Tag Archives: EP

EU screening foreign direct investment

French EPP member Franck Proust said, “Our interdependence requires us to see the bigger picture. The acquisition of a company may have security repercussions on the other side of Europe. We should at least exchange information.

Foreign direct investment was especially important for countries struggling during the latest financial crisis. Yet recent takeovers by foreign, state-owned companies of critical energy and transport infrastructure and hi-tech companies have been a cause for concern, and EU governments are especially worried about having critical infrastructure in the hands of emerging powers such as China and Russia.

MEPs are currently assessing a proposal to establish a legal framework for screening foreign direct investment in the EU.

The author of the international trade committee’s report on the matter added that we must “use previous experiences to create a mechanism that is balanced, proportional and effective”.

Responsible for 36% of the wealth generated in the EU and for 7.6 million jobs, international investment is an important source of growth for the EU economy. In 2016, the EU received €280 billion in foreign direct investment with Switzerland (€55 billion) and the United States (€54 billion) the leading investors.

There are currently 12 EU countries with mechanisms in place to evaluate the potential risks of foreign direct investment (these are Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Finland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom). Trade partners such as Australia, China, Japan, Russia and the United States also perform similar assessments.

Following calls from both the Parliament and national governments to investigate the issue, the European Commission presented a proposal last September on establishing a legal framework for screening foreign direct investment in the EU and preventing the Union’s technological edge and security from being put at risk.

The Commission proposal includes a cooperation mechanism between the Commission and EU governments on how to deal with cases where a specific foreign investment in one member state may affect the security or public order of another. The proposal aims to ensure more transparency in the takeover process, and the Commission would also be able to screen investments that could impact EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Galileo.

MEPs are currently evaluating the Commission proposals.

Most MEPs at the meeting on 23 January welcomed the proposal and the exchange of information on foreign investments, but there were some concerns about the scope and criteria of the mechanism, including the definition of what can be deemed a risk for security. Some MEPs also voiced concerns over Chinese and Russian takeovers and, in order to ensure reciprocity, they called for the removal of barriers to EU investment in both countries.


Greece awaiting debt relif

Debt relief for Greece will be looked into at the next Eurogroup meeting on 22 May, according to Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The president of the informal body of the eurozone’s finance ministers made the announcement during a plenary debate in Parliament on 27 April. He also apologised to MEPs about recent remarks that proved controversial.

Dijsselbloem attended a plenary debate on the second review of the economic adjustment programme for the country. The Eurogroup president said debt relief was a possibility: “Last year we gave that commitment to come back to this issue of [debt] sustainability for Greece because that’s the only way they will come back on a sustainable path and a sustainable economic future.”

Economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici, who also took part in the debate, added:  “The Commission will continue to support efforts to make Greek debt more sustainable. We believe it’s necessary and possible.”

Greece is currently in the middle of its third bailout programme since the financial crisis. On 2 May, Greece reached a preliminary technical agreement with its creditors, which means the country is set to have the next tranche of funding approved in time for its next debt repayments of €6 billion in July.

Greece’s primary budget surplus, an important indicator of the country’s public finances, increased to 3.9% last year, beating all the creditors’ targets, according to data from Eltat , the national statistics service.

During the debate in plenary Roberto Gualtieri, an Italian member of the S&D group, said the news about the primary surplus for 2016 showed that the Greek economy was at a turning point and urged the next Eurogroup meeting to formally conclude the current review and address debt relief.

Ska Keller, the German chairs of the Greens/EFA group,  said that now that Athens had delivered, it was time for the Eurogroup to do its part and give Greece its debt relief.

Two Greek MEPs – ECR member Notis Marias GUE/NGL member Dimitrios Papadimoulis – both highlighted the current devastating state of the Greek economy with Marias calling it a “social cemetery”.

Apart from the economic situation in Greece, MEPs addressed recent controversial statements by Dijsselbloem  in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in which he was quoted as saying about southern European countries: “You cannot spend all the money on drinks and women and then ask for help.”

“I really regret the comments you made recently on southern countries because the social distress that many of our citizens are suffering deserves more than that,” – Françoise Grossetête, a French member of the EPP group, said.

“Many members of the Parliament have been very critical about my remarks, and of course I fully accept that. The choice of words has been unfortunate and people have been offended and I regret that,” – Dijsselbloem replied.


Edwige Neshama Sossah, Eu-African relations specialist

Edwige Neshama Sossah, Eu-African relations specialist

Edwige Neshama Sossah , from Woluwe Saint -Pierre , was invited last Thursday by MEP Louis Michel to present his book “Winning Strategies for Africa- Europe relations”  in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

After a presentation of the book by Louis Michel , Edwige Neshama Sossah has endeavored to present the different themes of the book focusing on win-win cooperation between Africa and Europe.

She mentioned that Victor Hugo had a prospective vision of a Europe at peace and urged African

The European parliament in Strasbourg

The European parliament in Strasbourg

countries to follow this vision. The Economic Partnership Agreements were discussed as a catalyst for development. She remembered  revenue taxex,  excise duties, sales tax or even income tax would make development possible. regarding China, Edwige Sossah said this  country is a threatfor  recolonization and also desindustrialization. Edwige Neshama Sossah spoke of corruption in African countries because it undermines development . Europe has to be easing  procedures for the disbursement of EU funds. These ones have to be  used for real development and not be diverted . Many questions were asked by MEPs who attended the meeting. Some of them where about the links between China and Africa, the rationalization of aid, democracy in Africa , the merits of EPA and agriculture.

Edwige Neshama Sossah closed the presentation by urging Europe to help Africa fight against corruption. She insisted that Africa and Europe have a common destiny. She recalled that even if the unified Europe represents 16 % of global GDP, it is aging while there was a plethora of youth in Africa , this paving the way for Europe a significant market for global  consumption. The more Africa will be rich, the  more Europe will be saved! Interdependence is required .


The ultimate owners of companies and trusts would have to be listed in public registers in EU countries, under updated draft anti-money laundering rules approved by the Economic Affairs and the Justice and Home Affairs committees on Thursday. Casinos are included in the scope of the draft rules, but decisions to exclude other gambling services posing a low risk are left to member states.


“The outcome of this vote is a big step forward in the fight against tax evasion and a clear call for more transparency. With this vote Parliament has shown, from left to right, that it is in favour of public beneficial ownership registers, and thus sends a strong signal to the Council for forthcoming negotiations on the file. By approving the establishment of beneficial ownership registers, the committees have shown that they are serious in their demand to finally break with the tradition of hidden company ownership”, said Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL).

“For years, criminals in Europe have used the anonymity of offshore companies and accounts to hide their financial dealings. Creating an EU-wide register of beneficial ownership will help to lift the veil of secrecy from offshore accounts and greatly aid the fight against money laundering and blatant tax evasion”, said Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee rapporteur Krišjānis Kariņš (EPP, LV). “Today is a good day for law-abiding citizens, but a lousy day for criminals”, he added.



The European Commission published a proposal bringing together two currently separate school schemes, the School Fruit Scheme and the School Milk Scheme, under a joint framework. In a context of declining consumption among children for these products, the aim is to address poor nutrition more effectively, to reinforce the educational elements of the programmes and to contribute to fight against obesity. With the slogan “Eat well – feel good”, this enhanced scheme from farm to school will put greater focus on educational measures to improve children’s awareness of healthy eating habits, the range of farm produce available, as well as sustainability, environmental and food waste issues.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos, said today: ” With the changes proposed today, we want to build on the existing schemes, to reverse the downward trend in consumption and raise awareness among children of the potential benefits of these products. This is an important measure for bringing about sustained changes in children’s eating habits and improving awareness of important challenges that society faces. I also hope that is will be a great opportunity to strengthen links between the farming community and children, their parents and teacher, especially in urban areas”.


The new scheme will operate under a joint legal and financial framework, improving and streamlining the administrative requirements under the two existing schemes. Having this single framework will reduce the management and organisational burden for national authorities, school and suppliers and make the scheme more efficient. Participation in the scheme will be voluntary for Member States, which will also have flexibility to choose the products they wish to distribute.

As already programmed in last year’s deal on future EU spending, the new scheme, once agreed, will have a budget of €230 million  per school year (€150 million for fruit and vegetables and  €80 million for milk). This compares with a budget of €197m (€122m and €75m respectively) in the 2014 budget. The proposal which will now be submitted to the European Parliament and to the Council, builds on the findings of evaluation reports and the public consultation that was carried out in 2013 in the context of the Impact Assessment process.


On 29 August 2013, CEJA (Confederation Europeenne des Jeunes Agriculteurs)  President, Matteo Bartolini, opened the conference to a hundred  young farmers from across Hungary, Slovakia and the rest of Europe in Tata, Hungary.


The young farmer and winegrower from Umbria, Italy, gave an overview of the content of the recently agreed  Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform to the audience of young farmers, underlining the  importance of the inclusion of a strong common installation policy in the new CAP, made-up of strong measures in both Pillars.

Mr Bartolini then called upon the young farmers to contact their ministers about these issues, to ensure that they get the best deal they possibly can out of this monumental reform of the CAP.

Other speakers included agricultural experts, advisors, and representatives from both the Hungarian and Slovakian ministries, as well as both Presidents of the two national young farmer organisations; AGRYA in Hungary and ASYF in Slovakia.

The conference focused on the future framework of agricultural policy in the European Union (EU) following on from the June political agreement on CAP which was made on 26 June 2013.

This agreement included a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers and installation aid under rural development, among other policies.
This is why it is crucial that all Member States stand by what they have previously said about the  need for generational renewal in the EU agricultural sector, and choose a calculation method which maximises the 2% of their national budget in their particular situation; opt for young farmer installation aid as a key part of their Rural Development Programme, for which particularly high co-financing rates are available if a Member State requires them; and select most favourable and relevant measures possible as part of their young farmer subprogramme.

Speaking directly to the Hungarian and Slovak young farmers present at the conference, the CEJA President called on the audience for their support, saying: “We will do our best to represent your views at the European level and to achieve progress for young farmers across the Union. I, and my team of Vice-Presidents, will dedicate the coming months to ensure that farmers across the EU get  the best deal possible out of the CAP reform; Europe can now start to implement serious measures  to address the age crisis in European agriculture.”


Banking reform: Banks should operate on behalf of the real economy

The banking sector should be reformed so that retail banking activities such as taking deposits, operating bank accounts and granting loans, are separated from riskier activities such as trading with financial instruments and derivatives.


That is the message of a report adopted by the EP’s economic committee on 18 June. We spoke to Arlene McCarthy, a British member of the S&D group who wrote the report, about why an overhaul of the banking sector is needed.

A report different from other rules on the banking sector

The report is an overarching framework that looks at how banks operate. The reason why we have to tackle this is that the excessively risky activities in the banking sector led to the banking crisis and undermined retail banking activities such as lending that are essential for the real economy.

We saw it in the crisis in Cyprus that for days ordinary citizens didn’t have access to their bank accounts: they couldn’t withdraw money or pay their bills, salaries weren’t paid… The whole objective of structural reform is to avoid that situation.

Separation of retail and investment banking

Retail and investment activities should be run separately, so that if things go wrong, we can set them right easily and have the banks continue to operate on behalf of citizens and the real economy.

We shouldn’t have a situation where it is the taxpayer or governments bailing out these excessively risky activities. If banks want to take those excessively risky activities, they have to take the risk and do it on their own account.

Calling for more competition in the sector

We don’t want to get rid of banks, but some competition might be healthy for them so that the citizens have better choice and get more access to banking products.

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