Insights | EU Insight 25 May, 2018

EU Insight 25 May, 2018

COMMISSION PUBLISHES ITS FIRST SUSTAINABLE FINANCE INITIATIVES

The Commission published its first Sustainable Finance package as part of its wider efforts to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The package contains four proposals: i) an EU ‘sustainable’ taxonomy defining the environmental sustainability of an economic activity; ii) clarification for asset managers and institutional investors duties and required disclosure with regard to environmental, social and governance factors; iii) harmonised rules for low carbon and positive carbon impact benchmarks and; iv) ensuring clients receive better advise on sustainability. The Commission will now receive comments to multiple consultations and negotiations will begin in both the Council and European Parliament in earnest.

EUROPEAN SEMESTER 2018 SPRING PACKAGE PUBLISHED

The Commission presented its 2018 country specific recommendations in its European Semester Package, which sets out its economic policy guidance for Member States for the next 12 to 18 months. Europe’s economy is growing at its fastest pace in a decade, with record employment, recovering investment, and improving public finances. According to the Commission’s 2018 Spring forecast, growth in the next two years will slow slightly but remain robust. The recommendations focus on strengthening the foundations for inclusive growth in the long term. They build on the analysis carried out by the Commission in the latest Country Reports, which highlighted issues arising from the financial crisis.

COMMISSION REVIEWS MEMBER STATES’ PROGRESS TOWARDS EURO ADOPTION

The Commission published its Convergence Report, which forms the basis for making decisions on whether a Member State fulfils the necessary conditions to join the euro. The Report assesses whether Member States outside the euro area have achieved a high degree of economic convergence, measured in terms of price stability, sound public finances, exchange rate stability, and convergence in interest rates. The Report also assesses the independence of national central banks, the prohibition on monetary financing, and compatibility with the European Central Bank statute. The Report concludes that, while many non-EU countries are progressing, there should be no new additions to the euro area this year.

MIXED RESPONSE TO ZUCKERBERG EU HEARING

Appearing before the European Parliament’s senior leaders this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised for the company’s massive data leak, and told MEPs there would be no repeat of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. His appearance comes as the EU’s flagship Data Protection Regulation enters into force, which the Commission hopes will set a new global standard for consumer data privacy. Zuckerberg failed to show at a pre-arranged news conference after the hearing, and was accused of using the formatting of questioning to avoid giving direct answers. However, Zuckerberg has since confirmed that he would provide written answers to outstanding issues from the Parliament. 

GDPR COMES INTO FORCE

The data protection reform package came into force today. This package notably includes the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Directive for the police and criminal justice sector. The GDPR is the basis for the free flow of data across the Digital Single Market. The Regulation updates and modernises the principles enshrined in the 1995 Data Protection Directive to guarantee privacy rights. The changes aim to give people more control over personal data and make it easier to access it, and to make sure that people’s personal information is protected – no matter where it is sent, processed or stored. 

COMING UP NEXT WEEK

  • 28 May: Foreign Affairs Council. On the agenda: North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gaza.
  • 28-29 May: Competitiveness Council. On the agenda: Single Market and industry, Research, innovation and space.
  • 28-31 May: European Parliament Plenary, Strasbourg.

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