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Remarks by President Donald Tusk at the High Level UN's Action for Peacekeeping event

European Council - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 01:44
President Donald Tusk addressed the leaders gathered for a High-Level event on Action for Peacekeeping held in the margins on the UN General Assembly in New York City.
Categories: European Union

Indicative programme - Competitiveness Council, 27 and 28 September 2018

European Council - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 01:44
Main agenda items, approximate timing, public sessions and press opportunities.
Categories: European Union

Labour opens door for new Brexit poll - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 18:49
The UK Labour Party left the door open on Tuesday (25 September) for a repeat referendum on Brexit but it comes with plenty of caveats.
Categories: European Union

The future partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom: Negotiating a framework for relations after Brexit

Written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig and Laura Puccio,

© momius / Fotolia

Following the European Council’s additional guidelines of March 2018, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) have begun discussions on their future relations, after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (Brexit). Negotiations continue, in parallel, to agree the terms of a Withdrawal Agreement, the purpose of which is to sort out the main issues regarding the UK’s separation from the EU, in accordance with Article 50 TEU on the procedure for the withdrawal of a Member State from the EU. The negotiating teams currently aim at identifying a political framework for the future partnership, to be annexed to the Withdrawal Agreement and adopted simultaneously. The treaty or treaties governing the future relations between the UK and the EU would only be concluded once the UK leaves the Union and becomes a third country – after the currently scheduled Brexit date of 30 March 2019. At EU level, the treaty or treaties would be subject to the ratification procedure for international agreements under Article 218 TFEU.

Both the EU and the UK have stated their desire for a close partnership in the future. However, a fundamental difference has surfaced in the talks. Whereas the UK has consistently called for a special status, going further and deeper than any existing third-country relationship, the EU has instead based its approach on existing models underpinning its relations with third countries. In particular, the EU assessed the various models used in previous EU agreements against the ‘red lines’ originally set by the UK government: no membership of the customs union or the internal market, no free movement of persons; no jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU); and the regaining of regulatory autonomy. In line with those red lines, the EU has explored what could be offered, in the area of trade, within the framework of a free-trade agreement (FTA) comparable to the EU-South Korea and the EU-Canada agreements. Similarly, the EU is looking at possible arrangements in the fields of justice and home affairs, and foreign policy and defence, based on how the EU cooperates with other third countries. Furthermore, several aspects of the special treatment that were requested by the UK either clash with the above-mentioned UK red lines or with the guiding principles set down in the European Council guidelines for the negotiations. These include: protection of the EU’s interests; preserving the integrity of the internal market and customs union; safeguarding the EU’s decision-making autonomy, including the role of the CJEU; ensuring a balance of rights and obligations and a level playing field; respecting the principle that a third country cannot have the same rights and benefits as a Member State; and safeguarding the EU’s financial stability, as well as its regulatory and supervisory regime and standards. While the objectives of the negotiations might be similar on both sides, the EU and UK perspectives remain divergent, and their positions differ in many areas on the means to achieve those objectives in the context of the future partnership.

In trade and economics, the parties seem to agree on maintaining duty- and quota-free market access in goods, even though for the EU preferential rules of origin would need to be introduced as a result of the UK leaving the customs union. Instead, the UK advocates a facilitated customs arrangement, whereby the UK would apply UK or EU tariff duties at its external border depending on the destination intended for the good (UK or EU internal market) and a common rulebook for goods’ standards checked at the borders, which would eliminate the need for an internal border for goods (including the need for preferential rules of origin) between the EU and the UK. However, the Commission has repeatedly indicated it considers these proposals to be unrealistic. Different approaches have also been suggested with regard to access to fishing waters and sustainable fisheries. Other controversial areas for negotiation will include access to the services market and regulatory cooperation. Greater market access is permitted in some sectors only if regulatory alignment is achieved. Whenever alignment to EU law is required, agreements also entail a role for the CJEU. Further market access in an FTA can only be granted within the constraints of other EU FTAs (most favoured nation (MFN) clauses in previously concluded EU agreements, which may require extending the benefits to other EU partners), and within the constraints of EU law (preserving the integrity of the internal market and the EU decision-making system, including CJEU jurisdiction). Finally, the EU is adamant that strong provisions are introduced to ensure the maintenance of a level playing field (LPF), such as in the areas of competition and state-aid, taxation and environmental and labour standards. Violations of these LPF measures should be subject to a dispute settlement mechanism and sanctions.

In the area of justice and home affairs, the UK has proposed to conclude an internal security treaty with the EU. Such a treaty would be based on the existing EU measures regarding: exchange of information, including access to EU databases; operational cooperation through mutual recognition tools, such as the European arrest warrant; and multilateral cooperation through the EU agencies, Europol and Eurojust. This would avoid any operational gaps post-Brexit and take account of the important contribution the UK has made to date in providing intelligence and analysis under current EU tools. The EU, however, although agreeing to the main areas of future cooperation with the UK – exchange of information; operational police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters – is offering the UK a relationship based on the model of third countries that do not participate in Schengen, rather than a special status. The UK would thereby lose direct access to the EU’s databases and participation rights in the managing bodies of the EU agencies, Europol and Eurojust. Furthermore, the EU mutual recognition instruments recognised as extremely valuable for UK law enforcement – such as the European arrest warrant – would cease to apply. Moreover, data sharing and protection arrangements would need to be agreed to allow the exchange of information to continue in the future.

In addition, in foreign policy and defence, the UK is seeking a special status, including some influence in the EU decision-making process, proportional to its contribution to CFSP and CSDP. However, here again, the EU takes the third-country model of cooperation as a starting point in the talks, although some special arrangements may be possible, inter alia, in light of the UK’s status as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and as a significant European military power. The negotiations on the framework for future dialogue, cooperation and coordination in CFSP/CSDP aim at agreeing arrangements as soon as possible after Brexit.

The European Council meeting of 29 June 2018 evaluated the progress made both with respect to the legal provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, in particular the contentious issue of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and with regard to the framework for future relations. The conclusions adopted on that occasion stated that further efforts were needed on both issues.

The European Parliament has already provided essential input to the European Council discussions and guidelines, through its March 2018 resolution on the EU-UK future framework for relations. In particular, it suggested the form of an association agreement for the future treaty with the UK that would be based on four pillars: trade and economic relations; foreign policy, security and defence, and development cooperation; internal security; and thematic cooperation (fisheries, aviation, etc.). A single governance structure and dispute resolution mechanism established by the association agreement would cover the entire EU-UK relationship. On many of the issues under discussion, the European Parliament has to give consent (meaning it has the right of veto) for the conclusion of the EU-UK future relationship agreement(s). However, should the parties conclude an agreement relating exclusively to CFSP/CSDP matters, then the Parliament would not have to give consent nor would it have formal consultation rights on that specific agreement.

Read the complete study on ‘The future partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom: Negotiating a framework for relations after Brexit’ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Categories: European Union

EDA Chief Executive visits Spain

EDA News - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 17:51

Jorge Domecq, the EDA Chief Executive, met today in Madrid with the Spanish Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles Fernández. He also had talks with the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Fernando Alejandre Martinez, the Secretary of State for Defence, Ángel Olivares Ramírez, the Secretary General Defence Policy, Juan Francisco Martínez Nuñez, the Defence Policy Director, María Elena Gómez Castro, as well as with the National Armament Director, Santiago Ramón González Gómez. Mr Domecq also met with representatives from the Spanish defence industry.

The main topics discussed during these meetings included the current state of play and way ahead in the implementation of the various EU defence initiatives (PESCO, CARD, EDF), the recently revised EU Capability Development Priorities, Spain’s current and potential future contributions to EDA projects and programmes, the implications of the Agency’s recent Long-Term Review (LTR) as well as the EU-NATO relations.

“It’s crucial to ensure that the various EU defence initiatives – the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) - are all implemented in a coherent and coordinated manner, based on the revised EU Capability Development Priorities and in full transparency and complementarity with NATO”, Mr Domecq stated.

Tomorrow (26 September), Mr Domecq will attend the opening of EDA’s 2018 Military Airworthiness Conference in Madrid, organised with the support of the Dirección General de Armamento y Material (DGAM) of the Spanish Ministry of Defence. 

2nd EDA Defence Innovation Prize launched

EDA News - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 17:32

EDA has issued a call for applications from parties interested in participating in the second edition of the ‘EDA Defence Innovation Prize’ contest rewarding companies and research entities who come up with innovative and ground-breaking technologies, products, processes or services applicable in the defence domain.  The topic chosen for this second prize is: Innovative Defence Applications using 5G and Internet of Things (IoT). The winning idea/concept will be worth 30,000€.

The Internet of Things (IoT), the extension of internet connections beyond computers and communication system to everyday objects as well as its myriad of applications are increasingly driving innovation. Furthermore, as the 5th generation of wireless system communications (5G) is in the starting blocks and most experts anticipate that it will revolutionize day-to-day life in a way similar to what the 3G did in the past.   
Even though civil applications and commercial producers are the main drivers behind the IoT and 5G technological (r)evolution, MoDs and Armed Forces cannot and will not ignore the potential benefits of using these technologies to improve European defence capabilities. Against this backdrop, contesters for this 2nd EDA Defence Innovation Prize are expected to propose ideas or concepts which, if implemented between now and 2035, would help improve and enhance specific EU defence capabilities.  No specific defence background is required to participate in the contest which is open to innovators from ALL types of industries and research institutions in Europe: defence & civil/commercial producers, large companies & SMEs, defence-related & civil research communities. Applications from dual-use and civil/commercial innovators and researchers are even particularly encouraged. 

The rules of the contest and the criteria for participation are included in the rules of contest available here.

Deadline for submissions: 2 November 2018 (5pm Brussels time).

Information on how to apply can be found in the contest documentation under the link above. 

The prize winners will be notified not later than early 2019. 

An EDA Defence Innovation Prize award ceremony is scheduled to take place 2019 in Brussels.

Winner of 1st edition to be announced soon

 The winner of the first edition, launched last February, will be announced in the coming weeks. The award ceremony will take place in the margins EDA’s Annual Conference in Brussels on 29 November.

More information:

[Ticker] UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder' - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 17:03
The secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, warned in New York on Tuesday that the world was suffering "a bad case of 'trust deficit disorder'". In his annual address to the UN, Guterres said "polarisation is on the rise and populism is on the march" and pointed to Europe, adding "without strong multilateral frameworks for European-wide cooperation and problem-solving, the result was a grievous world war."
Categories: European Union

British intelligence services make dramatic admission in spying case - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 16:50
The UK intelligence agencies GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 unlawfully captured private data from the UK-based rights charity Privacy International, legal documents published on Tuesday (25 September) reveal, in a move likely to spark fury amongst civil rights campaigners.
Categories: European Union

The Brief, powered by AmCham EU – Sweating a way out of the pit - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 16:44
Ten years after the Great Recession, the social scars of the crisis are slowly starting to heal. But the youngest generation is entering the labour market in troubling conditions while Europe remains unprepared for the future of work.
Categories: European Union

Leap-frogging the African electricity grid with solar - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 16:14
Mobile phone technology made landlines obsolete in sub-Saharan Africa years before Europeans began to give up their home handsets. Will off-grid solar do the same in the energy sector?
Categories: European Union

[Ticker] Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 16:04
Sweden's acting prime minister Stefan Lofven lost a confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday, 204 votes to 142, in the wake of September's election. The opposition centre-right alliance, led by Ulf Kristersson, is now expected to try to form a new government, but would depend on the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD), something Kristersson has ruled out. "We will not allow SD .... to control the political orientation," he told STV.
Categories: European Union

Pension fund chief: We are seeing a strong movement towards green financing - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 14:52
Investors increasingly have to take into account the legal risks associated with global warming and more and more of them are adopting a socially responsible approach, Phillippe Desfossé told EURACTIV France as Climate Week opens in New York.
Categories: European Union

Britain’s Syriza: Corbyn looks to learn from the Greeks - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 13:19
Amid the brouhaha of Labour’s annual conference and the general bile of the wider Brexit debate, reports have been surfacing on the continent this week as to the future role Jeremy Corbyn would play as the potential prime minister of the United Kingdom.
Categories: European Union

EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 13:17
The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg argued that disclosure of how MEPs use their monthly €4,400 expenses allowance risks violating an MEP's data protection rights. Journalists behind the case will appeal.
Categories: European Union

Future of European Postal Operators? [Promoted content] - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 13:13
At the heart of the postal ecosystem, European citizens can continue to benefit from an evolving and sustainable postal service.
Categories: European Union

Debate: Should Labour make bid to fend off Brexit? - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 12:29
Demonstrators have been waving EU flags outside the building hosting the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool ever since the start of the event. They hope the party will change its stance and seek to hold a new Brexit referendum. According to polls, 86 percent of party members back a new vote. Europe's commentators lament Brexit and the loss of Britain's former glory.
Categories: European Union


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