Tagged: EU-USA

CALENDRIER du 13 avril au 19 avril 2015

(Susceptible de modifications en cours de semaine)

Déplacements et visites

Lundi 13 avril

President Jean-Claude Juncker meets with Mr Vítor Caldeira, President of the European Court of Auditors and with Mr Henri Grethen, European Court of Auditors’ Member Luxembourg.

Mr Frans Timmermans reçoit M. Jean-Louis Nadal, Président de la Haute Autorité pour la transparence de la vie publique.

Mr Frans Timmermans receives Mr Peter Faross, Secretary General of The European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME).

Ms Federica Mogherini and Mr Johannes Hahn attend the Informal Ministerial Meeting with Southern Partners on the future of the European Neighbourhood Policy, Barcelona, Spain.

Mr Andrus Ansip receives Mr Thierry Breton, Chairman and CEO of Atos.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis makes a European Semester country visit to Rome; meets Mr Pier Carlo Padoan, Minister of Economy and Finance; Mr Giuliano Poletti, Minister of Labour, Mr Ignazio Visco, Governor of the Bank of Italy, and social partners.

Mr Maroš Šefčovič gives an opening speech at the Renewable Energy Economy Forum 2015 organised by the German Association for Renewables (BEE); Hannover.

Mr Maroš Šefčovič attends the Hannover Messe in Germany.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives social partners about the Investment Plan.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives the Confederation of European Paper Industries.

Mr Jyrki Katainen participates in EP Committee on International Trade (INTA).

Mr Jyrki Katainen delivers keynote speech at inaugural conference of EP intergroup.

Mr Günther Oettinger participates in Hannover Messe in Germany: speaks at the policy reception of the German Engineering Association (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau, VDMA) and Deutsche Messe on “Digital production – is Europe missing its opportunity?”.

Mr Neven Mimica attends the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongbuk in the Republic of Korea.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete receives Mr Julio Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Global Operations of Schneider Electric.

Mr Karmenu Vella in Riga (13-15/04). (13/04) visits the company Brivais Vilnis; meets representatives of local NGOs and Fisheries Advisory Council. (14/04) delivers speech at the Informal Environment Council. (15/04) attends the Informal Environment Council (joint meeting of the Environment and Energy ministers); delivers opening statement at the Green Bridge Forum.

M. Pierre Moscovici à Paris: rencontre M. Wilfried Guerrand, membre du Conseil d’administration du groupe Hermès et M. Jean-Noël Tronc, Directeur Général de la SACEM.

Mr Jonathan Hill delivers a speech at an event with the CEOs of SMEs organised by Eurochambres in Brussels.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives the representatives from the European Construction Industry Federation.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives Sir Graham Watson.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives Members of the Slovenian National Parliament.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska attends Hannover Messe in Germany:delivers a keynote speech at the Forum “Global Business and Markets”, meets with Mrs Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and with Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.

Ms Vĕra Jourová in Berlin, Germany: meets with Mr. Heiko Maas, Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Ms. Maria Böhmer, Minister of State and with Dr. Thomas de Maizière, Minister of Interior.

Ms Margrethe Vestager delivers a keynote speech “In Varietate Concordia” at Syddansk Universitet on nation states and nationalism in Odense, Denmark.

Mr Carlos Moedas in Jordan: participates in the conference “Addressing shared challenges through Science Diplomacy: the case of the EU – Middle East regional cooperation”.

 

Mardi 14 avril

Informal Environment Council (14-15/04)

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Ms Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister-President of the Saarland and members of the Saarland regional government.

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Mr Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Mr Jean-Claude Trichet, former President of the European Central Bank.

Mr Frans Timmermans receives Mr Ton Heerts, Chairman of the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions (FNV) and Ms Catelene Passchier, Vice-Chair of the FNV.

Mr Frans Timmermans receives representatives of the Forum of Jewish Organisations of Flanders (FJO – Forum der Joodse Organisaties).

Ms Federica Mogherini in Lübeck, Germany: visits Willy Brandt House with Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development; attends discussion with students; attends G7 Ministerial meeting.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva attends the official opening of the exhibition “The Saga of the Thracian Kings – Archaeological Discoveries in Bulgaria” in the Louvre, Paris.

Mr Andrus Ansip speaks at a policy dialogue on transforming traditional businesses and creating jobs at the European Policy Centre.

Mr Andrus Ansip participates in the meeting of the Working Group of the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on the Digital Single Market in Brussels.

Mr Andrus Ansip receives Mr Edgar Berger, Chairman and CEO, International Sony Music Entertainment, Mr Stu Bergen President, International Warner Recorded Music, Mr Richard Constant General Counsel, Universal Music Group International, Ms Frances Moore CEO, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Ms Olivia Regnier, Director European Office and European Regional Counsel, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Mr Jyrki Katainen at the Investment Plan roadshow in the Netherlands: meets with Mr Bert Koenders, Foreign Minister; Mr Mark Rutte, Prime-Minister and Mr Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Finance Minister as well as the provinces, business leaders, students and stakeholders.

Mr Günther Oettinger participates in Hannover Messe in Germany: speaks at the event “Industry 4.0 – Made in Germany”  along with Mr. Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, and Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and representatives of the industry; delivers a keynote speech ‘Europe’s Future is Digital’; meets with representatives of the industry, start-ups and research: Dr. Andreas Gruchow, Member of the Management Board of Deutsche Messe; Prof. Dr. Peter Gutzmer, Vice-President and CEO of Schaeffler; Mr. Thies Hofmann, Vice President of Business Development at Konux; Mr. Hermann Lertes, owner and CEO of H. Lertes GmbH & Co; Mr. Bernd Leukert, Member of the Executive Board of SAP; Mr. Daniel Siegel, founder of EliSE; Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster, Director and CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI); Lucas Wintjes, Senior Vice PresidentSales and Industry Sector Management Factory Automation at Bosch Rexroth.During the day, Mr Oettinger also visits different stands, notably of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, H2FC European Infrastructure Project, OWL Clustermanagement, Microsoft, T-Systems, Siemens, Weidmüller, Endress+Hauser, ABB.   

Mr Johannes Hahn attends breakfast meeting hosted by CIDOB in Barcelona.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Members of the Slovenian Parliament.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Mr José Manuel González-Páramo, EU chairman of the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD).

Mr Neven Mimica attends the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongbuk in the Republic of Korea.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit M. Branko Grčić, vice-Premier Ministre Croate, Ministre du Développement Régional et des Fonds Européens et M. Boris Lalovac, Ministre des finances croate.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit une délégation du groupe parlementaire SPD du Bundestag.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit M. Patrick Kron, président-directeur général du groupe Alstom.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit M. Anton Hofreiter, co-président du groupe parlementaire des Verts au Bundestag.

M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit M. Jean-Dominique Senard, Président du groupe Michelin.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr Mihály Varga, Hungarian Finance Minister.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives the representatives from the European Association with tolled motorways, bridges and tunnels.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives Mr James Hogan, CEO of Etihad.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska meets with Mr Krzysztof Kurzydłowski, Professor at the Warsaw University of Technology.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska receives Mr Patrcik Kron, CEO of Alstom.

Ms Vĕra Jourová in Berlin: meets with the Consumer Federation, with the Federation of German Industries, with Ms. Manuela Schwesig, the Minister for Family, Elderly, Women and Youth and with Dr. Meyer-Landrut, the Head of the European Policy Division in the German Chancellery

Mr Tibor Navracsics announces the winners of EU Prize for Literature 2015 at London Book Fair, London.

 

Mercredi 15 avril

College meeting

European Parliament plenary session (Brussels)

Informal Energy Council (15-16/04)

President Jean-Claude Juncker and the College receive the Spanish King Felipe VI.

Ms Federica Mogherini attends G7 Ministerial meeting in Lübeck, Germany.

Mr Andrus Ansip receives the Board of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis attends the Governing Council of European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

Mr Jyrki Katainen participates in a Committee of the Regions conference on the Investment Plan.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives CEOs from German Insurance companies.

Mr Johannes Hahn receives Mr Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro.

Ms Cecilia Malmström in Paris: meets the Prime Minister of France, Mr Manuel Valls; participates in the citizen dialogue “Parlons d’Europe” (Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po); meets theChief of Staff of President of France, Mr Jean-Pierre Jouyet; visits the Assemblée Nationale; meets the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Laurent Fabius; visits an SME.

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Mr Christos Stylianides meets with Mr Nicos Anastasiadis, President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr Patrick Odier, President of the Swiss Bankers’ Association.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr Alexander Erdland, President of the German insurers’ association (GDV).

Mr Jonathan Hill gives a keynote speech at the British Bankers’ Association Reception, Brussels.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska receivesrepresentatives of the Flemish Government.

Mr Tibor Navracsics gives a speech and hands over the European Heritage Label Award with Ms Silvia COSTA, Chair of Committee on Culture and Education of the EP, at the Ceremony, Brussels Solvay Library.

Ms Corina Creţu in Romania: visits EU-funded projects and meets with Mr Ioan Rus, Romanian Minister of Transport.

Mr Carlos Moedas receivesProf. Wolfgang Schuerer, Chairman of the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate.

Mr Carlos Moedas receives Mr Paulo Moniz, Vice-Rector of the Universidade da Beira Interior (UBI).

 

Jeudi 16 avril

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Honorary Senator award in the European Senate, Düsseldorf-Neuss.

Ms Federica Mogherini attends Global Conference on CyberSpace 2015, The Hague.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva meets the winners of this year’s Juvenes Translatores award at a Special Award ceremony in Brussels, Belgium.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis visits Washington and Boston, USA (16-20/04): attends the IMF and World Bank Spring meeting, gives a speech at the Atlantic Council and participate in G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting; has bilateral meetings with M5s Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, Mrs Janet L. Yellen, Chair of the US Federal Reserve, and Mrs Natalie Jaresko, Ukrainian Finance Minister and Mr Ivaras Abromavichus, Ukraine’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade. (20/04) gives a lecture at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies.

Mr Jyrki Katainen at the Investment Plan roadshow in Bulgaria: meets Mr Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister; Mr Rosen Plevneliev, President; Mr Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister; Mr Bojidar Lukarski, Minister of Economy and as well as business leaders, investors, MPs and students.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Ms Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD.

Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Ms Monica Mæland, Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry.

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Mr Karmenu Vella delivers keynote speech at the Ocean Energy Forum (Hotel Crown Plaza, Brussels).

Mr Karmenu Vella attends the conference “The Atlantic our Shared Resource – Making the Vision Reality” (Palais d’Egmont, Brussels).

Mr Karmenu Vella receives members of the German Parliament.

Mr Pierre Moscovici in Washington (16-19/04): participates in a Public roundtable organised by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) on the theme ‘The recovery in Europe – the way forward’, delivers a speech at the World Bank / EIB conference on Climate Finance and has bilateral meetings.

Mr Christos Stylianides in Belgrade, Serbia: meets Mr Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister; Mr Nebojša Stefanović, Minister of Internal Affairs; Mrs Jadranka Joksimović, Minister and Mr Relief Marko Blagojević, Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Flood.

Mr Christos Stylianides Belgrade, Serbia: visits the Emergency Centre and attends the ceremony for Serbia’s entry into the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr John Rishton, CEO of Rolls Royce.

Mr Jonathan Hill receives Mr Michael Meehan, CEO of Global Reporting Initiative.

Mr Jonathan Hill delivers a speech at the event organised by the Centre for European Reform, London.

Ms Violeta Bulcin Madrid, Spain: meets with Ms Ana Pastor, Minister for Public Works, visits with Mrs Inés Ayala Sender, MEP; Mr Luis De Grandes; Mr Izaskun Bilbao, MEP and Mrs Tania Gonzáles Peñas, MEP; and with Mr Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Secretary of State for European Affairs.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska receivesMrs Monica Mæland, Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska meets with representatives of THALES: Mr Serge Adrian, Senior Vice-President; Mr Pawel Piotrowski, Country Director Thales Poland and Mr Marc Cathelineau, Senior Vice-President EU-NATO-UN.

Mr Andrus Ansip and Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska co-chair a roundtable discussion on cross-border parcel delivery with chief executives of national postal operators.

Ms Vĕra Jourová receives Mr Selakovic, Serbian Minister of Justice

Mr Tibor Navracsics gives a lecture as guest lecturer about the European Commission at Corvinus University, Budapest.

Ms Margrethe Vestager in Washington DC, USA (16-17/04): participates in the American Bar Association Antitrust Section’s 2015 Spring Meeting; meets with Ms Edith Ramirez, Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission; meets with Mr J. Baer, Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice William; meets with Mr Michael Lee, Senator and Chairman of the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee; delivers speech on “Competition policy in the EU: Outlook and recent developments in antitrust” at the Peterson Institute for International Economics; meets with Ms Amy Klobuchar, Senator and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee.

Mr Carlos Moedas delivers an opening speech at the conference “The Atlantic – a Shared Resource: making the vision reality”, Palais d’Egmont, Brussels.

Mr Carlos Moedas delivers the keynote speech at the European University Association’s conference, Antwerp.

 

Vendredi 17 avril

Ms Kristalina Georgieva receives MsNathalie Loiseau, director of France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration.

Ms Kristalina Georgieva receives Mr Jean-Pierre Bourguinon, President of the European Research Council.

Mr Andrus Ansip participates in the Global Conference on CyberSpace 2015 in The Hague, Netherlands.

Mr Jyrki Katainen at the Investment Plan roadshow in Hungary: meets Mr Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister and members of the Hungarian National Assembly’s Committee on European Affairs and the Committee on Economics, as well as SMEs, investors, NGOs, research institutes and students.

Mr Günther Oettinger speaks on the occasion on ‘Energy meets Digital’ ofthe Europa Forum Lech in Austria.

Ms Cecilia Malmström in Maastricht, the Netherlands: delivers speech “EU Trade Policy: Why should European Citizens care?” at the Jean Monnet Lecture, organised by the Maastricht University (Crowne Plaza Hotel)

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and with Mr Pierre Moscovici participate in International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Mr Karmenu Vella receives the representatives from the environmental NGOs Green 10.

Mr Christos Stylianides in Zagreb, Croatia: visits the Parliament of Croatia, meets with, Mrs Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, President of Croatia and Mrs Vesna Pusić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Mr Christos Stylianides in Gunja, Croatia: visits a site of the 2014 floods to see recovery and rehabilitation projects.

Mr Phil Hogan and Mr Carlos Moedas in Ireland: take part in the round table discussion in Glanbia, visit the Teagasc Food & Research Centre, Moorepark and the O’Brien Centre for Science, University College Dublin (UCD), Belfield.

Mr Jonathan Hill delivers a speech at a Reuters Newsmaker Event, London.

Mr Jonathan Hill meets Mr Terry Scuoler, CEO of the Manufacturers’ Organisation (EEF).

Ms Violeta Bulc in Madrid, Spain: participates at the “Forum Nueva Economía”, meets with the representatives of the of the Joint Committee for the EU and Committee for Public Works of the Spanish Parliament and the Spanish Senate; meets with representatives of enterprises in different transport sectors, CEOE transport council

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska participates at the conference: “I have a right – citizen on the EU internal market” in Wrocław, Poland.

Mr Tibor Navracsics and MrJyrki Katainen at the Investment plan Road-Show, Budapest, Hungary.

Ms Margrethe Vestager in Washington DC, USA (16-17/04): participates in the American Bar Association Enforcers Roundtable on enforcement priorities from leading antitrust authorities in the world; participates in Roundtable on banking reform at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

 

Samedi 18 avril

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and with Mr Pierre Moscovici participate in International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Ms Violeta Bulc attends the Global Show for General Aviation in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

 

Dimanche 19 avril

Mr Neven Mimica attends the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete participates at the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate, Washington DC.

Ms Margrethe Vestager delivers keynote speech on transition from Minister to Commissioner at the Danish Seamen’s Church in New York, USA.

Prévisions du mois d’avril:

20/04 Foreign Affairs Council (Luxembourg)

20/04 Agrifish Council (Luxembourg)

20-22/04 Informal Epsco Council

21/04 General Affairs Council (Luxembourg)

24-25/04 Informal Ecofin Council

27-30/04 European Parliament Plenary Session (Strasbourg)

 

Prévisions du mois de mai:

07/05 Foreign Affairs (Trade) Council

08/05 Foreign Affairs (Defence) Council

11/05 Eurogroup

12/05 Ecofin Council

18/05 Foreign Affairs Council

18/05 EYCS (Education and Youth) Council

18/05 EYCS (Culture and Sport) Council

18-21/05 European Parliament Plenary Session (Strasbourg)

21-22/05 Eastern Partnership Summit

26/05 Foreign Affairs (Development) Council

27/05 European Parliament plenary session (Brussels)

28-29/05 Competitiveness Council

31/05 Informal Agrifish Council

 

Prévisions du mois de juin:

01-02/06 Informal Agrifish Council

08/06 TTE (Energy) Council (Luxembourg)

08-11/06 European Parliament Plenary Session (Strasbourg)

09-10/06 Informal Cohesion Council

10-11/06 EU-CELAC Summit

11/06 TTE (Transport) Council (Luxembourg)

12/06 TTE (Telecommunications) (Luxembourg)

15-16/06 JHA Council (Luxembourg)

15/06 Environment Council (Luxembourg)

16/06 Agrifish Council (Luxembourg)

18/06 Epsco (Employment) Council (Luxembourg)

18/06 Eurogroup

19/06 Ecofin Council (Luxembourg)

22/06 Foreign Affairs Council (Luxembourg)

23/06 General Affairs Council (Luxembourg)

24/06 European Parliament plenary session (Brussels)

25-26/06 European Council

Permanence DG COMM le WE du 11 au 12 avril:

Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, +32 (0)460 764 328

Permanence RAPID – GSM: +32 (0) 498 982 748

Service Audiovisuel, planning studio – tél. : +32 (0)2/295 21 23

End of milk quotas: cities and regions are concerned about the implications and are calling for steps to safeguard the incomes of all producers

Meeting yesterday in Brussels, the members of the Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) of the European Committee of the Regions raised concerns about the impact of the abolition of milk quotas in the EU, particularly in disadvantaged and sensitive regions. In a draft opinion drawn up by René Souchon (FR/PES), President of the Auvergne region, they call on the European authorities to take urgent measures to safeguard the incomes of all milk producers.

In the positions it has previously taken on abolishing milk quotas, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) expressed its concerns about the plan to end quotas on 31 March 2015, and was highly critical of a measure likely to have an adverse impact on the EU’s environmental and territorial cohesion objectives. The CoR is concerned that this will accelerate the concentration of production in the most intensively farmed areas, harming sensitive or disadvantaged regions, including mountain regions but also so-called “intermediate” crop-growing and cattle-breeding regions. These fears are largely confirmed by the Commission’s latest report (published in June 2014) on the development of the market situation in the milk sector. “In light of the milk surplus and low prices recorded since summer 2014, the outlook is extremely worrying because in many Member States and regions, milk production is an essential pillar of the regional economy and of agricultural added value”, emphasised the rapporteur René Souchon, before adding, “It is essential to ensure a steady income for milk producers throughout the EU in order to maintain agriculture and preserve rural communities in all regions, in the interests of meeting the EU’s territorial cohesion objective”.  

In the draft own-initiative opinion adopted yesterday, NAT members call on the European authorities to take steps to safeguard the income of all milk producers, as is the case in most other major milk-producing countries, such as India, China, Japan, South Korea, Canada and the United States, which have maintained or even strengthened their support and protection for the dairy sector.

The draft opinion calls for the following in the short term:

  • to quantify how many jobs, how much added value and how many public goods would be lost in “intermediate” and disadvantaged zones if milk production was abandoned;
  • to make contracting more effective by expanding the mechanism to the whole industry, including in particular large-scale retailers – contracting seeks to formalise a long-term commercial relationship between a producer and their client with the aim of ensuring adequate production in an outlet;
  • to improve the operation of the European Milk Market Observatory, and put in place the necessary resources for it to become a genuine steering mechanism, and not just a tool for post hoc observation;
  • to immediately enhance the safety net for a limited period in order to cope with the looming crisis, pending the introduction of another mechanism;
  • to take urgent steps to safeguard the income of all milk producers, and to examine in particular the European Milk Board proposal.

In the medium term:

  • to harmonise the compensation payments for natural handicaps , financed 100% by the EU budget, to restore milk collection aid, to support the promotion and development of the “Mountain produce” label for dairy products, subject to an adequate level of food self-sufficiency;
  • to encourage the preservation of dairy production , particularly using more mixed and hardy breeds which make use of the grasslands, rather than production from very specialised herds which consume ever increasing amounts of cereals and soya;
  • to draw up a major rural development plan for all countries which have small herds and where dairy farms are in the majority. It seems like their future may be at risk following the abolition of quotas, even though these farms remain the foundation of rural communities.

The NAT commission

The Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) coordinates the work of the Committee of the Regions in the areas of rural development and the common agricultural policy, fisheries and maritime policy, food production, public health, consumer protection, civil protection and tourism. It brings together 112 regional and local elected representatives from the 28 EU Member States. The commission’s chair is José Luís Carneiro (PT/PES), mayor of Bilbao.

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing – January 16, 2015

2:07 p.m. EST

MR. RATHKE: Good afternoon, everybody. I imagine many of you were also watching the press availability at the White House, so understand why we’re a little bit late today. I have a couple of things to mention at the top – three, actually, to be precise.

First, Ukraine. It is one year to the day since Ukraine’s former government passed the so-called Black Thursday laws, draconian laws that denied the right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech. Ukraine has come an enormous distance since then to meet its people’s aspirations. And the current government remains committed to advancing important reforms, despite ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine. These steps include last year’s free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections, the signing of an association agreement with the European Union, and a focus on anti-corruption efforts, including this week’s move by Ukraine’s parliament to increase the independence of the judiciary. These are critically important steps to help the country move forward, and we congratulate the people of Ukraine on how far they have come in such a short time, especially on this significant anniversary. And we continue to stand with them as they press forward on critical reforms.

Second item is Libya. We welcome yesterday’s announcement that the UN-led talks in Geneva will continue next week, and we applaud those Libyans who are participating. We reiterate our strong support for this UN effort and urge all parties invited by Special Representative Leon to engage in dialogue aimed at producing a unity government that the international community can support. The United States remains committed to working with the international community to help the Libyan people and the government build an inclusive system of governance to address core needs, to provide stability and security, and to address the ongoing threats.

And then the last item, the Secretary’s travels. As many of you have seen, Secretary Kerry was in Paris today where he met with Foreign Minister Fabius and President Hollande to offer condolences after last week’s attacks. He also laid wreaths at Hypercache Market and the Charlie Hebdo office with Foreign Minister Fabius. And the Secretary also laid a wreath at the site of the fallen policeman near the Charlie Hebdo office. He then met with the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and they both gave remarks. So a very moving day expressing U.S. support and underscoring our deep ties and ongoing, intensive cooperation.

Before leaving Paris, the Secretary met with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif who was also in town for previous scheduled meetings, and they followed up on the ongoing nuclear negotiations in Geneva.

That’s what I have at the top. Brad.

QUESTION: Since you just brought it up, do you have a fuller readout of what the Secretary and Foreign Minister Zarif spoke about?

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have a further update on or details on the conversations. Of course, they’ve met a few times this week in Geneva, and then they followed up today. Of course, the focus is on the nuclear talks. I would also highlight, of course, that as we’ve said many times when asked if other topics come up in these conversations, we always mention our concern for American citizens in Iran. And so in that regard, nothing different to report.

QUESTION: So there were already reports from Iran that the Secretary and Mr. Zarif spoke specifically about the Washington Post reporter. Do you know what the Secretary said or what he – what sentiment he —

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have that level of granularity. But of course, we continue to call for his immediate release – that is Jason Rezaian – as well as the immediate release of detained U.S. citizens Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, and for the Iranian Government to assist us in locating Robert Levinson so that all can be returned to their families as soon as possible.

Okay. Anything on that topic?

QUESTION: A follow-up on Iran?

MR. RATHKE: On that topic? Yeah..

QUESTION: You saw the President say today there’s a 50-50 chance of a diplomatic deal. Given the discussions over the – I mean, Paris was the second meeting this week. How would you describe those talks going?

MR. RATHKE: Well, I’m not going to get into the details of exactly what they discussed. Of course, the Secretary is focused on the Iran nuclear issue, and that’s why he went to Geneva for those to meet with Foreign Minister Zarif. There was an opportunity today because they both happened to be in Paris and so they held another meeting, but I’m not going to characterize further the nature of the discussions.

QUESTION: So this is a matter of taking advantage of —

QUESTION: Any plans —

MR. RATHKE: Just – yeah.

QUESTION: So it was simply a matter of taking advantage of the timing to keep talking? There wasn’t any sense that there was an urgency for this meeting? I mean, people can coincidentally be in the same place and not need to meet.

MR. RATHKE: Right. No, but they both happened to be in Paris. They took the opportunity to meet. I wouldn’t go further beyond that.

QUESTION: Do you know if they said they’d meet again or when they would meet again?

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have any details like that. Of course, they’ve met a number of times in the past. But I don’t have anything to preview as far as when the next meeting might be.

QUESTION: Do you have more of a readout on the ongoing discussions in Geneva?

MR. RATHKE: Well, the discussions in Geneva are ongoing, as you say, Roz. There have been bilats over the last couple of days, not only bilateral meetings with Iran but since other P5+1 countries are there, there have been U.S. bilats with other countries that are involved in the process. I don’t have details to read out of those. And then Sunday is the day when there will be a meeting in the P5+1 format. So those are ongoing. I don’t have details to read out from them.

QUESTION: So you’re not able to say whether they’re focused on any particular technical issues or dealing with any reports of efforts to, for example, try to enhance the capability of Bushehr reactor?

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have any readout to give from the talks that are ongoing in Geneva.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about Bushehr? Because I asked Wednesday, and I think Marie said at the time that she would look into it. Do you have a response to the talk about two additional reactors coming online at some point?

MR. RATHKE: Well, we’re aware that there was an announcement, and so we’re reviewing the details that surround it. I don’t have a specific comment on that. But in general, the construction of light-water reactors is not prohibited by the UN Security Council resolutions, nor is it in contradiction to the JPOA. And we’ve been clear in saying throughout the negotiations that the purpose of these negotiations is to ensure that – to ensure verifiably that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for civilian and peaceful purposes. So the talks that are ongoing are focused on closing off the possible pathways to acquiring a nuclear bomb. That remains our focus. But I don’t have more specific reaction on that particular announcement.

QUESTION: I’m a little confused because – are you saying that a light-water reactor can have no effect on a potential military nuclear program? Because you’re saying that your goal is to close off all pathways, and then you say light-water reactors are essentially okay.

MR. RATHKE: No, I didn’t say that – I didn’t say that it’s okay. I said that it is —

QUESTION: You said it is not —

MR. RATHKE: — not prohibited, not prohibited by the UN Security Council resolutions, nor does it violate the JPOA. That’s —

QUESTION: So you’re not concerned by them increasing their – you’re not concerned by this activity?

MR. RATHKE: I didn’t say that we weren’t concerned. But I said —

QUESTION: Are you concerned by this activity?

MR. RATHKE: What I would say is that the whole purpose of the negotiations with Iran is to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for civilian and peaceful purposes, and that that is verifiable. So I’m not going to get into one part or another of the dialogue happening in the negotiations, but just to reiterate that our point is closing off the pathways to acquire a nuclear bomb. I’m not going to offer a technical —

QUESTION: Hasn’t part of that effort been to —

MR. RATHKE: — analysis of light-water reactors from the podium.

QUESTION: Hasn’t part of that effort been to lower Iran’s enrichment capacity that was seen as a major breakthrough of the JPOA?

MR. RATHKE: Again, I’m not going to get into details of the negotiations —

QUESTION: I haven’t even asked the question yet.

MR. RATHKE: Yeah.

QUESTION: I mean, if you —

MR. RATHKE: I can see where you’re going, but go ahead.

QUESTION: If you want to deny that the JPOA was —

MR. RATHKE: Go ahead, finish.

QUESTION: Okay. Doesn’t – I mean, if they’re building two new reactors, wouldn’t that imply that they need more enrichment to feed them?

MR. RATHKE: Well —

QUESTION: I don’t see how this is – you have such a neutral position on this, given that it seems to go against all your efforts.

MR. RATHKE: All I’ve simply outlined is the Security Council resolutions which have certain requirements and are – anyone can read, also the JPOA, that in our view the construction of light-water nuclear reactors is not prohibited by those two documents. That’s separate from saying whether it’s a matter of concern and whether it’s an issue of discussion. I’m not going to get into what’s being discussed in the room either in the bilateral talks with Iran or in the P5+1 talks.

QUESTION: I didn’t ask you that. I mean, I’m only talking about what’s been publicly spoken about by the Iranians, not what’s been conveyed in the room.

MR. RATHKE: Right. And what I’ve said is that we’re aware of the announcement and we’re reviewing the details. So we’re looking at this. I’m not offering a final position on what we think about that announcement. We’re aware of it and we’re reviewing it to understand it better.

QUESTION: Can I change the subject?

MR. RATHKE: Anything else on Iran?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. RATHKE: Go ahead.

QUESTION: During this Vibrant Gujarat event where Secretary Kerry was in attendance, there was a delegation led by one of the top advisors of the Iranian president. What is the U.S. view on the cooperation and the business deals that India and Iran are going ahead with? Are they not coming under the sanctions, or we are just turning a blind eye to whatever is going on?

MR. RATHKE: I wouldn’t suggest we’re turning a blind eye to anything. But I’m not familiar with that report. And of course —

QUESTION: It’s not a report but a —

MR. RATHKE: Of course, Vibrant Gujarat was an event organized by the Indian side, so I would refer you to them for any – for any details about participation. But beyond that, I don’t have – I don’t have in front of me an analysis of Iran-India ties, so I don’t have feedback on that.

QUESTION: I’m not asking for the participation. The participation and the – Prime Minister Modi’s pictures with the Iranian guy are all over on his website, on Indian external affairs, everywhere, with the flag of Iran and India behind them. I’m asking that if the – whatever comes out of this meeting and there is a business cooperation that is – do these cooperations falls under the U.S. sanctions, or not?

MR. RATHKE: Well, I don’t know the details of whatever discussions are that you were referring to, Tejinder. So I’m not in a position to analyze them from here. But of course, our – the existing sanctions, both the UN sanctions as well as U.S. sanctions and sanctions by many other partners, remain in effect. That’s part of the JPOA approach. But I’m not going to get into the – into analyzing agreements to which the U.S. Government might not be privy and certainly which I’m not familiar with.

Nicolas.

QUESTION: Can we talk about the aftermath of the attacks in Paris?

MR. RATHKE: Yes.

QUESTION: There have been very serious clashes in Pakistan, Karachi, outside the French consulate. Three people have been injured, including an AFP photographer. One, I’d like to have your reaction to that; two, does the U.S. share the concerns or the anger sometimes of some Muslim populations about these cartoons; and would you advise the French authorities and maybe the publisher of Charlie Hebdo to be super cautious for the circulation and distribution of this newspaper?

MR. RATHKE: Well, with respect to Karachi, we’re aware of these reports. I don’t have any details that I can confirm from here, but we certainly urge all to refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and respect the rule of law. For further details, I would refer you to the Pakistani authorities and to the French Government for details of what precisely happened.

Now on the question of the cartoons, I think this is something we’ve spoken about, I know Marie addressed the last couple of days. And I think we stand by that point of view. First of all, no act of legitimate journalism, however offensive some might find it, justifies an act of violence. That’s, I think, an important starting point. Now there is content published around the world every day that people might take issue with, but that doesn’t mean that we question the right of media outlets to publish information. Our view is that media organizations and news outlets often publish information that’s meant to cause debate, to stir debate. And while we may not always agree with any particular judgment or every item of content, the right to publish that information is one that we – that is fundamental and that we see as universal. So I think that’s about as far as I would go in commenting on that.

QUESTION: Apparently there are more and more clashes. There have been clashes also in Niger. So do you fear that it could trigger more violence in the Muslim world?

MR. RATHKE: Well, I don’t have an analysis to offer on that, I think, though our view on freedom of speech and freedom of the press is clear.

Anything on the same topic?

QUESTION: On the investigative side —

MR. RATHKE: Yeah.

QUESTION: — the raids in Belgium overnight, the ongoing reports of arrests of people who may be co-conspirators in the Paris attacks – what cooperation is the U.S. Government providing to the French and Belgian Governments as they try to run these cases down?

MR. RATHKE: Right. Well, of course we are aware of the reports from a number of countries about police operations. We’re monitoring the situation in Belgium very closely. Belgium certainly has our full support and solidarity in its counterterrorism efforts. Now, you didn’t ask, but just to make it clear, the U.S. diplomatic presence in Brussels, they are – they all are open – maybe they’re not open now, since it’s later in the day. But anyway, they’re open for business as normal and we are coordinating with our partners. But I’d refer you to the Belgian Government for details. We, of course, are supportive and we’ve got active and ongoing law enforcement and information sharing arrangements with our allies in Europe, and naturally those contacts continue, especially given what’s been going on.

QUESTION: So you’re helping? Is that what you’re saying?

MR. RATHKE: Well, I’m not going to read out any specific information sharing or so forth, but we are supportive and we stand with our Belgian allies in their counterterrorism efforts.

QUESTION: What about the content of the AQAP video? Have there been any more efforts to —

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have anything new to add to what’s already been said about the video.

Yes, Abbie.

QUESTION: Going back to Niger and the protests that he was mentioning, the U.S. Embassy in Niamey tweeted out: “Protesters burn churches, French flag, and other items in Zinder, chanting ‘Charlie is Satan. Let hell engulf those supporting Charlie.’” Is that cause for concern? Are there – is there any concern with people down there at the Embassy or is there anything on that situation?

MR. RATHKE: I wasn’t aware of that report, so we can certainly check and see if we have anything more for you. But of course, I would go back to what I said in response to Nicolas’ question – we certainly call on everyone to exercise restraint and to express their views peacefully, and we certainly reject any kind of violence.

QUESTION: Is there any expectation that the general Travel Warning that went out in recent days might be updated in light of these protests outside U.S. installations?

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have any updates to that to announce. For those who are familiar with that worldwide caution, which was updated just recently, it’s quite detailed. And so I’m not aware of any move to change it in any way, but certainly it’s comprehensive and tries to give American citizens the best information and advice before going overseas.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. RATHKE: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any confirmation of – apparently, the Saudis have postponed the flogging of the activist?

MR. RATHKE: Yes, we’re aware —

QUESTION: Apparently, they postponed it on medical grounds, that the doctor who carried out a pre-flogging checkup said – recommended that he does not go ahead.

MR. RATHKE: Mm-hmm. Well, we are – we’ve seen the reports, and to our knowledge, they’re accurate. I don’t have anything to contradict them. I would go back to what we’ve said on this all along in our January 8th statement: We are greatly concerned that human rights activist Raif Badawi started facing the punishment of 1,000 lashes in addition to serving a 10 year sentence for exercising his rights of freedom of expression and religion. So we call on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi’s case and the sentence.

QUESTION: Do you have anything – the BBC is reporting that the case of this blogger has been referred to the supreme court by the king’s office.

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have anything to confirm that. I wasn’t aware of that.

Anything on this topic, or a new topic, Nicolas?

QUESTION: Nigeria?

MR. RATHKE: Yes.

QUESTION: We have reports coming from N’Djamena, Chad about army vehicles sent from Chad to Cameroon. And apparently, the Chad parliament has voted for supporting Nigeria and Cameroon in their fight against Boko Haram. Does the U.S. – were you notified in advance about this, and do you support this regional military response?

MR. RATHKE: Well, we’re not in a position to confirm precisely what sort of support Chad has offered. And – but we certainly support a regional solution to the problem of Boko Haram, and in particular through the establishment of a multinational taskforce. And now, there is additional security assistance to countries in the region in the fight against Boko Haram. That’s under full consideration. And I don’t have any detailed updates to provide about that, but it’s certainly something we are considering. And so that’s our view on the assistance. We certainly support regional approaches.

QUESTION: So Jeff, are you talking about that you support the creation of a new force, a regional force? Because you got the Ghanaian president today talking about considering creating a military force to fight Boko Haram. It’s unclear whether that’s a regional force or whether – I doubt he’s talking about a Ghanaian one.

MR. RATHKE: Mm-hmm. I don’t have details on that. I haven’t seen that report. So we can see if there’s more that we have to say and get back to you about that.

QUESTION: And do you know, perhaps, what the Secretary was talking about, about the – a new – the possibility of a new British-U.S. initiative to fight Boko Haram that he mentioned yesterday?

MR. RATHKE: Right. I don’t have anything new to read out about that.

Yes, Scott.

QUESTION: There was some concern about the conduct of Chadian troops in the Central African Republic when they intervened in that crisis. Does the United States carry any of those concerns into potential Chadian involvement in Nigeria?

MR. RATHKE: Well – I see. Okay. So you’re asking about Nigeria, though, in this particular case. I don’t have any views to offer on that. I understand the point you’re raising, so let us check into that and come back to you.

Brad.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the ICC preliminary probe in the Palestinian territories?

MR. RATHKE: Yes. Well, as we’ve made clear over the last couple of weeks, we are deeply troubled by Palestinian action at the ICC. Our position on this is clear, and we don’t think that the Palestinians have established a state, and we don’t think they’re eligible to join the International Criminal Court. I would highlight that many other countries share this view, and we’ve put out a lengthy position paper on that to which people can refer. So our —

QUESTION: But wasn’t there – I mean, this is a prosecutor of the —

MR. RATHKE: Right. That’s – so that’s – no, I wanted to start, though, just to remind.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MR. RATHKE: So to be clear, what the prosecutor announced today is not an investigation. It’s a preliminary examination. Now, I don’t have any further comment on it, and in general, as we’ve long said, the United States strongly opposes actions by both parties that undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace.

QUESTION: Okay, but —

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: No, wait —

MR. RATHKE: No, go ahead.

QUESTION: Your comment – except for “no comment,” the rest was extraneous to the question, right?

MR. RATHKE: This – well this has just happened in the last couple of hours. I don’t have any further comment to offer on the announcement by the ICC prosecutor.

QUESTION: Would you hope that, if the prosecutor moves forward, he would examine the possibility of infractions by both sides and not just one side?

MR. RATHKE: Well, I don’t think we’re in the position of giving advice to the ICC prosecutor on that score.

QUESTION: Even on impartiality you don’t give advice?

MR. RATHKE: Well, again, we – going back to where I started, we don’t believe that the Palestinians have formed or established a state, and we don’t think they’re eligible to join the International Criminal Court, so —

QUESTION: But I don’t think this investigation necessarily hinges on that, because they still haven’t joined and this prosecutor is investigating regardless. So that comment – that notwithstanding, your point’s noted on the Palestinians, they’re not a member, and this thing has been opened nevertheless. So what’s your position on the investigation, not – or the preliminary examination, not the Palestinians’ course of action?

QUESTION: Is it an illegitimate preliminary examination?

MR. RATHKE: I’m not going to characterize it. Again, this has just happened, so I’m not going to characterize it further at this point.

QUESTION: Both the Israeli prime minister and the foreign minister have condemned the ICC’s decision to open this preliminary exam. Would it be fair to say that the U.S. Government shares their view?

MR. RATHKE: Well, look, our view on the Palestinians joining the ICC I would go back to, so I’m not – I haven’t seen those particular statements by Israeli officials, so I’m not going to say anything one way or another about them. Again, this is an announcement that has just taken place. We’re looking at it. Our view is – on the broader question of the ICC, we don’t think the Palestinians have met the necessary requirements to be a part of it.

QUESTION: I’m not sure that’s the broader question. I think that’s a completely separate question, but —

MR. RATHKE: Well, I think —

QUESTION: — I don’t quite —

MR. RATHKE: — it’s certainly related, so —

QUESTION: Is it conceivable that the U.S. will appeal to the ICC to drop the preliminary examination?

MR. RATHKE: I’m not going to speculate about anything like that. As you know, we’re not a member of the ICC, but I’m not going to speculate about any particular steps.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. ever asked the ICC not to look into any particular case involving human rights violations?

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have that at my fingertips, Roz. I’m happy to look, but I don’t have that.

QUESTION: Yeah, if you could, please.

MR. RATHKE: Tejinder.

QUESTION: I’m not asking you to speculate or – but this is a subject that’s being discussed in Delhi, and – that Delhi has a thick fog in the mornings. And usually – and so when the Air Force One goes, is it going – how is it going to land if there is a fog on that day? Will it go to Ahmedabad or Islamabad?

MR. RATHKE: It won’t surprise you that I’m not going to comment on the air operations of Air Force One. I’d refer you to the White House if you’ve got questions about that.

QUESTION: But this – I raised it here because it is being discussed in the State Department.

MR. RATHKE: It won’t surprise you that we are not going to comment on air operations of Air Force One for obvious reasons, I think.

Right. Nicolas.

QUESTION: Last question about the country we never talk about, Switzerland.

MR. RATHKE: Okay.

QUESTION: Is – do you have views about the surge of the Swiss franc, which apparently rocks the global currency market? Is it a source of concern for U.S. interest and American tourists going there?

MR. RATHKE: I’m not aware and I don’t think we normally comment on currency issues in that respect. I’ll —

QUESTION: You’re not aware of conversation between the two governments?

MR. RATHKE: Not that I’m aware of.

Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: You put out a statement yesterday that Ambassador Sung Kim, the deputy assistant secretary for Japan and Korea —

MR. RATHKE: Yes.

QUESTION: — he will be traveling to Brussels next week to attend Japan trilateral forum. And Spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a Foreign Press Center briefing that this will be a key forum for discussion on trilateral cooperation between U.S., Korea, and Japan. Can you explain what this forum means and what it’ll be discussing, who else will be participating, and how it is related to Korea-Japan cooperation?

MR. RATHKE: Okay. I think, yeah, there are two different things here. Let me make sure and I want to highlight – I think Marie said this yesterday, but I can go over it again. So Ambassador Sung Kim, who is the special representative for North Korea policy – he’s also deputy assistant secretary for Japan and Korea – he’s traveling to Brussels in the next few days, January 19th and 20th, and he’s attending there the Japan trilateral forum. This is an event organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States. It was established with the purpose of bringing together policy makers, intellectuals, journalists, business leaders from Japan, Europe, and the United States, and for dialogue on matters of mutual interest.

There is separately a – there will be a trilateral in Tokyo for Special Representative Sung Kim. He mentioned this in his testimony earlier this week. And if you’re interested in the details of the scheduling, I’d refer you to the Government of Japan. At this point, we don’t have details on that to announce right now.

So there are two different events. There is the event in Europe, which is not a government-to-government multilateral meeting. It is a meeting that brings together policy makers as well as people from outside of government. It’s Japan, Europe and the United States. Then there will be a trilateral in Tokyo, and that’s what Special Representative Kim was referring to in his testimony on the Hill earlier this week.

QUESTION: So the meeting in Brussels, that has nothing to do with Korea, right?

MR. RATHKE: Well, I wouldn’t say – I wouldn’t put it that way. There – he will be – of course, security in Northeast Asia is an important part of our relationship with Japan, as well as with our other allies and partners in Northeast Asia.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. RATHKE: Yes.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. RATHKE: Go ahead, Lesley.

QUESTION: A new subject, or —

QUESTION: No, same subject.

MR. RATHKE: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I want to ask just about one that we already discussed here, and that is a – today, there were two analyses on – saying that last year was the Earth’s warmest on record. Given the Secretary’s interest in this, do you have any comment on that?

MR. RATHKE: Right. There – we, I think, have just released a statement by the Secretary on this, and if you haven’t seen it, I’m happy to quote it for you. It’s fairly short.

The – in the Secretary’s words: What’s surprising is that anyone is surprised that 2014 was the hottest year on record. The science has been screaming at us for a long, long time. We’ve seen 13 of the warmest years on record since 2000. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are at an all-time high, which we know leads to a warming planet. And we’re seeing higher than ever occurrences of extreme weather events like catastrophic droughts, storm surges, and torrential rain. These events are having devastating economic, security, and health impacts across the planet. So this report is just another sound in a steady drumbeat that’s growing increasingly more urgent. And the question isn’t the science. The question isn’t the warning signs. The question is when and how the world will respond. And as the Secretary closes: Ambitious, concrete action is the only path forward that leads anywhere worth going.

QUESTION: So how do these analyses bode for an important year in climate talks that – and they hope to reach in a – or efforts to reach a deal in December?

MR. RATHKE: Well, certainly, it only underscores the urgency. And the Secretary, of course, has been actively engaged. I would also refer you to the press availability over at the White House today where this was also discussed. So this only reminds, if any reminder was needed, how important it is to work toward the goals that the Administration has set.

Tejinder.

QUESTION: Do you have any readouts or confirmations of any talks with the Belgian counterparts or the EU counterparts in Brussels about this after the attacks —

MR. RATHKE: Well —

QUESTION: — and the arrests?

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have any specific meetings or exchanges to detail, but certainly, we stand in support of and solidarity with our partners in Europe. And as I said before, we have active security cooperation and information-sharing arrangements with them, and it’s precisely at a time like this when those are most important.

QUESTION: And was there any contact with —

MR. RATHKE: I don’t have any details to read out about those.

QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.

MR. RATHKE: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:41 p.m.)

Two Europes or One Europe?

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Valedictory speech by President Barroso

European Parliament plenary session

Strasbourg, 21 October 2014

Mr President, Honourable Members,

First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation to address this Parliament in what would be the last time I have this opportunity. In fact, we are coming to the end of my second mandate as the President of the European Commission and I am very happy to be here with you and my colleagues to present to you our bilan, since this is my second Commission, I think I can also refer to the last ten years.

I want to share with you my feelings, my emotions, what I think about the way the European Union has responded to these very challenging times and what I think are the most important challenges for the future.

I think you can agree with me that these have been exceptional and challenging times. Ten years of crisis, and response of the European Union to this crisis. Not only the financial and sovereignty debt crisis – let’s not forget at the beginning of my first mandate we had a constitutional crisis, when two founding members of the European Union rejected, in referenda, the Constitutional Treaty. So we had a constitutional crisis, we had a sovereign debt and financial crisis, and in the most acute terms we now have a geopolitical crisis, as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The constitutional crisis that we had was in fact solved through the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty. The reality is that at that time, many people were saying that it would be impossible for the European Union to find a new institutional setting. And in fact there were moments of ambiguity and doubt. But basically, we could keep most of the acquis of the European Union, including most of the new elements of the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty, which was ratified by all Member States including those that today seem to have forgotten that they have ratified the Lisbon Treaty.

More recently – because I learned to leave to the end the economic issues because they are still with us – we had this very serious challenge and threat to our stability, in Europe, coming from the unacceptable behaviour of Russia regarding Ukraine. And we took a principled position. We offered Ukraine an association agreement and a free trade agreement and I am happy that, in spite of all the difficulties, Ukraine was there, signing and ratifying the association agreement, and I want to congratulate this Parliament, because the same day at the same hour the Parliament in Ukraine was ratifying this agreement, you were also ratifying the agreement showing you can offer hope to Ukraine as part of the European family of nations.

At the moment I am speaking to you, this crisis is not yet solved – we know that. But I think we can be proud that we have kept a position of principle, that we have condemned in the most unequivocal terms the actions of Russia and that in fact an association agreement was ratified, not only with Ukraine, but also with Georgia and Moldova because I believe we have a duty to those countries that are looking to Europe with their spirit and their hope to share with us the same future and because they want to share with us the same values.

At this moment we are still mediating and, today, there is a meeting mediated by the Commission on energy with the Russian government and the Ukrainian government, so a political negotiated solution is possible, we are working for that. It is in the interest of all the parties to have a political agreement, but a political agreement that respects the principles of international law, a political agreement that respects the right of country that is our neighbour to decide its own future and a political agreement that respects the sovereignty, the independence of that country. So, we should be proud of what we have been doing in this very challenging geopolitical crisis.

And we also had the financial and sovereign debt crisis. The reality is that the crisis was not born in Europe, but the fact is that because we were not prepared, because the Euro-area had not yet the instruments, we were very much affected by it – not only in financial terms, in economic terms, in social terms and in political terms. I think this crisis was probably the biggest since the beginning of the European integration process in the 50s of the last century. Let’s now put things into perspective.

Dear Members of Parliament,

Let’s remind ourselves what was the main opinion of most analysts in the economic and financial media, or even many of our countries or outside of Europe, about what could happen: everybody was predicting Greek exit, Greece exiting the Euro, and, of course, Greece exiting Euro would certainly, immediately have had a cascading effect in other countries, a domino effect that was indeed already felt in countries such as Ireland or Portugal. But let’s not forget, Spain was also under very heavy pressure, and Italy. We were staring into the abyss. I remember well what happened in discussions in the margins of G20 in Cannes in 2011, I remember well when analysts were predicting with almost unanimity a Greek exit and at least 50% of them were predicting the implosion of the Euro. And what happened? Not only was there no exit of the Euro, now we are to welcome the 19th member of the Euro, Lithuania will join us in the 1st of January 2015. And not only did Greece not leave the Euro area, it has enlarged and the European Union has been enlarging as well. This is a point that has been very much underestimated in our analysis.

2004, the year I had the pleasure and the honour to assume the leadership of the European Commission, do you remember that we were 15? Today, we have 28 countries. So we have almost doubled the membership of the European Union during this crisis. Is there a better proof of the resilience and the capacity of adaptation of our Union? The fact that we were able to remain united and open during the crisis I think confirms the extraordinary resilience and the strength of the European Union and this should not be underestimated.

I know that, for some, these things do not count for much. They are in a way making an idealisation of the past; they dream probably of a closed Europe; they think Europe was better when half of Europe was under totalitarian communism. I don’t think that. I think Europe today is better than when half of Europe was under communism. The fact that the European Union was able, during all this crisis, to open, to consolidate and to unite on a continental scale almost all of Europe around the values of peace, of freedom and of justice, I think it is a great thing we should commemorate and not to be ashamed of, as some seem to be.

So, this is I think also a reason to commemorate. Many people were predicting, as you probably remember, those of you following these issues at that time, that the European Commission would not be able to function with 25 or 27 or 28 Members, that the European Union would be blocked. The reality is that the European Union was not blocked by the enlargement; the reality that I can share with you now is that sometimes it was more difficult to put together some of the founding Members of the Union than all the 28 countries of Europe.

So I think we should be proud of that as well, collectively, because the European Union was able to remain united and open during the crisis. And when I say open, I mean it in all senses of the word, including with an open attitude towards the world. For instance, when we have promoted a proactive climate agenda after the failure of the Doha Development Round and the Doha trade talks. And we are now leading in that sense, because I believe that trade can be one of the best ways to support growth globally and in the European Union. Or when we, because it was an initiative of the European Union, went to the former President of the United States of America, inviting him and convincing him to organise the first G20 meeting at Heads of State or Government level, because that was a way of having a global cooperative approach and to avoid the return to ugly, nasty protectionism. That could be a temptation in times of crisis. So we were able to keep Europe not only united and, in fact, enlarging its membership, but also open to the rest of the world.

But now, are we stronger or are we weaker? I know that the most critical people today will say that we are weaker. But are we really?

In fact, when the crisis erupted, we had almost no instruments to respond to it. We were facing, as it was said at that time, an unprecedented crisis. Yet we had no mechanisms, for instance to support the countries that were facing the immediate threat of default. A lot has been done. We have collectively, the Commission and the Member States and always with the strong support of the Parliament, we have created a new system of governance. We have today a much more reinforced governance system than before, including with unprecedented powers for the community institutions, and we have done everything to keep the community method at the centre of our integration. For instance, the Commission today has more powers in terms of governance of the Eurozone than before the crisis. The European Central Bank has today the possibility to make direct supervision of the banks in Europe, something that would have been considered impossible earlier; it would have been almost unimaginable before the crisis. And I remember when we spoke about the banking union, when I gave an interview saying that we need a banking union, I received some phone calls from capitals saying ‘Why are you speaking about the banking union? This is not in the Treaties’. And I responded, ‘Yes it is not in the Treaties, but we need it if we want to fulfil the objective of the Treaties, namely the objective of stability and growth’. And today we have a banking union.

Honourable members,

If we look at things in perspective and we think where we were ten years ago and where we are now, we can say with full rigour and in complete observance of the truth that today the European Union, at least in the euro area, is more integrated and with reinforced competences, and we have now, through the community method, more ways to tackle crisis, namely in the euro zone. Not only in the system of governance in the banking union, but also in the legislation of financial stability, financial regulation, financial supervision.

We have presented around 40 new pieces of legislation that were all of them approved by the European Parliament. And once again I want to thank you, because in almost all those debates the European Parliament and the European Commission were on the same side of the debate and were for more ambition, not less ambition for Europe. And so today, I can say that we are stronger, because we have a more integrated system of governance, because we have legislation to tackle abuses in the financial markets, because we have much clearer system of supervision and regulation. So, I think we are now better prepared than we were before to face a crisis, if a crisis like the ones we have seen before should come in the future.

Of course, you can say that there are many difficulties still. Yes, and I am going to say a word about this in a moment regarding the prospects for growth, but please do not forget where we were. We were very close to default, or, to use a less polite word, to a bankruptcy of some of our Member States. And look at where we are now. From the countries that had to ask for adjustment programmes, Portugal and Ireland exited the programme successfully. Ireland is now one of the fastest growing countries in Europe. And in fact all the others that were under the imminent threat of collapsing, are now in a much more stable mood. Spain, that asked for a programme for the banks, also has improved successfully. So in fact only two countries of all those, because we should not also forget the Central and Eastern European countries that also had adjustment programmes, even if they were not yet in the euro area, only two countries are still completing their adjustment programmes.

The deficits now on average in the Eurozone are 2.5%. This is much less than in the United States or in Japan. So, in terms of stability, we are much better now than before. By the way, the Eurozone has a trade surplus. The European Union in general now will have a surplus in goods, in services and, for the first time in many years, in agriculture.

I am saying that because very often the opinion in some of the political sectors is that we are losing with globalisation. This is not the case. Some countries of our Union in fact are not winning that battle, but on average we can say that Europe is gaining the global battle in terms of competition, namely in terms of trade and investment.

But of course, growth is still timid. I think that basically we cannot say that the crisis is completely over, because threats remain, but we have won the battle of stability. Today nobody in the world will honestly bet on the end of the euro. The euro has shown that it is a very strong, credible and indeed stable currency. The reality is that our growth is still timid and clearly below expectations.

So what can we do for growth? This is the important question. And for that I need to make a reminder once again. I know very well that very often the European Union policy and namely the European Commission policy has been presented as completely focused on austerity. I think this is a caricature.

We have constantly asked at least for three important lines – fiscal consolidation certainly, for the countries that are feeling the pressure of the markets. It would be completely irresponsible if they could not frontload a programme of rigour to correct their public finances, but we have always said with equal vigour, probably some would not like to listen, the need for structural reforms, for competitiveness, because the reality is that even before the crisis we were growing under our potential, that is the reality, and with serious problem of lack of competitiveness in some of our countries and so that is why we needed more ambitious structural reforms.

But we have also argued in favour of investment. I have always said that we need more investment, public and private investment. Private investment will come the more we show that we have competitive economies that we can attract private investment. Indeed I am now happy to see that most of our countries, certainly at a different pace, but they are pursuing ambitious structural reforms that would have been considered completely impossible before the crisis.

And the reality is, if we want to be honest in terms of the analysis that the countries that have suffered the most during the financial crisis were precisely those that have lost in terms of cost competitiveness before the crisis. And now, for instance the reforms that have been made by Spain, by Ireland, by Portugal, by Greece, are impressive.

Now, apart from the political consolidation and the structural reforms, we have always seen the need for more investment. Private investment, but public investment as well. You will remember the debate about the MFF. President Schultz remembers certainly. We were together in many meetings asking the Member States to do more in terms of investment and the most important instrument we have at European level for investment is the Multiannual Financial Framework, that is around one trillion euros.

So if there is not more ambitious investment it was not because of a lack of ambition of this Commission, or a lack of ambition of this Parliament. It was because of the opposition of some capitals. This is the reality. We are for solid investment, targeted investment for growth. Not only with the MFF. Remember the proposals that for instance here in the State of the Union speeches with you I have put forward. The increase of the capital for the EIB that finally was agreed. The project bonds that the Member States have accepted, but only as pilot project bonds. The facility that we have created for SMEs with loans from the EIB and funds from the structural funds, from our budget. Unfortunately only two countries wanted to pursue that line.

Or, for instance, the programme for youth, the Youth Guarantee that we have proposed and that the Member States have agreed. But now with the Youth Employment Initiative, only two countries have accepted to have a dedicated programme for youth employment.

So, my dear colleagues, let’s be clear: we are for investment. I wish all the best to the new Commission and to my friend and colleague Jean-Claude Juncker, to have the support of the Member States for a more ambitious investment programme for the next years. I believe this is possible now, I believe the awareness is much bigger on this matter. But once again this is part of a comprehensive strategy that combines fiscal consolidation with structural reforms and investment, and, of course, all the measures taken by us in terms of the banking union and in terms of financial regulation for stability.

And I’m saying this with this vigour because I think it would be now a mistake, after everything we have done, to give up, to show less determination, to abandon the road of structural reform. I think we have done a part of the job, stability is broadly there, growth, even if it is slower than what we would like to have, but now we need determination to complete the reforms so that sustainable growth, not growth fuelled by debt, excessive public or private debt – because such growth is artificial, it’s a fictional growth, and afterwards, sooner or later, we would pay the price – but sustainable growth – that I believe it is possible if we continue the courageous path of reforms and a stronger governance for the European Union.

I don’t have the time now to go over all the other policies we have been developing over the years. But let me just highlight one or two, because I think they are very much at the moment of decision, and I think they are important.

I’m extremely proud that is was my Commission in my first mandate, in 2007, that put forward the most ambitious programme for climate protection in the world. And we are still leading in the world in terms of the climate agenda.

In fact, we were able to join the climate agenda with the energy security agenda, and I’m saying that because this week we are going to have an important discussion in Brussels at Heads of State and Government level, and I hope that the European Union will keep its leadership role – of course not to be isolated but to have others, because we have a responsibility towards our planet. And this is was certainly one of the great advances of these years, that the European Union was able to make the most important and bold steps in terms of fighting climate change.

Another area where I think we could very proud is – in spite of all the restrictions because of our financial situation – that it was possible in the MFF to get 30% more for Horizon 2020, for research and technology. I think there is a great opportunity now for us to do more in that area, as also in the culture side, with our Creative Europe programme.

The reality is that in some areas it was possible, in spite of the economic and financial crisis, to increase investment at European level.

But I’m also very proud that in spite of the pressures of our budgets, we could always be there in terms of development aid and neighbourhood policy.

Whenever there was a big tragedy in the world, from the tsunami in Indonesia to the recent Ebola crisis, from the Syrian refugee crisis to Darfur, we were there, we were among the first. And I think we, Europeans, should also be proud of that, because we are still, together with our Member States, the most important donor for development aid in the world. That is something that corresponds very much to our values and I’m happy that in spite of all the crises we did not abandon our obligations in terms of development cooperation.

I have already said a word about trade. I think it is very important to keep an ambitious trade agenda, an open Europe but for free and fair trade. And the Commission has concluded a record number of agreements, not only with South Korea, Singapore, Central America – the first region to reach an agreement -, Peru, Ecuador, recently with Canada, with Western Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa. And I could also mention some others that are now progressing, like Japan, the United States and also an investment agreement with China.

So we are the most important trade bloc in the world. We are the biggest economy in the world.

And I’m saying that because today I know it’s very fashionable the pessimism, the defeatism about Europe, what I call the intellectual glamour of pessimism. But I believe that we have a good record to show and I believe that together, collectively, we are much stronger and we can better defend our interests and protect our values.

Dear colleagues – I call you colleagues because I believe we have been sometimes in discussions but we have been colleagues in this great enterprise that is the European project -, I think politically we have some lessons to draw.

One is that we have shown great resilience. I think we can say that the forces of integration are stronger than the forces of disintegration. And I believed that day and night, sometimes in very dramatic moments, sometimes when I had to make dramatic appeals to some capitals: to the richer countries, asking them to show more solidarity; and to the poorer countries asking them to show more responsibility.

Sometimes we have done it very discretely, it’s true. The European Commission is probably more discreet than others. I did not want the Commission to be part of the cacophony of different voices during the most acute moments of the crisis. It was extremely market sensitive that situation. But I can tell you, in my full conscience, that we have done everything we could with existing instruments to avoid the fragmentation of the euro or to avoid a division in the European Union. And I very often had to call on my colleagues in the European Council, Heads of State and Government, to show the ethics of European responsibility.

But one of the lessons I draw from this is that if eventually it was possible to come to decisions, it is true that it was sometimes extremely painful and difficult. And took time. We have said also, and I think it is something that we can all agree: democracy is slower than the markets are.

The Commission would have preferred, and I’m sure this Parliament as well, decisions to be bolder, more comprehensive, faster. But we are a Union of democratic states, we are not a super state. And we have to respect different sensitivities.

One of the conclusions I draw from these ten years of experiences is the need to cooperate between institutions. I know sometimes it is more popular to put forward impossible ideas and to criticise others. But I firmly believe that we need to engage with different institutions, that it is not a solution to oppose the countries to the European Union. On the contrary, we have to show to our countries that they are stronger if they are part of the European Union. That we are not diluting their national identity but, on the contrary, we are asking them to share their sovereignty so they can project better their interests globally. I’m firmly convinced of this.

And I’m saying this to you now, as I am leaving in a few days: my only interest is that these lessons are learned so that we do not repeat some mistakes in the future. At the same time, I think we can say that it is not through confrontation but through cooperation that we can attain our objectives.

At the moment I prepare to hand over this very challenging and interesting job to my good friend Jean-Claude Juncker, I want to say here, on my behalf and on behalf of all my colleagues of the Commission, that we wish the new Commission all the best, that they have a great challenge ahead of them but that they could count also on our support. And I’m sure of the support that this Parliament is going to give to them.

Because, Mr President, the relations were not always perfect. But I think you can agree that we were able to establish a fruitful relationship between the Parliament and the Commission.

I’ve been in this Parliament more than 100 times. There was never a Commission that was so often represented in the Parliament as my two Commissions. We have established this cooperation and I’m so grateful because this Parliament, sometimes with very strong demands, was always supportive of the community method, was always supporting the community institutions. And I believe this is very important for the future of Europe.

My dear colleagues of the European project,

The way to solve the problems we have in Europe is not through revolution and even less through counter-revolution. It’s by compromise, it’s by reform. Evolution and reform. We have to reform to adapt to the new challenges but not with new clashes between the institutions, not with clashes against our countries. And I believe that if this idea of strong cooperation putting the European common good above all else, I think my colleague and friend Jean-Claude Juncker and his new Commission will have success, of course based on the support I’m sure you are going to give them.

Because the European Union is a union of values. In these last days I had to face many journalists and they asked me ‘what was your most emotional moment? Which moment did you prefer?’ And I have many, and I also had very difficult ones, to be honest. But one of my most emotional moment was when, on behalf of the European Union, together with Martin Schulz and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, we received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union.

I think this was a powerful reminder sent to us from the global community that we count in this world and that what we do is very important. That the values that were at the origin of the creation of our Union, namely the value of peace, are still at our essence today. And that we have to fight for them.

And I think is the moment I really said I want to share with all those in the different institutions, including this Parliament, that have been working for a united, open and stronger Europe. And when I leave this office, with all my colleagues at the Commission, I can tell you that we have not achieved everything we could, or everything we would have liked to have achieved, but I think we have worked with the right conscience, putting the global interest of the European Union above specific interests. And I believe that now there are conditions to continue to do work for a united, open and stronger Europe.

I thank you for your attention.

Auf wiedersehen, goodbye, au revoir, adeus.

Muito obrigado, thank you very much.

Following the statements of the Members of the Parliament, President Barroso made the following closing remarks:

Mr President,

I should like to take up a number of the points raised by the previous speakers. Firstly, I believe that proof that we – and by “we” I mean the Commission of which I have had the honour of being Presidentare on the right track lies in the fact that the criticisms have come from the opposite ends of the spectrum, though often couched in the same terms, resolutely ignoring the difficulties and extraordinary challenges that we have had to face and failing to put forward any coherent response.

The truth is that we have been through possibly the worst economic and financial crisis we have seen since the countries of Europe began to come together and that it was not the European Union or Europe that spawned the crisis. This is what some defenders of national sovereignty, as they like to call themselves, do not or will not understand. It was not Europe that created excessive private debt or caused the financial sector to behave irresponsibly. Quite the opposite – this all took place under national scrutiny, or rather lack thereof. Europe is the answer. We now have one of the most ambitious regulatory and supervisory systems in the world, if not the most ambitious. In other words, saying that Europe is worse off because of the European Union is simply not true. It shows a complete lack of respect and a lack of intellectual rigour. Europe is not responsible for the financial crisis, which had its roots in the United States. Europe had its weaknesses, but what the European Union did was to respond. The blame for this does not lie with the European Union, and I believe this is something that all those who share the European ideal – be they at the left, right or centre of the political spectrum – should have the courage to state, because by remaining silent we will be reinforcing the populist rhetoric of the extreme right and extreme left.

I listened carefully to those of you who said that populism was on the rise and who laid the blame for this at the door of the European Union. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not true. It is abundantly clear that populism and xenophobia exist outside the European Union. Look at the anti-immigrant incidents that have taken place in Switzerland. Look at what happened in Norway when that terrorist killed all those young people because he was opposed to a multicultural Europe. Look at the Tea Party movement in the United States. Is Europe to blame for America’s Tea Party movement?

We are currently seeing an aggressive form of populism around the world, which espouses arguments from both the left and the right. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. So to say the European Union is responsible for this shows a lack of intellectual rigour and a lack of political integrity. What we have to do, as Europeans, is to demonstrate that it was not Europe that caused the crisis or the public debt in the Member States. There was little that Europe could do when, for example, one Member State falsified its accounts. This is something Europe had to face. The first initiative of my second Commission was to ask the Member States to give us more powers to supervise national statistics, because in my first Commission this was rejected. And not by Greece. It was rejected by the big Member States, which were reluctant to hand more powers over to the European Union. So if we really want to have a debate, let us be quite clear and strict in terms of intellectual integrity and political candour.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is one thing that I would like to say to you with the greatest of conviction. The team that I have had the honour of heading has worked with enormous commitment and diligence, whilst always putting Europe’s interests first. There is something that I want to say to you, since this is a political assembly with a wealth of political dynamics, but where the emphasis is always on the common European good. My Commission was not made up of colleagues from the EPP, socialists or liberals. It was made up of people who worked for Europe. My party is the EPP and I am proud of that, but, as President of the Commission, my party is Europe and that is the message I wish to convey, in particular to the major forces of the pro-European centre-left and centre-right.  Differences must, of course, be aired, but they must not be allowed to weaken the pro-European camps. We cannot hand the extreme right or extreme left anything else on a plate. Pro-European forces must come together. They must have the courage to defend Europe. They must do so at national level, and not just here in Strasbourg. We need a major coalition of this nature for Europe because I believe that we have the strength to win the battles of the present and those of the future.

Thank you very much for your attention.

CALENDRIER du 13 au 19 octobre 2014

Commission européenne

Bruxelles, le 10 octobre 2014

CALENDRIER du 13 au 19 octobre 2014

(Susceptible de modifications en cours de semaine)

Déplacements et visites

Lundi 13 octobre

Eurogroup, Luxembourg

AGRIFISH Meeting of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers, Luxembourg

Mr José Manuel Durão BARROSO and Mr Karel DE GUCHT receive Mr Nguyễn Tấn DŨNG, Prime Minister of Vietnam

Mr Siim KALLAS receives Mr Raymond BENJAMIN, Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Mr Janez POTOČNIK in the Republic of Korea (13-17/10): participates in the 12th High-Level Meeting of the Conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Alpensia Convention Center, Pyeongchang)

Mr Andris PIEBALGS participates in the signing ceremony of the Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020 for Vietnam with Mr Nguyễn Tấn DŨNG, Prime Minister of Vietnam

Ms Androulla VASSILIOU attends the opening and delivers a keynote speech at EU Youth conference organized under the Italian EU Presidency (Rome)

Mr Karel DE GUCHT receives the Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, Mr Vu Huy HOANG

Ms Connie HEDEGAARD receives representatives of “Young Ideas for Europe”

Mr Štefan FÜLE visits Jordan

Mr László ANDOR in Budapest: attends and gives speech at conference “Nothing about us without us? – Roma participation in policy making and knowledge production” at Corvinus University of Budapest; speaks at conference of Hungarian trade unions on “Decent wages”; gives presentation on “Europe after the crisis” at Európa Klub

Mardi 14 octobre

AGRIFISH (Agriculture and Fisheries Council), Luxembourg

ECOFIN (Economic and Financial Council), Luxembourg

Mr José Manuel Durão BARROSO receives Mr Edmund STOIBER, chairman of the High-Level Group on Administrative Burdens

Mr José Manuel Durão BARROSO and Ms Androulla VASSILIOU receive Mr Michel PLATINI, President of the Union of the European Football Associations

Ms Catherine ASHTON leads meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister and US Secretary of State in framework of Iran Nuclear Talks, Vienna

Mr Joaquín ALMUNIA delivers a keynote speech at the 31st AmCham EU Competition Policy Conference, Brussels

Mr Andris PIEBALGS is in Rome: participates in a Conference on energy

Mr Karel DE GUCHT in Rome: delivers a speech at a dialogue on the TTIP; event organised by the Italian presidency with participation of the Italian Prime Minister Mr Matteo RENZI, the Italian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Mr Carlo CALENDA and U.S. Trade Representative Mr Michael FROMAN

Mr Johannes HAHN receives Mr Max HIEGELSBERGER, Regional Minister of Upper Austria; receives Mr Erwin PRÖLL, Governor of Lower Austria and attends with him the opening of the Exhibition Lower Austria; receives Mr Vidar HELGESEN, Minister at the Office of the Prime Minister

Ms Connie HEDEGAARD delivers a keynote speech at the Arctic Futures Symposium, organized by the International Polar Foundation (Residence Palace, Brussels)

Mr Štefan FÜLE visits Lebanon

Mr László ANDOR in Budapest: gives speech at a conference on Health & Safety organised by Napi.hu

Mr László ANDOR in Rome: gives opening speech at European Social Fund conference on Youth Guarantee, organised by the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU; meets Mr Giuliano POLETTI, Minister of Labor and Social Policies of Italy; attends presentation of European Social Fund project “Torna subito”

Mercredi 15 octobre

FAC informal meeting of the 28 European Foreign Trade Ministers, Rome

Mr José Manuel Durão BARROSO in Milan (15-16/10)

Ms Catherine ASHTON leads meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister and US Secretary of State in framework of Iran Nuclear Talks, Vienna

Mr Joaquín ALMUNIA delivers a keynote speech and participates in the Award Ceremony of 2014 EARTO (European Association of Research and Technology Organisations) Innovation Prize, Brussels

Mr Ferdinando Nelli FEROCI, Mr Michel BARNIER and Mr Tonio BORG participate at the High Level Forum on the Food Chain, Brussels

M. Michel BARNIER participe à la conférence “L’homme face aux risques de l’argent”, organisée par l’Institut Catholique de Paris, Paris

Mr Andris PIEBALGS receives new President of CONCORD Mr Johannes TRIMMEL

Mr Andris PIEBALGS participates in the signing ceremony of the National Indicative Programme (NIP) with Cameroon

Jeudi 16 octobre

EPSCO (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council), Luxembourg

Mr Siim KALLAS meets a delegation from the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Brussels

Ms Androulla VASSILIOU delivers speech at the Conference: “A highly-qualified and well-trained work force: a key factor for European competitiveness” (Representation of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, Brussels)

Ms Maria DAMANAKI meets with Mr Charalambos SIMANTONIS, President of the Hellenic Shortsea Shipowners Association (Athens)

Ms Kristalina GEORGIEVA receives the Disaster Risk Reduction Champion Prize from Ms Margareta WAHLSTROM, UN SRSG for Disaster Risk Reduction

Mr Johannes HAHN in Vienna: gives a speech at the Board meeting of the Fraunhofer Society; in Brussels: gives a closing statement at the “Mayors Adapt Signing Ceremony”

Ms Connie HEDEGAARD participates in the signatory ceremony of “Mayors Adapt”, the Covenant of Mayors Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change (Berlaymont building, Brussels)

Ms Connie HEDEGAARD in Deauville (France) to participate in the Women’s Forum Global meeting for a dialogue “A Champion for Climate Action” (Centre International de Deauville, Les Planches)

Mr Štefan FÜLE receives the Turkish Minister for European Union Affairs Mr Volkan BOZKIR

Mr Dacian CIOLOŞ in Rome: participates in a panel discussion at the World Food Day – CFS (FAO Committee on World Food Security) Special Event: Innovation in Family Farming: Towards Ensuring Food Security and Nutrition; holds a series of meetings focussing on agriculture and food security issues.

Mr Neven MIMICA in Zagreb: visits a local school and meets with students who are using the ConsumerClassroom.eu educational platform

Vendredi 17 octobre

Mr José Manuel Durão BARROSO in Geneva

Mr Andris PIEBALGS participates in the signing ceremony of NIP with Tadjikistan

Mr Johannes HAHN in Piran: gives an opening speech to the “Rethinking Europe – Creative regions for a strong Europe” Seminar

Mr László ANDOR in Torino: attends conference on the European Social Charter organised by the Council of Europe and the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU

Mr Tonio BORG visits food retailers concerning food waste

Mr Neven MIMICA in Zagreb: meets the Minister of Economy, Mr Ivan VRDOLJAK, launches a consumer rights information campaign, meets representatives of consumer organisations

Samedi 18 octobre

Mr José Manuel Durão BARROSO in London (18-20/10)

Mr Andris PIEBALGS is in Nepal

10:00 Mr Andris PIEBALGS participates in a visit to the Bagmati river

11:30 Mr Andris PIEBALGS participates in a project visit

Ms Máire GEOGHEGAN-QUINN is invited to the Royal College of Physicians where she receives an Honorary Fellowship, Dublin

Dimanche 19 octobre

Mr Andris PIEBALGS is in Nepal: meets President Dr Ram Baran YADAV; meets Prime Minister Mr Sushil KOIRALA; meets Foreign Minister Mr Mahendra Bahadur PANDE; meets the Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Mr Arjun THAPA; meets Minister of Finance Dr Ram Sharan MAHAT

12:30 Mr Johannes HAHN in Piran: gives a closing speech on “Challenges of the Adriatic Ionian region” at the “Rethinking Europe” Seminar

Prévisions du mois d’octobre:

20/10 FAC (Foreign Affairs Council), Luxembourg

20-21/10 EYCS informal meeting of the 28 European Sports Ministers, Rome

20-23 European Parliament plenary session, Strasbourg

21/10 GAC (General Affairs Council), Luxembourg,

23-24/10 European Council, Brussels

28/10 ENVI (Environment Council), Luxembourg

30/10 Informal meeting of the EU Ministers of Tourism, Naples

Prévisions du mois de novembre:

06/11 Eurogroup, Brussels

07/11 ECOFIN (Economic and Financial Council), Brussels

08/11 Eurogroup

10-11/11 AGRIFISH (Agriculture and Fisheries Council), Brussels

12-13/11 European Parliament plenary session, Brussels

14/11 ECOFIN (Economic and Financial Council), Brussels

17-18/11 FAC (Foreign Affairs Council), Brussels

18-19/11 GAC (General Affairs Council)

21/11 FAC (Foreign Affairs Council), Brussels

24-27/11 European Parliament plenary session, Strasbourg

25/11 EYCS (Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council)

27/11 TTE (Transport, Telecommunications and Energy)

Prévisions du mois de décembre:

01/12 EPSCO (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council)

03/12 TTE (Transport, telecommunications and energy)

04-05/12 COMPET (Competitiveness Council)

04-05/12 JHA (Justice and Home Affairs Council)

09/12 ECOFIN (Economic and Financial Council)

09/12 TTE (Transport, telecommunications and energy)

11/12 EPSCO (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council)

12/12 FAC (Foreign Affairs Council)

12/12 EYCS (Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council)

15/12 FAC (Foreign Affairs Council), Brussels

15-16/12 AGRIFISH (Agriculture and Fisheries Council)

15-18/12 European Parliament plenary session, Strasbourg

16/12 GAC (General Affairs Council)

17/12 ENVI (Environment Council), Brussels

18-19/12 European Council (Brussels)

Permanence DG COMM le WE du 11 au 12 octobre:

Joe HENNON, +32 (0) 498 953 593

Permanence RAPID- GSM: +32 (0) 498 982 748

Service Audiovisuel, planning studio – tél. : +32 (0)2/295 21 23

Employment and Social Situation: Quarterly Review shows recovery still fragile

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 6 October 2014

Employment and Social Situation: Quarterly Review shows recovery still fragile

The economic recovery which started in the spring of 2013 remains fragile and future employment developments remain uncertain, according the European Commission’s latest Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review.

The Review also takes a look at differences in income inequality among Member States, and underlines the relevance of investing in skills through life to increase the employability of workers.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, commented: “Recent trends show that the economic recovery remains fragile and improvements are still timid. There is growth, but we still need to make sure that it becomes sustainable. Far from lowering our guard, we need to keep the efforts to support macro-economic and employment recovery in the EU“.

Employment has continued to grow in most sectors since mid-2013. The number of hours worked rose and, for the first time since 2011, there has been a small increase in full time contracts and improvements in the situation of young people. However, many of the new jobs created are part-time or temporary

Unemployment still remains close to historically high levels. And the long-term unemployed represent a large and growing share of total unemployment, with almost 13 million people having been unemployed for more than one year. Moreover, one in three unemployed people have spent more than two years without a job.

For young people, the situation has improved, with significant reductions in unemployment rates in most Member States. Nevertheless, youth unemployment remains very high in countries such as Greece and Spain. Among those who have a job, almost half are on temporary jobs and nearly a quarter works part-time. Member States need to continue their efforts to turn the Youth Guarantee into a reality to ensure that every young person gets help to find either a decent job or the opportunity to find training, experience or learning relevant to getting a job in the future The meeting of EU leaders on employment in Milan on 8 October will be a further occasion to give high level political impetus to implementing the Youth Guarantee.

Life-long learning increases chances to get a job

Developing relevant skills and putting them to the best use are essential to increase productivity, international competitiveness and a sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU. The review highlights that, as recent research by the OECD and the Commission shows, not only formal education but also training and skills acquired during working life improve the chances of finding a job. Furthermore, life-long learning also makes it more likely to have better paid positions.

However, the EU still lags behind countries such as Japan, Canada, Korea and the US in skills proficiency.

Measuring social progress

GDP as an indicator of economic performance needs to be complemented to capture other dimensions of the progress of societies. An analysis of income indicators reveals that, even during the years of economic expansion, economic growth did not benefit all households equally, nor did it contribute to reduce inequalities in all Member States. With the economic crisis, GDP per capita and gross disposable household incomes declined across the EU and have not yet returned to the pre-crisis levels in many countries.

This topic will be discussed in a high level expert conference on Moving beyond GDP in European economic governance which will take place in Brussels on the 10th of October 2014. It will take stock of recent technical and policy developments in the context of the ‘Beyond GDP’ debate, and will present practical policy options for the future.

For more information:

News item on DG Employment website

Access regularly updated data, charts and tables from the Quarterly Review in Excel format

Employment and social analysis

László Andor’s website

Follow @László AndorEU on Twitter

Subscribe to the European Commission’s free e-mail newsletter on employment, social affairs and inclusion

First general discussion on EU trade policy with the new Committee on International Trade (INTA)

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

Karel De Gucht

European Commissioner for Trade

First general discussion on EU trade policy with the new Committee on International Trade (INTA)

European Parliament

Brussels, 22 July 2014

Mr Chairman, Honourable Members,

Thank you for inviting me to the first full meeting of this Committee.

I am happy to see that the Committee has grown larger – which I think is a fair reflection of the importance, and even the respect, it has gained over the last few years. I am also happy to see quite a few familiar faces, but also many new faces – offering us an excellent mix of experience and new insights.

I sincerely hope that I will continue to work together with you in the same spirit of intense and constructive cooperation as with your predecessors in this Committee. You can count on me to remain as committed and transparent to this Committee as I was in previous years. My successor will need to have a very large shoe size if you consider what we have achieved during the last legislature. Indeed, our joint work with the Parliament and this very active Committee has in recent years contributed greatly to the conduct, legitimacy and accountability of the EU’s trade policy.

This Committee has been very active on the legislative front, adopting legislation that adapted our trade policy instruments to the Lisbon Agreement, as well as to the new global trade environment. This includes two important regulations related to investment policy, the review of the Generalised System of Preferences and the Enforcement regulation. I note with satisfaction that the compromises found between the Parliament and the Council fully respected the spirit of our initial proposals. This being said, there are still a few legislative procedures pending, and I will come to that in a minute.

We also managed to ratify and provisionally apply free-trade Agreements, such as with Korea, Colombia, Peru and Central America, offering EU business new opportunities in growing markets. All in all, more than 20 trade agreements, large and small, were submitted to Parliament’s consent during this term. Practically all passed with very comfortable majorities. This shows that there is a broad agreement on the key principles of European trade policy enshrined in our Treaties: open markets – both at home and abroad, a broad concept of the trade barriers we need to address, and a need to ensure we can compete on fair terms.

This is why the agreements that I just mentioned are new generation agreements, covering areas that bring additional value to the European economy – for example, services, public procurement, geographical indications, and a greater promotion of the recognition of EU standards.

These agreements are now being implemented, and are starting to bear fruit. The EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement entered into force in July 2011. We see today the benefits of this agreement with a more than 20% increase in our exports during both the first and second year of implementation. A considerable part of your work will also consist of monitoring the implementation of these agreements as well as those that you will be called upon to approve in the next few years.

This Committee has indeed witnessed the finalisation of quite a few agreements that are now ready, or about to become ready for consent: the DCFTAs with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, which are now signed, our deal with West Africa, which will soon be ready for signature, and the political agreements with Canada and Singapore, where we hope to finalise the outstanding technical issues soon. Only last week, we concluded negotiations on an Economic Partnership Agreement with Southern African countries and with Ecuador on its accession to the agreement we already have with Colombia and Peru. One agreement I would still like to conclude over summer is with the East African Community. However, this shall not be done at the cost of our obligation under the treaty to safeguard human rights through EU trade agreements.

One last point on EPAs, before the end of the month, the Commission hopes to present a solution to Council and Parliament to help preserve preferences beyond 1 October for Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Fiji and, if the conditions are right, Cameroon too, in the light of recent positive developments. I cannot pre-empt a College decision by saying more but would of course appreciate the support of this Committee at the right time.

In the meantime, we have more than 15 active bilateral negotiations underway, including with the US, Japan, Mercosur, Morocco and Vietnam, which you will be called to monitor in the following months and years.

If you really insist, I could say something on TTIP. We had a very long debate in plenary only last week. And I would of course be ready to take your questions on the most talked-of negotiations in town. Chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero was with you this morning to report on last week’s negotiations.

I will only add to what you have heard a point I made last week. I am a strong believer in public debate and on my watch we have had plenty with this Committee and your colleagues in plenary. I am also conscious of my responsibility to present facts and substance, and not false truths about a negotiation that is not even concluded. We are not what our detractors make us out to be. The Commission negotiates on the basis of existing EU legislation and hears a very broad range of views on an almost-daily basis. We know where our responsibilities lie.

I will only have a few months left to work together with you under the mandate. And I hope that we can use this time to move forward on a number of pending issues that I consider important.

First of all, there are two legislative proposals that the Commission made in March 2012 and April 2013 respectively, the International Procurement Instrument and the Modernisation of Trade Defence Instruments. Parliament has considerably advanced but the Council is still examining them. The current Italian Presidency is very dedicated to move these files forward. I very much hope that this Parliament will resume work as left off in April, so that you could be in a position, when Council is ready, to swiftly move to negotiations and find fair compromises together.

A brief word too about a recent proposal on conflict minerals, which I am deeply interested in, for I have seen the human tragedies caused by trade in conflict minerals in Africa. The proposal is based on a carefully-thought approach to promote responsible sourcing from conflict-affected areas without disrupting legitimate trade without which communities have no viable economic livelihoods other than recruitment in armed groups. So I welcome the fact that Parliament is now in a position to start examining this important piece of legislation and I hope that the balance we sought can be preserved.

Finally, we have also proposed in June to extend autonomous trade preferences for Western Balkan countries for another five years. I hope work can start soon on this file, even if preferences granted to Bosnia and Herzegovina may be suspended as of 1 January 2016, unless they fully treat Croatian exports as EU exports.

As regards pending negotiations, we are moving step-by-step towards conclusion with Canada. Following the political break-through of last October, our negotiators have worked very hard to finalise all remaining technical issues and to transpose the elements of the break-through into legal text. In some instances this has proven more difficult than we thought, but I am confident that the end is now in sight. As soon as the negotiators have completed their job, you will receive the consolidated text of all chapters. However, it is clear that this is one of the most ambitious agreements we have concluded so far going well beyond what Canada conceded to the US in the context of NAFTA. This is no mean achievement.

The FTA with Singapore is the EU’s first agreement with a Southeast Asian economy, laying down state-of-the-art rules on the full range of trade issues. Negotiations in the investment protection chapter started later and are being finalised as we speak, to be included as an integral part of the FTA for signature.

In March, we have launched negotiations on an investment protection agreement with Myanmar/Burma. No Member State has concluded one with this country, so this agreement will give EU investors much needed guarantees for their investments. We will push for the inclusion of provisions on sustainable development, covering social and environmental issues of relevance in an investment context, and to promote Corporate Social Responsibility and responsible business conduct. In addition, negotiations with China will also continue.

Before concluding, I would like to say a few words about the multilateral trading system, which despite the many other efforts underway, remains the cornerstone of the EU’s trade policy. In December last year, Members of the World Trade Organization reached a historic agreement on several issues from the Doha Development Agenda, including a brand-new Trade Facilitation Agreement, and opening the door to further work on the DDA. We are also advancing on a number of closely related initiatives. Negotiations to liberalise trade in environmental goods and services were formally launched this month, and we are moving towards concluding the review of the Information Technology Agreement, to liberalise trade in several products not covered before. Lastly, work is also advancing on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) to create a better playing field in trade in services, despite the challenge of how to dock such a large plurilateral agreement within the WTO system.

Top News from the European Commission 19 July – 30 September 2014

European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 18 July 2014

Top News from the European Commission
19 July – 30 September 2014

Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Tuesday 22 July: Commission moves a step closer to an ‘EU Urban Agenda’ as citizens are asked their views on the ideal European city

The news:

On Tuesday, 22 July, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will officially launch a public consultation seeking the opinions of European citizens on a future EU Urban Agenda – what form it should take and how it should be put into action. The Commissioner is calling for a wide engagement by stakeholders and inhabitants of cities.

The public consultation marks the adoption by the Commission of a formal Communication: “The Urban Dimension of EU Policies”, which proposes a set of questions for consultation aimed at further clarifying the need for an EU urban agenda, what its objectives should be and how it could function.

The background:

While 72 % of the total EU population live in cities, towns and suburbs, this proportion is likely to reach more than 80% by 2050. Currently, over two-thirds of all EU policies directly or indirectly affect towns and cities – such as in the fields of transport, energy, and environment. An Urban Agenda would aim for a more integrated approach to policy development, to ensure consistency and avoid contradictions.

A growing number of calls have come from the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, city associations and cities themselves for more involvement of cities in the design of EU policies and a greater coherence in the way Europe’s institutions tackle urban challenges.

The event:

Commissioner Hahn will make a press statement at the European Commission midday briefing in Brussels on Tuesday 22 July.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

“Cities of Tomorrow: Investing in Europe” forum

EU Urban Policy Portal

  1. Video stock shots of Urban EU co-financed projects available on Ebs http://ec.europa.eu/avservices

Twitter @EU_Regional @JHahnEU #eucities

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10

Wednesday 23 July: Commission presents its Energy Efficiency Communication

The news:

On 23 July, the European Commission will adopt the Energy Efficiency Communication. The Communication consists of an in-depth analysis of the EU’s progress towards its 2020 energy efficiency target and an energy efficiency framework for the following years up to 2030.

It includes an examination of the current and future benefits of energy efficiency for European citizens and the economy.

The background:

The Energy Efficiency Communication is an important follow-up to the 2030 communication on energy and climate change which proposed 2030 targets for greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy – 40% and at least 27% respectively.

The event:

An IP and a MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more information on the Energy Efficiency Communication:

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/events/2014_energy_efficiency_review_en.htm

For more information on the Energy Efficiency Directive:

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/eed/eed_en.htm

The contacts:

Sabine Berger +32 2 299 27 92 sabine.berger@ec.europa.eu

Nicole Bockstaller +32 2 295 25 89 nicole.bockstaller@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 23 July: Energy efficiency, human capital and SMEs to receive bulk of EU Cohesion Policy investments from 2014-2020

The news:

The European Commission is set to publish its 6th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion on 23 July, analysing the evolution of regional disparities in the Union over the past 4 year and the varying degrees of success in overcoming the impact of the crisis.

While unemployment has grown in almost all regions over that time, the Report highlights how the reform of EU Cohesion Policy, and its closer alignment with the Europe2020 Strategy, is turning things around and delivering growth and creating jobs.

The report outlines how investments will be focused on key areas like energy efficiency, employment, social inclusion and SMEs to get the most out of investments to the benefit of citizens.

It also finds that Cohesion Policy has cushioned the dramatic decline of public investment, injecting much needed liquidity in many Member States and creating vital financial stability.

The background:

The last Cohesion Report came out in late 2010 and emphasised the need for investments to support the realisation of the Europe2020 growth goals, with stricter pre-conditions and an increased focus on results. EU Cohesion Policy, as reformed for the 20014-2020 period has become highly strategic and modernised, with measureable impacts.

Investments now focus even more on the low-carbon economy, innovation and SMEs, quality employment, skills and social inclusion Meanwhile, new rules and pre conditions for funding ensure that the right regulatory and macro-economic framework is in place so the Policy has an even greater impact for the European economy and its citizens.

The event:

The Report will be published on 23 July.

An IP will be available on the day.

The sources:

The Sixth Cohesion Forum taking place in Brussels on 8-9 September 2014 will provide an opportunity to discuss the findings of the Report in the presence of high-level politicians and policy-makers.

Further information on EU Cohesion Policy and future events at:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10

Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 November: The EU at the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia – media accreditation open

The news:

The President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council will represent the EU at this year’s G20 Summit, which will take place on 15 and 16 November in Brisbane, Australia. Leaders are expected, amongst others, to adopt the Brisbane Action Plan, putting in place concrete short and medium-term actions to develop comprehensive strategies to stimulate growth. These will include infrastructure investments, trade barrier reductions, employment and development measures. Furthermore, G20 leaders will discuss measures to make the global economy more resilient to deal with future shocks.

The Australian Presidency has now opened the procedure for media accreditation. Journalists can apply for official accreditation until 21 October 2014, 9:00 Brussels time, at https://www.g20.org/accreditation/media_registration. As the Australian government points out, it is important that media register for accreditation via the online accreditation portal as early as possible and then apply for their visa. Accreditation will only be confirmed once the applicant has an approved visa.

The background:

The Brisbane Summit is the 9th edition of the Group of 20 (G20) Summit of the world’s major advanced and emerging economies. Its members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. Together, they represent around 90% of global GDP, 80% of global trade and two-thirds of the world’s population. This year, Australia welcomes Spain as a permanent invitee; Mauritania as the 2014 chair of the African Union; Myanmar as the 2014 Chair of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN); Senegal, representing the New Partnership for Africa’s Development; New Zealand; and Singapore. The 10th edition of the G20 Summit will be hosted by Turkey in 2015.

The event:

15 and 16 November 2014: 9th edition of the G20 Summit in the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia, with the participation of the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Council.

Press events ahead of and during the G20 Summit are to be confirmed. Press material about the EU at the G20 will be made available in the week before and during the Summit.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

G20 2014 Media accreditation: https://www.g20.org/accreditation/media_registration

G20 website of the Australian Presidency: https://www.g20.org/

G20 section on President Barroso’s website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/g20/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu +32 (0)2 295 30 70

Jens Mester jens.mester@ec.europa.eu +32 (0)2 296 39 73

Dirk Volckaerts dirk.volckaerts@ec.europa.eu +32 (0)2 299 39 44

Asia & Europe: an enduring and deepening economic relationship

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

Karel De Gucht

European Commissioner for Trade

Asia & Europe: an enduring and deepening economic relationship

Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM): A partnership for the 21st Century

Friends of Europe Conference

Brussels, 8 July 2014

Ladies and gentlemen,

The dramatic economic and political changes taking place in Asia require Europeans to think hard about the future of our relationship with the countries to our East.

But in doing so we must remember that this is not a new relationship – but one with a long and deep history.

After all, the famous early trade routes between Europe and Asia not only brought prosperity to individual merchants, they fundamentally changed the character of life in Europe – bringing variety and innovation – from the decimal system to the fireworks. Trade was also, we must acknowledge, the main driver of the regrettable past of European colonialism in the region.

History reminds us too that while the current economic rise of so many Asian countries is certainly shifting the global economic centre of gravity to Europe’s east; it is, in reality, only returning to a more central position. And this is the mathematical consequence of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

All this is to say that Europe and Asia are not strangers, but rather old partners renewing and deepening their ties, for the benefit of people at both ends of our vast land mass, and on the islands all around it.

This is why the Asia Europe Meeting is so important. It provides the Heads of State and Government of 51 Asian and European countries a forum both to build on our existing relationship and to deepen our ties.

The success of that endeavour is essential for the economic future of the European Union.

There are two forces by which international trade and investment boost growth:

Imports work on the supply side of the economy – making companies more competitive by giving them access to the world’s best inputs at the world’s best prices.

Exports work by responding to demand – giving us access to the world market.

The phenomenon of global value chains that produce goods in many steps, across many countries boosts both of these effects even more.

For these forces to help build a sustainable recovery in Europe, links with Asia are essential.

On the supply side, let me explain this with an example. Imports from China are essential to the competitiveness of many industries in Europe. Why? Because the parts and components that we get from the Chinese are used in European factories to make European finished products. The result is that more than a million jobs in Europe depend directly on imports from China.

On the demand side, we need to look at the bigger picture. The economic advancement of so much of the world’s population is creating massive new markets for European products. Economists project that over the next 20 years more than 60% of the world’s growth is going to happen in Asia. And by the way – that projection already assumes a gradual slowdown in growth in many countries there.

The conclusion: Europe has to be connected to Asia if it wants to be part of global growth. It’s that simple.

The good news is that we are already doing very well.

The EU is one of the largest trading partners of all Asian countries. And in 2012 we were either the first, second or third most important trading partner for ten of ASEM’s Asian members. By way of comparison, the United States has this kind of relationship with just two of those countries, as the second most important trading partner, after the EU, of Japan and China.

Moreover, the European Union’s deep relationship with China in particular plugs us into wider regional value chains, as does our status as the second largest partner for Singapore – the gateway to ASEAN.

For ASEAN as a whole, trade with the European Union represents some 13% of their total. This puts us in third place behind China and Japan. This is the result of geography and regional value chains. But we again outperform the US, who comes fourth.

And on top of all of this the EU is also a major investor in Asia, where we sent more than 20% of all our investment flows in 2012. And around 13% of all investment flows into the EU came from the region the same year.

That’s a lot of figures. But I don’t say all of this just to give an economic lecture.

I say it because too often in Europe we focus on our weaknesses. We sometimes forget that the Single Market and makes us a trade and investment powerhouse. We need to remember it when we design our policies.

What then should our policies be?

If we are doing so well can we just sit back and relax? Clearly not.

It is essential that we build the bridges that will allow our relationship to continue to flourish. In doing so we must use our resources wisely, focusing on what we can do to get pragmatic results.

Our first area of action is on the bilateral front:

Since 2011 we have been seeing the benefits of our ground-breaking free trade agreement with South Korea – with Europe’s exports to Korea up 24%. We now meet regularly in the framework of the agreement to make sure it is fully implemented.

We have also finished negotiations with Singapore, which is just the first of several negotiations with ASEAN countries. Talks are now underway with Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. And it is my goal that these agreements serve as building blocks for an eventual broader deal with ASEAN as a whole.

We are also in negotiations with India. They have been ongoing now for some time. But that is because we are determined to achieve a high quality result. And the EU looks forward to working with the new Indian government to achieve that.

Furthermore, we are negotiating a free trade agreement with Japan – the region’s second largest economy and one of the EU’s most important trading partners. One year into this highly ambitious negotiation we have already made significant progress on key areas like non-tariff barriers. We will continue to work hard to bring it to an ambitious conclusion.

Our relationship with China, given its size and role in the region, is naturally both close and complex. We are now well into a negotiation to improve both access and protection for investments in both directions.

If we take all of these agreements collectively, they will open markets for either trade, investment or both with 95% of the Asian economy. That will be an enormous step forward for EU-Asia economic relations.

It is true that these agreements do take time. But that is because they are of a very high standard. We could have concluded many of them long ago if we wanted low ambition deals that don’t bring about real market opening.

Even so, these bilateral discussions are only part of our relationship with the countries of Asia.

We are also determined to work hard together in the multilateral context.

Last year’s agreement on trade facilitation and other issues at the World Trade Organisation’s ministerial conference in Bali has shown there is life in the multilateral trading system. Now Europe and Asia are together making sure that this agreement is fully implemented.

The European Union is also working with China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, along with 9 other partners for a new agreement to liberalise trade in green goods.

But our most important task, of course, is to work with Director General Azevedo to find a way through the logjam at the core of the Doha Round. The European Union wants a meaningful outcome that reflects today’s realities and will help spur global economic growth.

In our view that means working towards concluding the DDA in the shortest timeframe possible, by the next ministerial conference if we can. To achieve that, we will need to simplify our overall approach. All Members will also need to adjust their expectations and focus on their key interests. Only that will allow us to get a balanced outcome across the main parts of the negotiations.

Of course that is really only the beginning. No matter how successful our efforts are, a completed Doha Round will still leave major gaps in the multilateral rulebook:

We will still have to answer key questions like how to deal with the interaction of trade policy and regulation for example. There is also the vexed issue of what rules state-owned enterprises should follow when they compete in the open market.

And, over the medium term, the World Trade Organization will have to be the forum by which Europe, Asia and our other partners work out global answers to these trade questions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The shift in the global economic balance of power means that the first trade and investment priority for Europe is to find ways to deepen the already significant bilateral ties between Europe and Asia. I would argue that we are well on our way to achieving that. What we need now are discipline and diligence.

But the bilateral relationship is really only part of the equation. The larger issue is how we are going to jointly help set the rules for the global economy of the 21st Century. As I have suggested that will ultimately need to happen in the World Trade Organisation, using our bilateral deals as something of a stepping stone.

Some may argue that this is not possible, that on these longer term issues Europe and Asia are too far apart. But I do not agree, I believe that as a group of trading nations we all have a shared interest in open markets. And the need for an international economic rule of law follows directly from this.

That, then, is not a European value, but a global one. So I have every confidence that by working together we will be able to succeed.

Thank you very much for your attention.

EU launches negotiations on environmental trade agreement

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 9 July 2014

EU launches negotiations on environmental trade agreement

Today the EU, together with 13 other WTO members (Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and the US) have formally opened plurilateral negotiations in the WTO on liberalization of trade in so-called ’green goods’.

At the first stage, the members of this initiative will aim to eliminate tariffs or customs duties on a broad list of green goods that help clean the air and water, help manage waste, are energy efficient, control air pollution, and help generate renewable energy like solar, wind, or hydroelectric. At the second stage, the negotiations could also address non-tariff barriers and environmental services. The EU is particularly interested to reduce barriers to trade in services ancillary to goods exported. E.g. to produce wind energy, it is not enough just to buy the wind turbine: companies also need to have access to the maintenance and engineering services necessary to keep it running smoothly in the world of global value chains.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht welcomed the opening of the negotiations: “This initiative is a win-win for the economy and the environment. It is an excellent example of how trade policy can have a positive impact on green growth, green jobs, sustainable development, and climate change. Looking beyond the obvious benefits for the planet, green trade means green growth for our companies – the world leaders in environmental technologies – and green jobs for EU citizens.”

The green goods negotiations have started as planned after few months of preparations since the launch of the Green Goods Initiative in January this year. The group of WTO Members will engage now in intensive negotiations meeting regularly in Geneva and discussing the substance of the agreement, i.a. product coverage and the approach on non-tariff barriers to trade and services. The joint statement issued on this occasions highlights the need for “the timely conclusion of the agreement” given the urgency of environmental challenges, including climate change. This initiative is expected to provide impetus to the DDA negotiations.

Background

The EU has been a long-standing advocate for removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in environmental goods and services in the WTO as well as in its bilateral and regional free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.

On 24 January 2014 the EU, together with 13 other WTO members (Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and the US) pledged to launch negotiations to liberalise global trade in environmental goods – the so called “green goods initiative”. Collectively, the group account for around 86% of the world trade in green goods.

The EU has technologically advanced and world-class companies providing environmental goods and services. There has been considerable job creation in the green sector, i.e. an increase from 3 to 4.2 million in full-time equivalents between 2002 and 2011 across the EU. Employment in the sector grew by 20% even during the recession years (2007 to 2011). In terms of trade, the EU is a world leader both in terms of export and import of environmental goods, and is followed by China and other APEC members.

Joint Statement regarding the launch of the environmental goods agreements negotiations

Speech: Thriving in a global economy

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

Karel De Gucht

European Commissioner for Trade

Thriving in a global economy

Launch: “Spirits: A European Power House for Trade”

Brussels, 25 June 2014

Ladies and gentlemen,

The international success of the European spirits industry is based on tradition.

Consumers around the world look to European products because of our strong sense of the past. Time itself is a key ingredient in many of them.

But for all the importance of heritage, your industry is also an excellent example of how European companies can prosper today and adapt for the future; and in doing so create jobs and business opportunities for the people of the European Union.

The report we are launching today shows the lessons you can teach others about how to thrive in a global economy.

First, your target market is the world. We all know the advantages that come with the European Single Market. Having such a home is invaluable for any company. But it’s not enough.

Over the next twenty years 90% of the world’s growth is going to happen outside of the European Union’s borders.

So the more European companies are ready to meet that demand, the better off will be the 500 million citizens of the European Union.

Second, the report shows how you can compete on quality – and indeed how quality is becoming ever more important to your export success.

That shows us that European companies cannot rest on their laurels. A tradition only has value if it continues to produce high quality results. If not, it’s just a tourist attraction.

Producing high-value added goods is essential for a developed economy like ours – because high-value goods – incorporating skill and experience – allow for well-paying jobs for people with those skills and that experience. This is relevant across the board for the European economy.

Finally, the report shows the importance of intellectual property. We have to protect both your individual company trademarks and the more than 300 geographical indications linked to spirits – not just Scotch and Irish whiskies or Cognac but also Polish vodka, Orujo de Galicia and many others.

Why? Because intellectual property is how we monetise quality. It’s essential for the model of a European economy that specialises in the high value tasks of global value chains.

So the model of your industry is encouraging. It can show the way for others who are struggling to find their place.

And that is how Europe will gradually adapt to this changed world – company by company – understanding and preparing for the future.

But there is, I believe, an important role for government in all of this.

I see the role of government – and of the European Union’s trade policy in particular – as facilitating the connections that bring prosperity back to Europe.

That means making sure Europe has an open economy, so that companies that are part of global value chains can gain access to the best quality goods and services from around the world, at the best prices.

Even for an industry such as yours, for whom local production and local ingredients are so important, access to internationally traded goods and services does play a role, whether those are capital goods, transport, logistics or finance.

This access is essential for Europe’s broader competitiveness.

But as your report highlights, in an economy like ours it’s not just political decisions made in Europe that count.

Governments around the world make decisions that affect your ability to do business every day – like levying a discriminatory excise duty or using unfair methods to value goods at the border. And by getting in the way of your exports, they undermine your ability to bring growth back home to Europe.

The underlying goal of the European Union’s trade policy is to make sure that those decisions are made in a fair and balanced way.

How should we do it?

Our first priority must remain the World Trade Organisation.

The multilateral system has been through a difficult decade, and the issues at the core of the Doha Round are still not resolved.

But a system that allows us to deal with so many partners at the same time – that establishes uniform rules for almost the entire world economy and that is backed up by the world’s best international dispute settlement system must be preserved and expanded.

Last December in Bali, WTO Members showed they understand this. The deal on trade facilitation reached there will directly benefit the spirits industry – simplifying customs and border procedures across the world.

We now need to make sure that deal is implemented, and get to work on what remains to be done.

The second major task for EU trade policy is to complete our unprecedented agenda of bilateral free trade agreements.

The virtue of these negotiations is two-fold. On the one hand, they allow us to move ahead with opening markets with those countries who are willing, rather than be held back by those who are more reluctant.

This has allowed us to put in place deals with Korea, Columbia, Peru and Latin America. It is what has brought us close to achieving final deals with Canada and Singapore. And it is why we are engaged in major initiatives with the United States, Japan, India, Mercosur and several ASEAN countries.

The second reason free trade agreements are important is because they allow us to go deeper, tackling more of the issues that affect businesses.

Of course that includes India’s 150% tariff on spirits. But it also allows us to promote the enforcement of intellectual property rights in Latin America and tackle discriminatory technical labelling regulations all around the world.

The final pillar of our work is enforcement. And it is necessary because negotiations have no value if the agreements reached are not put into practice.

As your report highlights, our case against the Philippines’ discriminatory excise duties is one example of how the WTO’s dispute settlement system can be very effective. We are committed to using that system whenever it is necessary – just as we are committed to using our trade defence measures when those are required.

These legal tools are complemented by our Market Access Strategy, which uses all channels of trade diplomacy to help us focus governments’ minds on problems that need to be solved. This approach has allowed us to resolve issues around distribution in Vietnam and push for progress where difficulties have arisen in China and Russia.

Ladies and gentlemen,

All in all this is a comprehensive strategy to make sure Europe is well placed for another century of prosperity as the world changes around us.

We will be able to put this strategy into practice for as long as the European people understand that our economy as a whole benefits from being part of an open global system.

Most people do see that the rise of vast new economic powerhouses is also the rise of vast new markets for European goods and services.

But many of them also see that globalisation presents challenges for Europe, most of all the need to adapt to rapid changes and deal with new competitors.

As the European elections have confirmed, some – a minority but a significant one – wish to react to these challenges by shutting our doors. I do not believe that would be anything other than a disaster for the European Union. And I’m confident you agree with me.

That means it is very important that people understand how open markets help industries such as yours to be successful.

People need to know that shoppers in China and the United States are buying high-quality goods from all across Europe. And they need to know what that means for their local economies.

It is certainly the role of politicians to tell that story. I do it wherever I go.

But you as companies have the specific examples of how international trade helps real people at home.

And now more than ever, it’s essential for that story to be heard.

Thank you very much for your attention.