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Brexit: EU Parliament to set out its vision for future EU-UK relations

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Parliament’s political leadership has endorsed a draft resolution laying out a possible framework for future EU-UK relations after Brexit.

An association agreement between the EU and the UK could provide an appropriate framework for the future relationship, says a draft resolution endorsed by the Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders). This relationship could be based on four pillars: trade and economic relations, foreign policy, internal security and thematic cooperation, for example on cross-border research and innovation projects. MEPs insist that it should include a consistent governance framework, with a robust dispute resolution mechanism.

The motion, prepared by the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, stresses that the EU has binding common rules, common institutions and common supervisory, enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms, to make it clear that even closely-aligned third countries with identical legislation cannot enjoy similar rights, benefits or market access to those of EU member states.

Any framework for the future relationship would need to respect the integrity of the internal market, customs union and four freedoms, without allowing for a sector-by-sector approach. It should preserve the EU’s autonomy of decision and legal order, including the role of the ECJ.

The draft resolution welcomes the Commission’s 28 February draft of the Withdrawal agreement and expresses support for the transitional arrangements proposed. It also reiterates the importance given to securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU.

Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani said:”As far as the European Parliament is concerned, the principles governing our future relations are clear: single market integrity must be preserved, a third country cannot be treated more favourably than an EU member state and a level playing field is essential. Working from these guidelines, we want to achieve the closest possible relationship between the European Union and United Kingdom. Brexit will not solve shared issues such as terrorism and security, for instance, so close cooperation in many areas will continue to be of mutual interest.

Brexit negotiations have reached a critical stage, yet essential issues over citizens’ rights remain unresolved and solutions maintaining an invisible border on the island of Ireland are not forthcoming. Any type of border would jeopardise the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement and I insist that this must absolutely be avoided.

With regards to the transition period, the European Parliament is also clear that we will not approve an agreement that discriminates against European citizens who arrive in the UK during the latter. The acquis communautaire must apply fully, including on citizens’ rights.”

EP coordinator for Brexit Guy Verhofstadt added: “In order to break the deadlock we now face, I believe it is important that the UK Government now seriously considers engaging with the European Parliament’s proposal for an association agreement, as catered for by Article 217 of the EU Treaty. I am convinced this will allow both the EU and the UK to unlock a lasting deep and special partnership for the future. ”

“We look forward to receiving some further clarifications from the British Government regarding citizen’s rights, as a number of outstanding issues remain unresolved. We do not accept the United Kingdom’s negotiating position that maintains discriminations between EU citizens arriving before and after the start of the transition period. We hope the British Home Office can come to Brussels to present their proposal for a registration system for EU citizens in the UK, in the search for a solution.”

Next steps

Members will debate the draft text with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Tuesday 13 March.  The resolution as voted will set out Parliament’s input ahead of EU heads of state or government summit, which is expected to approve the Council’s guidelines for negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Any withdrawal agreement and future association agreement will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.

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Energy News

IEA launches World Energy Outlook in China

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Mr Li Ye, Executive Director General of China’s National Energy Agency speaks at the launch of the World Energy Outlook in China (Photograph: IEA)

IEA Chief Modeller Laura Cozzi launched the latest World Energy Outlook in Beijing on 23 January. The China launch brought together over 120 officials and experts drawn from government, academia and the power industry to discuss the latest global energy trends, and the outlook for the electricity.

During his opening remarks, Li Ye, Executive Director General of China’s National Energy Agency noted the strong IEA-China relationship that has delivered key results across a range of important areas of reform for China including: power market reform, distributed energy, renewables and gas market design.

At the IEA Ministerial meeting in 2015, China became one of the first countries to activate Association status with the Agency. Since then the IEA and China have been working closely together to achieve energy reform in China. In 2017, the IEA and China agreed a Three Year Work programme to boost energy policy analysis, promote clean energy systems, build capacity on energy regulation, and improve exchange of data on renewable energy and other resources.  The launch in Beijing was organised by the China Electricity Power Planning and Engineering Institute, which hosts IEA’s China Liaison Office.

The IEA’s work with China includes collaboration to draw upon best international practice in carbon emissions trading, and power market reforms that enables renewable energy to make a greater contribution to electricity supply. Work is ongoing with Chinese counterparts as the new Five Year Plan, and longer-term plans, are put in place to accelerate China’s clean energy transition.  The IEA will launch its latest work on China’s Power System Reform in Beijing on 25 February.

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Environment

UNIDO to pilot Better Cotton Initiative in Egypt towards sustainable cotton production

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photo: UNIDO

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), under the framework of The Egyptian Cotton Project, launched the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) pilot in the country to support the Egyptian Cotton branding as part of a renewed drive to increase product sustainability, improve working conditions along the supply chain, and support cotton growers and relevant institutions in paving the way towards the pilot’s national upscaling.

“The project’s vision is to pilot the BCI standard system in Egypt to advance the cotton industry in a way that cares for the environment and the farmers growing it, through a multi-stakeholder programme jointly coordinated by UNIDO, relevant governmental entities, farmers’ cooperatives, cotton and textile associations, and local and international private sector stakeholders,” said The Egyptian Cotton Project’s spokesperson.

The BCI will  strengthen the competitiveness of the Egyptian textile industry in the global market through an holistic approach to sustainable cotton production which covers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. Farmers will receive trainings and those who meet rigorous levels of sustainable production and employee welfare will be granted the BCI standard.

Funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Egyptian Cotton project is implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation as well as with local and international textile private sector stakeholders. It also leverages the “Cottonforlife” CSR initiative by Filmar Group.

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EU Politics

Cohesion Policy after 2020: Preparing the future of EU investments in health

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Today, Commissioners Crețu and Andriukaitis have brought together health professionals to kick-start the reflection on future EU investments in health under the 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy programmes.

In the context of the roundtable held today at the Commission with health associations such as European Health Management Association and EuroHealthNet, the Commissioners launched a pilot project to improve cross-border emergency services in the Pyrenees between the border regions of France, Spain and the Principality of Andorra. They also announced that health will be this year’s new category for the RegioStars Awards.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said: “According to the most recent Eurobarometer survey, almost 70% of Europeans want the EU to do more in the area of health. Acting via Cohesion Policy funds offers us the possibility to make a difference on the ground where it is needed and show that the demands expressed by fellow Europeans are not left unheard. I am also delighted that health becomes a new category for the RegioStars. This is yet another demonstration that we must and can implement the principle Health in All Policies as set out in the Treaty.”

Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “Cohesion Policy investments in health, worth over €4 billion of EU funds in the current budget, are true expressions of a Europe that protects. Healthcare is evolving and EU investments have to evolve with it. This is why we organised this discussion with health professionals, so their recommendations can serve as compass in planning EU investments in health over the next decade.”

Future EU investments in health

The discussion concluded that health systems are evolving towards more education, health promotion and disease prevention. They are also shifting away from hospital and institution-centred care to community-based care and towards integration of health and social care. With new policy objectives that allow for integrated investments in health, social inclusion and education, the Commission’s proposal for the 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy provides the conditions to support these changes.

Evolutions in healthcare require different infrastructure investments, be that in primary and community care facilities or in prevention programmes, integrated care and workforce training. Cohesion Policy can be instrumental in supporting these investments.

Member States and regions need to design long-term investment strategies, encompassing infrastructure, human capital, innovative technologies and new care delivery models. To support these strategies, Cohesion Policy funds can be combined with other EU instruments, such as InvestEU, or with national programmes. The Commission is ready to support Member States and regions to plan these strategies.

Better cross-border emergency services in the Pyrenees

Doctors in border regions cannot attend patients in need of urgent medical attention from across the border. To overcome this situation, the project “When medical emergency systems erase borders” aims to ensure mutual prior recognition of doctors on both sides of the border.

The second phase of the pilot project is now launched and is set to ensure bilateral agreements between the Orders of Doctors of the Spanish and French border regions. As a result, 15 million inhabitants of the Pyrenees will benefit from better emergency services as a result. The project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and will be completed mid-2019.

The results of this project will serve as an example to possibly replicate in other cross-border regions in the future. The Commission supports tackling obstacles linked to the governance of cross-border issues and, in its legislative proposal for Cohesion Policy 2021-2027, suggests setting aside 15% of any Interreg cross-border cooperation programme to this purpose.

Health: this year’s new category for the RegioStars Awards

Every year the RegioStars reward the best and most innovative Cohesion Policy projects in Europe in five thematic categories, including a topic of the year. This year’s edition will seek to reward quality health projects, to inspire Member States and regions.

The online application platform is open from today until 9 May 2019. An independent jury will assess the applications and crown the winners during the RegioStars awards ceremony, to take place in Brussels in October 2019.

Background

Healthcare is a major preoccupation for EU citizens. A recent Eurobarometer survey  revealed that healthcare was identified as the main issue facing the regions in the future, with a third of the people polled (34%) considering it the top issue.

Cohesion Policy funds support projects improving access to healthcare and addressing health inequalities, reforming of healthcare systems, developing e-health and digital solutions, as well as research and innovation, health education, healthy ageing, workplace health and safety.

In the 2014-2020 programming period, €8 billion of Cohesion Policy funds, including a €4 billion EU co-financing, has been invested in health. 44.5  million  people  in  the  EU  should  benefit  from  improved  health services over the 2014-2020 period.

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