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EU to facilitate financing for small businesses in Africa and the European Neighbourhood

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The European Commission makes available €4.2 million under the External Investment Plan to help banks in Africa and the European Neighbourhood to better assist underfinanced sectors such as small businesses, including young entrepreneurs and women.

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, is signing this support agreement today in the margins of the World Bank Spring meetings in Washington.

Ahead of the signature, Commissioner Neven Mimica said: “This new programme worth over €4 million will make a real difference for those who often struggle to access sources of financing for their business ideas: women, young entrepreneurs or small businesses in low-income countries. We expect to support some 50,000 small businesses and help to create up to 200,000 jobs. This technical assistance programme complements the EU guarantee under the European Investment Plan. This is a great example of how our External Investment Plan and our Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs work in practice.”

This technical assistance programme will be implemented by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). It will support concrete capacity building measures to help local banks to develop new loan and financial products better suited to support underfinanced sectors such as young entrepreneurs, women and SMEs in low-income, fragile and conflict-affected countries, who have difficulties obtaining financing from their local banks.

This technical assistance will complement the EIP’s “Small Loans and Guarantee Programme (SLGP)” worth €42 million, which aims to encourage local banks to lend to small companies, which have had difficulty accessing finance to date, including women-owned SMEs. It will also invest in high impact sectors such as health, education and agriculture in difficult emerging markets.

With the EU guarantee and accompanying expertise, local banks will be able to provide funding for operations that they would otherwise consider too risky. As a result, the guarantee and accompanying technical assistance is expected to offer access to financing for some 50,000 small businesses, including ones owned by women or engaged in green energy projects, as well as help to create up to 200,000 jobs.

Background

Forming part of the EU’s External Investment Plan (EIP), the EU guarantee “Small Loans and Guarantee Programme Risk-Sharing Facility”, will use €42 million (around $50 million) in EU funds to leverage up to around €550 million (around $660 million) of investments for entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and the EU Neighbourhood.

The International Finance Corporation is part of the World Bank Group.

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8th Euronest Assembly: The future of relations with Eastern partners

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Energy security, EU-Eastern relations and geopolitical challenges are set to be among the focus points of the 8th session of the joint parliamentary assembly.

Members of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly will meet in Tbilisi, Georgia, for the 8th Ordinary Session, from 8 to 10 December. The Assembly is comprised of 60 MEPs and 10 members from each of the participating parliaments of the Eastern European partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine).

Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze will open the session on 9 December. The meetings will be co-chaired by MEP Andrius Kubilius (EPP, LT) and Ivan Krulko, member of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament).

European Parliament President David Sassoli will be represented in Tbilisi by Vice-President Klara Dobrev (S&D, HU).

Political affairs, economic integration, energy security and social matters

The opening session will be preceded by several meetings of the different Euronest committees and working groups, focussing on a wide range of subjects.

Participants will adopt resolutions on political affairs, economic integration, energy security and social matters. As 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, members will also reflect on the future of this policy, in the run-up to the next Eastern Partnership Summit scheduled to take place in the spring of 2020.

Background

The Euronest PA was established on 3 May 2011 in Brussels, when the Presidents (or their representatives) of the Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Moldovan, Ukrainian and European Parliaments signed the Assembly’s Constitutive Act.

The mission of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly is to promote the conditions necessary to accelerate political association and further economic integration between the EU and the Eastern European Partners, as well as to strengthen cooperation within the region and between the region and the EU. The multilateral Assembly contributes to strengthening, developing and making the Eastern Partnership visible.

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Climate change should be EU Parliament’s first priority, according to citizens

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Combating climate change should be Parliament’s top priority, new Eurobarometer reveals, highlighting youth-led climate protests as great influencers.

“Combating climate change and preserving our environment, oceans and biodiversity” should be the European Parliament’s (EP) biggest priority, EU citizens say in a new Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the EP and conducted in October 2019. Climate change was already one of the leading reasons for voting in the European elections last May, especially for young people. Now, for the first time, citizens are putting climate change at the top of a Eurobarometer priority list.

In total, 32% of Europeans point towards the fight against climate change and preserving the environment as the most important issue for MEPs to address. It is the most mentioned item in 11 member states, especially in Sweden (62%), Denmark (50%) and The Netherlands (46%).

The Eurobarometer survey also asked respondents which environmental concern is the most pressing. An absolute majority of Europeans (52%) believe that it is climate change, followed by air pollution (35%), marine pollution (31%), deforestation and the growing amount of waste (both 28%).

Parliament President David Maria Sassoli, (S&D, IT), who arrives in Madrid on Monday to attend the opening of the UN COP25 climate change conference, said: “This survey shows very clearly that Europeans want action from the EU on combatting climate change. Yesterday in Strasbourg, the European Parliament approved a resolution declaring a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and globally. We are listening to our citizens and stressing the need to move beyond words to action”.

Youth-led protests make a difference

Over the course of the past year, youth-led protests have mobilised millions of people in the EU and globally.

This new Eurobarometer survey shows that close to six out of ten European citizens are confident or convinced that youth-led protests have a direct impact on policy at both national and European level.

The Irish (74%), Swedes (71%) and Cypriots (70%) are most convinced that the protests will lead to political measures being taken at EU level, compared to 42% of Czechs and 47% of UK citizens.

Background

Since 1973, the Eurobarometer has measured European citizens’ perceptions of and expectations of the EU. Kantar collected the data for this Eurobarometer and the fieldwork took place 8-22 October 2019 in all 28 EU member states. A sample of 27,607 representative respondents above the age of 15 were interviewed face-to-face for the report. The data and the full report will be published on 10 December 2019.

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Europeans show record support for the euro

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More than three in four citizens think that the single currency is good for the European Union, according to the latest Eurobarometer results. This is the highest support since surveys began in 2002. 

According to the results of the latest Eurobarometer survey on the euro area, 76% of respondents think the single currency is good for the EU. This is the highest support since the introduction of euro coins and banknotes in 2002 and a 2-percentage point increase since last year’s already record levels. Similarly, a majority of 65% of citizens across the euro area think that the euro is beneficial for their own country: this is also the highest number ever measured. The common currency is supported by a majority of citizens in all 19 euro area Member States.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said: “Almost 28 years after I added my name to the Maastricht Treaty, I remain convinced that this was the most important signature I ever made. The euro – now 20 years young – has  become a symbol of unity, sovereignty and stability. We have worked hard over the past five years to turn the page of Europe’s crisis, ensure that the benefits of jobs, growth and investment are reaching all Europeans and make Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union stronger than ever. The euro and I being the only survivors of the Maastricht Treaty, I am glad to see this record-high support for our single currency on my last days in office as President of the European Commission. The euro has been the fight of a lifetime and it is one of Europe’s best assets for the future. Let’s make sure that it continues to deliver prosperity and protection to our citizens.”

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: ”The euro today is stronger than ever, bringing numerous benefits for people, businesses and countries from replacing 19 different currencies with one. It is not a coincidence that most Europeans support the euro. This record-high support gives us a clear mandate to work on further strengthening of our Economic and Monetary Union and reinforcing the international role of the euro.

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “Long gone are the days when the integrity of the single currency was in question. The euro is one of the biggest European success stories, and ithas brought tangible benefits to European citizens, businesses and governments alike. We have strengthened our Economic and Monetary Union since the crisis and since the start of this Commission, but the work is not yet finished. The future of the euro is still to be written. We must make sure that this support continues to rise and that the benefits of the euro are shared more equally among all of our citizens.”  

The euro makes it easy

Still a young currency, the euro has just turned 20 this year. Nevertheless, Europeans clearly see the very practical benefits it has brought to their everyday lives. Four fifths of respondents agree that the euro has made it easier to do business across borders, compare prices and shop in other countries, including online. An absolute majority in the euro area also think that the euro has made traveling easier and less costly.

The euro is more than just the coins and notes in our pockets: it is a symbol of Europe’s unity and global strength. Today, it is already the currency of 340 million Europeans in 19 Member States. It has brought tangible benefits to all: stable prices, lower transaction costs, protected savings, more transparent and competitive markets, increased trade, easier travel and higher living standards. Some 60 countries around the world link their currencies to the euro in one way or another.

Strong support for reforms, coordinated economic policies, but also for abolishing one- and two-cent coins

Asked about their views on the coordination of economic policy, including budgetary policies, 69% of Europeans see the need for more coordination in the euro area, whilst only 7% would like to see less cooperation.There is also continued strong support at 80% for economic reforms to improve the performance of national economies. This is also reflected in national results, with clear majorities in all euro area countries.

A majority of 65% of respondents said they were in favour of doing away with inconvenient one- and two-euro cent coins through the mandatory rounding of the final price of purchases in shops and supermarkets to the nearest five cents. An absolute majority supports this idea in 16 out of the 19 euro area countries.

Background

Citizens replied to a set of questions focusing on issues ranging from perception and practical aspects of the euro to their assessment of the economic situation, policy and reforms in their country and in the euro area. In addition, the survey asked citizens about their views and expectations regarding household income and inflation.

Some 17,500 respondents across the 19 euro area countries were interviewed by phone between 14 and 19 October 2019.

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