Brussels, 8 April 2022
EU ADOPTS FIFTH SANCTIONS PACKAGE FOLLOWING THE RUSSIAN WAR CRIMES
The Council of the EU approved the fifth sanctions package against Russia. The agreed package provides a series of measures intended to reinforce pressure on the Russian government and economy, including a ban on coal imports, ban on four key Russian banks, and new import and export bans. Additionally, the European Parliament held a debate on the recent developments in the Ukrainian war and condemned the atrocities of Russian soldiers in Bucha. Following the debate, the Parliament adopted a resolution calling for more ambitious measures, including a full embargo on oil, coal, nuclear fuel, and gas, and a disconnection of all Russian banks from the SWIFT system.
COMMISSION SEEKS TO CURB INDUSTRIAL EMISSIONS
The European Commission presented a proposal to modernise the Industrial Emission Directive, as part of its ambition to achieve its goal of having a zero-pollution, competitive climate-neutral economy by 2050. The Directive seeks to prevent and control pollution by reducing emissions to air and heavy metal emissions to water caused by Europe’s largest industrial plants as well as intensive livestock farms. Amongst others, the main changes of the updated proposal include more effective permits for installations, measures aiming to boost EU innovation and support the industry’s circular economy investments. The proposal is now subject to amendments by the Parliament and the Council.
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES RULES TO BOOST INTRA-EU DATA SHARING
The Parliament endorsed rules to increase the availability of data for start-ups and businesses, with a view to stimulating innovation and unlock the potential of artificial intelligence. By setting up common EU data spaces in strategic domains such as health, environment, and finance, the Data Governance Act aims at increasing trust in data sharing and facilitate the reuse of certain data held by the public sector. The new rules includes specific provisions to ensure access and stimulate voluntary data sharing. The Council will now formally adopt the Regulation before it can enter into force.
CITIZENS WILL CONTINUE TO ENJOY MOBILE ROAMING IN THE EU AT NO EXTRA COST
Following the adoption in the European Parliament, the Council approved the extension by ten years of the roam-like-at-home scheme, a Regulation that enables EU citizens to make calls, text and browse the web while travelling in other EU countries at no additional cost. The revised legislation adjusts the maximum wholesale prices, ensuring that providing retail roaming services at domestic prices is sustainable for operators and protects consumers by increasing transparency for services that might come at an extra cost. The Regulation will enter into force on 1 July and will apply until 30 June 2032.
PARLIAMENT VOTES IN FAVOUR OF CLOSING GENDER PAY GAP
The European Parliament adopted its position on new rules aiming to allow employees and employers to compare salaries and expose any existing gender pay gap in their organisations. The proposed Pay Transparency Directive would oblige EU companies with at least 50 employees to disclose information on gender pay gap. Moreover, organisations would have to develop a gender action plan when the pay gap is higher than 2.5%. The Parliament also proposed to prohibit pay secrecy, and asked the Commission to develop an official label for organisations that do not have a gender pay gap to be awarded. Given that the Council has already adopted its position, inter-institutional negotiations will begin shortly.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab