The Letter n°856

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The Letter n°856
The Letter
Tuesday 16th July 2019
issue 856
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Europe and Disinformation
Author : Mariya Gabriel
Mariya Gabriel
On-line disinformation is infiltrating European everyday life and is influencing people's opinions and the decisions they are taking. The approach adopted by the Union to counter this threat must be all encompassing and joint deems the Commissioner for Digital Affairs, Mariya Gabriel.
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Foundation : The Grand Turning Point - the European 21st Century
In "The Grand Turning Point" published by the "Ecole de Guerre", contrary to popular discourse, Jean-Dominique Giuliani shows that the EU has the means to rise to the new challenges of the 21st century. Europe has succeeded beyond the hopes of its Founding Fathers. It can still succeed in securing its place amongst the three major world powers by the end of the century... Read more
The Schuman Report on Europe, State of the Union 2019
In this year of the renewal of the European Institutions, the "Schuman Report on the State of the Union 2019" is necessary more than ever before to understand the state of the Union and its chances of winning greater independence and weight on the international stage, thanks to the dependencies it will create amongst its Member States. The Report includes contributions from top experts and contains 33 original maps that summarise the main European challenges and a unique set of commented statistics. Order your copy now!.. Read more
Permanent Atlas of the European Union
For a better understanding of the Union and its institutions that are now being renewed, the Foundation suggests you read the "Permanent Atlas of the European Union" a book that gives a complete overview of the Union, the euro zone and each of its Members States and their overseas territories. It is available in print version from the Foundation's website, in bookshops and in digital version. It is up-dated on a permanent basis... Read more
European Elections: a site to understand the new Parliament
The new European Parliament, elected during on 23rd-26th May met for the first time on 2nd July. It elected its new President, David Sassoli and bureau (14 Vice-Presidents and 5 Quaestors) and the bureaus of the Parliamentary Committees. It is voting on 16th July regarding the presidency of the European Commission. You can consult our special internet site for the names of the latter and the 7 political groups to which the 751 MEPs belong and with whom they will sit until 2024, the name of the chairs and vice-chairs of the political groups and the most recent news regarding the establishment of the parliamentary committees and the election of the Presidency of the European Commission... Read more

Commission : Proposal on the Strategic Innovation Programme 2021-2027
On 11th July the European Commission published its suggested strategic innovation agenda "Horizon Europe" for the period 2021-2027. It suggested awarding the "European Institute for Innovation and Technology" (EIT) a budget of 3 billion € (i.e. an increase of 25% in contrast to the 2014-2020 agenda) so that it can fund activities undertaken by the knowledge and innovation communities (KICs) and for it to support the innovative capacity of 750 higher education establishments. The reformed EIT regulation and the Commission's decision on the strategic innovation agenda 2021-2027 now have to be presented to the European Parliament and the Council for assessment and adoption... Read more
AirBnB falls in line with EU law in terms of consumer protection
On 11th July the European Commission announced that following negotiations with AirBnB the accommodation rental platform had improved and clarified the way it presents offers of lodgings so that they are in line with the Union's consumer protection standards... Read more
Summer economic forecast
On 10th July the European Commission published its summer economic forecast. Growth forecasts for the euro zone remain unchanged for 2019 at 1.2% and have been revised slightly downwards for 2020, at 1.4% against a previous 1.5% in the spring. For the EU as a whole, forecasts remain unchanged at 1.4% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020. Inflation is forecast to lie at 1.3% in 2019 and 2020 in the euro zone (against a previous 1.4%) and 1.5% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020 (against a previous 1.6% and 1.7%). External factors - (international trade tension and political uncertainty) are undermining growth outlook and explain these forecast changes... Read more

Parliament : European Parliament: election of Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Committees
On 10th July the twenty committees and two permanent sub-committees at the European Parliament organised their constitutive meeting to elect their chairs and vice-chairs for a two and a half year mandate. The Constitutional Affairs, Cultural and Education, Regional Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, Civil Liberties, Justice and Internal Affairs Committees have not yet elected their vice-chairs. For its part the Employment and Social Affairs Committee will only elect its bureau at the next meeting. With five chairs, Germany holds the greatest number of committee chairs, followed by France (four, including one sub-committee), then Belgium (three, including one sub-committee). Italy, the UK and Spain each have two chairs and Romania, Austria and Sweden one. The Identity and Democracy group did not win any chairs... Read more

Council : Informal meeting of Environment Ministers
Environment Ministers who met informally in Helsinki on 11th and 12th July spoke of the Union's long term strategy in support of the climate and the goals set in terms of countering the destruction of biodiversity. They discussed the possible extension of the circular economy to new sectors and the different solutions possible to counter climate change... Read more
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Conclusions of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council
Economy and Finance Ministers met on 9th July and listened to the priorities put forward by the Finnish Presidency of the Council which included the strengthening of the fight to counter climate change, the promotion of a simple, effective tax system, and to strengthening the financial markets. They adopted per country recommendations for 2019 and gave their opinion on the economic, budgetary and employment policies of each Member State. The economies of all Member States are due to grow in 2020 and recommendations mainly focus on the implementation of effective structural reforms, the strengthening of investment strategies and the promotion of responsible budgetary policies... Read more
Conclusions of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council
During the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 15th July the Finnish Agriculture Minister presented the priorities of the Finnish Presidency of the Council: to make progress in the negotiations to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020, as well as negotiations regarding fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Atlantic and the North Sea. Ministers exchanged views regarding the environmental aspects of the CAP, the free-trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur, as well as the sugar market... Read more

Diplomacy : EU-G5 Sahel
On 9th July the EU's High Representative Federica Mogherini met the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the G5 Sahel in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad) for the group's fifth annual meeting. Participants addressed the issue of the worsening security and humanitarian situation in the region and expressed their wish for initiatives to support national reconciliation. Federica Mogherini announced the payment of 138 million € in support of the Joint Force, a regional force of the G5 Sahel States which aims to improve the coordination of security and defence activities... Read more
Agreement with the USA in the pharmaceutical sector and on beef
On 11th July the USA and the European Union completed the implementation of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) in terms of the inspection of pharmaceutical production sites. Together the two sides dominate 80% of the sales of medicines. On 15th July, the Council approved the signature of an agreement with the USA regarding the introduction of an autonomous tariff quota on hormone-free beef... Read more
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Call for the respect of the Iranian nuclear agreement
On 14th July French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Deputy Prime Minister David Liddington published a joint declaration regarding the protection of the JCPoA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) signed with Iran four years ago, on 14th July 2015. They expressed their concern regarding the viability of the JCPoA, due to the sanctions imposed by the USA since their withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 and Iran's recent decision to no longer respect the limits regarding the storage and enrichment of uranium. They stressed the importance of halting the escalation in tension and to take up dialogue again... Read more
Declaration on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
In a declaration the High Representative Federica Mogherini called on 14th July on all signatory States of the INF Treaty to respect it. After having deployed the new 9M729 missile system in Europe, Russia formally launched the process for its withdrawal from the treaty on 3rd July... Read more
Conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council
On 15th July the Foreign Affairs Ministers assessed the issue of drilling by Turkey off the Cypriot coast and decided to suspend negotiations ongoing with Ankara regarding air transport and to reduce pre-membership aid. Ministers discussed the situation in Iraq and called for the respect of the Iranian nuclear agreement and for the strengthening of INSTEX, the mechanism designed to circumnavigate US sanctions. They extended sanctions against people and entities contributing to arms programmes in North Korea and adopted European priorities for the 74th UN General Assembly... Read more

Court of Justice : Appointment of three new judges
On 10th July the Council appointed three new judges to the European Court of Justice. Swede Nils Wahl was appointed judge to the Court of Justice for the period 7th October 2019 to 6th October 2024; he will replace Swedish judge Carl Gustav Fernlund. As part of the part renewal of the Tribunal staff, Italians Robert Mastroianni and Ornella Porchia were appointed judges for the period 1st September 2019 to 31st August 2025... Read more
Belgium condemned for the non-transposition of a directive
For the very first time the Court of Justice condemned a Member State, Belgium, for the non-respect of the obligation to transpose a directive. This concerns the directive on broadband e-communication networks adopted in 2014, which defines minimal requirements regarding network infrastructures. Member States had until 1st January 2016 to transpose the directive, a deadline that Belgium did not respect. The Commission therefore turned to the Court in an appeal regarding the failure to comply in September 2017. The latter declared itself in favour of the Commission and condemned Belgium to a fine of 5,000€ per day until the directive is fully transposed... Read more
Cancellation of the freezing of the funds of former Ukrainian leaders
On 11th July the EU's General Court cancelled the freezing of the funds of seven former Ukrainian leaders including President Viktor Yanukovich. In response to the Ukrainian crisis in February 2014, the Council of the EU decided in March 2014 to freeze the funds of these former leaders due to their involvement in the preliminary investigations in Ukraine for the embezzlement of public funds and their illegal transfer out of Ukraine. The Court deemed that the Council can base the adoption or maintenance of restrictive measures on a decision of a third State, it must itself verify that the decision taken is in line with the rights of the defence and the right to effective judicial protection at the time of the adoption of the decision... Read more

Germany : IMF Report on growth
In a report published on 10th July the IMF notes that the slowing in international trade is affecting German growth. It deems that mid-term growth will decline, even though the economy is in a healthy state notably thanks to an increase in wages and an all-time low in unemployment... Read more
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Denmark : Meeting with the German Chancellor
n 11th July German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted her Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen. The two leaders recalled their wish to work together with the Finnish government which is chairing the Council of the EU. They aligned their points of view on the protection of the climate, migration and the partnership of the African countries... Read more

Finland : Prime Minister visits Berlin
On 10th July the German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne, whose country has just taken up the six monthly presidency of the Council. They hope to clarify the Spitzenkandidat appointment process in cooperation with the European Parliament and align their positions on the future negotiations over the European budget. The German Chancellor also stressed the interest of appointing a European (man or woman) to head the International Monetary Fund... Read more
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France : Adoption of digital services tax
On 11th July French Parliament adopted a bill to create a tax on digital services. Businesses whose turnover is over 750 million € in the world and 25 million in France will be taxed at a rate of 3%. The measure is due to bring in up to 500 million € in tax revenues per year. The President of the USA, Donald Trump launched an investigation into the tax on 10th July which involves other American digital "giants", the so-called GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft). If it is deemed discriminatory or unfair by the US authorities, trade restrictions or customs duties might be applied to French imports... Read more
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14th July on the theme of European Defence
On the occasion of the celebration of the French National Day, the traditional 14th July Day military parade in Paris was organised under the banner of European military cooperation, according to the motto "Protecting together". The land parade was inaugurated by soldiers from the 10 countries that are taking part in the European Intervention Initiative (EII) launched in 2018 on France's initiative: Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom. Tribute was also paid to the other military European cooperation programmes under the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)... Read more
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Greece : New government
Kyriakos Mitsotakis was sworn in as Prime Minister on 8th July the day after his party, New Democracy, won the general election. The new government was sworn in on 9th July. Of the 22 members only two are women... Read more
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Italy : Lorenzo Fontana appointed Minister for European Affairs
Lorenzo Fontana was appointed Minister for European Affairs on 10th July - a post that the head of government Giuseppe Conte had taken on in the interim since the departure of eurosceptic economist Paolo Savona in February. Mr Fontana who was Minister for the Family is to be replaced by Alessandra Locatelli... Read more
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Lithuania : Investiture of President Gitanas Nauseda
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda elected on 26th May was sworn in on 12th July. Mr Nauseda, an economist succeeds Dalia Grybauskaite who could not stand again for election after two mandates. Gitanas Nauseda has pledged to fight against social inequality and to reduce regional disparities in the country... Read more

Romania : Presidential election set for 10th and 24th November
On 9th July the Romanian government decided to organise the first round of the presidential election on 10th November, followed by the second round on 24th November. The present president, Klaus Ioannis is the only official candidate for the time being. However an announcement by the Alliance 2020 USR Plus party is expected to be made soon regarding the appointment of two candidates for the post of President as well as Prime Minister. As for the Social Democratic Party (PSD), in office at present, a congress will take place on 3rd August to decide on its candidate... Read more

ECHR : Russia condemned for violence against women
The European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia on 9th July deeming that the lack of legal protection regarding domestic violence against women was an infringement of the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment and the ban on discrimination. The Russia State will have to pay damages of 20,000€ to the applicant, victim of conjugal violence for which no criminal inquiry had been launched... Read more
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Eurostat : Increase in the Union's population
Increase in the Union's Population

According to a study published by Eurostat on 10th July the Union population was estimated at nearly 513.5 million on 1st January 2019 against 512.5 million on 1st January 2018. More deaths than births were recorded in the Union during 2018 which means a demographic variation (1.1 million additional inhabitants) is due mainly to net migration. Germany (83 residents i.e. 16.2% of the EU's total population)is the most populous Member State, ahead of France (67 million, i.e. 13.1%), the UK (66.6 million, 13%), Italy (60.4 million, 11.8%), Spain (46.9 million, 9.1%) and Poland (38 million, 7.4%)... Read more
Statistics on mobility in Europe
8% of people living in the EU do not have the nationality of their country of residence according to a report entitled "People on the Move - Statistics on Mobility in Europe", published by Eurostat on 9th July. The report also shows that 1.3 million Europeans live in one country and work in another and that 1.7 million European students study in a country which is not their own... Read more

Eurobarometer : Survey of the European Elections
According to a Eurobarometer survey published on 12th July young people and first-time voters were the ones who were behind the rise in turnout in the European elections: 42% of interviewees aged 16/18 to 24 declared they had voted, in contrast to 28% in 2014. The main issues that influence the citizens' vote were the economy and growth (44%), climate change (37%), as well as human rights and democracy (37%). Citizens' support to the EU remains at its highest level since 1983: 68% of interviewees deem that their country has benefited from Union membership. 56% deem that their vote counts, the highest score since this question was first set in 2002... Read more
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Studies/Reports : Report on Bank Resistance Tests
According to a report published on 10th July the European Court of Auditors deems that the resistance tests undertaken by the European Banking Authority (EBA) in 2018 to assess the resilience of banks against systemic risks in the Union should have been much stricter. Auditors deemed that the simulated shocks were not as violent as those suffered during the financial crisis of 2008 and that the unfavourable scenario used did not reflect all of the systemic risks faced by the Union's financial system in a satisfactory manner... Read more
Commission's Report on relations with the national parliaments
On 11th July the European Commission published its annual report on relations with the national parliaments and on the implementation of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Most national parliaments cooperate very actively with the Commission and the other Union institutions. In all in 2018 the Member States sent delegations to Brussels for 140 visits and meetings. The Commission's representatives attended more than 80 meetings held by the national parliaments' committees... Read more
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Publications : What remains of the Founding Fathers' Legacy?
In the most recent copy of the Political and Parliamentary Review devoted to "Europe and the European Union, an impossible couple", the Foundation's Chairman Jean-Dominique Giuliani has published a study on the legacy of Robert Schuman and the Founding Fathers of Europe and the way this might help to rise to present challenges... Read more
The new European political landscape
The Foundation's General Manager Pascale Joannin has published an article in the most recent copy of the "Review of the European Union" by Dalloz on the new political balance in the Union after the European elections in May... Read more

Culture : Picasso and photography
In Rome the Merulana Palace is hosting an exhibition entitled "Picasso and Photography. The Mature Years. Photographs by Edward Quinn and André Villers, 1951-1973" until 26th August. More than 90 photographs present the artists in the most intimate moments of his creative research... Read more
Music at the Peralada Castle
Until 15th August the Castell de Peralada festival in Spain is offering audiences concerts in the castle gardens in this medieval town as well as chamber music, jazz, operas, theatre plays and ballets in the unique venue of the cloister and church... Read more
Shakespeare in Cambridge
Until 24th August the 32nd Shakespeare in Cambridge Festival is taking place. Plays by the Bard will be performed in the university grounds... Read more
Chamber Music in Kuhmo
The 50th Festival of Chamber Music of Kuhmo is taking place in Finland until 27th July with many concerts as well as operas and theatre plays on the theme of nostalgia... Read more
Wiltz Festival
Until 25th July the 67tj Open Air Festival of Wiltz is taking place in Luxembourg in the amphitheatre of the city's castle. This cultural event offers concerts, theatre plays and artistic shows... Read more
Joan Miro Exhibition at the Maeght Foundation
Until 17th November the Maeght Foundation will be celebrating Joan Miro with the exhibition "Joan Miro. Beyond painting" which offers visitors a chance to view many of the artist's works. The exhibition focuses on Miro's working methods as he undertook the most remarkable prints in the history of art. More than 200 pieces of work, including a unique gouaches, are on show... Read more
Early Music Festival of Innsbruck
From 16th July to 27th August the town of Innsbruck is hosting the Festival of Early Music. The classical music of the grand period of the Habsburgs from the 16th to 18th centuries is highlighted in the town's major venues, both in and outdoors... Read more

15th-18th July 2019


European Parliament Plenary Session

17th-18th July 2019


EU-Canada Summit


Meeting of Finance Ministers and the Governors of the G7 Central Banks

18th July 2019


"General Affairs" Council

18th-19th July 2019


Informal meeting of Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs

21st July 2019


General Election

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