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European Commission Press Releases

Security Union: Commission welcomes the agreement on enhanced rules to fight terrorist financing

Vlad Poptamas

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the Commission’s proposal to facilitate cross-border access to financial information by law enforcement authorities.

A political priority for 2018-2019, the new measures will allow police to quickly access crucial financial information for criminal investigations, boosting the EU’s response to terrorism and other serious crime.

Welcoming the agreement, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “If you want to catch criminals and terrorists, you need to be able to follow their money. The new rules agreed today will ensure swift access to financial information and smoother cooperation across Europe so that no criminal or suspect can slip under the radar any longer or get away with dirty money.”

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “We have been closing down the space in which terrorists and criminals operate, denying them the means to carry out their deadly attacks. Today, we are cutting this space even further, making it easier for law enforcement to access financial information to help them crack down on the financing of terrorism. I would like to thank the European Parliament and the Council for delivering on an important commitment to building a safer Europe.”  

Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová said: “Improving the cooperation between Financial Intelligence Units and law enforcement in the EU will allow us to crack down faster and more effectively on money laundering. We need to be vigilant towards suspicious transfers of money, which can be one of the signals that a terrorist attack is being prepared. Such information needs to be relayed fast, and this can only be done if we have a strong network.

With modern technology, criminals and terrorists can transfer money between financial institutions in a matter of minutes. Law enforcement’s access to financial information is often too slow and too cumbersome, preventing them from completing criminal investigations and effectively cracking down on terrorists and serious criminals. Complementing the EU Anti-Money Laundering framework, the measures agreed today will:

  • Allow timely access to financial information: Law enforcement authorities and Asset Recovery Offices (AROs) will have direct access to bank account information contained in national centralised bank account registries or data retrieval systems. Europol will also be able to access this information indirectly.
  • Improve cooperation: The new rules enhance cooperation between national authorities, Europol and the Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).
  • Safeguard data protection: Law enforcement will have access to limited information only on the identity of the bank account holder and in specific cases of serious crime or terrorism, ensuring that the rights and freedoms of individuals are fully protected, in particular the right to the protection of personal data.

Next steps

The Directive will now need to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. Once it enters into force, Member States will have 24 months to implement the new rules into national legislation.

Background

Criminal groups and terrorists are increasingly operating across borders with their assets located both within and beyond EU territory. While the EU has a strong EU Anti-Money Laundering framework, the current rules do not set out the precise conditions under which national authorities can use financial information for the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of certain criminal offences.

Following up on the Action Plan set out in February 2016, in April 2018 the Commission proposed to facilitate the use of financial and other information to prevent and combat serious crimes, such as terrorist financing, more effectively. The measures, agreed today by the European Parliament and the Council, strengthen the existing EU anti-money laundering framework as well as Member States capacity to combat serious crime.

For More Information

Press Release – Security Union: Commission presents new measures to deny terrorists and criminals the means and space to act (17 April 2018)

Frequently Asked Questions – Security Union: Denying terrorists the means to act (17 April 2018)

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European Commission Press Releases

State aid: Commission approves €385 million support for production of electricity from renewable sources in Lithuania

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: therobotreport.com
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a scheme to support electricity production from renewable energy sources in Lithuania. The measure, open to all types of renewable generation, will contribute to the EU environmental objectives without unduly distorting competition.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The scheme will contribute to Lithuania’s transition to low carbon and environmentally sustainable energy supply, in line with the EU environmental objectives and our state aid rules.

On 1 May 2019, Lithuania will introduce a new aid scheme to support installations generating electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydropower. The scheme will help Lithuania reach its national target share of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption, which has been set at 38% by 2025. The renewable energy scheme will be applicable until 1 July 2025 or, alternatively, until the 38% target is reached.

The scheme, with an overall budget of €385 million, will be open to all renewable installations.

The installations benefitting from the scheme will receive support in the form of a premium, which will be set through a competitive bidding process for all types of installations, irrespective of the size of the installation and the renewable technology used.

However, the final premium will not be set at a level greater than the difference between:

  • the electricity market price in Lithuania (“reference price”); and
  • the average production costs of the most cost-efficient renewable energy technology in Lithuania (“maximum price”). This has been defined by the Lithuanian authorities as onshore wind power generation.

Both the reference price and the maximum price will be set by the Lithuanian national energy regulator for each auction.

The Commission assessed the scheme under EU State aid rules, in particular under the 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy.

The Commission found that the aid has an incentive effect, as the market price does not fully cover the costs of generating electricity from renewable energy sources and the beneficiaries will have to apply for the aid before the generating installations start operating. The aid is also proportionate and limited to the minimum necessary, as it only covers the difference between the production costs and the market price of electricity.

Therefore, the Commission concluded that the Lithuanian measure is in line with EU State aid rules, as it promotes the generation of electricity from renewable sources, in line with the environmental objectives of the EU, without unduly distorting competition.

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European Commission Press Releases

European Defence Fund: Statement by Commissioner Bieńkowska on the European Parliament’s vote

Vlad Poptamas

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The European Parliament endorsed today the provisional agreement reached by the co-legislators on the future European Defence Fund (EDF) for the next budget period from 2021 to 2027. The European Commission proposed the European Defence Fund in June 2018. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said:

“I welcome today’s vote by the European Parliament. More defence cooperation in Europe is essential to address the growing global instabilities and cross-border threats to our security. It is clear that no country can do this alone. The endorsement of the European Defence Fund will allow us to significantly step up our defence cooperation and allow Europe to become a stronger security provider for our citizens.

The European Defence Fund marks a big step forward in European defence matters. It will strengthen European cooperation by encouraging joint investments and technological innovation in the defence sector. This will help to spend taxpayer money more efficiently and ensure Europe can benefit from the best interoperable defence technology and equipment. By promoting a strong and innovative defence industry, the Fund will strengthen EU’s strategic autonomy and technological leadership in defence.

The Fund will build on defence priorities agreed by Member States within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and ensure synergies with the Permanent European Structured Cooperation.

With today’s vote, a fully-fledged European Defence Fund is now on track to become a reality. I want to thank the European Parliament as well as all other EU institutions on taking fast and decisive action on this key political priority.”

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European Commission Press Releases

Capital Markets Union: European Parliament backs key measures to boost jobs and growth

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: euobserver.com
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

The Commission welcomes the European Parliament’s final votes on legislation putting in place the building blocks of a Capital Markets Union (CMU).

This adoption of a substantial number of proposals constitutes another step forward in the completion of the CMU, one of the Juncker Commission’s top political priorities.

The Capital Markets Union project has been at the heart of this Commission’s ambition to boost growth in Europe, invest in innovation and promote the EU’s global competitiveness. With now 11 out of 13 proposals agreed, the CMU will become a true driver of investment in the Single Market, providing additional sources of financing to EU companies and opportunities for citizens to save for their future. The CMU channels investment to environmentally-friendly projects, thereby contributing to the EU’s sustainable and carbon-neutral agenda. A strong CMU is also necessary to complement the Banking Union in order to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union and the international role of the euro.

Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “The Capital Markets Union will enable companies to find more funding opportunities both domestically and across the Union and provide consumers with more choices to save for their future. Alternative market-based sources of financing are particularly important to finance innovation, entrepreneurship and start-ups, which are main engines of job creation. While the project will benefit all Member States, it will particularly strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union by promoting private risk-sharing.”

Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said:“The Commission has delivered on its commitment to put in place the building blocks of a Capital Markets Union by 2019. The CMU contributes directly to the Juncker Commission’s commitment to boost investment, jobs and growth by diversifying market-based finance for European companies. We have now laid the foundations for the CMU and efforts must continue into the next mandate so that businesses big and small, investors and savers can continue to reap the benefits.

Overall, all the adopted proposals will contribute to expanding the CMU’s objectives of innovative financing and creating more investment opportunities from the local to the European level. Each of them covers a specific scope of action:

Collective Investment Funds: By removing regulatory barriers for investment funds and diverging national rules, this proposal will increase competition and facilitate intra-EU distribution of investment funds, will giving investors more choice, better value and greater protection.

European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) review: This review will make the European system of financial supervision more effective and efficient. Among many objectives, the reform will also guarantee that supervision of money laundering risks in the financial sector is pro-active and fast. It will ensure that rules are evenly enforced throughout the EU and give the European Banking Authority (EBA) a coordination role in the areas of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.

Investment firms review:This revised legislation will ensure more proportionate rules and better supervision for all investment firms on capital, liquidity and other risk management requirements, while ensuring a level-playing field between large and systemic financial institutions. It will also strengthen and clarify equivalence rules for the provision of investment services by third country firms.

Covered bonds: This legislation will foster the development of financial instruments issued by banks to fund the economy across the EU, thanks to a harmonised EU framework.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) growth markets: The rules adopted will make it cheaper and simpler for SMEs to access public markets including through a category of trading venues dedicated to small issuers.

Disclosure requirements on sustainable investments: As part of the Action Plan on Sustainable Finance, these rules will strengthen and improve the disclosure of “green” information by manufacturers of financial products and financial advisors towards end-investors.

European market infrastructure regulation (EMIR) 2.2: This legislation will ensure a more robust and effective supervision of central counterparties (CCPs) offering services to the EU. Ultimately, this will contribute to preserving financial stability in the EU.

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