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  • Author: METRO Office EU Affairs

News from Brussels / Week 18 - 24 September 2017

News from Brussels / Week 18 - 24 September 2017

Last week, the European Commission presented a far-reaching package on cybersecurity and a renewed European industrial policy strategy. With the new industrial strategy, the Commission wants to make the EU fit for the megatrends of the future, namely digitisation and decarbonisation. Also, building on several public consultations and an intense dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, the Commission proposed an overhaul of financial supervision in the EU. Last Wednesday, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, addressed the UN General Assembly on behalf of the EU to stress the importance of strengthening the UN as the backbone of the rules-based global order and guaranteed the EU's commitment to the Paris Agreement. On Thursday, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada entered provisionally into force and the European Commission adopted a Communication regarding fair taxation of the digital economy with the goal to ensure a coherent EU approach, which guarantees fair and effective taxation for all companies. On Friday, Theresa May proposed in her speech in Florence a post-Brexit 'implementation period' of 2 years during which the United Kingdom would pay its EU budget commitments and allow freedom of movement to continue.

# CETA Enters Provisionally into Force

After seven years of negotiations, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada entered provisionally into force last Thursday.

The agreement will remove customs duties and other barriers to trade. Above all, it offers new opportunities for EU businesses of all sizes to export to Canada. The EU Commission estimates the savings for European companies to be €590 million per year. In addition, companies on both sides of the Atlantic will have better access to public tenders. CETA also creates new opportunities for European farmers and food producers, while at the same time protecting EU's sensitive sectors.

Consumers will also benefit from the agreement, since CETA offers them more choices and guarantees European standards. The agreement between the EU and Canada will not change the way the EU regulates food safety, including genetically modified products or the ban on hormone-treated beef.

However, only a handful of Member State have ratified the agreement so far. Since it is a so-called mixed agreement, it still has to be adopted in the EU countries by national - and sometimes regional - parliaments in order, to enter into full force and effect.

Press release (Commission)

# Renewed EU Industry Strategy will Help Industry Grow

Europe's industry is strong and has retained a leading position in many sectors in global markets. Industry accounts for two thirds of the EU's exports and provides jobs for 32 million people, with 1.5 million of these jobs created since 2013. But to maintain and reinforce its competitive advantage, an important modernisation effort is required. To empower European industries to continue delivering sustainable growth and jobs, the Commission unveiled an Industrial Policy Strategy on Monday.

With the renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy, the Commission clarifies the tasks ahead for all actors involved and sets out the fora – an annual Industry Day, the first edition of which took place in February 2017 and a High Level Industrial Roundtable – that will allow in particular industry and civil society to steer industrial policy actions in the future.

The main new elements of the EU Industrial Policy Strategy include, among others, a new series of actions on Circular Economy, including a strategy on plastics and measures to improve the production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into bio-based products; a proposal for a Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data that will enable data to circulate freely across borders, helping to modernise industry and a comprehensive package to reinforce industry's cybersecurity.

Factsheet (Commission)

Press Release (Commission)

# New EU Agenda on Fair Taxation of the Digital Economy

As  part of the fair taxation agenda, last Thursday the European Commission adoptedthe Communication “A Fair and Efficient Tax System in the European Union for the Digital Single Market”. Since the Digital Single Market is one of the 10 political priorities of the European Commission, it is essential to ensure tax certainty for business investment and to prevent new tax loopholes emerging in the Single Market. While the digital transformation of the economy accelerates, policy makers are struggling to find solutions that ensure fair and effective taxation and have not adequately addressed the growing challenge of ensuring that the digital economy is fairly taxed.

Therefore, the aim of the new EU agenda is to ensure a coherent EU approach to taxing the digital economy. The initiative shall make the tax system fit for the challenges of the future, namely digitisation. Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said, that all companies active in the EU should be able to compete fairly, irrespective of whether they are operating via the cloud or from brick and mortar premises.

The Commission wants an ambitious and common EU approach to influence the international discussions and develop meaningful solutions to taxing the digital economy to be agreed at the international level by spring 2018.

Press release (European Commission)
Q&A on the Communication

# Creating Better European Financial Supervision for the Capital Markets Union

Last Wednesday, the European Commission proposed reforms to pave the way for further financial integration and a full Capital Markets Union.

Once adopted, the proposals will improve the mandates, governance and funding of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) for banking, for securities and financial markets, and for insurance and pensions. To ensure a uniform application of EU rules and promote a true Capital Markets Union, the proposals also entrust European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) with direct supervisory power in specific financial sectors. In addition, the Commission is proposing targeted changes to the composition and organisation of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), which monitors stability risks for the financial system as a whole.

The reforms will promote further capital market integration following UK's departure from the EU.  Moreover, better-functioning supervision will enhance the confidence of consumers, investors and businesses.. It will also facilitate access to finance by strengthening the resilience and preventing the failure of individual financial institutions.

Press Release (European Commission)

# President Donald Tusk at the UN General Assembly

President of the European Council Donald Tusk spoke at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. He said that the European Union stands for freedom and a credible rules-based global order and “is a real sine qua non condition for peace, stability and a global economy that works for everyone”.
Inter alia he addressed the global refugee crisis and promised that the EU will continue to assume its responsibility in this regard. He ensured the European Union’s active support to develop Global Compacts on Refugees and on Regular, Safe and orderly Migration.
He also referred to climate change during his speech. . He committed to the Paris Agreement as the cornerstone of global efforts to tackle climate change in an effective way and to implement the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

Press release (European Council)

This week...

On Monday, the fourth round of the Brexit negotiations will start. Also, EP President Tajani will meet with political group leaders to discuss the latest progress on the Brexit negotiations ahead of a European Parliament resolution to be voted next week in Strasbourg. On Tuesday, the Commission has scheduled a meeting with high-level representatives of the Member States in order to draw lessons from the current case of fipronil-contaminated eggs. On Wednesday, the next European Ministerial Conference will be held. Moreover, the Estonian Presidency organises a Digital Summit with EU Heads of States and Governments on Friday. Additionally, the kick-off event for the European Cyber Security Month (ESCM) will take place.

METRO Office EU Affairs

Information about the author

METRO Office EU Affairs is the team in the Representative Office of METRO AG in Brussels. Brussels@metro.de