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Thursday, 13 July 2017

EU Council: Council conclusions on the Commission Communication on the mid-term review of the Capital Markets Union A...

Council conclusions on the Commission Communication on the mid-term review of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan


1.             RECALLS its conclusions of 10 November 2015 on the Commission Action Plan on building a Capital Markets Union[1] welcoming the adoption by the Commission of the Action Plan on Building a Capital Markets Union[2];

2.             WELCOMES the Commission Communication on the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan[3], which follows up on the good progress already made so far in delivering the measures announced in the Capital Markets Union Action Plan and NOTES that there is a need to further intensify policy efforts in building the Capital Markets Union (CMU), also in view of a well-functioning EMU.

3.             UNDERLINES the continued relevance of the CMU as a project of shared importance for all Member States, in order to foster growth, create jobs and promote investments and innovation, in compliance with the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and better regulation as well as preservation of financial stability and investor protection to be respected consistently across all related initiatives;

4.             NOTES the success of existing capital markets in Europe and supports the objective of building the CMU on the previous positive developments in these existing markets across Member States, and LOOKS FORWARD to a comprehensive EU strategy to be prepared by the Commission on steps that can be taken at the EU level to support local and regional market development across the EU;

5.             UNDERLINES its continued strong commitment to the Capital Markets Union as reflected for example by the recent political agreements reached with the European Parliament on the Regulations on simple, transparent and standardised securitisation and on the European Venture Capital Funds and European Social Entrepreneurship Funds as well as by the adoption of the Prospectus Regulation;

6.             RECALLS its support for enhancing the variety of financing sources available for infrastructure and businesses, in particular SMEs and small mid caps, from smaller or larger financial markets of all Member States, and for increasing investment opportunities available for retail and institutional investors;

7.             LOOKS FORWARD to examining the Commission legislative proposals and the delegated acts announced in the Commission Communication;

8.             SUPPORTS the inclusion of the new priority initiatives proposed by the Commission, which aim to further strengthen the Capital Markets Union as it is faced with new challenges;

9.             LOOKS FORWARD to discussing the Commission proposals for amendments to the  European Supervisory Authorities framework;

10.         NOTES that supervisory convergence and the role played by the ESAs in that regard are relevant in the context of establishing an effective CMU and a sound and efficient EU financial market as a whole;

11.         LOOKS FORWARD to the upcoming legislative proposal regarding the prudential treatment of investment firms, which should provide an adequate framework to address the risks their activities entail when those activities are not appropriately addressed by existing requirements, while observing the principle of proportionality;

12.         LOOKS FORWARD to examining the upcoming legislative proposal regarding a European framework for covered bonds, which should build on the continued well-functioning national regimes and strike the right balance between harmonisation and national specificities;

13.         WELCOMES the Commission's commitment to deliver a more proportionate regulatory environment to support SME listing on public markets, which - coupled with related non legislative actions - would further promote the development of equity capital markets across all Member States; UNDERLINES as a general policy priority the importance of enhancing the cost effective availability of economic, business and financial information related to SMEs in order to carry out meaningful credit analysis, which would be instrumental to broadening financing sources for all SMEs across all public and private markets; AGREES that enhancing the cost-effective availability of SMEs' information should be pursued initially by building on voluntary initiatives by the private sector and, should this approach fail to deliver its expected benefits, through other means that would have the potential to be more effective;

14.         WELCOMES the Commission's upcoming assessment of a potential EU framework in the field of FinTech, based on their activities rather than technologies, to harness the potential of FinTech in broadening choice, competition and access to capital market based finance, while being mindful to address effectively any possible emerging risks associated with FinTech;

15.         LOOKS FORWARD to examining possible Commission's initiatives stemming from the recommendations of the High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance and to the steps announced in the CMU Mid-Term Review as the basis for fostering EU global leadership on sustainable investment;

16.         TAKES NOTE of the Commission's initiatives aimed at promoting long-term investment including an appropriately designed Pan-European Personal Pension Product and an amendment to the Solvency II Delegated Act, in full respect of Member States' tax competences;

17.         LOOKS FORWARD to work on removing unjustified national barriers to the cross-border movement of capital;

18.         TAKES NOTE of the Commission's proposal to draft an interpretative communication on existing EU rules for the treatment of cross-border EU investments; ENCOURAGES the Commission to assess options for a modern European framework for the effective and binding resolution of investment disputes;

19.         WELCOMES the initiatives aimed at strengthening banks' capacity to lend to the economy, including measures to support secondary markets for non-performing loans;

20.         UNDERLINES the importance of enhancing the efficiency of European financial markets as a whole, which implies striking the right balance between harmonised rules and the need to cater for local and regional market characteristics and to preserve well functioning markets;

21.         INVITES the Commission to carry forward the Action Plan for the Capital Markets Union, as adjusted following this Mid‑Term Review in order to have the Capital Markets Union building blocks in place by 2019, in particular by delivering on measures listed in the Annex to the Mid-Term Review in full respect of the principles of better regulation;

22.         INVITES the Commission to continue to report on the progress made, at least every six months, to the Council through the Financial Services Committee and the Economic Financial Committee, providing an evidence-based assessment of the progress made in the build-up of the Capital Markets Union, including on the basis of key indicators and evidence."

[1]        Doc. 13922/15
[2]        Doc. 12263/15
[3]        Doc. 10082/17

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Carcinogens or mutagens at work: Council sets new exposure limits

On 11 July 2017, the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee approved the provisional agreement reached with the European Parliament on 28 June on the directive protecting workers from exposure to carcinogens or mutagens in the workplace. 

By setting limits for carcinogens and mutagens this agreement helps tackle the primary cause of work-related deaths in the EU. The aim is to help save up to 100 000 lives over the next 50 years. 

The directive proposes to set exposure limits for a further 11 carcinogens in addition to those covered by the existing 2004 directive. These are: respirable crystalline silica dust, 1,2-epoxypropane, 1,3-butadiene, 2-nitropropane, acrylamide, certain chromium (VI) compounds, ethylene oxide, o-toluidine, refractory ceramic fibres, bromoethylene and hydrazine. 

The directive also revises the limits for vinyl chloride monomer and hardwood dusts in the light of more recent scientific data.  

There will be minimum requirements for eliminating and reducing all carcinogens and mutagens. Employers will also have to identify and assess risks to workers who are associated with exposure to specific carcinogens (and mutagens), and must prevent exposure where risks exist.  

The main changes to the Commission proposal are the following: 

  • Reprotoxic substances: the Commission will have to assess the possibility of including reprotoxic substances in the scope of the directive by the first quarter of 2019 at the latest, and may present a legislative proposal on the matter.
  • Chromium VI : there will be an exposure limit value of 0.010 mg/m3 for a period of 5 years after the date of transposition of the directive; after that period a limit of 0.005 mg/m3 will apply. There is a derogation for welding or plasma-cutting processes or similar work processes that generate fumes: for them the exposure limit value is 0.025 mg/m3 until 5 years after the transposition date and after that period the limit will be 0.005 mg/m3.
  • Hardwood dust: there will be an exposure limit value of 3 mg/m3 for 5 years after the entry into force of the directive and thereafter a limit of 2 mg/m3.
  • Respiratory crystalline silica dust: the Commission committed itself to evaluating the need to modify the limit value for respirable crystalline silica dust as part of the next evaluation of the implementation of the directive.
  • Health surveillance : the doctor or authority responsible for the health surveillance of workers within member states may indicate that health surveillance must continue after the end of exposure for as long as they consider it necessary to safeguard the health of the worker concerned.

 Next steps 

The new directive will formally be adopted by the Council at a later stage.  

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Council agrees its position for the 2018 EU budget and backs increase of 2017 EU budget

On 12 July 2017, the EU ambassadors agreed the Council's position on the 2018 EU draft budget, ahead of the negotiations with the European Parliament starting in October. 

The Council's position for 2018 amounts to €158.9 billion in commitments and €144.4 billion in payments, up by 0.6% and 7.4% respectively compared to the 2017 EU budget. Payments increase significantly because the implementation of the 2014-2020 programmes is expected to reach cruising speed following the initial start-up period. The Council's position strongly focuses on measures to stimulate jobs and growth, strengthen security and tackle migration. It also keeps sufficient margins under the EU's multi-annual financial framework 2014-2020 in case unexpected needs arise.

"I believe the Council's position provides a solid basis on which to achieve a 2018 EU budget that would take the EU forward. The Council proposes, in line with its generally frugal approach to the budget, to focus resources on those areas with the highest added value. The Council's position also helps the EU to act swiftly in case new challenges arise", said Märt Kivine, the Estonian Deputy Finance Minister and the Presidency's Special Representative for the EU budget. "Timely agreement on the 2018 budget is a test of the EU's credibility and a presidency priority", he added. 

2017: solidarity with young unemployed persons and Italy

The Council's Permanent Representatives Committee on 12 July 2017 also approved two Commission proposals that reinforce the EU's support to young unemployed persons in their job search and help the Italian regions hit by earthquakes in 2016 in their task of reconstruction. Draft amending budget no 3 increases the 2017 EU budget by €500 million in commitments for the youth employment initiative. Draft amending budget no 4 mobilises €1.2 billion under the EU's solidarity fund following the earthquakes in Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche and Umbria.

2018: focus on jobs, growth, security and migration 

Sustaining growth and job creation remains one of the Council's most important priorities. In 2018, the Council wants to support smart and inclusive growth with €76.5 billion in commitments and €66.4 billion in payments, up by 2.1% and 17.5% respectively compared to 2017. 

Actions financed under this heading include notably 

  • the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 with €10.6 billion in commitments and €10.8 billion in payments, which is an increase by 2.6% and 5.8% respectively compared to the 2017 EU budget
  • the connecting Europe facility to support trans-European networks in transport, energy and communication sectors, with €4.3 billion in commitments and €2.1 billion in payments (+3.9% and +31.7%) including contributions from the cohesion fund
  • Erasmus+, with €2.3 billion in commitments (+9.5%) and €2.1 billion in payments (+13.1%)
  • the new European solidarity corps, with €72.8 million in commitments and €55.7 million in payments
  • European aid for the most deprived, with €556.9 million in commitments and €401.4 million in payments
  • the youth employment initiative, with €233.3 million in commitments and €600.0 million in payments

To ensure a high level of security the Council backed the amounts proposed by the Commission. This means that €720.0 million in commitments and €481.2 million in payments could be spent under the internal security fund to enhance border protection, fight against cross-border crime, establish an entry/exit system and set up a European travel information and authorisation system.

The Council also approved the €719.2 million in commitments and €594.4 million in payments proposed by the Commission for the asylum, migration and integration fund to address the migration pressure . The money will help member states to address migration flows, integrate persons who have the right to stay and return those who don't. The Council's position also contains €200.0 million in commitments and €220.6 million in payments for the EU emergency support mechanism within the EU. It enables the EU to help member states confronted with a natural or man-made disaster, such as the sudden and massive inflow of refugees and migrants.

With regard to administrative expenditure the Council acknowledged the efforts made to reach the 5% staff reduction target. It underlined the importance of keeping under continuous monitoring the level of staff in all EU institutions in order to ensure that the savings achieved are lasting. 

A summary of the draft Council's position is set out in the table below: 

in € billion

Draft budget 2018Council position on DB 2018Difference

1Smart and inclusive growth77.266.876.566.4-0.8-0.4
1aCompetitiveness for growth and jobs21.820.121.119.9-0.8-0.2
1bEconomic, social and territorial cohesion55.446.855.446.5 0-0.2
2Sustainable growth: natural resources59.656.459.356.1-0.3-0,3
3Security and citizenship3.
4Global Europe9.
MFF headings159.6144.8158.4144.0 -1.2-0.8
Special instruments1.
Emergency aid reserve0.
European globalisation adjustment fund0.
European Union solidarity fund0.
Total appropriations160.6145.4158.9144.4-1.7-1.0

c/a: commitments, p/a: payments

Next steps 

The Council is expected to formally adopt its position early September. It will serve as a mandate to the Estonian presidency to negotiate the 2018 EU budget with the European Parliament. 


Commitments are legal promises to spend money on activities whose implementation extends over several financial years. Payments cover expenditure arising from commitments entered into the EU budget during current and preceding financial years.

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Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv

This Summit is a good moment to celebrate the strong and deepening friendship between the European Union and Ukraine.

Yesterday the EU finalised the ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. It will enter into force on the 1st of September. The provisional application of the trade part that entered into force last year has already increased our trade by 25%. The fully ratified Agreement will allow us to further strengthen our cooperation and to deepen the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the EU. And for me the key sentence of the Association Agreement still is that, and I quote, "the European Union acknowledges the European aspirations of Ukraine and welcomes its European choice".

Moreover, one month ago Ukrainian citizens were given the opportunity for the very first time to travel to the European Union without a visa. This was possible only thanks to your hard work. And so let me congratulate all Ukrainians on this great achievement.

And today, the EU has again made clear that we stand steadfastly behind Ukraine against Russia's aggression and attempts to subvert your independence. We reiterated our continued support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. We do not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea. We call for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all sides, underlining Russia's responsibility in this regard. On 28 June, the EU again decided to roll over its economic sanctions against Russia.

In this context, I would also like to honour the famous Ukrainian filmmaker and writer, Oleg Sentsov, who was arrested in Crimea and convicted. Today, as you mentioned Petro, is his birthday. I call for the immediate release of all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in Russia and on the Crimean peninsula.

Now, let me repeat what I said this morning. Together we have achieved a lot, but we are still only halfway down the road. I am convinced that if you continue to be as determined, as courageous and as consistent as you were back then inMaidan, as you were during the struggle for Ukraine's integrity, if you can withstand the burden of reforms and not give up, then you will reach your dreams and goals. As your friend, I will afford myself just one remark.

Today I can see clearly that you will not be defeated by an external enemy. You are too strong. You can only be defeated by yourselves. This is why you need to keep your unity at any cost, and avoid like the plague internal conflicts. I always repeated this to my compatriots when I was Prime Minister of Poland, I repeat this now to the whole of Europe: only united can we overcome the challenges of modern times. There is nothing worse than the break-up of a community in the face of modern-day threats. Democracy is about differences of opinion and competition, but also about permanent looking for consensus. Therefore, your most important task should be to build a modern state that is citizen-friendly, resistant to corruption, respectful of the highest standards of public life. If you pass also this exam, nothing and no-one will defeat you.

Petro, before ending my intervention, let me give you this document: this is the final decision of the EU ratification of our Association Agreement. Congratulations.

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Introductory remarks by President Donald Tusk at the EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv

Together we have achieved a lot, but we are still only halfway down the road. I am convinced that if you continue to be as determined, as courageous and as consistent as you were back then in Independence Square (Maidan), as you were during the battle for Ukraine's integrity, if you can withstand the burden of reforms and not give up, then you will reach your dreams and goals. As your friend, I will afford myself one remark.

Today I can see clearly that you will not be defeated by an external enemy. You are too strong. You can only be defeated by yourselves. This is why you need to keep your unity at any cost, and avoid internal conflicts like the plague. I always repeated this to my compatriots when I was Prime Minister of Poland, I repeat this now to the whole of Europe: only united can we overcome the challenges of modern times. There is nothing worse than the break-up of a community in the face of modern-day threats.

Democracy is about differences of opinion and competition, but also about permanent looking for consensus. Therefore, your most important task should be to build a modern state that is citizen-friendly, resistant to corruption, respectful of the highest standards of public life. If you pass also this exam, nothing and no-one will defeat you.

(delivered in Ukrainian)

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