Monday, 19/11/2018 | 7:57 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • Tajani visit to Niger: 95 percents decrease in migration flows to Libya and Europe thanks to EU partnership and funds – President to visit Niamey with entrepreneurs, researchers and international organisations

    ”Through financial support and a strong partnership, the European Union has helped Niger to reduce migratory flows to Libya and the EU by over 95%. In 2016, 330,000 people crossed Niger primarily directed to Europe via Libya. In 2017, this number went…

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  • Opening speech High-Level Conference on Africa – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament : ‘A new partnership between the European Union and Africa’

    (check against delivery)

    It is a real pleasure to see this Chamber full to the rafters to discuss the major issue of our partnership with our African friends.

    The African Union-European Union Summit will take place in exactly one week’s time in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

    I will straightaway say that that Summit must be different from the others, and must yield tangible results and a clear and precise roadmap.

    We are privileged to have the President of the Central African Republic and many other African leaders with us here today. 

    This clearly shows that the European Parliament wishes to establish a direct high-level dialogue with the leaders of African countries.

    I have always said that we must look at Africa through African eyes, and this calls for frank and direct peer-to-peer dialogue.

    We have launched that dialogue by inviting the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the President of Côte d’Ivoire to address the plenary.

    We will continue in the same vein.

    The European Parliament has decided to organise an ‘Africa week’ of parliamentary activities. Today’s conference is part of that initiative, which seeks to restore Africa to the heart of the political agenda, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleages in the European Parliament for the firm commitment they have shown to Africa.

    For many years, the Union failed to give Africa the attention it deserves. Often we looked the other way, heedless of the emergencies – humanitarian or linked to climate, security or stability – which Africans have to deal with every day. We failed to recognise that we have an overriding strategic interest in what happens in Africa.

    Europe’s approach was a piecemeal one, with individual countries falling over one another in pursuit of their own interests and agendas. The result was a road paved with good intentions, but there were many missed opportunities and few successes along the way. We failed to exert any real political and economic influence on the future of Africa.

    Globalisation and migration have shown that building walls or putting up barriers is not the solution. Africa’s problems are Europe’s problems too.

    It is time to put our relations on a new footing, before it’s too late. Our links go beyond mere geographical proximity. We have common interests and face common challenges.

    By 2050, the population of Africa will double, to more than 2.5 billion. This population explosion may be a problem, but it may also be an opportunity.

    Desertification, famine, pandemics, terrorism, unemployment and bad governance are exacerbating instability and contributing to uncontrolled immigration.

    Without determined action to tackle these phenomena, new generations will continue to set out for Europe in search of hope and a future. They may be attracted by images on television or on the internet depicting what seems to them to be a land of milk and honey. We urgently need to offer them real prospects in their home countries, so that they stay and help to revitalise them.

    Guaranteeing security and managing migration

    Our citizens want a stronger Union, capable of managing migration and guaranteeing security. They are calling on us to defend our values, by welcoming refugees and protecting the dignity of individuals at all times. But they also want us to be just as resolute in turning away those who have no right to enter Europe.

    We are no longer prepared to stand idly by while migration continues unchecked, while thousands die in the desert or at sea, while human traffickers go about their business, or while men and women who in the 21st century cannot feed their children or get medicines for them when they are sick give up all hope.

    As a first step, we need to strengthen border controls and manage asylum applications and procedures for rejecting applications and readmitting migrants more effectively.

    Shutting down the central Mediterranean corridors, promoting stability and combating terrorism will require investments by the Union on a similar scale to those made to halt migration via the Balkan route. This money has to be spent in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Chad or Mali.

    I should like to thank the ministers of the government of Mali, a country in the front line of the fight against terror in the Sahel. The ‘G5 Sahel’ Group is an excellent example of regional cooperation which the Union must help to strengthen.

    This money must be used to improve the training given to our border guards and our security forces. It can be used to set up reception centres under the auspices of the UN, where humanitarian protection, food, medicines and childcare are provided; and where asylum applications are dealt with promptly.

    Bringing huge resources to bear at our internal borders will achieve nothing. All suggestions that it will are nothing more than propaganda. Rather, what is needed is adequate funding for Frontex and the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which must be given more staff and resources.

    The European satellite systems – Galileo and Copernicus – and new security technologies to be developed jointly must be used for this purpose as well.

    We must also harmonise conditions governing the granting of asylum and readmission procedures, which must be quick and effective.

    At the last part-session in Strasbourg, Parliament adopted by a large majority the mandate for a thoroughgoing overhaul of the Dublin Regulation, to make it fairer, more genuinely solidarity-based and more effective. Now it is up to the Council to act.

    The challenges facing Africa

    But all this is not enough. We need to address the problem at its roots. Unless we can offer them real prospects of well-being and stability, it will no longer be tens of thousands but millions of people who choose to leave their home countries behind. The UN estimates that, even in the short term, more than half a million people every year will seek a better future in Europe.

    Supporting Africa is not only a duty. It is clearly also in our shared economic and political interest.

    Many African countries are already showing that their continent offers genuine opportunities: in 2016, five African economies were among the top ten in the world in terms of growth, with rates of more than 7%.

    Africa has critical raw materials essential for our industries: 64% of the world’s cobalt, without which batteries for electric cars cannot be made, comes from Congo; tantalum, which is used in solar panels, comes from Rwanda; platinum, which is used to limit harmful emissions from cars, comes from South Africa.

    These raw materials are also of interest to our competitors, starting with China, which is seeking to establish a dominant position in order to boost its own industries.

    There is also a problem of environmental sustainability. In the context of the Raw Materials Partnership, which I promoted when I was Industry Commissioner in 2012, cooperation developed between EU and African geological surveys which has led to innovation and greater awareness of the need to protect the environment.

    There are many other good examples of our work with Africa. To start with, there is the integration of markets, under the Lomé Conventions and the current Cotonou Agreement. These agreements have granted free access to the European market for 99.5 % of African products.

    Discussions on the post-Cotonou settlement are continuing. I should like to thank Parliament’s rapporteurs for their contribution.

    Despite these efforts and the tens of billions that have been invested, there is still a long way to go if we are to guarantee decent living conditions and greater security for people in Africa.

    Many parts of Africa are affected by conflicts, instability, terrorism, bad governance – just think about what is currently happening in Zimbabwe, in the Horn of Africa or in the Central African Republic.

    According to World Bank figures, the GDP of all the African countries put together is barely higher than that of France.

    Despite disastrous levels of child mortality – 38% of all the newborns who died in 2015 were African – the continent has the world’s fastest growing population.

    We are far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN with a view to reducing poverty: one-third of Africans live below the poverty line; one-sixth of them need humanitarian aid to survive; in rural areas, 60% of people have less than one euro a day to live on.

    Farming and raw materials, including energy, are the main sources of revenue, whilst the level of industrialisation is extremely low.

    Last Monday was Africa Industrialisation Day, which provided an opportunity to emphasise once again that developing a manufacturing base is fundamental to growth and employment.

    Only 15% of Africans have the internet at home. Barely one person in three has electricity.

    Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest illiteracy rates: one child in every five does not go to school, and almost 60% of young people are not undergoing training of any kind.

    Is it any surprise, therefore, that young Africans should believe that they have nothing to lose; that they should decide to risk their lives to come to Europe; or that they should be seduced by people who preach violence in God’s name.

    Many problems could be solved by means of greater investment in education, infrastructure, industry and modern farming techniques. Africa, however, is the continent which attracts by far the lowest volume of foreign investment: barely more than EUR 80 billion a year, only 3% of African GDP. China is the country whose investments are increasing the most in proportional terms.

    Africa’s destiny must be put back in the hands of Africans. But Europe must play its part as well.

    We must work together with Africa, as equals, and make available the fruits of our leadership in the areas of technology, quality, industrial know-how and training.

    Ten years have passed since the EU-Africa strategy was adopted. In that time many hopes have been dashed. Europe has lacked the courage to develop truly effective instruments.

    Instead of consolidating our position as Africa’s main partner, we are losing ground. Not only China but other emerging investors as well, such as Turkey, India and Singapore, are gaining in influence.

    A Marshall Plan for Africa

    The fifth African Union-European Union Summit, which will be held on 29 and 30 November in Abidjan and bring together more than 80 heads of state, comes at a crucial time.

    We must send out a clear signal that we are determined to relaunch and strengthen our partnership, and speak with a single, strong voice.

    The focus of all our efforts must be young people: they hold the key to a more stable, prosperous and modern Africa.

    The EUR 3.4 billion investment plan for Africa is an important step in the right direction. But it is nowhere near enough.

    We must support the efforts Africans themselves are making to establish a sustainable manufacturing base and develop efficient farming, renewable energy sources and proper water, energy, mobility, logistical and digital infrastructure, by drawing up a real ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa. By doing so we will strengthen governance and the rule of law, step up the fight against corruption and foster the emancipation of women and education.

    We must work to ensure that under the next EU multiannual budget at least EUR 40 billion is earmarked for the investment fund for Africa. The leverage effect and synergies generated with the funding provided by the European Investment Bank could make it possible to mobilise some EUR 500 billion in public and private investment.

    On that basis, we can continue to conduct effective economic diplomacy which promotes the integration of markets, the transfer of technology and industrial know-how, sustainability and training.

    The aim must be to establish an environment conducive to the development of a manufacturing base and entrepreneurship and the creation of SMIs and jobs for young people. For that we also need instruments such as Erasmus for young entrepreneurs, which should be extended to cover Africa.

    At the same time, legal immigrants from Africa can meet the demand for workers in some sectors of the economy in the EU and acquire professional skills which they can then use to create businesses in Europe.

    We also need academic and cultural diplomacy which, by expanding Erasmus+ and stepping up cooperation between universities on research and mobility projects, makes it possible for more Africans to study in Europe.

    Conclusions

    More resources are not in themselves the answer. Already today we are investing EUR 33 billion from the EU budget alone, not counting the bilateral aid provided by individual Member States.

    If our taxpayers’ generosity has failed to produce the hoped-for results, we must ask ourselves whether the current development cooperation model is the right one.

    Carrying on as we have always done would be a serious mistake. Our citizens are calling for a political Europe which is capable of making brave choices. Starting with the budget; more of the same is not acceptable, and the budget must reflect the priorities of the peoples of Europe,

    The proposed sum of EUR 40 billion – 12 times more than the current budget for the Investment Plan – is needed to generate an impact commensurate with our objectives. This is a critical mass large enough to attract European private and public investment. 

    It is not a Utopian idea. If the political will is there, resources can be found, partly by using the funds already earmarked for Africa more effectively, partly by providing guarantees under the EU budget, and partly by identifying new sources of funding.

    It is for just that reason that I have proposed an increase in the next budget. Making new resources available must not serve to impose a burden on citizens or SMIs. Instead, we must use new own resources for this purpose, by collecting taxes from those who currently don’t pay them and reducing taxes on those who do pay them.

    I am thinking of tax havens, the internet giants and speculative financial transactions of all kinds.

    Today, the European Parliament is committing itself to playing a central role in a new Partnership with Africa. Our debate, involving young people, political leaders, experts and investors from Europe and Africa, must serve as preparation for the new start we will make in Abidjan.

    This conference must be more than a formal event at which we read out speeches – rather, we must take the opportunity it offers to relaunch our partnership.

    If our partnership really is a priority, then we must meet more regularly – every two years.

    Follow-up meetings should be held at multiple levels on a regular basis, including between the representatives of civil society, business and commerce and the young.

    Abidjan must mark a new beginning in our relations.

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  • Joint Statement 14th India-EU Summit, New Delhi, 6 October 2017

    European Commission – Statement

    Brussels, 6 October 2017

    1. The 14th annual Summit between India and the European Union (EU) was held in New Delhi on 6 October 2017. The Republic of India was represented by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The EU was represented by Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Mr. Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.
    1. The leaders reviewed the wide-ranging cooperation under the India-EU Strategic Partnership. Recognising that India and the EU are natural partners, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further deepen and strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership based on shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights and territorial integrity of States.
    1. The leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress made towards implementing the India-EU Agenda for Action 2020 – the roadmap for bilateral cooperation endorsed during the 13th India-EU Summit.
    1. The leaders committed to work in a result-oriented and mutually beneficial manner to further strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership by deepening their trade cooperation, enhancing investment flows in both directions and broadening dialogue and engagement on global and regional issues, including climate change, as well as migration and the refugee crisis, and resolved to further strengthen their bilateral and multilateral cooperation in these areas.
    1. The leaders commended the strong engagement of the European Investment Bank in India in a wide range of key sectors, in particular in the field of climate action and renewable energy.
    1. The leaders underlined the importance of regular high level contacts to enhance India-EU co-operation and mutual understanding. They noted the fruitful outcome of the India-EU Foreign Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi on 21 April 2017.

    Foreign Policy and Security Cooperation – Partners for Security

    1. They agreed that India and the EU, as the world’s largest democracies, share a desire to work closely together and with all relevant players to support a rules-based international order that upholds agreed international norms, global peace and stability, and encourages inclusive growth and sustainable development in all parts of the inter-connected and multipolar world. They welcomed the growing convergence on contemporary global issues and agreed to enhance India-EU cooperation in all multilateral fora. They also recognised their common responsibility towards ensuring international peace and security, and an open and inclusive international order.
    1. The leaders confirmed their commitment towards conflict prevention and sustaining peace as fundamental aspects of promoting security and prosperity, fostering non-proliferation and disarmament, and agreed on the need for the global community to unite to address the menace of terrorism and safeguard the security of the global commons – sea lanes, cyber space and outer space. They welcomed the 5th India-EU Foreign Policy and Security Consultations held in New Delhi on 25 August 2017 – a platform to further deepen cooperation in the political and security area.
    1. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to an open, free, secure, stable, peaceful and accessible cyberspace, enabling economic growth and innovation. In particular, the leaders reaffirmed that International Law is applicable in cyberspace, and that there was a need to continue and deepen deliberations on the applicability of International Law to cyberspace and set norms of responsible behaviour of States. The leaders welcomed the holding of the 5th Global Conference on Cyberspace in New Delhi on 23-24 November. The leaders noted that the bilateral Cyber Dialogue provided a strong foundation for existing and future cooperation and welcomed the holding of its latest round in New Delhi on 29 August this year, and the next India-EU Cyber Dialogue in Brussels in 2018.
    2. The leaders strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in many parts of the world, underlining their common concern about the global threat posed by terrorism and extremism. They adopted a Joint Statement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism with a view to deepening their strategic and security cooperation, and expressed their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, based on a comprehensive approach. The leaders resolved to step up cooperation through regular bilateral consultations and in international fora. In this context, they welcomed the India-EU Dialogue on Counter-Terrorism on 30 August 2017 in New Delhi, and the joint commitment to explore opportunities to, inter alia, share information, best practices, including regarding countering the on-line threat of radicalisation, and to engage in capacity building activities, such as training and workshops. They also emphasised the need to deepen cooperation within the UN and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
    3. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening global non-proliferation efforts as highlighted at the India-EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Dialogue in New Delhi on 18 July 2017. The EU congratulated India on its admission to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The EU welcomed India’s subscription to The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) and noted India’s intensified engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group, which strengthens global non-proliferation efforts.
    4. India and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to enhance maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Both sides noted the recent joint manoeuvres (PASSEX) between the EU Naval Force and the Indian Navy off the coast of Somalia, as a successful example of naval cooperation. The EU looks forward to India’s possible participation in escorting World Food Program vessels in the near future. They also underlined the importance of freedom of navigation, overflight and peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of International Law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982. Both leaders attached importance to the security, stability, connectivity and sustainable development of Oceans and Seas in the context of developing the “blue economy”.
    5. Both sides agreed to enhance the India-EU space cooperation, including Earth observation.
    6. India and the EU reiterated the importance they attach to human rights cooperation, including on gender equality and women empowerment in all spheres of life. In this regard, they looked forward to the next session of their dialogue to be held in New Delhi and supported enhancing interaction in international fora, in particular the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.
    7. The two sides expressed support to the Government and the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national peace and reconciliation. The two sides remain determined to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism, considering them fundamental threats to international peace and stability. India and the EU underline the importance of the regional and key international stakeholders to respect, support and promote a political process and its outcome in order to ensure peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan. The EU appreciated the positive role being played by India in extending development assistance in Afghanistan, including for building social and economic infrastructure, governance institutions and human resource development and capacity building. Both sides reconfirmed their commitment to promoting peace, security, and stability and supporting Afghanistan on its development path to become a self-reliable and prosperous state.
    8. India and the EU expressed deep concern at the recent spate of violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar that has resulted in the outflow of a large number of people from the state, many of whom have sought shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh. Both sides took note that this violence was triggered off by a series of attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants which led to loss of lives amongst the security forces as well as the civilian population. Both sides recognised the need for ending the violence and restoring normalcy in the Rakhine state without any delay. They urged the Myanmar authorities to implement the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations and work with Bangladesh to enable the return of the displaced persons from all communities to Northern Rakhine State. India and the EU also recognised the role being played by Bangladesh in extending humanitarian assistance to the people in need.
    9. India and the EU reaffirmed their support for the continued full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Iranian nuclear issue. They recognised confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is complying with its nuclear-related JCPOA commitments. India and the EU called for the full and effective implementation of the deal, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council and is a crucial contribution to the non-proliferation framework and international peace, stability and security.
    10. Both sides condemned the nuclear test conducted by DPRK on 3 September 2017, which was another direct and unacceptable violation of the DPRK’s international commitments. They agreed that DPRK’s continued pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its proliferation links pose a grave threat to international peace and security, and called for the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which has been endorsed by the UNSC and the Six Party Talks. Both sides stressed the responsibility of those who support DPRK’s nuclear and missile programmes. They also stressed the importance of unity of the international community in addressing this challenge, ensuring that all UNSC sanctions are fully implemented by the entire international community, so as to maximize pressure towards achieving a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.
    11. Regarding the situation in Syria, India and the EU reaffirmed the primacy of the UN-led Geneva process and called for full support for the intra-Syrian talks with a view to promoting a political solution in Syria. Protection of civilians and territorial integrity is fundamental and all parties to the conflict and their supporters are expected to live up to their commitments. India and the EU reaffirmed that only a credible political solution, as defined in UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué will ensure the stability of Syria and enable a decisive defeat of Da’esh and other UN-designated terrorist groups in Syria. India and the EU agreed that the second Brussels Conference on Syria in spring 2018 will contribute to sustain international commitment to Syria.
    12. On the Middle East Peace Process, India and the EU reiterated calls on parties to engage constructively so that a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two-state solution, could be achieved on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Initiative, for peace and stability in the Middle East.
    13. The two sides also reiterated their full support to the UN facilitated Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process to forge a lasting solution to the political crisis in Libya. Establishing an inclusive government and building peace and stability in Libya is in the interest of the entire international community.
    14. India and the EU acknowledged the importance of connectivity in today’s globalised world. They underlined that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality and must follow principles of financial responsibility, accountable debt financing practices, balanced ecological and environmental protection, preservation standards and social sustainability.
    15. Both sides underlined the importance of ASEM as an informal platform for connecting Asia and Europe. Both sides also agreed to give new impetus to ASEM in the run up to the next ASEM Summit to be hosted in Brussels, where the focus would be on tackling global challenges together.
    16. The leaders underlined their strong support for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine through the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all parties in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015).
    17. The EU hoped for a swift solution, through the due process of law in India, in the case of MV Seaman Guard Ohio, which concerns fourteen Estonian and six British citizens sentenced to prison by an Indian court.

      Global Challenges – Multilateral Cooperation

    18. Both sides reaffirmed their support to the new United Nations reform agenda on the three reform tracks of peace and security, development and management reform. The two sides’ commitment to stronger global governance also translates to reforming the bodies and organs of the UN system, including the comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council as well as the revitalisation of the work of the General Assembly, better aligning the work of its committees with the 2030 Agenda.
    19. The two sides agreed to work bilaterally and with partners in the G20, the United Nations and other multilateral fora to address emerging challenges to international security, global economic stability and growth.
    20. The leaders reaffirmed the crucial role of the rules-based multilateral trading system, and the importance of enhancing free, fair, and open trade for achieving sustainable growth and development. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together with all Members of the WTO to make the eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference a success with concrete results, which would reaffirm the centrality of the rules-based multilateral trading system and its importance for open and inclusive global trade.
    21. Both sides recalled the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the joint commitment to its implementation with the complementary new EU Consensus on Development and India’s “sab kasaath, sab kavikas” policy initiatives, and reaffirmed the importance of global partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and poverty alleviation. In this regard, they reiterated their commitment to collaborate on common priorities and looked forward to exploring the continuation of the EU-India Development Dialogue. Both sides also recognised the need to mutually reinforce the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
    22. The EU welcomed India’s contribution to peace and development in Africa, including its participation in UN Peacekeeping Missions. The EU and India expressed their commitment to enhancing their consultations and cooperation regarding Africa, with a view to optimising possible synergies between their respective initiatives. They looked forward to India’s participation as an observer at the next EU-African Union Summit.

      Partners in Prosperity through Increased Trade and Economic Cooperation; Partners in India’s Modernisation

    23. The EU leaders welcomed India’s efforts to promote economic and social development and expressed the EU’s continued interest in participating in India’s flagship initiatives such as “Make in India”, “Digital India”, “Skill India”, “Smart City”, “Clean India,” and “Start-Up India”. The EU closely follows Prime Minister Modi’s economic reforms, including the historic introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which can facilitate ease of doing business and promotes market integration in India by realising a simple, efficient and nation-wide indirect tax system. Prime Minister Modi appreciated the ongoing participation by EU companies in the flagship initiatives and called for their deeper engagement in India’s developmental priorities. The EU side encouraged the greater participation of Indian business organizations into the Enterprise Europe Network. The leaders noted the progress made on EU-India cooperation on resource efficiency and circular economy. Both sides agreed to enhanced cooperation and exchange of experience and best practices in the field of Intellectual Property rights (IPR) and public procurement.
    24. The Leaders expressed their shared commitment to strengthening the Economic Partnership between India and the EU and noted the ongoing efforts of both sides to re-engage actively towards timely relaunching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
    25. Both parties recognised the importance of trade in agricultural products in general, and rice in particular, and agreed to work together to resolve issues that have the potential of disrupting trade. With regard to import tolerance level of tricyclazole in rice (Commission Regulation (EU) 2017 / 983) the relevant plant protection companies will be invited to present new scientific data in order for the European Food Safety Authority to carry out an additional risk assessment without delay. On this basis, the European Commission would expeditiously consider whether to review the above mentioned Regulation. Both sides supported the early institutionalisation of cooperation between the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), to focus on exchange of knowledge and expertise in the area of methodologies for data collection, risk assessment and risk communication. Furthermore, the EU and India have agreed to further strengthen their cooperation on food safety, notably by:
      • Strengthening existing dialogues like Agricultural and Marine Working Group, SPS-TBT Working Group to cover issues on food safety and agricultural trade between the relevant Indian ministries/departments and relevant European Commission services.
      • Initiating joint projects in areas such as good agricultural practices, development of traceability capacities, and cooperation in laboratory activities, including testing and monitoring.

      The EU would welcome India’s application for protection as a geographical indication of Basmati and shall process any such future application, as expeditiously as possible.

      India welcomes EU’s intention to expeditiously initiate the process of recognising additional seed varieties of Basmati rice under Article 28 of the GATT 1994 for duty derogation, as already requested by India.

    26. Leaders welcomed the establishment of an Investment Facilitation Mechanism (IFM) for EU investments in India as a means to improve the business climate and hoped that the IFM will ease sharing of best practices and innovative technology from the EU to India. Leaders acknowledged that the “Make in India” initiative may offer investment opportunities for companies based in the EU Member States.
    27. Leaders welcomed the establishment of the South Asian Regional Representative Office of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in India and noted that its investments, especially in urban mobility and renewable energy projects, will support India-EU collaboration on the Climate Agenda. The leaders welcomed the new €500 million EIB loan agreement for Bangalore Metro Phase-II Project, which is part of EIBs enhanced commitment of €1.4 billion in loans to India in 2017.
    28. The leaders noted the ongoing positive discussions and the exchange of a Joint Declaration between the Interim Secretariat of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and the European Investment Bank (EIB) aimed at mobilising investments for broad-based deployment of affordable solar energy applications across the 121 prospective member countries of the ISA.
    29. Both sides adopted a Joint Statement on Clean Energy and Climate Change, reaffirmed their commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, and agreed to co-operate further to enhance its implementation. India and the EU noted that addressing climate change and promoting secure, affordable and sustainable supplies of energy are key shared priorities and welcomed the progress on the Clean Energy and Climate Partnership, adopted at the 2016 EU-India Summit, and reiterated their commitment to its implementation and further development, in accordance with the work programme agreed at the EU-India Energy Panel meeting in October 2016.
    30. India and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to undertake mutual cooperation for reducing the cost of development and deployment of renewable energy projects through technology innovation, knowledge sharing, capacity building, trade and investment, and project establishment.
    31. The leaders reiterated the importance of reconciling economic growth and environment protection. They highlighted the importance of moving towards a more circular economic model that reduces primary resource consumption and enhanced the use of secondary raw materials. They welcomed the contribution of the International Resource Panel, the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (through the Indian Resource Panel) and of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) to developing strategies for this crucial economic transition. Both sides agreed that the newly established G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue will be an ideal platform for knowledge exchange and to jointly promote resource efficiency at a global level. Leaders also agreed to further intensify cooperation on addressing environmental challenges, such as water management and air pollution, acknowledged the progress in implementing the India-EU Water Partnership, including an agreed action programme, the increased cooperation opportunities on research and innovation, looking forward to the third India-EU Water Forum later in the month.
    32. The leaders agreed to work towards an enhanced cooperation on innovation and technology development aiming at actions strengthening cooperation between European and Indian industries and start-up ecosystems.
    33. The leaders welcomed the intensified technical cooperation between the Indian and European telecom standardisation bodies (TSDSI and ETSI), supported by the EU, and focusing on future global standards for 5G, Intelligent Transport Systems, Internet of Things, Future Networks and telecom security. Both sides encouraged the stakeholders to broaden this cooperation, demonstrate concrete technological solutions, and strengthen links between “Digital India” and “Digital Single Market for Europe.”
    34. Both sides noted positive exchanges on Internet Governance, on increasing the ease of doing business for ICT companies on both sides, as well as meetings between the Indian and European start-up ecosystems under a “Start-up Europe India Network”.
    35. The two sides confirmed their interest in further strengthening the cooperation in the area of pharmaceuticals, including capacity building of the regulatory system with particular focus on inspections by creating a more structured and stable training environment. The Indian side also highlighted its interest for cooperation on capacity building of the entire pharmaceutical value chain.
    36. The leaders adopted the India-EU Joint Statement on a Partnership for Smart and Sustainable Urbanisation with a view to step up cooperation including with regard to priority sectors such as the upgrading of urban infrastructure for transport and sanitation, developing Smart Cities in India, as well as promoting the New Urban Agenda of the United Nations adopted in 2016.
    37. The leaders agreed to scale-up cooperation under the renewed India-EU Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement in frontier areas of science and technology and in addressing current global challenges in particular in the areas of health, water and clean energy. They welcomed the agreement to launch a major joint flagship initiative of €30 million on water-related challenges reflecting the pressing need to cooperate on technological and scientific knowledge and management capacities to cope with increasing stress on water resources. Both sides agreed to work towards reciprocal opening of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation ‘Horizon 2020’ and Indian programmes, and called for an intensified two-way mobility of researchers. To this extent, the two sides welcomed the conclusion of the Implementing Arrangement between the Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB) and the European Research Council (ERC).
    38. The leaders encouraged Euratom and the Department of Atomic Energy to conclude the Agreement for Research & Development Cooperation in the field of the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. They stressed that this cooperation will contribute to further enhancement of nuclear safety and will be mutually advantageous. The cooperation will also lead to improving the skills and deployment of non-power technologies in the areas of water, health care & medicine, environment, etc., for the benefit of the society.
    39. Both sides will continue their strong partnership in the development of fusion energy, building on the agreements to which they are parties, including under the Euratom-India Cooperation Agreement on Fusion Energy research.
    40. The Leaders welcomed the imminent operationalisation of the 2008 Horizontal Civil Aviation Agreement, which will enhance air connectivity between India and Europe and help foster greater people-to-people contacts, business travel and increase in tourism. The leaders considered the opportunity to deepen transport cooperation in areas of mutual interest across all modes of transport, notably maritime, aviation, urban mobility and, rail.
    41. India and the EU agreed to intensify cooperation in skills development and agreed to find complementarities and synergies between India’s Skill India initiative and the EU’s New Skills Agenda for Europe.
    42. The leaders emphasised that, as part of the India-EU Agenda for Action 2020, there was a need to work towards strengthening cooperation on higher-education, including through India’s GIAN programme and the EU’s Erasmus+ programme. The Erasmus+ programme has just celebrated its 5000th Indian alumni and has offered financing opportunities for institutional cooperation to many Indian universities through joint-masters, short-term mobility, capacity building projects and Jean Monnet actions for EU studies. The leaders welcomed that, overall, India has been the number one beneficiary of Erasmus mobility actions in the world since its creation.
    43. The two sides took note of the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Mobility held in Brussels on 04 April 2017. They welcomed the understanding reached in advancing the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility, including through technical collaboration and undertaking projects in areas of mutual interest, with a view to better organising migration and mobility between India and the EU.
    44. The leaders agreed to intensify people-to-people exchanges and facilitate increased travel of tourists, business persons, students and researchers between India and the EU. The Indian side noted the ongoing revision of the EU Blue Card Scheme aimed at easing the flow of highly qualified professionals to the EU.
    45. The leaders noted the adoption of the report on “EU’s Political Relations with India” in the European Parliament and welcomed its recommendations for intensifying the exchanges between the Indian and European parliamentary delegations. The leaders also looked forward to intensified exchanges between scholars, think tanks and cultural delegations.

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    STATEMENT/17/3743

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  • Daily News 19 / 04 / 2017

    President Juncker and Members of the Commission at the IMF/World Bank Spring meetings in Washington DC

    As of tomorrow, President Juncker and several Members of the Commission will travel to Washington DC (USA) for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings on 20-22 April. President Juncker, Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Hahn, and Commissioner Moscovici will represent the Commission at different events hosted in that framework. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meetings will also be held in the margins. President Juncker will meet, among others with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. He will also have a working dinner with Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Mr. Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank; Mr. Rolf Wenzel, Governor of the Council of Europe Development Bank; Mr. Jin Liqun, President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asian Development Bank; Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, and Mr. Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank. The other Members of the Commission present in Washington also have a variety of high-level bilateral meetings, speaking engagements and other commitments. A more detailed calendar is available here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)

    Commission renews cooperation for sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean

    Today, the European Commission launches a new initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean region that will increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Millions of holiday makers have a happy association with the Western Mediterranean. Like the millions more who live across the region, they understand the fragile link between conserving national habitats and traditions and ensuring economic viability. Blue economy is important for each of the countries involved and they have recognised the strength of working together.” The initiative is an example of EU’s successful neighbourhood policy as five EU Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta) and five Southern partner countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) will work jointly on their shared interests in the region. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: ”This new regional initiative recognises and taps into the economic potential of the Mediterranean Sea and its coast lines to further enhance economic growth, contribute to job creation and eventually the stabilisation of the region. It is an important step towards closer coordination and cooperation among participating countries.” The enhanced cooperation is particularly timely as just three weeks ago the Commission secured a 10-year pledge to save Mediterranean fish stocks in the Ministerial MedFish4Ever Declaration. Among others, the initiative’s targeted actions include cooperation between coast guards, response to accidents and oil spills, habitat conservation, biotechnology, data sharing, marine knowledge and coastal tourism. For more information on the priorities and specific actions of the initiative a full press release and MEMO are online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Iris Petsa – Tel.: + 32 229 93321)

     

    Commission launches public consultation on how excise duties are applied to alcoholic beverages

    The European Commission has today launched a public consultation on how excise duties are applied to alcohol and alcoholic beverages (“excise duty structures”). EU excise duty rules for alcohol aim to prevent trade distortions in the Single Market, ensure fair competition between businesses, and reduce administrative burden for businesses. Concretely, the rules define product categories, methods to charge the duty and provide for reduced rates and exemptions from excise duty. However, these rules have not changed since 1992 and a recent Commission report has recommended clearer tax rules to support small producers of alcoholic beverages and to fight the sale of dangerous counterfeit alcohol. The Commission is also keen to reduce costs for smaller businesses. In December, EU Finance Ministers requested that the Commission carry out the necessary studies to prepare a possible legislative proposal to revise the common rules. The aim now is to identify ways to alleviate the administrative burden for both Member States and business, while reducing distortions in the internal market. Excise duties are indirect taxes on the sale or use of specific products. They are usually applied as an amount per quantity of the product – e.g. per 1,000 litres in the case of alcohol. Revenues from excise duty go directly to the coffers of EU Member States. The consultation will run until 7 July 2017 and is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)

     

    Eurostat: Mars 2017: Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro en baisse à 1,5% – Celui de l’UE en baisse à 1,6%

    Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro s’est établi à 1,5% en mars 2017, contre 2,0% en février. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,0%. Le taux d’inflation annuel de l’Union européenne s’est établi à 1,6% en mars 2017, contre 2,0% en février. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,0%. Ces chiffres sont publiés par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. En mars 2017, les taux annuels les plus faibles ont été observés en Roumanie (0,4%) ainsi qu’en Irlande et aux Pays-Bas (0,6% chacun). Les taux annuels les plus élevés ont été enregistrés en Lettonie (3,3%), en Lituanie (3,2%) et en Estonie (3,0%). Par rapport à février 2017, l’inflation annuelle a baissé dans dix-sept États membres, est restée stable dans six et a augmenté dans cinq autres. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tél.: +32 229 56153; Juliana Dahl – Tél:+32 229-59914)

    Eurostat: Février 2017: Excédent de 17,8 milliards d’euros du commerce international de biens de la zone euro – Excédent de 1,7 mrd d’euros pour l’UE28

    D’après les premières estimations pour le mois de février 2017, les exportations de biens de la zone euro (ZE19) vers le reste du monde se sont établies à 170,3 milliards d’euros, en hausse de 4% par rapport à février 2016 (163,2 mrds). Les importations depuis le reste du monde ont quant à elles été de 152,6 mrds d’euros, en hausse de 5% par rapport à février 2016 (144,9 mrds). En conséquence, la zone euro a enregistré en février 2017 un excédent de 17,8 mrds d’euros de son commerce international de biens avec le reste du monde, contre un excédent de 18,2 mrds en février 2016. Le commerce intra-zone euro a progressé à 149,1 mrds d’euros en février 2017, en hausse de 5% par rapport à février 2016. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations:Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska- Tel.: +32 229 Kinga 51383)

    ANNOUNCEMENTS

     

    First Vice-President Timmermans on a visit to Romania

    Tomorrow, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will travel to Bucharest, Romania, where he will participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue to exchange views with Romanians on the White Paper on the Future of Europe and the 60-year anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. During the visit, the First Vice-President will meet Prime Minister Sorin Mihai Grindeanu, the Minister of Justice, Tudorel Toader, and the Minister of the Interior, Carmen Daniela Dan to discuss progress in bringing forward the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) reform. He will also discuss these matters with representatives from the Romanian Parliament including the Speaker of the Senate, Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea. These meetings will be followed by a joint discussion with members of the Justice and European Affairs Committees of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. The First Vice-President will also attend a meeting with the leaders of parliamentary opposition parties and will further discuss the CVM with the relevant partners and stakeholders in the field of justice. A joint press conference with the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior and First Vice-President is scheduled for 13:00 (local time). The Citizens’ Dialogue will take place at 17:30 (local time) and will be followed by a press doorstep. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

    La Commissaire Thyssen rencontrera les autorités et partenaires sociaux belges dans le cadre du Semestre européen

    Demain 20 avril, la Commissaire responsable de l’emploi, des affaires sociales, des compétences et de la mobilité de travailleurs, Marianne Thyssen, sera en Belgique dans le cadre du Semestre européen, le cycle annuel de surveillance budgétaire et socio-économique européenne. Le matin, elle rencontrera d’abord le Premier Ministre Charles Michel et le Vice Premier Ministre Kris Peeters. Cette rencontre sera suivie d’une conférence de presse qui sera diffusée ici. Le discours de la Commissaire sera publié ici. La Commissaire Thyssen participera ensuite à un échange de vues au parlement fédéral avec les comités budgets et finances et affaires sociales et avec le comité d’avis sur les affaires européennes. Son discours sera publié ici. L’après-midi est réservé à une rencontre avec les Ministres régionaux et communautaires de l’emploi et à une discussion avec les partenaires sociaux interprofessionnels au sein du Conseil national de travail et du Conseil central de l’économie. L’objectif de cette journée de rencontres est de préparer les recommandations spécifiques par pays que la Commission européenne proposera en mai au Conseil. (Pour plus d’informations: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

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

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