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Monday, 16 October 2017

EU Council: North Korea: EU adopts new sanctions

North Korea: EU adopts new sanctions

On 16 October, the Foreign Affairs Council discussed the situation in the Korean peninsula and in particular the continuing development of the DPRK's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in violation and flagrant disregard of UN Security Council resolutions.

Given the persistent threat to international peace and stability posed by the DPRK, the Council adopted new EU autonomous measures to further increase the pressure on the DPRK to comply with its obligations. The measures complement and reinforce the UN Security Council sanctions. They take effect immediately.

The new measures include:

  • a total ban on EU investment in the DPRK, in all sectors. The ban was previously limited to investment in the nuclear and conventional arms-related industry, in the sectors of mining, refining and chemical industries, metallurgy and metalworking and aerospace;
  • a total ban on the sale of refined petroleum products and crude oil to the DPRK. These exports were subject to certain limitations under the UN Security Council resolution of 11 September;
  • lowering the amount of personal remittances transferred to the DPRK from € 15 000 to € 5 000; as they are suspected of being used to support the country's illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

In addition, with a view to eliminating remittances to the DPRK, member states agreed not to renew work authorisations for DPRK nationals present on their territory, except for refugees and other persons benefiting from international protection.

The Council also added three persons and six entities supporting the illicit programmes to the lists of those subject to an asset freeze and travel restrictions. This brings the total number under restrictive measures against the DPRK  as designated by the EU autonomously to 41 individuals and 10 entities. In addition, 63 individuals and 53 entities are listed by the UN.  

Ministers also agreed to actively lobby for a robust implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions by all UN member states. 


Background

The EU is implementing all UN Security Council resolutions adopted in response to the DPRK's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. In addition, the EU has imposed autonomous restrictive measures against the DPRK, complementing and reinforcing the UN sanctions regime. 

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Council reaffirms the EU's commitment to promote and protect human rights

The Foreign Affairs Council discussed the EU policy on human rights and on how to best promote them in bilateral and multilateral contexts.

The Council reaffirmed the EU's commitment to promoting and protecting human rights everywhere in the world.

The Council adopted conclusions on the mid-term review of the action plan on human rights and democracy. It also adopted its annual report on human rights and democracy in the world (2016).

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Afghanistan: Council adopts EU strategy

The Council adopted conclusions on an EU strategy on Afghanistan. The Council reconfirmed the EU's and member states' long-term commitment to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and to support its sustainable development.

The strategy on Afghanistan focuses on four priority areas: promoting peace, stability and regional security, reinforcing democracy, the rule of law and human rights and promoting good governance and women's empowerment, supporting economic and human development, addressing challenges related to migration.

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Iran nuclear deal: EU statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

1. The JCPOA, the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy facilitated by the EU, unanimously endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, is a key element of the nuclear non-proliferation global architecture and crucial for the security of the region. Its successful implementation continues to ensure that Iran's nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful. The EU underlines that the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified 8 times that Iran is implementing all its nuclear related commitments following a comprehensive and strict monitoring system.

2. The EU is committed to the continued full and effective implementation of all parts of the JCPOA. The EU underlines that the lifting of nuclear related sanctions has a positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran including benefits for the Iranian people. It strengthens cooperation and allows for continuous dialogue with Iran.

3. The European Union considers President Trump's decision not to certify Iran's compliance with the Joint Comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) as being in the context of an internal US process. The EU encourages the US to maintain its commitment to the JCPOA and to consider the implications for the security of the US, its partners and the region before taking further steps.

4. While the EU expresses its concerns related to ballistic missiles and increasing  tensions in the region, it reiterates the need to address them outside the JCPOA, in the relevant formats and fora . The EU stands ready to actively promote and support initiatives to ensure a more stable, peaceful and secure regional environment.

5. At a time of acute nuclear threat the EU is determined to preserve the JCPOA as a key pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture.

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Deal on the agricultural aspects of the Omnibus regulation confirmed

On 16 October 2017 member states represented in the Special Committee on Agriculture endorsed the deal on the so-called Omnibus regulation.
The Omnibus regulation amends the financial regulation governing the implementation of the EU budget as well as 15 sectorial legislative acts, including in the field of agriculture.
The presidency had reached a provisional agreement on the Omnibus regulation with the European Parliament on 12 October.


The agreed rules will simplify the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) through a series of technical improvements to the four CAP regulations: direct payments, rural development, common market organisation and horizontal regulation: 

Direct payments

  • active farmer: the distinction between active and non-active farmers becomes optional, thereby allowing those member states where it resulted in excessive administrative burden, to discontinue it
  • permanent grassland: current rules are modified so as to provide greater flexibility for member states in implementing the requirement
  • reduction of payments : the agreement confirms the possibility for member states to review their decisions on the reduction of direct payments on an annual basis
  • greening: areas farmed with plant varieties such as silvergrass (miscanthus) and silphion (silphium perfoliotum), as well as land left fallow for melliferous plants will also be considered as ecological focus
  • young farmers: payments for young farmers will be granted for five years from the submission date, as long as the submission was made within five years from the setting up of the farm. In addition, member states may increase young farmers' payments in the first pillar up to 50% within the existing ceilings
  • voluntary coupled support: member states will be able to review their decision annually

 Common market organisation

  • value sharing : the possibility to collectively negotiate value sharing terms in contracts will be extended to sectors other than sugar and will have a voluntary nature
  • producer organisation (POs): institutions decided to stick to the status quo concerning the voluntary recognition of POs, the requirement by which their economic activity must be genuine, and the derogation foreseen for the milk sector. The proposal to add a new category of organisations ("bargaining organisations") was not retained
  • POs and competition rules : some POs' prerogatives such as planning production, optimising production costs, placing on the market and negotiating contracts for the supply of agricultural products on behalf of members, already existing in sectors such as olive oil, beef and arable crops, will be extended to all sectors with a view to improving the position of farmers in the supply chain. In light of such extension, it was also decided to add to the article on producer organisations some safeguards to guarantee that competition is not excluded
  • fruit and vegetables' operational programmes, wine and import quotas: the agreed rules provide for a simplification and technical improvements in these fields
  • crisis management : the proposal for a voluntary production reduction scheme in times of crisis was not retained, thereby postponing the debate on the subject to the upcoming review of the CAP post 2020

 Rural development

  • income stabilisation tool: while the support linked to the general income stabilisation tool will continue to be triggered when the farmer's income drops by more than 30% of his/her average annual income, the threshold for the new sector-specific tool will be 20%. Similarly support for insurance contracts which cover for, among others, losses caused by adverse climatic events, will become available when more than 20% of the average annual production of the farmer is destroyed
  • financial instruments : several changes are made to the rules to be respected by financial instruments to promote their use and harmonise them with other EU Structural and Investment Funds

 Horizontal regulation

  • crisis reserve: while no changes were made to the current rules, the Commission undertook in a statement to review the operation of the reserve in the context of the preparations for the next multiannual financial framework with a view to allowing an efficient and timely intervention in times of market crisis
  • 50/50 rule: the proposal to eliminate the so-called "50/50 rule" was not retained. Member states and the EU budget will keep sharing equally the financial consequences of sums lost as a result of irregularities and not recovered within a reasonable period
  • financial discipline : the existing procedure ensuring that the expenditure under the provisions of the CAP does not exceed the limits specified in the EU budget, was simplified and will be managed by the Commission alone
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