LEADERS OPTIMISTIC BREXIT DEAL CAN BE STRUCK BUT DEADLOCK ON IRISH BORDER REMAINS
EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss Brexit, migration, internal security, external relations, EMU deepening and the MFF 2021-2017. EU27 leaders seemed optimistic that a Brexit deal could be struck in the coming weeks. However, it was made clear that not enough progress has been made yet to call for an extraordinary summit in November. The Irish border issue remains the main sticking point in negotiations, although the EU27 showed some openness to extending the transition period, in case that helped securing a binding backstop solution. If no extraordinary summit is called for November, the next European Council meeting will be held on 13-14 December.
ASIA-EUROPE SUMMIT TO PROMOTE COOPERATION TO FACE GLOBAL CHALLENGES
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit was held in Brussels, bringing together heads of state and government of 51 European and Asian countries and representatives of the EU institutions. Over two days and under the title “Global Partners for Global Challenges”, leaders discussed how to promote political, economic and social cooperation between the two regions, which together account for 55% of global trade, 60% of the world’s population and 65% of global GDP. Other topics for discussion included trade and investment, sustainable development and climate, and security challenges such as terrorism, non-proliferation, cyber security and irregular migration.
NEW ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING RULES ADOPTED IN COUNCIL
The Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted new rules on combating money laundering by criminal law, following the European Parliament’s green light on 13 September. The new Directive introduces new criminal law provisions that will disrupt and block the access of criminals to financial resources, including those used for terrorist activities. Money laundering activities will now be punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of four years, and judges will be able to impose additional sanctions and measures. Once the Directive is published in the Official Journal, Member States will have up to 24 months to transpose the new rules into their national law.
EU CONFIRMS TRADE DEALS WITH VIETNAM AND SINGAPORE
The European Commission adopted the EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements. The trade agreement is set to eliminate all tariffs on goods between the two sides. It also includes a strong commitment to sustainable development, including the respect of human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and the fight against climate change, with an explicit reference to the Paris Agreement. Mutual trade is worth EUR 47.6 billion per year and EUR 3.6 billion in services. The Commission will now submit proposals for signature and conclusion of the agreements to the Council. In addition, the Council authorised the trade and investment agreements between the EU and Singapore.
EU AND US DISCUSS SECOND ANNUAL REVIEW OF PRIVACY SHIELD
Representatives of the European Union and the United States began their discussion on the second annual review of the EU-US Privacy Shield. This arrangement was set up to protect personal data of Europeans transferred to companies in the US for commercial purposes. This time, the review will take stock of the commercial aspects, notably the questions related to the oversight and enforcement of the Shield. Additionally, the talks plan to address developments in collection of personal data by the U.S. authorities for purposes of law enforcement or national security. The Commission will publish its conclusions in a report at the end of November.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
• 22-25 October: European Parliament Plenary session. On the agenda: Commission work programme 2019, 2019 draft general budget, Cambridge Analytica.
• 24-25 October: European Union Military Committee (EUMC), EU Chiefs of Defence.
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab