statement:

President Juncker and Prime Minister May have met today to review the next steps in the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

The talks were held in a spirit of working together to achieve the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU, especially in the context of a shared determination to achieve a strong partnership for the future given the global challenges the EU and the UK face together in upholding open and fair trade, cooperation in the fight against climate change and terrorism and defending the rules-based international system.

The Prime Minister described the context in the UK Parliament, and the motivation behind last week's vote in the House of Commons seeking a legally binding change to the terms of the backstop. She raised various options for dealing with these concerns in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement in line with her commitments to the Parliament.

President Juncker underlined that the EU27 will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, which represents a carefully balanced compromise between the European Union and the UK, in which both sides have made significant concessions to arrive at a deal. President Juncker however expressed his openness to add wording to the Political Declaration agreed by the EU27 and the UK in order to be more ambitious in terms of content and speed when it comes to the future relationship between the European Union and the UK. President Juncker drew attention to the fact that any solution would have to be agreed by the European Parliament and the EU27.

The discussion was robust but constructive. Despite the challenges, the two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found that would gain the broadest possible support in the UK Parliament and respect the guidelines agreed by the European Council. The Prime Minister and the President will meet again before the end of February to take stock of these discussions.

The statement online

Joint statement by President Jean-Claude Juncker and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Irish UK Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met for talks in Brussels on 6 February and issued the following joint statement:  

The Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration have been negotiated in good faith and have been agreed by all 27 Leaders of the European Union member states as well as by the United Kingdom Government.

As we have said on many occasions, the Withdrawal Agreement is the best and only deal possible. It is not open for renegotiation.

The backstop is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement. While we hope the backstop will not need to be used, it is a necessary legal guarantee to protect peace and to ensure there will be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, while protecting the integrity of our Single Market and the Customs Union.

The Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, is a balanced compromise, representing a good outcome for citizens and businesses on all sides, including in Northern Ireland.

The backstop is not a bilateral issue, but a European one. Ireland's border is also the border of the European Union and its market is part of the Single Market.  We will stay united on this matter.

We will continue to seek agreement on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom but we will also step up our preparation for a no-deal scenario. In this context, programmes that provide support for cross-border peace and reconciliation in the border counties of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be continued and strengthened. The Commission stands ready to support Ireland in finding solutions answering the specific challenges that Ireland and Irish citizens, farmers and businesses will face.  We will work closely together to this end over the coming weeks.

We will continue to remind the Government of the United Kingdom of its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement, with or without a deal.

The statement online

Brexit preparedness: provisional agreement on realigning the North Sea–Mediterranean corridor and investing in the adaptation of transport infrastructure for security and border checks

On 7 February the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the European Commission's proposal to adjust alignment of the North Sea – Mediterranean Corridor – one of the nine core corridors of the Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) Network. On the one hand, the Regulation adds to the core network new maritime links between the Irish ports of Dublin, Cork and Shannon Foynes and ports in France (Le Havre, Calais, Dunkirk), Belgium (Zeebrugge, Antwerp, Gent) and the Netherlands (Terneuzen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam), taking into account the withdrawal of the United Kingdom. On the other hand, the Regulation adds a new funding priority to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF): adapting transport infrastructure for security and external border check purposes. This priority will be taken into account by the Commission when proposing the next CEF work programme. The Commission will carry out an assessment of the consequences of Brexit on transport connections and traffic flows. These measures will only apply in case the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU without an agreement.

More on Brexit preparedness

Surrey schoolgirl wins EU translation competition

A Surrey teenager has won the British leg of a competition to find the best young translators across the European Union. Natalia Glazman of Woldingham School won the Juvenes Translatores prize for her translation from Spanish into English of a text about Europe's cultural heritage.

More information

Latest news on the Article 50 negotiations can be found here

For upcoming events, please have a look at our newsletter


Main news from Brussels this week

European Commission makes it easier for citizens to access health data securely across borders

The European Commission presented on 6 February a set of recommendations for the creation of a secure system that will enable citizens to access their electronic health files across member states. Although some citizens can access part of their electronic health records at national level or across borders, many others have limited digital access or no access at all. Some EU countries have already started to make some parts of electronic health records accessible and exchangeable across borders. Since 21 January 2019, Finnish citizens can buy medicines using their ePrescriptions in Estonia and Luxembourgish doctors will be soon able to access the patient summaries of Czech patients. The new recommendations will facilitate access across borders that is secure and in full compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation.

More information

New rules to prevent the use of falsified medicines and enhance patients' safety

Falsification of medicines has remained a serious threat to public health in the EU for too long. As of 9 February new rules apply on safety features for prescription medicines sold in the EU aiming to further curb the circulation of unsafe medicines. The industry has to affix a 2-D barcode and an anti-tampering device on the box of prescription medicines. The pharmacies – including on-line pharmacies – and hospitals have to check the authenticity of medicines before dispensing to patients. This is the final step in the implementation of the Falsified Medicines Directive, adopted in 2011, aiming at guaranteeing the safety and quality of medicines sold in the EU.

More information

EU mobilises additional humanitarian assistance for Venezuela

On 5 February the European Commission allocated additional humanitarian assistance of €5 million to help those most in need from the severe socio-economic crisis in Venezuela. This is in addition to the humanitarian assistance totalling €34 million for the crisis in 2018 alone. The EU support includes the provision of emergency healthcare, access to safe water and sanitation as well as to education. It will further address the population's protection, shelter, food and nutritional needs. To help partners on the ground, the EU intends to open a humanitarian office in Caracas.

More information

European Commission recommends negotiating international rules for obtaining electronic evidence

The European Commission recommended on 5 February engagement in two international negotiations on cross-border rules to obtain electronic evidence. With the majority of criminal investigations requiring access to evidence based online and often outside the EU, there is an urgent need to equip police and judicial authorities with quick and efficient tools fit for modern reality. The Commission presented two negotiating mandates, one for negotiations with the United States and one on the second additional protocol to the Council of Europe “Budapest” Convention on Cybercrime. Both mandates, which need to be approved by the Council, include specific safeguards on data protection, privacy and procedural rights of individuals.

More information

European Commission prohibits Siemens' proposed acquisition of Alstom

On 6 February the European Commission announced it would prohibit Siemens' proposed acquisition of Alstom under the EU Merger Regulation due to serious concerns it would have harmed competition in markets for railway signalling systems and very high-speed trains. Neither party offered sufficient remedies to address these concerns.

More information

European Commission forecasts moderate growth amid global uncertainties for the EU economy

The European Commission published on 7 February its Winter 2019 interim economic forecast. The expectation is that the European economy will continue to grow for the seventh year in a row in 2019, with expansion forecast in every member state. The pace of growth overall is projected to moderate compared to the high rates of recent years and the outlook is subject to large uncertainty. Euro area GDP is forecast to grow by 1.3% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020 (Autumn forecast: 1.9% in 2019; 1.7% in 2020). The EU GDP growth forecast has also been revised down to 1.5% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020 (Autumn forecast: 1.9% in 2019; 1.8% in 2020). UK GDP growth is expected to remain subdued at 1.3% in both 2019 and 2020.

More information

All this week's key European Commission announcements 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:

No-deal Brexit could revive mobile roaming fees, minister confirms, by Peter Walker in the Guardian


EU fact of the week

Online giants remove flagged illegal hate speech more quickly than two years ago

IT companies are now assessing 89% content flagged to them as hate speech within 24 hours while 72% of the content deemed to be illegal hate speech is removed. This is respectively two and three times better, compared to 2016 when a code of conduct against hate speech was first signed between the European Commission and Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube. At the same time, the evaluation also shows that the companies need to improve their feedback to users.

More information


Tweet of the week

The EU is at the forefront of global efforts to end FGM by 2030. We have supported partner countries in criminalising this harmful practice and we believe that access to education and health awareness is key to changing perceptions and attitudes. #SpotlightEndViolence #EndFGM pic.twitter.com/d35jF0g2nC

— Neven Mimica (@MimicaEU) February 6, 2019


Quote of the week

“Today we have reached an agreement that will provide 200 million workers in Europe with more transparent and predictable working conditions. We are modernising European labour law and adjusting it to the new world of work. Up to three million workers active in new forms of work, like workers on zero-hour contracts and domestic workers, will be covered which was not the case until now. Workers will benefit from more transparency by receiving key information on their working conditions from the start, and they will benefit from new rights leading to more predictable working conditions", Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.  On 7 February a provisional agreement was reached between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council to create more transparent and predictable working conditions in the EU.


Picture of the week

/unitedkingdom/file/junker-may-barnierjpg_enjunker-may-barnier.jpg

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, received on 7 February Theresa May, British Prime Minister.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, received on 7 February Theresa May, British Prime Minister.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - EU in the UK