Today the Commission has published the first annual report on the functioning of the EU- U.S. Privacy Shield. It shows that in its first year of operation this framework has ensured adequate protection and safeguards for personal data transferred from the EU to the U.S. All the necessary administrative structures and procedures have been put in place in the U.S., including new redress possibilities for Europeans. Safeguards regarding access to personal data by U.S. public authorities are in place. However, the implementation of the framework can be improved further. Vice-President Ansip said: “Making international data transfers sound, safe and secure benefits certified companies and European consumers and businesses, including EU SMEs.” Commissioner Jourová added: “Our first review shows that the Privacy Shield works well, but there is room for improving its implementation. The Privacy Shield is not a document lying in a drawer. It’s a living agreement that both the EU and U.S. must actively monitor to ensure we keep guard over our high data protection standards”. The 2017 report suggests a number of ways in which this can be done, including awareness raising for EU individuals about how to exercise their rights under the Privacy Shield and more proactive and regular monitoring of companies’ compliance with their Privacy Shield obligations by the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as stepping up cooperation between privacy enforcers, amongst other measures. A press release with more information will available here when the press conference starts, as well as Q&As on the Privacy Shield.
EU INSTITUTIONS NEWS
Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu and Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, are in Budapest today and tomorrow to attend the 6th annual forum of the Danube macro-regional strategy, entitled “A secure, connected and prospering Danube Region”. Commissioner Cretu said: “To me there is no greater priority than better connectivity in the region, encompassing land transport and navigability. This is key to unlock the full potential of the Danube Strategy. Political commitment and coordination are crucial here.” Commissioner Navracsics said: “The concerns of people in the Danube region range from air quality to traffic congestion and from energy security to water quality. The work of the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, such as a new dashboard offering better access to data, enables authorities across the Danube region respond to their citizens’ concerns more effectively.” The Danube Strategy is one of the four macro-regional strategies. It was launched in April 2011, gathering nine EU countries (Austria, Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria) and five non-EU countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine). The ministers in charge of the Strategy will tomorrow adopt a joint statement setting out principles and priorities for the future – regional energy security, infrastructure development and clean connectivity, which can be boosted with an optimised use of EU funds. Also at the forum, the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, for which Commissioner Navracsics is responsible, will present the latest addition to the Commission’s Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies, the Territorial Dashboard. This tool visualises data for all EU regions – on the economy, education, employment, health, energy or transport – in a user-friendly way. This will help regional authorities of the Danube region to target investments where they are most needed and where they can have the greatest impact.
Contributions from the EU and its member states to support developing countries in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and coping with the impacts of climate change showed a significant increase in 2016.
The total was confirmed on 16 October 2017 at a meeting of the EU Economic Policy Committee, ahead of COP23 UN climate change conference in Bonn.
Total contributions from the EU and its member states amounted to €20.2billionin 2016, a significant increase compared to 2015. The contributions were successfully channelled into climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives in developing countries.
The contribution is seen as an important step towards the implementation of the legally binding climate change agreement reached in Paris in December 2015.
The latest figure demonstrates the EU’s determination to continue scaling up its international climate finance contribution towards the $100 billion per year goal set for developed countries by 2020 and through until 2025. Before 2025, the parties to the UN framework convention on climate change will set a new collective goal. Contributions for mitigation and adaptation will be jointly mobilised from a wide variety of sources: public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance and with transparency of implementation.
 This figure includes climate finance sources from public budgets and other development financial institutions, as reported by member states in the context of the article 16 of regulation 525/2013 of 21 May 2013. It also includes €2.7 billion climate finance from the EU budget and the European Development Fund, and €1.9 billion from the European Investment Bank.
Today, the European Commission will disburse a €100 million loan to Jordan under the EU’s Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) programme. Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, said: “Today’s decision to disburse €100 million to Jordan under a new MFA programme demonstrates the EU’s continued support for the country in these challenging times. I look forward to continuing our work with the Jordanian authorities on their reform programme and in securing a stable, stronger economy for Jordan to the benefit of its entire population.” This disbursement marks the launch of the second Macro-Financial Assistance programme for Jordan with a total worth of €200 million, which follows a first package of €180 million approved in 2013 and fully disbursed in 2015. The disbursement of the second €100 million instalment is expected to take place during the course of 2018, depending on Jordan fulfilling agreed commitments. The aim of this assistance is to strengthen the country’s foreign exchange reserve position and to help Jordan meet its balance of payments and budgetary financing needs. The MFA programme will also support reforms in a number of areas. These include public finance management, tax and social safety net systems, education and professional training, trade policies and active labour market policies aimed at increasing employment opportunities for both Jordanian citizens and Syrian refugees living in Jordan. A press release is available here.
How can digital culture enrich your daily life and work? Do you share, access or use cultural heritage materials online? Today, the Commission launches a public consultation to hear the opinions from citizens and organisations with a personal or professional interest in digital culture available online. The Commission wants to know how citizens, professionals and organisations use Europeana, the European online platform for culture heritage that is visited approximately 700,000 times per month. The platform gives access to over 53 million items including image, text, sound, video and 3D material from the collections of over 3,700 libraries, archives, museums, galleries and audio-visual collections across Europe. The platform can be used by teachers, artists, data professionals in cultural institutions and creative fields but also everyone looking for information on culture. The public consultation will help to identify through an independent evaluation how Europana is currently used and how this can be improved and made more accessible for everyone.For example, the platform provides content also for re-use in the education, research or creative sectors of which many people are not yet aware. The results of the consultation will contribute to further develop Europeana’s offers and increase its visibility and use for the European culture heritage online. Europeana will also be closely associated to the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018. The public consultation will be open in all EU languages until 14 January 2018 here.
EU leaders will look at a number of the most pressing issues, including migration, defence, foreign affairs and digitalisation.
The European Council will take stock of the measures taken to control illegal migration flows on all routes.
Leaders are expected to decide on any additional measures needed to support frontline member states, and to strengthen cooperation with UNHCR and IOM as well as with countries of origin and transit.
In addition, the European Council will call for progress on the reform of the common European asylum system.
The European Council will examine how the EU can seize the opportunities and address the challenges of digitalisation, building on the discussions at the Digital Summit of 29 September.
Leaders will also take stock of the implementation of the Digital single market.
Heads of state or government will resume discussions on the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO)on defence. At the June European Council, leaders agreed on the need to launch PESCO.
In light of recent events, EU leaders will review specific foreign policy issues, including relations with Turkey.
The European Council (Article 50), in an EU 27 format, will review the latest developments in the negotiations following the United Kingdom’s notification of its intention to leave the EU.
On 16 and 17 October, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström is in Johannesburg, South Africa, to celebrate the first anniversary of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and six countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Commissioner Malmström will meet South African Minister of Trade Rob Davies, and also take part in a civil society forum that brings together 150 civil society organisations, including NGOs, trade associations and trade unions, to exchange first experiences from one year of the agreement being in place. The EU-South Africa Economic Partnership Agreement applies provisionally since 10 October 2016. The agreement,aiming to support development and foster regional integration, has already produced positive effects for exports in sectors such as flower production and fisheries. Commissioner Malmström‘s speeches, along with photo and video material, will be published here. There is also information available about the EU-SADC agreement (factsheet; website), EU-SADC trade statistics and examples of EU exports to South Africa (1; 2)
As part of its commitment to a more transparent trade policy the Commission today published a report summarising the progress made during the latest negotiating round for the EU-Mexico trade agreement held in the end of September in Brussels, as well as three text proposals submitted to Mexico ahead of the latest round. The proposals published today concern wine and spirits, motor vehicles and the usual exceptions that can be invoked to restrict trade for instance for security or health reasons. The round report includes details on all areas of the negotiations, including trade in goods, services, investment and technical barriers to trade. The talks focused on the text proposals as well as on the market access offers on goods, services and public procurement exchanged in July. While some groups advanced more than others, overall the round brought a good progress. The sixth round will take place in Mexico City from 25 November to 1 December. The objective remains to reach an agreement by the end of the year.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, will participate in the Health in the Digital Society conference organised by the Estonian Presidency of the EU, in Tallinn on 17 October. He will present preliminary findings of the public consultation on a digital health and care policy paper to be adopted in the coming months. Ahead of the conference Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, Commissioner Andriukaitis, in charge of Health and Food Safety, and Commissioner Gabriel, in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, said: “It’s clear that Europeans care about the innovation and digitisation of health care. We can all see the potential of digital solutions in the prevention and management of chronic diseases as well as in maintaining healthy lifestyles – which is why the Commission is committed to overcoming the existing barriers to the free movement of patients and data. If we want to protect people’s wellbeing and modernise national health systems around Europe, we first need to share our experience and evidence. By focusing more on research and investment into digital health, we can help people to manage their own health and improve quality of life.” The public consultation, which ended on 12 October, drew more than 1500 replies and showed a broad support for health related actions in the Digital Single Market. More than 90% of respondents agree that citizens should be able to manage their own data. 80% agree that sharing health data can be beneficial. Nearly 60% report not having access to digital health services. More than 80% agree that citizen feedback to healthcare providers and professionals is essential to improve services. For more information see IP/17/2085 and full Statement by Commissioner Andriukaitis(available as from 09:30 on 17 October) and here.