COMMISSION STRIVES TO ENSURE SAFER DRINKING WATER FOR ALL EUROPEANS
The Commission proposed a revision of the EU drinking water directive responding to the European Citizens’ Initiative “Right2Water”. The proposal aims to increase drinking water quality through adding new substances to the list of criteria for safety determination in order to reduce potential health risks associated with drinking water from 4% to 1%. It will improve access to water, namely for vulnerable groups of society, and include better information for citizens that will hopefully lead to more confidence in tap water. The proposal will now go to the European Parliament and the Council.
HIGH-LEVEL EXPERT GROUP PRESENTS ROADMAP FOR SUSTAINABLE FINANCE
The Commission presented its final report on Sustainable Finance by its High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, which sets out strategic recommendations for a financial system that supports sustainable investments. Delivering an EU strategy on Sustainable Finance was a priority action of the Commission’s Capital Markets Union Action Plan, as well as one of the key steps towards implementing the Paris Climate Agreement and the EU’s Agenda for sustainable development. The Commission will now move to finalise its strategy based on the analysis and recommendations of the report.
EU ENDORSES NEGOTIATION GUIDELINES FOR BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD
The EU’s General Affairs Council adopted its negotiation guidelines for a Brexit transition period, proposing that it will run from March 2019 to 31 December 2020. According to the EU position, during the transition period the whole of the EU acquis will continue to apply to the UK as if it were a Member State. The UK will however not be part of the decision-making. Changes to the acquis adopted by EU institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies during that period would also apply in the UK. All existing EU regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
DATA FLOWS AND DATA PROTECTION IN EU TRADE AGREEMENTS
The College of Commissioners endorsed horizontal provisions for cross-border data flows and personal data protection in trade negotiations determining the approach of the Commission until the end of its mandate. As a result, data flows between the EU and third countries can be ensured via mechanisms enshrined in EU data protection legislation, and the protection of personal data cannot be a subject of negotiation in EU trade agreements as it constitutes a fundamental right in the EU. Dialogues on data protection can complement trade negotiations with third countries but must follow a separate track. The Commission will inform other EU institutions of its decision.
STATISTICS ON CONTINGENT LIABILITIES AND NON-PERFORMING LOANS
Data on contingent liabilities and non-performing loans (NPLs) of EU governments for 2016 have been published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU. NPLs could imply a loss of spending power for a government if these loans are not repaid. The publication includes data on government guarantees, liabilities related to public-private partnerships recorded off-balance sheet of government and liabilities of government controlled entities (public corporations) classified as operating outside government control. It is hoped that the data will add greater transparency to public finances in the EU by providing a more comprehensive picture of potential impacts on Member States’ financial positions.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
•5 February: EU-Georgia Association Council. On the agenda: EU-Georgia association agreement, free trade area, human rights, visa-free regime, security and defence.
•5-8 February: EP Plenary session. On the agenda: EU electoral law reform, EU-Brazil Agreement, discrimination of minorities, geo-blocking.
•9 February: EU-Azerbaijan Cooperation Council. On the agenda: Energy cooperation, civil aviation agreement, visa facilitation and readmission agreements, human rights.