Monday, 19/11/2018 | 8:18 UTC+0
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  • Latest daily news

    Investment Plan now set to trigger €256.1 billion in investment after new projects approved

    Following this week’s meeting of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Board of Directors, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is now expected to trigger €256.1 billion in investments. The deals approved under the EFSI amount to €51.1 billion in financing and are located in all 28 Member States. Around 539,600 small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) are expected to benefit from improved access to finance. As of December, the top five countries ranked in order of investment triggered relative to GDP are Estonia, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal and Spain. Also this week, Members of the European Parliament voted to adopt the Regulation to extend and enhance the EFSI, the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “EFSI-backed investments approved until now will increase EU GDP by 0.7% and create nearly 700,000 jobs by 2020. Now thanks to EFSI 2.0, even more jobs will be created. The Investment Plan is proving particularly successful when it comes to SME financing, with 539,000 small businesses already set to benefit from finance to grow their companies.”(For more information see the Investment Plan website or contact Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57361)


    Call for innovative projects: up to €100 million of EU funds made available to cities

    Cities are invited to apply here as of today and until April 2018 to get EU funding under the 3rd “Urban Innovative Actions” call for projects. Up to €100 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will help finance creative projects in the following areas: adaptation to climate change, air quality, housing and jobs and skills for the local economy, in line with the objectives of the Urban Agenda for the EU. A series of seminars will be organised in the Member States to help applicants submit solid proposals and increase their chances of getting funding. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: “The Urban Innovative Actions give cities the funding they need to turn their good ideas into ground breaking projects that can inspire other cities in Europe. This 3rd call, focused on urban climate actions, is another brick to the wall of our commitments and achievements under the Paris Agreement, just a few days after the One Planet summit in Paris.” (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


    5 million prize for innovations that use blockchain technology for social good

    The European Commission will award 5 prizes of €1 million each to social innovations as part of the Horizon Prize on “Blockchains for Social Good”. The prizes will be awarded to innovators that use blockchain technology to bring about positive social change, including for support of fair trade, allowing transparency in production processes, decentralising data governance and enhancing privacy, enabling accountability and contributing to financial inclusion. This prize encourages the development of scalable, efficient and effective solutions using Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), the ground-breaking digital technology supporting decentralised methods of consensus reaching or transactions. The official launch is taking place today in Turin, organized by the city of Turin and innovation foundation Nesta Italia. The prize is the third of six European Innovation Council (EIC) Horizon Prizes and funded under Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme. Detailed rules of contest will be available in February 2018, and the deadline for applications is 25 June 2019 in order to allow applicants to demonstrate the viability of their ideas in practice. More information is on the prize page and the EIC pilot website. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel. +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040)

    Combatting illicit trade in tobacco products: Commission adopts EU-wide track and trace system

    Today, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis welcomed the adoption of a set of legal acts aimed at combatting illicit trade in tobacco products: “Today the EU has taken a big step forward in combatting the illicit trade in tobacco products. The new EU-wide track and trace system adopted today will ensure that tobacco products in the EU are easily traceable with a unique identifier for each product. In addition, we are also making sure that tobacco products meet specific security requirements, with at least five types of authentication elements required per packet. The track and trace system and the security requirements should be in place by 20 May 2019 for cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco and by 20 May 2024 for all other tobacco products (such as cigars, cigarillos and smokeless tobacco products).” Full statement and Q&A are available online. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


    Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of sole control over CEPSA Gas by CEPSA

    The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of sole control over CEPSA Gas Comercializadora, S.A. (“CEPSA Gas”) by Compañía Española de Petróleos, S.A.U. (“CEPSA”), both of Spain. CEPSA Gas specialises in the wholesale and retail supply of natural gas to both large industrial customers and small and medium enterprises. CEPSA covers a wide range of activities from oil production and exploration activities to oil refining, and the supply of gas and fuels. It is also active in the production of petrochemicals and other oil-derivative products. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because CEPSA already had joint control over CEPSA Gas together with Total S.A. before the transaction. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8699. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

    Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Toshiba Memory Corporation by Bain Capital

    The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Toshiba Memory Corporation (“TMC”) of Japan, by Bain Capital Investors LLC (“Bain Capital”), of the US. TMC is a global manufacturer and supplier of NAND flash memory products and solid-state-drive memory products for use in a variety of consumer and enterprise applications. Bain Capital is an investment firm with activities in a variety of industries. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because Bain Capital’s portfolio companies and TMC are not active on the same or related markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8680.  (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

    La Commission approuve deux nouvelles appellations d’origine protégées pour des vins français et slovaques

    La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d’inscription de deux dénominations de vins au registre des appellations d’origine protégées (AOP), «La Clape» et «Skalický rubín». Les cépages pour les vins d’appellation «La Clape» sont cultivés sur le territoire du même nom situé dans le département de l’Aude dans le sud de la France. Les vins blancs «La Clape» présentent une robe jaune d’intensité moyenne, et une riche palette aromatique où se conjuguent le plus souvent fleurs blanches, fruits, notes balsamiques. Les vins rouges présentent une robe brillante à l’intensité profonde, le plus souvent de couleur pourpre. Cultivé et produit dans l’Ouest de la Slovaquie, dans la ville de Skalica et autour, le «Skalický rubín» est un vin rouge avec une couleur rouge rubis intense qui donne au vin son nom. Les cépages utilisés proviennent des variétés des variétés Frankovka modrá, Svätovavrinecké et Modrý Portugal. Ces deux nouvelles appellations vont rejoindre plus de 1750 appellations de vins déjà protégées dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données e-bacchus. Pour plus d’informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (Pour plus d’information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185;Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)



    Commissioner Jourová met with the Japanese Data protection authority to advance their dialogue on the promotion of high data protection standards

    Commissioner Věra Jourová met yesterday with the Commissioner of the Personal Information Protection Commission of Japan, Haruhi Kumazawa, to advance their dialogue on data protection as a fundamental right and a central factor of consumer trust in the digital economy. After their meeting, they issued a joint press statement welcoming the work carried out over the course of the last months and agreed to meet in Brussels early 2018 to finalise the negotiations. A speech of Commissioner Jourová delivered in front of the Japanese Business Federation, Keidanren, on data protection topics is also available online.  (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)



    Commissioner Avramopoulos meets President el-Sisi in Egypt

    Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will be in Cairo, Egypt tomorrow to meet President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi and discuss the cooperation between the European Union and Egypt. In addition, Commissioner Avramopoulos will jointly launch the EU-Egypt Migration Dialogue with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry. He will also discuss EU cooperation with Egypt on security matters with the Minister of the Interior, Magdy Abdel Ghaffar. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Thomas Kramer – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


    Commissioner Moscovici in London on Monday, 18 December 2017 

    Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs will visit the United Kingdom Monday, 18 December, where he will participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Policy Network and deliver remarks at the London School of Economics. While in London, the Commissioner will also meet Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183; Enda McNamara – +32 229 64976)


    Commissioner Hogan launches the 2017 EU agricultural outlook conference in Brussels

    Commissioner for agriculture Phil Hogan will open on Monday morning 18 December the third edition of the EU agricultural outlook conference. Running over two days, this annual conference gathers participants from the EU institutions, governments and international organisations, stakeholders involved in the food supply chain, market experts, academics, think tanks and civil society. Discussion on day one will focus on the modernisation and simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy, led by a number of high-level panels, including one keynote speech by Commissioner for budget and human resources Günther H. Oettinger. The second day will examine the latest outlook reports covering EU dairy, meat and crop markets over the next ten years. The full programme is online. The conference will be webstreamed here for 18 December, day 1, and here for 19 December, day 2. The discussions can also be followed online with the hashtag #AgriOutlook. Following his speech, Commissioner Hogan will hold a press point at 10:00 in the Charlemagne building on Monday morning. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel:+32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

    La Commissaire Crețu en Roumanie

    Lundi 18 et mardi 19 décembre la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu se rendra en Roumanie, où elle rencontrera le Premier ministre, Mihai Tudose, le ministre en charge des fonds européens, Marius Nica, la ministre aux affaires intérieures, Carmen Dan, le ministre en charge des transports, Felix Stroe, le ministre délégué aux affaires européennes, Victor Negrescu et le Secrétaire d’Etat à la Santé, Raed Arafat. Lors de sa visite, la Commissaire Crețu visitera des projets financés par l’Europe et participera à un Dialogue Citoyen. “De nombreux efforts ont été mis en œuvre dans l’exécution des programmes roumains de la politique de Cohésion et les progrès sont indéniables. Il faut continuer sur cette voie. Comme je le dis souvent, des investissements efficaces, dont les bénéfices sont rapidement visibles pour les citoyens, voilà le meilleur argument pour conserver une politique de Cohésion importante après 2020,” a commenté la Commissaire avant sa visite. (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

    La Commissaire Gabriel participera au Forum sur la gouvernance d’internet à Genève

    Du 18 au 19 décembre, Mariya Gabriel, commissaire à l’économie et à la société numériques, se rendra à Genève pour participer au douzième Forum sur la gouvernance d’internet (FGI). Sur le thème « Façonnez votre avenir numérique !  », le forum mettra l’accent sur les nouveaux enjeux des nouvelles technologies, notamment sur l’intelligence artificielle, la réalité virtuelle, le big data et la problématique des fausses nouvelles ou des droits de l’homme. A la veille de sa visite à Genève, la Commissaire a déclaré: Aujourd’hui plus que jamais, nous sommes confrontés à la nécessité de construire un internet ouvert. Les citoyens doivent être au centre de politiques numériques inclusives qui garantissent nos libertés et nos valeurs dans un monde numérique qui évolue de plus en plus rapidement. C’est un moment clé et l’Europe est prête à prendre ses responsabilités pour défendre sur la scène mondiale un internet ouvert et transparent, au service de la démocratie et de ses valeurs fondamentales “. Au cours de sa visite, la Commission rencontrera notamment David J. Redl, représentant de l’administration des télécommunications et de l’information aux États-Unis (NTIA), Goran Marby, Directeur-général et Président de la Société pour l’attribution des noms de domaine et des numéros sur internet (ICCAN), Houlin Zhao, Secrétaire général de l’Union internationale des télécommunications, ainsi que des représentants d’entreprises américaines et européennes. Au cours du forum, la Commissaire Gabriel donnera deux discours, l’un sur la construction d’une future gouvernance globale d’internet et l’autre sur l’impact de la numérisation sur les actions politiques, la confiance publique et la démocratie. (Pour plus d’informations : Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083 ; Julia-Henriette Bräuer – Tel.: +32 229 80707)


    Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)


    The Commissioners’ weekly activities

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  • Daily News 14 / 12 / 2017

    Conseil Européen, 14-15 Décembre 2017

    Aujourd’hui et demain, les Chefs d’état et de gouvernement de l’Union européenne se réuniront à Bruxelles pour des discussions qui constitueront une étape importante dans la feuille de route pour une Union plus unie, plus forte et plus démocratique. Le Conseil Européen débutera aujourd’hui avec le lancement historique de la coopération structurée permanente en matière de défense. Ensuite, les chefs d’état de gouvernement tourneront leur attention vers l’éducation et la culture suivant le succès du sommet social de Göteborg en novembre. Ce soir, la politique européenne en matière de migration figurera en tête de l’ordre du jour. Aujourd’hui à 14:40 CET, le Président Juncker signera la nouvelle déclaration conjointe sur les priorités législatives de l’UE pour 2018-2019, aux côtés du président du Parlement européen, Antonio Tajani, et du Premier ministre estonien, Jüri Ratas. La déclaration énonce 31 nouvelles propositions législatives présentées par la Commission qui seront traitées en priorité par le Parlement et le Conseil pour adoption ou progrès substantiels au moment des élections du Parlement européen en 2019. La cérémonie de signature sera transmise par EbS. Vendredi, les 27 chefs d’État ou de gouvernement de l’Union Européenne se réuniront pour le sommet de la zone euro dans la matinée, un autre jalon important sur laroute vers Sibiuque le Président Juncker a exposé dans son discours sur l’État de l’Union 2017. Les dirigeants devraient également tenir une première discussion sur nos propositions visant à approfondir l’Union économique et monétaire européenne. Lors d’une session de travail dédiée, les 27 dirigeants discuteront les derniers développements dans les négociations au titre de l’article 50 avec le Royaume-Uni suite à la recommandation de la Commission européenne du 8 décembre de conclure que des progrès suffisants avaient été accomplis au cours de la première phase des négociations. Une conférence de presse est prévue pour demain, vendredi 15 décembre, vers 13:00 CET avec le Président Juncker, le Président Tusk et le Premier ministre estonien Ratas et sera transmise en direct sur Ebs. (Pour plus d’informations : Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

    President Juncker meets with the Visegrád 4 leaders and Prime Minister of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni

    Only two months after the first meeting in October, President Juncker, together with Prime Minister Gentiloni, met again with the leaders of the four Visegrád countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – ahead of today’s European Council. Together they reaffirmed their joint determination to address common challenges together.  Migration featured prominently on the agenda of the meeting, particularly the EU Trust Fund for Africa. At the October European Council, all EU Member States agreed to contribute more to fill gaps in the Fund and today the Visegrád 4 made good on that commitment, announcing a further €35 million contribution to the North Africa window of the Fund. This constitutes a clear expression of solidarity and commitment towards the EU’s external action to manage and address the root causes of migration. In his statement today, President Juncker said: “I want cooperation to be as close as possible between the Visegrád Four countries and the Commission. Today I am happy that there are results. The V4 countries did deliver on this point, which is important. This is the proof that the Visegrád Four countries are fully aligned when it comes to solidarity with Italy and with others.” The North Africa window of the Fund has already helped more than 14,000 vulnerable migrants return voluntarily from Libya to their countries of origin and this figure should reach 18,000 by the end of 2017. The Fund has also provided medical help and direct support to more than 20,000 migrants inside and outside detention centres. The Africa Trust Fund – and the Visegrád contribution to it, is one part of the collective European solution to irregular migration on our shores. Last week the Commission proposed a political roadmap to reach a comprehensive agreement by June 2018 on how to pursue a sustainable migration policy, contributing to the European Council where this evening Member States will discuss the topic. Watch President Juncker’s statement here. More information on the roadmap here.  (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)


    Commerce électronique: accord pour une livraison de colis plus abordable

    Les négociateurs européens sont parvenus hier soir à un accord provisoire pour améliorer la livraison transfrontière de colis. Le nouveau règlement est une étape essentielle pour stimuler le commerce électronique en Europe, en permettant aux consommateurs et aux entreprises, en particulier les PME, d’acheter et de vendre des produits et des services en ligne plus facilement et en toute confiance dans un marché en évolution. Le vice-président Andrus Ansip, en charge du marché unique numérique, a déclaré: «Les prix élevés des livraisons sont un problème majeur pour les consommateurs et les entreprises, en particulier les PME. Une transparence accrue et un rôle plus important accordé aux autorités réglementaires permettront de faire face à ce problème. Cette bonne nouvelle s’inscrit dans la série d’accords visant à améliorer la protection des consommateurs, à simplifier les règles de la TVA et à lutter contre le blocage géographique injustifié.» La commissaire Elżbieta Bieńkowska, chargée du marché intérieur, de l’industrie, de l’entrepreneuriat et des PME, a ajouté: «Des millions d’Européens font le choix d’acheter leurs cadeaux en ligne, mais ils se heurtent toujours à de nombreux obstacles, notamment des prix de livraison élevés et des possibilités de renvoi peu claires. Grâce à l’accord conclu aujourd’hui, nous nous rapprochons d’une solution qui aidera les consommateurs et les entreprises à tirer pleinement parti du marché unique de l’UE et du commerce électronique transfrontière.» Dorénavant, les entreprises prestataires devront communiquer les tarifs des services fréquemment utilisés par les consommateurs et les petites entreprises, que la Commission publiera sur un site web dédié. Un communiqué de presse et des questions et réponses précisent ces nouvelles dispositions. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucía Caudet – Tél.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyon – Tél.: +32 229-80379; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tél.: +32 229 55040)


    WTO ministerial conference in Buenos Aires: A missed opportunity

    The 11th biannual ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ended last night in Buenos Aires. In a statement made at the final meeting of Heads of Delegations, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “All WTO Members have to face a simple fact: we failed to achieve any of our objectives, and did not achieve any multilateral outcome. The sad reality is that we did not even agree to stop subsidising illegal fishing. Now, I hope that several WTO members, whose actions here in Buenos Aires prevented an outcome, will use the time following this Ministerial meeting for valuable self-reflection.” Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, also attending the conference, said: “From the agriculture perspective, it is very disappointing that a work programme could not be agreed post Buenos Aires. That means that important issues such as food security will not now be prioritised in the work of the WTO. This is not in the interest of farmers and rural people in the developing world, nor in the developed world for that matter. This is a lose-lose outcome for all involved – a negative-sum outcome. The WTO is not a zero sum game, it is a positive-sum game when everyone plays their part.” Many WTO members recognised the central role of the organisation to global trade and development. In this respect Commissioner Malmström said: “Luckily, we still have the WTO’s current agreements, its structures of cooperation, and its invaluable dispute settlement system. It is a global public good, and the EU attaches enormous value to it. In the coming months, we will do what is necessary to support it if it comes under further pressure. We also need to intensify efforts to find solutions to important issues in the international trading system, such as on e-commerce, working with all willing WTO members in an open, inclusive and transparent manner.” The full statement by Commissioner Malmström, as well as more comments on the outcome of the ministerial conference, are available online. In the run-up to the conference, the EU challenged its WTO partners to plan for substantive outcomes in Buenos Aires, with text proposals in six areas of work(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)


    Commission welcomes agreement by European Parliament and Council on its proposal to make people’s skills and qualifications more visible

    The European Commission welcomes the political agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the revision of the Europass Decision achieved in Strasbourg yesterday. Europass is a suite of tools and services which support the transparency of skills and qualifications across the European Union. The main aim of the revision is to make people’s skills and qualifications more visible, to not only help people into jobs, but also to better understand and anticipate labour market trends and skills needs. Following the agreement, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: We neededto upgrade our Europass system to make it relevant for the digital age. The new Europass will be an even more effective tool to deliver for people on the ground so that they can better showcase their skills and manage their careers. With this agreement, the rollout of our European Skills Agenda is delivering and I want to thank the Estonian Presidency and the European Parliament for the excellent cooperation in achieving this result.” The political agreement has still to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council. More information on the initial Commission proposal can be found here. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)


    Commission welcomes agreement on key legislation to tackle climate change 

    The European Parliament and Council today reached a provisional agreement on a key legislative proposal for implementing the EU’s 2030 climate objectives – on accounting of emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). They form part of the EU’s policy to drive Europe’s transition to a modern and clean economy. A robust climate policy framework is a key element of the EU’s Energy Union and a successful transition to a modern and clean economy. This is a necessary shift that will require a contribution from all sectors of the economy. Incentives for climate-friendly land use and forestry ensure the continued growth and sustainable productivity of our rural communities, which provide important services and economic benefit. A sustainably managed land use sector can supply renewable energy and materials, ensuring that the EU remains a world leader in these markets. Welcoming the political agreements, Energy Union Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: “Today is yet another milestone for the European Union in its job to deliver on its Paris Agreement commitments. Today’s agreement recognising the role of land and forests in mitigating climate change puts the European Union firmly on track. Climate action must outpace climate change and we are once again setting a positive precedent that others beyond Europe can follow.” Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete added: “After long and complex negotiations, we have found an agreement to include emissions and removals from land use, land use-change and forests in our collective efforts towards the 2030 objectives and in line with our commitment under the Paris Agreement. This is yet another example of Europe’s determination to turn the Paris Agreement into a reality, through concrete policies and measures.” Read full statement here. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


    European Union takes over chairmanship of Kimberley Process on conflict diamonds

    Today the European Union has formally taken over the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process from Australia and will head the international initiative to stem the trade in conflict diamonds during 2018. On the occasion of assuming the lead role, HR/VP Federica Mogherini said “For the European Union, the Kimberley process is part of our work for sustainable development. It is part of our work for sustainable peace – to prevent new conflicts and cut the revenues of criminal and terrorist groups. It is part of our work for human rights – to make sure that diamonds produce wealth, not modern slavery. It has spread the idea that natural resources belong to communities, not militias. The main strength of the Kimberley process has always been that it looks beyond governments, to civil society and to private sector. This is our main asset as we chart the way ahead. We look forward to working closely with all stakeholders in this coming year.” More information is available here.(For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229-69140)

    Appel à candidature: l’UE offre un soutien sur mesure aux régions en transition industrielle

    La Commission invite aujourd’hui les régions en transition industrielle à manifester leur intérêt pour bénéficier d’un soutien sur mesure de l’Europe afin de bâtir des économies robustes et moderniser leurs industries. Mardi, dans le cadre du Plan d’Action dévoilé au sommet “One Planet” à Paris, la Commission a déjà annoncé que les régions Hauts-de-France (FR), Norra Mellansverige (SE), Piémont (IT), Saxe (DE) et Wallonie (BE) étaient sélectionnées pour bénéficier de cet accompagnement de l’UE, suite à un appel à candidature lancé par la Commission en septembre 2017. Face au nombre de candidatures reçues, la Commission a décidé de renouveler l’appel, avec un budget similaire de 2,5 millions d’euros. Cela permettra de fournir expertise et soutien à cinq autres régions, afin qu’elles élaborent et mettent en œuvre leurs propres stratégies de transformation économique, sur la base de leurs atouts de “spécialisation intelligente“. “Certaines régions paient le prix de la mondialisation sans avoir bénéficié jusqu’ici de ses avantages,” a commenté la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu,”L’UE, à travers la politique de Cohésion, s’engage pour que toutes les régions puissent tirer leur épingle du jeu dans une économie mondialisée. Cela implique qu’elles identifient leurs atouts compétitifs et apprennent à capitaliser dessus et c’est précisément en cela que nous pouvons aider.” L’appel vise tout particulièrement les régions “en transition” et les régions “plus développées”, les régions dites “moins développées” pouvant bénéficier d’autres formes de soutien de l’UE. Les régions peuvent envoyer leurs candidatures ici jusqu’au 19 janvier 2018. Les résultats seront connus courant février. (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel .: +32 229 58615, Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel .: +32 229 56169)

    Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of Banco Popular’s real estate business by Blackstone 

    The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of control over the real estate business of Banco Popular Español S.A. of Spain by The Blackstone Group L.P. of the US. Banco Popular is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Banco Santander. Its real estate business mostly comprises the Spanish portfolio of repossessed properties, non-performing loans relating to the real estate sector, and certain assets, as well as the operations of Banco Popular’s real estate management company, Aliseda. Blackstone is a global asset manager. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlap between the companies’ activities. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8679. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

    Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of sole control over Getec Energie companies by EQT Fund Management

    The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of sole control over the Getec Energie companies of Germany by EQT Fund Management S.à.r.l. of Luxembourg. The Getec Energie companies consist of (i) Getec Heat & Power AG; (ii) Getec Wärme & Effizienz AG; (iii) Getec Media AG; (iv) Getec shared services GmbH; and (v) Getec Contracting GmbH. They are specialised in energy contracting in Germany and the Netherlands. EQT is an investment fund that seeks to make investments in infrastructure as well as related assets and businesses in Northern Europe, Continental Europe and North America. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given that EQT already held joint control over the Getec Energie companies prior to the transaction. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competitionwebsite, in the public case registerunder the case number M.8729. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)


    Eurostat: Une entreprise de l’UE sur six a vendu sur le web en 2016

    L’année passée, 16% des entreprises situées dans l’Union européenne (UE) et employant au moins dix personnes ont reçu des commandes via un site web ou via des applications. Ces ventes web comprennent tant les ventes aux consommateurs individuels qu’aux autres entreprises. La part des entreprises de l’UE ayant réalisé des ventes web a progressé entre 2010 et 2014, passant de 12% à environ 16%, mais est depuis restée relativement stable. Parmi ces entreprises, en 2016, la quasi-totalité (97%) a vendu au sein même de son pays, tandis que moins de la moitié (44%) a effectué des ventes à des clients situés dans d’autres États membres de l’UE et plus d’un quart (28%) à des clients extra-communautaires. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici.


    Eurostat: La consommation par habitant a varié entre 53% et 132% de la moyenne de l’UE

    La consommation individuelle effective (CIE) est une mesure du bien-être matériel des ménages. En 2016, la CIE par habitant exprimée en standards de pouvoir d’achat (SPA) s’est située, parmi les États membres, entre 53% de la moyenne de l’Union européenne (UE) en Bulgarie et 132% au Luxembourg.Ces données, publiées par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne, sont basées sur des parités de pouvoir d’achat révisées, ainsi que sur les dernières données du PIB et de la population. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici.

    Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

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  • Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

    **General Assembly

    Tomorrow is, no surprise, the start of the General Assembly.  We will have Brenden Varma, speaking on behalf of the PGA [President of the General Assembly], brief you as soon as I am done.  The Secretary-General does expect to have a busy week:  we so far have more than 130 bilateral meetings scheduled through next Monday.  And he will have about 34 major speaking events this week.  We will be sharing these remarks as we go.

    And we will be trying to get you an embargoed copy of his speech for tomorrow to have it ahead of time.  Obviously, he will kick off the new session with a speech laying out his priorities for this General Assembly session, and you can watch all that live.

    **United Nations Reform

    This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at a high-level meeting on reform organized by the United States.  He said that to serve the people we support and the people who support us, we must be nimble and effective, flexible and efficient.

    The Secretary-General highlighted reform efforts that are currently under way, citing the strategy to end sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as plans to achieve greater gender parity in the UN, protect whistle-blowers, and strengthen counter-terrorism structures.

    The Secretary-General also said that reforming our peace and security architecture is to ensure we are stronger in prevention, more agile in mediation, and more effective and cost-effective in peacekeeping operations — as well as the development system to become much more field-focused, well-coordinated and accountable.

    To underpin all these efforts, we are pursuing sweeping management reform to simplify procedures and decentralize decisions, with greater transparency, efficiency and accountability.

    The Secretary-General stressed that the true test of reform will not be measured in words in New York or world capitals.  It will be measured through tangible results in the lives of the people we serve, and the trust of those who support our work through their hard-earned resources.  Value for money while advancing shared values — this is our common goal, he added.


    He also spoke at the high-level event for financing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs].  He said that the world has the resources to deliver the 2030 Agenda, and that the international community must ensure that these resources are delivered where they are needed most.

    The Secretary-General stressed that while globalization has brought extraordinary benefits, it remains fundamentally unequal, and these unequal gains are reflected in peoples’ fears, anxieties and outright anger.  Financing for development must help developing countries attract innovative finance and gain greater access to financial markets and private investment, he added.

    The Secretary-General also announced a finance summit, which will be held in New York in September 2018.

    **Climate Change

    And he just spoke at a high-level stakeholder event and dialogue on climate change, which brings a number of stakeholders on climate change, especially leaders at the governmental, regional and subregional levels.

    He said that when countries adopted the Paris Agreement, they rose to a global challenge, but now we have an even bigger one:  raising ambition and staying the course.

    He called on all actors to step up climate action before it’s too late, and highlighted examples of solutions that are already making a difference around the world.  He added that the UN is ready to assist countries in tackling climate change and reiterated his commitment to host a climate summit in 2019 in September for this purpose.

    **Hurricane Irma

    He will be addressing shortly an event on support to the millions of people across the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Irma.

    He will welcome the Regional Response Plan that has been developed with the support of national and regional disaster management agencies.

    On that note, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, yesterday allocated $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund [CERF] to help the tens of thousands of people impacted by this disaster.

    In addition, our colleagues at the World Food Programme [WFP] have launched a $5.  million emergency operation in Cuba to provide food assistance for four months to 660,000 people.  The announcement came during a two-day visit by the Executive Director of WFP, David Beasley, to the impacted communities in the island.

    And finally, the UN Migration Agency [IOM] has appealed for $4.95 million dollars to help rebuild communities affected by Irma as well as Hurricane José in the Caribbean region, Cuba and the United States.


    Turning to Myanmar and Bangladesh, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, despite continued advocacy efforts for unhindered humanitarian access, the UN and its partners are not being granted access by the Government to areas in Myanmar’s Rakhine State where there are still security operations ongoing.

    As a result, the UN cannot independently verify reports of continued violations of human rights of people fleeing the area, as well as of the number of people who have been uprooted or are on the move.

    It is estimated that some 415,000 people have crossed into Bangladesh since 25 August.  More than 170,000 people are reportedly not able to access primary health services.  Nearly 300,000 people, including 154,000 children under the age of five and nearly 55,000 pregnant women, require additional food assistance.  Funding is urgently needed to support and scale up existing services, as well as to set up new services across different sites.


    At the start of the school year, the World Food Programme is warning that more than 1.5 million vulnerable children across West and Central Africa risk going to school hungry or dropping out altogether, due to lack of financing for its school meals programme.

    Altogether, WFP’s regional programme faces a $76 million funding gap.  The repercussions are dramatic, since the WFP-provided lunches and snacks are the only meal some of these youngsters get.

    That’s the case in conflict-torn Central African Republic, where the school meals programme, aimed to reach more than 200,000 youngsters, is only half funded. Yet a more critical case is Burkina Faso’s programme, reaching nearly 83,000 children, and zero per cent financed.  Other particularly at-risk countries include Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.

    Studies show the meals help improve attendance and performance rates.  They are also a key incentive for parents to send their children, particularly girls, to school.


    From Syria, we are calling on all parties to the Syrian conflict to ensure the protection of civilians from the effects of violence in eastern Deir Ezzour, following increased reports of civilian deaths and injuries due to airstrikes in recent days.

    We call on all parties to do their utmost to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians in the conduct of military operations and strictly follow international humanitarian law principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in and from the effects of attack.

    On 14 September alone, dozens of civilians were reportedly killed following a number of airborne strikes in several locations in the eastern part of Deir Ezzour Governorate.


    You will have seen that yesterday we issued a statement on the recent vote in the Parliament of the Kurdistan of Iraq.

    In it, the Secretary-General said that he believes that any unilateral decision to hold a referendum at this time would detract from the need to defeat Da’esh, as well as the much-needed reconstruction of the regained territories and the facilitation of a safe, voluntary and dignified return of more than 3 million refugees and internally displaced people.

    The Secretary-General respects the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and considers that all outstanding issues between the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should be resolved through structured dialogue and constructive compromise.

    The Secretary-General calls upon the leaders across Iraq to approach this matter with patience and restraint.  The UN stands ready to help these efforts.

    **Middle East

    Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, has welcomed the recent statement by Hamas announcing the dissolving of the Administrative Committee in Gaza and its agreement to allow the Government of National Consensus to assume its responsibilities in Gaza.

    In a statement yesterday, Mr. Mladenov commended the Egyptian authorities for their tireless efforts in creating this positive momentum.  All parties must seize this opportunity to restore unity and open a new page for the Palestinian people.

    The UN stands ready to assist all efforts in this respect.  It is critical that the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza, most notably the crippling electricity crisis, be addressed as a priority.

    **Equator Prize

    Last night, here in New York, our colleagues from the UN Development Programme [UNDP] honoured the 15 winners of their Equator Prize, which recognizes the work of communities that are helping to protect the environment and tackle climate change.

    This year’s winners come from 12 countries and addressed issues like biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and many others.  Full list of winners on UNDP website.


    Just to note that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s [IAEA] sixty-first General Conference today approved by acclamation the appointment of Director General Yukiya Amano to a further four-year term of office, which will commence on 1 December 2017.


    A senior appointment to flag:  the Secretary-General has appointed Bintou Keita of Guinea as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.  She will succeed El Ghassim Wane of Mauritania, to whom the Secretary‑General reiterates his deep gratitude and appreciation for his dedicated service to the organization.

    Ms. Keita joined the UN in 1989.  Since 2015, she has been serving as Deputy Joint Special Representative for the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur [UNAMID].  Her bio is in my office.

    **Honour Roll

    Today, before the start of the General Assembly, we extend our thanks to Côte d’Ivoire and El Salvador who have now paid their budget dues in full bringing [the Honour Roll] up to the magical number of 129.

    **Press Briefings

    A couple of press encounters to flag:  2:30 p.m., at the GA Stakeout on the third floor, there will be a press encounter by Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade on the launch of the Alliance for Torture-Free Trade.

    At 6 p.m., back in this briefing room, there will be a briefing by Norio Maruyama, Spokesperson for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    And at 8 p.m., at the GA Stakeout, there will be a press encounter by the Foreign Minister of Norway, His Excellency Mr. [Børge] Brende.

    Just to remind you that we do not expect a noon briefing, we will post the highlights online.  Obviously, we will share the schedule for press encounters — and also a reminder that this afternoon, there will be the special high-level event on preventing sexual abuse and exploitation hosted by the Secretary-General.  We will be putting out a press release after that.

    **Questions and Answers

    Khalas.  Madame?

    Question:  Stéphane, regarding the high—level meeting today about the reform, UN reform, it was striking that the meeting was very short, and the Secretary‑General spoke second, actually, and not first, what is unusual, if I’m not mistaken; and why there were no other High Representatives who spoke at the meeting?

    Spokesman:  Sure.  First of all, with… the meeting was not hosted by the Secretary‑General.  It was hosted and led by the United States, co-hosted by a number of other nations.  So, since it’s not the Secretary‑General’s meeting, I think there’s nothing to be read into the fact that the Secretary‑General spoke after the host of the meeting.  I would add that the Secretary‑General was very happy to participate in this meeting and was very receptive to the words delivered by the President of the United States.  As to why other countries did not speak, again, that’s a question for the host.  And that’s the way it was organized.  The Secretary‑General was a guest, an honoured guest, we would hope, and… voila.  Mr. Lee?

    Question:  Sure.  Two things about… one about Myanmar and also about Yemen.  In Myanmar, I guess I want… I wanted to know, I’ve… over the… the weekend, I heard from some people that work in the Department of Political Affairs [DPA], and I wanted to get you to respond to this, the idea being that the Secretary‑General has been urged for some time, in fact months, to be more vocal or be more active on the issue of the plight of the Rohingya and that, at least at an earlier stage, his analysis was that this might put Aung San Suu Kyi in a difficult decision with the military.  Is that… is that an accurate depiction?  And, if so, what… obviously, the… the… has the plight changed so much, or does he think he might have gotten involved earlier?

    Spokesman:  I would say it’s an accurate description.  I think anyone who would have read or seen the Secretary‑General’s statements on the situation in Myanmar over the last two weeks could only say that he’s being vocal and being extremely vocal on the situation.  There is a time for diplomatic engagement. There’s a time for speaking out more loudly.  There’s a time for speaking out loudly and remaining engaged diplomatically.  The Secretary‑General has a number of tools in his kit, and he uses them as he sees fit.

    Question:  And has he spoken to Aung San Suu Kyi since…

    Spokesman:  Not since about ten days ago.  We, obviously, very much are looking forward to hearing what she will have to say in the speech she’s scheduled to deliver, I think it’s about Tuesday in Myanmar, and I think late tonight here in New York.

    Question:  Sure.  And on Yemen, I wanted to ask, I’d also heard that… that… and… and on the issue of the envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, that… that his contract was expiring 20 September and that the decision was made to extend it until February.  Given… there’s… one, I just want to know factually if that’s true.  And, if he has been extended, is this… does… did the Secretary‑General consider the fact that it seems to be difficult for him to communicate with those in power… de facto authorities in Sana’a and…

    Spokesman:  We… we’ve… I’m not aware of the contractual basis of our envoy.  What I do know is Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is our envoy, continues to be our envoy for the foreseeable future, and the Secretary‑General fully backs him and the effort… and his efforts.  Mr. Klein?

    Question:  Yes.  Regarding the Kurds…

    Spokesman:  Regarding the?

    Question:  The Kurds.

    Spokesman:  Yes, sir.

    Question:  Is the Secretary‑General essentially saying that the desire for self-determination on the part of the Kurds should take second place to this notion of the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq, or is he just saying that’s something that should be postponed, the referendum postponed?  I mean, it…

    Spokesman:  The issue of self-determination is enshrined in the Charter.  The Secretary‑General, as the leader of this Organization, obviously, respects the Charter.  I think the statement is fairly clear.  For the Secretary‑General, Iraq is at a very difficult and critical time.  He understands the issues on both sides, and he feels that they are best resolved at this very time through a constructive and positive dialogue between the authorities in Erbil and the central Government in Baghdad.

    Question:  But if the Iraqi authorities refuse to consider the idea of a referendum that includes self-determination as one option, then… then what… I mean, I guess, what… where do we go from there?  I mean, are the Kurds then supposed to just, you know, wait forever to realize their own aspirations or self-determination, or is it just a matter of postponing this until Da’esh is defeated?  I guess I’m not understanding the priority.

    Spokesman:  I think where we go… we can only go from where we are.  I’m not going speculate to where we may be.  For the Secretary‑General, he feels that, at this point in time, these issues need to be raised and dealt with in a constructive dialogue by both the central authorities in Baghdad and the authorities in Kurdistan.  Mr. Arikat, welcome to this briefing.

    Question:  Thank you.  Thank you for taking my question.  I wanted to ask you, very quickly, on Syria.  You mentioned the area of bombardment in eastern Syria.  Do you know who did that?  Is it the international coalition led by the United States, or is it the Syrian Air Force?

    Spokesman:  We have no way of independently verifying at this point who does the bombardment.  The focus right now is on the suffering of the people themselves who are on the receiving end of these bombardments, regardless of who manufactures the armaments or who drops it.  Evelyn?

    Question:  May I just follow up very quickly on something that you did not mention, which is the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]?  The Americans keep saying that Iran is complying with the… with the text or with the technical aspect but not with the spirit.  Do you see it that way?  Is that how the United Nations sees it?  And what is the spirit?

    Spokesman:  For the JCPOA, the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] has done its reporting, and they’re in the lead.  And it’s not for the Secretary‑General to second-guess that reporting.  There is a mechanism through which he also reports to the Security Council, and he will… he has done so and will continue to do so.  From our point of view, we regard the agreement as a key diplomatic achievement in recent years for this region, and we feel that everything should be done to support it and to keep this agreement.  Evelyn?

    Question:  Could you go over the numbers for Myanmar again?  Four hundred and fifty have crossed or 415?

    Spokesman:  Four… 415 [thousand].  We’ll give you all the… we’ll… just so there’s no confusion, we’ll give out the numbers.

    Question:  And the 170, no access to health care, is that in Bangladesh or…

    Spokesman:  Yes, this is in Bangladesh.  What the point…

    Question:  Okay.

    Spokesman:  Our point is that we do not have the access we need in Rakhine State.  The numbers we’re giving is for what is going on in Bangladesh.  Yes, sir, and then… go ahead, and then we’ll move to the right after we’re done with the left.

    Question:  It’s been a practice that the United Nations issues a statement on the anniversaries of massacres, like Srebrenica, for example.  Those days, the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and why there is no statement on this occasion?  Thank you.

    Spokesman:  I think a lack of a statement does not lessen our memory for those who perished.  Yes, ma’am?

    Question:  [inaudible].  Alexandra from AP.

    Spokesman:  Sure.  You need to press your microphone, Alexandra.

    Question:  Alexandra from AP.  I wanted to know if there was… if there was any development in the UN looking into the allegation… the Code Blue allegations about the sexual abuse cases and what they called a failure of the UN to properly investigate those cases, especially the failure to invest… to interview some of the victims.  I was wondering if you could describe what the UN is doing to look into those allegations and if anything has been done in the last few days, especially since they’ve come up right ahead of this meeting this afternoon about the same subject.  Thanks.

    Spokesman:  Sure.  What I can tell you… and bear with me, because the information I got was a little… is a bit wordy, but it is very important.  We’ve seen the information provided by AIDS-Free World, which alleges a series of lapses in the investigations.  As repeatedly stressed by the Secretary‑General, we will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse.  We, obviously, take these matters extremely seriously and are committed to transparency in all cases.  A preliminary inquiry by the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has indicated that all 14 allegations refer to the incidents that took place in 2015 and ’16.  Thirteen of these originated from the military police components of the peacekeeping Mission and related to fact-finding activities following receipt of information regarding possible instances of sexual exploitation and abuse by Mission military personnel, while the last one was brought to the attention of us through AIDS-Free World’s report itself.  MINUSCA was able to establish that 7 of the 14 case files disclosed in the report are already recorded in the Misconduct Tracking System maintained by the Department of Field Support (DFS) and were, in fact, acted upon.  Two of these are not listed in the public website as information on possible sexual exploitation and abuse was deemed insufficient to warrant further investigation.  Our colleagues at the UN Mission have requested a full-fledged investigation to be conducted into six of these allegations as well as into the ones brought to its attention by Code Blue.  A formal referral of… to the concerned Member States is in process to ensure that offenders are held accountable by their respective countries of origin, while strengthening support measures for victims.  MINUSCA has also taken immediate measures to ensure that all Heads of the Mission component are reminded of the UN’s procedures on reporting misconducts and investigations directly to the Head of the Mission.  The Mission’s Conduct and Discipline Team works closely with and regularly reminds the National Investigations Officers from troop— and police—contributing countries of their responsibilities to strictly follow the highest investigation standards in order to minimize further trauma on victims.  A full investigation into the matter is being prepared by the Mission with the support of OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services], and the results will be made available to you.  I will give that to you in writing as well, because that was a lot of words.  Go ahead.

    Question:  [inaudible]  Did you determine whether the victims were, in fact, not interviewed and…

    Spokesman:  I think they’re… they’re… my understanding is that they’re looking into these cases.  Some of them were, in fact… were in our tracking system.  Two of them… this deemed to be insufficient information, my understanding is that the mission is then going… looking back at the cases raised by Code Blue, and we’ll update you as we can.

    Question:  [inaudible]  Will they look back at these two cases that were…

    Spokesman:  They will look back into these cases.

    Question:  So, like, for example, for these two that were deemed insufficient, were the victims interviewed?

    Spokesman:  That… I don’t have that information.  I will try to see if I can find it.  Yes, ma’am?

    Question:  Hi.  Elizabeth Joseph with CNN.  Does the Secretary‑General have meetings scheduled with the visiting North Korean delegations?

    Spokesman:  He will… he’s expected to meet the Foreign Minister of the DPRK at this point.

    Correspondent:  Thank you.

    Spokesman:  Stefano?

    Question:  Thank you.  I have a question, but before a follow‑up with the first question about the meeting… the conference today.  Was the Secretary‑General surprised how short it was?  I mean, President [Donald] Trump spoke a little bit more than four minutes.  I mean, was he surprised…

    Spokesman:  No.  Again, this was not our meeting.  Right?  We were invited to speak.  The Secretary‑General was invited to speak.  He, of course, was delighted to be involved in this meeting.  I think a large number of Member States signed on to the declaration.  As to the length of the meeting, I think those are questions for the organizers…

    Question:  But, like… 

    Spokesman:  I spoke to the Secretary‑General afterwards.  I caught up with him.  He was all smiles, and he was very happy.

    Question:  Okay.  So my question is, there was, just an hour ago, a stakeout of the foreign… Italian Foreign Minister, Mr. [Angelino] Alfano, here, and I had a question, like, how the journalists on the Libya situation about the migrants issue, the human rights aspect.  And my question was how… the timing, because the Foreign Minister, the Italian Foreign Minister, has been repeating — UN will have to intervene more in Libya as far as to do with the humanitarian affair.  We expect the UN will… the mission of the UN will get bigger on that side.  So, my question was on him on the timing.  I said, okay, you’ve been talking about that, but when this is going to happen, because at the moment, the people are dying there because they are not… you know, they stopped; they’re not able anymore to cross.  And he say, well, Italy’s not the UN…

    Spokesman:  Stefano, what’s the question?

    Question:  The question is, Italy’s not the UN and practically just keep saying, you know, we hope this happens soon.  So who is really… you know, who is in charge at this point to make sure that this UN Mission in Libya [UNSMIL] will be able to take care more about the migrants there?  They are in condition that the humanitarian condition are very, very bad and…

    Spokesman:  You know, obviously, we’re all very aware of the political situation in Libya.  I think the Secretary‑General is rather bullish on trying to… on his thoughts on finding a positive outcome.  The focus is on political stability returning to Libya.  Obviously, creating the environment in which the UN Mission can return and operate fully with a full country team that can help support the Libyan Government, the Libyan authorities, in providing the humanitarian help to all those people who are trying to make the crossing or who are stuck in Libya and who deserve to be helped in dignity and with all the possible help we can give them.  Right behind you.  We’re going to move down the line.

    Question:  Yes.  Modibo from Voice of America.  Yes.  Do you think that the G5 [Group of Five] countries have the tools and means to fight the trans-border crimes with the kind of mandate they have from the UN?

    Spokesman:  I… sorry.  Okay.  The… what is clear is that the G5 countries are in the front lines of fighting extremism in the region, and it’s not just a mandate, but it will also be the technical and financial support that the international community is able to give them.  They will not be able to do it on their own, and the UN and the international community needs to support them as much as possible.  Yeah, right in front of you.

    Question:  Two-part question on Myanmar.  Remember Secretary‑General last week, and he said, until now, all communication with the Myanmar Government had sort of fallen on deaf ears.  Has he actually sort of been able to gain any traction in that conversation over the last few days?  And the second thing about the humanitarian situation in… in Bangladesh, has the Government reached out for… for more aid and more support?  And does the UN have a plan to actually ramp up, including making any sort of clear financial allocations?

    Spokesman:  The… our humanitarian colleagues are scrambling, in the best possible sense of the term, to try to get as much aid there as quickly as possible.  I mean, the numbers that I keep reading are staggering, if you stop to think about those numbers for just a second.  When you talk about the number of pregnant women, the number of children under 5, I mean, it’s… they’re just numbers being read out here, but when you think about each of those numbers represent an individual who has trekked through very hard conditions to get someplace.  We know that Bangladesh with the recent floods is also facing its own difficulties.  Our humanitarian colleagues are putting a plan together which will need substantial financial support from the international community and is working hand in hand with the authorities in Bangladesh to try to get as much support on… on site — water, food, social services.  I mean, we talked last… I think, last week about World Health Organization [WHO] vaccinating tens of thousands of children against polio and measles.  I mean, this mass movement of people creates all sorts of challenges in public health, in education, in access to water.  So, we’re working very closely with the authorities in Myanmar.  On your first part, as I said, there’s been no other phone call between the Secretary‑General and Aung San Suu Kyi.  I think he has made his position and his message very clearly and very publicly.  He told… he was speaking in an interview last week where he said he really thought this… the upcoming statement by Aung San Suu Kyi is almost the last chance to try to reverse the situation.  Obviously, he made a call to… for a halt of military and security operations.  It seems that… I wouldn’t say that that call has been heeded.  We will, obviously, listen very closely to what she has to say.  Oleg?

    Question:  Just a quick follow‑up.  Is there an estimation of how much will be required…

    Spokesman:  No, I can’t.  It will be a large amount.  I don’t have an estimate right now.  Oleg?

    Question:  Stéphane, thanks.  Can you confirm that Secretary‑General is going to meet [Sergey] Lavrov after his speech addressed to the GA?  And what are they going to discuss?  Are they going to discuss Ukraine, Syria, what other issues?  And, also, while meeting President [Petro] Poroshenko, what message Secretary‑General is going to convey to him?  Is he going to try to mediate something between these two countries?  Thank you.

    Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General will meet Foreign Minister Lavrov.  I don’t have the exact time and date, but I know that bilateral is scheduled to discuss.  We’ll be putting a readout afterwards, but I think, as you can imagine, there are a number of pressing issues to discuss with the Russian Federation — Syria, Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East in general and many others.  And, as for Ukraine, I would say… I would wait for the readout, as well.  Adam?

    Question:  Yeah, just a follow‑up on Yemen.  I know you said you… you weren’t sure if the Special Envoy there had had his contract extended, but I just wanted to ask it from a different angle.  Are we expecting a personnel change in the next few weeks?  And, if not, is there concern that he’s apparently still not able to speak to the Houthi rebels in that area?

    Spokesman:  No, no personnel change that I’m aware, and the Special Envoy continues to have contacts on various parties and various sides.  Abdelhamid, then Matthew.

    Question:  Thank you.  I have two questions.  One on Western Sahara about the whereabouts of Mr. [Horst] Köhler.  In a statement attributed to the Spokesman, he said that he’s going to the region to visit various parts of that concerned area, so if you can tell us more about his travel schedule.  And the second, there is a report that Mr. [Nickolay] Mladenov will submit a report to the Quartet and beyond, which is called the Contact Group, and he would be assessing the peaceful settlement and how it is has been not moving forward 50 years after occupation and 25… 24 years after Oslo.

    Spokesman:  I’ll check on the report.  I’ve not heard.  Your first question, I believe Mr. Köhler was here, and I don’t have any schedule to announce on his travel.  Obviously, it’s his wish to go.  As soon as we have a date, we will let you know.

    I do… I was handed a statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC], which I will read out.  The Secretary‑General condemns the killing of a Tanzanian peacekeeper serving with the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) on 17 September in Mamundioma in North Kivu Province.  This happened following a clash with suspected members of armed groups, the Allied Democratic Forces.  Another peacekeeper was also injured during the incident.

    The Secretary‑General offers his condolences to the friends and families of the deceased and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania.  He wishes a speedy recovery to the injured and urges the authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

    The Secretary‑General calls on all armed groups in the DRC to cease violence and avoid further deterioration of the security situation in the country.

    Mr. Lee?

    Question:  Sure.  Thanks a lot.  Follow‑up on Western Sahara.  Then I want to ask about Burundi, Cameroon and the media centre.  But, on Western Sahara, I wanted to ask you this.  I’d heard that Mr. Köhler, when he got the post, there was, obviously, some delay in it being formalized but that he was able to put… well, able… that he placed two long—time staff members of his own as a P5 and a P3 staff member.  And I want… I just wanted to know — maybe I’m wrong — is that how it works in the UN?  If you’re appointed as an envoy…

    Spokesman:  No, what has happened on this is that we’re in the process of recruiting staff for his office, which have, however, not been selected yet.  The selection process will take place on the basis of relevant professional experience, required educational background only in accordance with the established Secretariat recruitment procedures.  All positions are publicly advertised through the UN website.

    Question:  Okay.  I wanted to ask you about… when you said DRC, I thought you were going to speak on this, but there were 36 Burundian refugees that were killed in the DRC over the weekend.  And it’s… people are pretty upset about it, and they say they can’t… it seems like… one, do you know… does you or MONUSCO have any idea whether it was, as reported, Congolese Government forces who killed the refugees, or was it, in fact, Burundian forces dressed as Congolese?  And… and what… has Mr. [Michel] Kafando, if he is, in fact, here for the week, what’s his view of this… it’s a lot of people.

    Spokesman:  No, I know… I have some information for you on that from… from our colleagues on the ground.  We’ll share it with you by email.  He later said that we are concerned by reports that at least 36 Burundian refugees were killed and 117 injured by the Congolese security forces during clashes in South Kivu.  We condemn the violence and recall that the defence and security forces have an obligation to use force only as a last resort.

    Question:  Okay.  And on Cameroon, I just wanted to ask you, there… I know there was a statement about the… the release of some Anglophone prisoners, but there’s since been the… even the country’s own National Commission on Human Rights was denied access to prisons.  And there’s a video circulating of 12 people in an underground prison, Anglophone, nonviolent secessionists, I… the Government calls them but… is… does… is the UN continuing to follow this, or do they feel that… that… that, with… with the release of some Anglophone prisoners, the issue is solved?

    Spokesman:  The issue is not solved, and we continue to follow it.  Last question.

    Question:  And the final thing… yeah, absolutely.  And this is a… this is a… for the media centre, I wanted to ask you because not… it’s… this is UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] week.  So, it was said that there are no assigned seats.  It’s not true.  Obviously, companies come with big equipment.  No problem.  But I did want to ask about the appropriateness of a staff member of the French presidency taking over whole rows of the media centre for the travelling press corps of France.  I know it’s happened in this room, and you said it was… I think you said it was…

    Spokesman:  Matthew, as Louis XIV would not have said, the media centre c’est ne pas moi.  Do that’s… I’m not going to address those questions.  Last question.  Then we’ll go to Brenden.

    Question:  Thank you.  [inaudible] in Germany.  I’d like to ask you something Trump said this morning about the staff members and the squeezing of money for the United Nations.  He said, like, the budget has increased by 140 per cent, and the staff has more than doubled since 2000 and now, quote, we’re not seeing the result in line with this investment, is what Mr. Trump said.  Does the Secretary‑General agree with this statement?  And…

    Spokesman:  I think we’re…

    Question:  Second question is, is this issue about reforming United Nations the most important?  Maybe Trump’s… Trump sees it like this, maybe most important issue.  Is that what Mr. General‑Secretary also agrees on?

    Spokesman:  I’m sorry, what’s the last… I didn’t understand the last part of the question.

    Question:  [inaudible] Does Secretary‑General agrees on this issue that maybe the reform agenda is most important?  That…

    Spokesman:  Well, I think the reform agenda is a force multiplier.  Right?  For the Secretary‑General to get the reform agenda approved and blessed by the Member States is a way to ensure that the UN is more effective and is more cost-effective and delivers on what we need to do, whether in peacekeeping, in development, in humanitarian aid, in all the areas that we… so, it is the… it can be the catalyst for greater improvement.  I think what… as I said, the Secretary‑General was very pleased at the meeting today, and I think he very much… we listened to President Trump and his, I think, oft remark that the UN has great potential.  I think we saw it as a very positive speech.  On the note of positive, I will leave you in the hands of my colleague, Mr. Varma, on behalf of the President of the General Assembly.

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  • EU – Canada Summit: An historic juncture in our political and economic partnership

    Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Robert Fico, Prime Minister of Slovakia, and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, signed two landmark agreements: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA).

    Today, the people of Canada and the European Union have opened a new chapter in their relationship. More than half a billion people on both sides of the Atlantic will enjoy new opportunities. For many people, it will mean new jobs and better jobs”, said the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. “We have signed two agreements that not only symbolise our commitment to a shared future but also set a common project that will improve the lives of millions of Canadians and Europeans.”

    Read the full remarks of President Juncker at the joint press conference following the Summit here.

    The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini and Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, as well as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion and Minister of International Trade, Chrystia Freeland also attended the summit.

    The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement will generate economic growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic and reflects both sides’ commitment to free, fair and progressive trade, for the benefit of nearly 550 million EU and Canadian citizens. A Joint interpretative instrument, which further explains and clarifies the provisions of CETA was also adopted by the leaders, and an agreement was reached to work jointly towards the establishment of an independent and impartial multilateral investment court.

    Read the full press release: EU-Canada Summit: newly signed trade agreement sets high standards for global trade.

    The signature of the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) lays the foundations for the further strengthening of political dialogue and cooperation between theEuropean Union and Canada. The Agreement will institutionalise and enrich the partnership across a wide range of areas, from foreign and security policy to research and innovation; and from tackling climate change and terrorism to working together in the fields of development cooperation and consular protection. Read the factsheet on SPA here.

    The European Union and Canada have agreed a Joint Declaration (version française ici), which illustrates the breadth and depth of the EU-Canada relationship. This covers among others energy ties, cooperation in the Arctic region, ocean governance as well as research, where on 27 October of a research initiative was signed by the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas and the President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ted Hewitt.

    The leaders agreed to advance consultation and coordination on foreign policy issues. The Joint Statement demonstrates the European Union and Canada’s consistent and firm collaboration regarding, among other examples, Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan.

    The Summit took stock of the successful cooperation between EU and Canada in the framework of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy and committed to exploring further joint efforts. In this context, the leaders welcomed the conclusion of the negotiations of the Agreement on the exchange of classified information between the EU and Canada and affirmed their continued support to UN peacekeeping efforts and the EU – NATO partnership.

    For more information:

    16th EU-Canada Summit Joint Declaration (version français ici)

    Remarks of President Jean-Claude Juncker at the Joint Press Conference

    Text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

    Annexes to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada

    Press release: EU-Canada Summit: newly signed trade agreement sets high standards for global trade

    Factsheet on CETA

    CETA explained (DG Trade website)  

    Text of the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA)

    Factsheet on SPA

    Factsheet: EU-Canada relations

    EU Delegation to Canada website

    Press Release: EU-Canada research initiative

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  • Press Availability with Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan

    FOREIGN MINISTER FLANAGAN: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the Golden Vale of Tipperary on this beautiful autumn morning, and in particular I want to especially welcome Secretary of State John Kerry not only to Ireland but to the heart of Ireland to receive the highly acclaimed Tipperary International Peace Award.

    Today, the Secretary of State joins a long list of awardees which includes Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, George Mitchell, Hillary Clinton, Benazir Bhutto, Mary McAleese, and most recently and last year UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. And the Tipperary Peace Convention could not have awarded its prize to a more worthy and indeed more deserving figure than Secretary of State John Kerry. He has an outstanding record of public service going back three decades and more. His record is one of distinguished service at state level, at national level, and in more recent times at international level as Secretary of State.

    I was really grateful to have an opportunity over the past hour or so to discuss a number of issues with the Secretary of State. These include a number of current international issues and (inaudible) of concern to us nearer home, and had the opportunity to discuss in particular the most recent developments in Northern Ireland and the peace process, and indeed to acknowledge the appreciation of the Irish Government and indeed the Irish people to Secretary Kerry for his personal commitment to the peace process on the island of Ireland and the cause of peace and reconciliation.

    I would like to acknowledge and welcome back to Ireland – his first time I think in this part of Ireland – Secretary of State’s Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Senator Gary Hart. The appointment of Senator Hart is a further demonstration of the ongoing commitment on the part of the United States to our peace process, and Secretary Kerry and Senator Hart, we very much value that and we thank you for Senator Hart’s skill, his dedication, his contribution, and – in his capacity as special envoy.

    Turning to European issues, we discussed the intended withdrawal from the European Union of the United Kingdom. Ireland will continue to work with all our EU partners and the United Kingdom in this regard. Ireland remains a committed member of the European Union. We want as close a relationship as possible between the UK and the European Union in future, and of course, we are acutely conscious of the important need to protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement in any future arrangement.

    We also had the opportunity to discuss a number of other matters of importance, including immigration reform. And can I say that as a former senator from Massachusetts, Senator Kerry is acutely aware of the problems being experienced by many thousands undocumented Irish citizens, including being unable to return home for important family occasions. I know that Secretary Kerry does not have a direct role in immigration reform, but we still appreciate his interest and his understanding and his appreciation of this issue for Ireland.

    We greatly appreciate the efforts made during his tenure by President Obama and his Administration, and indeed the ever-vigilant and ongoing commitment to Irish affairs and indeed Irish priorities of Ambassador Kevin O’Malley during the course of his tenure here, and I welcome Ambassador O’Malley to Tipperary too. Our government will continue our two-pronged approach on the issue of immigration reform, trying to regularize the undocumented and attempting to get a dedicated quota for legal immigration from Ireland.

    We – the Secretary of State and I also had the opportunity to discuss a number of international issues, notably the appalling ongoing situation in Syria and in the city of Aleppo in particular. And can I say that the Secretary of State has demonstrated an enormous commitment to finding a resolution to this very, very serious crisis in the Middle East. I have assured the Secretary of State of Ireland’s unfailing support for his efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the tragedy in Syria. We also had the opportunity to discuss the situation in Yemen and Libya.

    I’m very pleased to hand it over to the Secretary of State.

    SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning to all of you and thank you very much, Foreign Minister Flanagan, my friend Charlie. I’m deeply appreciative for your welcome and also for the extraordinary contributions of Ireland to so many different parts of what we are engaged in right now in terms of seeking peace, not just within Europe but peace also in the issues – on the issues that he mentioned with respect to Syria, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, India, the challenge of nuclear weapons in North Korea. This is a challenging moment on a global basis, and very few countries step up as much as Ireland steps up. Your peacekeeping efforts and your commitment to reconciliation are legendary now, and so it’s a particular pleasure for me to come here partly with the pleasure of accepting the Tipperary Award, which I’ll have more to say about later, but it’s a great honor for me to be able to be here for that, but also to meet bilaterally with your foreign minister and to be able to talk about these broader issues of mutual concern. It’s also an honor for me to be here in Ireland because, having represented Boston for 28-plus years in the United States Senate and grown up there, I don’t think any state in our nation has stronger ties – there are others with strong ties, but none stronger than Boston. And it was my great pleasure to work with Tip O’Neill, Ted Kennedy, others, in the many efforts that we made to try to encourage a resolution of the challenges of Northern Ireland and those issues, and George Mitchell – my friend, obviously your friend also, you know so well contributed so significantly to that effort.

    It’s fair to say that few nations better understand the value of resolving territorial questions or addressing age-old grievances or bridging differences and reducing conflict and pursuing peace. I’ve often said to people it’s a lot harder to pursue peace than it is to make war or create conflict. Those are easier decisions than the decisions of reconciliation and of actually signing on to an agreement that puts grievances of the past behind one.

    I’m grateful that this morning the foreign minister and I had an opportunity to be able to talk about the strong and enduring partnership between Ireland and the United States. We spoke about the importance of sustaining and advancing the Northern Ireland peace process. Over nearly two decades, the world has seen the remarkable success, the striking success, of the Good Friday Agreement. I was pleased to serve in the Senate with Chris Dodd on the – and Joe Biden on the Foreign Relations Committee when we first grappled with the issues of do we give a visa to Gerry Addams, do we begin to move this process forward? And the answer is we did, and the rest is history. And we want it to be history because that still can serve as a model for embracing reconciliation, for rebuilding trust, and for resolving longstanding disputes.

    And I have to say to you, as I’ve traveled the world these four years as Secretary of State I have never seen a world with more opportunity waiting for leadership to put these conflict issues of the past behind us and grab the future, because so much of our effort needs to go into resolving this clash between modernity and globalization and opportunity for young people. The provision of jobs, education, creating the – meeting the expectations of young people all around the world should be a far greater priority, frankly, than some countries seem to want to make it, and then certainly some people in public life of one kind or another want to make it as they seem more and more prepared to engage in the lowest common denominator of politics rather than seeking the highest aspirations and implementing them.

    We all know that the work of peace is ongoing even here and that continued success is going to require continued effort and that a lot more needs to be done to build on the progress of the past. That is why the United States remains absolutely firmly committed to both the Fresh Start and the Stormont House accords, and we will support all steps necessary to implement them. I was pleased to turn to my friend Gary Hart, who I served briefly with in the Senate before he left but who I have known for many years going back to the years when we opposed the war in Vietnam and worked to move our country forward, and I am deeply grateful to him for taking time out of his private life to give so much to Ireland and to this process. And I want to underscore the importance of establishing the institutions that are called for in the agreements that will deal with the legacies of “The Troubles.” Now, doing so is critical to attracting foreign investment, to strengthening businesses, to providing jobs, and to growing the economy of Northern Ireland – all key ingredients for building and keeping a lasting peace on this beautiful island.

    The foreign minister and I also discussed the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, which we have both reiterated along with colleagues across the Irish and British Governments must not impact the push for peace in Northern Ireland. That is critical. I also want to make it clear that on a personal level as well as as Secretary of State, and President Obama, we felt very strongly that leaving the European Union was not the way to go and we expressed that at the time, but the people of Britain voted. And so we are committed now to figure out how we answer some very tough questions, which is how do you maintain the economic opportunity that is so critical that came through the EU while at the same time reconciling the requirements for the movement of people with access to a single market. This is a tough issue, and I can’t tell you that I stand here today knowing exactly how that’s going to be resolved. I just know it’s tough.

    But I also know that the United States wants, as Charlie just said, a strong United Kingdom, a strong EU, and we want the closest possible relationship with both. And we want to make certain that the marketplace itself remains as strong as possible, and we will work as hard as we can to honor the vote but also to make sure that the larger challenges of security and of economic strength and the long-term future capacity for growth are all going to be met in whatever the resolution of this is going to be.

    On the subject of Ireland’s global role, I commended this morning to Charlie and I’ve said a moment ago a few words about it, this nation’s critical contributions to international peacekeeping, particularly its deployment of troops to such challenging environments as Libya, Mali, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ireland also ranks among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of humanitarian assistance with an investment of nearly 100 million euros this year alone in order to help refugees and programs to protect human rights and other initiatives to alleviate poverty, to combat disease, and spur economic development. I know the people of Ireland are proud, and I want to emphasize how proud they should be and how grateful we are in the United States for the extraordinary global partnership of Ireland.

    Finally, the foreign minister and I talked about one of the greatest sources of dynamisms in our bilateral ties, and that is the connections between our two peoples, our youth particularly. Over the past half century, universities and businesses in the United States have benefited from the participation of more than 150,000 Irish students in our J-1 programs – exchanges that enable these young leaders to come over and study on American campuses, gain experience in our companies, learn about our customs and our culture – and yes, we do have some culture.

    I am pleased to announce that next month in Washington I will be signing an MOU which will expand the number of young Irish people who will spend a full year as interns for U.S. enterprises, giving them the chance to be able to develop important professional skills before returning home.

    So beyond these specific issues, Ireland continues to play an outsize role in big-picture challenges, from fighting climate change to countering violent extremism to spurring broadly shared prosperity to improving food security worldwide.

    And for example, Ireland is a key partner in the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, which will be an essential economic bridge tying the United States and Europe together even more closely than before. And this country has also been a member of the counter-ISIL coalition from day one, helping to lead the charge to fight and degrade the terrorists of Daesh. I want you to know that we are making great progress in that moving forward. With now the operation of Mosul, we’ve gained back enormous territory in Iraq, we’re putting enormous pressure on them in Syria, and I am absolutely confident that we are setting up the ultimate defeat of Daesh, which will do an enormous amount for the security of Europe and the rest of the world. I have no question but that our partnership on this, Charlie, is going to grow in the months ahead as we all gain more sophistication in those things that we can do to have greater impact.

    President John Kennedy, who I was privileged to meet several times as a young man when I was in college, knew a thing or two about Irish-American relations, and he referred to us as “two nations, divided by distance, [but]…united by history.” And I would add that we’re also united by our values, our love of freedom, and a certain exuberant and optimistic approach to the possibilities of life. So I’m delighted to be here, and I am absolutely convinced that the United States and Ireland are going to remain bound together in the pursuit of peace and prosperity and progress for many, many years to come. And the United States of America could not be more grateful for this very special relationship.

    Thank you.

    MODERATOR: Okay, we’ll take a few very brief questions. Carole Coleman, RTE.

    QUESTION: You both say that Brexit must not impact the push for peace in Northern Ireland. And in your discussions, are either of you concerned that it could actually impact the push for peace in Northern Ireland, and particularly, Minister Flanagan, in relation to the comments by the DUP that Ireland is being driven by political instability?

    And to you, Secretary Kerry, also, you’ve spent a lot of time trying to work on a diplomatic solution in Syria, and do you think that there can be any diplomatic breakthrough there before the end of this Administration?

    FOREIGN MINISTER FLANAGAN: I’m satisfied in the context of my discussions with members of the UK Government, with leaders in Northern Ireland, and at meetings with all of my 27 EU counterparts that the issue of the unique status of the island of Ireland in the context of the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union is recognized, is acknowledged, and is appreciated. So it’s important, therefore, in the context of the negotiations which will commence next spring that that unique status is acknowledged and maintained.

    With particular reference to the issue of the current invisible border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, in the last seven days I was in Derry, I was in Newry, I was in Armagh speaking to business leaders regarding the challenge, which is an enormous challenge, in order to ensure that our level of trade is not only unhindered but continues to grow, and also in terms of people-to-people contact and the entire peace process.

    Can I say in relation to the remarks of the first minister at the DUP conference yesterday, I was very surprised at these remarks and very concerned at these remarks. I’m very concerned that it claimed that representatives of the Irish Government were allegedly talking down at the Northern Ireland economy, very concerned at allegations that representatives of the Irish state were in any way poaching business or investors. I spoke last evening to the minister of the economy, Simon Hamilton. I expressed my concern. He and I agreed that it’s important that we work together, which we will do.

    I believe it’s important that the unique relationship of the people on this island forms part of the negotiated framework in the matter of the relationship between United Kingdom and the European Union. We need to work together, we have to work together, in order to ensure economic and social prosperity for all the people on this island, and that is the priority of my government and my government colleagues.

    QUESTION: Thank you. Sir.

    SECRETARY KERRY: I think you had just the separate question for me. You didn’t —

    QUESTION: Well, do you want to comment on —

    SECRETARY KERRY: No, no, no, no. I think Charlie did a great job with that. The only thing that I would say is people need to be really careful with downstream consequences, that one choice can have an impact on other aspects, and whatever happens with the border, how that border access is managed. I just want to underscore what Charlie was saying. It’s really critical that it be done very thoughtfully and very sensitively so it doesn’t impact. I’m not saying it will, but one needs to make certain that it doesn’t.

    With respect to Syria, we are engaged even now, still, on a daily basis trying to find a way to address the humanitarian disaster of Aleppo and of the war itself. Every day this war goes on, every hour it goes on, is an hour and a day too long. And so we are still engaged on a multilateral basis, including with Russia and Iran and other parties – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, et cetera – to see if there is a way to try to reduce the violence and move towards the negotiating table.

    Because there have been a sufficient level of starts that have not produced an outcome except for a temporary period of time, I want to be very, very careful with any kind of predictions in answer to your question. But just broadly writ, is it possible? Yes, it is possible, providing that the Russians and Iranians and the regime itself are willing to accept a reasonable approach put on the table by all sides – by all the other parties – in the hopes of being able to move towards that political discussion. And we are not going to stop, not for one day, without any shame whatsoever in saying that, because the alternative is that on a daily basis civilians are bombed, kids are bombed, schools are bombed, hospitals are bombed, and we cannot just be sitting on our heels while that’s going on. We have a fundamental responsibility to try to push the process forward. And my hope is that over the course of the next two, two and a half months, we might be able to find a way to actually get to the table and begin some kind of legitimate and long-overdue conversation.

    MS TRUDEAU: Our next question is Lesley Wroughton from Reuters.

    QUESTION: Thanks. Mr. Secretary, have you or the State Department officially been notified by the FBI of the new review of Secretary Clinton’s emails? Have you been told what the contents are of the new batch, and are you willing to hand them over? On a second question – well, Secretary Clinton has actually said it’s troubling behavior and unprecedented; was wondering what your thoughts were on it.

    On a second question on TTIP, I was wondering whether you think that that negotiation can be completed before the end of the Administration or – and whether you think anything can get pushed through before January. And for the foreign minister as well, what would the implications of that be if it’s not?

    SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Lesley, regarding the FBI and the emails, et cetera, the answer just very quickly is no, I haven’t been notified of anything; no, I haven’t been requested of anything; no, I’m not aware of the department being requested. And I have no further comment to make whatsoever on a subject that is within the purview of the Department of Justice and the FBI. They will have to respond to any and all other questions regarding this.

    With respect to TTIP – by the way, obviously, as an American citizen, not to mention as a former nominee of the party, there’s a lot I’d love to say about what has been going on. But I can’t, and I’m just going to remain out of this, which is the appropriate place for the Secretary of State to be regarding this issue.

    On TTIP, let me just say a word about TTIP so that people really understand what this is all about. TTIP is, in our judgment, a vitally important economic and vitally important strategic initiative, and our support for it and our desire to see it implemented is as strong as ever. And I am very grateful for Ireland’s interest in this and its recognition of how important that it is. It will bring real economic benefits to Europe, and it will help ensure global trade standards for a long time to come. And there’s no doubt in my mind about that.

    Now, we are still in negotiations on this; and depending on who is elected president of the United States, I don’t see those negotiations ending. I think that it doesn’t have to be concluded in the next month or two, but it’d be great if it were. We are going to continue to negotiate; we’re going to continue to push for it. We’re committed to negotiating a comprehensive and high-standard TTIP agreement and to making progress towards that as much as we can in the coming months, and it’ll be up to the negotiators to determine. I know that Ambassador Froman is having discussions with Trade Commissioner Malmstrom about the best way to continue to work forward, and I am very supportive of this. I think that this will boost exports from Ireland to the United States and elsewhere, particularly for small and for medium-sized enterprises.

    And some of the resistance that I’ve heard in different places in parts of Europe we’ve begun to address and I’m personally addressing, because I think there’s a mythology out there on the negative side of this. And I don’t want to see mythology drive this particular decision. It does not lower anybody’s standards of doing business. It does not lower anybody’s standards with respect to goods or services that are provided. It raises standards. And in addition to that, it doesn’t undo any country’s ability to protect its environment; it has environment within it. It doesn’t undo anybody’s ability to have labor standards; it raises the ability. So nothing goes backwards in this agreement, and some people have been trying to scare people by alleging that, in fact, it would.

    So I am confident that ultimately the wisdom of TTIP will be seen by Europe, will be embraced, and that we will get an agreement. And I can’t get into predicting time frames or whatever. We’re just going to keep hammering away and moving towards this, because it’s really vital to all of our countries to be able to grow our economies and provide greater prosperity to our people.

    FOREIGN MINISTER FLANAGAN: I would just add to what Secretary of State has said that Ireland, being a small, open economy, is reliant on our export trade and business. I was very pleased to see progress made in the last few days on the Canadian-EU deal, the CETA deal, and I believe it’s important that that be wrapped up at the earliest opportunity.

    I favor TTIP. I don’t believe that putting strict time frames is a substitute for getting it right. If the Secretary of State is to look to his left, he will see one of the finest agricultural areas in the world, producing the freshest and most nutritious milk on this planet. Ireland, as well as that, is a knowledge-based economy. We enjoy a very high reputation as being one of the best places in the world for business, our highly educated and talented workforce, our business-friendly environment, our corporate tax rate – 12 and a half percent – and our place at the heart of the European Union as regard to Brexit.

    Ireland will continue to be a most attractive destination for business – at the heart of the European Union, at the heart of the Eurozone, Ireland continuing to play its part. And we look forward to a successful conclusion of the transatlantic trade talks at the earliest opportunity.

    MODERATOR: Okay, everyone, I think we’re going to have to —

    SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all very much. Thank you.

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  • Press release on the Ministerial Dialogue Meeting between HR/VP Federica Mogherini and…

    HR/VP Federica Mogherini and Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama met in Brussels today, holding the 6th Nigeria-EU ministerial dialogue. The Nigerian Minister of Interior and the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment also attended the meeting. The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs also met with the EU Peace and Security Committee while the Minister of Interior had an exchange with the EU Commissioner Avramopoulos, and CTC De Kerchove.

    The ministerial dialogue, the first after the election of Nigerian President Buhari in 2015, was a key event in deepening the existing EU-Nigeria partnership, providing the opportunity to discuss a broad range of topics.

    HR/VP Mogherini and Minister Onyeama agreed to deepen the EU-Nigeria’s strategic engagement.

    On security, the EU welcomed the progress made by the Nigerian armed forces in the fight against Boko Haram and assured Nigeria of its continued support. They welcomed the Abuja Security Summit to take place in May 2016. The importance of a comprehensive approach was highlighted by both parties, including humanitarian aid, reconstruction, socio-economic development and respect of human rights by security forces. Nigeria welcomed the substantial humanitarian aid provided by the European Union in support of the affected population. Both parties agreed to take steps to expand their cooperation in countering terrorism and violent extremism.

    With respect to migration, the HR/VP Federica Mogherini and Minister Onyeama, and Commissionner Avramopoulos and the Minister of interior, have discussed the next steps to implement the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM), signed in March 2015, and the Action Plan of the Valletta Summit on migration, held in November 2015. It was agreed that the EU and Nigeria will work together to tackle irregular migration, including return and readmission, and to better take advantage of the opportunities provided by regular migration.

    Both welcomed the fact that the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, established at the Valletta summit, would also support actions in Nigeria and the neighboring Lake Chad countries.

    The situation in West Africa and the wider Gulf of Guinea was also on the agenda, including the situation in the Sahel and the continued crisis in Libya. HR/VP Federica Mogherini recognised the key role Nigeria is playing in the region and beyond with regard to peace and security, also in its capacity as a member of the AU PSC, and stated that the EU will continue to support these efforts. Burundi was addressed as one of the urgent situations to focus engagement on.

    HR/VP Mogherini commended the steps taken by the new Nigerian administration in fighting corruption and assured that the EU would continue to assist through capacity building activities for the Nigerian anti-corruption agencies and their participation in international initiatives. 

    HR/VP Mogherini and Minister Onyeama reiterated their commitment to a long-term trade and investment partnership, including the organisation of the fifth edition of the EU-Nigeria Business Forum this year. They also discussed the signature process of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and broader trade and investment issues, which will be further discussed between the State Minister and Commissioner Malmstrom tomorrow.

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