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Making capital markets work for Europe’s recovery

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The European Commission has today adopted a Capital Markets Recovery Package, as part of the Commission’s overall coronavirus recovery strategy. On 28 April, the Commission had already proposed a Banking Package to facilitate bank lending to households and businesses throughout the EU. Today’s measures aim to make it easier for capital markets to support European businesses to recover from the crisis.  The package proposes targeted changes to capital market rules, which will encourage greater investments in the economy, allow for the rapid re-capitalisation of companies and increase banks’ capacity to finance the recovery.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that works for the people said: “We are continuing with our efforts to help EU citizens and businesses during the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent recovery. One way of doing so is to help businesses raise capital on public markets. Today’s targeted amendments will make it easier for our businesses to get the funding they need and to invest in our economy. Capital markets are vital to the recovery, because public financing alone will not be enough to get our economies back on track. We will present a wider Capital Markets Union Action Plan in September.”

The package contains targeted adjustments to the Prospectus Regulation, MiFID II and securitisation rules. All of the amendments are at the heart of the Capital Markets Union project aimed at better integrating national capital markets and ensuring equal access to investments and funding opportunities across the EU.

Targeted amendments to the prospectus regime – EU Recovery Prospectus: Easy to produce – Easy to read – Easy to scrutinise

A prospectus is a document that companies need to disclose to their investors when they issue shares and bonds. The Commission is today proposing to create an “EU Recovery Prospectus” – a type of short-form prospectus – for companies that have a track record in the public market. This temporary prospectus would be easy to produce for companies, easy to read for investors, and easy to scrutinise for national competent authorities. It would cut down the length of prospectuses from hundreds of pages to just 30 pages. This will help companies to raise capital – such as shares – instead of going deeper into debt. A second set of targeted amendments to the Prospectus Regulation aims at facilitating fundraising by banks that play an essential role in financing the recovery of the real economy.

Targeted amendments to the MiFID II requirements for European firms

The Commission is today proposing to make some targeted amendments to MiFID II requirements, in order to reduce some of the administrative burdens that experienced investors face in their business-to-business relationships. Lesser-experienced investors (such as households investing their savings for retirement) will remain just as protected as before. These amendments refer to a number of requirements that were already identified (during the MiFID/MiFIR public consultation) as being overly burdensome or hindering the development of European markets. The current crisis makes it even more important to alleviate unnecessary burdens and provide opportunities to nascent markets. The Commission therefore proposes to recalibrate requirements to ensure that there is a high level of transparency towards the client, while also ensuring the highest standards of protection and acceptable compliance costs for European firms. In parallel, the Commission has today opened a public consultation on amendments to the MiFID II delegated directive to increase the research coverage regime for small and mid-cap issuers and for bonds. In particular, SMEs need a good level of investment research to give them enough visibility to attract new investors.  We are today also proposing to amend the MiFID rules affecting energy derivatives markets. This is intended to help the development of euro-denominated energy markets – important for the international role of the euro – as well as allow European companies to cover their risks, while safeguarding the integrity of commodity markets, especially for agricultural products.

Targeted amendments to securitisation rules

The Commission is today proposing a package of measures amending the Securitisation Regulation and the Capital Requirements Regulation. Securitisation is a tool through which banks can bundle loans, turn them into securities, and sell them onto capital markets. The aim of these changes is to facilitate the use of securitisation in Europe’s recovery by enabling banks to expand their lending and to free their balance sheets of non-performing exposures. It is helpful to let banks transfer some of the risk of SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) loans to the markets so that they can keep lending to SMEs. In particular, the Commission proposes creating a specific framework for simple, transparent and standardised on-balance-sheet securitisation that would benefit from a prudential treatment reflecting the actual riskiness of these instruments. In addition, the Commission proposes to remove existing regulatory obstacles to the securitisation of non-performing exposures. This can help banks offload non-performing exposures that can be expected to grow because of the coronavirus crisis. Today’s changes are based on extensive work and analysis carried out by the European Banking Authority in 2019 and 2020.

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EU Politics

Presidents of Parliament to gather for Athens Summit

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Presidents of Parliament from the 47 Council of Europe member states, as well as many neighbouring and observer countries and other partner parliamentary assemblies, will meet on 21 and 22 October 2021 in Athens, on the occasion of a conference organised by the Hellenic Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

The Conference will be opened by the President of the Hellenic Parliament Constantine An. Tassoulas, PACE President Rik Daems, and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić.

Some 60 Presidents and Speakers, together with 300 other delegates, are expected at the biennial summit to discuss three major topical issues:

  • Democracies facing the Covid-19 public health crisis: sharing experiences
    Key-note speeches by the President of the Romanian Senate Anca Dana Dragu; the Speaker of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko; and the President of Austria’s National Council Wolfgang Sobotka.
  • #EnvironmentRightNow’: national parliaments and the right to a healthy and sustainable environment
    Key-note speeches by the Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia Kakha Kuchava; the Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Anu Vehviläinen, and a member of the Council of Europe Advisory Council on Youth, Spyros Papadatos.
  • The common future of all European citizens
    Key-note speeches by the President of the Belgian Senate Stephanie D’Hose; the President of the Cypriot House of Representatives, Anita Demetriou; and the President of the Slovenian National Assembly, Igor Zorčič.

Secretaries General of the participating parliaments and assemblies are also due to meet on the margin of the conference.

The first conference was held in 1975. It takes place every two years, hosted alternately in Strasbourg or in the capital of a Council of Europe member state. At the invitation of the Hellenic Parliament, it is held this year in Athens, when the country celebrates the bicentennial of its independence.

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Lorenzo Natali Media prize 2021: Winners announced

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The European Commission announced the three winners of the 2021 ‘Lorenzo Natali’ Media prize: Pari Saikia, for her work on the plight of the Rohingya, Maria Altimira, for her work on the labour exploitation of migrants and Srishti Jaswal for bringing to light the hunger situation in India. For nearly three decades, the prize has recognised courageous journalism and focused on compelling, compassionate reporting that brings to light stories that matter on the global challenges impacting society.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, presented the prizes to the winners at today’s award ceremony: “This award of this year’s Lorenzo Natali Media prize, recognizes three exceptional journalists, whose work exemplifies the courage, integrity and dedication to global equity. As development journalists you help bring about change – whether it is tackling inequalities, protecting universal human rights, or responding to the existential threat of climate change.”

The 2021 prizewinners, selected by a grand jury from among more than 1,100 applications from across the world, are:

Grand prize

Pari Saikia of Vice Media India, for:

“Rohingya Brides Thought They Were Fleeing Violence. Then They Met Their Grooms”

Pari Saikia’s story on the exploitation of Rohingya refugee women exposes the drivers and the methods used in trafficking women in the region.

Europe prize

Maria Altimira writing in Diario Ara, for:

“Abusos en los campos de fresas”

In this piece, Maria Altimira shines a light on the labour and sexual abuse suffered by farm workers, and attempts to hold oversight agencies accountable for abuses happening on their watch.

Best Emerging Journalist prize

Srishti Jaswal, writing in Stories Asia, for:

“The Global Hunger Index Reveals India’s Ignored Hunger Crisis”

Srishti Jaswal’s investigation reveals India’s hidden hunger crisis and the under-reporting of deaths due to starvation.

The winners were chosen by a Grand Jury of experts in the fields of journalism and development:

  • Diana Moukalled (Daraj.com)
  • Sulemana Braimah (Media Foundation for West Africa)
  • Jana Ciglerová (Denik N)
  • Zuliana Lainez (International Federation of Journalists)
  • Steve Sapienza (Pulitzer Center).

All entries underwent an initial pre-selection phase conducted by four journalism schools: Vesalius College in Brussels, Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Lisbon, Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona and Université Saint Joseph in Beirut.

Background

Established in 1992, the European Commission’s Lorenzo Natali Media Prize is awarded in memory of Lorenzo Natali, a former Commissioner for Development and Cooperation. He was a staunch defender of freedom of expression, democracy, human rights and development.

The prize recognises high-quality, courageous reporting on compelling issues such as climate change, women´s rights, inequality, healthcare, democracy and human rights.

The prize’s three categories in 2021 were:

  • Grand prize: for reporting published by a media outlet based in one of the European Union’s partner countries.
  • Europe prize: for reporting published by a media outlet based in the European Union.
  • Best Emerging Journalist prize: for reporting by journalists under the age of 30, published in a media outlet based in the European Union or in one of its partner countries.

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EU Politics

70% of the EU adult population fully vaccinated

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Today, the EU has reached a crucial milestone with 70% of the adult population now fully vaccinated. In total, over 256 million adults in the EU have now received a full vaccine course. Seven weeks ago already, the Commission’s delivery target was met, ahead of time: to provide Member States, by the end of July, with enough vaccine doses to fully vaccinate 70% of the adult EU population.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said:  “The full vaccination of 70% of adults in the EU already in August is a great achievement. The EU’s strategy of moving forward together is paying off and putting Europe at the vanguard of the global fight against COVID-19.  But the pandemic is not over. We need more. I call on everyone who can to get vaccinated. And we need to help the rest of the world vaccinate, too. Europe will continue to support its partners in this effort, in particular the low and middle income countries.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said:  “I am very pleased that as of today we have reached our goal to vaccinate 70% of EU adults before the end of the summer. This is a collective achievement of the EU and its Member States that shows what is possible when we work together with solidarity and in coordination. Our efforts to further increase vaccinations across the EU will continue unabated. We will continue to support in particular those Member States that are continuing to face challenges. We need to close the immunity gap and the door for new variants and to do so, vaccinations must win the race over variants.”

Global cooperation and solidarity

The rapid, full vaccination of all targeted populations – in Europe and globally – is key to controlling the impact of the pandemic. The EU has been leading the multilateral response. The EU has exported about half of the vaccines produced in Europe to other countries in the world, as much as it has delivered for its citizens.  Team Europe has contributed close to €3 billion for the COVAX Facility to help secure at least 1.8 billion doses for 92 low and lower middle-income countries. Currently, over 200 million doses have been delivered by COVAX to 138 countries.

In addition, Team Europe aims to share at least 200 million more doses of vaccines secured under the EU’s advance purchase agreements to low and middle-income countries until the end of 2021, in particular through COVAX, as part of the EU sharing efforts

Preparing for new variants

Given the threat of new variants, it is important to continue ensuring the availability of sufficient vaccines, including adapted vaccines, also in the coming years. That is why the Commission signed a new contract with BioNTech-Pfizer on 20 May, which foresees the delivery of 1.8 billion doses of vaccines between the end of the year and 2023. For the same purpose, the Commission has also exercised the option of 150 million doses of the second Moderna contract. Member States have the possibility to resell or donate doses to countries in need outside the EU or through the COVAX Facility, contributing to a global and fair access to vaccines across the world. Other contracts may follow. This is the EU’s common insurance policy against any future waves of COVID-19.

Background

A safe and effective vaccine is our best chance to beat coronavirus and return to our normal lives. The European Commission has been working tirelessly to secure doses of potential vaccines that can be shared with all.

The European Commission has secured up to 4.6 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far and negotiations are underway for additional doses. The Commission is also working with industry to step up vaccine manufacturing capacity.

At the same time, the Commission has started work to tackle new variants, aiming to rapidly develop and produce effective vaccines against these variants on a large scale. The HERA Incubator helps in responding to this threat.

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