News

EP President Sassoli calls for immediate and bold action against climate change | EU Parliament Press

Ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit, the President of the European Parliament David SASSOLI calls on leaders to take bold action against climate change.

“Our planet is in a state of emergency. We cannot sit and watch while hundreds of species are becoming extinct every day, glaciers melt and natural disasters claim thousands of human lives. Political leaders bear a historic responsibility. Science tells us that we have less than a decade to stop the decline of the earth. At the same time, the momentum for change has never been as strong as today. Young people all over the world take to the streets and demand we fight for their future. I call on world leaders to make this summit a real turning point and take immediate and bold action against climate change.

“While the European Union has been at the forefront of global climate action, we have to accelerate our endeavours and aim higher. The European Parliament has stressed several times that in order to reach climate neutrality in 2050, the 2030 ambition level has to be raised. We regret that European leaders could not agree on the 2050 strategy and a more ambitious 2030 target at the European Council last June. The UN summit in New York is a unique chance to show: Europe stands ready to lead by example when it comes to serious climate action and to support other regions in the world to move forward as well.”

EU@UNGA 74: Working towards a more peaceful, secure and prosperous world | EU Commission Press

A high-level European Union delegation will be in New York for the Ministerial week of the 74th United Nations General Assembly next week. The EU representatives will host and participate in a large number of events and meetings with world leaders. The EU continues to be a leader in global cooperation: joining forces with partners in support of multilateralism to uphold and promote international law and human rights, to support peace and democracy, to promote sustainable development and to stand side-by-side with people in need all over the world. On Sunday, 22 September, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will kick-off the week with a bilateral meeting with UN Secretary General António Guterres, further strengthening the strategic EU-UN partnership. On Monday, First Vice-President Timmermans will join the President of the European Council Donald Tusk at the opening of the UN Climate Action Summit. The Commission adopted a Communication last week detailing the EU’s contribution to the Summit. On Tuesday, First Vice-President Timmermans together with Commissioner Neven Mimica will represent the EU at the first UN summit on the Sustainable Development Goals to call for more ambitious and accelerated action to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. On Tuesday, First Vice-President Timmermans and High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will join President of the European Council Tusk for the opening of the general debate of the 74th UN General Assembly. The EU will be hosting a number of flagship events in the margins of the General Assembly, and EU representatives will have a full agenda of high-level debates and side events, as well as numerous bilateral meetings. For more details on the agenda, see the full press release here. Press and audio-visual material will be available on EEAS, Europa and Consilium websites. For more information on EU – UN relations, see the factsheets here and here.

MEPs to attend UN summits on sustainable development and climate action | EU Parliament Press

A European Parliament delegation will participate in the UN summits on development and climate action in New York, U.S., 21-26 September.

The delegation, led by Mairead McGuinness (EPP, IE), and Tomas Tobé (EPP, SE), will represent the position of the European Parliament at the 2019 UN sustainable development goals and climate summits.

The European Parliament resolution on 14 March 2019 recognises that “whereas the EU has committed to allocate 20% of its 2014-2020 budget (some EUR 180 billion) to efforts to combat climate change, by the end of 2019, the Commission should come up with plans to integrate the sustainable development goals in the EU policies”.

The members of the EP delegation are the following:

Quote

“The EU was a driving force when the sustainable development goals and the Paris climate accord were agreed. Urgent and ambitious collective effort is required on climate change, hunger and inequality. The world needs to do much more to honour our commitments towards future generations. The UN and multilateralism needs the EU’s commitment now more than ever to achieve our climate and development targets,” said Mairead McGuinness (EPP, IE), and Tomas Tobé (EPP, SE), before the delegation left for New York.

Background

The 2030 agenda for sustainable development, adopted by all UN member states in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 targets, which are an urgent call for action by all countries. On 24 and 25 September 2019, heads of state or government will gather at the UNO Headquarters in New York to review progress in the implementation of the SDGs.

Employment and social developments in Europe: labour market outlook remains broadly positive | EU Commission Press

The autumn edition of the Commission’s Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) Quarterly Review published today confirms that the EU labour market continues to break records, with 241.4 million people in employment in the EU (160 million in the euro area) during the second quarter of 2019. EU employment has been growing for 25 consecutive quarters, and since the start of the Juncker Commission 14.1 million jobs have been created. Total hours worked have now slightly exceeded the peak of 2008. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “It is an important message that the European labour market is going strong. Never before have there been so many people in employment in the EU. Let’s keep our focus on delivering the European Pillar of Social Rights to ensure that this positive development continues to reach all citizens across Europe.” Most of the new jobs created in the beginning of 2019 are quality jobs: In the first quarter of 2019, permanent jobs increased by 2.5 million compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Over the same period, also self-employment was on the rise (+350,000 people), while the number of temporary employees went down (-600,000 people). The report further confirms that unemployment in the EU has receded by 11 million people since its peak observed in April 2013 and now stands at its lowest level ever recorded. Youth and long-term unemployment continued their decline, too. More information on the review is available here.

Detailed schedule for hearings of the Commissioners-designate adopted | EU Parliament Press

The Conference of Presidents (EP President and leaders of political groups) on Thursday decided on the detailed calendar of hearings of the Commissioners-designate.

The hearings will start on 30 September and last until 8 October. The detailed schedule of which Commissioner-designate will be heard by which committees and at which time slot can be found here.

In addition to the hearings, the Conference of Presidents will hold an exchange of views with the three Executive Vice-Presidents shortly after the hearings have finished.

The hearings will be followed by meetings in which the Chair and group representatives (coordinators) of the various committees will evaluate the performance of the Commissioners-designate.

On 15 October, the Conference of Committee Chairs will assess the outcome of all hearings and forward its conclusions to the Conference of Presidents. The latter will conduct the final evaluation and decide whether to close the hearings in its meeting on 17 October.

Plenary vote on 23 October

The full Commission needs to be elected by a simple majority of the votes cast in Plenary, by roll call. The vote is set to take place on 23 October.

No patents on naturally obtained plants and seeds | EU Parliament Press

  • Open access to breeding material essential for innovation, food security, environment
  • European Patent Office urged to listen to its member states

Fruit, vegetables or animals obtained from conventional breeding processes, such as crossing, must not become patentable, MEPs said in a non-legislative resolution on Thursday.

Patent-free access to biological plant material is essential to boost innovation and competitiveness of the European plant-breeding and farming sectors, to develop new varieties, improve food security and tackle climate change, MEPs stressed in the resolution. Furthermore, access to genetic resources must not be restricted, as this could lead to a situation where a few multinational companies have a monopoly on plant breeding material, to the detriment of EU farmers and consumers, many MEPs said in Monday’s plenary debate.

Parliament called on the EU Commission to do its utmost to convince the European Patent Office (EPO) not to grant patents to products obtained from essentially biological processes. It also urged the EPO to immediately restore legal clarity on the matter, stressing that none of 38 states which signed the European Patent Convention allow conventionally bred products to be patented.

Competition: EU and Japan reinforce cooperation on competition policy at first EU-Japan Competition Week in Tokyo | EU Commission Press

Officials and experts from the EU and Japan will meet in Tokyo on 19 and 20 September to discuss and exchange good practices in competition policy and enforcement during the first EU-Japan Competition Week. The Competition Week will open on 19 September with a conference on competition law enforcement in the digital economy. Representatives from academia, the business sector, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) and the European Commission will gather to discuss the challenges of digitalisation and how to ensure the digital economy benefits consumers and the broader economy. During a session on 20 September, officials from the European Commission, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority and the JFTC will discuss mergers in innovation markets, investigative procedures and engagement with parties during antitrust proceedings. The annual EU-Japan Competition Week is part of the Competition Cooperation project, a 5-year EU-funded programme offering technical cooperation to competition authorities in Asia. The objective is to exchange experiences and strengthen convergence in competition policy, to the benefit of citizens and businesses in both the EU and Asia. More information about the European Commission’s bilateral dialogue with Japan in the field of competition policy is available on the Commission’s website.

Customs Union: Fake and potentially dangerous goods worth nearly €740 million stopped at EU customs in 2018 | EU Commission Press

New figures released by the European Commission today show that the number of interceptions of fake goods being imported into the EU increased in 2018 due to a large amount of small parcels in express and postal traffic. Detention figures for seized consignments jumped from 57,433 in 2017 to 69,354 in 2018, though the total amount of articles detained decreased compared to previous years. Almost 27 million articles that infringed on intellectual property rights (IPR) were detained in 2018 with a street value of nearly €740 million. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs said: “Customs officers across the EU have seen success in tracking down and seizing counterfeit goods that are often dangerous for consumers. Their job is made even more difficult by the rise in small packages entering the EU through online sales. Protecting the integrity of our Single Market and Customs Union, and effective enforcement of intellectual property rights in the international supply chain are also priorities. We need to continue stepping up the efforts against counterfeiting and piracy.” The top categories of detained articles were cigarettes, which accounted for 15% of the overall amount of detained articles. This was followed by toys (14%), packaging material (9%), labels, tags and stickers (9%) and clothing (8%). Products for daily personal use in the home such as body care articles, medicines, toys and electrical household goods accounted for nearly 37% of the total number of detained articles. 

Juncker Plan in Italy: European Investment Bank lends €250 million to Italian agency for research into clean fusion energy | EU Commission Press

The European Investment Bank is providing €250 million of financing under the Juncker Plan’s European Fund for Strategic Investments towards the new scientific and technological hub of ENEA, Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development. This forms part of a total investment of €500 million for the facility which will be hosted in Frascati near Rome. The project will also receive funding from EUROfusion, the EU’s programme to produce safe, clean nuclear energy. ENEA has created the facility to respond to some of the key scientific and technological issues surrounding nuclear fusion, in particular the question of how to control the large amount of heat generated. Some 1,500 scientists and technicians will be involved in the project. Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, responsible for Climate Action and Energy, said: “To achieve a climate neutral Europe by 2050, we need to keep investing in new technological solutions. Fusion is a potential source of safe, non-carbon emitting and virtually limitless energy. If we succeed in making a breakthrough in this technology it could significantly contribute to our efforts to make Europe the first climate neutral major economy. Today’s investment decision is one step towards this objective.” As of September 2019, the Juncker Plan has mobilised €433.2 billion of additional investment, including €67.4 billion in Italy. The Plan is currently supporting 972,000 small and medium-sized businesses across Europe. 

State aid: Commission approves support scheme for energy-intensive companies in Slovakia | EU Commission Press

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, Slovak plans to partially compensate energy-intensive companies for the national levy to support renewable energy production. Slovak support for renewable energy is at present financed through contributions based on electricity consumption. The scheme, which will apply until 31 December 2029 and will have a provisional budget of €120 million for the years 2019 to 2021, will benefit companies active in Slovakia in sectors that are particularly energy-intensive (hence with higher electricity consumption) and more exposed to international trade. The beneficiaries will obtain compensation for up to a maximum of 85% of their contribution to the financing of support to renewable energy. The Commission assessed the measure under EU State aid rules, in particular, the Guidelines on State Aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020. The Guidelines authorise reductions – up to a certain level – in contributions levied on energy-intensive companies active in certain sectors and exposed to international trade, in order to ensure their global competitiveness. The Commission found that the compensation will only be granted to energy intensive companies exposed to international trade, in line with the requirements of the Guidelines. Furthermore, the measure will promote the EU energy and climate goals and ensure the global competitiveness of energy-intensive users and industries, without unduly distorting competition. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is in line with EU State aid rules.