|MEASURES TO REDUCE NON-PERFORMING LOANS PROPOSED
The Commission has proposed a package of measures to tackle non-performing loans (NPLs), capitalising on the significant progress already made in reducing risks in the banking sector in previous legislation. With these measures, the Commission is acting on the initiatives set out in the Council’s Action Plan to address the high stock of NPLs and prevent their possible future accumulation. The proposal aims to develop secondary markets for NPLs, enable accelerated out-of-court enforcement of loans secured by collateral, ensure sufficient loss coverage by banks for future NPLs, and puts forward a technical blueprint for how to set up a national Asset Management Companies.
COMMISSION WELCOMES ADOPTION OF TRANSPARENCY RULES FOR TAX ADVISERS
The Commission has welcomed the political agreement reached by Member States on new transparency rules for intermediaries – such as tax advisers, accountants, banks and lawyers – who design and promote tax planning schemes for their clients. The new measures build on already established rules to fight tax avoidance and boost tax transparency. Once in force, tax intermediaries who provide their clients with complex cross‑border financial schemes that could help avoid tax will be obliged to report these structures to their tax authorities. In turn, Member States will exchange this information with each other increasing scrutiny around the activities of tax planners.
PRESIDENT JUNCKER ADDRESSES THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ON FUTURE EU-UK RELATIONS
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addressed a meeting of the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg. President Juncker briefed the Parliament on the status of Brexit negotiations. He said that the British Government needed to provide greater clarity on their position, and engage properly with the EU’s position on outstanding issues. The following day, MEPs backed a resolution which proposes that the EU and the UK work towards an Association Agreement on trade, internal and external affairs, and thematic cooperation – the benefit of this being that the entire relationship would fall under a single governance structure.
EU VISA POLICY REFORM
The Commission proposed a reform of EU’s common visa policy to reflect challenges linked to migration and new opportunities stemming from technological developments. The proposed changes to the Visa Code aim to encourage tourism, trade, and commerce by making it easier for legitimate travelers to obtain visas, whilst strengthening security and mitigating migration risks. It will allocate additional resources to reinforce security, make visa granting procedures quicker, allow multiple entry visas with longer validity, and grant short-term visas at external borders. A proposal to update the Visa Information System will follow in spring this year.
EU REPRESENTATIVES CONDEMN US TARIFFS AND SEEK EXEMPTION
Leading MEPs criticized US President Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. MEP Ska Keller from the Greens/EFA group warned of a looming trade war, the EPP’s Manfred Weber said the EU must be ready to respond, and MEP Emma McClarkin from the ECR called on the US to grant the EU an exemption. The Commission is on the same page, with Vice-President Katainen hoping to find a solution instead of starting a trade war. The Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström admitted that the talks with the US have been contentious and that no reassurances on an EU exemption have been given.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
· 19 March: Agriculture and Fisheries Council. On the agenda: CAP after 2020, multiannual plan for demersal species in the Western Mediterranean.
· 19 March: Foreign Affairs Council. On the agenda: Poisoning in Salisbury, Ukraine, Syria, Korean Peninsula, Iran.
· 20 March. General Affairs Council (Art. 50). On the agenda: Draft guidelines on the framework for a future relationship with the UK after Brexit.
· 20 March. General Affairs Council. On the agenda: 2018 European Semester, rule of law in Poland.
· 20 March: Kreab Policy Exchange. On the agenda: EU Battery Policy with Director of DG GROW. Register here.
· 22-23 March. European Council. On the agenda: Trade issues, jobs, growth and competitiveness, Common European Asylum System, Western Balkans, Turkey, Brexit, Eurozone.
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab