Archive pour octobre 2011

European directive on maternity leave: Council and Parliament, a couple in crisis

Jeudi 27 octobre 2011

The deputies were in favour of the period extension of maternity leave and a better allocation for the parents while the Council seems rather hesitant.

It has been a year since the EP called for an extension to maternity leave to 20 weeks on full pay and on Tuesday Portuguese Socialist Edite Estrela asked a representative of the Polish presidency of the Council why no progress has been made on revising the rules.

Radosław Mleczko, Vice Minister for Labour and Social Policy said that it would be difficult to reach a compromise on revising maternity leave rules based on the EP’s amendments extending leave for mothers and fathers, given the backdrop of a struggling world economy. The EP proposed giving fathers 2 weeks paternity leave with full pay.

Maternity a service not a burden

During the debate Estrela pressed for a rethink of the role of mothers in our society. She said that maternity should not be seen as a burden on the economy but rather as a service provided to society.

In her question, she said that in order to reach the 75% employment rate for women set out in the EU 2020 strategy, further measures to facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life must be implemented. She urged the Council to reach a formal position so that discussions on finding a compromise can begin with the EP.

Minister urges EP to think again

Mr Mleczko said that each party has the same goal (parent friendly regulation) but each party is looking in a different direction. He added that the Council has to say frankly that in the face of the crisis and solutions already in place the Council cannot accept 20 fully paid weeks of leave.

He encouraged the EP to reconsider its position and bear in mind the traditions and experiences of Member States.

Current maternity leave is a minimum of 14 weeks and the Commission’s proposal was to extend leave to 18 weeks. Maternity leave varies across the EU as does the amount of pay received.

What’s next?

The EP and Council are co-legislators for the dossier. The EP adopted it’s first reading on the Commission’s proposal and it is now up to the member states to react to the EP’s amendments before the proposal can move on. So for the time being the current legislation remains in force and the new proposals remain frozen.

The EU helps Turkey and its survivors after the earthquake

Jeudi 27 octobre 2011

Immediatly after the earthquake, the European Union gave its help to Turkey. Moreoever, 6 Member States have offered hundreds of tents for survivors.

The European Commission is coordinating the provision of European assistance to Turkey after the Turkish authorities requested the activation of the European Civil Protection Mechanism last night. Turkey has called on Europe to join the relief effort by providing family tents to help shelter the survivors of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck eastern Turkey on Sunday.

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for crisis response said that the Turkish authorities, the Red Crescent and the numerous volunteers have faced a huge task and have saved and helped thousands in these days of heartbreaking loss and substantial damage. Now they have asked the EU to join their effort to care for the survivors and Europe is ready to contribute.

She added that Turkey has shown great solidarity to others when they were struggling with disasters. Now they need solidarity as well.

The Commission is also looking at further ways to support the relief effort through the Instrument for Preaccession Assistance (IPA). “We are currently looking into all options to make IPA funds available to follow up beyond the short term assistance needs,” Stefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy said.

Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, France, United Kingdom and Sweden offered over 2300 winterised tents within the first three hours of Turkey’s request. Several other countries which participate in the European Civil Protection Mechanism said they are ready to help. A team of European experts in civil protection is being deployed to facilitate the delivery of the emergency assistance on the ground.

The Commission will also take a further decision of support concerning pre-fabricated houses in the coming days.

Background

On Sunday, 23 October, an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 struck Turkey’s eastern province 17 Km North of the city of Van. A series of powerful aftershocks followed. The quake was among the strongest in Turkish history.

As of 26 October, 461 people were reported dead, 1,352 injured. More than 2,200 buildings have been damaged.

The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response among 31 European states (the 27 members of the European Union plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). Participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through its crisis response centre (the Monitoring and Information Centre).

Since its creation in 2001, the Mechanism has been activated for disasters in Europe (like the forest fires in Portugal, floods in the Balkans in 2010 and explosion at a naval base in Cyprus in 2011) but also worldwide, including after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan.

The most responsible firms of the EU to boost economic growth

Mercredi 26 octobre 2011

The Commission believes that growth in Europe can be relaunched with the momentum of corporate responsibility.

A responsible approach to business means more, and more sustainable, economic growth. This is why the European Commission has presented a package of measures to support entrepreneurship and responsible business.

First, the Social Business Initiative will help this emerging sector to fulfil its unexploited potential. This is complemented by an ambitious strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility to generate a higher level of trust and consumer confidence and improve companies’ contribution to society’s well-being. Both initiatives reinforce Commission efforts to engage with the private sector on social and environmental issues, especially relevant in times of public budget constraints.

The Commission is also proposing to improve transparency and promote sustainable business among multinationals. Mining and forestry companies would have to be more open about taxes, royalties and bonuses paid worldwide.

Finally, the Commission is proposing to simplify accounting rules for SMEs, potentially saving them up to €1.7 billion per year. The proposals would also reduce burdensome reporting obligations for listed companies, including SMEs, adding further to cost savings.

The EU regulates fishing in the Baltic Sea for 2012

Mercredi 26 octobre 2011

An agreement on fishing quotas in the Baltic Sea was found in 2012 between the States concerned.

The EU member states agreed on the maximum quantities of fish (total allowable catches) and allocations to member states (quotas) from certain fish stocks that can be caught in the Baltic Sea in 2012. They also defined fishing effort limits for Baltic cod stocks for the same period.

According to the agreement reached, in 2012 the total allowable catches (TACs) for eastern and western Baltic cod will be increased by 15% and 13% respectively, because the long-term management plan for this species (implemented since 2008) has helped to bring it back to sustainable levels and the stocks have recovered .

The TACs for herring will be increased by 2% for the Gulf of Bothnia. However, according to the available scientific data, the stocks in the remaining part of the Eastern Baltic and in the Gulf of Riga have not yet sufficiently recovered. The TACs for these areas will therefore be reduced (compared with last year’s quotas) by 27% and 16% respectively.

The situation of the Baltic salmon stock in this region, according to scientific data, requires immediate action, and the member states agreed that the TAC in the main basin be reduced by 51% compared with last year’s quotas and remain the same as last year for the Gulf of Finland stock. Some member states thought the initially proposed reduction was excessive and did not take into account fishing in inland waters.

The TAC for sprat will be reduced by 22%, to 225.237 tonnes.

The member states did not agree with the proposed precautionary reduction of TACs for plaice stock by 25% on the grounds that there is no sufficient scientific data to identify the proper catch level. It has been agreed instead to reduce the TAC by 5% until more accurate scientific data is available, in order to avoid the negative impact on the interests of the fishermen.

These fisheries should be open on 1 January 2012.

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.

Productivity growth and superfast internet investment key to long-term growth in Europe

Mercredi 26 octobre 2011

Greater investment is expected in terms of high-speed internet in the EU. EU subsidies are planned to increase the productivity of this key tool.

Leading academics, policy makers and business people are expected to call for greater investment and economic dynamism to ensure higher productivity and long-term growth at a conference on Thursday hosted by the European Investment Bank (EIB), at their Luxembourg headquarters.

European Investment Bank research to be presented at the conference suggests the switch to next-generation superfast networks could require EUR 200bn of dedicated infrastructure investment. The conference will also review empirical evidence on productivity, with a focus on industrial flexibility to promote growth in Europe.

John Haltiwanger, University of Maryland Professor of Economics said that healthy market economies constantly reinvent themselves as businesses adjust to changing economic conditions. Part of this reinvention involves new firms exploring new products and unprecedented opportunities of doing business over the internet. Financing start-ups and high-growth businesses is essential to fostering innovation, job growth and productivity.

The internet revolution is far from complete and new innovation to stimulate growth will depend importantly on connection speed. The European Commission recently published an ambitious EUR 50 billion plan for development of superfast broadband in Europe. This acknowledged the high level of public sector financial support needed. EIB research to be presented at the conference suggests the switch to next-generation superfast networks could require EUR 200bn of dedicated infrastructure investment. The conference will further examine the details of projected implementation costs of superfast internet to achieve targets set out in the Digital Agenda. The magnitude of public sector support required will be questioned alongside outlining economic benefits from superfast internet deployment.

Factors essential to stimulating European productivity will also be examined by academics from around the world. Europe’s impressive record in creating jobs prior to the crisis will be highlighted in light of challenges facing productivity and services. How to boost long-term growth productivity in Europe is even more important to ensuring global competitiveness for future generations. The conference will emphasize the complimentary roles of economic dynamism and IT investment in boosting European productivity.

Notes for Editors

- The European Investment Bank is the long-term lending institution of the European Union created by the Treaty of Rome in 1958. Its task is to contribute towards the integration and balanced development as well as the economic and social cohesion of the EU Member States by making long-term finance available for sound investment. Besides supporting projects in the EU, the EIB’s main lending priorities include financing investments in future Member States and EU partner countries.

- The European Investment Bank is one the largest multilateral financing institutions, lending well over EUR 70 billion in 2010, both within the EU Member States and in third countries. The Bank operates in keeping with banking practice and in collaboration with the wider banking community.

CAP post 2013: The Commission proposes to keep the same goals but with different methods

Mardi 25 octobre 2011

The Commission has proposed reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy to be applied from the 1st January 2014. These reforms will be negotiated within the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament first.

The key objectives of the CAP would remain the same: it should provide a basic income for farmers; supply safe and healthy food to consumers at reasonable prices; contribute to protect the environment and combat climate change; and address rural development.

New elements to be discussed by ministers are the proposals to reserve payments for active farmers; to reduce direct aid to the biggest farms in order to ensure a fairer distribution of money; and to make payments subject to the respect of environmental requirements, such as crop rotation, set-aside and animal welfare, the so-called greening.

Existing market management tools would be preserved, simplified and extended in order to respond appropriately to crises caused by price volatility or sanitary crises, for example the recent E. coli outbreak.

Globalisation makes it necessary for European agriculture to adapt. In order for farming to become more competitive on global markets, the Commission proposes to link the CAP to the EU’s strategy for growth and jobs, with focus on training, innovation and research. Rural areas should be developed to maintain employment, for instance through creation of infrastructure such as roads and broadband networks in remote areas. The proposed reform package provides that young farmers starting business should receive more aid, as well as farmers in less favoured areas.

Six of the seven proposals will be co-decided by the ordinary legislative procedure between the Council and the European Parliament. The new rules should enter into force on 1 January 2014.

Eastern Partnership: The Commission wants to go further in terms of transport

Mardi 25 octobre 2011

Since yesterday, Siim Kallas, Vice President of the Commission and Commissioner for Transport met the transport ministers of the 6 states of the Eastern Partnership to advance cooperation.

Vice-President Siim Kallas said that the EU has agreed with the Eastern Partnership countries to work together to make travel easier for people and ensure that goods can be transported efficiently. He added that to follow up this work, the partnership launched the Eastern Partnership Transport Panel. Discussions at this first ministerial conference proved that the EU and Eastern Partnership countries see a mutual benefit in working together towards closer transport cooperation according to him.

Transport ministers summarised key challenges and opportunities for closer transport cooperation in a Joint Declaration. As a concrete initiative, they launched the Eastern Partnership Transport Panel as a framework for transport cooperation between the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries.

As next steps, ministers have agreed to:

- follow up actions set out in the Commission communication for closer transport market integration and improved infrastructure connections;

- plan a regional transport network for the Eastern Partnership region that connects with the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and between the countries themselves;

- take into account the transport infrastructure projects of mutual interest;

- cooperate with international financial institutions that can contribute to improved transport connections through financing.

The EU and partner countries plan to review progress at a next Eastern Partnership ministerial transport meeting that will be organised on the basis of proposal by the Commission and the Presidency of the Council, and in cooperation with the partner countries.

In summer 2011, the European Commission put forward actions to improve transport connections with the EU’s neighbouring countries. To bring transport cooperation with the neighbours to the East to the same level as with other neighbouring regions, specific focus is given to the Eastern Partnership countries. Countries covered by the Eastern Partnership are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Several steps have already been taken to strengthen transport links with this region. The Eastern Partnership Transport Panel met for the first time in Brussels on 14 October to discuss issues concerning transport cooperation, including progress made in negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement with Moldova and a mandate from the Council to negotiate a comprehensive aviation agreement with Azerbaijan.

The clean energy in Poland is supported by EU subsidies

Mardi 25 octobre 2011

The EIB wishes that energy is more efficiently used in Poland. That’s why she supports actions to go in that direction, as well as for a cleaner electricity generation.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) provides two loans totalling PLN 510 million (some EUR 128 million) to Tauron Polska Energia SA to upgrade electricity generation in South of Poland:

- PLN 300 million (some EUR 76 million) to finance the construction and commissioning of state-of-the-art high-efficiency hard coal-fired combined heat and power (CHP) unit and associated infrastructure in Bielsko-Biala Power Plant

- PLN 210 million (approx. EUR 53 million) to support the construction and operation of a new biomass boiler at Jaworzno III Power Plant

These projects will contribute to a higher efficiency of electricity and heat generation, and an increased usage of renewable energy resources. They will have a beneficial impact on the environment by reducing harmful emissions, and help to meet growing electricity demand in the country as well as local heating needs.

The loan of PLN 300 million will finance the replacement of an inefficient hard coal-fired CHP unit with a unit of a higher efficiency, with a capacity of 50 MWe (electrical) and 182 MWt (thermal). This will contribute to meeting heat and electricity demand at a competitive cost using a domestic source of energy.

The utilisation of the modern state-of-the-art technology with high energy conversion efficiency will minimise the negative environmental impacts of the project. Compared to the unit it replaces, the new CHP plant will have a significantly higher efficiency, approximately 90% vs. 60% for the existing unit. The primary energy savings of the new unit have been estimated at over 25%.

The loan of PLN 210 million will support the construction and operation of a new biomass-fired boiler with a capacity of 50 MWe (electrical) and 45 MWt (that will replace one of the existing coal fired boilers) and the refurbishment of a steam turbine. The electricity will be generated purely on the basis of utilisation of renewable resources.

This is another cleaner energy project financed by the EIB in Poland. Last year the Bank provided co-financing in the area of renewable energy resources of EUR 44.5 million for the contraction of a wind farm in Margonin. In addition, the EIB supported with EUR 50 million the Green Investment Schemes, enabling Poland to invest the proceeds of the sale of carbon emission credits to Spain and UK in greenhouse gas mitigation activities.

Background

The EIB is the long-term lending bank of the European Union. Its main task is to contribute towards the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the EU Member States. Besides supporting projects in the EU Member States, its lending activities also include financing investments in future Member States of the EU and EU partner countries.

The EIB raises substantial volumes of funds on the capital markets, which it lends on favourable terms to projects furthering EU policy objectives. It is the largest supranational borrower and its consistent AAA rating is underpinned by firm shareholder support, a strong capital base, excellent asset quality, conservative risk management and a sound funding strategy.

The conclusions of the European Union Summit

Lundi 24 octobre 2011

Last weekend, the Summit of the European Union was held in Brussels. Discover the conclusions of these discussions.

In addition to addressing the immediate challenges posed by the financial crisis, it is essential to intensify efforts to secure sustainable and job-creating growth. Budgetary consolidation and debt reduction are of crucial importance in order to ensure the sustainability of public finances and restore confidence. At the same time, determined action is required to strengthen the economy already in the short run. It is therefore crucial for the European Union to implement all aspects of the Europe 2020 strategy. The Member States will accelerate structural reforms in line with the recommendations made in the context of the European semester. Within this framework, the European Council identified today a number of priorities which should be fast-tracked because of their significant impact on jobs and growth in the short to medium term. It also called for a stronger focus to be given to the growth-enhancing aspects of the European Union’s external policies in order to maximise their contribution to growth in Europe and to shape the conditions to attract more foreign investment. The European Council set the Union’s position for the G20 Summit, giving top priority to maintaining financial stability and restoring growth. It also discussed the preparations for the Durban conference on climate change, stressing the need to take ambitious steps towards a global and comprehensive legally-binding framework for the post-2012 period.

I. ECONOMIC POLICY

- In the light of the Commission’s report on growth-enhancing areas and further to the outcome of the political conference on the sources of growth held on 6 October 2011, the European Council identified a limited number of key priorities for internal economic policy that need to be pursued in the short term in order to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive and green growth:

- The Single Market has a key role to play in delivering growth and employment. All efforts should be made to ensure agreement by the end of 2012 on the 12 priority proposals set out in the Single Market Act, giving utmost priority to those which can bring the most benefits to growth and jobs. The full implementation of the Services Directive will also deliver significant economic gains; Member States should complete its implementation by the end of this year and ensure that the points of single contact are fully operational and that economic operators are fully informed of the new opportunities it offers. The Commission will report on this issue by the end of 2011.

- The European Council invites the Commission to rapidly present the roadmap on the completion of the Digital Single Market by 2015, giving priority to proposals aimed at promoting a fully integrated Digital Single Market through the facilitation of e-commerce and the cross-border use of online services. Particular attention should be paid to ensuring rapid progress in achieving the broadband coverage objectives set out in the Digital Agenda, facilitating secure electronic identification and authentication and modernising Europe’s copyright regime with a view to ensure the EU’s competitive edge and unleash possibilities for new business models, while ensuring a high level of protection of intellectual property rights and taking into account cultural diversity. The European Council calls for rapid agreement on the Radio Spectrum Policy programme.

- Momentum should be maintained in implementing the 2007 Action Programme for the reduction of administrative burden in order to meet the objective of a 25% reduction by 2012; more rapid progress should be made regarding annual accounts, company law, taxation and customs. The European Council calls for the rapid adoption of the simplification proposals pending before Council and Parliament.

- The Commission is invited to further concentrate efforts to reduce the overall regulatory burden, in particular for SMEs, including by proposing concrete working methods within the context of the Smart Regulation agenda. It has committed to assess the impact of future regulations on micro-enterprises and to screen the acquis to identify existing obligations from which micro-enterprises could be excluded. The European Council looks forward to the Commission’s forthcoming report in order to return to these issues at its December 2011 meeting.

- Member States will ensure that the country-specific recommendations are fully reflected in national decisions as regards budgetary policy and structural reforms, given their crucial importance for ensuring sustainable public finances and creating jobs and growth. In support of this, the European Council calls for steps to be taken by the Council, working with the Commission, to ensure that all actions at the European Union level fully support economic growth and job creation.

- Energy, including energy efficiency, as well as research and innovation are key areas for the promotion of growth. The European Council will track progress made in those areas in December 2011 and in March 2012 respectively, further to the concrete orientations set in February 2011. It calls for the swift implementation of those measures which will have a direct impact on growth.

- Since the crisis has increased pressure on national budgets, it is important to optimise the use of available resources, in particular in countries implementing an adjustment programme. The European Council calls for the adoption before the end of the year of the proposals to temporarily increase cofinancing rates for EU funds, accompanied by a targeting of those funds on growth, competitiveness and employment. The EIB is invited to examine in close cooperation with the Commission the possibilities of further contributing to boosting investment in Europe, including for countries implementing an adjustment programme.

- The European Union now has more powerful tools to enhance its economic governance and to ensure that the required measures are taken to pull Europe out of the crisis: the Europe 2020 strategy continues to guide the Union and the Member States in promoting the delivery of growth-enhancing structural reforms; the European semester will help ensure that they remain on track in implementing these reforms in a coordinated manner; and the Euro Plus Pact will achieve a new quality of economic policy coordination amongst the participating Member States. The package of six legislative acts on economic governance agreed last month will allow a much higher degree of surveillance and coordination, necessary to ensure sustainable public finances and avoid the accumulation of excessive imbalances. The European Council emphasises its determination to implement this new framework in order to ensure that it is fully and effectively applied. In this context, we welcome the intention of the Commission to strengthen, in the Commission, the role of the competent Commissioner for closer monitoring and additional enforcement.

- The next European semester should be as ambitious as possible and draw fully on the lessons of the past. The European Council welcomes the Commission’s intention to bring forward its Annual Growth Survey to December 2011, which will allow the Council to prepare thoroughly the Spring 2012 European Council. Heads of State or Government will return to some themes of the Euro Plus Pact in December 2011; they will also be informed of progress made in structured discussions on tax policy coordination issues. Legislative work on the Commission proposals for a common consolidated corporate tax base is ongoing. The European Council takes note of the Commission proposal for a financial transaction tax.

- Strengthening financial regulation remains a key priority at the EU and the global level. Much has been achieved since 2008 with the reform of our regulatory and supervisory framework, but efforts need to be maintained to address the weaknesses of the financial system and prevent future crises. The European Council welcomes the agreement reached on short selling and calls for the speedy adoption of other important legislative proposals such as those relating to OTC derivatives and deposit guarantee schemes by the end of this year, and the ones on capital requirements by summer 2012. It welcomes the proposals on markets in financial instruments and market abuse and looks forward to the proposals the Commission will make on credit rating agencies and bank crisis management and resolution.

The European Council welcomes progress made by the Council (ECOFIN) on measures for the banking sector and invites the Council to finalise this work at its meeting of 26 October. These measures will be an essential component of a broader package whose other elements will be agreed by the Euro Summit of 26 October.

- The President informed the European Council on the state of preparations regarding the Euro Summit of 23 and 26 October. The European Council agreed on the need for coherence of the activities of the Euro area and the European Union, in full respect of the integrity of the European Union as a whole and its operation at 27. In this context, the European Commission has the responsibility to ensure compliance by all 27 Member States with EU legislation, including that relating to the internal market, and to safeguard a level playing field among all Member States including those not participating in the euro. The President of the Euro Summit will be designated by the Heads of State or Government of the euro area at the same time the European Council elects its President and for the same term of office. Pending the next such election, the current President of the European Council will chair the Euro Summit meetings. The President of the Euro Summit will keep the non euro area Member States closely informed of the preparation and outcome of the Summits. The European Council notes the intention of the Heads of State or Government of the euro area to reflect on further strengthening of economic convergence within the euro area, on improving fiscal discipline and deepening economic union, including exploring the possibility of limited Treaty changes. The European Council recalls that any Treaty change must be decided by the 27 Member States. The European Council will revert to the issue in December on the basis of a report by the President of the European Council in close collaboration with the President of the Commission and the President of the Eurogroup.

8. As regards the external aspects of economic policy, Europe will continue to promote free, fair and open trade whilst at the same time asserting its interests, in a spirit of reciprocity and mutual benefit in relation to the world’s largest economies. The European Union can take a number of measures in its external relations that can contribute to boosting its growth potential, both in the short and longer term:

- Whilst strengthening and widening the multilateral system and concluding the WTO Doha Round remain crucial objectives given their expected benefits in terms of growth and job creation, renewed emphasis should be given to bilateral and regional agreements, particularly with strategic partners and those whose markets are expanding at a significant pace. Such efforts should in particular be geared to the removal of trade barriers, better market access, appropriate investment conditions, the protection of intellectual property, access to raw materials and the opening up of public procurement markets. Concerning the latter, the European Council looks forward to the forthcoming Commission proposal for an EU instrument.

- The Union should capitalise on the special relationships it enjoys with its neighbouring regions in order to foster closer economic ties and open up new trade and investment opportunities, including by pursuing where appropriate deep and comprehensive free trade agreements. Promoting a more business-friendly environment throughout the EU neighbourhood is an essential investment in wider regional prosperity. The Union should pursue the integration of specific sectors which have a significant impact on growth and employment, such as energy and aviation.

- The Union should also seek to reap full benefits from a regulatory environment applied in an expanding economic space and take the lead in the setting of standards. It should develop a comprehensive investment policy, aimed at achieving effective two-way investment liberalisation and protection as an integral part of the Union’s overall common commercial policy. It should also ensure increased coherence between the external aspects of sectoral policies such as energy, transport and visas, within the overall balance of its economic interests and foreign policy objectives.

9. Work will be taken forward on these issues as a matter of priority, with the required resources and instruments being devoted to that end. The Commission is invited to report on progress achieved by next Spring. Whenever required, EU summits with third countries and regions will be more focused on settling outstanding issues in agreements under negotiation with them.

II. G20

10. The European Council discussed the preparations for the Cannes G20 Summit. It confirmed the orientations agreed by the Council in preparation for the G20 Finance, Agriculture, Employment and Development ministerial meetings.

11. Determined action is necessary to maintain financial stability, restore confidence and support growth and job creation. The G20 should approve an ambitious action plan containing specific commitments and measures from all G20 countries to respond to the serious challenges emanating from the current economic slowdown and to ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth while implementing credible fiscal consolidation.

12. The Cannes Summit should also achieve real progress on the following:

reforming the international monetary system (IMS), in particular by reinforcing surveillance and crisis management tools and better coordinating economic and monetary policies; sound macroeconomic policies should be the first line in responding to capital flow shocks and the G20 should continue to promote open capital markets and avoid financial protectionism; further progress is expected on a criteria-based path to broaden the special drawing rights basket, as a contribution to the evolution of the IMS, based on the existing criteria. The G20 should ensure that the IMF has adequate resources to fulfil its systemic responsibilities and should explore possible contributions to the IMF from countries with a large external surplus.

- Strengthening the regulation and supervision of the financial sector, by ensuring the full and consistent implementation of past commitments, implying the timely and consistent implementation of Basel II, II-5 and III, the reform of OTC derivatives, and remuneration principles and standards. Progress is needed on achieving internationally consistent frameworks for all systemically important financial institutions, on identifying and publically listing non-cooperative jurisdictions, on the convergence of accounting standards, on strengthening the regulation of the shadow banking system, on combating the existence of tax havens and on reducing overreliance on credit ratings. To keep pace with ambitious financial reform, the Financial Stability Board’s institutional footing, resources and governance will be strengthened. The introduction of a global financial transaction tax should be explored and developed further;

- Tackling the excessive volatility of commodity prices, notably by enhancing transparency in commodity markets and improving the functioning and regulation of derivative markets; the G20 Action Plan on food price volatility and agriculture constitutes an important further step towards providing an internationally coordinated response to the food security challenge;

- Promoting global recovery and sustainable and inclusive growth by supporting an active WTO negotiating agenda, including for the least developed countries, and by fully implementing the G20 Development Agenda through concrete measures; the social dimension of globalisation should also be enhanced;

- Advancing international trade liberalisation and resisting protectionism in particular by agreeing a credible plan as a basis for concluding the Doha Development round and considering innovative approaches to strengthen the multilateral trading system;

- Combating climate change, in particular by mobilising sources for climate change finance.

III. CLIMATE CHANGE

13. The European Council endorses the conclusions of the Council of 4 and 10 October 2011 which outline the EU position for the Durban conference on climate change in detail. It underlines that an ambitious international regime to combat climate change is crucial if we are to reach the agreed objective of maximum 2°C increase of global temperatures. The European Union will work towards an ambitious and balanced outcome at the Durban conference, building upon what was agreed last year in Cancun. It is urgent to agree on a process towards a comprehensive legally binding framework and a clear time line, ensuring global participation, including from major economies. The European Council confirms the openness of the European Union to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol as part of a transition to such a framework, as set out by the Council on 10 October 2011.

14. The European Council welcomes the ongoing work of the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, established by the UNSG, to find new effective ways to promote global sustainable development.

IV. FOREIGN POLICY

15. Europe remains committed to supporting the democratic transformation of its Southern Neighbourhood through the European Neighbourhood Policy. Democratic transition and economic development in the whole region remains essential for the establishment of democracy, fully respecting the rule of law and human and civil rights. The rapid launch of concrete projects within the Union for the Mediterranean can contribute much to this process.

16. The death of Muammar Gaddafi marks the end of an era of despotism and repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long. Today Libya can turn a page in its history, pursue national reconciliation, and embrace a new democratic future.

- The European Council pays tribute to the courage and determination of the people of Libya. It looks forward to the formation of an inclusive and broad-based government, to the launch of a democratic, peaceful and transparent transition that reaches out to all Libyans and to the preparation of free and fair elections in accordance with the Constitutional Declaration by the National Transitional Council. It reaffirms the commitment of the European Union to support the emergence of a democratic Libya. The European Council reiterates its support for a democratic, pluralist and stable Egypt as a key partner to the EU. The interim authorities have the crucial task of organising the first democratic and transparent elections, while ensuring law and order in a manner respectful of human rights. The European Council is concerned about the recent tragic clashes in Egypt and underlines the importance of the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, including the protection of religious minorities as an essential component of any democratic society. The European Council welcomes the holding of the first free elections in Tunisia today. The European Union will support the new authorities in their effort in favour of democratisation and sustained economic development, including through the EU/Tunisia Task Force.

17. The European Council fully endorses the Council conclusions on Syria adopted on 10 October. The Syrian people must be able to define the future of their country without the fear of repression. The European Council welcomes the efforts of the political opposition to establish a united platform. The creation of the Syrian National Council is a positive step forward. It remains gravely concerned about the current situation in Syria and stresses its strong support to the Syrian people as they express their legitimate aspirations for a life in freedom and dignity. It condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing brutal repression led by the Syrian regime against its population as well as the widespread human rights violations. President Assad must step aside to allow a political transition to take place in Syria. The EU has decided to place restrictive measures aimed at those responsible for or associated with the violent repression and those who support or benefit from the regime, not at the civilian population. The EU will impose further and more comprehensive measures against the regime as long as the repression of the civilian population continues. The European Council urges all members of the UN Security Council to assume their responsibilities in relation to the situation in Syria.

18. The European Council welcomes the reinforcement of EU restrictive measures against Iran due to unacceptable human rights violations and the adoption of restrictive measures against five individuals following the foiled plot to assassinate the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States. It urges Iran to respect all obligations under international law. It expresses its continued concern over the expansion of Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes, in violation of UNSC and IAEA Resolutions, as well as its lack of cooperation with the IAEA in addressing outstanding issues, including those pointing to possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme.

We urge Iran to enter into constructive and substantial talks with the E 3+3 in a way to arrive at a comprehensive, negotiated, long-term solution of the nuclear question in order to avoid possible further restrictive measures. At the same time the European Council invites the Foreign Affairs Council to prepare new restrictive measures to be decided upon and to be implemented at the appropriate moment in the case that Iran continues not to co-operate seriously nor to meet its obligations. It endorses the statement delivered by the High Representative on 21 September. It reiterates the commitment of the European Union to work for a diplomatic solution of this issue.

19. The European Council welcomes the second Eastern Partnership Summit held in Warsaw on 29-30 September and welcomes the intention of the High Representative and the European Commission to propose a roadmap that would list the objectives, instruments and actions with a view to the next Eastern Partnership Summit in the second half of 2013. The pace and depth of these countries’ political association and economic integration with the EU will depend on their upholding of the democratic principles and rule of law which are the basis of the Partnership.