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Our IEU MONITORING headlines today:

# ISDS & CETA

European Commission and Canadian Government co-host discussions on a multilateral investment court

Link

Brussels, 13 December 2016

The European Commission keeps its pledge to work towards the establishment of a permanent multilateral investment court to decide investment disputes.

Today and tomorrow, the European Commission and Canadian Government are co-hosting in Geneva the first exploratory discussions with government representatives from around the world on the establishment of a multilateral investment court. It will be the first meeting at government-to-government level on this initiative since it was first proposed by the Commission in May 2015.

The ultimate aim is to establish a single permanent body to decide investment disputes, thus moving away from the ad hoc system of investor to state dispute settlement (ISDS) which is currently included in around 3200 investment treaties in force today – of which EU member states have 1400. This future body would be open for all interested countries to join and would adjudicate disputes under both future and existing investment treaties. For EU level agreements, it would also replace the bilateral Investment Court Systems included in EU level agreements with FTA partners.

The discussions today and tomorrow are intended to be the first in a series of meetings to take place in the coming year to move forward on this important initiative.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Canada's Minister for International Trade Chrystia Freeland also intend to discuss the multilateral investment court initiative with other trade ministers in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos on 20 January 2017.

Background

The establishment of a multilateral investment court is an integral part of the EU's trade and investment strategy, Trade for all, presented in 2015. This involves in parallel the negotiation of a court-like system for resolving investment disputes in EU trade and investment agreements, the "Investment Court System", with a First Instance and an Appeal Tribunal with judges appointed by the agreement partners. As a second step, work should start in parallel with other countries on a permanent multilateral investment court to serve as a global court for investment disputes.

Both the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) signed with Canada and the trade agreement concluded between the EU and Vietnam contain a reference to the establishment of a multilateral investment court. The EU includes similar references in all of its negotiations involving investment.

At Commission level, an impact assessment process on the option of establishing a multilateral investment court is ongoing. A 12-week online public consultation process will be launched before the end of the year and a stakeholder meeting is planned in Brussels by February.

For More Information

EU Commission Fact Sheet: A future multilateral investment court

Link

Brussels, 13 December 2016

The European Commission and the Canadian Government are working together to establish a multilateral investment court.

The idea is to establish a permanent body to decide investment disputes, moving away from the ad hoc system of investor to state dispute settlement (ISDS). This multilateral investment court would adjudicate disputes under future and existing investment treaties.For the EU, it would replace the bilateral Investment Court Systems included in the recent EU level trade and investment agreements.

Background

The concept of multilateral investment dispute settlement was already raised at EU level by some stakeholders in the 2014 public consultation as a more effective way to reform the ISDS system than bilateral reforms. In its Concept Paper of 5 May 2015 on "Investment in TTIP- the path beyond", the Commission also indicated that, in parallel to the reform process undertaken in bilateral EU negotiations, work should start on the establishment of a multilateral system for the resolution of international investment disputes. The European Parliament has also broadly supported the proposal to work towards a multilateral solution. In the same vein, the Commission's Trade for all communication of 2015 sets as an objective to engage with partners to build consensus for a fully-fledged, permanent multilateral investment court in order to develop a coherent, unified and effective policy on investment dispute resolution.

The proposal for a multilateral reform has also been met with increasing interest by many third countries. The signed EU-Canada trade deal (CETA) and the EU-Vietnam trade agreement both contain a reference to the establishment of a permanent multilateral investment court. The EU includes similar references in all of its ongoing negotiations involving investment.

As part of the discussions around the conclusion of the CETA agreement, the EU governments in the Council of Ministers adopted a declarationon the multilateral investment court:

"Moreover, the Council supports the European Commission's efforts to work towards the establishment of a multilateral investment court, which will replace the bilateral system established by CETA, once established, and according to the procedure foreseen in CETA."

The EU-Canada Joint Interpretative Instrument also states:

"Therefore, CETA represents an important and radical change in investment rules and dispute resolution. It lays the basis for a multilateral effort to develop further this new approach to investment dispute resolution into a Multilateral Investment Court. The EU and Canada will work expeditiously towards the creation of the Multilateral Investment Court. It should be set up once a minimum critical mass of participants is established, and immediately replace bilateral systems such as the one in CETA, and be fully open to accession by any country that subscribes to the principles underlying the Court."

The Commission is also carrying out an impact assessment on this initiative (see here and here). A 12-week public consultation will be launched shortly and a stakeholder meeting will be organised by February 2017.

Questions and Answers

Does the Commission already know what an actual permanent multilateral investment court would look like?

The purpose of the first exploratory discussions at government level in Geneva is precisely to examine this issue, so it is too early to say anything concrete about this.

The multilateral investment court could be modelled on the set up of most domestic and international courts and tribunals, which are normally composed of two instances - a first instance and an appeal instance.  The first instance level could adjudicate claims brought under investment treaties that interested countries have decided to assign to the authority of the multilateral court. The appeal instance could hear appeals of the decisions of the first instance tribunal. Building further on the operation of existing courts, the multilateral investment court could have permanent staff and a secretariat to support it in its daily work. 

Is it not the same model (first instance/appeal tribunal) as that which the EU and Canada are proposing in CETA?

The Investment Court System (ISC) in CETA is built around core principles as found also in most domestic courts and international tribunals such as permanency, appeal possibility, and random allocation of cases. These core principles would also feature in the discussions on a multilateral court. 

However, negotiations in a multilateral context raise a number of specific issues such as scope of the tribunal, membership, appointment of adjudicators, geographical balance, permanency, enforcement, cost allocation and location which are not necessarily the same and cannot necessarily be dealt with in the same way as in a bilateral context. The discussions will be precisely about these issues.

How would stakeholders be involved in the negotiation process?

This is an inclusive process open to all interested countries. At EU level, the European Commission intends to keep the process around the initiative very open and transparent, with regular meetings convened with stakeholders to discuss progress made with other countries on the initiative. The Commission is also creating a dedicated website where all relevant material about the about the initiative will be made publicly available.

The Commission is also carrying out a full Impact Assessment of the initiative to establish a multilateral investment court. The 12-week, questionnaire based, public consultation process will be launched shortly and a stakeholder meeting on the initiative will be organised by February 2017.  The final impact assessment report is expected to be made public around summer of 2017.

What would happen to the Investment Court Systems established in EU trade and investment agreements?

Once operational, the multilateral investment court would replace the bilateral Investment Court Systems that will have been included in EU level agreements and any other dispute settlement mechanisms included in investment treaties of EU Member States or in investment treaties between third countries.

The recent EU agreements with Vietnam and Canada both include provisions that foresee the transition from the current Investment Court System to a permanent multilateral investment court committing them to work with the EU to create a future multilateral investment court. The EU includes similar references in all of its negotiations involving investment.

Would such a permanent multilateral investment court be part of an already existing international organisation?

The multilateral court would need to be a legal entity under international law, but it is too early to say whether it would be a new stand-alone body or be docked into an existing international organisation. This perspective is kept open, but would need to take account of the views of the members of the international organisations being considered, their current and projected workload as well as the vocation and other activities of these existing organisations.

What is the likely timing for a permanent international investment court?

This will require building consensus with other likeminded countries. This cannot be achieved overnight. We will work with our partners to identify the best way forward.

What about the costs to operate a permanent multilateral investment court?

One possibility could be that the multilateral court is financed through permanent transfers from members, which is how most international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are financed.

Projected costs would be comparable to those of other international tribunals, such as the International Law of the Sea Tribunal, which costs around USD 10 million per year to run or the WTO Appellate Body costs around USD 7 million to operate per year.

The costs per member country would of course depend on the overall size of the membership. Over time, the operating costs of the multilateral court are also likely to decrease as the circle of membership grows and the institution gains in efficiency.

Would the EU need negotiating directives to establish a multilateral investment court? Where are we in the process?

Yes, as it would require the negotiation, signing and conclusion of an international agreement.  In line with Article 218 of the Treaty, the Commission would act on the basis of a Council decision authorizing the Commission to negotiate such an agreement on behalf of the EU, together with negotiating directives.

At Commission level, as the recommendation for authorization would be considered a major EU policy initiative an impact assessment is required and is being carried out until mid-2017.

For More Information

# TRADE DEFENCE

Trade defence instruments: Council agrees negotiating position

On 13 December 2016, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed on the Council's negotiating position on a proposal to modernise the EU's trade defence instruments

"This is a major breakthrough," said Peter Žiga, Slovakia's minister in charge of trade and President of the Council. "Our trade defence instruments have remained largely the same for over 15 years but the situation on world markets has changed dramatically. Europe cannot be naïve and has to defend its interests, especially in case of dumping. This is a crucial step towards a solid solution that would help EU producers cope with unfair competition and practices." 

The proposed regulation amends current anti-dumping and anti-subsidies regulations to better respond to unfair trade practices. The purpose is to shield EU producers from damage caused by unfair competition, ensuring free and fair trade. 

In particular, the proposed regulation sets out to: 

  • Increase transparency and predictability as concerns the imposition of provisional anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures. This includes a period of four weeks after the information is made public in which provisional duties will not yet be applied.
  • Enable investigations to be initiated without an official request from industry, when a threat of retaliation by third countries exists.
  • Shorten the investigation period
  • Enable higher duties to be imposed in cases where there are raw material distortions and these raw materials, including energy, account for more than 27% of the cost of production in total and more than 7% taken individually. This would allow for limited deviations from the EU "lesser duty rule" whereby duties must not be higher than what is necessary to prevent injury for an EU industry. The imposition of higher duties will based on a target profit and also be subject to a Union interest test.
  • Enable importers to be reimbursed duties collected during an expiry review in the event of trade defence measures not being maintained.

This is the first fundamental review of the EU's trade defence instruments since 1995. In April 2013, the Commission presented a proposal to modernise the existing instruments and make them work better for EU producers, importers and users. At its meeting on 20-21 October 2016, the European Council called for a balanced agreement on the Council position by the end of 2016.

Read more

EU Commission: Council breaks the deadlock on trade defence instruments modernisation

The European Commission welcomes the agreement reached today by the Council on its negotiating position on a proposal to modernise the EU's trade defence instruments. 

“This is a major step in adapting our legislation to today's economic realities", said Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, adding that "Europe needs to make sure that we have modern, state-of-the-art tools in place to deal with unfair trading practices when needed. The EU stands for free, rules-based trade and we must be able to address unfair subsidies and dumping with determination. The tireless efforts of the Slovak Presidency, and by Member States, have been instrumental in finding this compromise. I now hope that constructive trilogue negotiations between the Council, Parliament and Commission can start without delay.” 

The agreement builds on the proposal presented by the Commission in 2013 aiming at providing Europe's trade defence instruments with more transparency, faster procedures and more effective enforcement. In exceptional cases such as in the presence of distortions in the cost of raw materials, it will enable the EU to impose higher duties through the limited suspension of the so-called lesser duty rule.

The October European Council asked for "an urgent and balanced agreement on the comprehensive modernisation of all trade defence instruments by the end of 2016", following the discussion of the Communication presented by the Commission "Towards a robust trade policy for the EU in the interest of jobs and growth".

The Commission stands ready to facilitate the trilogue discussions with the European Parliament and the Council to agree and implement these changes. 
 

La France: L’UE lance la réforme de ses instruments de defense commerciale

Paris, le 13 décembre 2016
 
Le Conseil de l’Union européenne a trouvé un accord le 13 décembre 2016 pour entrer en négociation avec le Parlement européen et la Commission afin de renforcer les instruments de défense commerciale de l’Union européenne.
 
Cet accord marque une étape essentielle de la réforme du règlement antidumping qui doit permettre de mieux protéger les producteurs et les emplois européens contre les pratiques commerciales déloyales dans tous les secteurs. Une étape majeure a été franchie avec le raccourcissement des délais d’enquête. L’Union européenne pourra par ailleurs imposer des droits antidumping plus efficaces grâce à la levée partielle de la « règle du droit moindre » qui affaiblissait nos défenses.
 
L’accord au sein du Conseil est l'aboutissement d'une longue négociation qui perdurait depuis 2014 en raison d’un clivage fort entre les Etats membres. Le contexte actuel de crise de l’acier en raison de l’existence de surcapacités de production, ainsi que la mobilisation de la France avec l’Allemagne, ont contribué à relancer les discussions en mai 2016. Le compromis trouvé aujourd’hui au sein du Conseil est un premier pas vers une Europe consciente de son statut de puissance commerciale, en faveur d’un commerce mondial régulé et dont la réciprocité est une pierre angulaire. Il revient désormais au Parlement européen, qui tient un rôle essentiel pour parvenir à un accord, de se saisir de cette réforme afin de permettre son aboutissement.
 
Le gouvernement français est engagé fermement en faveur des producteurs français, notamment industriels, qui sont les garants de l’équilibre de nos territoires et développement économique et social, et pour le renforcement des règles garantissant la loyauté des échanges commerciaux. C’est avec détermination, avec le même souci de promotion de nos entreprises à l’international et de défense de l’emploi en France que le gouvernement agit.
 
L’accord trouvé au Conseil ce jour traduit les efforts du gouvernement français en faveur d’une Europe qui s’affirme dans la mondialisation.
 

The Council’s proposal to renew EU’s trade defences is unacceptable for S&Ds

The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament have been calling for the urgent reform of the EU's trade defence instruments (TDIs) for months, but the decision taken today by the representatives of the member states falls dramatically short of what was expected.
 
The S&Ds regret that the member states have been wasting precious time and they have now missed the opportunity to push for strong legislation to defend EU companies and EU jobs against unfair competition. The lack of ambition in the member states’ proposals means there will be a tough negotiation process with the European Parliament in which the S&D Group cannot and will not give in.

S&D spokesperson on TDIs, Alessia Mosca MEP, said:

"Finally the Council agreed on a position on the modernisation of TDIs, a long-awaited decision which could potentially contribute to shaping a global level playing field in which European industries' interests are better protected. 

"Nevertheless, we note with deep regret that almost nothing from the European Parliament's first reading back in 2014 has been taken into account, therefore a lot of work has to be done in order to truly protect European industries and workers. 

"The S&D Group, already at the forefront during the first reading, will do its best to strongly modify the proposal. The main hurdles to developing the file in a positive direction are an unsatisfactory and excessively complicated process to allow exemptions from the lesser duty rule*, a longer shipping clause, the lack of any mitigation on the restitution of duties and the fact that the specific needs of SMEs are not sufficiently taken into account. 

"We are ready to work carefully on the file – together with the other groups – in order to get to a strong European Parliament position.”
 
S&D spokesperson on trade, David Martin MEP, said:
 
“After years of pressure from S&D MEPs, EU governments have finally come to a compromise regarding the modernisation of our trade defence instruments. But this isn’t the early Christmas present that EU steelworkers and other manufacturers were hoping for. The proposal looks severely weakened, with the narrowness of the exceptions possible for the lesser duty rule a particular concern. 
 
“It is good that the discussions can finally move on to the next stage, but it is clear that this compromise falls far short of our expectations and, more importantly, far short of what is necessary to protect Europe’s vital manufacturing sector and those that work in it.”
 
* Note to editors:

Under a lesser duty rule, authorities impose duties at a level lower than the margin of dumping if this level is adequate to remove injury. It is not a World Trade Organisation obligation.
 

# CHINA

EU Commission Answer - China's market economy status - E-007355/2016

Commission response
See question(s) : E-007355/2016 
 
9 December 2016
E-007355/2016
Answer given by Ms Malmström on behalf of the Commission

All World Trade Organisation members have to abide by their legal commitments and consider appropriate actions in their own jurisdiction. The EU is in a unique situation because it has legislation in place that legally presumes that China is not a market economy. By contrast, the US legislation contains no such legal presumption but rather relies on an economic assessment of the market conditions prevailing in China which can be reviewed in the context of an ongoing case.

On 18 October 2016, the Commission adopted the communication ‘Towards a robust trade policy for the EU in the interest of jobs and growth’(1). It stresses the importance of the EU trade defence instruments (TDI) to sustain fair and free trade and it invites the Council to support the Commission's efforts to upgrade the TDI to address the challenge of unfair trade practices by third countries.

On 9 November 2016, the Commission adopted a proposal that includes a new methodology for calculating dumping on imports from countries where there are significant market distortions, or where the state has a pervasive influence on the economy. The EU anti-subsidy legislation would also be strengthened with this proposal by allowing any subsidies revealed in the course of an investigation to be investigated and included in the final duties imposed. The European Parliament and the Council will now decide on the proposal through the ordinary legislative procedure.

The new methodology would be country-neutral and could be therefore used in all trade defence investigations related to any country where the Commission would establish pervasive non-market distortions.

 
(1)   COM(2016) 690 final
Last updated: 13 December 2016

Source : © European Union, 2016 - EP

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# JAPAN

ST 15469 2016 INIT 8th Japan-EU Joint Customs Cooperation Committee - Coordination


 

# UKRAINE

EU report: Ukraine carrying out unprecedented reforms

Link

Brussels, 13 December 2016

Ukraine is carrying out intense and unprecedented reforms across its economy and political system, while its democratic institutions have been further revitalised.

This is the observation of a joint report released today by the European External Action Service and the European Commission, ahead of the third EU-Ukraine Association Council on 19 December 2016, which examines the state of play of Ukraine's implementation of the Association Agenda since 1 January 2015

"Ukraine has taken big steps in the last two years, under very difficult circumstances, not least the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. Today's report fully recognises this work done by the Ukrainian authorities. It is now crucial to move from passing legislation and setting up institutions to full implementation of these reforms so that Ukrainian citizens can reap the benefits. Ukraine can count on the European Union's support moving forward”, said the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini.

"Ukraine's reform efforts are bringing results”, said the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn. “Ukraine has taken important steps to address the key, systemic challenge of corruption both by limiting the scope for corruption in a number of areas, and strengthening the means to pursue wrongdoers. This work must continue, and bring real change to the way the country operates. Tackling corruption and creating a reliable judicial system are also key to transforming the business climate and rebuilding prosperity. The European Union will continue to support Ukraine in these efforts, both politically and financially.”

The joint report looks at important developments and reforms undertaken in line with the strategic priorities agreed between the EU and Ukraine as part of our Association Agenda. According to the report, Ukraine has implemented a number of reforms to curb corruption and to clean up the banking system, and has embarked on ambitious energy reforms, as well as strengthened democracy and the rule of law. Progress in other areas in the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, parts of which have been provisionally applied since November 2014, has also been made, for example regarding the adoption of constitutional amendments to the judiciary, the adoption of an ambitious human rights strategy and action plan, and the undertaking of decentralisation reforms.

The report gives an overview of Ukraine's efforts to improve its electoral framework, its constitutional framework and good governance. It takes note of the significant steps made during the reporting period, in dialogue with its active civil society. It also highlights that in some other areas, such as privatisation of state owned enterprises as well as the social and health sector, reforms have advanced more slowly. The report also highlights the difficult humanitarian situation and the efforts to assist Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), for whom the payment of social benefits and/or pensions remains in the process of being resolved. For Ukrainian citizens residing in the non-government controlled areas, this issue has yet to be addressed. Generally, the report highlights a need to proceed with swift and effective implementation of reforms so that their effects can be felt by the population.

In the section on economic development, the report underlines the benefits brought to the EU and Ukraine since the start of the provisional application of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) in January 2016. Ukraine has adopted many legislative acts that have brought its trade-related legal framework closer to that of the European Union, and in doing so has enabled the benefits and opportunities offered by the DCFTA to start reaching the Ukrainian citizens. Ukraine has the potential to attract even more foreign investment if the business and investment climate are improved.

The report also notes that Ukraine successfully met all benchmarks under the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, which led to the European Commission's proposal to the Council and the European Parliament in April 2016 to lift visa obligations for Ukrainian citizens. In this context, the agreement reached on 7 December between the Council and the European Parliament on the suspension mechanism, paves the way for the conclusion of visa liberalisation for Ukraine.

Ukraine also provides personnel and equipment to EU civilian and military operations, including a contribution to three EU Battle groups with military personnel and one strategic lift aircraft. This contributes to strengthening the EU's role as a global security provider and increasing the resilience of countries worldwide.

The European Union continues to fully support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and continues to condemn and will not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation. The European Union also continues to support the diplomatic efforts to find a lasting peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine through the complete implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

More information:

# GEORGIA

Georgia to get visa-free access to the EU, MEPs and Council negotiators agree

Link

Visa policy / Schengen − 13-12-2016 - 19:32
 

Georgian citizens will have the right to travel to the Schengen area without a visa under an informal deal struck by Parliament and Council negotiators on Tuesday.

Parliament´s rapporteur, Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG) said: “We are entering the final phase towards visa exemption for Georgian citizens. It was extremely important to reach a deal today, to move forward in parallel with the revision of the suspension mechanism and to be ready for a simultaneous entry into force. I am glad that the Council backed our commitment to deliver as soon as possible. At the end of the day we must keep in mind that this is for Georgian citizens to come closer to the European Union – in terms of mobility as well as in terms of political path".

The deal still needs to be confirmed by member state representatives (Coreper) and endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee and the Parliament as a whole, probably in January.

Member states had linked the proposal to exempt Georgia from visa requirements with the strengthening of the visa suspension mechanism. Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on this mechanism on 7 December, which will be put to a vote in plenary session on Thursday.

At the request of MEPs, the Slovak Presidency promised to write to them by the end of this week confirming that the Council will now do its utmost to speed up the processing of the deal reached on Georgia.

The visa waiver for Georgia will enter into force on the same date as the review of the visa suspension mechanism.

Background

The EU-Georgia visa liberalisation dialogue started in 2012. By the end of 2015, the EU Commission had concluded that the country had fulfilled all the benchmarks. In March 2016, the Commission presented a legislative proposal to update the 2001 visa Regulation, transferring Georgia from the list on non-EU countries whose nationals need a visa to travel to the Schengen area (the “negative list”) to the list of countries whose nationals are exempt from this requirement (the “positive list”).

Once the change is formally approved, Georgians will be able to enter the EU visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period, provided they hold a biometric passport.

The visa waivers apply to the Schengen area, which includes 22 EU member states (all except Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
 

# WESTERN BALKANS

Main results of the General Council on 13 Dec 2016

Council of the European Union
Meeting n°3511
Brussels

Meeting information

The eighth meeting of the Accession Conference with Montenegro at ministerial level was held today in Brussels to open negotiations on Chapter 11 - Agriculture and rural development and Chapter 19 - Social policy and employment. In addition, the Conference confirmed at ministerial level the opening of Chapter 12 - Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy, and of Chapter 13 - Fisheries, which were considered at the Accession Conference with Montenegro at Deputy Level, held in Brussels on 30 June 2016.



13/12/2016 - Press release
18:00 Fourth meeting of the Accession Conference with Serbia

The fourth meeting of the Accession Conference with Serbia at ministerial level was held today in Brussels to open negotiations on Chapter 5 - Public procurement, and to open and provisionally close Chapter 25 - Science and research.



13/12/2016 - Press release
17:55 Stabilisation and Association Council between the European Union and Serbia

The EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Council (SA Council) held its third meeting on 13 December 2016. The SA Council meeting provided a timely opportunity to review Serbia's progress in its preparations for accession and to consider priorities for further work within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.



13/12/2016 - Press release
13:00 Council approves the EU's legislative priorities for 2017

The Council approved the EU's legislative priorities for 2017.

Highlights from the General Affairs Council, taking place on 13 December 2016 in Brussels.

 
European fund for sustainable development

The Council adopted its negotiating position on the European fund for sustainable development, bringing it a step closer to reality.

"This fund is a vital instrument which aims in particular at tackling the root causes of irregular migration. It seeks to create job opportunities, encourage investments and facilitate sustainable development in partner countries in Africa, as well as in the European neighbourhood. It is now crucial to speed up the negotiations with the European Parliament to launch the fund swiftly."

Miroslav Lajčák, Slovak Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and President of the Council
EU priorities for 2017

The Council approved the EU's legislative priorities for 2017, focused on six main areas:

  • jobs, growth, investments
  • social Europe
  • security
  • reform of the migration policy
  • digital single market
  • energy and climate

"This is the first time that the EU has established a set of common legislative priorities for the following year. This will help us make progress in areas where it is most needed."

Miroslav Lajčák, Slovak Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and President of the Council
December European Council

The Council finalised preparations for the European Council of 15 December 2016 by discussing draft conclusions. At their meeting on 15 December EU leaders will address four items: 

  • migration, where they will assess the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement, the partnership frameworks concluded with the first African countries and the state of play in the reform of the EU asylum rules
  • security, with a focus on the implementation of the security agenda and EU cooperation on external security and defence
  • economic and social development, youth, where they will take stock of progress on the European fund for strategic investments and on the fight against youth unemployment
  • external relations with a focus on the Netherlands referendum on the EU-Ukraine association agreement
Enlargement

The Council discussed the enlargement and stabilisation and association process, following which the presidency noted that there was no consensus allowing for the adoption of Council conclusions on this issue. The presidency therefore drew up a set of conclusions which received the support of the overwhelming majority of delegations in the course of the discussions.

“We have reaffirmed our commitment to enlargement as a key policy of the EU and a strategic investmentin stability, democracy and prosperity in Europe. We attach great importance to the credibility of enlargement as a two-way process - if a country delivers on the necessary reforms, the EU has to deliver on its commitments."

Miroslav Lajčák, Slovak Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and President of the Council
 

EU Council: Fourth meeting of the Accession Conference with Serbia

The fourth meeting of the Accession Conference with Serbia at ministerial level was held today in Brussels to open negotiations on Chapter 5 - Public procurement, and to open and provisionally close Chapter 25 - Science and research.

Read more
 

EU Council: Stabilisation and Association Council between the European Union and Serbia

The EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Council (SA Council) held its third meeting on 13 December 2016. The SA Council meeting provided a timely opportunity to review Serbia's progress in its preparations for accession and to consider priorities for further work within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

Read more
 

EU Council: Eighth meeting of the Accession Conference with Montenegro

The eighth meeting of the Accession Conference with Montenegro at ministerial level was held today in Brussels to open negotiations on Chapter 11 - Agriculture and rural development and Chapter 19 - Social policy and employment. In addition, the Conference confirmed at ministerial level the opening of Chapter 12 - Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy, and of Chapter 13 - Fisheries, which were considered at the Accession Conference with Montenegro at Deputy Level, held in Brussels on 30 June 2016.

Read more
 

# THE ARCTIC

EP Opinion - An integrated European Union policy for the Arctic - PE 592.099v03-00 - Committee on International Trade

13-12-2016 12:40 PM CET

OPINION on an integrated European Union policy for the Arctic

Committee on International Trade
David Martin

Source : © European Union, 2016 - EP
 

# TUNISIA

EP Thinktank: Tunisia: Economic indicators and trade with EU

Written by Joanna Apap and Giulio Sabbati (both EPRS),

In cooperation with Laura Bartolini (from GlobalStat | EUI),

How fast is Tunisia’s economy growing? How was its economy affected by the ‘Arab Spring’ events? How many women in Tunisia have a job? What is the unemployment rate? Which country is Tunisia’s biggest trading partner? What kind of products does the EU import from Tunisia? How does Tunisia benefit from remittances sent by the Tunisian diaspora? What is the EU’s disbursement of external aid to Tunisia? You can find the answers to these and other questions in our EPRS publication on Tunisia: Economic indicators and trade with EU, one of a series of infographics on the world’s economies produced in collaboration with the European University Institute’s GlobalStat.

Download this infographic on ‘Tunisia: Economic indicators and trade with EU‘ in PDF.

GlobalStat, a project of the EUI’s Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation aims to offer the best available gateway to statistical data. It is easily accessible, intuitive to use, and free of charge. In just three clicks it offers data from 1960 onwards for 193 UN countries, five continents and 12 political and regional entities – including the European Union – gathered from over 80 international sources. The project, presents data as diverse as income distribution, water resources, housing, migration, land use, food production, nutrition, or life expectancy, which contributes to a better understanding of the interrelations between human living conditions and globalisation trends.

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# WTO

Post-Brexit UK, the World Trade Organization and agricultural trade - UK Parliament 

International Trade Committee examines the workings of the WTO and feasibility of future relationships

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13 December 2016

The International Trade Committee continue their inquiry into UK trade options beyond 2019 with a session focusing on agriculture, Free Trade Agreements and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

Witnesses

Tuesday 13 December 2016, Committee Room 16, Palace of Westminster

At 10.15am

  • Roderick Abbott, former Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organisation and European Commission Directorate-General for Trade
  • Dr Federico Ortino, The Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London

At 11.15am

  • Peter Ungphakorn, former Senior Information Officer, World Trade Organisation Secretariat
  • Professor Fiona Smith, School of Law, University of Warwick
Purpose

Former senior staff at the WTO will provide insight into the workings of the organisation and the feasibility of some of the suggested post-Brexit UK trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world.

They will be joined by legal academics who will outline some of the complexities of developing a new relationship with the WTO, in which the UK has hitherto participated as an EU member.

The second panel will have a particular focus on trade in agricultural products.
 

# EU REGISTERS

## EU COMMISSION

### DG TRADE

C(2016)8376/F1 TRADE (DG Trade) 13/12/2016
  • Notice of initiation of an anti-dumping proceeding concerning imports of certain cast iron articles originating in the People's Republic of China and in India

Official Journal

### DG TAXUD

COM(2016)813/1 TAXUD (DG Taxation and Customs Union) 13/12/2016
  • Communication de la Commission au Parlement européen, au Conseil et au Comité économique et social européen – Développer l’union douanière de l’UE et sa gouvernance

Document request
COM(2016)811/1 TAXUD (DG Taxation and Customs Union) 13/12/2016
  • Proposition de directive du Conseil modifiant la directive 2006/112/CE relative au système commun de taxe sur la valeur ajoutée en ce qui concerne l'application temporaire d'un mécanisme d'autoliquidation généralisé pour les livraisons de biens et les prestations de services dépassant un certain seuil

Document request
SEC(2016)550/1 TAXUD (DG Taxation and Customs Union) 13/12/2016
  • RSB Opinions

Document request

## EU PARLIAMENT

## EU COUNCIL

  • ST 14220 2016 REV 6 Draft Council Conclusions on Enhanced Exchange of Customs Related Information with Third Countries

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