Ahead of the European Council meeting on 17 and 18 October, the European Commission calls on EU Heads of State or Government to provide political guidance and new impetus to the negotiations in order to reach an agreement on a fair, balanced and modern long-term EU budget for the period 2021-2027 before the end of this year. The next multiannual financial framework (MFF) should be fit for the challenges of today and tomorrow so it can enable the EU delivering on the expectations of citizens.
In a Communication published today, the European Commission outlines the main points that need consideration and a clear steer by EU Leaders in order to reach a swift agreement. These include:
– the overall level of funding to match the Union’s shared priorities;
– a modern budget with the right balance between policies and a strong focus on EU added value;
– a more transparent approach to financing the EU budget and the introduction of new sources of revenue to support priorities and reduce the burden on national contributions; and
– a greater policy coherence, through a closer link between funding and policy priorities and through stronger tools for protecting the EU budget from rule of law deficiencies
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The long-term EU budget is about acting where the EU adds the most value. It is investment in Europe-wide, world-leading research. It is funding for cross-border infrastructure, support for small businesses, and a safety net for our farmers. It is an education in another European country for generations of young Europeans. These are the priorities reflected in the Commission’s proposal for the next seven years. Moreover, our proposal is a forward-looking, responsible and pragmatic plan on how to do more with less. I call on the European Parliament and our Member States to reach a swift agreement.”
European Commissioner in charge of Budget and Human Resources, Günther H. Oettinger said: “In the spring of last year, the Commission made a proposal about EU’s next long-term budget that everyone recognised as a solid basis for negotiations. 16 months later, work has progressed but time is becoming short. Everyone must now work towards a compromise. We should roll up our sleeves and walk the final stretch. At a time of great challenges, Europe cannot afford a delay of its long-term budget. Our citizens are waiting to see results; it is now time to take responsibility. It is time to decide.”
In May and June 2018, the Commission put forward a proposal for a new and modern long-term budget, tightly geared to the Union’s priorities, including the legislative proposals for the 37 sectoral programmes. On that basis, a lot of work has already been done in both the European Parliament and the Council. Progress has been made on the overall framework and on many of the sectoral proposals.
But more work is needed. As negotiations are approaching the moment of truth, strategic guidance by the leaders is needed more than ever in order for the new programmes to be launched on time on 1 January 2021.
– Getting a budget that is up to the task.
The Commission proposed a long-term budget equal to 1.114% of EU 27 gross national income (GNI). Today the Union of 27 invests 1.16% of EU 27 GNI, including the European Development Fund. The proposed budget is therefore already smaller compared to the current one. If the EU budget is reduced further, this would make it difficult for the Union to deliver on its priorities and to provide the much needed support to its farmers, students, researchers, and hundreds of thousands of other beneficiaries of the EU budget. Leaders should therefore aim for a realistic budget that is up to the task.
– Finding a fairer approach to financing the EU budget
Today, some of the EU’s richest Member States get reductions from their contributions to the EU budget – also known as rebates – and as a result pay least compared to their gross national income per capita (see Annex). The departure of the United Kingdom – because of which the system of rebates was introduced back in 1984 – gives an opportunity to reform the revenue side of the EU budget and address a system that has become opaque and distorted. Leaders should make use of this opportunity and endorse a fairer way to finance the EU budget.
– Modernising the EU budget – the revenue side
This is also a moment to look at new sources of revenue to the EU budget, that are more closely linked to the EU policy priorities. Possible sources include revenue from the Emissions Trading System or contributions based on non-recycled plastic. Leaders should make use of the increasing momentum in favour of these new own resources and agree to diversify the sources of revenue to the EU budget.
– Modernising the EU budget – the expenditure side
In its proposal for the EU’s long-term budget, the Commission has proposed a new balance between the policy areas funded by the EU budget. While cohesion policy and the Common Agricultural Policy continue to play a vital role in shaping Europe’s future, they are being modernised in line with the new priorities. At the same time, more money goes to key policy areas such as research and innovation, student mobility, climate action, migration, border management and security, digitalisation, as well as defence and the Union’s external action. Leaders should support these efforts to modernise the EU budget and make sure it delivers in areas people care about.
European Labour Authority starts its work
Today, the European Labour Authority starts its activities with an inaugural ceremony and the first meeting of its Management Board. The launch takes place two years after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the idea for such an Authority in his 2017 State of the Union address before the European Parliament.
Marking the event, President Juncker said: “The European Labour Authority is the cornerstone in our work to make EU labour rules fair, effective and enforceable. It is no surprise that the Authority was established in record time, given its great necessity. The Authority will provide workers and employers with better access to information on their rights and obligations and will support national labour authorities in their cross-border activities. This will directly support the millions of Europeans who live or work in another Member State as well as the millions of businesses operating cross-border in the EU. This is another major step towards an integrated European labour market built on trust, reliable rules and effective cooperation. I want to thank all those – in the Parliament, the Council and the Commission – who have made the Authority a reality. I wish it every success.”
President Juncker will participate in the opening ceremony in Brussels together with the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Peter Pellegrini, given Member States’ choice of Bratislava as the Authority’s location. Commission Vice-Presidents Valdis Dombrovskis and Maroš Šefčovič, Commissioner Marianne Thyssen and other guests will also attend.
Vice-President Dombrovskis said: “The European Labour Authority brings national authorities together. Both in its governance structure and day-to-day operations, the Authority will facilitate the cooperation between Member State representatives, as well as social partners.” Commissioner Thyssen added: “The Labour Authority will be the oil in the machinery of the internal market. A place where colleagues from different national authorities become used to working together and solving problems together. This will make the wheels of labour mobility turn more smoothly, to the advantage of millions of European citizens and businesses that make use of their right of free movement every day.”
The Management Board of the Authority consists of representatives of Member States, of the Commission, EU-level social partners, European Parliament, as well as observers from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and other EU Agencies in the field of employment and social affairs. On 17 October, they will meet for the first time to adopt the necessary decisions to put the Authority into action and share their views on the initial work programme.
European Agenda on Migration four years on: Marked progress needs consolidating in face of volatile situation
Ahead of the October European Council, the Commission is today reporting on key progress under the European Agenda on Migration since 2015, with focus on steps taken by the EU since the last progress report in March 2019. The Commission also set out those areas where work must continue to address current and future migration challenges.
High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini said: “Over the past years we have built an EU external migration policy when there was none. We have developed new partnerships and strengthened the old ones, starting with the African Union and the United Nations. Together we are saving lives and protecting those in need by enabling legal migration channels, addressing the drivers of migration, and fighting against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings. The past years have confirmed that no country can address this complexity alone. It is only by working together, by joining forces that we can tackle these global challenges in an effective, human and sustainable way.”
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “These past years have shown that only together as a Union we are capable of responding to extreme circumstances. Collectively, we have laid down the structural and operational foundations for a comprehensive European migration system that not only responds effectively and delivers results, but also promotes solidarity and responsibility. While there is still more work to do and the situation remains fragile, we are much better prepared than we were in 2015.”
When the migration crisis broke out in 2015, the EU took swift and determined action to face exceptional challenges through common European solutions. Over the past 4 years, the basis for a strong collective EU migration policy and new tools and procedures for efficient coordination and cooperation are now in place. The EU is better equipped than ever before to provide operational and financial support to Member States under pressure, manage the external borders and work in partnership with countries outside the EU. However, more efforts are needed to complete this work and make the EU’s migration policy truly future-proof, effective and resilient.
Important progress made towards a strong and effective EU migration management policy
Over the past 5 years, the Commission has worked tirelessly to build a stronger EU policy on migration. By focusing on priority areas we have managed to move from crisis mode to creating structural solutions to ensure Europe is better prepared for any future migratory challenges – in the medium and long term.
Solidarity and support to Member States: The EU is now working more closely with Member States than ever before through the hotspot approach and EU Agencies with over 2,300 staff deployed on the ground – to better manage migration, strengthen the external borders, save lives, reduce the number of irregular arrivals and ensure effective returns. The coordination processes and operational structures developed and established on the ground are key achievements that will remain in place.
Stronger cooperation with partner countries is achieving results: The EU has stepped up the work with partners outside of Europe to tackle the root causes of irregular migration, protect refugees and migrants and support host communities. Unprecedented funding, worth €9.7 billion, has been mobilised to this effect, notably through the EU Trust Fund for Africa, the Syria Trust Fund or the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, under which 97% of €6 billion has already been allocated. EU support is also focusing on resilience, stability, economic and employment opportunities. Cooperation with partner countries on return has also improved, with return and readmission agreements and arrangements now in place with 23 partner countries.
Groundwork laid for future strong and fair asylum rules:The need for a reformed Common European Asylum System was one of the clearest lessons of the 2015 crisis. The Commission put all the necessary proposals on the table for a complete and sustainable EU framework for migration and asylum. Whilst progress was made on five out of seven proposals, the reform is still pending and a common approach to securing a fair, more efficient and sustainable asylum system is still needed.
Important progress on safe and legal pathways: Over the past 5 years, Member States have made the largest collective efforts ever on resettlement, with almost 63,000 persons resettled. Confirming their commitment and determination to ensure the continuity of EU resettlement efforts in the future, Member States have responded to the Commission’s call to continue resettling in 2020 by already pledging around 30,000 resettlement places.
More work and immediate steps required in key areas
Whilst the overall migratory situation across all routes has returned to pre-crisis levels with arrivals in September 2019 being around 90% lower than in September 2015, the situation remains volatile and geopolitical developments have created new challenges for the EU. Further work is needed to address immediate key challenges and to progress on on-going work, in particular:
- Urgent action to improve the conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean: Whilst the Greek authorities have undertaken steps over the past months to alleviate the pressure on the islands, including notably a new reception strategy and new asylum measures, the increase in arrivals has put strain on an already fraught system. While the EU-Turkey Statement continues to deliver concrete results, renewed migratory pressure in Turkey and instability in the wider region continues to cause concern. In view of this, urgent action must be taken to improve reception conditions, increase transfers to mainland Greece from the islands and increase returns under the Statement. The Commission is also stepping up its support to Cyprus, which is currently facing an increase in arrivals.
- More solidarity on search and rescue: Despite search and rescue efforts, lives continue to be lost at sea and the ad hoc relocation solutions coordinated by the Commission are clearly not long-term remedies. The Commission remains committed to working with and supporting Member States in agreeing temporary arrangements to facilitate disembarkation following search and rescue in the Mediterranean, and encourages more Member States to participate in solidarity efforts. Such arrangements could serve as inspiration for addressing flows in other parts of the Mediterranean.
- Accelerate evacuations from Libya: The situation in Libya remains a major concern. After violent conflict erupted in and around Tripoli in April 2019, intensified efforts through the trilateral AU-EU-UN taskforce must continue to help free migrants from detention, facilitate voluntary return (49,000 returns so far) and evacuate the most vulnerable persons (over 4,000 evacuated). Member States urgently need to increase and accelerate the pace of resettlements under the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niger run with the UNHCR and support the newly established ETM in Rwanda.
Antitrust: Commission imposes interim measures on Broadcom in TV and modem chipset markets
The European Commission has ordered Broadcom to stop applying certain provisions contained in agreements with six of its main customers. This will prevent serious and irreparable harm to competition likely to be caused by Broadcom’s conduct, which prima facie (at first sight) infringes EU competition rules.
Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “We have strong indications that Broadcom, the world’s leading supplier of chipsets used for TV set-top boxes and modems, is engaging in anticompetitive practices. Broadcom’s behaviour is likely, in the absence of intervention, to create serious and irreversible harm to competition. We cannot let this happen, or else European customers and consumers would face higher prices and less choice and innovation. We therefore ordered Broadcom to immediately stop its conduct.”
Broadcom is the world leader in the supply of chipsets for TV set-top boxes and modems, including so-called systems-on-a-chip. Systems-on-a-chip combine electronic circuits of various components in a single unit, which constitute the “brain” of a set-top box or modem. They are essential to bring the television signals and connectivity to consumers’ premises.
In June 2019, the Commission opened an antitrust investigation to assess whether Broadcom restricted competition in various markets for these chipsets and components for so-called central office/head end equipment by means of certain practices, including exclusivity, tying, bundling, interoperability degradation and abusive use of intellectual property rights.
At the same time, the Commission issued a Statement of Objections where it preliminarily concluded that interim measures with respect to certain aspects of Broadcom’s conduct may be required to ensure the effectiveness of any final decision taken by the Commission in the future.
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