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#ACPEU: Strong parliamentary dimension for a renewed partnership

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28th ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg Family photo

Fighting illicit financial flows, investing in family and small-scale agriculture and co-ordinating aid for Haiti after Hurricane Matthew were among the issues on which MEPs and their counterparts from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries agreed at the 32nd session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) in Nairobi, which closed on Wednesday (21 December).

The 32nd session of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and European Union (EU) member states, which closed on Wednesday afternoon, approved a declaration on the future of ACP-EU co-operation. The text outlines a renewed partnership between the two regions after 2020, when the Cotonou Agreement expires, and calls for a strong parliamentary dimension, of which the JPA forms the core.

MEPs and their counterparts from ACP national parliaments also debated the role of trade in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi on Tuesday afternoon. The issue of migration and resettling migrants in their home countries, and the role of infrastructure development in fostering regional integration were also debated during the three-day session.Two reports and an urgent resolution were approved at the voting session on Wednesday afternoon. They concern the following topics:

Fight against illicit financial flows (IFF): Need for a political effort

The fight against money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance, and corruption "requires strong international cooperation", the simultaneous involvement of all national and international players, and an effort "primarily of a political nature", says the Assembly.
The text, approved by a large majority, calls for:

  • Information on beneficial ownership of companies to be made publicly available for all corporate structures, including trusts, foundations and shell companies;
  • public country-by-country reporting by multinationals to stop base erosion and profit shifting, and;
  • penalties to be considered in the event of financial centres failing to cooperate in the global fight against illicit financial flows.

Family farming and small-scale agriculture in ACP countries: More investment needed

Family and small-scale agriculture remain essential in ACP countries to combat poverty, ensure food security and protect biodiversity, say parliamentarians in a second resolution. In it, they reiterate the many difficulties facing small-scale family agriculture, and notably access to land, capital and markets. The need to increase public spending on agriculture, given that it suffers from a lack of investment, is also underlined in the text.

This area will receive aid under financing agreements with Kenya worth €104 million, signed by EU Commissioner for international co-operation and development Neven Mimica on the fringe of the JPA. This aid will help small farms by enabling them to access finance and training or by facilitating their integration into the market.

Hurricane Matthew in Haiti: Donors must fulfil their pledges

To meet needs on the ground effectively, the international community and Haiti’s partners should work in co-ordination with the Haitian government, say MEPs and their ACP counterparts in the second urgent resolution voted on Wednesday. They add that donors should deliver on their pledges, underlining that only 40% of the US$ 120m requested by the Haitian government and the UN has so far been provided.

At the closing press conference of the 32nd session of the JPA, Co-Presidents Netty Baldeh (The Gambia) for the ACP countries and Michèle Rivasi for the European Union denounced the violence raging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  “We condemn these pointless deaths, which would not have taken place if the President of the Republic had respected the Constitution,” said Co-President Michèle Rivasi.

Next ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

The 33rd ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly will be held from 19-21 June 2017 in Valletta, the capital of Malta, which will chair the Council of the European Union from 1 January to 31 June 2017.

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Belgium

Commission approves €2.2 million Belgian aid measures to support Flemish airports in the context of the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved €2.2 million Belgian aid measures to support the operators of Flemish airports (Antwerp airport, Ostend airport and Kortrijk airport) in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measures were approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The measures consist in: (i) an aid scheme, under which all Flemish airport operators will receive support in the form of a direct grant; and (ii) support to the operators of Antwerp and Ostend airports in the form of payment deferrals of certain costs and fees (namely annual compensation for the use of statutory staff of the Flemish Region and concession fee for the use of the airport infrastructure due for the year 2020).

The purpose of the aid measures is to help Flemish airport operators mitigating the liquidity shortages that they have been facing due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found the measures to be in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the measures can only be granted until the end of this year; (ii) the direct grants do not exceed €800,000 per company, as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (iii) the payment deferrals will be granted by 31 December 2020, and will be due by no later than 31 December 2021 and involve minimum remuneration, in line with the Temporary Framework.

The Commission therefore concluded that the measures are necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58299 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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EU

Rule of law: First Annual Report on the Rule of Law situation across the European Union

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The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. It includes input from every member state and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU.

The report, including the 27 country chapters, shows that many member states have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by member states due to coronavirus crisis.

It covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance.

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Follow the press conference with Vice-President Jourová and Commissioner Reynders live on EbS.

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Electricity interconnectivity

Commission approves prolongation of two Greek measures to support transition towards new electricity market design

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The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation for a limited period of two Greek measures, a flexibility mechanism and an interruptability scheme, to support the transition to the new electricity market design. Under the flexibility mechanism, which was initially approved by the Commission on 30 July 2018 (SA 50152), flexible power capacity providers such as gas-fired power plants, flexible hydro plants and demand response operators can obtain a payment for being available to generate electricity or, in the case of demand response operators, for being ready to reduce their electricity consumption.

This flexibility in power capacity will allow the Greek transmission system operator (TSO) to cope with the variability in electricity production and consumption. Under the interruptibility scheme, which was initially approved by the Commission on 07 February 2018 (SA. 48780), Greece compensates large energy consumers for agreeing to be voluntarily disconnected from the network when security of electricity supply is at risk, as happened for example during the gas crisis in the cold winter of December 2016/January 2017.

Greece notified to the Commission its intention to prolong the flexibility mechanism until March 2021, and the interruptibility scheme until September 2021. The Commission assessed the two measures under the Guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020.

The Commission found that the prolongation of the two measures is necessary for a limited period of time, in view of the on-going reforms in the Greek electricity market. It also found that the aid is proportionate because the remuneration of beneficiaries is fixed through a competitive auction, and thus avoids overcompensation. On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU state aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.56102 and SA.56103.

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