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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

EU Commission: Shift to sustainable food system in Europe is possible, but faces challenges

Shift to sustainable food system in Europe is possible, but faces challenges

Making Europe's production, consumption and trade in food environmentally sustainable is possible, but it will require a major shift in public attitudes, policies and knowledge and seizing current opportunities for change, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report published today.

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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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Statement by Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on the deadly forest fires and storms in several Member States

European Commission - Statement Brussels, 16 October 2017 "Today all our thoughts are with our citizens who are suffering from the devastating forest fires in Portugal and Spain and the storms affecting Ireland and the United Kingdom.

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ESMA launches key MiFID II and MAR financial instrument reference database

ESMA launches key MiFID II and MAR financial instrument reference database

Monday 16 October 2017 20:22

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has today launched the second phase of its Financial Instrument Reference Database (FIRDS). The launch involves providing access to the database containing the currently available reference data that will eventually enable market participants to identify instruments subject to MAR and MiFID II/MiFIR reference data reporting requirements. This will allow market participants to prepare their reporting systems ahead of the go-live date on 3 January 2018.

The advance publication of this data will facilitate markets participants' preparation of their systems to fulfil future reporting obligations to national competent authorities (NCAs) under MiFIDII/MiFIR. ESMA has also published...

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