UK PUBLISHES WHITE PAPER ON FUTURE RELATIONSHIP WITH EU
The UK government published its highly anticipated white paper on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. The paper sets out the UK position in Brexit negotiations. It presumes a close economic partnership between the EU and the UK, institutional framework enforcing the future agreement, and cooperation in security, aviation and energy, among others. The EU’s reaction was cautious, with chief negotiator Michel Barnier saying that a thorough analysis of the paper is still needed. The head of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Werner Hoyer, however, spoke in favour of the continued UK membership in the EIB.
AUSTRIAN PRESIDENCY PLANS TO PURSUE STRICT MIGRATION POLICY
Austria’s Interior Minister Herbert Kickl (FPÖ) said he would push to change the EU’s migration policy to make it impossible to request asylum in the EU territory. The issue of migration and asylum rights is one of the priorities of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The Presidency sets the agenda of the Council meetings it chairs, so Austria will likely drive discussions on migration. Besides, the Interior Ministers of Austria, Germany and Italy met in Innsbruck to find a common approach on the problem. They concluded that only migrants fleeing danger zones should be allowed to arrive in Europe.
STRENGTHENED ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING RULES ENTER INTO FORCE
The fifth Anti-Money laundering Directive (AMLD5) entered into force, following its publication in the EU’s Official Journal. Proposed by the Commission in July 2016, the new rules bring more transparency on the real owners of companies and tackle risks of terrorist financing. There will also be greater cooperation and exchange of information between anti-money laundering and prudential supervisors, including with the European Central Bank. Member States will have to implement the new rules into their national legislation by January 2020, though Commissioner Jourová urged them “to stay true to their commitment and update their national rules as soon as possible”.
EU-NATO SIGN JOINT DECLARATION AS SUMMIT DISCUSSES FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS
At the NATO Summit held in Brussels, the EU and NATO signed a Joint Declaration with a view to strengthen their strategic partnership. The agreement notably foresees the implementation of 74 joint concrete actions in seven areas of cooperation, including countering hybrid threats, cyber security and defense capabilities, and joint exercises. At the Summit, leaders discussed issues ranging from Ukraine to Afghanistan, though talks about an increase of financial contributions, as demanded by US President Donald Trump, attracted much attention. NATO leaders are expected to reconvene in 2019, but no date has been agreed upon yet.
MEMBER STATES’ COMPLIANCE WITH EU LAW IMPROVES, REPORT SHOWS
In 2017, the Commission launched 716 new infringement procedures against Member States for incorrect or late transposition of EU laws, notably about the Directives on the use of plastic bags, on waste and on the roadworthiness of vehicles. According to the Annual Report on monitoring the application of EU law, this represents a 27 per cent decrease compared to 2016. Overall, this brings the total number of infringement cases open to 1,559. The Commission will continue to assist Member States in the correct transposition and may refer Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU requesting that financial penalties be applied.