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European Commission Press Releases

EU Budget 2021-2027: Commission welcomes Parliament’s green light on InvestEU

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: ec.europa.eu
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

The European Commission welcomes today’s vote in the European Parliament on InvestEU, the programme to boost investment in Europe in the next long-term EU budget. This vote brings InvestEU one step closer to its creation.

InvestEU will make EU funding for investment projects simpler to access and more effective. Building on the success of the Juncker Plan, it will bring together under one roof and with a single brand the European Fund for Strategic Investments and 13 other EU financial instruments currently supporting investment in the EU.

President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The Investment Plan put Europe back in business and delivered on this Commission’s number one priority: creating jobs and growth. But we can do more and that’s what InvestEU is about. By making smart use of the EU’s budget, InvestEU will help Europe stay an attractive place for investors worldwide. Over the next decade, the programme will unlock at least €650 billion for Europe to invest in its future, its economy and its people.”

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The next generation of investment support in the EU is almost there. Soon, businesses and entrepreneurs will get easier access to EU funding to turn their ideas into concrete projects. It will help keep the EU at the forefront of innovation and climate action, while creating jobs and ensuring a growth model that is socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.”

InvestEU will keep the Juncker Plan’s innovative approach to investment, by using limited amounts of public resources with an EU budget guarantee to leverage substantial private and public funds. The €38 billion guarantee will target investments in four main areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium businesses and social investment and skills. It should trigger at least €650 billion in additional investment in Europe.

Similarly to the Juncker Plan, the InvestEU Fund will be accompanied by the InvestEU Advisory Hub – tailored support to project promoters – and the InvestEU Portal – an easily accessible pipeline of mature projects for potential investors. Also like in the Juncker Plan, InvestEU will be a part of the Commission’s economic policy mix of investment, structural reforms and fiscal responsibility, to ensure Europe remains an attractive place for businesses to settle and thrive.

InvestEU is a partnership with the European Investment Bank Group (EIB), the EU Bank, and will be open to other implementing partners as well. The budgetary aspects of InvestEU are still subject to the overall agreement on the next long-term EU budget, which the Commission proposed in May 2018.

Latest figures from the European Investment Bank, the Commission’s strategic partner on the Juncker Plan, show that by April 2019, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) had mobilised almost €393 billion of investments. Operations approved under EFSI so far represent a total financing volume of €72.8 billion in all 28 Member States. The EIB has approved 524 infrastructure projects supported by EFSI for €53.8 billion, while the European Investment Fund has approved 554 financing agreements for small and medium businesses worth €19 billion, which should benefit 945,000 companies.

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European Commission Press Releases

New ACP-EU Partnership: Chief negotiators assess progress made and move talks on to next stage

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: mediacongo.net
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Following the recent consultations at regional level with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, Chief Negotiators Commissioner Mimica and Togolese Minister Robert Dussey met in Brussels today to discuss the outline for the future ACP-EU agreement.

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development and EU’s Chief Negotiator, Neven Mimica, said: “The agreement is taking shape. It is time to step up our efforts and speed up our progress to deliver as expected. Today’s discussions on the regional partnerships bring us a step closer to this new and stronger cooperation we are aiming for”.

Togo’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Africa integration, also ACP Chief Negotiator and Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, Robert Dussey, said: “We started this negotiation in September last year and have made steady progress since then. The consultations with the three regions were beneficial in so far as giving a good idea of the needs for each region. We look forward to concluding an Agreement which is focused on the current and future needs of our Member countries.

Next steps

While talks on the specific regional partnerships progress, the EU and ACP negotiating teams will continue their work on the text of the agreement that covers all 79 countries (also referred to as “the common foundation”). Upcoming negotiation sessions will notably focus on the institutional set-up. The aim is to make maximum progress before the next chief negotiators’ meeting, due to take place in the second half of July.

Background

The Cotonou Agreement currently governing EU-ACP relations is due to expire in 2020. Negotiations on a new ACP-EU Partnership were launched in New York on 28 September 2018 in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.

The initial rounds of talks mainly focused on the common foundation at EU-ACP level. This common foundation sets out the values and principles that bring the EU and ACP countries together and indicates the strategic priority areas that both sides intend to work on together.

In addition, the future agreement is planned to include specific, action-oriented regional pillars focusing on each region’s needs. The first round of consultations on the regional pillars has now concluded.

The future ACP-EU Partnership will serve to further cement the close political ties between the EU and ACP countries on the world stage. Together, they represent more than half of UN member countries and over 1.5 billion people.

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European Commission Press Releases

Fairness in the food supply chain: Commission proposes to increase price transparency

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: foodrevolution.org
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Having banned unfair trading practices and improved producer cooperation, the Commission is today presenting the third element to improve fairness in the food supply chain by introducing greater transparency in the way prices are reported throughout the chain.

The European Commission today tabled a proposal that will make available crucial information on how prices are determined as agri-food products move along the food supply chain.

Buying and selling price differences can provide information about intermediary costs (such as transport, insurance, storage, etc.) between seller and buyer. Greater transparency can support better business decisions and improve trust in fair dealing between the stages in the food supply chain. Having access to timely and easily accessible information about market developments is also key to compete effectively in global markets.

Agriculture and rural development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: “Strengthening the position of farmers in the food supply chain has been a priority for the Commission. Enhancing market transparency will allow equal access to and greater clarity about price information, making our food chain fairer and better balanced. These new rules will complement the recently adopted directive banning unfair trading practices in empowering weaker and smaller actors of the food supply chain and their introduction reflects the very significant public support that there is throughout the EU to strengthen the role of farmer in the food supply chain.

While there is a large amount of information available about developments in agricultural markets (prices, volumes of production, stocks, etc.), there is almost no market information about other key markets in the agri-food supply chain, namely those that operate between farmers and consumers at the food processing and the retail level. This asymmetry of information between farmers and the other actors in the food supply chain puts farmers at a significant disadvantage in the market and erodes trust in fair dealing. This lack of information on market developments from processors and retailers has been called the ‘black box’ of the agri-food supply chain and today’s proposal unlocks that box.

The proposed measures will cover the meat, eggs, dairy, fruit and vegetables, arable crops, sugar, and olive oil sectors. They build on existing data collection systems and procedures that are already in place and used by operators and Member States to report market information to the Commission, with a now wider scope. Each Member State will be responsible for the collection of price and market data. The Commission recommends that Member States choose the most cost-effective approach and do not target small and medium-sized enterprises to reduce the administrative burden. Member States will communicate the data to the Commission, who will in turn make the monitoring available on its agri-food data portal and EU market observatories. It is essential that the information provided by the Member States is accurate and timely.

According to the Commission’s Better Regulation procedures, the proposal is now published for a 4-weeks’ public consultation period. It will then be adopted by the European Commission and is planned to enter into force six months after its adoption.

Background

The Commission has been working towards a fairer and more balanced food supply chain since the beginning of its mandate.

In 2016, the Agricultural Markets Task Force (AMTF) was set up with the aim of assessing the role of farmers in the wider food supply chain and make recommendations on how it can be strengthened and improved.

Based on these recommendations, the Commission launched an inception impact as­sessment and a public consultation on the improvement of the food supply chain in 2017, both of which covered three elements: unfair trading practices, producer cooperation, and market transparency.

An EU-wide opinion poll published in February 2018 shows that a great majority of respondents (88%) considers that strengthening farmers’ role in the food supply chain is important. Confirming this trend, 96% of the respondents to the 2017 public consultation on the modernisation of the CAP agreed with the proposition that improving farmers’ position in the value chain should be an objective of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

The Commission presented last year its proposal to ban unfair trading practices in the food supply chain, which was voted by co-legislators in April 2019. These new rules will ensure the protection of 100% of European farmers as well as small and mid-range suppliers against unfair trading practices in the food supply chain.

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European Commission Press Releases

‘EU MED means business’: entrepreneurs from Southern Neighbourhood set out priorities for action to boost growth and jobs

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: cyprus-mail.com
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

The European Commission organised a first edition of  ‘EU Med means business’ – Shaping the future of entrepreneurship in the South’ on 21-22 May in Brussels with  parallel events in Tunis (Tunisia), Cairo (Egypt), Irdib (Jordan) and Rabat (Morocco). The participants developed recommendations to policy makers, and then voted in order to identify their twelve top priorities for action regarding investment, entrepreneurship and job creation.  These will be used in preparation of future EU approaches, but will also be transmitted to decision makers in the region by the European Commission and through the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), and may be updated in the future.

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said: “Following vibrant discussions with so many creative and talented entrepreneurs in the presence of policy makers and financial institutions, we have received a clear list of priority actions. These are important messages for policy makers in Europe, but just as important for decision makers in the region. We will use the outcome of this event in our interactions with the governments and in forthcoming meetings of the Union for the Mediterranean”. The Commissioner underlined that he hoped the discussion on the priorities for action would continue, saying: “During my time as Commissioner, I have worked to put socio-economic development at the centre of the partnership between the EU and its neighbourhood. Improving opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs is a win-win scenario: young people on both sides of the Mediterranean need economic opportunities to be able to build their own future. We must all work together and listen to the voice of those who are creating employment for the rising generation.”

The event focused on how to:

  • Attract more foreign and domestic investment and improve levels of job creation;
  • Unleash the potential of the private sector, and in particular of smaller enterprises, which create the most sustainable new jobs;
  • Boost talents and skills of young people and promote entrepreneurship and innovation to reduce the high levels of youth unemployment

 

Background 

EU cooperation, while providing a tailor-made mix for each partner county`s needs, offers a wide toolbox to help create economic opportunities:

  • supporting legislative and administrative reforms and infrastructure building to lift barriers to investment and to create a more enabling business environment;
  • providing capacity building, training and education for authorities and entrepreneurs, including on digitalisation;
  • creating adequate and accessible lending channels to allow Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) a better access to finance;
  •  promoting quality and relevant vocational education and training to provide people with the competencies needed to meet the specific needs of the job market and businesses;

The main instrument to implement these actions is the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI). Out of €10.8 billion allocated for the region via the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) for the period 2014-2020, nearly €4.2 billion has been dedicated so far to socio-economic cooperation. This figure will rise before the end of the current budget period, and is expected to reach around 50%  of the total allocation for the Southern Neighbourhood overall.

This is complemented by finance made available under the EU External Investment Plan (EIP) and the Neighbourhood Investment Platform (NIP) e.g. to facilitate access to finance and modernise crucial infrastructure in transport and energy. On top if this, €356 million has being channelled through the ENI to the Erasmus+ Programme in the Southern Neighbourhood (2014-2020). Under the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020, the Southern Neighbourhood is benefiting from a total amount of €763.9 million, reaching over 1500 participants and nearly 1200 projects.

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