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  • Author: METRO Office EU Affairs

News from Brussels / Week 08-14 May 2017

Last week, Bulgaria nominated MEP Mariya Gabriel as Commissioner. The EU Council discussed the new anti-dumping methodology and took stock of trade relations with Chile, New Zealand and Australia. It also debated the state of play of trade negotiations with Japan, Mexico and Mercosur and discussed about the EU-Myanmar/Burma Investment Protection Agreement. The Commission identified three main action points in the Digital Single Market and published its final report on the e-commerce sector inquiry. The European Parliament held a hearing on the situation and rights of EU citizens in the UK.

# Bulgaria nominates MEP Mariya Gabriel as Commissioner

President Juncker received May 10 the proposal by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov for nominating Mrs Mariya Gabriel as the candidate to replace former Member of the Commission Kristalina Georgieva. The proposal for nomination follows a phone call between President Juncker and Prime Minister Borissov on Friday, 5 May, in which the two agreed that a candidate for Commissioner should be nominated swiftly.

The next step is now for President Jean-Claude Juncker to receive Mariya Gabriel for an interview. The purpose of the interview will be to determine the candidate's ability to serve as a European Commissioner, particularly in light of Article 17(3) of the Treaty on European Union(TEU), which states that: "The members of the Commission shall be chosen on the ground of their general competence and European commitment from persons whose independence is beyond doubt."

Press Release (Commission)

# EC takes stock of globalisation and its effects

Following the Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe presented on 1 March, the Commission published its Reflection Paper on Harnessing Globalisation. Based on a fair assessment of the benefits and downsides of globalisation, the Paper aims to launch a debate on how the EU and its Member States can shape globalisation in a way that anticipates the future and improves the lives of Europeans.

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the Commission, said: "Globalisation is good for the European economy overall, but this means little to our citizens if the benefits are not shared fairly and more evenly. Europe must help rewrite the global rulebook so that free trade becomes fair trade. So that globalisation becomes sustainable and works for all Europeans. At the same time, we must focus our policies on getting people the education and skills they need to keep up with the evolution of our economies. Better redistribution will help guarantee the social cohesion and solidarity this Union is based on."

Press release (Commission)

# EC identifies three main action points in the Digital Single Market

The mid-term review of Digital Single Market strategy takes stock of the progress made, calls on co-legislators to swiftly act on all proposals already presented, and outlines further actions on online platforms, data economy and cybersecurity. 
Since May 2015, the European Commission has delivered 35 legislative proposals and policy initiatives as announced in its Digital Single Market strategy. The focus is now on obtaining political agreement with the European Parliament and the Council on all proposals, above all the updated EU telecoms rules which will boost investments in high-speed and quality networks, which are critical for the full deployment of the digital economy and society.
In the mid-term review communication the Commission has identified three main areas where further EU action is needed: (1) to develop the European Data Economy to its full potential, (2) to protect Europe's assets by tackling cybersecurity challenges, and (3) to promote the online platforms as responsible players of a fair internet ecosystem.
EuroCommerce published a press release to underline the retails and wholesale sector support for the strategy and the Commission’s efforts to create a truly Single Market fit for the digital age. This support continues, but the retail and wholesale sector is asking European decision-makers to create ambitious rules for the digital transformation of the European economy.

Press Release (Commission)

# Foreign Affairs Council discusses new anti-dumpuing methodology

The Council discussed the new anti-dumping methodology and all ministers confirmed their support for the Council's negotiating mandate agreed on 3 May by EU Ambassadors. Ministers also called for a quick conclusion to the negotiations with the European Parliament. Besides, Ministers supported the need to put in place initiatives to improve the way FTAs are implemented. They agreed on the importance of coordinating actions between the Commission, Member States and European businesses. They also took stock of a number of free trade negotiations and prospective free trade agreements.

Press release (Council)
Main results

#Brexit: The fate of EU citizens in the UK

Although few of them were allowed to vote during the referendum, the millions of EU citizens living in the UK will be among those affected the most by #Brexit. The EU wants to reach a deal to protect their rights as soon as possible during the upcoming negotiations with the UK. Parliament held a hearing on the situation and rights of EU citizens in the UK. The hearing on 11 May was organised by the civil liberties, employment and petition committees. Members discussed with experts the issues facing EU citizens in the EU and the best ways to protect their rights.
Safeguarding people’s rights in the wake of Brexit is a priority for the Parliament, including those of Brits living in other EU countries. In the Parliament position adopted on 5 April, MEPs stressed the importance of securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU. Parliament President Antonio Tajani also brought up the issue with UK Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit to London on 20 April: “The students, workers and families are valuable members of society and deserve some certainty regarding their future."

Press release (Parliament)

# EC Publishes Final report on the E-commerce Sector Inquiry

The European Commission's final report on the e-commerce sector inquiry identifies business practices that may restrict competition. It allows the Commission to target its enforcement of EU antitrust rules in e-commerce markets and has already prompted companies to review their practices.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: "Certain practices by companies in e-commerce markets may restrict competition by unduly limiting how products are distributed throughout the EU. Our report confirms that. These restrictions could limit consumer choice and prevent lower prices online. At the same time, we find that there is a need to balance the interests of both online and 'brick-and-mortar' retailers. All to the benefit of consumers. Our findings help us to target the enforcement of EU competition rules in e-commerce markets".

Press release (Commission)

This week…

During the plenary session and Committee meetings in Strasbourg, MEPs will debate the guidelines for the negotiations with the UK, negative effects of globalisation, the implementation of the free trade agreement between the EU and Korea and cross-border portability of online inhaling services in the Internal Market. The colaborative economy and the longer life span for products will be also on the agenda of the MEPs. Besides, they will vote on food waste, food donations and labelling.