European Parliament

SAVE THE DATE | Debate | 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 delighted to invite you to the debate organised by PubAffairs Bruxelles which will be held on Wednesday the 31st of May at 19.00 at the premises of Science14 Atrium, rue de la Science, 14-B, Brussels. The event will consist of a debate about 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.

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

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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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Brexit: MEPs agree on key conditions for approving UK withdrawal agreement | European Parliament – Press room

An overwhelming majority of the house (516 votes in favour, 133 against, with 50 abstentions) adopted a resolution officially laying down the European Parliament’s key principles and conditions for its approval of the UK’s withdrawal agreement. Any such agreement at the end of UK-EU negotiations will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.

MEPs stress the importance of securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU. They also point out that the UK remains an EU member until its official departure, and that this entails rights but also obligations, including financial commitments which may run beyond the withdrawal date.

The resolution warns against any trade-off between security and the future EU-UK economic relationship, opposes any sort of cherry picking or a piecemeal economic relationship based on sector-specific deals, and reiterates the indivisibility of the four freedoms of the single market – free movement of goods, capital, services, and people.

Finally, the resolution says that only when “substantial progress” has been made in talks on how the UK is to leave the EU can discussions begin on possible transitional arrangements. These arrangements must not last longer than three years, while an agreement on a future relationship can only be concluded once the UK has left the EU.

Citizens first

Citizens’ interests must be at the forefront right from the beginning, says the resolution, which goes on to note that Irish citizens “will be particularly affected”. MEPs urge all parties to remain committed to the Northern Ireland peace process and avoid a hard border. The special circumstances presented by this situation must therefore be addressed as a matter of priority in the withdrawal agreement.

The resolution also warns the UK against any attempt to limit rights linked to the freedom of movement before it effectively withdraws from the EU and asks the EU-27 to examine how to address the fear of British citizens that Brexit will lead to the loss of their current EU citizenship rights.

Negotiating principles

MEPs call for both sides to act in good faith and full transparency so as to ensure an orderly exit.

The resolution notes that it would be a breach of EU law for the UK to negotiate trade agreements with third countries before it left the EU, and warns against the UK engaging in bilateral talks with one or some EU member states on the withdrawal proceedings or the EU-UK future relationship.

Continued obligations

The UK will continue to enjoy its rights as a member of the EU until its departure.  At the same time, however, it will also have to shoulder its obligations, including financial obligations stemming inter alia from the current long-term EU budget. Such financial commitments could run beyond the date of departure, the resolution adds.

European Parliament closely involved

The European Parliament intends to build on the elements set out in this resolution as the negotiations develop, for example by adopting further resolutions, including on specific matters or sector-specific issues, the resolution says.

Plenary debate on Brexit before the vote

Earlier, leaders of the European Parliament political groups debated their priorities in the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The crucial role of MEPs during the negotiations was underlined by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who also took part in the debate.

Opening the debate, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said that “Parliament’s vote will be decisive for the final outcome of the conditions for the UK’s withdrawal and for future EU-UK relations. The recent terrorist attacks make it clear that all European countries will need to continue working closely with each other.”

The debate showed wide cross-party support for giving top priority to protecting the interests of the citizens most affected by Brexit. The majority of group leaders also underlined that whereas it was important for the talks to take place in a serene atmosphere, the EU 27 would need to remain united and strongly defend their own interests.  All left-leaning groups also said that maintaining high levels of social protection would be a top priority for them.

Several leaders stressed that Brexit must serve as a catalyst for renewing the EU in that it demonstrates how intrinsically bound together the member states are.

Leaders of the EFDD and ENF groups rejoiced at the launch of the withdrawal process and accused the EU of seeking to “punish” the UK.

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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.

Future of the EU

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The EU turns 60: anniversary of the Treaty of Rome | European Parliament – Article

Sixty years ago the leaders of the six founding member states gathered in Rome to put their signatures under the agreements that would create a European common market, but also pave the way for a union of peace and prosperity that has come to encompass most of our continent. Leading MEPs will join the anniversary celebrations in Rome this weekend, while heads of state and government will use the opportunity to deliberate on the next steps for the EU.

The Treaties of Rome were signed on 25 March 1957 by representatives of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In two separate agreements, they agreed to establish a European Economic Community aiming to remove barriers to trade, and to foster cooperation in the use of atomic energy.

Economic integration, based on the removal of customs duties among member states and the promotion of free movement of goods, services, capital and people, proved such a success that more and more countries in Europe expressed their wish to join in the following years. Areas of cooperation broadened over time and this led to the creation of the European Union. The treaty on establishing the European Economic Community went through several updates and is now known as the Treaty on the functioning of the EU.

The EU: past and future

Parliament President Antonio Tajani, leaders of political groups, vice-presidents and quaestors travel to Rome today to hold meetings and take part in the celebrations over the weekend. Tajani will sign a common EU declaration on the anniversary on behalf of Parliament.

In recent weeks MEPs have been actively discussing how the EU should evolve to respond to challenges such as migration, economic imbalances and Brexit. MEPs adopted three reports on the future of Europe during the February plenary. During March’s plenary session MEPs also discussed a European Commission strategy paper setting out five scenarios for the EU. EU heads of state willl continue the debate in Rome.

During a ceremony in Brussels earlier this week, Tajani said: “Europe is our freedom, Europe is our future and that is what we should hand on to our children; a future of prosperity, of peace and of freedom.”

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E-commerce: EU-wide rules to protect consumers better and stop rogue traders | European Parliament – Press Release

New powers for national authorities to check whether e-commerce websites geo-block consumers, track down rogue traders or even, subject to safeguards inserted by MEPs, order that websites hosting scams be shut down, were approved by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on Tuesday.

Under this draft legislation, national enforcement authorities would be required to have a set of powers to detect and halt online breaches of consumers’ rights across the EU.

Internal Market Committee rapporteur Olga Sehnalová (S&D, CZ) said: “This regulation has a big potential to significantly strengthen cross-border cooperation between authorities in the area of enforcement of consumer protection laws. As traders increasingly operate across the internal market, we need efficient mechanisms when something goes wrong”.

“The cornerstone of the revised rules consists of a set of investigation and enforcement powers for competent authorities in all member states, with a possibility of redress for consumers. We also call for better involvement of all entities with legitimate interests in consumer protection, in particular consumer organisations, when tackling infringements”, she added.

Internal Market Committee chair Vicky Ford (ECR, UK) said: “The report represents a major step forward for consumers in the EU. Fraudsters don’t stop at the border. One particular issue is that scams pop up in one country and then reappear in another one.  It is important to ensure that authorities can stay one step ahead of the scammers and not the other way around.”

You can read the full press release here

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Safe food, melting ice caps and a prejudice that won’t go away | European Parliament – Plenary Session

Modern threats and ancient prejudices dominated Parliament’s March 2017 plenary session. The need to ensure that our food is safe was debated as were the threats and opportunities of melting polar ice. At the same time, the inequality still facing women in the workplace was underlined and an MEP who berated women punished, while most MEPs called on Europe to step in and replace the funds the United States is withdrawing from NGOs offering abortions in developing countries.

Close to three quarters of all waste should be recycled by 2030, Parliament said in a resolution setting out its position on limiting landfilling and incineration of rubbish. This comes ahead of negotiations with the member states on EU legislation aiming to reduce the environmental impact of waste.

Much remains to be done in Europe before true gender equality is achieved, Parliament said on Tuesday, underlining amongst others the persistent male-female worker pay-gap. In a separate decision, Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke was severely sanctioned by Parliament for derogatory comments towards women during the previous plenary session.

Shareholders will be given a greater say in how company directors are paid, following new rules approved by Parliament on Tuesday. The aim is to help give firms a longer term outlook. The real owners and shareholders will also be easier to identify.

The newly re-imposed US “gag rule” cutting public funding to NGOs providing abortions and other family planning services in developing countries was debated in plenary on Tuesday. Most MEPs wanted member states to step in and fill the gap in funding while others said that the EU should respect the US government’s decision.

Horsemeat sold as beef grabbed the headlines in 2013 but the need to better control the long and convoluted supply chains bringing food to our plates has not gone away. On Wednesday, members voted to bring more clarity and accountability to the system and strengthen Europe’s already high food standards.

98% of farmed rabbits are raised in battery cages and improving their welfare can only help prevent diseases and reduce the need for antibiotics that are passed on to humans, says a resolution voted on on Tuesday calling for healthier yet affordable alternatives. In a separate resolution MEPs asked for better protection of abandoned horses and donkeys.

MEPs approved new rules that will free up the 700 MHz band currently used for digital TV, but also wireless microphones, for super-fast 5G mobile internet by mid-2020.

Common European developments in defence require the political will of EU countries as legal provisions are already present in the Lisbon Treaty, MEPs said on Thursday, also calling for better cooperation between Europe’s militaries and adding that the current fragmentation of defence procurement costs member states billions of euro.

In a debate on Wednesday to commemorate the victims of the Brussels terrorist attacks of 22 March 2016, members stressed that European countries need to share information more efficiently and improve the interoperability of EU databases, as well as prevent radicalisation and help victims of terrorism.

On Thursday, Parliament approved EU rules to stop the financing of armed groups and human rights abuses through the trade in minerals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold.

Climate change is raising geopolitical tensions in the Arctic. While the melting of Arctic ice is unlocking new opportunities in the form of shipping routes and oil and gas stocks, it is also increasing tensions and creating risks for the environment. On Thursday, members adopted a resolution insisting that the Arctic remain a low-tension area. Highlighting its vulnerable ecosystem, they also called for a ban on Arctic oil and gas extraction.

Tighter rules to better control blank-firing and inadequately deactivated weapons were approved on Tuesday in legislation first proposed in the aftermath of the 2015 Paris attacks. Member states will also have to better monitor firearm possession licences and exchange information.

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Tajani: “Europe needs to be changed not weakened” | European Parliament – Article

Antonio Tajani made the case for European unity in his first speech as Parliament President at the start of a Council summit. “Today more than ever we can see how important European unity is,” he told political leaders at the summit in Brussels on 9 March. “Europe needs to be changed not weakened. All the institutions need to work harder to find the answers which ordinary Europeans are looking to us to provide.”

The summit is dedicated to issues such as competitiveness, defence, migration and the future of Europe.

Tajani started his speech by outlining the sort of president he aspired to be: “My priority as President will be to help bring Europe closer to its citizens.” He warned the heads of government presented against playing the blame game and called on everyone to take their responsibility: “The concerns of ordinary Europeans – unemployment, security, immigration, protection of the environment – must be at the top of our agenda.”

Regarding the economy, Tajani said that in order to reduce unemployment, especially among the young, a more competitive Europe was needed attuned to the needs of the real economy. “The single market is the biggest driver of prosperity for our citizens. But it has not yet fulfilled its potential.” In this light he called for the digital single market to be established as quickly as possible.

The President highlighted the importance of industry and said policies should strengthen Europe’s industrial base. He added that Europe had an interest in continuing to make the case for open markets: “Today more than ever, Europe has a duty to maintain its course towards an open society and free trade based on compliance with the rules.”

In order to boost defence, the President said Parliament supported the establishment of a European defence industry and market to generate economies of scale and encourage interoperability and joint research and also stressed the need for more coordination.

Immigration continues to represent a major concern to Europeans. Tajani called for a balanced approach: “ We must be just as rigorous in taking in people who qualify for asylum as we are in countering illegal immigration. We cannot leave the management of migration to people traffickers and terrorists. We need decisive political action at EU level to strengthen controls at our borders and, at the same time, to tackle the problem of migration at its roots.” He also we needed to step up our efforts directed towards the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean and in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular those in the Sahel, and also called for more investment.

Discussing the Western Balkans, the President said the Parliament remained committed to cooperation with these countries: “Our objective is still that they should join the Union.”

Tajani finished his speech by looking ahead to the future of Europe: “The only response to populism is to demonstrate by means of practical achievements that we are working together for a Europe which produces results.” He said the adoption of three Parliament report on this issue and the presentation of the European Commission’s strategy paper showed the determination to move towards a better Europe.

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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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In Parliament this week: International Women´s Day, EU asylum rules, palm oil | European Parliament – Article

On the occasion of International Women’s Day Parliament calls attention to women’s economic situation. Other issues being dealt with this week include the reform of EU asylum rules and the environmental impact of the production of palm oil as well as a debate on the rule of law in Poland. In addition political groups and parliamentary committees prepare for next week’s plenary session.

International Women´s Day

Women still receive lower wages and pensions, have limited access to top positions, are less represented in politics and devote more of their time to family and the home than men. This year Parliament is dedicating International Women’s Day to the economic empowerment of women.

There will be different meetings and events with participants such as the Indian activist, scientific advisor Dr Vandana Shiva; the Yezidi activist and Sakharov Prize laureate 2016 Lamiya Aji Bashar; the renowned French nuclear physicist Hélène Langevin-Joliot, who is the granddaughter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie; and business owner Gina Miller who took the UK government to court over Brexit.

Reform of EU Asylum rules

Swedish ALDE member Cecilia Wikström presents her report on the reform of the Dublin regulation, which clarifies which EU country is responsible for processing asylum seekers, to the civil liberties committee on 9 March.

Palm oil production

The environment committee votes on 9 March on a proposal concerning the sustainable production of palm oil. The production of palm oil leads to deforestation: jungle is removed to be replaced by palm plantations, to get a very cheap oil used for cosmetics and all type of food, putting ecosystems in danger, for example orang-utans at risk of extinction.

Rule of Law in Poland

Also on 9 March, the civil liberties committee holds a debate on the state of play of the rule of law in Poland with commissioner Frans Timmermans.

Money laundering

The committee investigating money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion holds its last hearing today. The hearing looks at the roles played by banks, accountants and lawyers in setting up secret offshore constructions for their clients. The first two hearing of this sort took place on 24 January and 9 February.

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