The EU and the US: a relationship in motion, by M. Demertzis | Bruegel

Trade Agreement USA and EU. Symbol for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP

Europe’s post-crisis recovery has been disappointing in comparison with the USA. But lower rates of inequality are staving off populism and bolstering support for globalisation. With the USA an increasingly unpredictable partner, the EU must address internal imbalances and build alliances to defend the multilateral order. The legacy of the financial crisis has left a different trail in the EU economy by comparison to that of the US. Almost a decade after the start of what was undoubtedly the worst financial crisis in the last 50 years, the US has managed to restore financial stability and deliver a convincing path back to growth. The EU, by contrast, has not achieved a credible return to economic vigour. It is true that Europe has seen some renewed growth recently, but it remains weak and precarious. This is in part due to the EU’s weaker institutional resilience. High unemployment, particularly for the young, an excess of non-performing loans on banks’ balance sheets, and an incomplete banking union, all help explain the precarious nature of the stability and growth that we observe.

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PubAffairs Mid-Term Review | Past, Upcoming events & Editorial activities | July 2017

Dear Member/Follower,

We would like to thank you for your interest, participation and/or collaboration with PubAffairs.

We are pleased to announce that we are preparing for the next phase of our event series which will restart in September.

We are also pleased to give you an overview of our event series, which, from January to June 2017, included the following debates:


Sustainable City solutions: a central pillar for the next phase of the EU energy transition? 

Mr Dimitrios Sofianopoulos, New Energy Technologies, Innovation and Clean Coal, European Commission, DG ENERG, Ms Dorthe Nielsen, Policy Director, Eurocities, Mr Adrian Joyce, Secretary General, European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EuroACE) and Mr Marco Marijewycz, Technology Policy & Modelling, E.ON discussed the question of sustainable city solutions and their relevance with the next phase of the EU energy transition process.

The debate was moderated by Hughes Belin, freelance journalist.

Event highlights available here | Event pictures available here


Payments security: do the EBA RTS on strong customer authentication create an open and secure market for retail payments in Europe?

Ms Silvia Kersemakers, European Commission, Retail Financial Services and Payments, DG FISMA, Ms Marie Pascale Brien, Senior Policy Advisor, European Banking Federation, Mr Matthias Hönisch, Head of Card Business Unit, National Federation of Cooperative Banks and Ms Emma Mohan-Satta, Fraud Prevention Consultant, Kaspersky Fraud Prevention, together discussed the effects of the recently released European Banking Authority’s regulatory technical standards on strong customer authentication and the creation of an open and secure market for retail payments in Europe.

Ms Emma Mohan-Satta held an introductory speech, while Mr Pascal König, Policy Advisor, E-commerce Europe, was also present for comments.

The debate was moderated by John Rega, Chief Correspondent, Financial Services at MLex

Event highlights available here | Event pictures available here



The ‘two-speed Europe’ project and the Brexit negotiations: a combined unity test? 

Ms Danuta Maria Hubner MEP (EPP/PL) and Mr Michael Theurer MEP (ALDE/DE) engaged in two topical matters for the future of the European Union while the UK was grappling with internal disagreements on both the timing of the triggering of Article 50 and the establishment of the extent to which the British Parliament should have controlled the Brexit process. In this context, the leaders of the EU’s four largest economies organised a meeting in Paris in order to prepare the 25th of March EU summit in Rome as well as to (re) launch the so-called ‘two-speed Europe’ proposal.

The debate was moderated by Graham Bishop, leading expert in EU and UK Economic, Financial and Government Affairs.

Event highlights available here | Event pictures available here


ETS and renewables: a win-win strategy?

Mr Peter Zapfel, Head of Unit, ETS Policy Development and Auctioning, European Commission, Mr Ruud Kempener, Policy Officer, Renewables and CCS Policy Unit, European Commission, Mr Michel Matheu, Head of EU strategy, EDF, and Mr Daniel Fraile, Senior Analyst, Wind Europe together discussed the long-standing issues of the emission trading system (ETS) revision, notably one of the European Union’s pivotal policy instruments for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) for the period 2021-2030.

Mr Florent Le Strat, Researcher and Expert, Climate policy R&D, EDF  held an introductory speech about a recent EDF study entitled “Towards a successful coordination of climate energy policies”.

The debate was moderated by Hughes Belin, freelance journalist

Event highlights available here | Event pictures available here


What could be the features of the Pan-European Personal Pensions initiative (PEPP)?

Ms Nathalie Berger, Head of Unit, Insurance and Pension, European Commission, DG FISMA, Mr Heinz K. Becker MEP (EPP/AU), Mr Bernard Delbecque, Senior Director, Economics & Research, EFAMA and Mr Guillaume Prache, Managing Director, Better Finance discussed the European Commission’s  legislative initiative to launch a legislative framework for a Pan-European Personal Pensions (PEPP) system.

Ms Sultana Sandrell, Trade, Economic and Financial Affairs Unit, Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU and Mr Philippe Setbon, Member of the AFG Strategic Committee, respectively held an introductory speech.

The debate was moderated by Mr Pierre Bollon, Chief Executive, French Asset Management Association.

Event highlights available here | Event pictures available here

Will the year 2017 be a defining moment for the EU? 

Mr Reinhard Butikofer MEP (Greens/DE), Mr Pawel Swieboda, Deputy Head of the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) and Mr Roland Freudenstein, Policy Director of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies discussed the role of the European Union in the global context with special regard to Transatlantic relations as well as  the possible ways to finalise some of the most important initiatives related to the deepening of the EU integration process ahead of the Commission’s White Paper on the future of Europe.

The debate was moderated by Chris Burns, long-time journalist and moderator.

Event highlights available here | Event pictures available here

We hope you have enjoyed participating in our debates as well as following our daily news.

We will continue to keep you up to date on the latest cutting-edge EU-related issues trough our website, as well as through our social media channels.

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EVENT HIGHLIGHTS | Sustainable City Solutions: a central pillar for the next phase of the EU energy transition?

On the 20th of June, PubAffairs Bruxelles hosted a debate on sustainable city solutions as a central pillar for the next phase of the EU energy transition. Mr Dimitrios Sofianopoulos, New Energy Technologies, Innovation and Clean Coal, European Commission, DG ENERG, Ms Dorthe Nielsen, Policy Director, Eurocities, Mr Adrian Joyce, Secretary General, European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EuroACE) and Mr Marco Marijewycz, Technology Policy & Modelling, E.ON were all present as speakers. The debate was moderated by Hughes Belin, freelance journalist.

Sustainable Cities WEB

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High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance delivers early recommendations | EU Commission Press

The High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, established by the Commission, has published its first report setting out concrete steps to create a financial system that supports sustainable investments. The Commission will explore some key early recommendations to take further steps towards a low carbon, more resource-efficient and sustainable economy. The report is part of broader efforts to map out an EU strategy on sustainable finance, a priority action of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) Action Plan. The first wave of EU reforms focused on making the financial system more stable and resilient. The Commission is now driving forward efforts to reorient the financial system so that it can support long-term, sustainable growth. The financial sector has a vital role to play in reaching the climate change goals of the Paris Agreement and the EU’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. It is also vital that more private capital is mobilised towards green and sustainable investment so as to enable the transition to a low-carbon economy. Today’s interim report by High-Level Group maps out the challenges and opportunities that the EU faces in developing a sustainable finance policy agenda, identifying possible areas of reform in financial policy. It also presents a first set of early recommendations to the Commission. The expert group will further explore other policy areas to provide further recommendations in the final report, due at the end of 2017. For more information please see the press release and the report.

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Sustainable development in trade agreements: European Commission launches debate | EU Commission Press

How should sustainable development be addressed in the trade agreements negotiated by the EU? The European Commission published a document – referred to as a “non-paper” – intended to contribute to an open and inclusive debate aimed at improving the EU’s approach in this field. It builds up on the Commission’s recent reflection paper on harnessing globalisation, which underlined the EU’s commitment to a fair, international, rules-based order based on high standards, cooperation and strengthening of multilateral institutions. The document, sent to the European Parliament and the Council, asks several questions on whether the current Trade and Sustainable Development chapters are meeting expectations, and what could be done to improve them. Also, whether a more assertive partnership should be pursued, and whether a sanctions-based approach would address shortcomings. The Commission has been negotiating Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapters in all its recent trade agreements (see example of measures foreseen most recently with Japan), as part of the EU’s value-based trade agenda, in line with ‘Trade for All‘ strategy of 2015.  More on EU trade and sustainable development initiatives.

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Western Balkans Summit 2017: delivering for the region | European Commission Press

The 2017 Western Balkans Summit took place yesterday in Trieste, Italy. Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Economy and Ministers of Transport of the Western Balkans together with their counterparts from several EU Member States and high EU officials – High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini and Commissioners Johannes Hahn and Violeta Bulc – discussed key areas of regional cooperation, and set out concrete measures to better connect the region’s infrastructures, economies and people. At the end of the Summit Federica Mogherini said: “[…] we confirmed the perspective of the European Union integration of the Western Balkans. All the 6 partners in the Western Balkans clearly want to be more integrated in the EU, once the right reforms are passed. Many new practical projects were confirmed and a Transport Community Treaty was signed, opening new connections.” Her full remarks are available here.Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations participated in many events including the signing ceremony of the “letter of intent” for new assistance under the Western Balkans Enterprise Development & Innovation, the Business Forum, the Civil Society Forum, the Youth Forum and the meeting with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Violeta Bulc, Commissioner for Transport met with the Ministers of Energy and Ministers of Transport focussing in particular on the finalisation of the Transport Community Treaty and on road safety. At the signature of the Transport Community Treaty also Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn were present. The full press release following the Summit is available online as well as the Q&A: Western Balkans: Regional Economic Area and the Factsheet on the Transport Community

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Council agrees its position for the 2018 EU budget and backs increase of 2017 EU budget | EU Council Press

n 12 July 2017, the EU ambassadors agreed the Council’s position on the 2018 EU draft budget, ahead of the negotiations with the European Parliament starting in October.

The Council’s position for 2018 amounts to €158.9 billion in commitments and €144.4 billion in payments, up by 0.6% and 7.4% respectively compared to the 2017 EU budget. Payments increase significantly because the implementation of the 2014-2020 programmes is expected to reach cruising speed following the initial start-up period. The Council’s position strongly focuses on measures to stimulate jobs and growth, strengthen security and tackle migration. It also keeps sufficient margins under the EU’s multi-annual financial framework 2014-2020 in case unexpected needs arise.

“I believe the Council’s position provides a solid basis on which to achieve a 2018 EU budget that would take the EU forward. The Council proposes, in line with its generally frugal approach to the budget, to focus resources on those areas with the highest added value. The Council’s position also helps the EU to act swiftly in case new challenges arise”, said Märt Kivine, the Estonian Deputy Finance Minister and the Presidency’s Special Representative for the EU budget. “Timely agreement on the 2018 budget is a test of the EU’s credibility and a presidency priority”, he added.

2017: solidarity with young unemployed persons and Italy

The Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee on 12 July 2017 also approved two Commission proposals that reinforce the EU’s support to young unemployed persons in their job search and help the Italian regions hit by earthquakes in 2016 in their task of reconstruction. Draft amending budget no 3 increases the 2017 EU budget by €500 million in commitments for the youth employment initiative. Draft amending budget no 4 mobilises €1.2 billion under the EU’s solidarity fund following the earthquakes in Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche and Umbria.

2018: focus on jobs, growth, security and migration

Sustaining growth and job creation remains one of the Council’s most important priorities. In 2018, the Council wants to support smart and inclusive growth with €76.5 billion in commitments and €66.4 billion in payments, up by 2.1% and 17.5% respectively compared to 2017.

Actions financed under this heading include notably

  • the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 with €10.6 billion in commitments and €10.8 billion in payments, which is an increase by 2.6% and 5.8% respectively compared to the 2017 EU budget
  • the connecting Europe facility to support trans-European networks in transport, energy and communication sectors, with €4.3 billion in commitments and €2.1 billion in payments (+3.9% and +31.7%) including contributions from the cohesion fund
  • Erasmus+, with €2.3 billion in commitments (+9.5%) and €2.1 billion in payments (+13.1%)
  • the new European solidarity corps, with €72.8 million in commitments and €55.7 million in payments
  • European aid for the most deprived, with €556.9 million in commitments and €401.4 million in payments
  • the youth employment initiative, with €233.3 million in commitments and €600.0 million in payments

To ensure a high level of security the Council backed the amounts proposed by the Commission. This means that €720.0 million in commitments and €481.2 million in payments could be spent under the internal security fund to enhance border protection, fight against cross-border crime, establish an entry/exit system and set up a European travel information and authorisation system.

The Council also approved the €719.2 million in commitments and €594.4 million in payments proposed by the Commission for the asylum, migration and integration fund to address the migration pressure. The money will help member states to address migration flows, integrate persons who have the right to stay and return those who don’t. The Council’s position also contains €200.0 million in commitments and €220.6 million in payments for the EU emergency support mechanism within the EU. It enables the EU to help member states confronted with a natural or man-made disaster, such as the sudden and massive inflow of refugees and migrants.

With regard to administrative expenditure the Council acknowledged the efforts made to reach the 5% staff reduction target. It underlined the importance of keeping under continuous monitoring the level of staff in all EU institutions in order to ensure that the savings achieved are lasting.

A summary of the draft Council’s position is set out in the table below:

in € billion

Description 1 2 2-1
Draft budget 2018 Council position on DB 2018 Difference

c/a p/a c/a p/a c/a p/a
1 Smart and inclusive growth 77.2 66.8 76.5 66.4 -0.8 -0.4
1a Competitiveness for growth and jobs 21.8 20.1 21.1 19.9 -0.8 -0.2
1b Economic, social and territorial cohesion 55.4 46.8 55.4 46.5 0 -0.2
2 Sustainable growth: natural resources 59.6 56.4 59.3 56.1 -0.3 -0,3
3 Security and citizenship 3.5 3.0 3.4 2.9 -0.03 -0.02
4 Global Europe 9.6 9.0 9.5 8.9 -0.09 -0.02
5 Administration 9.7 9.7 9.6 9.6 -0.05 -0.05
MFF headings 159.6 144.8 158.4 144.0 -1.2 -0.8
Special instruments 1.1 0.6 0.6 0.4 -0.5 -0.2
Emergency aid reserve 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0 0
European globalisation adjustment fund 0.2 0.03 0.2 0.03 0 0
European Union solidarity fund 0.6 0.3 0.05 0.05 -0.5 -0.2
Total appropriations 160.6 145.4 158.9 144.4 -1.7 -1.0

c/a: commitments, p/a: payments

Next steps

The Council is expected to formally adopt its position early September. It will serve as a mandate to the Estonian presidency to negotiate the 2018 EU budget with the European Parliament.


Commitments are legal promises to spend money on activities whose implementation extends over several financial years. Payments cover expenditure arising from commitments entered into the EU budget during current and preceding financial years.

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Capital markets union: Council agrees on action plan adjustments | EU Council Press

On 11 July 2017, the Council adopted conclusions on the Commission’s review of the EU’s capital markets union action plan.

The Council renewed its commitment to the action plan, which is aimed at securing a fully-fledged capital markets union by the end of 2019. It supported a number of priority initiatives set out by the Commission.

The conclusions highlight good progress made on the plan so far, with nearly two thirds of actions already delivered. However a number of challenges have emerged since it was launched in September 2015, and with them comes a need to strengthen the plan.

“The European economy is steadily improving. What we now need most of all is more investment. That’s why the capital markets union is top of the Estonian agenda”, Mr Tõniste said. “To ensure sustainable economic growth in the longer term, it is essential to broaden the range of sources available for financing, in particular for young and innovative companies.”

The Council reconfirmed the plan’s priorities, which are to:

–           strengthen capital markets so as to attract more investment, including foreign investment, for European companies and infrastructure projects;

–           improve access to finance in particular for European SMEs and start-ups, and especially in innovative industries.

Nearly two years into the plan, economic recovery in the EU is gaining momentum. However investment rates are still below pre-crisis levels, and this continues to drag on growth in the longer term.

The Commission outlines the mid-term review in a communication issued on 8 June 2017.

It puts a specific focus on actions related to sustainable finance and financial technology. The communication sets out three categories of actions to be pursued:

–           actions announced in 2015 and not yet delivered;

–           the follow-up to actions completed under the 2015 action plan;

–           new priority actions.

The conclusions were adopted at a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council.

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Featured Analysis | Bloody difficult’ Britain has already blown its chances of a good deal from the EU27 | Europp – LSE Blog


The run-up to the Brexit negotiations has been disastrous for the UK, writes former negotiator Steve Bullock. It has hectored and insulted the EU27’s intelligence and undermined its own credibility. The chances of securing a good deal in the time left are minimal: approaching extremely complex negotiations, Britain chose to be ‘bloody difficult’. Being “tough” and being “difficult” are not the same thing. Being tough can work, but only if deployed sparingly at strategic points in negotiations. Being difficult for difficult’s sake never works. It simply breaks trust and creates resentment leading to a justifiable unwillingness in partners to compromise. Successful negotiation in the EU is not, contrary to popular belief, about thumping the table and demanding you get everything you want for nothing in return. It’s also not about undermining your opposite numbers (oppos in Brussels-speak), or insulting their intelligence by making outlandish claims. Yet, in preparing for Brexit negotiations, the UK government has done all of these things with, it seems, gusto and pride. Trust is key to a successful negotiation. Both sides must know that the other is negotiating in good faith. Both may know that walking away is an option in extremis, but openly threatening this undermines trust that a solution is being sought. Any compromises or concessions require trust and good faith.

Read the full Article here

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Peace and stability projects will get more EU support | European Parliament Press

  • Green light to review of EU fund for stability and peace projects
  • Military capacity building excluded unless in exceptional circumstances
  • Support to build hospitals, not to buy arms

The review of a key EU external assistance fund that has contributed to more than 260 stability and peace-building projects in 68 countries got the support of committee MEPs on Tuesday

Foreign affairs committee MEPs agreed to raise the EUR 2.3 bn budget of the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace by EUR 100 mln by the end of 2020, so as to allow for exceptional circumstances in which the fund could help build the capacity of the military in partner countries.

The review aims to strengthen the link between security and development in third countries. The European Union already has several instruments to support civilian security forces (police) and the judiciary by financing equipment such as vehicles or radios. Support for the military had always been excluded, although in some cases it is the only one capable of restoring security and reinstating public administration and basic services.

Training, mentoring and advising military forces in third countries, as well as the provision of non-lethal equipment or infrastructure, such as IT systems or hospitals, could now be eligible in exceptional cases for EU support, the draft rules say. Under no circumstances can EU support be given to building up foreign armies, buying weapons or training in combat techniques.


“European missions and operations on the ground have called for this indispensable tool for years. It is imperative to give the possibility to finance “civilian” actions of the armed forces in fragile countries. This is the missing link of the Common Security and Defence Policy,” said EP rapporteur Arnaud Danjean (EPP, FR).

The draft rules were backed by 47 votes to 14, with 4 abstentions. MEPs also decided to enter into the inter-institutional negotiations.

Next steps
Council agreed its negotiating position in December 2016 so Parliament can start talks on the review of the fund if there is no objection at the September plenary session in Strasbourg.

Quick facts

The Instrument contributing to Peace and Stability is the EU’s main tool to support security initiatives, peace-building activities and crisis response, preparedness and prevention in partner countries. Projects funded under the instrument include a sea water desalination plant in the Gaza strip, the training of civilian experts for crisis management missions and the deradicalization of young people in Bangladesh.

The fund started out in 2014 with a budget of EUR 2.3 billion for 2014-2020, replacing the Instrument for Stability (IfS) and several other instruments that focused on drugs, landmines, uprooted people, crisis management, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

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