EU MODERNISES ITS TRADE DEFENCE INSTRUMENTS
The European Parliament’s (EP) international trade committee gave its final green light to the December 2017 agreement reached in a trialogue on modernisation of the EU’s trade defence instruments (TDIs). The overhaul covers a broad range of issues from unfair competition on imports, through changing trade defence investigation practices, to bringing the TDIs system closer to smaller companies. It aims to make TDIs faster, more effective and transparent. The new rules are expected to enter into force by end May 2018 upon finalization of respective approval procedures in the EP and the Council.
COMMISSION REPORTS ON LATEST PROGRESS IN TALKS WITH MERCOSUR
The Commission published a report informing on the progress made during the last round of negotiations between the EU and Mercosur that was held end November last year. It updates on all areas of the talks, including trade in goods, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary rules, services, intellectual property (including geographical indications), government procurement, as well as trade and sustainable development with an explicit reference to the Paris climate agreement. A ministerial meeting on 30 January will consider the progress, and instruct the negotiators on the way forward in the endgame of the talks.
PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON EU RISK ASSESSMENTS IN FOOD SECTOR
The Commission launched a public consultation on EU risk assessment in the food sector. The consultation seeks views from stakeholders and citizens on the transparency and independence of the EU risk assessment system with respect to the underlying industry studies and information on which the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) risk assessment and scientific advice is based, EFSA’s governance (in particular the management of the risk assessment system), and how risks are communicated. The public consultation lasts until 20 March 2018 and the results will be analyzed in view of a publication of a Commission legislative proposal by May 2018.
BOOST FOR MICROFINANCE AND SOCIAL ENTERPRISES
Through a €100 million contribution as part of the Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, microfinance and social enterprises are set to receive a significant finance boost. This week, the Task Force on “Investing in social infrastructure in Europe” presented its report to the Commission, and recommended that this funding be awarded. The EU’s financing programme for Employment and Social Innovation will receive an additional €100 million for its Guarantee scheme from the European Fund for Strategic Investments, which is at the core of the Investment Plan for Europe.
COMMISSION PUBLISHES GUIDANCE ON UPCOMING NEW DATA PROTECTION RULES
The Commission published guidance to facilitate a direct and smooth application of the new data protection rules across the EU as of 25 May. With just over 100 days left before the application of the new law, the guidance outlines what the Commission and national data protection authorities should do to bring the preparation to a successful completion. While the new regulation provides for a single set of rules directly applicable in all Member States, it will still require significant adjustments in certain aspects, like amending existing laws by EU governments or setting up the European Data Protection Board by data protection authorities.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
•29 January: General Affairs Council (Art. 50). On the agenda: Transition period, Negotiating directives.
•29 January: Agriculture and Fisheries Council. On the agenda: Presidency Priorities, CAP, Market Situation.
•1-2 February: Informal meeting of competitiveness ministers in Sofia. On the agenda: Future of the European Industrial Policy.