Brussels, 16 September 2022
COMMISSION PRESIDENT OUTLINES EMERGENCY ENERGY INTERVENTIONS
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her State of the Union address in front of the European Parliament’s plenary in Strasbourg. Overall, the speech highlighted the Commission’s main achievements over the past year and outlined the flagship initiatives which the Commission plans to undertake in the coming year, with a particular focus on the energy crisis. As expected, the President referred to the proposal for an emergency intervention to address high energy prices. Aside from energy, the speech also touched upon the ongoing support for Ukraine, the overall economic outlook, climate change, and the need for a more united European foreign policy.
ECOFIN/EUROGROUP MEETING FOCUSES ON ENERGY, REFORMS, AND UKRAINE
During the ECOFIN/Eurogroup meeting, ministers, joined by Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, discussed the energy crisis, the digital euro, revision of the Stability Growth Pact, as well as a harmonised European tax regime. Ministers agreed on an additional €5 billion of Macro-Financial assistance aid to Ukraine, and welcomed the actions taken by the Energy Council and the Commission to fight rising energy prices. However, discussions were less fruitful on the topics of fiscal reform and global taxation which should be at the centre of the October ECOFIN meetings.
PARLIAMENT AIMS TO RAISE SHARE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
In the framework of the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) MEPs voted to raise the share of renewables in the EU’s energy consumption to 45% by 2030. Other amendments called for phasing down the share of primary wood counted as renewable energy. The legislation also defines sub-targets for sectors such as transport, buildings, and district heating and cooling. For instance; in the transport sector, deploying renewables should lead to a 16% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. As the Council already adopted its position in June, co-legislators will shortly enter interinstitutional negotiations.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION ANNOUNCED FORCED LABOUR BAN PROPOSAL
Drawing on a European Parliament’s motion for resolution, the Commission’s issued a proposal on forced labour ban aiming to keep the EU market free from products made, extracted, or harvested with forced labour. The proposal covers all products, namely those made in the EU for domestic consumption and exports, and imported goods, without targeting specific companies or industries. The new legislation would empower national authorities to withdraw from the EU market products made with forced labour, following the results of an investigation. Additionally, the new proposal, would allow EU customs authorities to identify and stop products made with forced labour at EU borders.
PARLIAMENT ADOPTS NEW RULES ON ADEQUATE MINIMUM WAGES FOR WORKERS
The European Parliament adopted the final text of the minimum wage legislation aiming to promote decent living and working conditions across the EU. While determining the minimum wage remains a national competence, member states will have to set wages that ensure a decent life for workers. To assess the adequacy of current minimum wages, the legislation allows member states to establish a basket of goods and services at real prices, or set the wages at 60% of the gross median wage and 50% of the gross average wage. In addition, the legislation will promote collective bargaining where fewer than 80% of workers are covered by such agreements. The Council is set to approve the legislation in September, after which member states will have two years to comply with it.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab