Месечни архиви: януари 2018

The Juncker Commission’s ten priorities: State of play in early 2018

Written by Etienne Bassot and Wolfgang Hiller,

SotEU2017 - Debate on the State of the Union: statement by Jean-Claude JUNCKER, President of the EC

© European Union, 2017; EP – Mathieu Cugnot

The Juncker Commission has now been in office for more than three years. With only one full calendar year to go until the end of its mandate, many consider that 2018 will be judged as ‘the year of delivery’.

What is the state of play of the various legislative and other initiatives that the European Commission has announced on, and since, taking office in 2014? How many of the commitments made have led to formal proposals so far? And how many of those proposals – whether in the form of legislation, other major political initiative, or international agreement – have been brought to fruition, so demonstrating that the EU institutions have collectively ‘delivered’?

The analysis in this paper tracks all these developments, with both a statistical breakdown and a qualitative evaluation, using a cut-off date of December 2017. It also takes stock of what the Commission has done – or not done – in response to explicit requests for action from the European Parliament.

Our analysis suggests that overall, three years after taking office, the college of Commissioners has now submitted eight in ten of the initiatives it has announced – 368 out of 460 – and that 171 of these (or 37 %) have been enacted or otherwise adopted. These global figures of course cover a variety of situations: in some priority areas, such as the digital single market, almost all of the initiatives originally announced have already been presented (94 per cent) and many adopted (41 %), whilst in others, such as energy, progress in adoption at least is somewhat slower (28 % adopted). Overall, however, evidence suggests that, step by step, the European institutions are collectively enacting the ‘Juncker plan’. They are also aware that, with little over one year to go until the next European Parliament elections, they need to show that Europe can deliver for its citizens when and where it matters. This is why, in a joint declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities signed on 14 December 2017, the three main EU institutions have set out specific initiatives and areas to which they commit to ‘give priority treatment in the legislative process … to ensure substantial progress and, where possible, delivery before the European elections of 2019’.

This study seeks to provide an independent, objective and authoritative tool for Members of the European Parliament and those interested more widely to assess the performance to date of the current Commission. It is both exhaustive – in covering all the ten priority areas the Commission set itself – and selective – as it focuses, for each priority, on the main legislative proposals or initiatives and on the latest developments. It aims to be both quantitative and qualitative: for each of the ten chapters, covering one of the ten priorities, it offers a qualitative overview prepared by the European Parliamentary Research Service’s in-house experts, complemented by a quantitative graphic providing a snapshot of the various initiatives at the key stages of their adoption. These snapshots are regularly updated on the ‘Legislative Train Schedule‘ on the European Parliament’s website.

Read this In-depth analysis on ‘The Juncker Commission’s ten priorities: State of play in early 2018‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

The Juncker Commission's ten priorities

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/29/the-juncker-commissions-ten-priorities-state-of-play-in-early-2018/

European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (eu-LISA) [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Costica Dumbrava (1st edition),

IT systems

© BillionPhotos.com / Fotolia

The European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (eu-LISA) is responsible for the operational management of the three large-scale EU information systems: the Schengen Information System (SIS II), the Visa Information System (VIS), and Eurodac. On 29 June 2017, the European Commission adopted a proposal to strengthen the mandate of eu-LISA, as part of a broader set of measures aiming to address current migration and security challenges by making better use of information technologies.

Both Parliament and Council have now agreed mandates for trilogue negotiations, which are to start in early 2018.


EU Legislation in progress

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/25/european-agency-for-the-operational-management-of-large-scale-it-systems-in-the-area-of-freedom-security-and-justice-eu-lisa-eu-legislation-in-progress/

The EU’s next long-term budget [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

Detailed close up of a twenty Euro banknote

© AR Pictures / Fotolia

European Union Member States and institutions are preparing to embark on negotiations on the EU’s next long-term budget, or Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), that will cover five or seven years, starting in January 2021. The European Commission is considering strengthening the budget for new priority areas, such as defence, security and migration. At the same time, the new MFF will have to bridge the financing gap left by United Kingdom withdrawal from the Union. That could mean that EU funding would have to be increased slightly above the current level of approximately 1 % of EU gross national income, if current spending levels on cohesion and agricultural policies are not reduced. The Commission is due to make a detailed post-2020 MFF proposal in May.

This note offers links to a selection of recent commentaries, studies and reports, from some of the major international think tanks and research institutes, which discuss the EU’s long-term budget and related reforms. Some older papers on the topic can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are thinking’ published in January 2017.

Der nächste Mehrjährige Finanzrahmen
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, January 2018

Let Europe’s citizens decide on the EU budget
Friends of Europe, December 2017

Prospects for a euro-area budget: An analytical outline
Martens Centre for European Studies, December 2017

EU budget: What’s the cost of Europe?
Jacques Delors Institute Berlin, November 2017

European financial outlook 2021-2027: Which budget for which Europe?
Fondation Robert Schuman, November 2017

Policy conditionality: A new instrument in the EU budget post-2020?
Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, November 2017

The next Multiannual Financial Framework and the unity of the budget
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, November 2017

Climate risk and the EU budget: Investing in resilience
E3G, November 2017

Can the EU structural funds reconcile growth, solidarity and stability objectives?
European Policy Centre, October 2017

Strategically financing an effective role for the EU in the world: first reflections on the next EU budget
European Centre for Development Policy Management, September 2017

Climate mainstreaming in the EU Budget: Preparing for the next MFF
Institute for European Environmental Policy, October 2017

The EU budget after 2020
Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, September 2017

The future of the EU budget: Perspectives for the funding of growth-oriented policies post-2020
Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, September 2017

El futuro de las finanzas de la UE: el largo camino hacia una reforma del Marco Financiero Plurianual de la UE más allá de 2020
Elcano Royal Institute, July 2017

Transparency and oversight of the Council’s budget: Council executive powers
Centre for European Policy Studies, July 2017

The future of the European budget: What does the Commission’s white paper mean for EU finances?
Notre Europe, June 2017

Key challenges and opportunities for cities and regions and MFF post 2020
Centre for European Policy Studies, June 2017

Eurozone or EU budget? Confronting a complex political question
Bruegel, June 2017

The Common Agricultural Policy and the next EU budget
Bertelsmann Stiftung, June 2017

The right moment to reform the EU budget
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, March 2017

How to make the most of the EU’s financial potential?
Egmont, March 2017

EU budget post-Brexit: Confronting reality, exploring viable solutions
European Policy Centre, March 2017

Brexit: EU budget
Bruegel, March 2017

European Added Value narrows EU budgetary reform discussions
Clingendael, March 2017

The Instruments providing Macro-Financial Support to EU Member States
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2017

The €60 billion Brexit bill: How to disentangle Britain from the EU budget
Centre for European Reform, February 2017

Returning meaning to the Common Agricultural Policy
Fondation Robert Schuman, February 2017

Brexit and the EU budget: Threat or opportunity?
Bertelsmann Stiftung, Jacques Delors Institute Berlin, January 2017

Read this ‘At a glance’ note on ‘The EU’s next long-term budget‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/25/the-eus-next-long-term-budget-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Goods vehicles hired without drivers [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Marketa Pape (1st edition),

LKW-Spedition, mehrere weiße Laster stehen nebeneinander

© Countrypixel / Fotoli

EU rules on the use of goods vehicles hired without drivers have been in operation for over 25 years without change and need to be reviewed to correspond to current and future needs in the transport sector.

Therefore, as part of the 2017 road transport mobility package, the European Commission proposes to soften the existing restrictions on using hired vehicles in international transport and establish a uniform regulatory framework, which would give transport operators across the EU equal access to the market for hired goods vehicles.

While such steps are mostly in line with stakeholders’ interests, both Council and the European Parliament are also considering the perspective of Member States, in particular the possible erosion of their tax revenues from vehicle registration and the practical issues related to how the new rules can be efficiently enforced.


Stage: Committee vote


Share (in %) in EU GDP and in EU turnover in renting and leasing of trucks in 2015

Share (in %) in EU GDP and in EU turnover in renting and leasing of trucks in 2015

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/24/goods-vehicles-hired-without-drivers-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Access to the occupation of road transport operator and to the international road haulage market [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Damiano Scordamaglia (1st edition),

Trucks passing under a concrete bridge on the asphalt road at sunset.

© am / Fotolia

In order to contribute to the efficient functioning of the single market in road transport and to ensure fair competition between resident and non-resident hauliers, the EU put in place two regulations, which have applied since December 2011. They modernised the rules on admission to the occupation of road transport operator and access to the road transport market. Despite the improvements they brought in the sector, persistent shortcomings such as diverging national interpretations and application of the rules, and uneven enforcement called for a revision of both acts.

On 31 May 2017, in the framework of its mobility package, the European Commission adopted new proposals, which should address the main issues affecting the sector, improve its competitiveness and efficiency.


Stage: Committee vote

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/24/access-to-the-occupation-of-road-transport-operator-and-to-the-international-road-haulage-market-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Common rules for gas pipelines entering the EU internal market [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Alex Benjamin Wilson (1st edition),

Icicles on a pipe pipeline

© Leonid Ikan / Fotolia

In November 2017, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to apply key provisions of the 2009 Gas Directive to gas pipelines between the European Union (EU) and third countries. The proposal would apply EU internal gas market rules up to the border of Union jurisdiction, and Member States would need to cooperate with third countries to ensure full compliance with EU rules.

This legislative proposal may be seen as part of a broader response by the EU to the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 project, which would greatly expand the volume of natural gas transported from Russia to Germany via underwater pipelines. The Commission has expressed its opposition to the project and has asked the Council for a mandate to negotiate an agreement with Russia. This legislative proposal makes it more difficult for Russia to avoid an agreement if it wants to proceed with the project. A 2016 Parliament resolution on natural gas expressed criticism of Nord Stream 2. The Council has not yet reached a position on the subject.

Interactive PDF

committee vote but EESC red

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/24/common-rules-for-gas-pipelines-entering-the-eu-internal-market-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Mutual recognition of goods [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Marcin Szczepański (1st edition),

Empty road and containers in harbor at sunset

© zhu difeng / Fotolia

Despite significant progress in recent decades, the EU single market for goods is not yet fully integrated. Intra-EU trade is important as it remains twice as big as extra-EU trade and is consistently rising. This is due to free movement of goods in the EU, which is based on either harmonised product rules at the EU level or the principle of mutual recognition under which goods lawfully marketed in one Member State may be sold in another Member State.

The Commission identified a number of shortcomings in the application of the mutual recognition principle. These include unclear scope, difficulties in demonstrating that the product was lawfully marketed in a given Member State, the slow and costly process of challenging the decisions of authorities, and insufficient communication among the actors involved.

In December 2017, the Commission proposed to address these issues with a new regulation on mutual recognition of goods that enhances the role of national product contact points and introduces a faster problem-solving procedure involving the SOLVIT network, as well as a new voluntary ‘mutual recognition declaration’ to be filled by economic operators to prove lawful marketing in a Member State.


Stage: Commission proposal

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/23/mutual-recognition-of-goods-eu-legislation-in-progress/

2018 EU-China Tourism Year

Written by Vasileios Margaras,

EU-China Tourism Year-2018

EU-China Tourism Year-2018

EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY) was launched in Venice on 19 January 2018. This initiative, agreed at the 2017 EU China Summit, aims at supporting the development of new and better travel itineraries, promoting inter-cultural understanding, and enhancing travel and tourism experiences, including greater promotion and more sustainable tourism.

Europe is the leading destination for international tourist arrivals worldwide. Tourism is one of the economic sectors with considerable potential for generating growth and jobs in the EU. However, the sector faces quite a number of challenges in its efforts to remain competitive. One of these is the increasing competition from emerging non-European destinations. After Asia, Europe was the second destination of choice for Chinese tourists in 2015, accounting for about 11.5 % of the total population – or 12.5 million people. However, the great majority of Chinese tourists prefer to travel to their neighbouring countries.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), China continues to consolidate its position as the world’s largest travel market in terms of both outbound travel and expenditure. As the Chinese economy is booming, larger sectors of the population can afford international travel. Prospects for growth in terms of Chinese tourist arrivals in the EU are therefore considerable. In addition, according to the European Travel Commission (ETC) 11/2017 Barometer, Chinese tourists are likely to spend much more in Europe than travellers from other overseas markets.

To attract more Chinese tourists to the EU, the EU and China are committed to making progress on visa facilitation. The negotiations were formally launched in Beijing in 2017 by Commissioner Avramopoulos and his Chinese counterpart, Guo Shengkun, the State Councillor and Minister for Public Security. In addition, the EU and China are working to ensure that EU airlines can benefit from the opportunities of the existing bilateral air transport agreements between individual EU Member States and China.

The European Commission supports the ETC in its marketing role preparing cooperative campaigns advertising trans-European itineraries and EU destinations designed specifically for the Chinese market. The EU-China Tourism Year will include a number of campaigns funded through public-private partnerships, business summits, and business-to-business meetings, for tourism operators funded by the COSME programme. A number of events commemorating the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year are planned in EU countries and China throughout the year.

On World Tourism Day, 27 September 2017, the European Parliament organised a high-level conference on tourism under the initiative of its President, Antonio Tajani (EPP, Italy), where the importance of the EU-China Tourism Year was underlined. The European Parliament monitors developments in tourism through the work of its Committee on Transport and Tourism as well as a dedicated task force, the Intergroup on Tourism, and through the work of other relevant committees.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/23/2018-eu-china-tourism-yea/

EU framework for FDI screening [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Gisela Grieger (1st edition),

FDI, acronyms business concept

© kenary820 / Fotolia

On 13 September 2017, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation establishing a framework for screening foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into the EU on grounds of security or public order. The proposal is a response to a rapidly evolving and increasingly complex investment landscape. It aims to strike a balance between maintaining the EU’s general openness to FDI inflows and ensuring that the EU’s essential interests are not undermined. Recent FDI trends and policies of emerging FDI providers have cast doubt on the effectiveness of the EU’s decentralised and fragmented system of monitoring FDI inflows to adequately address the potential (cross-border) impact of FDI inflows on security or public order without EU-coordinated cooperation among Member States.

The proposal’s objective is neither to harmonise the formal FDI screening mechanisms currently used by less than half of the Member States nor to replace them with a single EU mechanism. It aims to enhance cooperation on FDI screening between the Commission and Member States, to increase legal certainty and transparency.

Member States, stakeholders and academia are divided in their views on the proposal.


Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/22/eu-framework-for-fdi-screening-eu-legislation-in-progress/

Free movement of goods within the EU single market

Truck transporting construction materials.


Written by Cornelia Klugman,

  • 75 % of the EU’s internal trade is in goods, which accounts for 21 % of EU GDP.
  • Trade in goods between Member States reached a volume of 3.1 trillion in 2016.
  • Removing barriers to trade could inject 183 billion into the EU economy.

The free movement of goods is one of the four fundamental freedoms of the EU – together with services, capital and people – and a cornerstone of the single market. The rationale of an open market throughout the EU has always been to assist economic growth and competitiveness and therefore promote employment and prosperity. Legislation on the single market for goods (based mainly on Article 28 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, TFEU) aims at ensuring that products placed on the EU market conform to high health, safety and environmental requirements. Once a product is sold legally in the EU, it should circulate without barriers to trade, with a minimum of administrative burden.

intra EU exports of goods as a share of GDP

intra EU exports of goods as a share of GDP

From 1957, the European Commission and EU Member States concentrated their efforts on bringing tariffs (customs duties) down within the newly formed European Economic Community, which led to the establishment of the customs union in 1968. Intra-EU tariffs and quantitative restrictions to imports (quotas) disappeared, and the EEC had a common external tariff for trading with the rest of the world.

To ease market activities across internal borders, the customs union was gradually upgraded to an internal/single market. Buying and selling, lending and borrowing, producing and consuming were facilitated first by harmonising rules EU-wide. However, this harmonisation could not keep pace with the continual creation and change in national rules. In addition, measures with an effect equivalent to quotas and customs duties remained in place. These could be fees for placing a product on the market or, for example, prohibiting the sale of a product that could compete with a national/regional/local product a Member State wanted to protect. In its landmark Cassis de Dijon ruling, the European Court of Justice stipulated that other Member States had to allow imports of any product legally placed on another national market. The Commission’s comprehensive single market programme of 1985 stipulated 1992 as the date for completion of the single market, and the 1987 Single European Act introduced qualified majority voting in the Council, which helped to speed up the process.

How does the free movement of goods work in practice?

Since the abolition of intra-EU tariff barriers in 1968, much of EU policy-making has been aimed at reducing non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs). These can be different product standards, health and safety rules, tax systems, or currency devaluations. The European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) countries, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein (but not Switzerland), are also part of the single market since the creation of the European Economic Area in 1994. The EU institutions consult EFTA countries when taking decisions on the single market.

The free movement of goods applies to both harmonised and non-harmonised products:

  • In the majority of sectors falling into the category of harmonised products (for example electronic and electric equipment, machinery, lifts), harmonisation is now limited to the ‘essential requirements’ (health, safety, and environmental protection), and when the difference between national rules is too wide. It aims at ensuring free movement of goods, as well as protecting the public interest, for example in the case of toys or gas appliances. Other sectors (automotive, chemicals) are governed by more detailed rules.
  • In the case of non-harmonised products, Member States may adopt national rules, but the EU ensures that these do not constitute undue NTBs. Mutual recognition of national product standards, specifications, etc. is the guiding principle here.

However, this principle of mutual recognition is not absolute, as Member States may still restrict imports if higher principles, such as public health, security, and consumer protection, are at stake (Article 36 TFEU).

In addition, the European standardisation organisations CEN, CENELEC and ETSI are increasingly replacing national standards with voluntary EU-wide standards, which complement the harmonised ‘essential requirements’. For example, European standards exist for firefighting tools and hospital equipment.

The EU customs union and what its rules mean for consumers

The 28 national customs services of the Member States work together within the EU customs union, applying the Union Customs Code, which streamlines customs procedures, especially for imports from outside the EU. When individuals travel from one Member State to another, they can buy goods without restriction, if they transport them themselves, and if the goods are for their personal use and not for resale. New cars and other transport vehicles are an exception to this rule, and there are also restrictions concerning products subject to excise duties. For instance, a person may not carry across borders more than:

  • 10 litres of spirit, 90 litres of wine, 60 litres of sparkling wine, or 200 litres of beer;
  • 800 cigarettes or equivalent (coming from some Member States with low excise duty the importing Member States can reduce this to 300).

Restrictions also apply to energy products such as petrol, heating oil and gas, coal, coke and electricity. For more information on rights and benefits for consumers see the EPRS briefing, ‘European added value in action: Protecting and empowering consumers’.

European added value of the free movement of goods

Research confirms that the European single market created 2.75 million jobs from 1992 to 2006 and 9 million from 1986 to 1990. This increased wealth in the EU by €877 billion from 1992 to 2002. The share of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the EU’s GDP (gross domestic product) additionally rose by one quarter since 1992. About 75 % of all intra-EU trade is in goods, and this generates 21 % of EU GDP. Trade in goods between Member States reached a volume of €3.1 trillion in 2016, rising steadily since 2003 (with a single dip, owing to the global economic crisis of 2008).

The free movement of goods allows businesses to access a market of over 500 million people. The Commission considers that the single market has given producers easier access to a wide range of suppliers and consumers, has reduced unit costs in production, and created greater commercial opportunities. Helping companies place goods on other markets within the EEA also favours technological innovation. EU consumers profit from lower prices, EU-wide consumer legislation, environmental protection standards in manufacturing, and safety rules. The EU has already boosted trade significantly by dismantling NTBs; indeed trade in goods was found to be 73 % higher in the internal market than it would have been in a free trade area (where only tariffs have been removed).

Challenges to improving the free movement of goods

When companies wishing to trade across borders encounter regulatory barriers, this creates compliance costs that business have to bear in order to exploit the full potential of the single market. EU-wide rules solve these problems, provided that they are implemented correctly, uniformly across Member States, and promptly. According to the European Commission, the transposition deficit across all Member States for EU directives reached 1.5 % in 2017 (above the target of 1 % set by the European Council), and the average delay in transposing directives into national law is 6.7 months. Only 0.7 % of directives were incorrectly implemented.

Of existing EU single market legislation, 24 infringement proceedings on average per Member State were open in 2017, a slight decrease over the previous six months. Resolving these cases however takes on average three years, which makes life more difficult for the companies hoping to do business in the countries affected. A majority of these cases were due to the incorrect application of EU law, principally concerning environmental regulation, (indirect) taxation and public procurement. In 2014, a ‘cost of non-Europe report’ on the free movement of goods estimated that only 3.4 % of public tenders were awarded to foreign bidders (2006-2010), because of discriminatory practices by public bodies and national differences in environmental regulation and taxation regimes. These differences are especially hard on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which frequently lack the resources to keep themselves up-to-date on legal changes in other Member States. Furthermore, when implementing EU single market legislation, Member States often take the opportunity to add further standards of their own (‘gold plating’), making business yet more difficult for foreign companies. In conclusion, the study identified two remaining obstacles to intra-EU trade: barriers to FDI and non-tariff barriers, including a lack of harmonised rules and different treatment of foreign suppliers. In its resolution of 26 May 2016 on non-tariff barriers in the single market, the European Parliament stated that SMEs and micro-enterprises are disproportionally affected, and underlined the importance of the mutual recognition principle.

Perspectives: Removing barriers to trade in goods could add €183 billion to EU GDP

single market for consumers and citizens

single market for consumers and citizens

The graphic below, from the European Parliamentary Research Service publication, Mapping the Cost of Non-Europe 2014-19 (4th edition), illustrates how many billion euros could be gained from the pursuit of further integration. In particular, it shows that the EU economy would gain at least €183 billion if all barriers to FDI and non-tariff barriers were to fall with immediate effect (2013 calculations). The potential gains for the single market for goods are smaller than for services because integration for goods is quite far advanced, although potential remains for yet greater growth. This gain would be achieved in the long term because it is assumed that barriers would be lowered gradually. Removing both barriers to FDI and non-tariff barriers could help increase exports of goods in the internal market for all EU countries and more than 10 % for the countries that stand to gain most: Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia. Larger firms would profit more than smaller ones from removing obstacles to FDI, as they are often the first and main beneficiary of FDI. SMEs are set to gain most from the removal of non-tariff barriers: at present, companies incur fixed costs for every export market they enter in order to comply with regulatory requirements. For SMEs, these costs can be too high to make exports profitable. If one regulatory system applied across the EU, there would be enormous potential for SMEs to gain economies of scale: making the effort to comply once would open all other markets in the EU-28. The economic boost stemming from such a widening of opportunities for companies would lead to the creation of 2 % more jobs. Consumers would also benefit from an increase in supply, which should help to reduce domestic prices.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Free movement of goods within the EU single market‘ on the Think tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/01/19/free-movement-of-goods-within-the-eu-single-market/