“Regional integration and global developments – a view from the European Union”

European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

“Regional integration and global developments – a view from the European Union”

World Economic Forum

Istanbul, 29 September 2014

Dear Prime Minister, Mr Ahmet Davutoğlu,

Dear President,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to get this opportunity to address you all and to give you a view from the European Union on the issue of regional development and global developments, after the meeting of minds you’ve had over the last two days. Indeed I believe that regional development can also come from further developing such bonds between regional leaders and stakeholders.

When we discuss the challenges facing the European Union and the wider region today, it is important to bear in mind the starting point: that the European Union as such is precisely a project meant to overcome the divisions of the past and deal with those challenges. That European integration was always meant to be, and will always need to be, a tool to help its member countries face the issues they cannot successfully face alone. That bringing Europe as a region together is the only way to protect our interests and defend our values in a rapidly evolving world. And that the same logic of regional integration and increasing cooperation is at the heart of what the European Union does both internally and internationally, especially with its immediate neighbours.

That is as true today as it was when European integration took off after the Second World War.

That is where our lasting commitment to regional integration comes from.

Because then, and now, when times change, institutions need to change as well. So let me briefly recall what the current pace of change we are facing means for our governance at global and regional level. I will then try and highlight how I see the need for the world order to adapt itself to these new challenges. To conclude, I will say a few words on EU-Turkey relations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we speak, times are changing drastically, in some cases even dramatically. The rate of technological progress is unprecedented, global economic integration is rapidly expanding, issues like climate change and international migration are affecting all of us.

Trade flows and supply chains cross borders with increasing ease, information travels globally and decision-making centres are spread across the globe as well. So political decision-making and cooperation must rise above national borders too. The political mind-set needs to evolve as well.

One of the main questions of our times is whether or not we succeed in adapting our governance institutions to such a changing, complex and challenging global environment, and how. Governing structures need to evolve to support more dynamic societies, empower them get the most out of the opportunities that globalisation offers in terms of jobs, travel, knowledge and innovation, education and exposure to new ideas. They also need to shield them from some of the harmful effects of globalization like the growing threat of increasing international terrorist networks. Institutions are there to support us, and they need a certain flexibility to be able to do so.

This is particularly true in times of change and crisis, when hard questions are asked of governments everywhere. Around the world, we now see a triple gap of confidence widening: a gap between markets and states; between states amongst one another; and last but not least between governments and the governed. As a result, political institutions and economic systems across the world are under pressure.

This is, let’s be clear, not a “European” or “Western” issue.

True, in democracies such gaps show easily. But this is not – as some would have it until a few years ago – a problem aggravated by democratic openness. The legitimacy question is a fundamental one everywhere, and indeed democracies are better suited to deal with such issues than the ‘pressure cooker’ model of undemocratic or less-democratic systems. Our openness, the accountability of our political structures and the diversity inherent in our model of society, is what allows us to be more flexible and to adapt better to changing environments.

But for that to happen, we need leadership and we need cooperation.

That is why events such as this one organised by the World Economic Forum can really make a difference.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let’s be honest: today, our governance systems are in many cases sub-optimal.

Few would deny that we struggled to deal with the global financial crisis. In many ways we had to improvise and the creation of the G20 – I will come back to it in a moment – was a clear illustration that our governance models needed to adapt to a totally new situation. Indeed, a lot of what we have done since the financial crisis, most obviously in the European Union but beyond as well, was trying to remedy the defects of our financial and economic governance systems.

Even fewer would deny that the ongoing war in Syria or the emergence of a totally new form of terrorism in the region, to take only these examples in the current international turmoil in the Middle East, are showing the inadequacy of some governance systems. And the actions taken by the United Nations, as well as the support given by countries around the world including in Europe, are a necessary effort to deal with the situation collectively.

As a result of systemic defects or delay, we must also admit that there is some popular scepticism about both regional and global governance systems. This could, in the longer term, undermine them. Sometimes, they are seen as over-powering and interfering – as you can note from emotional protests against the World Trade Organisation, for instance. At other times, they are damned as ineffective – as if often claimed of the United Nations. And indeed, they may even be criticised for being both – which is sometimes the case of criticism of the European Union, that some criticise because it is too intrusive in Member States’ competences; others because it does not rely on sufficient coherence of Member States’ action. Such criticism may or may not be true, but it undoubtedly underlines an increasing need for greater legitimacy in our institutions, as well as enhanced effectiveness.

The regional dimension is part of that effort.

There is frequently a gap also between regional and global decision-making. Global bodies such as the UN and the WTO explicitly recognise the desirability of regional input and support – but the truth is that we have no established model or mechanism for how this should take place. In some cases the gap between global and regional decision-making is widening. A clear example is the relative stasis of the WTO agenda compared to the proliferation of regional or bilateral trade deals.

Besides, interdependence and interconnectedness are evolving fast, but the dynamic propelling us towards a “global village” and shared decision-making is confronted by that of a world which seems to be drifting apart. The renewed claim for identity at subnational or local level can sometimes be seen as a threat to the Nation State model, potentially leading to greater fragmentation. Globalisation has shortened the distances but has not erased differences in political and social models and has sometimes even exacerbated them. Today, we live not just in economic, scientific and technological competition with each other, but also in a broader geo-political competition of models of governance. Differences seem harder to bridge – at a time when the need to bridge them is much greater.

On top of that, the dynamic of divergence between East and West, North and South, seems set to continue. It is no exaggeration to say that power and influence are shifting, but I do not necessarily consider this as a “loss of power” of the West – I see it as part and parcel of truly global integration, which, if implemented according to some values and principles, can be a true win-win situation for the different players in our world.

In concrete terms we have seen challenges to the post-war bodies, on which global governance was based, such as the UN, the IMF and World Bank. A certain amount of complexity may be part of the new reality, but new competing institutions could further complicate regional and global governance. So the real question in my view is: do we want to focus on cooperation and collaboration or on competition?

Ladies and gentlemen,

Against this backdrop, how do we see the world order shifting and adapting itself?

A first, major development which I already mentioned is the emergence of the G20 in response to problems of global economic governance.

The economic liberalisation, and therefore also: the economic interdependence that has been so spectacular and successful over the last two decades came under threat as soon as the financial crisis erupted. The need for openness and for a global response was more obvious than ever before, namely by collectively resisting pressures of naked and ugly protectionism. But that in itself was not enough to bring it about, because the temptation to go it alone and try to survive the crisis by ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ policies was very strong. We simply had to step up our common engagement.

I vividly remember when French President Sarkozy, then holding the rotating Presidency of the European Council, and myself went to Camp David in October 2008 in order to try to convince President George W. Bush to join our call to act against the crisis in a concerted and convincing way. This led to the G20 in its current format, at Heads of State or government level, and the hugely important effort to globalise the response to the crisis at that stage. Since then, the G20 has become the only truly global forum for coordination of economic policies between its members, giving concrete shape and form to a lot of the concepts that the European Union has brought to the table, for instance on a framework for balanced and sustainable growth, on financial regulation and supervision or on action against tax evasion and fraud.

The development of the G20, from which Turkey is a member and will hold its next presidency, is a constructive and an institutional response to the problems we face together. As such, it is one of the most significant transformations of the global system – in the short term probably the most important one – and its creation certainly helped to avoid much more negative scenarios that might well have happened without it.

A second, major test for global governance is climate change, on which we had an important UN Summit in New York last week where I had the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our times. It ignores borders, disrupts societies, undermines development and destroys our global commons. It is by its very nature a problem we can only face together. At the same time, climate change also presents an opportunity to reinvent our economies in a cleaner, leaner, greener and more efficient way. But we, the international community, can only grasp this opportunity and defend our shared planet if we show courage, vision, determination – and unity.

The European Union has been and remains at the forefront of efforts to address climate change. In 2005, we created the world’s first and largest carbon market with the European Emissions Trading System (ETS). In 2008, we set the most ambitious targets for domestic emissions’ reductions, renewable energy and energy savings under our 2020 framework. This ambition is paying off. The European Union is on track to meet our targets.

And we try to lead by example in the future as well. The European Commission has proposed an ambitious reduction target of 40% of domestic emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, plus a renewables target of at least 27% and energy savings of 30%.

So, the European Union will be ready to agree a comprehensive, global and binding climate treaty at the end of next year in the Paris Summit. And we urge those countries with the greatest responsibilities and capabilities to get ready as well. Climate change is probably the most obvious example of the need for stronger global governance.

At the same time, we must also assist the most vulnerable countries, many of which are less able to take action on climate change, but who nevertheless suffer the consequences. For that reason, over the next 7 years, the European Union aims to allocate more than €3 billion in grants to support sustainable energy in developing countries. This will leverage between €15 and €30 billion in loans and equity investment, to plug gaps in energy infrastructure and businesses, to power schools, homes and hospitals in a sustainable manner. In total, Europe will provide €14 billion of public climate finance to partners beyond its borders over the next seven years.

We need to keep up the momentum on climate action, and foster a true coalition of all stakeholders, not just governments and international organisations but business leaders, financial institutions, and civil society. This concerns us all.

A third, major evolution in global governance is the increasingly dense web of trade agreements that spans the globe – not least around the European Union’s free trade agreements.

This too is a case of rules and institutions following economic reality, while shaping it at the same time. Open trade needs to go hand in hand with a rules-based system and a level playing field for all nations, citizens and companies, otherwise its effectiveness and legitimacy will suffer gravely.

Over the last five years, Europe was able to conclude a new generation of deals with South Korea, Singapore, Colombia, Peru, Central America, and Canada; we finalised economic partnership agreements in Africa, with West Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC); we resumed negotiations with the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur); we launched important negotiations on free trade agreements (FTAs) with Japan, India, Vietnam and Thailand, and on an investment agreement with China. And we took the unprecedented step to start negotiations with the United States of America on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). All this shows clearly: the European Union as the world’s largest trading block remains open for business. The crisis has not prompted us to pull up the drawbridges – on the contrary.

Now, we have always made it clear that this system of deeper bilateral ties, for us, is a second-best option. Indeed, we have only resumed bilateral and regional negotiations once it was regrettably but unmistakably clear that a multilateral trade deal encompassing the whole of the WTO membership was not forthcoming because some of the most important players were not ready for a global agreement. And in the EU we have made sure that our bilateral agreements, all of which go much beyond what would be possible multilaterally, are building blocks and not stumbling blocks for the multilateral trading system. It is a good example of pragmatic policies of bilateral and regional integration adding up to a race to the top, instead of a race to the bottom.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since we are here in this historical and great city of Istanbul, let me conclude with some words about Turkey – a country that I respect and admire so much – and also about Turkey-EU relations.

EU-Turkey relations are almost as old as the EU itself! We are close partners – and it is absolutely critical that we sustain and deepen this partnership. I think both Europeans and Turks understand this shared interest very well.

The EU is Turkey’s central trade and investment partner. In 2013, 41.5% of Turkish goods exports went to the EU and 36.7% of all imports of goods came from the EU. The great majority of all foreign direct investment in Turkey comes from the EU. With the customs union, Turkey has access to the biggest internal market in the world. Also, I believe that adopting the EU acquis – as required by the agreement – encourages and facilitates investment in Turkey.

Turkey has gone through tremendous changes over the past ten years. The most spectacular change obviously concerns the economy: thanks to a series of difficult but smart reforms after the big crisis of 2001. Turkey has become a much wealthier country, with a 5% annual growth on average, entered the G-20 club and qualified as a functioning market economy, one of the economic criteria for EU accession.

Turkey has also made progress in its alignment with the EU legislation even if we consider that the picture is mixed as regards the political criteria.

Let me stress that the EU stands by Turkey’s reforms. I have to say that Turkey is the biggest recipient of pre-accession assistance from the EU – it benefited from €4.8 billion in the period 2007-2013. For the next programming period 2014-2020 Turkey will benefit from around €4.5 billion. Strategic priorities include support to political reform and democratisation, including rule of law and human rights, social development and social inclusion, development towards a resource-efficient low carbon economy, increased inter-connectivity, and progress towards alignment with the EU.

We welcome the fact that the new Government has tabled its EU Strategy, which is intended to reinvigorate Turkey’s work on its European path. We would like to see this clear European commitment on the Turkish side. On the European side, I would like very much to see new chapters open as soon as possible, in particular chapters 23 and 24.

So, Turkey is and remains a key partner for the EU. This has been repeated many times by the Council of the EU and by the Commission, and I’m sure this will again be one of the central messages of the upcoming Progress Report.

Take any major challenge we are faced with – from the economic crisis and energy security to migration policy or terrorism – Turkey appears as a strategic partner for the European Union and as part of the solution. Not to mention of course Turkey’s crucial role in its neighbourhood – which is also the EU’s neighbourhood. The way Turkey has so far offered shelter to a million of Syrian refugees and recently to Kurdish refugees is very impressive. But to be able to tackle all these challenges, Turkey strongly needs the EU, too! We are bound to succeed together. There is also a large, untapped potential for cooperation between us. This ranges from foreign policy to counter-terrorism, the economy, trade, energy, migration policy and the visa dialogue.

I know there are some, both in the EU and in Turkey, who have doubts about EU enlargement. But let me tell you I am convinced EU enlargement will continue because a bigger Europe is a stronger Europe.

In 2012, EU GDP was 23% of world GDP, amounting to €13 trillion while our share on the global population is just 7%. Accession benefited both those countries joining the EU and the established member states.

Enlargement extended the internal market, opened trade and financial flows and created new opportunities for businesses and companies to firms in the EU and in the incoming countries. Trade between old and new member states grew almost threefold in less than 10 years preceding the 2004 and 2007 enlargements and fivefold among the new members themselves. Central and Eastern Europe grew on average by 4% annually in the period 1994-2008. It is estimated that the accession process itself contributed almost half to this growth over the period 2000-2008.

The economic dynamism of these countries generated three million new jobs in just six years from 2002 to 2008. Growth in the acceding countries contributed to growth in the old member states through increased investment opportunities and demand for their products. It contributed 0.5 percentage point to cumulative growth of EU-15 in 2000-2008. German exports to the 12 countries that joined in 2004 have almost doubled since then, totalling €124.5 billion last year.

These figures speak for themselves. EU enlargement was and is a good thing for Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Government structures are stubborn things.

But facts, as we know, are even more stubborn.

So we need to be ready to change the way we work when faced with new realities, in order to better serve and protect our citizens.

In a world where threats and opportunities are ever more global, I am confident we will find solutions that transcend the traditional boundaries of politics as well.

Pragmatism and conviction will overcome all pessimism. After ten years at the helm of the European Commission, I can say that this is not wishful thinking. This is simply the lesson I draw from all what was achieved to overcome the worst part of the financial and economic crisis, as well as to face new global challenges.

Thank you very much.

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Daily News of 2014-07-30

MEX 14 / 30.07

DAILY NEWS

30 / 07 / 14

Agreement on additional restrictive measures against Russia 

Following the agreement by the European Union on a package of significant additional restrictive measures targeting sectoral cooperation and exchanges with the Russian Federation, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy issued a joint statement, saying that the measures were “meant as a strong warning: illegal annexation of territory and deliberate destabilisation of a neighbouring sovereign country cannot be accepted in 21st century Europe.” The decisions will limit access to EU capital markets for Russian State-owned financial institutions, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual use goods for military end users, and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies particularly in the field of the oil sector.

European Commission adopts ‘Partnership Agreement’ with Portugal

The European Commission has adopted a “Partnership Agreement” with Portugal setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds throughout the country. Today’s agreement paves the way for investing €21.46 billion in total Cohesion Policy funding over 2014-2020 (current prices, including European Territorial Cooperation funding and the allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative). Portugal also receives €4.06 billion for rural development and €392 million for fisheries and the maritime sector. The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in Portugal’s cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy. Later today, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn will participate in a meeting with the Portuguese prime minister and other members of the government in Lisbon to mark the launch of the Partnership Agreement. Commenting on the adoption, President Barroso said: ”The adoption of the ‘Partnership Agreement’ is vital to continue the support to Portugal’s recovery and development. It is very much geared towards improving competitiveness, creating jobs and promoting social inclusion. It is now paramount to use the nearly €26 billion in an efficient and productive manner, directly benefiting Portuguese people.” Portugal is the 10th EU Member State to have adopted its Partnership Agreement.

Other news

EU scales up funding in response to West Africa Ebola outbreak

The European Commission is allocating an additional €2 million to respond to the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded. This EU funding will help contain the spread of the epidemic and provide immediate healthcare to the affected communities. It brings the Commission’s aid to fight the Ebola epidemic to €3.9 million. The Commission is in close contact with Member States. In addition, the EU has deployed health and humanitarian experts to the affected countries.

An off-the-record technical briefing on the EU response to the Ebola outbreak will be held after the Midday briefing today in the Commission’s press room.

Transport: €320 million for 106 infrastructure projects

The European Commission has selected 106 key projects that will benefit from over €320 million in EU support to improve TEN-T (trans-European transport network) infrastructure. These projects will use the EU’s financial support to speed up the completion of the TEN-T network, as well as studying innovative ways of reducing the transport sector’s environmental footprint.

Migrant integration in the labour market in 2013: Unemployment rate for non-EU citizens notably higher than for nationals in the EU28

In 2013 in the EU28, the unemployment rate for non-EU citizens (21.3%) aged 20 to 64 was more than twice the level for citizens of the reporting country (10.0%), referred to as “nationals”. However, the share of people unemployed for 12 months or more was at almost the same level for non-EU citizens (48.6%) and for nationals (49.4%). As regards employment, the rate for non-EU citizens aged 20 to 64 in the EU28 stood at 56.1%, while it was 68.9% for nationals. The share of employees aged 20 to 64 with a temporary contract was higher for non-EU citizens (20.2%) than for nationals (12.4%). The pattern was the same for the proportion of part time employment, which was more widespread amongst non-EU citizens (27.5%) than amongst nationals (18.4%).

Another step in the finalization of the Banking Union’s architecture: publication of Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) Regulation

Today, the Regulation establishing a Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) for the Banking Union has been published in the Official Journal of the EU, only one year after the European Commission presented its proposal. The Single Resolution Mechanism will implement in the Eurozone the new rules set for all 28 Member States by the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) in order to put an end to the old paradigm of bank bail-outs, which cost taxpayers’ hundreds of billions of euros in the crisis. The Single Resolution Mechanism will allow for the timely and effective resolution of cross border and domestic banks, over a weekend if necessary. The Regulation will enter into force on 19 August. The provisions relating to the cooperation between the Single Resolution Board and the national resolution authorities for the preparation of the banks’ resolution plans will apply from 1 January 2015 and the Single Resolution Mechanism should be fully operational from 1st January 2016. Today’s publication contributes to making the Banking Union a reality. See also MEMO/14/295 and MEMO/14/475 for SRM and MEMO/14/294 for Banking Union.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Vencorex by PTT Public Company Limited

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Vencorex of France by PTT Public Company Limited of Thailand, via its Dutch subsidiary PTTGC International. Vencorex produces and sells globally various chemicals, including toluene diisocyanate and raffinates, used primarily in polyurethanes foams and coatings, as well as aliphatic diisocyanates and derivatives used in coatings for cars, plastics, floors etc. PTT Public Company Limited is active globally in various sectors, including energy, natural gas, distribution of refined fuels, lubricating products and various chemicals. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties’ activities do not overlap and the vertical links are limited. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7303 .

Mergers: The Commission clears acquisition of Ipreo by Goldman Sachs and Blackstone

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Ipreo Holdings LLC (Ipreo) of the USA by the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc (Goldman Sachs) of the USA and the Blackstone Group L.P. (Blackstone) of the USA. Ipreo is active, globally, in the financial information industry as a provider of financial information products. Goldman Sachs is a global investment banking, securities and investment management firm. Blackstone is a global alternative asset manager and provider of financial advisory services. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the very low combined market shares resulting from the transaction. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7261 .

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Portuguese guarantee scheme

The European Commission has authorised, under EU State aid rules, the extension until 30 June 2014 of a guarantee scheme for credit institutions in Portugal. The scheme was initially approved in October 2008 (see IP/08/1601) and prolonged several times, last in December 2013 (see MEX/13/1912). The Commission found the extension of the measures to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 , IP/11/1488 and IP/13/672). In particular, the extended measure is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.38900 .

State aid: Commission approves second prolongation of Portuguese guarantee scheme on EIB lending

The European Commission has authorised, under EU State aid rules, a second prolongation, until 31 December 2014, of a Portuguese scheme providing State guarantees to banks that guarantee European Investment Bank (EIB) loans granted to companies in Portugal. The scheme was initially approved on 27 June 2013 (see IP/13/617) and first prolonged in December 2013 (see MEX 13/1812). The Commission found the prolongation of the measure to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 , IP/11/1488 and IP/13/672). In particular, the prolonged measure is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The scheme will allow the continuation of funding provided by the EIB to the real economy and prevent the disruption of the credit granted by the EIB through the banks participating in the scheme. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.38778 .

Antitrust: Commission closes its investigation into the refusal by several manufacturers of prestige/luxury watches to supply spare parts to independent repairers

The European Commission has closed its antitrust investigation in the sectors of the supply of spare parts and the provision of repair and maintenance services for luxury/prestige watches in several member states (notably France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK). The investigation concerned watches which are typically worth repairing and maintaining (in that regard, the Commission focused on watches sold above a certain retail price). The Commission investigated, further to a complaint by the European Confederation of Watch and Clock Repairers’ Association (CEAHR), whether the discontinuance of the supplies of spare parts by prestige watch manufacturers to independent watch repairers (i.e. repairers that do not belong to their respective official networks for repair and maintenance services) may constitute an infringement of EU competition rules on restrictive agreements and abuse of a dominant position (Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, respectively). Following a comprehensive investigation, the Commission has concluded that there is limited likelihood of finding such an infringement. The Commission has accordingly decided to close its antitrust probe (see web statement for more background on the case).

First World Day against Trafficking in Persons:  “Addressing trafficking in human beings must remain a political priority” says Commissioner Malmström

At the occasion of the first World day against Trafficking in Persons, Commissioner Cecilia Malmström reminded that trafficking in human beings “happens in the EU and affects us all”. Today “is an occasion to renew our commitment to work together for eradicating human trafficking. It is a day to reflect our personal and collective responsibility towards the victims. Our behaviour creates demand that fosters all forms of exploitation, and this must stop. We owe it to the victims”, explained the Commissioner for Home Affairs. She called upon all citizens to be aware that “The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the goods we use every day could be products of slavery”, before emphasizing that” addressing trafficking in human beings must remain a political priority – in Europe and beyond our borders”.

July 2014: Economic Sentiment stable in the euro area, decreasing slightly in the EU

In July the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) remained broadly stable in the euro area (+0.1 points at 102.2), while it decreased slightly in the EU (by 0.6 points to 105.8).

Business Climate Indicator decreases marginally in July

In July 2014 the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area decreased marginally by 0.04 points to +0.17. Managers’ more optimistic views on expected production and, to a lesser extent, the current level of overall order books were offset by an important decline in their assessments of past production. Managers’ assessment of stocks of finished products and export order books remained broadly unchanged.

Digital privacy: EU-wide logo and “data protection impact assessments” aim to boost the use of RFID systems

New EU-wide technical standards have been agreed that will help users of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) smart chips and systems comply with EU Data Protection rules and the Commission’s 2009 recommendation on RFID. A “data protection impact assessment” process has also been agreed. Among the practical effects of these new standards, people using electronic travel passes, or buying clothes and supermarket items with RFID tags in the label, will know that smart chips are present thanks to a new RFID sign. Retailers using RFID technology to improve stock management and prevent theft will be confident that they are respecting current EU data protection rules. Vice President Neelie Kroes said:Smart tags and systems are part of everyday life now, they simplify systems and boost our economy. But it is important to have standards in place which ensure those benefits do not come at a cost to data protection and security of personal data“.

EU Timber Regulation: new scorecard shows mixed progress to date

In March 2013, the EU Timber Regulation entered into application outlawing the placing of illegal timber on the internal market. A scoreboard published today by the Commission shows a mixed picture with regard to the implementation of the Regulation across the EU. To be effective, the legislation needs to be applied in full in an efficient and effective way, but there is still room for improvement in a number of Member States. The scorecard grades Members States against three main obligations under the legislation – designation of competent authorities, laying down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements, and an adequate system of checks. Illegal logging – the harvesting of timber in contravention to the laws and regulations of the country of harvest – is a global problem, causing deforestation, climate change and a loss of biodiversity, lost revenues for governments and legitimate operators, and disempowering local and indigenous communities. The Timber Regulation, which is part of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan , aims to combat the problem by developing responsible trading practices and obliging suppliers to ensure their timber complies with national legislation in the place of harvest. An overview can be consulted here: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/forests/timber_regulation.htm

The new scoreboard is part of a more robust approach that aims to ensure uniform application of the Timber Regulation across the Union.

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