Archive pour la catégorie ‘Enlargement’

The EU is reviewing its trade priorities with the Balkans

Lundi 2 janvier 2012

Trade between the EU and the Western Balkans should grow by 2015. Member countries of the EU took advantage of the new year to review its trade preferences for the period.

The European Union today re-established the exceptional autonomous trade preferences, which it grants to all Western Balkan countries including Kosovo, until the end of 2015. Western Balkan economies will therefore continue as of 1 January 2011 to benefit from an unlimited duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in these countries and territories. Together with the bilateral Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs) in place with all Western Balkan countries except Kosovo, these trade preferences support economic integration with the EU and hence foster political stability and economic progress in the entire region.

The autonomous trade preferences should allow all Western Balkan countries to further benefit from the preferential trade regime, where this is more beneficial than the treatment foreseen in the SAAs. It should notably allow the customs territory of Kosovo to benefit from the current duty-free, quota-free treatment for almost all its exported products, since it does not have an SAA with the EU. Total exports of Kosovo to the EU amounted to about €147 mio in 2010.

Background
In 2000 the European Union established for the first time exceptional unlimited duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the Western Balkan region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo) in Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000). Only wine, sugar, certain beef products and certain fisheries products enter the EU under preferential tariff quotas, as negotiated under the SAAs. The regime was renewed in 2005, and due to expire on 31 December 2010.

Therefore, on 22 February 2010, the Commission proposed to extend this autonomous preferential regime until 31 December 2015. The European Parliament voted in favour of the Commission’s proposal on 13 October 2011 and the Council adopted it on 24 November 2011. The tariff reductions under the new Regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009, adopted today, are applied retroactively to allow exporters to claim compensation for the duties paid in 2011.

The European Commission presents its external budget for the next programming

Mercredi 7 décembre 2011

The new budget will fund the EU priorities: the fight against poverty and promoting democracy, peace, stability and prosperity.

The range of instruments will support developing countries as well as countries in the European neighbourhood and those that are preparing accession into the EU. The Commission will seek to target its resources where they are most needed, where they will have the highest impact while ensuring more flexibility to be able to react swiftly to unforeseen events. This budget will also enable the EU to further reinforce its role on the global stage and promote its interests and values.

On the new European Neighbourhood and Pre-accession instruments Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle commented: “These new instruments will allow us to respond even better in the future to our partner’s needs and ambitions. Through the new European Neighbourhood Instrument and the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance, support to our neighbours will become faster and more flexible; allowing for increased differentiation and incentives for best performers. At the same time it will continue to ensure the success of the democratisation process and improve economic and social development in our immediate neighbourhood, and support the reform process in those countries preparing for EU membership. ”

The budget proposals will support the Commission’s new approach - the “Agenda for Change”- to focus EU aid in fewer sectors supporting democracy, human rights and good governance and creating inclusive and sustainable growth.

Under the new principle of “differentiation,” the EU will allocate a greater proportion of funds where aid can have the highest impact: in the regions and countries that are most in need, including in fragile states. Countries that can generate enough resources to ensure their own development will no longer receive bilateral grant aid and will instead benefit from new forms of partnership; they will continue to receive funds through thematic and regional programmes. This will be complemented by different innovative cooperation modalities such as the blending of grants and loans.

One of the major innovations and a key external policy tool is the new Partnership Instrument. It will aim to advance and promote EU interests and to address major global challenges. It will also allow the EU to pursue agendas beyond development cooperation with industrialised countries, emerging economies, and countries where the EU has significant interests.

Background
Today’s texts are the legal proposals to implement the Multiannual Financial Framework presented by the Commission on 29 June 2011, in the area of external action. The package covers the full range of external support under the EU budget and includes: A Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council: “Global Europe” and the legislative proposals for nine geographic and thematic instruments accompanied by a common implementing regulation

The total amount proposed for these nine instruments is €96,249.4 million over the period 2014-2020 (current prices).

- Pre-accession instrument (IPA): €14,110 million

- European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI): €18,182 million

- Development Cooperation Instrument DCI): €23,295 million

- Partnership Instrument (PI): €1,131 million

- Instrument for Stability (IfS): €2,829 million

- European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights (EIDHR):€1,578 million

- Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation: €631 million

- Instrument for Greenland: €219 million

- European Development Fund (EDF, outside EU Budget): €34,276 million

The package will be transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council and is expected to be adopted in 2012. (For more details on the various instruments, see MEMO/11/878)

The differentiation approach
Differentiation will be applied first in countries covered by DCI and ENI. Under the DCI it is proposed that 17 Upper Middle Income Countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela and Uruguay) and 2 large Lower Middle Income Countries whose GDP is larger than 1% of global GDP (India, Indonesia) graduate to new partnerships that are not based on bilateral aid. Emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India, in particular, are currently regarded more as EU partners for addressing global challenges.

The Neighbourhood and Pre-Accession Instruments
In the context of the renewed approach to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the new ENI Instrument will provide streamlined support to the same 16 partner countries1 as the previous European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). In line with the principles of differentiation and “more for more”, the ENI will support the strengthening of relations with partner countries and bring tangible benefits to both the EU and its partners in areas such as democracy and human rights, the rule of law, good governance, sustainable economic and social development and progressive economic integration in the EU single market.

The EU will continue its support to enlargement countries2 through a renewed Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), building on the positive experience from the current instrument. IPA will help these countries implement the comprehensive reform strategies needed to prepare for future membership, with emphasis on regional cooperation, implementation of EU laws and standards, capacity to manage the Union’s internal policies upon accession, and delivery of tangible socio-economic benefits in the beneficiary countries. More use will be made of innovative financing arrangements set up with international financial institutions, with EU funds acting as a catalyst for leveraging investment in infrastructure.

The EU welcomes Russia’s arrival in the WTO

Jeudi 10 novembre 2011

The WTO accession of Russia comes after many years of discussions.

The EU has today welcomed the conclusion of negotiations for Russia’s accession to the WTO. Today’s unanimous approval by the Members of the Working Party on Russia’s WTO accession brings an end to this 18 year long process and paves the way to formalising the results of these negotiations by the entire Membership of the WTO. The EU now looks forward to a unanimous political endorsement of Russia’s WTO accession at the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference on 15-17 December this year.

European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, welcomed the news saying, “I am delighted that Russia is now set to join the WTO. This is an important step for Russia’s economic development and for the multilateral trading system. I’m also very pleased at this achievement today because Europe has played a critical role to ensure this long-standing goal has finally been reached. I now look forward to the upcoming WTO Ministerial in December to formally endorse Russia’s accession to the WTO Membership.”

The EU acknowledges the major efforts of the Russian Federation as well as its negotiating partners in finding solutions for the most difficult issues, which were resolved in the last weeks and days. The EU is also appreciative of the determination of Georgia and Russia to reach a timely resolution of their sensitive bilateral issues, and we very much welcome the efforts of the Government of Switzerland for their instrumental role in this respect.

The accession of Russia to the WTO is significant from both a multilateral and bilateral perspective. Russia as well as its trading partners will benefit from Russia’s integration into the global, rules-based system of trade relations. Russia’s accession to the WTO is especially important for the EU, Russia’s largest trading partner. We are convinced that this step will give a major boost to further development of our economic relationship. Russia’s membership in the WTO will also prove an important stepping stone for deepening the bilateral economic integration, including through the conclusion of the ongoing negotiation on the New Agreement.

Background

Benefits for the EU of having Russia in the WTO:

It would open up opportunities in the Russian market for EU investors and exporters alike. Russia’s import tariffs would come down and there would be a limit on export duty levels for a list of essential raw materials.

WTO accession would improve the overall business and investment climate. Russia would adopt international product standards and WTO rules in a number of areas such as customs procedures, licensing and intellectual property.

Accession and the ensuing economic reforms would help to make Russia’s economy more transparent and predictable. This would create a strong incentive for foreign companies to boost their investments in the Russian economy – in all sectors.

Russia’s entry in the WTO will have an estimated value for the European Union of €3 900 million.

EU-Russia trade in facts and figures

Russia is the EU’s third largest trading partner after the US and China with an 8.6% share of EU trade in 2010.

The EU is Russia’s biggest trading partner with a 45.8% share of its overall trade in 2010. Total trade with Russia amounted to €244 billion in 2010, compared to €183 billion in 2009. Imports from Russia increased by 31.4% in 2010, and exports from the EU to Russia went up by 38.2%.

The EU is by far the most important investor in Russia. It is estimated that more than 75% of the investment stock comes from the EU.

EU unleashes a second operation to help the victims of the earthquake in Turkey

Lundi 31 octobre 2011

Today, the foreign minister signed an agreement to provide funds to assist earthquake victims in Turkey.

Today, at the Ministry for EU Affairs, the EU and the Turkish Red Crescent are signing a grant agreement for the supply of some 1,200 temporary housing units accommodating 6,000 persons rendered homeless after the 23 October earthquake in the Van Province.

These housing units, made of steel and fully insulated, are composed of 2 rooms, a kitchenette and a bathroom and toilet. They will be connected to electricity, water and sewage. The cost of this second operation is € 4 million, or approximately Turkish Lira 10 million.

The procurement and installation of these temporary housing units will be made by the Turkish Red Crescent, direct beneficiary of the EU grant (under the so called Instrument for Preaccession Assistance - IPA), in cooperation with the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), the Van Governorate and the Van and Erciş Municipalities.

The temporary housing units will be allocated to the families whose houses have been destroyed or are unsafe.

Background

This operation comes in addition of the supply, currently under way, of some 6,600 family tents accommodating approximately 35,000 persons. The tents are provided through grants from some 18 Member States of the European Union*, while the coordination and part of the air transport costs are provided by the European Commission through the European Civil Protection Mechanism. Most tents consignments have already been delivered to Erzurum airport. In some case, EU Member States have provided direct grant donations to the Turkish authorities.

The Commission has also deployed a European Civil Protection team of six experts to the disaster area. The team is facilitating the arrival and distribution of assistance provided through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

European common aviation market: Moldova takes off

Mercredi 26 octobre 2011

Republic of Moldova will gradually integrate into the European common aviation market. Discover the content of the agreement between the EU and Moldova.

The Republic of Moldova and the European Union have today initialled a comprehensive air services agreement at a meeting in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova. This agreement will open up and integrate the respective markets, strengthen cooperation and offer new opportunities for consumers and airlines. The Republic of Moldova and the EU will develop this “common aviation area” based on common rules in important areas such as aviation safety and security.

The agreement aims to open the respective markets and to integrate the Republic of Moldova into a wider European common aviation area. It will strengthen aviation relations between the two partners. The Republic of Moldova will harmonise its legislation with European standards and implement EU aviation rules in areas such as aviation safety, security, environment, consumer protection, air traffic management, economic regulation, competition issues and social aspects.

The agreement will be a further step in creating a wider common aviation area between the EU and its neighbours. Similar comprehensive air transport agreements with neighbouring countries have been concluded with the Western Balkan countries, Morocco, Georgia and Jordan – and negotiations are ongoing with Ukraine, Israel and Lebanon.

Air transport is the single most important mode of transport linking the Republic of Moldova to most EU Member States and has been growing steadily in recent years. It is expected that the agreement will offer more travel opportunities, more direct connections and economic benefits for both sides.

As a result of the agreement, all EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to the Republic of Moldova from anywhere in the EU and vice-versa for Moldovan carriers. The agreement will remove all restrictions on prices and the number of weekly flights between the Republic of Moldova and the EU.

Today, there are direct flight connections between the Republic of Moldova and 13 EU Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom).

The European Commission received a mandate to negotiate a “common aviation area” agreement with the Republic of Moldova in June 2011. Both sides will now start their respective internal procedures to allow the agreement to be signed and enter into force. On the EU side, the agreement will be forwarded to the Council and the European Parliament. Following signature, the ratification process will begin.

The EU presents its enlargement strategy

Jeudi 13 octobre 2011

Today, the European Commission presented its position on the enlargement strategy of the EU and the assessment of progress and efforts made by the candidate countries.

The Polish Presidency welcomed the Commission document. It highlights the importance of the enlargement policy both for the Union and the candidate countries and in this context dovetails with the Polish Presidency priority: Europe benefiting from openness.

At the same time, the Polish Presidency underlines that the very process of enlargement - including the accession negotiations - constitutes a very potent stimulus for change and reform in candidate and aspiring countries, ensuring that the countries in question attain European standards in all spheres within a specific timeframe. From this point of view, the process is of fundamental significance to the economic development and security of the European Union itself.

The EC document provides a sound basis for EU27 discussions on the enlargement conclusions to be adopted by the December General Affairs Council, and also on the potential decisions of the December European Council. The Polish Presidency will work in good faith and within the relevant presidency priorities to attain a reasonable consensus on this matter.

The Polish Presidency emphasises that the process of enlargement enhances reconciliation and good-neighbourly relations in the Western Balkans. Engagement in this process, also as concerns Serbia’s relations with Kosovo, is one of the preconditions of the further advancement of European integration.

The goals of the Polish Presidency still include the finalisation of Croatia’s Accession Treaty and its signing in Warsaw in December, continuation of the accession negotiations with Iceland and Turkey and robust support for the process of the European integration of the Western Balkan countries.

The EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council is taking place today

Lundi 10 octobre 2011

Discover the contents of the board meeting today and tomorrow of European and Russian senior officials in Warsaw.

Security and justice, and to further its improvement and development, are the topics to be discussed during the meeting of the Permanent Partnership Council EU-Russia in the fields of justice and home affairs.

The meeting of the Permanent Partnership Council will be held on 10th-11th October 2011 (Monday, Tuesday) at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

The Polish Presidency will be represented by Minister of Justice Krzysztof Kwiatkowski and Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Jerzy Miller. Also taking part in the meeting will be Russian Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov, and Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Sergei Bulavin. The European Commission will be represented by Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

The Permanent Partnership Council meeting is cyclical, being held twice a year alternately in Russia and in the country currently holding the Presidency of the EU Council. The meeting will also be attended by representatives of the European Commission, EU Council General Secretariat, the country holding the next Presidency of the EU Council and EU agencies.

The subject of the upcoming meeting will include: a review of issues in the road map regarding ​​freedom, security and justice and the prospects for further judicial cooperation in relation to civil and criminal cases.

External energy policy of the EU increased

Lundi 10 octobre 2011

On October 6, Poland was granted a participant in the Energy Community. This community, which aims to guarantee the security of energy supply of its members, including representatives allows the EU to get closer to its eastern neighbors on this important issue.

Established in 2005, the EC creates one of the largest internal energy markets in the world. Initially, the European Community and nine countries and territories (Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) belonged to it. Since 1 May 2010, Moldova, and since 1 February 2011 Ukraine have been parties.

Poland, as an EU Member State, has hitherto been represented in the EC by the European Commission. Becoming a participant does not incur any additional obligations (legal, financial) in respect of the EC; however, it is of significant importance due to policy, procedural and image reasons. Since becoming a participant, Poland can be individually represented in such bodies as the EC, and others such as the Ministerial Council, the Permanent High Level Group or the Regulatory Board. This will ensure better access to information and an opportunity to influence and to channel discussions.
Active participation in the Energy Community is one way to implement the priority of the Polish Presidency: strengthening the external dimension of EU energy policy. The instruments available under the Energy Community provide for an effective expansion of EU law in neighbouring states, which is crucial from the standpoint of EU energy security.

Since Ukraine’s accession to the EC and focusing activity in this way towards the East, Polish participation is also important in the context of commitment to relationships with partners in the East. In addition, Poland in this way emphasises the role that the EC can play in the context of the Eastern Partnership to boost work on energy issues.

The EU keeps an eye on the liberalization of visa regime with Moldova and Ukraine

Vendredi 23 septembre 2011

The Commission reports on progress of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in terms of their action plan for liberalizing the visa regime.

Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Internal Affairs, said she knows the importance attached by the citizens of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine the possibility to travel without a visa. The authorities and citizens of both countries have worked hard to implement their action plan to liberalize the visa regime, Cecilia Malmström and hopes that both the Republic of Moldova that Ukraine will continue their efforts on basis of good results. The visa dialogue is an important instrument of reform in areas such as fundamental rights, human trafficking, migration management and organized crime. It urges national authorities to continue their hard work.

Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, said it is essential to encourage mobility and contacts between peoples to promote mutual understanding, shared values ​​and link stronger among the citizens of our country. The new approach of the European Neighbourhood Policy is all about providing more opportunities for mobility and strengthening our partnership with civil society. In addition, the Commissioner particularly welcomes the progress made ​​by the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in the implementation of their action plan on the liberalization of visas and have no doubt that further progress will be made in this area.

The report for the Republic of Moldova shows that progress has been made in adopting legislation and consolidating the legal framework in important areas such as document security, border management, migration management, asylum, trafficking in human beings, money laundering, and anti-drugs policy. Nevertheless, work still remains to be finalised in other areas, such as data protection, combating organised crime, fight against corruption, and anti-discrimination.

The report for Ukraine highlights progress in adopting legislation in areas such as border management, migration management, fight against corruption, anti-drugs policy, data protection, and money laundering. In other areas such as document security, asylum, combating organised crime, trafficking in human beings and anti-discrimination, there is still work to be done.

Next steps

The First progress reports for the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine on their respective Action Plans on Visa Liberalisation present the state of play of the adoption of the legislative framework (first phase benchmarks), reflecting the situation as of 8 July 2011. Comprehensive second reports will be presented by the end of 2011, after the adoption of the remaining legislation by Ukraine and Moldova and following the assessment missions to be carried out by Commission services, accompanied by Member States’ experts in the autumn.

Background

The EU-Ukraine Visa Dialogue examining the conditions for visa-free travel of citizens of Ukraine to the EU was launched on 29 October 2008. In its Conclusions on the Eastern Partnership of 25 October 2010, the Council invited the Commission to prepare a draft Action Plan setting out all the technical conditions to be met by Ukraine before the possible establishment of a visa-free travel regime. The Action Plan was welcomed by the leaders of the EU and Ukraine at the EU-Ukraine Summit on 22 November 2010.

The EU-Republic of Moldova Visa Dialogue examining the conditions for visa-free travel of citizens of the Republic of Moldova to the EU was launched on 15 June 2010. In the abovementioned Conclusions on the Eastern Partnership, the Council also invited the Commission to prepare a draft Action Plan setting out all technical conditions to be met by the Republic of Moldova before the possible establishment of a visa-free travel regime. The Action Plan was presented by Commissioner Malmström to the Moldovan authorities on 24 January 2011.

The Action Plans have a similar structure. They contain two types of benchmarks: preliminary benchmarks concerning the policy framework (legislation and planning), which should pave the way for meeting more specific benchmarks (effective and sustainable implementation of relevant measures) under each of the four blocks: document security, including biometrics; irregular migration, including readmission; public order and security; and external relations and fundamental rights.

The Commission has been requested to report back regularly to the European Parliament and to the Council on the implementation of these Action Plans.

The Accession Treaty Text of Croatia to the EU will be presented tomorrow

Vendredi 16 septembre 2011

One more step in bringing closer the EU and Croatia will officially be made ​​this weekend. Indeed, the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will present the draft of the Accession Treaty to Mrs Kosor, head of the Croatian government. Croatia should join the EU on 1 July 2013.

The English text of the document received the final endorsement of the EU Member States at a COREPER II meeting earlier this week after almost two years of editing work.

Croatia applied for membership of the European Union in 2003. Formal negotiations started in October 2005 and were finalised on 30 June 2011, the last day of the Hungarian Presidency.

The Accession Treaty will be signed in December 2011. Croatia is scheduled to become an EU member on 1 July 2013 after the treaty is ratified by all the Member States and Croatia itself.

Before flying to Zagreb Prime Minister Tusk will pay a one-day visit to Latvia. He will attend the 6th Riga Conference, considered the premier forum for debate on security and international relations in the Baltic Sea region.