Customs: Commission sets in motion the process for Ukraine to join the Common Transit Conventions
The Commission today put forward a proposal for Ukraine to be invited to join the Common Transit Conventions (CTC) – an international framework for the customs transit of goods that ensures simplified procedures between the EU and partner countries. The Conventions mean that goods can move much more easily between the EU and the seven so-called Common Transit Countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and the UK). In this way, the simplified rules, such as mutually recognised financial guarantees for customs transit and fewer controls, help to cut down on costs for EU and partner country businesses, while facilitating and boosting trade. In the draft EU position paper adopted today, the Commission takes the view that Ukraine fulfils all relevant criteria for admittance to the Conventions, including legal, structural and IT requirements. Furthermore, accession to these Conventions is provided for in the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and in the EU's pre-accession strategy for Ukraine. Once endorsed by the Council, the EU's position will be put forward to the highest body of the Conventions, the EU-CTC Joint Committees, made up of the EU and other CTC signatories, which can then formally invite Ukraine to join the Conventions. The Commission hopes that this could be achieved as soon as October this year. More information and the draft legal texts are available online.
Forest fires: EU mobilises further assistance to Portugal, France and Albania
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism continues to channel support to help combat severe forest fires in Portugal, France and Albania. Following requests for assistance, the EU has helped mobilise 2 firefighting planes from Italy to Portugal operating in the country since 13 July. This comes in addition to help already deployed last weekend from Spain in Portugal. The Emergency Response Coordination Centre also mobilised 2 firefighting planes from the Greek rescEU fleet in aid of France following the fire outbreaks in the southwestern region of the country, which will arrive in France today. Another 2 firefighting planes from Greece were deployed to Albania on 14 July and on 15 July. Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: "Despite a very difficult situation across Europe, worsened by the extreme temperatures, Member States are showing strong solidarity. Our Civil Protection Mechanism has mobilised planes for Portugal, Albania and France affected by devastating fires. I thank Italy and Greece for their prompt support. The EU's 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre stands ready to coordinate further assistance. Our thoughts are with all those affected and with first responders who are risking their lives to battle the fires.” In addition, the EU's emergency Copernicus satellite is helping to provide damage assessment maps of affected areas in Croatia, where fires ravage near the town of Zaton; in Spain, where fires affect the natural park of Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia, and in Portugal, where pine forests are affected in Ourém municipality. The European Union's 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre is in regular contact with the relevant national authorities to closely monitor the situation and channel the EU assistance.
New EU rules prepare the ground for more use of organic and waste-based fertilisers
Thanks to the new EU regulation on fertilising products which becomes applicable tomorrow, the new rules will boost the role of the Single Market, help reduce the environmental impact of fertilisers, limit their risk on human health, as well as reduce Europe's dependency on imported fertilisers. Fertilisers made from organic waste material could replace 30% of mined fertilisers. New EU rules will soon make it possible to market more organic and waste-based fertilisers in the EU. The regulation covers a range of fertilising products, including liming materials, soil improvers, growing agents, plant bio-stimulants and blends. This is an important step towards sustainable agriculture, one of the objectives of the Green Deal. The new rules will open the Single Market to organic and waste-based fertilisers. They will establish limit values for toxic contaminants in fertilising products and allow optional harmonisation. A three-year transitional period since the adoption of the rules has helped companies to adapt their manufacturing processes and comply with the new rules. To support businesses, the Commission has also issued a Guidance document on the labelling of EU fertiliser products. Furthermore, based on the extensive scientific research of its Joint Research Centre, the Commission also: (i) extended the new rules to allow the marketing of additional fertilisers with components out of recovered waste and; (ii) adopted accompanying legislation on the safe use of by-products from other industries, such as petro-chemical or metal industries, in the production of EU fertilising products. For more information, please consult the Fertilising Product Regulation, the webpage on fertilising products and the news item.
Winners of public engagement research award announced
Professors Mariska Kret, Alpa Shah and Jonathan Tennyson have been awarded the European Research Council's (ERC) Public Engagement with Research Awards 2022. Professor Artur Obłuski, from the University of Warsaw, has received a special mention following an online vote for the public's favourite project. The names of the laureates were announced in an award ceremony at the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) in Leiden, the Netherlands, yesterday. The purpose of the award is to recognise ERC grantees who engage with audiences beyond the scientific community. Mariska Kret, from Leiden University, received the award for her project that used citizen science at a zoo, involving the general public in the study of emotions of great apes. Alpa Shah, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, was recognised for her project that managed to increase public awareness of the intimate relationship between economic growth, class relations and identity-based oppression and exclusion in India. Jonathan Tennyson, from University College London, received the award for an outreach programme that boosted pupils' confidence in science subjects and increased the uptake of science in the curriculum, particularly in underrepresented groups and girls. At the occasion of the award ceremony, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “Researchers push back the frontiers of knowledge and help us tackle current and future challenges. Yet to explore the unknown, scientists and scholars have to rely on a broad support in society and must win people's trust. That's why I am glad to see many ERC grantees going out and engaging with the citizens in so creative and effective ways. I would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists.” The ERC received 67 award applications from 17 countries. A pre-selection was organised to choose the best proposals for the jury review. The jury of the award, composed of experts in public engagement and science communication, consequently selected three winners. Each laureate of the three award categories receive a prize of €10,000, in addition to the public recognition. You will find more information in the ERC press release.
New European Bauhaus: 20 small and medium municipalities to receive support for frontrunner projects
The Commission announced today the 20 winners of the first call of the New European Bauhaus (NEB) dedicated to place-based transformative projects led by small and medium-sized municipalities. The projects are embodying the values of the New European Bauhaus – sustainability, aesthetics, and inclusion – in one of four action areas: renovation of buildings and public spaces; preservation and transformation of cultural heritage; adaptation and transformation of buildings for affordable housing solutions; or regeneration of urban or rural spaces. Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “20 great projects selected from over 80 applications from all over Europe – a clear sign of the New European Bauhaus going local. Cohesion policy is ideally placed to support small cities and towns and to engage public authorities to launch more New European Bauhaus projects at the regional level.” Winners come from 15 Member States: Bulgaria, Denmark, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden. The winners will receive rich expertise needed to turn their NEB projects ideas into reality, from a group of interdisciplinary experts. The knowledge and lessons learnt during this process will feed into a ‘toolbox' aimed at other municipalities as well as the wider public interested in developing new or replicating existing NEB projects. 87 proposals from 18 different Member States had been submitted to this “Support to New European Bauhaus Local Initiatives” call. The Commission selected the 20 winners among the highest ranked proposals, seeking a fair distribution of territories in terms of geographic balance, size of the municipality and socio-economic characteristics. NEB projects range from sustainable inclusion of vulnerable communities to regeneration of industrial sites, from fostering vibrant local communities to matching digitalisation and the creative sectors in centres of art and culture, from cross-border activities to focusing on islands and neighbourhoods, with hosting municipalities' populations as small as 700 to above 85,000 people.
Second chance for entrepreneurs: New EU rules enter into application
Sunday 17 July marks the deadline for Member States to transpose in their national laws the Directive on restructuring, insolvency and discharge of debt procedures. The Directive will help Member States save viable companies from insolvency, for instance those facing difficulties as a result of the pandemic or affected by Russia's war against Ukraine. Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said: “Consumers and businesses alike are experiencing a heavy financial stress test. SMEs are one of the essential pillars of our economies: to strengthen the resilience of our entrepreneurs is to maintain the health of our economies. This Directive enters into application at a much needed time, and Member States will quickly reap its benefits”. Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “In these challenging times, we must provide entrepreneurs with the safety net they need to thrive. This Directive will help give investors greater certainty and returns on investment. It will enable viable companies to survive disproportionate challenges, and empower citizens to self-employ with more confidence.” The Directive establishes a set of rules with the aim to prevent bankruptcy early on and to establish a healthy environment for insolvent entrepreneurs, who will have better access to financing and see their debts fully discharged after three years. In addition, new rules will increase the efficiency of insolvency procedures by harmonising digital communications, as well as certain rules on courts and insolvency practitioners. More information on insolvency proceedings can be found here.
Conference on Accountability for Ukraine: Commission stepping up coordination with international partners
Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, together with the Netherlands and the International Criminal Court (ICC), co-chaired yesterday the ministerial conference on accountability for Ukraine in The Hague. The discussions placed the focus on how to further coordinate efforts at a national, European and international level to ensure accountability for the atrocities committed in Ukraine. To better ensure efficiency and coherence of efforts, participants committed to work towards the establishment of a ‘Strategic Dialogue Group on Accountability for Ukraine', as well as address the needs identified by the Ukrainian authorities. Commissioner Reynders, who delivered the opening speech, said: “The link between accountability and peace is unbreakable - without this, it is impossible to move forward. We cannot ask why today's atrocities are being committed. Instead, we can ask “what can we do today” to ensure that those responsible do not go unpunished. As international partners, the support we provide must complement the work that Ukraine is already doing.” Almost 60 international bodies have engaged in discussions on how to ensure a coordinated approach to support the investigations led by Ukraine's Prosecutor-General Office, including through capacity-building, as well as by the Joint Investigation Team, supported by Eurojust; several other Member States, and the ICC. Furthermore, participants have strengthen the importance of ensuring the proper collection, storage and preservation of evidence according to appropriate standards, for which the Eurojust Regulation was recently amended. Participants have also encouraged Ukraine to make judicial reforms, including the ratification of the Rome Statute, to better ensure that those responsible for war crimes are brought to justice; and committed to follow a victim-focused approach in their support, in line with international best practices. A ministerial declaration is also available.
- Publication date
- 15 July 2022
- Representation in Cyprus