Delegation of the European Union to New Zealand newsletter (18/02/2013)

EU Newsletter 15 February 2013

European Union and New Zealand Government co-host the Pacific Energy Summit 2013

pacific energy summitThe European Union and the NZ Government together will host the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland from 25-27 March. The Summit is a joint initiative designed to enable Pacific countries and territories to work with development partners to take a substantive step towards their goals of implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, with a special focus on generation and distribution of electricity. Energy efficiency and the development of renewable and sustainable energy sources are key issues for the Pacific Island Countries, which are already facing the effects of climate change.

The Summit will include an Investment Showcase to connect development partners and the Island States with the clean tech private sector and investment banks. The event is preceded by two days in Tonga from 21-22 March to see the Tonga Energy Roadmap in action.  For more information and to register please see:
http://www.pacificenergysummit2013.com/

Applications for the 2014 European Union Visitors' Programme (EUVP) are now open!

euvpThe EUVP (established in 1974) enables young, promising leaders from countries outside the European Union to gain first-hand experiences of the EU's goals, policies, institutions and achievements. The programme also serves to increase mutual understanding between professionals from non-EU countries and their EU counterparts.

Successful applicants will have a unique chance to take part in an individual five-to-eight-day programme of meetings with EU officials at the EU institutions in Brussels, Strasbourg and /or Luxembourg.

Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and apply now!   For further information and the application form please visit http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/new_zealand/more_info/euvp/index_en.htm
 
The deadline for applications is 20 April 2013.

European Union and United States to launch negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

eu us tradeThe EU and US have decided to take their economic relationship to a higher level by agreeing to launch negotiations for a comprehensive trade and investment agreement. When negotiations are completed, this EU-US agreement would be the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated – and it could add 0.5% to the EU's annual economic output. Through this negotiation, the United States and the European Union will have the opportunity not only to expand trade and investment across the Atlantic, but also to contribute to the development of global rules that can strengthen the multilateral trading system.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will aim to go beyond the classic approach of removing tariffs and opening markets on investment, services and public procurement. In addition, it will focus on aligning rules and technical product standards which currently form the most important barrier to transatlantic trade. Studies show that the additional cost burden due to such regulatory differences is equivalent to a tariff of more than 10%, and even 20% for some sectors, whereas classic tariffs are at around 4%.

For more information see: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-95_en.htm

EU & UN stand together over nuclear test announcement

ashtonEuropean Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, has welcomed the unanimous UN Security Council resolution on North Korea in reaction to an announcement by the North Korean authorities that they will proceed with a nuclear test. In a statement she said it showed the "depth of the concern about North Korea’s repeated violations of its international obligations and the resolve of the international community to act in solidarity in its response". She urged Pyongyang to seek international engagement in the six party talks as a way of improving the welfare of the North Korean people.

Read the full statement here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/135009.pdf

EU launches Cyber Security Strategy

cyber securityThe cyber security strategy – “An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace” - represents the EU’s comprehensive vision on how best to prevent and respond to cyber disruptions and attacks. The strategy aims at both ensuring the European values of freedom and democracy and enabling the digital economy to grow safely at the same time. Specific actions will be planned to enhance cyber resilience of information systems, reducing cybercrime and strengthening EU international cyber security policy and cyber defence.

The strategy articulates the EU’s vision of cyber-security in terms of five priorities: Achieving cyber resilience, reducing cybercrime, developing a cyber defence policy and capabilities related to the CSDP, developing the industrial and technological resources for cyber-security and establishing a coherent international cyberspace policy for the EU.

For further information on the Cyber Security Strategy see:
http://www.eeas.europa.eu/top_stories/2013/070213_cybersecurity_en.htm

Remarks by Catherine Ashton on the Cyber Security Strategy:
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/135287.pdf

European leaders agree on the multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020

summitThe European summit of 7-8 February 2013 ended with a deal on the EU financial plan for 2014-2020. The Heads of State and Government have agreed on a financial plan representing around 1 % of the EU Gross National Income (GNI), less than what had initially been proposed by the European Commission, but also less than what had been set aside for the previous period (2007-2013). The “deal is not perfect” said President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso in a statement “but it was the highest possible level of agreement that the heads of State and government could reach at unanimity”.

Mr Barroso highlighted several positive elements of the agreement: the new Connecting Europe Facility proposed by the Commission, which aims to boost infrastructure projects in the EU was maintained; in addition, research and innovation, Erasmus, as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises will enjoy more significant investment than previously. He also welcomed the new Youth Employment Initiative, which seeks to tackle youth unemployment in the regions most affected by this problem. He also underlined the preservation of the aid programme for the most deprived people in Europe and of EU aid to developing countries. The deal must still be now approved by the European Parliament. The Parliament’s four largest political groups already warned that "the real negotiations will start now”.

Read the Council Conclusions here:  http://www.consilium.europa.eu//uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/135344.pdf

Eurogroup discusses the Economic Situation in the Euro Area

economicOn 11 February 2013, euro area finance ministers meeting in the Eurogroup took stock of the economic situation in the euro area. They also discussed European Stability Mechanism (ESM) matters, in particular the framework for a direct bank recapitalisation instrument. At the press conference following the first meeting he chaired, newly elected Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem stated that ministers had discussed the economic situation, on the basis of an outline by the Commission of its forthcoming winter forecast (to be published on 22 February).

Further information on the meeting:
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/homepage/highlights/eurogroup-discusses-the-economic-situation-in-the-euro-area?lang=en

Portugal successfully returns to the EUR long-term international capital markets

portugalThe Republic of Portugal on 23 January successfully returned to the EUR long-term international capital markets with a €2.5 billion syndicated tap of its OT 4.35% bonds due 16 October 2017. This is Portugal's first OT syndication since February 2011 and marks the sovereign's return to the international long-term bond markets following its request for official assistance in April 2011.

For more information see:
http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/australia/press_corner/all_news/news/2013/20120131_portugal_en.htm

Financial Transaction Tax: finance ministers approve “enhanced cooperation” by 11 Member States

fttBased on the Commission's proposal of 23 October 2012, European finance ministers agreed on 22 January that the 11 Member States that wish to apply an EU financial transaction tax (FTT) through enhanced cooperation may proceed. The 11 countries are Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia. The Commission will now make a proposal defining the substance of the enhanced cooperation, which will have to be adopted by unanimous agreement of the participating Member States. The aim of an FTT is to ensure that the financial industry makes a fair contribution to tax revenues, while discouraging transactions that reduce the efficiency of financial markets. Enhanced cooperation allows a limited number of Member States to proceed with a particular measure when the measure cannot be realised within a reasonable period by the EU as a whole, and provided that the cooperation remains open to any country that wishes to participate in it.

More information on the FTT:
http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/other_taxes/financial_sector/index_en.htm?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=e-news70

Barroso and Rehn speak at European Parliament debate on European Semester

european semesterEuropean Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Vice President Olli Rehn joined the European Parliament debates on the European Semester, held from 28-30 January.

The European Semester is a new tool for economic policy coordination, which provides EU input into the national economic policy-making process of every country. Each year the European Commission undertakes a detailed analysis of EU Member States' programmes of economic and structural reforms and provides them with recommendations for the next 12-18 months.

Discussions were held between Members of the European Parliament and representatives of national parliaments on how to improve economic policy coordination under the European Semester. In his speech President Barroso said that Member States should continue to make the structural reforms that will “enable them to balance their public accounts and increase the competitiveness of their economies”, and underlined the importance of deepening the Single Market. He also mentioned the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union as well as improved governance in the euro area as important objectives. Vice-President Rehn stressed that “we need to maintain the pace of economic reform to support the rebalancing of the eurozone.” He added that Europe needed to restore its competitiveness, citing dismal figures on manufacturing jobs lost in several major Member States. Both leaders underscored the importance of political union and democratic accountability, acknowledging the crucial role of the European Parliament and national parliaments.