European Commission

SAVE THE DATE | Sustainable City solutions: a central pillar for the next phase of the EU energy transition? (June 20)

We are delighted to invite you to a debate organised by PubAffairs Bruxelles which will be held on Tuesday the 20th of June at 19.00 at the premises of Science14 Atrium, rue de la Science, 14-B, Brussels. The event will consist of a debate about sustainable city solutions as a central pillar for the next phase of the EU energy transition.

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Although speakers and event details will be announced in the coming days, we publish this event now to make sure you save the date.

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This event is kindly sponsored by

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Within the framework of

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About the debate

The executive body of the European Union announced its willingness “to lead the energy transition, not only adapt to it. For this reason, the EU has committed to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 while modernising the EU’s economy and delivering on jobs and growth for all European citizens”.  The bold stance of the European Commission has multiple goals: firstly, the fostering of the modernisation of European economy and society in order to remain coherent with the obligations stemming from both the issue of climate change and the commitments of the Paris agreement. Secondly, this policy setting should not only lower both the demand and the dependency on fossil fuels, but should also lower energy costs for EU citizens who could eventually benefit from a more sustainable environment by the use of affordable and advanced solutions.

Ambitious climate goals and respective measures to reduce CO2 emissions as part of the overall Energy Union goals present enormous challenges to cities and communities alike. In addition, cities of all scale will play a crucial role in the next phase of the energy transition towards a low-carbon society. While urban infrastructure needs to be transformed into an active player in the energy system, smart networks will connect urban and rural areas, where the massive deployment of renewable energies in Europe happened in the first place. Districts of all kinds are the nucleus of sustainable development. With decentralised and highly efficient energy solutions for new development areas and renovation projects, communities can actively shape a climate neutral environment. Furthermore, dense urbanized areas are ideal platforms for coupling together different sectors, e.g. electricity with heating and transport.

While smart meter applications and devices, as part of  the development of a vision to integrate information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of things (IoT), are the crucial enablers of the vision of sustainable city solutions, an adequate level of financing for the transition towards a low carbon energy economy is also of prior importance for the environmental and economic sustainability of the whole of the EU in the years to come. Smart city solutions could, for example, allow for proper energy storage and water and sewage treatment, as well as for smart metering and environmental monitoring. However, the policy solutions  of a more sustainability-friendly EU are encountering a series of challenges.

The Clean Energy Package addresses the above mentioned issues, from local energy communities and self-consumption to smartness indicators for buildings, to long-term renovation strategy and infrastructure for E-mobility, just to mention a few. For instance, while the review of these elements is still under scrutiny, digital solutions and big data still need to be fully integrated, while the questions of data privacy and cyber security are further complicating the findings of integrated policy solutions. Last but not least, the financial side of innovative green projects has often been pointed out by experts and officials as the weak link in the chain.

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

This event will be held under the Chatham House Rule. Participants are free to use the information received but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the attendees may be revealed. For this reason, unless explicitly authorised by PubAffairs Bruxelles, the filming and/or the recording of the event by any means are strictly forbidden.

The event will commence with a welcome drink at 7h00 pm, followed by a panel debate at 7.30 pm. After the panel debate there will be an opportunity for questions and discussions.


We look forward to seeing you at 7h00 pm on the 20th of June at Science14 Atrium, rue de la Science 14-B, Brussels.

All our debates are followed by a drink in a convivial atmosphere.

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Reflection paper on the deepening of the economic and monetary union | European Commission publication

The options proposed in the reflection paper are intended to help build a broad consensus on how to take on the challenges ahead and to give a fresh impetus to this important debate.

Moving ahead would involve taking steps in three key areas:

  • Completing a genuine Financial Union

An integrated and well-functioning financial system is essential for an effective and stable Economic and Monetary Union. Building on the momentum of what has already been achieved in recent years, a consensus needs to be found on the way forward. This includes moving ahead with elements that are already on the table and agreeing on additional steps to take between now and 2025. This will involve completing the Banking Union and making progress on reducing and sharing risks in the banking sector, with measures to make European banks even more resilient. In order to provide more diverse and innovative financing opportunities for the real economy, including through capital markets, delivering on Capital Markets Union is also paramount.

  • Achieving a more integrated Economic and Fiscal Union

Already the Five Presidents’ Report recognised the convergence towards more resilient economic and social structures in Member States as an essential element for a successful Economic and Monetary Union in the long run. Member States could strengthen already existing elements, such as the European Semester of economic policy coordination or the link of financial support from the EU budget to structural reforms. But Member States could also decide to improve the capacity of macroeconomic stabilisation of the euro area. The paper outlines several different options for this, which the Commission will look into.

  • Anchoring democratic accountability and strengthening euro area institutions

For the Economic and Monetary Union to be stronger, Member States must accept to share more responsibilities and decisions on euro area matters, within a common legal framework. This could be through the EU Treaties and its institutions, an intergovernmental approach or, as is the case today, a mix of both. Further political integration could involve a rethinking of the balance between the Commission and the Eurogroup and could justify the appointment of a full-time permanent Eurogroup chair, as well as unifying the euro area’s external representation. The idea of a euro area Treasury – possibly with a euro area budget – as well as a European Monetary Fund are also discussed in the public debate, and could be considered at a later stage of the deepening of Economic and Monetary Union, within the EU framework.

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Draft EU Budget 2018: Commission proposes budget with focus on jobs, investments, migration and security | European Commission – Press release

The Commission has today proposed the 2018 draft EU Budget of €161 billion in commitments focusing on the creation of more jobs, especially for young people, and on boosting growth and strategic investments. In addition, building on the actions already undertaken in previous years next year’s EU budget will continue dealing effectively with the migration challenge, both inside and outside the EU. Improved reporting will enhance the focus on concrete results which will be achieved thanks to EU funding. Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger, in charge of budget and human resources, said: “With this budget we want to strike the right balance between keeping our past commitments regarding major EU programmes and addressing new challenges, while enhancing EU added value. We try to make sure that more young Europeans will be able to find jobs and that more key investments will be made on the ground. Demonstrating tangible results and making a difference in the daily lives of Europeans continues to drive all EU action.” The European Parliament and the European Union Member States will now jointly discuss this proposal. A press release in all languages and a MEMO are available online.

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European Semester 2017 Spring Package: Commission issues country-specific recommendations

Today Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Thyssen and Commissioner Moscovici presented the 2017 country-specific recommendations (CSRs), spelling out the economic policy guidance for Member States for the coming 12 to 18 months. The European economy has proven resilient in the face of significant challenges; reflected in growth rates of nearly 2 % in both the euro area and the EU in 2016, improving public finances and employment levels at a record of nearly 233 million people. Unemployment is at its lowest level since 2009 and investments exceed pre-crisis levels in some Member States – also helped by the Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called Juncker Plan. Although economic conditions in the euro area and the EU are improving, challenges remain: slow productivity growth and the legacies of the crisis, including disparities within and across countries, continue to weigh on the economy, as does uncertainty stemming mostly from external factors. The Commission therefore calls on Member States to use this window of opportunity to strengthen the fundamentals of their economies by implementing the economic and social priorities identified in common at European level – boosting investment, pursuing structural reforms and ensuring responsible fiscal policies. Particular attention is paid to the challenges and priorities identified for the euro area. Priorities vary across the EU but further efforts across the board are essential to achieve more inclusive, robust and sustainable growth.

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Commissioners Avramopoulos and Thyssen to launch “Employers for Integration” at second European Dialogue on Skills and Migration | European Commission – Press Release

Tomorrow, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen will host the second meeting of the European Dialogue on Skills and Migration, at the European Business Summit. The Commissioners will officially launch the “Employers together for integration” initiative, in the presence of CEOs and other high-level representatives of several companies committed to fostering migrant integration. The initiative aims to promote employers’ efforts across the EU to support the integration of refugees and other migrants in the labour market and beyond. On this occasion Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: “Making integration work is not just a social but an economic imperative. Only a successful integration of all migrants in the EU will allow turning migration into an opportunity, both for them and for our European society and economy. The role and engagement of employers is essential for this.” Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “The forum is a sign of commitment that we unite forces with employers. Our primary task now is to tackle the challenges and to seize the opportunities of integrating refugees and asylum seekers in the labour market. It can and should be a win-win for all.” All interested companies can support the initiative and sign up here. The event will be recorded on EbS and can be followed live on the social media through #EBS2017 and #IntegrationMatters. The European Dialogue on Skills and Migration was launched in 2016 to foster exchanges between the Commission and economic and social partners, in particular employers, on labour migration related issues. For its second edition on 23 May 2017, the Dialogue focuses on the labour market integration of refugees and other legally residing migrants. More information on the Dialogue is available here. See here for more information on the Commission’s participation in the European Business Summit.

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INVITATION | Payments security: do the EBA RTS on strong customer authentication create an open and secure market for retail payments in Europe? (May 31)

We are most pleased to invite you to participate in an evening of discussion on the European Banking Authority’s (EBA) regulatory technical standards (RTS) on strong customer authentication and the creation of an open and secure market for retail payments in Europe with our distinguished speakers 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.

Ms Emma Mohan-Satta, Kaspersky Fraud Prevention will hold an introductory speech, while Mr Pascal König, Policy Advisor, E-commerce Europe, will be also present for comments.

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

This event is kindly sponsored by

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About the debate

The European Banking Authority (EBA) published on the 23rd of February its final draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on strong customer authentication and common and secure communication. These RTS, which were mandated under the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and developed in close cooperation with the European Central Bank (ECB), are meant to lay the first stone for an open and secure market in retail payments in Europe.

The final draft RTS are – in the EBA own words – “the result of difficult trade-offs between the various, at times competing, objectives of the PSD2, such as enhancing security, facilitating customer convenience, ensuring technology and business-model neutrality, contributing to the integration of the European payment markets, protecting consumers, facilitating innovation, and enhancing competition through new payment initiation and account information services”.

The EBA received hundreds of replies to the two consultations organized on the very matter; these may have influenced the introduction of some changes in the final RTS draft. Firstly, there is a new exemption from strong customer authentication based on the level of risk of a payment, and this for payments up to 500 euro. However, this exemption can only be used if the payer’s payment service provider (PSP) has an overall fraud rate lower than the reference fraud rate specified in the RTS. This change is likely to be welcomed by the e-commerce industry, where strong customer authentication might generate user friction and therefore cancellations of purchases. An important question is however whether one-size-fits-all fraud rates will be usable across different industries, such as e-banking and e-commerce and whether the same thresholds are appropriate in a BtoB context. Furthermore, the EBA has deleted in the final draft RTS its initial requirement to use different channels, devices or mobile applications to initiate and authenticate payments; this seems to make it possible to use a single device, and even a single mobile app, to initiate and authenticate a payment. Also, unattended payment terminals have been exempted from strong customer authentication as well as remote payments up to 30 euros.

The EBA has now submitted the final draft RTS to the European Commission for adoption, after which they will be reviewed by the European Parliament and the Council. Overall, transactional risk analysis technology has gained importance in the final draft RTS. However, for this to work, PSPs will need to keep their fraud levels under control in order to meet the reference levels. At the same time, the RTS also provide more flexibility to use mobile apps to authenticate payments. However PSPs will need to protect these mobile apps against various threats.

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

This event will be held under the Chatham House Rule. Participants are free to use the information received but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the attendees may be revealed. For this reason, unless explicitly authorised by PubAffairs Bruxelles, the filming and/or the recording of the event by any means are strictly forbidden.

The event will commence with a welcome drink at 7h00 pm, followed by a panel debate at 7.30 pm. After the panel debate there will be an opportunity for questions and discussions.

We look forward to seeing you at 7h00 pm on the 31st of May at Science14 Atrium, rue de la Science 14-B, Brussels.

All our debates are followed by a drink in a convivial atmosphere.

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

On the 8th of March, PubAffairs Bruxelles hosted a debate on what could be the features of the Pan-European Personal Pensions (PEPPs) initiative with Ms Sultana Sandrell, Trade, Economic and Financial Affairs Unit, Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, Mr Philippe Setbon, Member of the AFG Strategic Committee, Ms Nathalie Berger, Head of Unit, Insurance and Pension, European Commission, Mr Heinz K. Becker, MEP (EPP/AU), Mr Bernard Delbecque, Senior Director, Economics & Research, EFAMA and Mr Guillaume Prache, Managing Director, Better Finance. The event was moderated by Mr Pierre Bollon, Chief executive of AFG.

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EVENT HIGHLIGHTS | Debate | Will the year 2017 be a defining moment for the EU?

On the 28th of February, PubAffairs Bruxelles hosted the debate ‘Will the year 2017 be a defining moment for the EU’ with Mr Reinhard Butikofer, MEP (Greens/DE), Mr Pawel Swieboda, Deputy Head of the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), Mr Roland Freudenstein, Policy Director of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies. The event was moderated by Chris Burns, longtime journalist and moderator.

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Photo Album | Debate | ETS and renewables: a win-win strategy? (March 21)

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Photo Album | Debate | What could be the features of the Pan-European Personal Pensions initiative (PEPP)? (March 8)

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