Representation in United Kingdom

European Commission

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Dr Nicolas Malleson
Dr Nicolas Malleson

UK-based early-career researchers are top of the league in the European Research Council's (ERC) latest round of starting grants. Seventy nine researchers working in UK institutions will each receive up to €1.5 million (£1.4m) of EU funding to set up their own research teams and pursue ground-breaking ideas. Germany is in second place with 67 successful applicants.

06/09/2017

One example of a UK-based project is the research carried out by Nicolas Malleson at the University of Leeds. Dr Malleson is using big data to develop more accurate forecasts of and responses to potential emergency situations such as flooding, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, fires, train or air crashes, etc. His work can also be used for more efficient urban management. One of the means of responding to civil emergencies is to simulate the behaviour of humans during disasters using mathematical models. However, current techniques are not designed to consider up-to-date information on urban movements and are usually based on historical data from censuses and surveys. Dr Malleson will address this shortcoming by integrating data assimilation methods, used in weather forecasting, and apply them to models of cities. He will develop a simulation of a city that will include real-time big data streamed from, for instance, social media, mobile phone use, and public transport records. This new technique could be used to develop more accurate forecasts of and responses to potential emergency situations. He will receive €1.4 million (£922.460) over five years.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Top talent needs good conditions at the right time to thrive. The EU provides the best possible conditions at the early stages of a researcher's career through the ERC Starting Grants. That's why this funding is so crucial for the future of Europe as science hub: it keeps and attracts young talent. This time the ERC attracted researchers of 48 different nationalities based in 23 European countries. It's an investment that will pay off, boosting the EU's growth and innovation."

In total, 406 early-career researchers throughout Europe will receive funding in this latest round. The share of women amongst the new beneficiaries is the largest ever in an ERC competition (some 40% are women). Out of 79 UK beneficiaries, 34 are women. To date, UK-based researchers have won 1.613 ERC grants, worth €2.89 billion (£2.67bn) at various stages of their careers.

List of all selected researchers by country of host institution

Lists of selected researchers by domain:

- Physical Sciences and Engineering;

- Life Sciences;

- Social Sciences and Humanities

More information

The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It offers three core grant schemes: starting, consolidator and advanced. An additional funding scheme, Synergy Grants, has been re-launched in 2017 (deadline for application, 14 November 2017). Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age to run projects based in Europe.

Starting grants encourage young talented research leaders to gain independence in Europe and to build their own careers. The next deadline for application is 17 October 2017.

Consolidator grants back up researchers who want to establish their research teams and continue developing a successful career in Europe.

Advanced grants allow outstanding research leaders to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects in Europe. The scheme targets researchers who have already established themselves as top independent research leaders.

The grants are awarded under the 'excellent science' pillar of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme.

This year, the ERC celebrates its tenth anniversary.

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EU flags at half-mast at our headquarters. We stand with London and the British people.
©

"It is with profound sorrow and anguish that I have learnt of the terrorist attack that has struck at the heart of Barcelona this afternoon.

I send my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, as well as to Prime Minister Rajoy and the people of Spain. My thoughts are with the people of Barcelona.

I hold a special thought for the heroic people who responded by running towards danger to help others and to the security forces who are working to keep the population safe. The Commission is at the full disposal of the authorities for any help or assistance necessary. This cowardly attack has deliberately targeted those enjoying life and sharing time with family and friends. We will never be cowed by such barbarism."

17/08/2017

Statement by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker following the incident in Turku, Finland

"It is with great concern that I have learnt of the violent attacks in Turku, Finland. While details are still emerging, we strongly condemn this unprovoked attack which comes only 24 hours after the horror that unfolded in Spain.

My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. I express my full solidarity with the security forces working to keep people safe on the ground, as well as with all the people of Finland and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä. The European Commission is at their full disposal for any support they may need."

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e-commerce

A coordinated EU "sweep" of 352 price comparison and travel booking websites has found that prices were not reliable on 235 of them, two-thirds of the total. The European Commission and EU consumer protection authorities launched the screening in October 2016.

07/04/2017

In many cases, additional price elements were added at a late stage of the booking process without clearly informing the consumer or non-existent promotional prices were offered.

In one in four cases, websites did not specify that statements about scarcity (e.g. "only 2 left", "only available today") applied strictly to their own website.

Authorities have asked the websites concerned to get into line with EU consumer legislation, which requires them to be fully transparent about prices, and present their offers in a clear way, at an early stage of the booking process.

If they do not do so the EU's network of consumer protection authorities will take enforcement action.

Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: "These companies need to respect EU consumer rules, just like a travel agent would.  Consumers deserve the same protection online as offline."

Today's announcement follows an EU report yesterday on how enforcement measures changing the way online travel agents work with hotels have improved competition and led to more choice for consumers.


Background

An EU-wide screening of websites ("sweep") is a set of checks which are carried out simultaneously by consumer protection authorities in different countries. Previous "sweep" actions have focused on: airlines (2007), mobile content (2008), electronic goods (2009), online tickets (2010), consumer credit (2011), digital contents (2012), travel services (2013), guarantees on electronic goods (2014) and consumer rights directive (2015).

More details

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Hotel room

Recent measures affecting how online travel agents work with hotels have improved competition and led to more choice for consumers, according to the European Commission and ten national competition authorities, including the UK's. The regulators will re-assess the situation in due course.

06/04/2017

Contracts between hotels and the biggest online travel agents - such as Booking.com, Expedia and others - commonly used to include 'wide parity clauses' which forced hotels to give the online travel agent the lowest room prices and best availability relative to all other sales channels.

Competition authorities stepped in. Online travel agents also took a series of voluntary measures. As a result, contracts often now include less sweeping 'narrow parity clauses.' Those allow hotels to offer lower room prices and better room availability on other online travel agents and offline sales channels, but still prevent them from publishing lower room prices on their own websites. Some national regulators, however, have prohibited narrow parity clauses as well as wide ones.

An EU monitoring exercise was carried out by the Belgian, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Dutch, Swedish and UK national competition authorities and the European Commission during 2016. They sent questionnaires to 16,000 hotels, 20 online travel agents, 11 metasearch websites and 19 large hotel chains. The regulators looked at the way hotels market and sell their rooms, focusing on how they offer different prices and availability between sales channels. Commission rates charged by online travel agents were also part of the assessment.

The report is available here.

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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

24/03/2017

EU and the UK

Statement on the London attack

In a statement about the Westminster attack, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "My thoughts are with London. […] The United Kingdom will always remain a partner and a friend and one we will continue to work hand in hand with in the fight against terror. Together, Europeans will never cease to prove that love will always triumph over hate and that tolerance will always triumph over fear." Michel Barnier, the Commission's Chief negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations with the UK also expressed solidarity with the people of London. European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted "My thoughts are with the victims of the Westminster attack. Europe stands firm with the UK against terror and ready to help."

Commission's Chief negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations with the UK, Michel Barnier's speech

Michel Barnier, spoke to the Committee of the Regions on 22 March, where he outlined three necessary conditions for reaching an agreement with the UK:

  1. Unity of the remaining 27 EU member states;
  2. Removing uncertainty, especially  for EU citizens living in the UK, British  citizens living in the EU and regional and local authorities benefitting from EU programmes;
  3. Doing things in the right order.

He also explained that there will be no "exit bill", no punishment, and that Brits won't be asked to pay a single euro they have not agreed to as an EU member. He quoted Winston Churchill saying "the price of greatness is responsibility" and added "that is true for Britain and also for us". He warned of serious consequences in the event of no deal between the EU and the UK following the two years of negotiations. He agreed with Theresa May about "a bold and ambitious free trade agreement" and said the EU and the UK can be ambitious together. He made clear nevertheless that the best relationship with the EU is to be a member of it.

Full speech

EU funding for London-based business developing a portable food scanner

The London branch of Canadian company Tellspec will receive EU funding for developing a food scanner: an affordable and non-invasive mobile food sensor that enables users to measure and analyse their food intake in real-time.

More information

 

For upcoming events, please have a look at our newsletter


Main news from Brussels this week

Sixtieth anniversary of the Treaties of Rome

President Juncker is in Rome until tomorrow (25 March) to participate in events marking the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome – behind the creation of the EU as we know it today. This evening, President Juncker, along with EU Heads of State or Government, will meet with His Holiness Pope Francis in Vatican City. On Saturday, the 27 Heads of State or Government and the Presidents of the EU institutions will sign the Rome Declaration – in the room where exactly 60 years ago the Rome Treaties were signed. The Rome Declaration will feature the Union's past achievements, and present the challenges it faces. All this follows the publication on 1 March of the Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe, which seeks to kick-start discussions on what kind of future Europeans want for the EU.

More information

Digital EU: from super computers to cross-border consumer loans

Two different initiatives outlined this week the EU's ambition to make its economy fit for the digital age. Seven member states – France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain – committed to support the next generation of computing and data infrastructure, the so-called high-performance computers. Separately, the European Commission is looking into how technology and online services can give consumers new cross-border opportunities to open bank accounts, take out loans and cut the cost of other financial transactions for example car rental.

More information

Commission proposal to make national competition authorities even more effective

On 22 March, the European Commission proposed new rules to enable member states' competition authorities to be more effective enforcers of EU antitrust rules. By ensuring that national competition authorities can act effectively, the Commission's proposal aims to contribute to a more complete Single Market, promoting the overall goal of competitive markets, jobs and growth, while still respecting national specificities.

More information

First Vice-President Timmermans' speech on better regulation

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans delivered a speech on the Commission's Better Regulation Agenda on 20 March. Underlining the importance of evidence-based policy making in the context of political attacks on evidence and facts, the First Vice-President told the participants: "This is about changing incentives and attitudes. This is about ensuring that the system itself has changed, and doesn't need constant policing. That is why, over the past two years we have worked hard to embed better regulation into the DNA of the European Commission, installing a priority driven, evidence-based, disciplined, transparent and above all inclusive policy process. The aim is to make sure we deliver high quality policy proposals that remove obstacles to growth and foster innovation, proposals that minimise regulatory costs while promoting social and environmental sustainability."

Full speech

 

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


EU in the media this week

Every week, we pick out one or several of the week's most interesting stories or comment pieces….which does not mean we agree with everything they say:

How Brexit will send flight prices soaring higher by Katherine Fidler in the New Statesman

The EU is 60 – and it helped my generation fall in love with Europe by Mark Rice-Oxley in the Guardian


EU fact of the week

Clearer energy efficiency labelling rules to empower consumers

The current A+++ to G energy labels for household appliances will be replaced by clear and easier to use A to G labels. This will make energy labels more understandable for consumers and help them make better informed purchasing choices. There will also be a new public database making it easier for citizens to compare the energy efficiency of household appliances. Consumer surveys show that about 85% of European citizens look at energy efficiency labels when they purchase products. Having the best performing ones in the A+ to A+++ categories hid potential substantial differences in energy performance.

More information


Tweet of the week

Frans Timmermans‏ @TimmermansEU

Nostalgia is opium for the people, populist recreate a past that never was #BrusselsForum


Quote of the week

"I will be sad as I was sad when the vote in the referendum took place in Britain. For me it's a tragedy. I am everything but in a hostile mood when it comes to Britain. We will negotiate in a friendly way, in a fair way and we are not naive."

This was President Jean-Claude Juncker's answer when he was asked – in a BBC interview today (24 March) – how he will feel when the letter triggering Article 50 comes in.


Pictures of the week

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Flowers after the London attacks of 22nd March 2017

"An act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy. But today we meet as normal – as generations have done before us, and as future generations will continue to do – to deliver a simple message: we are not afraid. And our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism," Prime Minister Theresa May on what she called a "sick and depraved" terrorist attack

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The first anniversary of the Brussels attacks on 22 March 2016

"These loathsome terrorist attacks struck at the very heart of Europe here in Belgium, in our capital, Brussels – a multilingual and multinational city where we enjoy living together in harmony. Faced with this unprecedented and incomprehensible violence, those of us living in Brussels and Belgium, with the support of all the peoples of Europe, chose to stand firm and not lose hope. During this terrible ordeal, Europeans stood together in the fight against terrorism that threatens our safety and peace throughout the world. We showed our determination to defend our values and our freedoms no matter what," President Juncker on the first anniversary of the Brussels attacks on 22 March 2016

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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

17/03/2017

Main news from Brussels this week

Additional €165 million to tackle famine and drought affected countries in Horn of Africa

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica announced today (17 March) additional EU support of €165 million to address the multiple crises in South Sudan, Somalia and its neighbouring countries. From this package of support, €100 million will be allocated to respond to the severe crisis caused by the violent conflict in South Sudan to provide lifesaving assistance to vulnerable people in South Sudan and neighbouring countries. The remaining €65 million is planned to respond to the serious droughts in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

More information

The European Commission and member states' consumer authorities ask social media companies to comply with EU consumer rules

On 16 March, EU consumer authorities and the European Commission met with Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to hear and discuss their proposed solutions to two areas of concern: a growing number of consumers have complained about having been targeted by fraud or scams when using social media websites, as well as having been subject to certain terms of services that do not respect EU consumer law.

More information

EU strategy for Syria

On 14 March, the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) proposed a strategy for Syria that defines how the EU can better contribute to a lasting political solution in the country under the existing UN-agreed framework. The strategy also looks at how the EU can continue its assistance to over 13 million people in need in Syria, help build resilience and stability in the country, and support post-agreement reconstruction and the voluntary, dignified and safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons once a credible political transition is underway. (See also EU fact of the week below)

More information

Q&A

EU education programme for 230,000 refugee children to attend school in Turkey

On 16 March, the European Commission launched its largest ever humanitarian programme for education in emergencies to encourage some 230,000 refugee children to attend school in Turkey. The €34 million 'Conditional Cash Transfer for Education' (CCTE) project will provide bimonthly cash-transfers as of May 2017 to vulnerable refugee families whose children regularly attend school. The project will be implemented in partnership with UNICEF and its partner, the Turkish Red Crescent.

More information

New anonymous whistleblower tool

A new tool to make it easier for individuals to alert the Commission about secret cartels and other antitrust violations while maintaining their anonymity was launched by the European Commission on 16 March. Anti-competitive practices include agreeing on prices or procurement bids, keeping products off the market or unfairly excluding rivals and can cause immense damage to Europe's economy. They can deny customers access to a wider choice of goods and services at reasonable prices, stifle innovation and put companies out of business.

More information

Commission proposes a new EU Action Plan to fight drug use and trafficking

On 15 March, the Commission proposed a new EU Action Plan on drugs for the period 2017-2020. It identifies new priority areas for action such as the monitoring of new psychoactive substances. The plan also promotes the use of new communication technologies for prevention of drug abuse and for gathering evidence about the links between drug trafficking and the financing of terrorist groups, organised crime, migrant smuggling or trafficking in human beings.

More information

Approval to stop trade in minerals financing armed conflicts

New rules will ensure that minerals used by European industries are sourced responsibly, diverting revenues away from rebel groups, conflict, and terror. On 16 March, the European Parliament adopted by an overwhelming majority the proposal to stop trade in conflict minerals. The regulation brokered by the Commission and voted yesterday by the European Parliament will impose due diligence rules on companies importing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. Such metals and minerals are used in the production of everyday products such as mobile phones, car and jewellery. The rules will cover up to 95% of imports as of 1 January 2021.

More information

'The EU in 2016' report

On 15 March, the European Commission published its 2016 report on the activities of the EU. The report complements the White Paper on the future of Europe, providing an insight into the major EU events, initiatives and decisions of 2016.

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


EU and the UK

2016 Report of the Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products

On 16 March, the Commission unveiled the results of the 2016 annual report on the Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products. Since 2003, this system ensures that information about dangerous products withdrawn from the market and/or recalled from consumers anywhere in Europe is quickly circulated between member states and the European Commission, so that appropriate action can immediately be taken across the EU. It enables a quick exchange of information about dangerous products posing a risk to health and safety of consumers i.e. chemical risks, etc. Thirty-one countries (EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) currently participate.

Most countries notified products belonging to categories ‘toys’ and ‘clothing, textiles and fashion items’. The United Kingdom was amongst countries which concentrated more on ‘motor vehicles’.

More information

Tenth anniversary of the European Research Council

From 13 to 20 March, special events are taking place across the UK and Europe to mark the 10th anniversary of the European Research Council (ERC) – the first European funding organisation that supports excellence in frontier research. In the UK, the universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Newcastle, Oxford, Queen Mary, Roehampton, Sheffield and the Tate gallery in London organised events for the ERC week. For example, Wild Sensing, an EU-funded project, had an interactive installation – at Tate Exchange – which made it possible for visitors to observe the movements of Arctic animals. These movements help understand climate change. Since 2007, the ERC has funded 858 British researchers and a total of, 1,488 top researchers based in UK host institutions, most of these focused on physical sciences and engineering. The total ERC funding awarded to UK researchers in the last ten years is about €2.6 billion (£2.2bn).

More information

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….(normally we include a disclaimer saying it does not necessarily represent our views….but this week it does, as it is by the UK's European Commissioner Sir Julian King!)

In an article for the Independent he warned about the new cyber threats that stem from the use of everyday objects and the need for vigilance and coordinated action to address them.


EU fact of the week

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Infographic about the Syrian crisis

Tweet of the week

Federica Mogherini‏ @FedericaMog

Today on my blog: The best response to those who think Europe is stuck http://www.federicamogherini.net/the-best-response-to-those-who-think/?lang=en …

https://twitter.com/FedericaMog/status/840626538743771137


Quote of the week

"I will never accept this comparison between the Nazis and the governments currently in power. […] And the one who is doing this is taking distance from Europe and not trying to enter the European Union." European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaking at the European Parliament


Picture of the week

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel pay tribute to the victims of the Brussels attacks, which happened almost a year ago, on 22 March.

11 March is European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism.

Here in this picture, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel pay tribute to the victims of the Brussels attacks, which happened almost a year ago, on 22 March.

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Joint statement on ending roaming charges

Today's vote by Member States' Representatives allows us to formally adopt our proposal on fair use policy and the associated sustainability mechanism in line with our legal obligation to meet the deadline of 15 December. This is an important step towards the end of roaming charges on 15 June 2017.

12/12/2016

We are convinced that our proposal strikes the right balance and bridges very different, often opposite views. Today's vote means that the EU will put an end to extra charges when all travellers are calling, texting and surfing abroad from their mobile phones and devices, while ensuring that the most competitive domestic offers remain attractive.

However our work does not stop here. To definitively consign roaming charges to history, we now have to focus our efforts on the proposal on wholesale prices operators charge each other while consumers use their mobile phones abroad. We are starting the negotiations with the European Parliament and the Member States this week. To reach this last milestone, the Commission will continue to play its role of honest broker to help find a final agreement as soon as possible. There is no time to waste.

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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

The weekly round-up is back after the summer break albeit in a shorter format this week, but we expect this to change in the coming weeks.

09/09/2016

Main news from Brussels this week

EU secured important outcomes at G20 summit, Hangzhou, China

The European Union secured important outcomes at the G20 leaders' summit which took place on 4-5 September in Hangzhou, China. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker arrived at the summit calling for firm global action on over-capacity in the steel industry, fair taxation and the global refugee crisis. The G20 leaders agreed to set out immediate action in all three areas. On steel, the G20 agreed to launch a "Global Forum on steel excess capacity, to be facilitated by the OECD". On taxation, the G20 committed to work for a "fair and modern international tax system", in particular by combatting tax avoidance. To ensure greater tax transparency, the leaders called on all countries to "commit without delay to implementing the standard of automatic exchange of information by 2018". They also endorsed the OECD proposals on the "criteria to identify non-cooperative jurisdictions with respect to tax transparency". By June 2017 the OECD will report back to finance ministers and central bank governors on progress towards tax transparency. On the refugee crisis, the G20 called for a global concerted effort to address both the root causes of the crisis and its consequences and in particular urged greater humanitarian assistance for refugees and refugee resettlement.

G20 leaders' statement

Commission proposes EU certification system for airport security equipment and to promote a more competitive EU security industry

On 7 September, the European Commission proposed to establish a single EU certification procedure for aviation security screening equipment to enhance the competitiveness of the EU security industry. The introduction of an EU certificate will allow security equipment approved in one member state to also be put on the market in others. It will help overcome market fragmentation, strengthen the competitiveness of the EU security industry, boost employment in the sector and ultimately contribute to improving aviation security across Europe.

More information

Q&A

EU announces more projects under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €348 million in humanitarian aid

On 8 September, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides announced the largest ever EU humanitarian aid programme – the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN). It will be rolled out by the World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Policy (MoFSP). This is the largest ever humanitarian programme using direct cash-transfers to cover the everyday needs of the most vulnerable refugee families in Turkey.

More information

Factsheet

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


EU and the UK

UK-based researchers among top beneficiaries of latest EU funding round

Fifty-nine UK-based early-career researchers are to receive up to €1.5 million (£1.3m) each to set up their own research teams and pursue ground-breaking ideas under the latest round of European Research Council (ERC) starting grants. These grants come from the 'excellent science' pillar of Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme.

The UK is the second biggest beneficiary of this round after Germany who is hosting 61 beneficiaries.

More information

For upcoming events, please have a look at our newsletter


EU in the media his 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:

Why Apple’s low-tax deal is no blueprint for Brexit Britain by Fintan O'Toole in the Guardian


EU fact of the week

Female employment rates in the EU

According to a Eurostat report - "Urban Europe" – published this week, seven of the top 10 EU cities with the highest female employment rates are located in southern and central England: Fareham, Exeter, Mansfield, Basingstoke and Deane, Chelmsford, Warwick and Dacorum. The other three in this league table are Friedrichshafen (on the shores of Lake Constance in southern Germany), Tartu (the second largest city in Estonia) and Utrecht (in the centre of the Netherlands).


Tweet of the week


Quote of the week

"CETA [EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement] is the best agreement we ever negotiated. It deserves full support of our member states," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker after meeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G20 summit.


Pictures of the week

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President Jean-Claude Juncker with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G20 summit

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President Donald Tusk met with Prime Minister Theresa May

European Council President Donald Tusk met with Prime Minister Theresa May in London

Tenders

The European Commission Representation in the UK intends to launch a procurement to seek services to make an existing exhibition on Erasmus+ tour the UK in 2018. Beyond transportation the...Read more

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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

22/07/2016

Main news from Brussels this week

Statements on the situation in Turkey

Following the attempted coup in Turkey on Friday 15 July, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the EU member states present at the Asia-Europe Meeting, issued a statement saying: "Turkey is a key partner for the European Union. The EU fully supports the democratically elected government, the institutions of the country and the rule of law. We call for a swift return to Turkey’s constitutional order. We continue to follow closely the developments and to coordinate with the 28 EU member states." High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini also issued a joint statement with Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, stating: "We condemn the attempted coup in Turkey and reiterate our full support to the democratic institutions of the country. […] We underline the need for a swift return to Turkey's constitutional order with its checks and balances and stress the importance for the rule of law and fundamental freedoms to prevail."

EU single market: compliance improving, more work needed in some areas. UK performance stable

The way member states apply EU single market legislation improved in 2015, partly due to new ways of looking at and resolving problems before the need for a formal procedure. The UK performance remained stable, compared to the previous year, 2014. In the same time, UK citizens continue to be among those that very actively use SOLVIT – an online mediation service for solving issues with the public authorities in other EU member states.

More information

Commission fines truck producers €2.93 billion for participating in a cartel

The European Commission has found that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco, and DAF broke EU antitrust rules. These truck makers colluded for 14 years on truck pricing and on passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission rules. The Commission has imposed a record fine of €2,926,499,000 (£2.4bn). Commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, said: “We have today put down a marker by imposing record fines for a serious infringement. In all, there are over 30 million trucks on European roads, which account for around three quarters of inland transport of goods in Europe and play a vital role for the European economy. It is not acceptable that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF, which together account for around 9 out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks produced in Europe, were part of a cartel instead of competing with each other. For 14 years they colluded on the pricing and on passing on the costs for meeting environmental standards to customers. This is also a clear message to companies that cartels are not accepted." MAN was not fined as it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission. All companies acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case. The infringement covered the entire EEA and lasted 14 years, from 1997 until 2011, when the Commission carried out unannounced inspections of the firms.

More information

Statement by Commissioner Vestager

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


EU and the UK

UK R&D leader but more investment needed to sustain this

An EU report shows that the UK is a European and global leader in research and development (R&D) with a significant number of world-class and highly innovative sectors such as pharmaceuticals, aerospace and automotive, as well as new sectors like digital design. But the report by the European Commission's Research and Innovation Observatory (RIO) at the Joint Research Centre  also says that the UK invests less in R&D compared to other similar advanced economies.

More information

Brexit

At a Chatham House event on 18 July, Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, a European constitutional law expert, outlined the legal requirements needed for the UK to leave the EU.

She started out by contrasting the UK's situation with other EU countries when it comes to referenda. She stressed that referenda have not been a major part of the UK's constitution, which means British people are often unaware of the constraints and of the laws that surround a referendum. She added that other EU countries have particular constraints on how referenda may be held (they might impose voting thresholds, requirements for more than a simple majority,…)

She went on to speak about article 50 which states "any member state may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.” She added that the UK is not very clear about what its constitutional requirements are.

In her opinion, there are therefore four possibilities:

  • Notification under the constitution is a matter for the Prime Minister;

  • Constitutional conventions: Parliament has to have a say and convention dictates that Parliament should have a vote;

  • It is not enough for the Prime Minister to go to Brussels and say the UK wants to withdraw. There has to be another act of Parliament first;

  • Neither is it enough to notify Brussels without the consent of the devolved nations.

Professor Douglas-Scott also covered what happens once Article 50 is triggered: the withdrawal agreement and future trade agreements. She spoke about different types of relationship the UK could have with the EU and concluded that only two options were feasible in her view: joining the European Economic Area or signing an ad-hoc agreement, based on WTO rules.

Watch the speech here

Brexit – the fallout for immigration and the economy

On 19 July, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Social Science and Policy organised an event on the fallout for the economy and migration of the UK's vote to leave the EU.

Jonathan Portes, NIESR (National Institute Of Economic and Social Research) and ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), argued that there had been contradictions on immigration in the Leave campaign. He also voiced his opinion on different options for a new relationship with the EU, such as "EEA (European Economic Area) minus" (meaning restrictions to single market access accepted in exchange for restrictions on freedom of movement). In his view, there could also be an emergency brake procedure once a certain number of National Insurance numbers have been issued in a given year, but he added that would lead to an increase in illegal work and would not appeal to the EU.

Professor Jane Falkingham, Southampton University, said studies from the University’s Centre for Population Change show it is largely young, skilled and educated people who come to the UK from the EU. Of those who are married or in a partnership, 40% have a partner who is a UK citizen and a third of those have dependent children. A pre-referendum survey found that 74% planned to take action to remain in the UK if the UK voted to leave but 71% of those did not know how to go about it. Citizens from the first 15 EU member states were more likely to plan to leave and those from the newer member states were more likely to want to stay. Professor Falkingham advocated a campaign of civic information on how to acquire the right to remain in the UK. The Centre will repeat the survey over time to ascertain how many choose to stay and how many leave.

UK Advertising standards authority cautions Kellogg's on health claims

The Advertising standards authority (ASA)  – an independent regulator on advertising across all media in the UK – has cautioned Kellogg's for ads and information on its website that promote the health benefits of one of its products in what ASA sees as breach of its code based on the EU regulation on health claims for foodstuffs.

More information

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EU in UK 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:

Academies warn Brexit 'damaging science' by Pallab Ghosh for BBC News


EU fact of the week

Innovative EU countries

Nordic countries, Germany and the Netherlands remain the EU's innovation champions. Although not in the top group, the UK continues to perform well and is among the fastest growing EU innovators – countries which the 2016 EU Innovation Scoreboard shows have recorded the fastest progress compared to last year in a given set of criteria: from science excellence and how open a member state’s research systems are to human resources and intellectual assets.

More information

Factsheet


Tweet of the week


Quote of the week

"Fair and open trade is Europe's best growth lever. Today's discussion was not about whether or not China is a market economy. It is about how to adapt our trade defence instruments to deal with the realities of over-capacity and a changing international legal framework. By acting on several fronts, together with the European Parliament and member states, we can treat both the symptoms and underlying causes of unfair trade and provide greater job security in Europe," EU Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.


Picture of the week

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Lord Hill last day
Lord Hill last day

Lord Hill's last day as Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

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