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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

EU Commission: EU revises its budget framework for 2014-2020 to meet new priorities

EU revises its budget framework for 2014-2020 to meet new priorities

The European Union is devoting more resources to help boost jobs and growth and to address the migration crisis. It is also strengthening its capacity to react to unexpected events. These are the main purposes of a revised EU budgetary framework for 2014-2020 which was adopted by the Council on 20 June 2017. 

"Today's decision adjusts the EU's budgetary framework to bring it in line with the challenges we face. It means that the EU budget will be an even more effective instrument to strengthen growth, create jobs and tackle the migration crisis. It also allows the EU to react more quickly and take the necessary decisions when faced with new challenges", said Dr Helena Dalli, Maltese Minister for European Affairs and Equality and President of the Council. 

The revised multi-annual financial framework (MFF) increases the resources earmarked for the EU's main priorities by €6.01 billion for the years 2017-2020 

  • €2.08 billion will help stimulate growth and create jobs through a number of highly effective programmes such as the youth employment initiative (+€1.2 billion), Horizon 2020 (+€200 million), and Erasmus+ (+€100 million)
  • €2.55 billion will be available to address migration, enhance security and strengthen external border control
  • €1.39 billion will be available for tackling the root causes of migration

 So that the EU is better prepared to address unforeseen needs, the revised MFF: 

  • increases the annual amounts that can be spent under the flexibility instrument and the emergency aid reserve by an average of €150 million and €23 million respectively in the years 2017 -2020
  • allows unused amounts from the EU solidarity fund and the European globalisation adjustment fund to be used under the flexibility instrument; these amounts would otherwise have been lost; for 2017 this means that additional €646 million  will be available under the flexibility instrument
  • increases by a total of €5.9 billion the maximum amount by which the annual MFF payment ceiling can be raised in the years 2019 and 2020 to recycle unused payments; the overall ceiling will be kept unchanged in real terms through a corresponding decrease in the payment ceilings for the years in which they are not fully used

 The increased scope for recycling unused payments will also reduce the risk of an excessive backlog of unpaid bills. In addition, the Council and the European Parliament undertook to take steps to avoid the excessive accumulation of unpaid bills. 

Background 

The MFF regulation sets out annual maximum amounts which the EU is allowed to spend on different policy areas over the period from 2014 to 2020. It translates political priorities into figures, ensures budgetary discipline for the EU and facilitates the adoption of the annual EU budget. 

Next steps 

The revised MFF regulation will now be published in the EU Official Journal and enters into force 20 days later. 

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Uniform format for short-stay visas (Schengen): Council adopts regulation on the update of security features in the visa sticker

On 20 June 2017, the Council adopted a regulation amending regulation (EC) No1683/95 laying down a uniform format for visas. 

This regulation establishes a new common design for the visa sticker to update its security features in order to prevent forgery. The current visa sticker, which has been in circulation for 20 years, has been compromised by serious incidents of counterfeiting and fraud. 

The regulation is likely to be signed in early July by the Council and the European Parliament before its publication in the EU Official Journal. 

Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be subject to the application of the new measures, in accordance with the protocols annexed to the EU treaties. However, upon a request from these member states, the Commission shall enter into arrangements with them to exchange technical information in relation to the format for their national visas.

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EU response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a sustainable European future

The EU has played a leading role in the process that led to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. It is now determined to take the lead in its implementation. 

The  conclusions adopted by the Council today reiterate the strong commitment of the EU and its member states to  implement in full the 2030 Agenda and accomplish the 17 SDGs. The conclusions set out the EU's response to the 2030 Agenda and its approach to how it is implemented at EU level. They cover next steps, the means and resources required, how multilateral stakeholders can be involved, and measures on future monitoring and review. 

The conclusions underline the importance of achieving sustainable development across  the three dimensions (economic, social and environmental), in a balanced and integrated way. It is vital that  sustainable development is mainstreamed into all policy areas, and that the EU is ambitious in the policies it uses to address global challenges. 

The Council calls on the Commission to set out by mid-2018 an implementation strategy with timelines, objectives and concrete measures to implement the 2030 Agenda in all EU policies. The Commission should also identify by mid-2018 gaps where the EU needs to do more by 2030 in the areas of policy, legislation,  governance structures for horizontal coherence and implementation. 

The EU calls on other UN member states and all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

More needs to be done to promote  the 2030 Agenda. In its conclusions the Council emphasises the lack of public engagement and calls for action to raise awareness among EU citizens. 

Background 

The conclusions are based on the recent Commission communication on the 'next steps for a sustainable European future' presented in November 2016, which links the sustainable development of the 2030 Agenda to the EU policy framework and the Commission's priorities. It provides an insight into where the EU stands on addressing the sustainable development goals and identifies the most relevant sustainability gaps and concerns. 

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 'Transforming our World' was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit (New York, 25-27 September 2015). It includes a set of global sustainable development goals that replaced the millennium development goals as from 1 January 2016. 

The 2030 Agenda responds to global challenges by addressing poverty eradication and the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a comprehensive way. The 17 new sustainable development goals and the 169 associated targets cover key areas such as poverty, human rights, food security, health, sustainable consumption and production, growth, employment, infrastructure, sustainable management of natural resources, oceans, climate change and gender equality. 

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Mali and the Sahel: EU strengthens its action in support of security of the region

Today, the Council adopted a decision to support the regionalisation of EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions in the Sahel region, namely EUCAP Sahel Mali, EUCAP Sahel Niger and EUTM Mali.

The Council decision allows for the establishment of a regional coordination cell based within one of the EU civilian missions, EUCAP Sahel Mali. The regional coordination cell include internal security and defence experts in G5 Sahel countries, deployed in Mali but also in EU delegations in other G5 Sahel countries, namely Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

In a first phase, the regional coordination cell will conduct an assessment of G5 Sahel countries' security and defence needs and gaps with a view to the development of a CSDP regional implementation plan that will make recommendations for any subsequent phase. It will also facilitate the organisation of training courses by the EU CSDP Missions in the Sahel for G5 Sahel countries security and defence trainees.

The objectives of reinforcing a regional approach in the EU work in the region is to support cross-border cooperation in the Sahel and regional cooperation structures, and to enhance national capacities of the G5 Sahel countries.

The EU supports the efforts the G5 Sahel countries and will work together against terrorism and any other threat to security and peace. On 19 June, the Council adopted conclusions on Mali and the Sahel which, in particular, strongly condemn the terrorist attack of 18 June in Bamako (Mali). The conclusions recall that the EU has a strong integrated approach towards achieving stabilisation of the region, including a full range of relevant instruments in the field of diplomacy, long-term development cooperation, support to human rights, stabilisation efforts, resilience building, humanitarian assistance, migration management and security, including CSDP missions.

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Uniform format for short-stay visas (Schengen): Council adopts r
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