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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

EU Council: Climate finance: EU and member states'=?UTF-8?B?IGNvbnRyaWJ1dGlvbnMgdXAgdG8g4oKsMjAuMiBiaWxsaW9uIGluIDIwMTY=?=

Climate finance: EU and member states' contributions up to €20.2 billion in 2016

Contributions from the EU and its member states to support developing countries in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and coping with the impacts of climate change showed a significant increase in 2016. 

The total was confirmed on 16 October 2017 at a meeting of the EU Economic Policy Committee, ahead of COP23 UN climate change conference in Bonn. 

Total contributions from the EU and its member states amounted to €20.2billion[1]in 2016, a significant increase compared to 2015. The contributions were successfully channelled into climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives in developing countries. 

The contribution is seen as an important step towards the implementation of the legally binding climate change agreement reached in Paris in December 2015.

The latest figure demonstrates the EU's determination to continue scaling up its international climate finance contribution towards the $100 billion per year goal set for developed countries by 2020 and through until 2025. Before 2025, the parties to the UN framework convention on climate change will set a new collective goal. Contributions for mitigation and adaptation will be jointly mobilised from a wide variety of sources: public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance and with transparency of implementation.


 [1] This figure includes climate finance sources from public budgets and other development financial institutions, as reported by member states in the context of the article 16 of regulation 525/2013 of 21 May 2013. It also includes €2.7 billion climate finance from the EU budget and the European Development Fund, and €1.9 billion from the European Investment Bank. 

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Documents by President Donald Tusk for the members of the European Council: invitation letter, Leaders' Agenda and Bratislava implementation report

Let me share with you some remarks before our European Council meeting this Thursday and Friday.

October European Council schedule

After our traditional exchange of views with European Parliament President Tajani at 15.00, Prime Minister Ratas will update us on where we stand in terms of implementing our previous conclusions. We will then have a political discussion on the external aspects of migration, with a specific focus on the financial needs necessary to stem the flow of illegal migrants from Africa. Next, we will adopt conclusions on the vision for Digital Europe, with the objective of turning the fruitful discussions at our recent Tallinn summit into operational follow-up. Our conclusions on security and defence should ensure that the momentum from last June is maintained, in particular as regards the efforts to launch the Permanent Structured Cooperation by the end of the year. Over dinner, we will look into the deeply worrying developments in DPRK, the situation as regards Iran as well as Turkey. Furthermore, President Macron will make a point about trade negotiations, and Prime Minister May will share her reflections about the current state of the Brexit talks.

On Friday morning we will have an informal breakfast about the Leaders' Agenda. After that, the European Council will reconvene at 27 to discuss the way ahead in the negotiations on the withdrawal of the UK. Prime Minister Ratas will take this opportunity to inform us on the discussions in the Council on the relocation of the UK-based agencies. Our meeting should end around lunchtime.

Leaders' Agenda

At our meeting in Tallinn we agreed to develop a Leaders' Agenda for the coming two years. I have discussed it with all of you, and would like to set out how I propose to proceed.

Based on my consultations, it is clear that, while delivering on what we agreed in Bratislava and Rome, there is also a willingness to reinvigorate and enrich our work, including by drawing on new ideas. In doing so, I would like us to be guided by three principles.

Firstly, we should focus on practical solutions to EU citizens' real problems. This means changes - not just for the sake of change, but in order to bring back a sense of stability, security and predictability in people's lives as well as faith in the future. Institutional innovation can in some cases be a means to an end, but we should be careful not to get bogged down in unnecessary institutional or theoretical debates.

Secondly, we should proceed step by step. Some matters are ripe for decisions now, and should therefore be dealt with straightaway, with speed, ambition and determination, so as to ensure real progress. Other matters will need to be further prepared, before we can debate them.

Thirdly, we should preserve the unity that we have managed to develop over the past year. We need this unity in order to solve the migration crisis, to tackle unfair aspects of globalisation, to deal with aggressive third countries, to limit the damage caused by Brexit as well as to preserve the rules-based international order in these difficult times. We can only confront today's uncertainties if we act in unison, since individual countries are too small to cope with them on their own. Some might say that I am obsessed with unity, but I am deeply convinced - not only because of my job, but above all due to my personal experience - that European unity is our greatest strength.

Obviously there is the dilemma of how to reconcile unity with dynamism, and how to use the new energy in a way that does not divide, but strengthens us. After the consultations, I feel reassured that we are capable of accelerating our work, without disrupting our unity. Therefore, the overall framework for our decisions should continue to be in meetings with 27 or 28 Member States, depending on the subject. As we set out in the Rome Declaration, this approach does not prevent Member States moving forward more rapidly in specific areas, in accordance with the Treaties, while keeping the door open for those who want to join later. To be clear, unity cannot become an excuse for stagnation, but at the same time ambition cannot lead to divisions.

Methods

When it comes to working methods, I have three suggestions to make.

First of all, I am very happy with your willingness to accelerate our work and overcome the sense of powerlessness, where political interests, or bureaucratic inertia, stand in the way of achieving results. For this to succeed, I will propose a more political approach during our discussions, and - whenever necessary - more meetings. Engaging more directly on politically sensitive issues, and ensuring real progress, will require that you are ready to overcome deadlocks in the Council of Ministers. We have previously demonstrated our capacity to do so, for example with regard to more robust anti-dumping rules that have now also been agreed with the European Parliament. With this in mind I will propose a number of debates to cut the Gordian knot on the most sensitive issues such as migration or EMU reform.

As you know, there are two main reasons why some issues are stuck. The first is that instead of dealing with the issues at stake, leaders allow them to get lost somewhere between their collaborators or in the decision-making system. I am really pleased that you agreed in Tallinn that it is high time to take things into our own hands. The second reason is conflicts of interests and opinions among you and among your governments, both when it comes to substance and the determination to break the impasse. In order to move forward and agree on quick solutions we need a new method, which does not involve long drafting sessions on our conclusions. That is why I would like to propose a method that focuses on solving real issues. It will involve a number of discussions, as indicated in the Leaders' Agenda, that will be organised on the basis of Decision Notes which I will put forward before these discussions, starting with our meeting in Gothenburg. These Decision Notes will report on our differences, precisely describing the scope of conflict and thus allowing us to hold a serious, political discussion. The aim will be to break any deadlock. If the first discussion does not succeed, we will need to decide whether to make another attempt at solving the issue, or if the only way forward is enhanced cooperation among the willing countries, as provided for by the Treaties.

Secondly, many of you insist on a rigorous follow-up of our meetings to ensure that decisions are properly implemented. In Bratislava we agreed to intensify our focus on implementation by deciding that the Head of State or Government representing the Presidency would report on progress at every ordinary meeting of the European Council. I suggest to develop this practice by ensuring that the reports are clearer and provide a better basis for us to draw political conclusions for our work. With this in mind, I enclose an overview of the implementation of the Bratislava Agenda. As we are currently halfway through the delivery on our ambitions from Bratislava, I have designed the Leaders' Agenda in such a way that, without overlapping with our previous agenda, it complements what we have already decided to do together.

Finally, several of you have rightly highlighted the need to ensure that decisions among us are firmly anchored in your respective national political settings. Each of you are used to getting involved with your national parliaments and reaching out to the public at large, in accordance with your specific constitutional traditions and political circumstances. We will not change that. However, we could also draw inspiration from new ideas on how to debate Europe, such as those expressed recently.

With a view to achieving our common objectives, I suggest that we organise our work in accordance with the Leaders' Agenda, attached herewith. This is of course a living document that will have to be updated and enriched as we go along. I would very much welcome your comments and suggestions at our upcoming discussion on Friday morning. I do not, however, foresee a drafting session on the Leaders' Agenda, but rather a political exchange on how to best prepare our works in the months ahead. Depending on the outcome of our discussion I will ensure that it is revised in accordance with our common understanding of the way forward.

I look forward to seeing you all in Brussels. 

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Statement by the General Secretariat of the Council on today's incident in the Europa building

Despite checks and precautions, a further technical incident occurred today in one of the Europa building kitchens.

The technical issue affecting the ventilation in the kitchens of the Europa building, producing noxious fumes in the kitchens, has led to a number of staff falling ill.

The Belgian firemen and medical services were brought in today to investigate the situation and to treat those staff affected.

It has been decided to carry out a precautionary evacuation of staff working in the Europa building to the Justus Lipsius.

All relevant GSC services are working together, along with the relevant Belgian services to ensure the safety of people working in the buildings, and the investigation as to the source of the problem is underway.

This incident will not prevent the meeting of the European Council (19-20 October) from going ahead.

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Tripartite social summit, 18 October 2017 in Brussels

This Autumn Social Summit was devoted to "Shaping Europe's future: strengthening resilience and promoting economic and social progress for all". Three sub-themes fed into this discussion: The social dimension of Europe; The involvement of the social partners in policies and reforms at national level - progress made and ways to improve; and Investing in learning in a digital economy and society.

In his statement, the President of the European Council , Donald Tusk, said that: "It is our common task now to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared as widely as possible. And this is why in our meeting today we discussed, in very concrete terms, how the social partners can be better involved in national policy-making. I remain convinced that only by taking the views of social partners into account can we make real progress. This is especially important in today's digital age, where citizens, young and old, need to be equipped with the right skills to prosper. Because in the digital age, the quickest way to go backward is to stand still. This is what I discussed not only with the social partners today but also with the European leaders at the Digital Summit in Tallinn. And at the meeting of the European Council tomorrow, the spirit of Tallinn will drive our political decisions."

The President of the European Commission , Jean-Claude Juncker underlined: "A fair and more social Europe is key in shaping our Union's future. This is what citizens rightly expect. I want the EU to stand up for the rights of its citizens in a fast-changing world. This is what the European Pillar of Social Rights is all about. I trust that we will be able to proclaim it at the Social Summit in Gothenburg on 17 November."

From the side of the rotating presidency, Estonia's Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas, said that "Less than three weeks ago I had the honour to host the first ever European Union Digital Summit in Tallinn. One of the topics was the future of the economy and society. EU leaders realise that a major shift is under way in society and that the social partners have an important role to play in this context. Indeed, their support for maintaining well-functioning EU labour market and welfare systems is vital. We already live in a digital society and we have to adapt rapidly in order to seize the economic opportunities that digitalisation presents, without leaving anybody behind. We have to provide the right skills as well as social protection to all people, whether they work in traditional companies or have cutting-edge jobs in the digital economy. The social partners have looked at these issues in depth. We are all committed to reviewing EU and national laws and policies in order to make sure they are fit for the digital age".

BusinessEurope's President , Emma Marcegaglia, representing employers (BusinessEurope, CEEP, UEAPME) said "Europe is one of the best places to live, work, and do business in the world. The European project made this possible. We should take full advantage of the current momentum - with unity backing the European project and an improved economic situation - to ensure that EU and national reforms necessary to modernise European economies and societies are put in place. The renewed focus on industrial policy is an important step. We now need to feed the strategy through a structured way forward. The EU needs to become more attractive for investment and to maintain a fair and ambitious trade agenda opening new markets and creating sustainable growth and new business opportunities for enterprises of all sizes. As regards the social dimension of Europe, the key challenge is to set in motion a partnership for reforms for improved employment outcomes. The EU should act where there is a shared understanding of its added value, respecting subsidiarity and social partner autonomy."

"The European trade unions want to convince the EU member states to adopt, and the European Commission to follow up vigorously to fully implement, an ambitious and strong European Pillar of Social Rights" said Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). "We need more concrete measures to make a real difference in the lives of working people. Many working people are yet to feel any recovery, and need hard evidence that the EU is committed to social justice and social progress. The EU needs to make up for the lost years of crisis, and also to manage the changes that decarbonisation and digitalisation will bring so no worker is left behind."


The views cited in this text are those of the individual / organization concerned and do not collectively constitute the point of view of the Council or the European Council.

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Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the alignment of certain third countries concerning restrictive measures against ISIL (Da'esh) and Al- Qaeda and those associated with them

On 14 September 2017, the Council adopted Decision (CFSP) 2017/1560[1]

The Council Decision extends the existing restrictive measures, imposed by the Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/1693, until 31 October 2018. 

The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this Council Decision. 

They will ensure that their national policies conform to these Council Decisions.

The European Union takes note of this commitment and welcomes it.


[1] Published on 15.9.2017 in the Official Journal of the European Union no. L 237, p.71.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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