Trade: Commission imposes provisional safeguard measures on imports of steel products | EU Commission Press

Today the European Commission published a regulation imposingprovisional safeguard measures concerning imports of steel products. These measures will address the diversion of steel from other countries to the EU market as a result of the recently imposed US tariffs.

The safeguard measures will come into effect on Thursday 19 July. Traditional imports of steel products will not be affected. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “The US tariffs on steel products are causing trade diversion, which may result in serious harm to EU steelmakers and workers in this industry. We are left with no other choice than to introduce provisional safeguard measures to protect our domestic industry against a surge of imports. These measures nevertheless ensure that the EU market remains open, and will maintain traditional trade flows. I am convinced that this strikes the right balance between the interest of EU producers and users of steel, like the automotive industry and the construction sector, who rely on imports. We will continue to monitor steel imports in order to take a final decision by early next year, at the latest. The provisional measures concern 23 steel product categories and will take the form of a Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ). Tariffs of 25% will only be imposed once imports exceed the average of imports over the last three years. In line with the World Trade Organisation rules, the measures concern imports from all countries. Exceptions are made for some developing countries and the European Economic Area countries: Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. The provisional measures can remain in place for a maximum of 200 days. Definitive safeguard measures may be imposed as a result of further investigation that continues until the end of 2018. For more information, see full press release and the Commission regulation available online.

Member States endorse the agreement to strengthen the Structural Reform Support Programme | EU Commission Press

The European Commission welcomes today’s decision by the EU Ambassadors (Coreper) to endorse the preliminary agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on increasing the budget of the Structural Reform Support Programme by €80 million.

This would bring the total budget of the Programme to €222.8 million for the years 2017-2020 and enable the EU to respond to the high demand from Member States for support to prepare, design and implement growth-enhancing reforms. It would also allow targeted technical support to be provided to EU Member States wishing to adopt the euro. The proposal to strengthen the Structural Reform Support Programme is part of European Commission’s package of proposals of 6 December 2017 to deepen Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: The political agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council last week was a major step forward in enhancing the partnership for reforms to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth. Deepening of our Economic and Monetary Union starts at home. By strengthening the governance and economic structures at national level countries reinforce the resilience of their economies and the euro area as a whole. We look forward to the formal adoption of the proposal by the Parliament to allow Member States to benefit from the budget increase already in 2019.” The Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP) entered into force in May 2017 and currently has a budget of €142.8 million for the years 2017-2020. The support is provided by the Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) created in 2015 to support Member States in the preparation, design and implementation of institutional, structural and administrative reforms.

Online disinformation: platforms and advertisers to release a draft Code of Practice | EU Commission Press

Today, the representatives of online platforms, leading social networks, advertisers and advertising industry are expected to make public a first draft of a Code of Practice to address the spread of online disinformation in Europe.

The draft document will be published after the Multistakeholder Forum – gathering all the stakeholders involved – later tonight here. It will then be passed onto representatives of the media, civil society, fact checkers and academia, also part of the Forum, to identify potential areas for improvement. The final version of the Code of Practice is expected by the end of September. This should lead to a measurable reduction of online disinformation. By December 2018, the Commission will report on the progress made. The Code of Practice will provide self-regulatory measures for online platforms and advertising industry to achieve the objectives set out by the Commission’s Communication in April 2018, based on four guiding principles: transparency, inclusivity, credibility and diversity. More details on the Communication can be found in the press release, Q&A and factsheet.

EU-Japan Summit: a landmark moment for trade and cooperation | EU Commission Press

At the 25th EU-Japan Summit, which took place in Tokyo today, two landmark agreements – the Strategic Partnership Agreement and the Economic Partnership Agreement – have been signed, significantly boosting bilateral relations.

A full press release is available, detailing the outcomes of the Summit. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, who alongside the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, represented the European Union said: “Today is a historic moment in our enduring partnership. Today’s signature of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is a landmark moment for global trade, and I am also delighted that we have signed the first ever Strategic Partnership Agreement, which takes our cooperation to the next level. The impact of the Economic Partnership Agreement goes far beyond our shores. Together, we are making a statement about the future of free and fair trade.  We are showing that we are stronger and better off when we work together and we are leading by example, showing that trade is about more than tariffs and barriers. It is about values, principles and finding win-win solutions for all. As far as we are concerned, there is no protection in protectionism – and there cannot be unity where there is unilateralism.” Read the full remarks of President Juncker at the EU-Japan Summit press conference online. The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan is the biggest ever negotiated by the European Union. It creates an open trade zone covering over 600 million people and nearly a third of global GDP. It will remove the vast majority of the €1 billion of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan, and has led to the removal of a number of long-standing regulatory barriers, for example on cars. Read the full press release on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement online and consult the dedicated factsheet. Negotiations on reciprocal adequacy have also been concluded, meaning that the EU and Japan will recognise each other’s data protection systems as ‘equivalent’, thus allowing data to flow safely between the two. A joint statement of Commissioner Jourová and Japanese Commissioner Haruhi Kumazawa, press release and memo are available. At the Summit, Leaders have also signed the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement, which will provide an overarching and binding framework for enhanced cooperation across a range of areas. A dedicated factsheet on the Strategic Partnership Agreement is available online. For more information on EU-Japan relations, see the factsheet.

Joint statement of the 20th EU-China Summit | EU Council Press

On the occasion of this 20th EU-China Summit, the two sides celebrated the 15th anniversary of the EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

This has greatly enhanced the level of EU-China relations, with fruitful outcomes achieved in politics, economy, trade, culture, people-to-people exchanges and other fields. The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to deepening their partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilisation, based on the principles of mutual respect, trust, equality and mutual benefit, by comprehensively implementing the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation.

Following the summit, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, agreed the joint statement and the annex on climate change and clean energy.

Joint statement and the annex on climate change and clean energy

The Week Ahead 16 – 22 July 2018 | EU Parliament Press

Security and migration/Niger. EP President Antonio Tajani will visit Niger to strengthen political ties and focus on tackling shared challenges such as security and stability, migration and the need for investment. President Tajani will meet the speakers of the national assemblies of the G5 Sahel countries (Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad) and hold meetings with Niger’s National Assembly President Ousseini Tini, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini and President Mahamadou Issoufou. (Tuesday and Wednesday)

Security and data protection/USA. A Civil Liberties Committee delegation will travel to Washington to discuss data protection, cyber security and immigration with representatives from the US government, Congress and different stakeholders. Topics to be discussed include the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, Privacy Shield and visa reciprocity. (Monday to Thursday)

Security/Tunisia and Algeria. The Foreign Affairs Committee is sending a delegation to Tunisia and Algeria to strengthen EU-Tunisia and EU-Algeria partnership and dialogue on foreign policy issues as well as on regional security and stability. (Monday to Friday)

Financial crimes/USA. A delegation from the Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance Committee (TAX3) will go to Washington to meet representatives from the Treasury Department, Congress and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, among others. The delegation will discuss transatlantic cooperation in the fight against financial crimes and tax evasion as well as how to improve transparency on tax and beneficial ownership at international and OECD level. (Monday to Wednesday)

Financial markets and taxation/USA. An Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee delegation will also travel to the USA, Washington and New York City, to discuss recent developments in the field of financial market regulations and taxation, the impact of US tax reform on financial institutions and regulatory challenges for EU banks in the US. They will meet, among others, representatives from the Treasury Department (with TAX3), the Institute of International Bankers (IIB) and the Federal Reserve Board (FRB). (Monday and Tuesday)

Consumer protection/China. Delegates from the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee will go to Shanghai and Guangzhou to discuss product safety and standards, market surveillance, consumer protection, customs, and public procurement, among other topics, with Chinese authorities and organisations. The delegation will also look into Digital Single Market initiatives, such as on the digital environment and e-commerce. (Tuesday to Thursday)

Trade and Human rights/Thailand. MEPs from the Human Rights Sub-Committee will travel to Thailand to assess the human rights situation in the country, ahead of planned general elections in 2019, whilst the Trade committee will also be visiting the country in view of the possible resumption of talks on a future EU-Thailand free trade agreement. Members will meet representatives of government and political parties as well as members of parliamentary committees and civil society organisations.

Single digital gateway: a time saver for citizens and companies | EU Parliament Press

  • Easier for citizens and businesses to do their paperwork online  
  • Key administrative procedures to be fully accessible 
  • Examples include: birth certificates, car registration, European Health Card, study loan and grant applications and business permits 

The single digital gateway will help citizens and firms to access information and administrative procedures online, e.g. to apply for study loans or register a car.

A provisional deal struck with the Council on 24 May to set up a single digital gateway, to make it easier to find information, forms and assistance for people moving to or doing business in another EU country, but also for those staying at home, was endorsed by the Internal Market Committee on Thursday, by 33 votes to three, with one abstention.

This European single entry point will be integrated in the “Your Europe” portal, available in all languages. It will provide access and links to national and EU web sites and web pages, in a user-friendly way, to enable users to exercise their rights and comply with their obligations within the single market.

EU member states will be required to grant online access to the most important and frequently used procedures.  In “justified exceptional cases of overriding reasons of public interest in the areas of public security, public health or the fight against fraud”, member states may ask the user to appear in person for a procedural step. The information, online procedures and assistance services provided must be of high quality and accessible to users with disabilities. A user feedback tool will also be available.


Marlene Mizzi (S&D, MT), who steered this legislation through Parliament, said: “Today, the Internal Market Committee has achieved an important milestone in improving and easing citizens’ interaction with public authorities through the digitalisation of public services and the completion of the digital single market. The new rules will provide responsive, inclusive, borderless, user-friendly digital public services to citizens and businesses at national and European level.”

“Such services are paramount when people want to move, live or study in another EU country and need to request relative documentation, such as a birth certificate, proof of residence or apply for university or study financing, amongst many others.  It is also very relevant for businesses wishing information relating to cross-border activities and procedures.”

“Once only” principle and data protection

The “once only” principle aims to ensure that citizens and businesses are asked to submit information only once to a public administration, which can then be re-used in other procedures, upon the user’s request. The single digital gateway regulation includes provisions to make sure that this principle is implemented in line with the new data protection rules.

Next steps

The draft regulation still needs to be voted by the full Parliament in an upcoming plenary session (September) and formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers. In order to give national, regional and local administrations time to adapt, the target date for placing all relevant procedures online will be five years after the entry into force of the regulation. However, many procedures are already available online now or will be available before that date.


The single digital gateway proposal is part of the “compliance package”, aimed at enhancing the practical functioning of the EU single market. It builds on several existing schemes, which cover only a few fields, are not always interconnected, suffer from not being well known and are therefore underused.

According to the European Commission, this legislation could help EU citizens save up to 855 000 hours of their time annually and companies could save more than EUR 11 billion per year.

EU electoral law: new rules adopted by the Council | EU Council Press

The Council today adopted new rules on elections to the European Parliament.

This adoption follows the consent given by the European Parliament on 4 July 2018. For the rules to enter into force, approval by all EU member states, in line with their respective constitutional requirements, is also required.

The amendments to the 1976 Electoral Act include new provisions on ‘double voting’, voting in third countries, different voting methods, and the visibility of European political parties in the member states.

An obligatory threshold of 2% to 5% is set for constituencies with more than 35 seats, including in single-constituency member states. Member states will have to comply with this obligation at the latest in time for the EP elections in 2024.

Eurogroup, 12/07/2018 Main Results | EU Council Press

Information from June Euro Summit

Eurogroup President Mário Centeno informed ministers on the outcome of the Euro Summit, which took place on 29 June.

He also briefly outlined the issues relating to the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union on which the Eurogroup would be expected to work before the next Euro Summit meeting, scheduled to take place in December this year.

These include terms of reference for the common backstop to the single resolution fund to be provided by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and a term sheet for the further development of the ESM, as well as a roadmap for the beginning of political negotiations on EDIS. The Eurogroup will also discuss all other elements listed in the Eurogroup president’s letter of 25 June 2018 to President Tusk.

Presentation of the summer interim forecast

The Eurogroup discussed the economic situation and the outlook for the euro area, on the basis of a presentation by the European Commission on its summer interim forecast.

The Eurogroup regularly discusses the economic situation and economic policy challenges as part of its efforts to effectively contribute to economic growth and job creation.

Budgetary situation and prospects

The Eurogroup held a discussion on the budgetary situation in the euro area as a whole, focusing on prospects for 2019. The results of this exchange will contribute to the preparation of the draft budgetary plans of the euro area member states and the recommendations for the euro area member states in 2019.

The Chairman of the European Fiscal Board (EFB), Niels Thygesen, presented the EFB report. The EFB is an independent advisory body of the European Commission. It provides advice on matters related to the euro area fiscal stance.

The Eurogroup is required by EU law to discuss the euro area’s budgetary situation and prospects, in the framework of the assessment of the draft budgetary plans of the euro area member states. It therefore holds regular discussions on the euro area fiscal stance.

Ireland and Spain: post-programme surveillance missions

The European Commission and the European Central Bank presented to the Eurogroup the main findings from their post-programme surveillance missions to Spain and Ireland, which respectively took place in April and May 2018.

The European Stability Mechanism presented findings in relation to its early warning system in both countries.

The International Monetary Fund also informed about its recent Article IV consultation with Ireland.

According to the institutions’ reports, the economic performance of both Ireland and Spain remains strong, and the risks in terms of the repayment of their respective loans are low to very low.

Post-programme surveillance (PPS) is carried out in countries that have completed financial assistance programmes until at least 75% of the financial assistance received has been repaid. The purpose is to assess whether there are any risks to their ability to repay loans received during their programmes.

Bulgaria’s intention to join the EU’s Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II) 

In the margins of the Eurogroup meeting, the representatives from the euro area members states, the European Central Bank and Denmark met in the presence of the European Commission and of Bulgaria to discuss the prospects of Bulgaria’s participation in the ERM II.

The participants of the meeting adopted a statement.

Preparation of the Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings, 12-13 July 2018 | EU Commission Press

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici will represent the Commission at the Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings taking place today and tomorrow. Today’s Eurogroup meeting will provide the Commission with an opportunity to present the Summer 2018 Interim Economic Forecast.

The Eurogroup will discuss the budgetary situation in the euro area as a whole, focusing on the prospects for 2019 and receive a presentation from the Chairman of the European Fiscal Board (EFB), Niels Thygesen, on the EFB’s recently published report. The Commission and the European Central Bank will present the main findings from their post-programme surveillance missions to Ireland and Spain. The Eurogroup will also discuss the outcome of the June Euro Summit and issues related to the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. Commissioner Moscovici will participate in the press conference following the meeting. At tomorrow’s ECOFIN meeting, the Council will discuss the Commission’s proposal to introduce more flexibility for Member States to apply the same low VAT rates to e-publications as they can currently apply to traditional books. Ministers are expected to look at a proposal which would introduce the possibility for Member States to apply a temporary reverse charge mechanism for VAT. They will also exchange views on the outcome of the June meeting of the European Council. Finally, the Austrian Presidency will present ministers with its work programme in the field of economic and financial affairs. Vice-President Dombrovskis will participate in the press conference following the ECOFIN meeting.