EU institution news

European Green Deal to be presented in plenary by Commission President | EU Parliament Press

MEPs will debate the “European Green Deal” to make the EU the first climate-neutral continent, on Wednesday 14:00, in an extraordinary plenary sitting in Brussels.

Following the Commission’s expected announcement of the “European Green Deal” on Wednesday 11 December, the European Parliament will have a first debate on it with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans who will close the debate.

The European Green Deal will focus on the fight against climate change and other environmental objectives in areas such as transport, energy, pollution, agriculture, circular economy and biodiversity.

The Commission’s communication is expected to include a timeline for the upcoming proposals. Parliament has already stressed that the EU should cut emissions by 55% by 2030 to become climate neutral by 2050 and that an ambitious long-term EU budget for 2021-2027 is needed urgently.

MEPs push for high ambitions at the COP25 in Madrid | EU Parliament Press

A delegation from the European Parliament arrives in Madrid today to participate in the COP25, where they will meet with key stakeholders in the negotiations.

An official delegation from the European Parliament will take part in the UN conference on climate change, the COP25, in Madrid in Spain this week from today until 14 December. The delegation is led by Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL), with Peter Liese (EPP, DE) as Vice-Chair.

The delegation is set to meet with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee, delegates from several non-EU countries as well as civil society representatives.

A press conference with delegation Chair, Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL), and Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans is scheduled to take place on 12 December 14.30-15.00 (TBC).

On Thursday 12 December at 12.30, Parliament is hosting a side event in the EU Pavilion focusing on the need to make all countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) more ambitious and on the role that forests play in reaching the Paris target.

Quote

“I am glad that the European Parliament delegation has come to Madrid with a very clear mandate: The EU has to increase its National Determined Contribution to minus 55% greenhouse gas emission in 2030 compared to 1990, and become climate neutral by 2050 at the latest,” says Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL), Chair of the delegation.

“While technical issues are very important, the most important thing is to continue to work for the common goal, in spite of Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. I very much support Ursula von der Leyen’s initiative to have an international alliance to increase ambition in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Developments in China, India, South Africa and Canada show that if we act in the right way, we are not the only ones that can be more ambitious.” says Peter Liese (EPP, DE), Vice-Chair of the delegation.

More information

Media enquiries should be directed to Thomas Haahr, European Parliament Press Officer accompanying the delegation, or for audio-visual enquiries to Charlotte Du Rietz (contact details below).

Background

On 28 November 2019, the European Parliament declared a climate emergency in Europe and globally. MEPs also asked for all relevant EU legislative and budgetary proposals to be fully aligned with the objective of limiting global warming to under 1.5 °C.

On the same day, Parliament also approved a resolution on the COP25, urging the EU to commit to reaching climate neutrality as soon as possible (and no later than 2050) and to submit this goal to the UN Convention on Climate Change. MEPs also urged EU countries to at least double their contributions to the international Green Climate Fund.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Council expresses its readiness for a gradual engagement in support of the government’s reform agenda | EU Council Press

The Council adopted conclusions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), after the first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s history, opening a window of opportunity for stability and inclusive development in the DRC and the region as a whole.

While noting the remaining important challenges faced by the country, the conclusions indicate the EU’s readiness for a gradual engagement in support to the DRC government’s reform agenda, based on reciprocal commitments. With the adoption of these conclusions, the EU reiterates its intention to remain a key partner and interlocutor of the DRC.

Today, the Council also decided to maintain individual restrictive measures against several personalities of the DRC and to lift these measures for two other persons, on the basis of an evaluation of the situation in the DRC. The sanctions were adopted in response to the obstruction of the electoral process and human rights violations. The Council will further review the restrictive measures in light of the evolution of the situation and stands ready to adjust them accordingly.

Sudan: Council adopts conclusions | EU Council Press

The Council today adopted conclusions on Sudan, recognising the historic opportunity that Sudan’s political transition offers to work towards a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country.

The conclusions highlight that Sudan’s success remains crucial for stability in the Horn of Africa and the wider region and reaffirm EU’s commitment, as a key partner, to accompanying Sudan on its political, economic and social reform path, in order to make the transition to democracy a success.

The Council also highlights that in order to guarantee the long-term stability of the country, the transition should include all elements of society, notably women, youth and people of regions particularly affected by conflict and marginalisation. The importance of civil society is also reiterated.

In this regard, the Council recalls that only an effective civilian-led government with real decision-making authority will gain the confidence of the Sudanese people and lay the foundations for meaningful reforms.  The EU remains ready to assist a Sudanese-led peace process in coordination with regional partners, especially the African Union.

While acknowledging that substantial macro-economic reforms are needed to revitalise the Sudanese economy and set it on a course towards inclusive and sustainable growth, the Council notes that the EU stands ready to support the transitional government’s plans in this regard.

While welcoming the recent steps taken by the transition government, the conclusions state that the EU remains concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian situation, which has been aggravated by a high number of refugees and internally displaced persons. The EU calls upon the Sudanese authorities to remove the remaining bureaucratic obstacles to the work of humanitarian and development actors.

Central African Republic: Council establishes a civilian advisory mission | EU Council Press

The Council established a European Union CSDP civilian advisory mission in the Central African Republic (EUAM RCA). The mission will be launched by the Council no later than in the spring of 2020. Accordingly, a core team will make the necessary preparations to allow the mission to reach its initial operating capability.

The aim of the mission is to support the reform of the internal security forces to enable the Central African Republic (CAR) authorities to mitigate the current security challenges in the country. EU experts will support the Ministry of the Interior and the internal security forces, the police and the gendarmerie, with the aim of helping in their deployment throughout the country.

In a phased, scalable and modular approach, EUAM RCA will provide advice to the CAR authorities at the strategic level to support the sustainable transformation of CAR internal security forces into a coherent and accountable security provider operating under national ownership. The mission will coordinate closely with the military EU Training Mission (EUTM RCA), the UN MINUSCA mission and the international community.

The mission will be established in accordance with the crisis management concept (CMC) that was approved by the Council on 21 November 2019 and the subsequent operational planning documents. The CAR will be the third country to receive support in parallel from both military and civilian CSDP missions after Mali and Somalia.

President von der Leyen in Africa: College to College meeting in February 2020 | EU Commission Press

Following President Ursula von der Leyen‘s first official visit outside Europe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 7 December, it was agreed to hold the first College to College meeting of representatives of the African Union Commission and the European Commission in February 2020. The visit to Addis Ababa was an opportunity to further strengthen the EU-Africa partnership, based on mutual respect, promoting sustainable development, peace and security, as well as greater economic ties and tackling climate change. The visit comes ahead of next year’s EU-Africa Summit. Speaking in Addis Ababa, President von der Leyen said: “I have chosen Africa for my very first visit outside Europe to send a strong political message because the African continent and the African Union matter to the European Union. Today we have seen in our discussions that there is room for greater cooperation between Europe and Africa.” President von der Leyen met with African Union Commission Chairman, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, where she reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to boost cooperation at all levels. Read the full transcript of her press remarks at the joint press point with African Union Commission Chairperson Faki here. The President then held bilateral meetings with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde. Read the transcript of her press remarks following her meeting with the Ethiopian President here. President von der Leyen, accompanied by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, also announced €170 million in new EU funding to support Ethiopia. Read the full press release on support to Ethiopia here.

State aid: Commission approves €3.2 billion public support by seven Member States for a pan-European research and innovation project in all segments of the battery value chain | EU Commission Press

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules an Important Project of Common European interest (“IPCEI”) jointly notified by Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden to support research and innovation in the common European priority area of batteries. The seven Member States will provide in the coming years up to approximately €3.2 billion in funding for this project, which is expected to unlock an additional €5 billion in private investments. The completion of the overall project is planned for 2031 (with differing timelines for each sub-project). The project will involve 17 direct participants, mostly industrial actors, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), some of which with activities in more than one Member State. Demand for batteries is expected to grow very rapidly in the coming years. Forward-looking research, development and innovation policies will have a key role to enable Europe and its Member States to make the most of this transition. The Commission launched at the end of 2017 a “European Battery Alliance” with interested Member States and industrial actors and adopted a Strategic Action Plan for Batteries in May 2018. Today’s project is part of these efforts. The Commission assessed the proposed project under EU State aid rules, more specifically its Communication on Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) and found that the proposed IPCEI on batteries fulfils all the required conditions set out in its Communication. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a “Europe fit for the Digital Age” and Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “Battery production in Europe is of strategic interest for our economy and society because of its potential in terms of clean mobility and energy, job creation, sustainability and competitiveness. Our Important Projects of Common European Interest smooth the way for public authorities and industries from several Member States to come together and design ambitious innovation projects with positive spill-over effects across industrial sectors and regions. The approved aid will ensure that this important project can go ahead without unduly distorting competition.” Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said: “Our focus on scaling up innovation under the European Battery Alliance is yielding strong industrial partnerships. Thanks to intensive efforts by seven Member States, industry and the Commission, Europe’s first major pan-European battery ecosystem is emerging, with lead projects in all segments of this strategic value chain. We have found the right recipe for our 21st century industrial policy: strong cooperation between industrial actors, concerted action to accelerate lab-to-market innovation, joined-up financial instruments from both, private and public sectors, and a fit-for-future regulatory framework to underpin a stronger European knowledge-based economy.” The full press release is available online.

Aviation Safety: Commission adopts new EU Air Safety List | EU Commission Press

The European Commission today updated the EU Air Safety List, the list of airlines that do not meet international safety standards, and are therefore subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union. The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for Europeans and all other passengers travelling in the European Union. There is positive news for Gabon as all airlines certified in Gabon have been released from the list following improvements to the aviation safety situation in that country. However, the Armenian Civil Aviation Committee has been put under heightened scrutiny because of signs of a decrease in safety oversight. Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “Today’s decision illustrates our continuous efforts to offer the highest level of safety. Not only to European travellers, but to travellers worldwide, because aviation safety knows no border or nationalities. I am pleased to announce that the European Commission was able today to clear all Gabonese air carriers from the EU Air Safety List. Gabon was on the List already since 2008, so it is very good that we can recognise the efforts the aviation safety authorities in Gabon have made.” press release and memo are available online. 

Seven EU-funded films awarded 15 prizes at the European Film Awards 2019 | EU Commission Press

On Saturday, seven films supported by the EU won 15 prizes at the European Film Awards 2019 in Berlin. The big winner of the evening was “The Favourite”, with eight prizes, including best European film, best director and best actress. The other winners were “Buñuel en el laberinto de las tortugas”, “The portrait of a lady on fire”, “Les Misérables”, “Babylon Berlin”, “Cold war” and “Pain and Glory”, which won prizes in most of the categories, notably best actor, best screenplay, people’s choice and production design. Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “I am very proud that films directly supported by the EU were this weekend part of the distinguished winners of the European Film Awards. This reinforces our belief that a strong audiovisual sector, which we can achieve through the Creative Europe’s MEDIA programme, contributes to our goal of strengthening European culture and diversity, as well as our common values of media freedom and pluralism.” The European Film Awards honour the greatest achievements of the European cinema and are split into 23 categories. The Creative Europe MEDIA Programme, designed to support European film and other audiovisual industries, provides funding for the development, promotion and distribution of European works within Europe and beyond. 

International Anti-Corruption Day: new survey shows corruption seen as less widespread in the EU than in 2013 | EU Commission Press

Today, on the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day, the European Commission releases a survey on European businesses’ attitudes towards corruption in the European Union. The results show a downward trend, but with a significant number (63%) of businesses of the opinion that corruption is widespread. This is down from 75% in 2013. Companies are sceptical about how corruption is tackled, with 51% of them believing that corrupt people or businesses are unlikely to be caught by or reported to the police or prosecutors. Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law, the very foundations of our European societies. Over time, its influence deepens inequalities and undermines social cohesion. We have made important progress as a Union over the years, but more remains to be done. We will continue to work with national authorities,international organisations, civil society and the private sector to eradicate corruption.” The European Union has advanced in the fight against corruption with new rules on the protection of whistle-blowersanti-money laundering and law enforcement access to financial information, and on the protection of the Union’s financial interests, as well as with the creation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The Commission will continue strengthening its work on this issue in cooperation with all stakeholders. The fight against corruption will also be a key element of the new Rule of Law review cycle.