|COMMISSION RESPONDS TO US RESTRICTIONS ON STEEL AND ALUMINIUM
The Commission responded to the announcement of US President Donald Trump on his decision to impose additional import duties of 25% and 10% on imports of steel and aluminium respectively. In reaction, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the act will frustrate relations between the EU and the US, and that it unfairly puts thousands of European jobs at risk. He added: “the EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests. The Commission will bring forward in the next few days a proposal for WTO-compatible countermeasures against the US to rebalance the situation.”
PUBLICATION OF THE DRAFT WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE EU AND THE UK
The Commission published the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK. This is a draft of the agreement on the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU and includes introductory provisions, citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, transitional arrangements, institutional provisions, and a protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. It will now be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament Steering Group before being sent to the UK for negotiation. The EU aims to have an agreement in place with the UK by October 2018 to allow for the timely ratification by EU institutions, national governments, and the UK Parliament.
COMMISSION ORGANISED EXPERT WORKSHOP ON TACKLING FAKE NEWS
The Commission hosted a conference of around 100 experts from academia, journalism and the public sector to discuss future actions to tackle the spread of fake news and disinformation online. The discussion with experts follows the public consultation and formation of the High-Level Expert Group that met earlier in January. There will also be a Eurobarometer launched on the issue this year. The information gathered at all platforms will feed into the initiatives against fake news which the Commission will present in spring 2018.
COUNCIL VOTED IN FAVOUR OF EU ETS REOFRM
The Council approved the reform of the EU emissions trading system for the period after 2020. The reform will introduce the reduction of the cap on the total volume of emissions by 2.2% annually, doubling of allowances placed in the market stability reserve temporarily until 2023, and a new mechanism to limit the validity of allowances in the market stability reserve above a certain level from 2023. The Council approval is the final step of the legislative process and the new directive will enter into force on the 20th day following its publication in the official journal.
PARLIAMENT’S ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE APPROVES EU WASTE PACKAGE
The European Parliament’s environment committee endorsed the EU waste package previously approved by the Committee of Permanent Representatives to the EU. The four legislative proposals in the package look at landfill targets, waste recycling targets, packaging recycling targets and goals for all extended producer responsibility schemes. Under the proposal, Member States will be required to recycle at least 55% of their municipal waste by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035. The legislation will be submitted to the plenary of the European Parliament in April. It will then go on to the Council for final adoption.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
· 5 March: Environment Council. On the agenda: ‘Greening the European Semester’, CO2 emissions and air quality.
· 6 March: Foreign Affairs Council on defence. On the agenda: Security and defence, EU training missions, EU-NATO cooperation
· 8-9 March: Justice and Home Affairs Council. On the agenda: Western Balkans, migration, fight against terrorism, non-cash fraud directive, cross-border access to e-evidence.
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab