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EU-#Cuba Joint Council, 09/09/2019

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The EU-Cuba Joint Council met for the second time on 9 September 2019 in Havana, Cuba. It discussed how to maintain momentum in the implementation of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, which has been provisionally applied since November 2017.

The Political Dialogue and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Cuba is a sign of the importance we attach to our relations. We hope that the new chapter we have opened can further strengthen the friendship between the people of Europe and of Cuba. This is why we are here: to celebrate and to further strengthen our dialogue and co-operation.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

The celebration of this second Joint Council is an example of the progress of the relations with the EU. It allows to take stock of this progress and to outline future actions of mutual benefit.

Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba

The Joint Council reviewed the five structured political dialogues launched under the agreement in key areas: human rights, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms control, unilateral restrictive measures and sustainable development.

It also reviewed bilateral relations and cooperation programmes in areas such as culture, energy, agriculture and economic modernisation. The two sides agreed to launch sectoral policy dialogues in the fields of energy, agriculture, environment and climate change.

Trade and investment between the EU and Cuba, including the extraterritorial effects of the US Helms-Burton legislation, were also discussed.

In addition, the Joint Council touched upon regional and global issues, such as recent developments in Latin America and the Caribbean, including EU-CELAC relations. They also discussed coordination in multilateral fora in areas such as climate change and sustainable and inclusive development.

The Joint Council was co-chaired by High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and the Cuba Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.

coronavirus

Commission approves €26 million German scheme to compensate youth hostels, school country homes, youth education centres and family holiday centres in Bavaria for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, a German scheme to compensate youth hostels, school country homes, youth education centres and family holiday centres in Bavaria for the loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The public support will take the form of direct grants and will compensate the damage suffered up to a maximum of 60% of the loss of revenues incurred by eligible beneficiaries in the period from 18 March 2020 to 31 July 2020.

During this period, the beneficiaries had to close their accommodation facilities due to the restrictive measure that the German authorities implemented to limit the spread of the coronavirus. When calculating the loss of revenue, reductions in costs resulting from income generated during the lockdown (e.g. cancellation fees), as well as possible financial aid granted or actually paid out by public authorities to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak (including aid granted under the measure with case number SA.56974, approved by the Commission in April 2020) will be deducted.

This will ensure that no more than the damage suffered can be compensated. The measure will be funded via the Corona Programme Social Affairs fund of the Free State of Bavaria, which has a total budget of €26 million. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which enables the Commission to approve state aid measures granted by member states to compensate specific companies or specific sectors for the damages directly caused by restrictive measures taken due to exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission found that the German scheme will compensate damages that are directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damages. The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme is in line with EU state aid rules. More information on 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.58464 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website.

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Economy

Sustainable transport: EU funds clean buses, electric charging infrastructure and more in France, Germany, Italy and Spain

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Following the EU's investment of €2.2 billion in 140 key transport projects to jump-start the green recovery, as announced in July, the EU is contributing additional €54 million to five projects that aim at delivering safer and greener transport services. Among the selection are projects deploying cleaner busses with charging infrastructure in Paris and Barcelona. The projects also involve constructing 255 new electric charging stations on Italian roads, and installing ERTMS, the European Rail Traffic Management System on 238 rail vehicles in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

The projects will be supported through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU's financial mechanism supporting transport infrastructure, and further contribute to decarbonizing transport as set out in the European Green Deal. These projects were selected through the CEF Blending Facility, which allows the leveraging of additional private financing for the projects, in addition to the EU's support. In total, CEF has now supported 932 projects, with €23.1bn in total. You can find more details on today's five new selected projects here.

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Defence

Security Union: EU law on combatting terrorism led to stronger criminal justice rules against terrorism and more rights for victims

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On 30 October, the Commission adopted a report assessing the measures that member states have taken to comply with the EU rules on combating terrorism (Directive 2017/541). This Directive is the main criminal justice instrument at EU level to counter terrorism. It sets minimum standards for defining terrorist and terrorism-related offences and for sanctions, while also giving victims of terrorism rights to protection, support and assistance.

The report concludes that the transposition of the Directive into national law helped strengthen member states' criminal justice approach to terrorism and the rights afforded to victims of terrorism. While the measures taken by member states to comply with the Directive are overall satisfactory, there are however gaps that are a cause for concern.

For example, not all member states criminalize in their national law all the offences listed in the Directive as terrorist offences. In addition, there are deficiencies in the measures that member states have taken to criminalize travel for terrorism purposes and the financing of terrorism, as well as to support victims.

The Commission will continue to support member states in working towards full and correct transposition of the Directive. Where necessary, the Commission will make use of its powers under the Treaties through infringement procedures. The report will now be presented to the European Parliament and the Council.

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