Banking regulation: Commission launches consultation on the finalisation of Basel III | EU Commission Press

Today the Commission Services are launching an exploratory consultation on the last piece of banking regulatory reform that was launched at international level during the financial crisis and which was agreed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in December 2017.

The consultation aims to gather views from interested parties on the potential impact that amendments may have on the EU banking sector and the wider economy, as well as to highlight possible implementation challenges. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “EU banking regulation must provide a foundation for a stable banking system that supports the European economy. International cooperation in this matter is crucial to ensure financial stability and a level playing field for banks globally. The measures that were agreed by the Basel Committee represent the last major piece of the regulatory reform that was launched in the wake of the financial crisis. It is now essential that all major jurisdictions implement all elements of this agreement. The Commission will now carry out a thorough and detailed impact assessment and today’s targeted consultation is the first step.” The implementation of this agreement in the EU would require amendments to current banking regulations, in particular the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR). Before considering such amendments, the Commission will carry out a thorough impact assessment, in accordance with its Better Regulation agenda. The results of this consultation will inform the Commission’s overall assessment. Respondents are encouraged to provide as much evidence as possible using this link

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Eurostat: Annual inflation down to 1.1% in the euro area | EU Commission Press

Euro area annual inflation rate was 1.1% in February 2018, down from 1.3% in January. In February 2017, the rate was 2.0%. European Union annual inflation was 1.3% in February 2018, down from 1.6% in January. A year earlier the rate was 2.0%. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. A Eurostat press release is available here.

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Funding Europe’s future: EU’s post-2020 budget must match policy goals | EU Parliament Press

  • EU should boost research programmes, support to young people and small firms
  • EU long-term budget should fund new priorities as well as modern, sustainable farming and development of Europe’s poorest regions
  • Partly replace member states’ GNI-based contributions with new revenue resources

MEPs have set out their position on the next long-term EU budget, which should finance new priorities as well as make up for any shortfall caused by Brexit.

The European Parliament adopted two resolutions on the expenditure and revenue sides of the next multi-annual financial framework (MFF), to apply from 2021.

The next MFF must provide the means to tackle new challenges

Parliament wants the EU budget to match political priorities and address some of the new challenges facing all member states, be they migration, defence, security or climate change. They consider that the current limit on EU expenditure needs to be raised from 1% to 1.3% of EU GNI, in order to be able to fund these new priority areas without sacrificing Europe’s poorest regions or farming communities.

Key proposals include boosting research programmes, Erasmus+, the Youth Employment Initiative and support for SMEs as well as infrastructure investment through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

MEPs warn that “no agreement can be concluded on the MFF without corresponding headway being made on own resources” – i.e. the revenue side of the EU Budget. Expenditure and revenue should thus be treated as a single package. 

Reduce member states’ direct contributions

The resolution builds on the Report of the High Level Group on Own Resources, and calls for strengthening the existing own resources and progressively introducing new own resources. These could be based on a revised VAT resource, a share of corporate tax revenue, a financial transaction tax, a digital sector tax or environmental taxes. 

The new own resources should:

  • bring about a substantial reduction (aiming at 40%) in the proportion of GNI-based direct contributions, thus creating savings for member state budgets, while at the same time doing away with the logic of “fair return” leading to a “zero-sum game” between net payers and beneficiaries; 
  • abolish all rebates and corrections which benefit only some member states;
  • cover the ‘Brexit gap’ without increasing the overall fiscal burden for EU taxpayers.

More information is available in the MFF Q&A.

The resolution by co-rapporteurs Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL) and Isabelle Thomas (S&D, FR) for the post-2020 EU long-term budget was adopted by 458 votes against 177, with 62 abstentions.

The resolution by co-rapporteurs Gérard Deprez (ALDE, BE) and Janusz Lewandowski (EPP, PL) on the reform of the EU’s system of own resources was adopted by 442 votes against 166, with 88 abstentions.

Next steps

The two resolutions provide Parliament’s input to the EU Commission’s legislative proposals on these matters due in May 2018. The adoption of a new MFF Regulation requires Parliament’s consent.

The reports call for discussions to be launched without delay between the three institutions in order to try to reach an agreement before the European elections.


  • Over 94% of the EU budget goes to citizens, regions, cities, farmers and businesses. The EU’s administrative expenses account for under 6% of the total. (Source: European Commission)
  • A survey shows that Europeans expect solutions from the EU. Most respondents think that Europe should do more to tackle a wide range of issues, from security, to migration and unemployment (source: Eurobarometer).
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Brexit: EP recommends association agreement for future EU-UK relations | EU Parliament Press

  • Respecting the integrity of the internal market, customs union and four freedoms
  • Securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU
  • Preserving the rights of citizens as set out in the Good Friday Agreement (Irish border)

Plenary endorses a resolution laying out a possible association framework for future EU-UK relations after Brexit.

Taking into account red lines announced by the UK government, an association agreement between the EU and the UK could provide an appropriate framework for their future relationship, says the resolution adopted by 544 votes in favour, 110 votes against, with 51 abstentions. This relationship could be based on four pillars:

  • trade and economic relations (FTA),
  • internal security,
  • cooperation in foreign policy and defence and
  • thematic cooperation, for example on cross-border research and innovation projects.

MEPs insist that the framework should include consistent governance, with a robust dispute resolution mechanism.

The resolution, prepared by the EP Brexit Steering Group, stresses the uniqueness of the EU ecosystem with its binding common rules, common institutions and common supervisory, enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms. This means that even closely-aligned non-EU countries with identical legislation cannot enjoy similar rights, benefits or market access to those of EU member states.

Any framework for the future relationship would also need to respect the integrity of the internal market, customs union and four freedoms, without allowing for a sector-by-sector approach (cherry-picking EU laws). It should preserve the EU’s independent decision-making and legal order, including the role of the ECJ.  

Withdrawal agreement and transitional period

The resolution welcomes the Commission’s 28 February draft of the Withdrawal agreement and expresses support for the transitional arrangements proposed.

It also reiterates the importance of securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU.

The resolution welcomes the European Commission’s draft protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland including its backstop option outlined in the December Joint Report that provides a concrete fallback solution against any hardening of the border and preserves the North-South cooperation. MEPs also underline the importance of the British government ensuring there will be no diminution of the rights of citizens as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

Next steps

The resolution sets out Parliament’s input ahead of 22-23 March summit of EU heads of state or government, which is expected to approve the Council’s guidelines for negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Any withdrawal agreement and future association or international agreement with the UK will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.

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US tariffs: “Avoid trade wars and tackle global overcapacity in steel instead” urge MEPs | EU Parliament Press

The EU should not engage in a trade war, but must be ready to defend its citizens, MEPs said in a Wednesday morning debate on planned US trade restrictions.

Political groups condemned US plans to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, on “national security” grounds, as unjustified. The debate showed wide support among MEPs for seeking a peaceful solution with the US and together tackling the underlying causes of global steel overcapacity and unfair trade practices by certain countries.  

Speakers nevertheless suggested keeping all options on the table, should dialogue collapse, and voiced support for the possible countermeasures announced by the EU Commission last week. To avoid exacerbating matters, the EU response must be firm, but proportionate and stay in line with international law, they added.

MEPs also called on the EU to team up with other countries affected to strengthen its position and oppose protectionism.

Many speakers also called for EU-wide unity to protect citizens and warned member states against seeking individual exemptions. However, a few MEPs countered that the EU customs union is also protectionist, and described US President Donald Trump’s efforts to protect US steel industry workers as legitimate.

Commission Vice President Jyri Katainen said he expected that the EU, as a strategic ally, would be excluded from the tariffs as EU exports do not harm the US. He announced that the EU and the US had started working together on global overcapacity and this work would intensify soon.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said the EU neither wanted an escalation, nor shared the view that trade wars are easy to win. But if EU exports are not excluded from the scope of the US measures, a “firm but proportionate response” should follow, she said.

Catch up with the debate by VOD

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Economic and Financial Affairs Council | Main results | EU Council Press

Ministers reached agreement on transparency requirements for tax intermediaries.

The proposal is the latest of a number of measures designed to prevent corporate tax avoidance.

It will require intermediaries such as tax advisors, accountants and lawyers to report tax planning schemes that could be aggressive. And the member states will be required to share that information automatically, enabling measures to be taken to block harmful arrangements.

“Enhancing transparency is key to our strategy to combat tax avoidance and tax evasion”, said Vladislav Goranov, minister for finance of Bulgaria, which currently holds the Council presidency. “If the authorities receive information about aggressive tax planning schemes before they are implemented, they will be able to close down loopholes before revenue is lost.”

The Council adjusted the EU’s list of non-cooperative jurisdictions in the light of:

  • commitments made by listed jurisdictions;
  • an assessment of jurisdictions for which no listing decision had yet been taken.

It removed Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia from the list and added the Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis and the US Virgin Islands.

Moves have also been made to improve transparency in the listing process. Correspondence with third country jurisdictions is currently being made public.

 “I am glad to see more jurisdictions that we listed in December committing themselves to reforming their tax policies in a manner that will remedy our concerns”, Mr Goranov said. “We call on all jurisdictions on the list to do likewise, and on all those that have already made commitments to implement them in a timely manner. Our aim is to achieve optimal tax transparency worldwide.”

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MEPs discuss future EU-UK relations after Brexit | European Parliament Press

Any framework for the future relationship between EU and UK must respect the integrity of the EU single market and four freedoms, insist MEPs.

MEPs reiterated that an association agreement between the EU and the UK could provide an appropriate framework for the future relationship, in a debate with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier on the state of play of the Brexit negotiations on Tuesday.

But they also stressed that whatever form of the future relationship takes, it must respect the integrity of the EU single market, customs union and four freedoms and safeguard the EU legal order without allowing for a sector-by-sector cherry-picking approach.

Finally, MEPs called for the EU-UK joint commitments on citizens’ rights, financial obligations and the Irish border issue to be translated into an orderly withdrawal agreement, which must be completed before a possible transition period can start.

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Parliament to set out its vision for future EU-UK relations post-Brexit | EU Parliament Press

A resolution stating Parliament’s position on future EU-UK relations will be debated with Michel Barnier on Tuesday at 09.00 and voted on Wednesday.

The draft resolution, prepared by the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group and approved by the Conférence of Presidents (President and political group leaders) on 7 March, suggests that an EU-UK association agreement could provide an appropriate framework for the future relationship.

But the text stresses that even closely aligned third countries with identical legislation cannot enjoy similar benefits or market access as EU member states.

The debate and vote (on Wednesday) come ahead of the 22-23 March EU summit in Brussels where EU heads of state or government are expected to approve the Council’s guidelines for the future relationship negotiations.  

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Capital Markets Union: breaking down barriers to cross-border investments and accelerating delivery | EU Commission Press

The European Commission is today taking a major step towards the development of a Capital Markets Union (CMU) by promoting alternative sources of financing and removing barriers to cross-border investments.

While the CMU will benefit all Member States, it will particularly strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union by promoting private risk-sharing. Building on progress already achieved since the launch of the CMU in 2015, today’s proposals will boost the cross-border market for investment funds, promote the EU market for covered bonds as a source of long-term finance and ensure greater certainty for investors in the context of cross-border transactions of securities and claims. The CMU is one of the priorities of the Juncker Commission to strengthen Europe’s economy and stimulate investments to create jobs. It aims to mobilise and channel capital to all businesses in the EU, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that need resources to expand and thrive. Quick adoption of these proposals by the European Parliament and the Council will enable businesses and investors to benefit more fully from Single Market opportunities. You can find the full press release, MEMO and factsheet online.

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The Week Ahead 12 – 18 March 2018 | EU Parliament Press

EU long-term budget. The next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) must match the EU’s ambitions, boost research programmes and support young people and small companies, say MEPs in their draft negotiating position for the EU’s post-2020 budget, up for a debate on Tuesday and a vote on Wednesday (followed by a press conference at 14.00). The EU should continue to support farming and regional policies, but also finance new priorities such as security, defence or migration and make up for any shortfall following the UK’s departure.

Brexit. A resolution laying out the EP’s position on a possible framework for EU-UK future relations will be debated on Tuesday and put to a vote on Wednesday. The draft resolution suggests that an association agreement could provide an appropriate framework for the future relationship and stresses that even closely aligned third countries with identical legislation cannot enjoy similar benefits or market access to those of EU member states.

US tariffs on steel and aluminium. Additional US duties on imported steel and aluminium and the EU’s response to protect jobs and its industry will be debated with EU trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on Wednesday.

Ján Kuciak/Safety of journalists. Following the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, press freedom and the safety of journalists in the EU will be debated on Wednesday. MEPs will also discuss Mr Kuciak’s revelations about alleged misuse of EU funds in Slovakia and potential links between organised crime groups and Slovak politicians.

Future of Europe debate with Portuguese PM António Costa. Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa will debate the future of Europe with MEPs on Wednesday morning. This is the third in a series of debates between EU government leaders and MEPs reflecting on the future of the EU. A press point by EP President Antonio Tajani and Prime Minister Costa is scheduled for 12.30.

Corporate taxation. In a bid to prevent companies from moving their tax base to low-tax jurisdictions, MEPs will vote on Thursday on a major overhaul of the EU’s corporate tax system. The proposals include plans to ensure that companies pay taxes where they make their profits, introduce a single set of tax rules which would apply throughout the EU and use of digital data to help calculate tax liabilities. A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday 09.30.

Cross-border parcel delivery prices. Consumers and companies will be able to compare the prices of having a parcel delivered to or from another EU country, under draft rules to be put to the vote on Tuesday. Cross-border parcel delivery prices would be published on a dedicated website so that they can be compared more easily and thus help reduce unreasonable differences.

President’s Diary. On Wednesday morning, President Tajani will have a bilateral meeting with Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa.

Pre-session press briefing. The EP Press Service will hold a press briefing at 16.30 on Monday. (Daphne Caruana Galizia Press conference room, Strasbourg).

More information are available here

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