The annual Munich Security Conference meets amid mounting concern about the entire global security architecture
From today until Thursday, Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič pays an official visit to the United States of America. In Houston, Texas, Vice-President Šefčovič today visits the Johnson Space Centre, where he will take part in a discussion on EU-US space strategies. Also in Houston, today and tomorrow Tuesday he takes part in the CERAWeek2017, a major annual international gathering of energy industry leaders, experts, government officials and policymakers. During the event, Vice-President Šefčovič will be meeting Alexander Novak, Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation; Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon; Lamar McKay, Deputy Group Chief Executive, BP; Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA); Hans-Ulrich Engel, CFO of BASF; and Mario Mehren, CEO of Wintershall. He will also participate in panel discussions on clean energy transition and on sustainability. In Washington, D.C., Vice-President Šefčovič on Wednesday will be meeting Gary Cohn, chief economic advisor to US President Donald Trump and Director of the United States National Economic Council; will take part in a roundtable with industry representatives and civil society representatives hosted by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); and will give a speech at the US Chamber of Commerce. On Thursday in Washington D.C., Vice-President Šefčovič will meet NGOs and think-tanks on clean energy transition during a discussion hosted by WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities; will meet with Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive of the World Bank; and will meet with leading members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. “Both the EU and the US need to maintain a strong transatlantic relationship, which is in their mutual interest. The global transition to a low carbon economy is a positive agenda and an irreversible trend, with positive impact on jobs and growth. The EU is ready to play its role as global leader in the fight against climate change“, said Vice-President Šefčovič ahead of his visit to the United States of America.
The European Commission and the US Department of the Treasury and Office of the Trade Representative jointly announced last Friday the successful conclusion of negotiations of an Agreement between the EU and the USA on insurance and reinsurance. This agreement was reached after more than 20 years of discussions between both sides on reinsurance collateral in particular and almost a year of formal negotiations. The Agreement covers prudential benefits which are granted on certain conditions for reinsurers and for reinsurance and insurance groups of the EU operating in the US and conversely, and exchange of information between supervisors on both sides of the Atlantic. Welcoming the successful closure of negotiations Valdis Dombrovskis, Commission Vice-President for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: “We welcome this agreement, which is both balanced and fair. This is a major deal that is set to benefit insurers, reinsurers and policyholders on both sides of the Atlantic. It is a win-win solution. It shows that both EU and US regulators can reach mutually-beneficial outcomes through enhanced international cooperation.”Through this Agreement, the EU and the US agree to remove collateral and local presence requirements for reinsurers operating on a cross-border basis between the EU and the USA, if they meet the conditions laid down in the Agreement. In line with the objectives of the Investment Plan for Europe and the Capital Markets Union, this Agreement will make possible increased investment by reinsurers. EU reinsurers estimate that they have about $40 billion of collateral posted in the USA, which could be used more effectively in other investments. The opportunity cost is estimated at around $400 million per year. EU and US insurance and reinsurance groups active in both jurisdictions will not be subject to certain requirements with respect to group supervision for their worldwide activities, but supervisors retain the ability to request and obtain information about worldwide activities which could harm policyholders’ interests or financial stability. The Agreement also contains model provisions for the exchange of information between supervisors, which supervisors on both sides of the Atlantic are encouraged to follow. The Agreement is being notified to Congress in the USA. In the EU, it will be submitted to the EU Member States in Council in view of its formal signature. The European Parliament’s consent will also be needed for conclusion of this Agreement.
On the occasion of the final vote by the European Parliament on the conclusion of theEU-U.S. Data Protection “Umbrella Agreement”, Justice Commissioner, Věra Jourová said: “I welcome the strong positive vote of the European Parliament (…). This historic agreement introduces high data protection standards for transatlantic law enforcement cooperation. More than ever, the EU and the U.S. need to cooperate to fight crime and terrorism and protect citizens from common security challenges. At the same time this cooperation needs to safeguard the European fundamental right to privacy. The Umbrella Agreement will ensure that the exchanges of personal data, such as criminal records, names or addresses, are governed by strong data protection rules. After years of negotiations, we concluded a unique agreement that guarantees a high level of protection to EU citizens’ personal data transferred to judicial and police authorities across the Atlantic. A major novelty is that the U.S. will grant all EU citizens the right to enforce their data protection rights in U.S. courts, a right that U.S. citizens already enjoy in Europe.” The Umbrella Agreement was signed by EU-U.S. Justice Ministers on 2 June 2016. It will enter into force once each party has completed the necessary internal procedures. On the European Union side, this is the adoption of a decision by the Council on the conclusion of the agreement, following the European Parliament’s consent vote.
Committee meetings, Brussels
Panama papers inquiry. The Committee of Inquiry into the Panama Papers scandal (PANA) will hear EU Commissioner Věra Jourová, who is responsible for the EU’s anti-money-laundering policy. (Tuesday)
EU trade policy/CETA. MEPs will hold a debate on the CETA agreement, which will need to be ratified by the European Parliament before it enters into force, on Thursday. The day before Trade Committee MEPs will also debate the future of EU trade policy with EU trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, WTO Deputy Director-General Karl Brauner, World Bank lead economist Paul Brenton and other experts from the IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, the International Trade Centre and Oxfam. (Wednesday and Thursday)
Price volatility in agricultural markets. Proposals to enhance existing risk management tools and improve the organisation of the agricultural sector, so as to tackle price volatility and ensure more stable incomes for farmers, will be voted in a resolution by the Agriculture Committee. (Tuesday)
Data protection/EU-US. Draft recommendations on the EU-US Agreement on the protection of personal information relating to the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crimes, including terrorism, will be debated by the Civil Liberties Committee. The so-called Umbrella Agreement cannot enter into force without Parliament’s consent. (Tuesday)
President’s diary. EP President Martin Schulz will meet Bakir Izetbegović of the Presidency of Bosnia and Hercegovina on Tuesday. The next day he will meet Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland.
Press briefing. The EP Press Service will hold a press briefing on the week’s activities at 11.00 on Monday, in the “Anna Politkovskaya” EP press conference room, Brussels. Ask #EPressbriefing @EuroParlPress questions on committees’ work.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are now in the final week of campaigning before the US presidential election on 8 November. Simon Reich examines what the result of the election could mean for Europe. He writes that although Clinton has far more support among Europeans, both candidates may well continue the trend of pivoting away from Europe in their efforts to shape global foreign policy. There are only a few days to go before the outcome of what has been an interminable, fraught and often embarrassing US presidential election campaign. The seemingly predictable selection of Hillary Clinton as President has been thrown into disarray by FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that it will re-open the investigation into her emails. The political implications are, as yet, unclear. The smart money suggests that she will still win the election, if only because of the vagaries of the US electoral system. But, even if true, the effect on voting for US Senators – what Americans refer to as “down-ballot voting” – could be significant.
On Tuesday 14 June 2016, PubAffairs Bruxelles hosted a debate on what TTIP can deliver for the citizens of the EU, with Mr Hiddo Houben, Deputy Chief Negotiator and Head of Unit, USA and Canada, European Commission (DG Trade), Mr Andrew Hotchkiss, President, Europe and Canada, Eli Lilly & Company, and Mr Yorgos Altintzis, Economic and Social Policy Officer, International Trade Unions Confederation. The event was moderated by Ms Poppy Bullock, Senior Correspondent at MLex.
Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue took over responsibilities of Commissioner Hill on 16 July and his visit to the United States will be in this new capacity. He will be in Washington on 18- 19 July. During his visit, the Vice-President will open the first Joint EU-US Financial Regulatory Forum together with the US Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob J. Lew. The forum is a new platform that aims to enhance regulatory co-operation between the EU and the US on financial matters. The Vice President will also hold bilateral meetings with Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve and Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF as well as representatives of US regulators. He will also meet industry representatives and deliver a keynote speech at the Atlantic Council at 19.00hrs CET on 18 July which will be webstreamed here
Today the European Commission adopted the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. This new framework protects the fundamental rights of anyone in the EU whose personal data is transferred to the United States, and brings legal clarity for businesses relying on transatlantic data transfers. Vice-President Ansip said: “We have worked hard with all our partners in Europe and in the US to get this deal right (…) Data flows between our two continents are essential to our society and economy – we now have a robust framework ensuring these transfers take place in the best and safest conditions”. Commissioner Jourová added: “The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield is a robust new system to protect the personal data of Europeans and ensure legal certainty for businesses. It brings stronger data protection standards that are better enforced, safeguards on government access, and easier redress for individuals in case of complaints”. The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield is based on the principles of strong obligations on companies handling the data; limitations and safeguards on any U.S. government access; and effective protection of individual rights. There will be an annual joint review mechanism which will monitor the functioning of the Privacy Shield, including the commitments and assurance regarding access to data for law enforcement and national security purposes. Once companies have had an opportunity to review the framework and update their compliance, companies will be able to certify with the Commerce Department as of 1 August. More information is available in the press release and Q&A. Re-watch the press point by Commissioner Jourová and U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker here. Commissioner Jourová‘s remarks are available online.
The provisional deal reached by Parliament and Council negotiators on 2 December 2015 on an EU directive regulating the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime was endorsed by the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on 10 December 2015 by 38 votes to 19, with 2 abstentions.
The proposed EU PNR directive would oblige airlines to hand EU countries their passengers’ data in order to help the authorities to fight terrorism and serious crime. It would require more systematic collection, use and retention of PNR data on air passengers, and would therefore have an impact on the rights to privacy and data protection.
MEPs sought to ensure, in three-way talks (“trilogues”) with the Council and Commission, that the draft law complies with the proportionality principle and includes strict personal data protection safeguards.
In this background note you will find information on what has happened in the Civil Liberties Committee since this proposal came to Parliament.