Text adopted – Human rights in the world 2012 and EU policy on the matter – P7_TA(2013)0575 – Wednesday, 11 December 2013 – Strasbourg – Final edition

The European Parliament,
–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other UN human rights treaties and instruments,
–  having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 Septemb…

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Adequate Funding Essential for Success of New Verification Operation in Colombia, Speakers Say as Fifth Committee Considers Budgets for Special Political Missions

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Speakers Underline Urgency of Expanding Protected Coastal Areas, Tackling Sea Acidification, as United Nations Ocean Conference Continues

Speakers emphasized the urgency of expanding protected coastal and marine areas — one of the targets of Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — as well as tackling the problem of ocean acidification during partnership dialogues on the second day of the United Nations Ocean Conference.

Tommy Remengesau, President of Palau and co-chair of a morning discussion on the theme “Managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems”, said “we should increase our ambition” and protect at least 30 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2030 — compared with the 10 per cent set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.

He said that for his Pacific island country, the best option was to set aside 80 per cent of its waters — 190 square miles of ocean — as a marine sanctuary, with the remaining 20 per cent available for domestic fishing.

Within that setting, however, Palau still had to deal with management, monitoring, protection and restoration issues, he noted, adding that multi-country and multi-stakeholder partnerships were needed in order to tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, human and drug trafficking and harmful fisheries subsidies.

Silvia Velo, Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea of Italy, co-chairing the same meeting, said that while marine protected area coverage had grown over the decade, their geographic distribution was uneven, with more needed in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, South-East Asia and in small island developing States.

Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said during a panel discussion that the world was well on the way to achieving the 10 per cent target, noting that since the agreement came into force in 1993, such areas had increased 10 fold to 5.7 per cent today.  Much remained to be done, however, to improve the management of those areas and ensure that they were representative of many ocean ecosystems, she added.

In an ensuing interactive debate, participants from States and civil society touched upon a broad range of measures for creating and sustaining protected areas, with the Prime Minister of Palau announcing that, upon his return home, its Parliament would set aside 16 per cent of its exclusive economic zone as a marine protected area in which no industrial activity would be permitted.

From Latin America and the Caribbean, the representative of Grenada told how conservation was being mainstreamed into its wider economic strategy, with the private sector playing a key role as demonstrated by an underwater sculpture park described by National Geographic as a wonder of the world.

France’s delegate — a sailor who said she felt responsible for the rubbish she encountered on every one of her sea voyages — said the good health of the oceans depended on implementation of the Paris Agreement, given their acknowledged role in regulating climate.

From civil society, the representative of the Drammeh Institute advocated enshrining the eco-theological beliefs of more than 200 million people in Haiti, Cameroon, the United States and Ghana into marine management issues.

The afternoon featured a partnership dialogue on minimizing and addressing ocean acidification — a phenomenon with a potential for considerable ecological and socioeconomic consequences running alongside other climate-driven changes such as ocean warming, sea-level rise and deoxygenation.

Prince Albert II of Monaco, who co-chaired the session alongside Agostinho Mondlane, Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Mozambique, said acidification, while not a well-known phenomenon, had severe consequences.  Noting that his country was home to the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre, he said understanding acidification required global and local approaches to decision-making.  He added that limiting greenhouse gas emissions towards a carbon-free economy should be a common goal, as the effects of such efforts on acidification would be a slow process.  Indeed, climate change and acidification must be fought holistically, he emphasized.

Mr. Mondlane, noting that Mozambique had one of the world’s longest coastlines, said increased acidification, with its adverse impacts on marine resources, had brought about a huge awakening, as it affected people’s survival.  “The solutions must come from us,” he said, adding that the phenomenon risked undermining his country’s efforts to develop mussels, bivalves and prawns as a means of alternative livelihoods for its people.

The Conference — officially titled the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development — will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 7 June.

Partnership Dialogue I

In the morning, the Ocean Conference held a partnership dialogue on the topic “Managing, protecting, conserving and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems”.  Moderated by Martha Rojas-Urrego, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and co-chaired by Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr., President of Palau, and Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, Italy, it featured a panel discussion by Lin Shanqing, Deputy Administrator, State Oceanic Administration, China; Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity; Jake Rice, Chief Scientist Emeritus, Fisheries and Oceans Canada; and Cyrie Sendashonga, Global Director, Program and Policy Group, International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Opening the discussion, Mr. REMENGESAU said Governments were faced with the “monumental” task of developing a new model of ocean governance to replace a failed one that had allowed unlimited human activity to damage marine ecosystems.  There was now the forum and the obligation to develop a sustainable approach to the management, protection, conservation and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems.  He encouraged delegates to keep an open mind and maintain transparency in implementing the sometimes contradictory — but necessary — objectives.  For Palau, the best option was to create a large marine protected area, setting aside 80 per cent of its waters — 190 square miles of ocean — as a marine sanctuary, with the remaining 20 per cent available for domestic fishing.  Within that setting, Palau still had to deal with management, monitoring, protection and restoration.  In line with the Convention on Biological Diversity, stakeholders must work together to establish by 2020 an effectively managed set of marine protected areas, beyond areas of national jurisdiction, covering 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas.

“We should increase our ambition” and protect at least 30 per cent of such areas by 2030, he said, noting that States must also consider sustainable development and create opportunities for food security initiatives by enhancing small-scale and artisanal fisheries, as well as building tourism and aquaculture.  Multi-country and multi-stakeholder partnerships must tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, human and drug trafficking and harmful fisheries subsidies.  He urged all States to ratify the Port State Measures Agreement, stressing that connections must be made to funding mechanisms — such as the Green Climate Fund, Global Environmental Facility, World Bank and Asian Development Bank — with new and unique funding mechanisms focused solely on oceans identified.  He objected to funding mechanisms that were impossible for least developed countries and small island developing States to access, based on a perceived lack of capacity.

Ms. VELO said that Italy in 2010 had introduced measures for the management of marine protected areas, a multi-stakeholder model that mapped habitats and protected space.  Italy had adopted a methodology for the allocation of financial resources, based on objective criteria and performance indicators, with assessments conducted in areas such as conservation and human-impact free management.  Italy could count 29 marine protected areas within a European Union network, which overall accounted for the protection of nearly 20 per cent of its territorial waters.

At the global level, she said that while marine protected area coverage had grown over the decade, the geographic distribution was uneven, with more needed in Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean, South-East Asia and in small island developing States, which depended more heavily on protected marine systems.  Noting that Italy was chair of the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance, along with Kenya, Bahamas, Palau and Poland, she said the group was working to mobilize efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14.5 and identify globally significant areas as candidates for additional marine protected area development.  Italy also had increased its engagement with small island developing States, focusing on capacity-building and the establishment and maintenance of marine protected areas.  It also had partnered with Palau on the implementation of marine sanctuaries, and more broadly, was ready to support its partners in moving towards more sustainable ocean-based economies.

Ms. ROJAS-URREGO said the topic under discussion went to the heart of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.  Conservation management and restoring marine ecosystems were prerequisite for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 as well as other Goals.  Many communities, especially in developing countries, depended on marine ecosystems for food and water.  Such ecosystems also played a critical role in the context of climate change by mitigating disasters and serving as carbon sinks, she said.  However, marine ecosystems were being lost at an unprecedented rate, she added, noting for example that 90 per cent of coral reefs had suffered damage.  Measures were being taken by States and stakeholders, but there was still a long way to go, she said, adding that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was an opportunity to put the preservation of marine ecosystems at the heart of development.

Mr. LIN said the Government of China paid great attention to environmental protection, with the marine space being a critical part of its overall environmental plan.  Since the turn of the century, China had promulgated and amended ocean-related laws and regulation, creating a comprehensive legal system for marine protection.  It also sought to move towards a payment system through which the State regulated royalties, with revenue going towards conservation efforts.  The percentage of marine protected areas and reserves was being increased, he said, adding that China was also introducing an ecological monitoring system that went beyond measuring pollution alone.

Ms. PAŞCA PALMER said conservation efforts had failed to put a dent on the loss of species or the degradation of marine ecosystem functions.  The consequences would be severe, particularly for those who relied on the oceans for their livelihood and nutrition.  Noting that adherence to the Convention on Biological Diversity was near-universal, she said Goal 14 represented a critical opportunity to build on political will and experience.  An integrated and holistic approach was a must, however.  She said the world was well on the way to achieving the target of conserving at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, noting that since the Convention came into force in 1993, such areas had increased 10 fold to 5.7 per cent today.  But there remained much to do to improve the management of those areas and to ensure that they were representative of many ocean ecosystems.  In that regard, the Sustainable Ocean Initiative produced by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity addressed the question of capacity-building, especially for developing countries.  Going forward, she emphasized the critical importance of having clear targets and political commitments, as well as basing actions on a scientific understanding of the ecological and biological value of marine biodiversity.

Ms. SENDASHONGA said that since the 2016 World Conservation Congress, the International Union for Conservation of Nature had included a new membership category for indigenous peoples’ organizations.  More broadly, its structure involved 16,000 experts in six commissions and many of its projects were implemented with local communities.  Sharing lessons learned in working with those communities, she said success was about ensuring the resilience of ecosystems, and, in turn, the communities that depended on them.  The “Mangroves for the Future” project was being carried out in South and South-East Asia across 11 countries by bringing together all stakeholders.  Through a “resilience approach” the project was examining socioecological systems, exploring the dynamics and interactions associated with the ecological system.  “You can’t do that without involving all the stakeholders,” she said, stressing that local communities understood their context best.  Another project called “Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services in Territories of European Overseas” was funded by the European Commission across five regions.  In terms of alternative livelihoods, her organization had learned to take a holistic view of an ecosystem and create a framework of jobs that aligned with the goods and services produced by the marine or coastal ecosystem at hand.  The conditions for equitable benefit sharing included empowering the community with knowledge and establishing good governance.  Projects that allowed all voices to be heard, promoted local ownership and fostered opportunities for collaboration were those that succeeded.

Mr. RICE, describing technical measurement challenges, said “the ocean is not an easy place to sample” to create the iron-cast knowledge that justified management decisions.  There must be a proper forum to translate that knowledge into advice for decision-makers in terms that could be understood.  The conceptual challenges about what constituted progress — about the outcomes to seek, for example, or the costs and benefits involved — could be perceived differently.  While the ocean had been “woefully” under-sampled, there was a huge scientific legacy, with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) among the vast number of forums created.  If anything, there was a turf war over who had the right to assess what, creating a travesty that allowed people with preconceived ideas of what answers should be to find the data that supported the answers they wanted.  Those challenges must be overcome.  “We need to discuss more”, he said, stressing that focusing on how much of the ocean should be put away in “pristine deposit boxes” of protection was insufficient.  Several of the Sustainable Development Goals would not be achieved without using the ocean as a greater source of wealth.  The issue of measuring progress was an equally great challenge, as costs and benefits were perceived by people with different world views.  In terms of assessment, interest groups — those holding the knowledge and those whose lives would be forever altered by the decisions made — must participate in assessment processes.  The vast knowledge of the ocean was not being used as effectively as it could be and he advocated using it more wisely.

In the ensuing discussion, participants discussed a range of initiatives being undertaken to manage, protect, conserve and restore marine and coastal ecosystems.

HENRY PUNA, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, said that upon his return from the Conference, legislation would be tabled in his country’s Parliament that would establish 16 per cent of its exclusive economic zone as a marine protected area comprising 324,000 square kilometres in which no industrial activity would be permitted.  The Cook Islands aimed to be a model of sustainability, but its efforts would be in vain if it was left to do it alone, he said, calling upon the international community to do more to control high-seas activities and to meet emissions commitments.  He added that his country supported the immediate creation of a “blue fund” for sustaining conservation efforts.

A representative of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, which served 21 Pacific island countries and territories over an area almost twice the size of the Russian Federation, said its work currently focused on climate change resilience and environmental governance, among other topics.  Noting that the region led the world in marine protected areas and sanctuaries totalling 3 million square kilometres, he emphasized the enormous strain and threat posed by climate change, overexploitation and pollution.  He suggested that, with regards to the environment, the word “pristine” should be removed from the English language.  He added that achieving Goal 14 would require a major ongoing commitment on the part of Pacific Island countries and partners.

The representative of French Polynesia called the ocean a link between people and cultures.  Since 2002, French Polynesia had become one of the world’s largest sanctuaries for marine animals, where all shark species were protected.  The Marquesas Islands had established the first six educational marine areas.  In terms of resource management, French Polynesia had in 1996 stopped selling fishing licenses to foreign fleets to its exclusive economic zone.  Fishing in the maritime area was reserved for Polynesian fishers and its exclusive economic zone would be reclassified as a marine protected area.

The representative of Tonga described lack of financing mechanisms to achieve long-term conservation goals, stressing the need to build the capacity for using financial and management tools.  He saw the dialogue to build a unified path to achieving Goal 14.  In Tonga, conservation efforts had been carried out to address challenges.  It sought to enhance and foster new partnerships to support those efforts, which included a marine protected area as part of the “10 times 20” initiative between Tonga and Italy.

The representative of Monaco said his country had a long regional history in establishing the Pelagos Sanctuary, which today was seeing a new impetus with an agreement signed in April for the protection of marine mammals.  Monaco was focused on creating new marine protected areas to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets; developing regulatory and legal frameworks on national, regional and international levels; supporting scientific studies on the merits of such areas; and strengthening the management and financing for such areas.

ANTÓNIO DA CONCEIÇÃO, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Environment of Timor-Leste, said his country depended on the unique biodiversity of both Asia and Australia.  Although it was a small developing country, it took its responsibilities seriously, as demonstrated in the Coral Triangle Initiative.  Through traditional law, Timor-Leste had created marine protected areas that were co-managed with local communities, thus protecting biodiversity and improving food security while guarding against the effects of climate change.  While Timor-Leste would do its part, it looked to the community of nations for partnerships, he said, adding that even the biggest countries could not go it alone.

The representative of Grenada said that without ocean health, there could be no ocean wealth.  In his country, conservation was mainstreamed into the wider economic strategy, with the private sector playing a key role as demonstrated by an underwater sculpture park described by National Geographic as a wonder of the world.  Emphasizing that Grenada was open to innovative partnerships, he said it had developed investment prospects of bankable projects that were environmentally sustainable.

The representative of France said that, as a sailor, she had never made a voyage without seeing garbage at sea.  While that made her feel responsible, she hoped that an historic moment had come to raise awareness and take collective action.  She added that, since the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, the substantial role of the oceans in regulating climate was acknowledged.  For that reason, France supported the Oceans and Climate Initiatives Alliance and affirmed that the good health of the oceans depended on implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The representative of the Seychelles addressed the problem of marine plastic pollution, stressing that his country was doing its best to ensure effective solid waste management and take targeted approaches to plastics.  It had banned the import of plastic bags, utensils and other items, and was partnering on another strategy that sought to avoid their design.  To implement such plans, effective partnerships were required.

The representative of the Pacific Community said more ocean data and better communication of ocean science was required for decision-making.  She advocated knowledge- and skills-transfer, under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as funding for adequate monitoring.  Her organization was committed to providing the best scientific and technical advice to Pacific islands and territories so they could make informed decisions.

A representative of the Drammeh Institute, explaining she was a Haitian voodoo priestess, advocated enshrining the eco-theological beliefs of more than 200 million people in Haiti, Cameroon, the United States and Ghana into marine management issues.

The representative of Togo described the creation of the High Council of the Sea, composed of public, private and civil society bodies, which regulated sea and coastal areas, and worked to strengthen regulations related to assessments.

The representative of Sri Lanka explained that coral reefs, mangroves, sand dunes and coastal wetlands played an important role in protecting his country from tidal waves.  Marine protected areas covered 289,000 hectares and there were six marine sanctuaries.  Sri Lanka aimed to increase its marine protected areas by 1,000 square kilometres by 2020.

The representative of Nepal said landlocked countries were catchment areas from where rivers eventually flowed into oceans.  Welcoming the Call of Action that would emerge from the Conference, he said special support must be given to climate-vulnerable countries, both coastal and landlocked, to fight climate change in a smart manner.  It was incumbent upon mankind to manage, protect, conserve and restore marine and coastal ecosystems and Nepal was on board that effort, he said.

Also speaking were Heads of Government, ministers and other senior officials and representatives of Samoa, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Colombia, Philippines and Canada, as well as of the Holy See.

Also taking the floor were representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Union Nationale des Travailleurs Democrates and the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance.

Partnership Dialogue II

In the afternoon, the Conference held a partnership dialogue on “Minimizing and addressing ocean acidification”.  Moderated by Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization, it featured presentations by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Head of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, Holy See; Rahanna Juman, Deputy Director, Institute of Marine Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago; David Osborn, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Environment Laboratories; and Carol Turley, Senior Scientist, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, United Kingdom.  Prince Albert II of Monaco and Agostinho Mondlane, Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Mozambique, co-chaired the meeting.

Prince ALBERT II of Monaco said acidification, while not a well-known phenomenon, had severe consequences.  Target 14.3 had established a framework for collective action to combat its affects, notably by strengthening scientific cooperation.  Through the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre had been established in Monaco, and action must focus on better understanding, adaptation and prevention.  Noting that oceans absorbed 30 per cent of carbon dioxide and 80 per cent of excess heat, he said that at that pace oceans would no longer be able to act as climate regulators.  Revenue loss related to sustainable tourism in coastal areas could be affected and 90 per cent of coral reefs could be threatened with extinction by 2030.  Understanding acidification required global and local approaches to decision-making.  On adaptation, he advocated working with local communities to devise solutions that strengthened the resilience of ecosystems.  Calling prevention the most complex challenge, he said limiting greenhouse gas emissions towards a carbon-free economy should be a common goal, as the effects of such efforts on acidification would be a slow process.  Indeed, climate change and acidification must be fought holistically.  An inventory of good mitigation and adaptation practices would foster better responses to the challenges ahead.

Mr. MONDLANE, noting that 40 per cent of Mozambique’s territory lay within a marine environment, said his country had one of the world’s longest coastlines of 2,700 kilometres inhabited by 26 million people and hosting more than 70 per cent of the nation’s cities.  Marine fisheries provided livelihoods for most coastal communities.  That scenario highlighted the importance of oceans to Mozambique’s economy, he said, underscoring the need to maintain such resources so they could continue to serve society.  Increased acidification, with its adverse impacts on marine resources, had brought about a huge awakening, as it affected people’s survival.  “The solutions must come from us,” he said, noting that in addressing the exploitation of marine resources in Goal 14.6, Mozambique was keen to develop such marine cultures as mussels, bivalves and prawns to provide alternative livelihoods.  The Government was finalizing a national action plan for aqua-culture, the implementation of which hinged on the health of the ocean.  Acidification trends threatened those efforts, and the lack of action to address that phenomenon would lead to a failure to achieve objective Goal 14.6, rendering Mozambique unable to feed its people.

Mr. TAALAS said ocean acidification, while concentrated in tropical zones, was emerging at high latitudes, while concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were at record-breaking levels.  “We are not moving in the right direction” in implementing the Paris Agreement, he said.  Stressing the importance of strengthened monitoring systems, he said successful implementation of the Agreement could stabilize greenhouse gas trends by 2060.

Ms. TURLEY said carbon dioxide emissions were a global issue that was being experienced very locally.  While their economic impacts remained uncertain, they were indeed happening, she said, citing an 80 per cent mortality rate at oyster hatcheries in the Pacific North-West of the United States and costly efforts to respond to that development.  Going forward, she said, the most important option was to mitigate the impact of acidification by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, adopting sustainable practices and using infrastructure to protect ecosystems.  Even if the Paris Agreement targets were fulfilled, she added, the impact would be there and the risks would be quite high.

Mr. OSBORN likened the oceans to a sophisticated Swiss watch that one never really owned, but passed along for future generations.  Using radio isotopes and sensitive monitoring equipment, it was possible to monitor ocean acidification and even to measure past levels of acidity through the use of a pH proxy.  He described a new project to collate data and encourage the training of experts in techniques for monitoring acidification at the local level.  Science had revealed that changes due to acidification were not linear, but varied in terms of time and space, but the overall trend was a significant concern, with coral reefs being particularly susceptible.  Some species would do better than others, but as the oceans — like a Swiss watch — was a finely tuned system, the collapse of one or two or three species would have a domino effect.  He went on to emphasize the need to bridge a gap between science and policy, noting that international legal regimes currently did not address acidification.

Ms. JUMAN said coral reefs were responsible for one quarter of total fish catches in developing countries.  They protected shorelines, coastal dwellings, land and beaches.  Small island developing States would have fewer livelihoods if their reefs were damaged.  At least 60 per cent of global coral reefs were already degraded, with tropical and subtropical corals expected to be the worst affected.  More broadly, internationally-funded climate change projects addressed sea-level rise and ecosystem-based adaptation, with acidification considered only in the context of such issues as food security, rather than prioritized.  Noting that donors had provided $55.5 billion to Caribbean and Pacific small island developing States between 1995 and 2015, she said those countries had also been able to leverage $460 million from the Green Climate Fund.  The main challenges were around competition for aid, limited local human resource capacity, duplication of donor efforts, limited private-sector involvement and changing money flow and priorities.  As small island developing States had limited ability to monitor the impacts of acidification, she recommended a number of measures.  Those included enhancing research capacity through partnerships; developing indicators for Goal 14.3; rehabilitating coastal blue carbon ecosystems, like mangroves, that sequestered carbon dioxide; and advocating for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by meeting international obligations, targeting support for alternative livelihoods and increasing awareness about the benefits.

Mr. TURKSON underscored the importance of oceans and seas, providing food and raw materials, as well as essential environmental benefits such as air purification, a global carbon cycle, waste management, and maintenance of the food chains and habitats that were critical to life on Earth.  Pope Francis regularly called for ecological citizenship, from a belief in a moral imperative to care for the environment, a gift entrusted to the current generation for stewardship.  He had repeatedly affirmed that intergenerational solidarity was not optional, but rather, a question of justice.  There was an obligation to conserve — or care — a word that invited people to be compassionate, sympathetic and to understand the state of the environment.  Efforts to establish an effective regulatory framework to safeguard ocean health were often blocked by those profiting from marine resources and intent on maintaining their advantages, to the detriment of the poor.  The Pope also advocated the principle of integral ecology, which captured the belief that “everything belongs together”.  The environment was not regarded as something separate from ourselves.  “We are part of it,” and thus, a crisis of environment was one for humanity.  On the pontiff’s third principle — an integrated approach in seeking solutions to global problems — he said ethical considerations must be integrated into approaches to the environment.  Technical solutions were never enough.  “Leaving no one behind” was a call to solidarity that should spur everyone on to achieve the Goals, he said, stressing that the fourth principle centred on the role of education, all the more necessary where proper waste disposal was either scarce or non-existent, and the fifth principle on the need to collaborate at all levels to arrive at sustainable solutions.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said studies on the impact of ocean acidification on his country were urgently needed.  Everyone had a responsibility to address ocean acidification by dramatically reducing carbon dioxide output, he said, calling upon all nations to ratify the Paris Agreement and to urgently reduce their reliance of fossil fuels.  He went on to propose a halt to the trade in sea cucumbers, which through their natural digestive systems made water more alkaline, mitigating the effects of acidification at a local level.  Action under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora might be required in that regard, he said.

BJÖRT ÓLAFSDÓTTIR, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources of Iceland, said that for an island State like hers, where sustainable fisheries were a backbone of society, acidification was very alarming.  She expressed deep disappointment at the decision by the United States to pull out of the Paris Agreement, but celebrated the fact that some American states and cities would fulfil its goals.  Noting that Iceland produced all of its energy from renewable sources, she said its efforts would further contribute to reducing acidification.

The representative of Palau said nutrient-poor ocean deserts had increased 15 per cent since the 1980s.  Urgent steps were needed to boost ecosystem resilience and protect their capacity to provide vital goods and services.  One of the most cost-effective strategies in that regard was the creation of marine protected areas.

The representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the nexus between climate change and the ocean presented a challenge in terms of population displacement.  According to the International Displacement Monitoring Centre, 22.5 million people had been displaced annually since 2008 due to adverse climate change.  In 2016 alone, 24.2 million people had been displaced, most of whom from ocean coastal areas, small island developing States or areas or regions affected by “climate change fault lines”, such as the El Niño phenomenon.  Some 40 million people were at risk for displacement, including 15 million living in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta of Bangladesh, due to sea-level rise.  He advocated a whole-of-Government approach to solutions.

The representative of Peace Boat, noting that he was from Japan, described the “Eco-ship” project to design the most environmentally green ship using solar and wind power, as well as a closed-loop water system.  A Finland shipyard had agreed to build the vessel.  Efforts by the maritime industry were not enough; strong will must be generated to protect the oceans.

The representative of the International Chamber of Shipping said the association represented 80 per cent of the world’s merchant ships.  Noting that shipping was responsible for 2.2 per cent of annual man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which contributed to acidification, he said Chamber members had reduced those emissions between 2008 and 2012, despite increased maritime trade.  There was an incorrect perception that shipping might have escaped the Paris Agreement.  However, in three weeks, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) would unveil a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from ships to match the ambition of the Paris accord.  Global shipping would propose that IMO agree to keep total carbon dioxide emissions below 2008 levels, setting that year as the peak year for emissions, and then progressively cutting annual emissions by a percentage to be agreed by IMO member States by 2050.  He clarified that it was not proposing a binding cap on such emissions.

The representative of the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification said the group included the United States states of California, Oregon and Washington.  It should not be confused with the United States Climate Alliance, formed recently in response to United States President’s decision to pull out of the Paris accord.  The International Alliance included 12 states, along with Puerto Rico, representing 36 per cent of the United States.  Its nearly 40 members had pledged to develop ocean acidification action plans to assist in the implementation of Goal 14.3.  They sought to understand acidification, take actions against it, protect coasts from its impacts and build support for addressing that problem.  It aimed to increase its membership to 60 members by June 2018 and support the development of action plans.

The representative of the United States, citing her role as co-chair of the Ocean Acidification Observing Network, drew attention to voluntary commitment 16542 and her group’s close work with international and intergovernmental partners, including the Ocean Foundation, the University of Gothenburg, the University of Washington, as well as IAEA and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  The group also had launched a mentorship programme, pairing scientists with researchers to new ocean acidification work.

The representative of Colombia said her country was considered one of the top five with the most marine diversity, which in turn, supported local populations.  She underscored the need for gathering scientific information at the local level, including for ecosystem responses and socioeconomic impacts.

Also speaking in the interactive dialogue were representatives of Tuvalu, Iceland, Palau, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Finland, France, Argentina and Iran, as well as speakers from the European Investment Bank, Vision Tool, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Scientific Centre of Monaco and the Ocean Foundation.

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The European Commission has sent two Statements of Objections to Google. The Commission has reinforced, in a supplementary Statement of Objections, its preliminary conclusion that Google has abused its dominant position by systematically favouring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages. Separately, the Commission has also informed Google in a Statement of Objections of its preliminary view that the company has abused its dominant position by artificially restricting the possibility of third party websites to display search advertisements from Google’s competitors. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate. Today, we have further strengthened our case that Google has unduly favoured its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages. It means consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries. We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation. Google now has the opportunity to respond to our concerns. I will consider their arguments carefully before deciding how to take both cases forward. But if our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the Commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets.” Commissioner Vestager is presenting these decisions at 12 pm CET today, which you can follow live here. A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE and all other EU languages. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Capital Markets Union: New Rules To Support Investment In Venture Capital And Social Enterprises

The European Commission has today proposed amendments to the European Venture Capital Funds (EuVECA) and the European Social Entrepreneurship Funds (EuSEF) regulations, marking another step towards the creation of the Capital Markets Union. Today’s proposal aims to make it easier and more attractive for investors to invest in small and medium-sized innovative companies and social projects. In particular, the Commission is proposing to open up EuVECA and EuSEF funds to fund managers of all sizes, and to expand the range of companies that can benefit from venture capital funds. The Commission also aims to make the cross border marketing of EuVECA and EuSEF funds cheaper and easier by explicitly prohibiting fees levied by Member States and simplifying registration processes, in order to increase the number of managers, funds, and investments in venture capital and social enterprises. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Today we are removing another barrier to investment at EU level which is a key objective of the Investment Plan for Europe. The three main changes we are proposing to the EuVECA and EuSEF regulations today – broadening the scope of eligible managers; expanding the list of EuVECA eligible assets; and prohibiting fees imposed by competent authorities – will result in a greater number of SMEs getting access to the vital finance they need to grow their businesses.” Commissioner Jonathan Hill said: “This proposal is part of the package of measures in the CMU Action Plan to strengthen venture capital markets. This proposal will build up scale, diversity and choice for investors, venture capital and social enterprises. Other actions foreseen include the launch of a large-scale fund-of-funds, blending EU and private capital, to support investment in innovative companies across the whole EU.” Today’s proposal has been submitted to the European Parliament and the Council (Member States) for adoption under the co-decision procedure. Today at 12:30 CET, a press release and memo will be published, and a statement by Commissioner Hill can be watched on EbS. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)  

 

European Commission announces €145 million in humanitarian aid for 7 countries in Africa’s Sahel region

During a visit in Niger today, Commissioner Stylianides will announce €145 million in EU humanitarian assistance for the Sahel region in 2016 to address the basic needs of the populations, tackle malnutrition and provide food to the most vulnerable people. “Saving lives continues to be the EU’s first priority in Niger and the Sahel region. Our new humanitarian funding will provide essential nutrition and health treatment to young children and their mothers, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as training and support to health centres. The EU is working hand in hand with humanitarian organisations to help the most vulnerable”, said Commissioner Christos Stylianides, who will visit EU funded aid projects in Niger. A significant amount, totalling €29 million will be allocated to the most vulnerable in Niger. The country is facing persistent acute food insecurity, child malnutrition and the displacement of people fleeing conflicts in neighbouring Mali and Nigeria. Overall, funding will be provided to those in need in 7 countries: Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Chad and Cameroon. Read the full press release here. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

President Juncker addresses Asia-Europe Business Forum

Today 14 July in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, President Juncker addressed the 15thAsia-Europe Business Forum. Bringing together business leaders from both regions, the Forum is part of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. In his speech, President Juncker set out his commitment to work for a global economy that is fair, transparent and governed by rules. He underlined the need for strong public-private partnerships to deliver this. “The business community will play a central role,” said the President. “You are the engines of change and innovation. You have the power to bring our two great regions closer together. But with your power comes responsibility. You have a duty to act as good citizens: respecting the rules of the game, investing in people and taking care of our planet.” On 15-16 July, still in Ulaanbaatar, President Juncker will attend the 11th ASEM Summit together with EU High Representative and Commission Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, and European Council President, Donald Tusk. Government leaders from both regions will discuss a range of global and regional issues including security, terrorism, climate change, migration, economic cooperation and sustainable development. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

Investment Plan for Europe: new EFSI deals signed in Greece and Spain

Today two new deals have been signed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. In Athens, the European Investment Fund signed an agreement with the National Bank of Greece to provide EUR 100 million in loans to over 350 Greek SMEs. Chief Spokesperson of the Commission, Margaritis Schinas, was in Athens to attend the agreement signature on behalf of President Juncker and Vice-President Katainen. Meanwhile in Madrid, the European Investment Bank signed a contract with car manufacturer Gestamp Automoción in Spain to invest EUR 160 million in research, development and innovation. The EFSI-backed financing will allow the company, which has factories in Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland and the UK, to invest in RDI to make more environmentally-friendly cars with safer and lighter bodywork. Commenting on the Gestamp project, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “The European Union is investing in research and innovation to support growth and jobs, and to tackle today’s challenges. The project signed today by the European Investment Bank and Gestamp Automoción under the Commission’s Investment Plan is a great example of the value of our investment. The funding will make cars safer and greener, and create hundreds of jobs in Spain and elsewhere.” (For more information see here or contact Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

Commission publishes further TTIP documents in ongoing transparency commitment

The European Commission is today publishing a record number of EU proposals from the ongoing 14th round of talks for a trade agreement with the United States, taking place in Brussels this week. As part of its drive for a more transparent trade and investment policy, the Commission is making these proposals public only days after submitting them to our negotiating partners. The nine proposals published today are intended to simplify technical regulations without lowering standards, and to set global rules of trade. Specifically, the published texts represent the EU’s negotiating position on regulatory cooperation in the sectors of cosmetics, medical devices, cars, chemicals and textiles. Also published today is a new article on climate protection as a part of the chapter on sustainable development, as well as separate chapters on energy and raw materials,market access for financial services, and on institutional cooperation within TTIP. The proposal for regulatory cooperation in the engineering sector will follow. The published texts show that the Commission is delivering on the goal established at the beginning of the year – to have almost all proposals for chapters of TTIP on the table and consolidate as many texts as possible by the summer break. Yesterday, the Commission organised a series of stakeholder events at the fringes of the negotiations, where interested stakeholders were briefed on the status of the negotiations and exchanged views with the chief EU and US negotiators. Tomorrow at 15:00 in Brussels there will be a press conference with the two chief negotiators on the 14th round of TTIP negotiations, which will also be broadcast live on Europe by Satellite. Photos of the negotiation round are also available. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)

Annual Agri-food trade report 2015: EU first exporter worldwide

The European Commission today published the Agri-food trade in 2015 report, which shows EU exports for agricultural products reached €129 billion in 2015. This means an annual increase of 5.7%, securing the EU’s position as first world agri-food exporter with a net trade surplus of €16 billion. The entire output of the European Union’s agricultural sector was valued at €410 billion in 2015. Agriculture and the food and drink industry together employ millions of people, accounting for 7.5 % of employment and 3.7 % of total value added in the EU, according to the annual report. Although some Member States and sectors still suffered from the Russian ban and from low world market prices, the overall EU agricultural trade performance was positive in 2015. EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan commented on the report: “Our trade performance continues to be a real good news story for the EU agri-food sector. Our high production standards and commitment to quality food and drink products ensure continuing global demand. In the coming months, I hope to see further export growth for Europe’s farmers and agri-food businesses, and the Commission will support them every step of the way.” A press release on the annual report and the monthly agri-food trade report for May are now available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

           

Commission adopts measures to protect against money laundering and terrorist financing from high risk third countries

Today, the European Commission has formally adopted a list of third countries having strategic deficiencies in their regimes on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Terrorist Financing (CFT). This completes the package of stronger transparency rules to tackle terrorism financing and money laundering brought forward last week. Banks will have to carry out additional checks (‘enhanced due diligence measures’) on financial flows from these 11 countries. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “Today’s list is part of our broader drive to tackle terrorism financing and money laundering. We need to cut off terrorists and other criminals from their resources. To put Europe at the forefront of the global fight against money laundering, we have proposed a common European set of stricter checks in relation to financial flows from these countries.” The Commission proposed on 5 July 2016 to harmonise the list of checks applicable to high-risk countries to prevent loopholes in Europe, where terrorists could run operations through countries with lower levels of protection. The EU will continue to engage across all relevant policy areas with the concerned countries, including through development cooperation, the ultimate goal being their compliance and removal from the list. The list of the Commission will be reviewed at least three times a year, after each Financial Action Task Force meeting assessing the latest developments. The Delegated Regulation will now be transmitted to the European Parliament and Council who have a one-month period to express objections (extendable to two months). If no objection has been expressed, it will be published in the Official Journal. The list is available online and more information on the latest Anti-Money Laundering amendments is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

EUROSTAT: Sommet Asie-Europe – les partenaires ASEM ont représenté en 2015 plus d’un tiers du commerce de biens de l’UE, déficit de l’UE de 277 milliards d’euros

En 2015, les 21 pays non-AELE participant au Sommet Asie-Europe (ci-après dénommés partenaires ASEM) comptaient ensemble pour 37% des échanges internationaux de biens de l’Union européenne (UE), avec une part des partenaires ASEM s’établissant à 29% pour les exportations de l’UE et à 46% pour ses importations. Sur la décennie 2005-2015, l’UE a constamment accusé un déficit commercial, toujours nettement supérieur à 200 milliards d’euros, avec les partenaires ASEM. En 2015, il se situait à 277 milliards d’euros, en baisse par rapport au pic de 320 milliards d’euros enregistré en 2008. Un communiqué de presse EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

Quarterly Report on the Euro Area published today

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs today publishes its Quarterly Report on the Euro Area (QREA), featuring in-depth technical analyses of economic issues affecting the euro area. In this edition, staff economists look at the role of cross-border risk sharing, both through financial and labour market incomes generated across borders and through cross-border fiscal transfers, in mitigating asymmetric shocks, and compare the situation in the euro area to that of the United States. Other sections examine the mechanisms through which financial systems affect the real economy and confidence spill overs in the euro area. QREA Vol.15 No.2 will be published today at 15.00. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

Raw materials: Commission highlights need for security of supply and investment*

Today the Commission is publishing the first Raw Materials Scoreboard prepared by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), under the responsibility of Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. The Scoreboard provides a comprehensive set of indicators on both primary and secondary raw materials. It highlights the need to address the EU’s growing skills shortage, innovation needs and its import-dependency, providing valuable information for policy decisions. Speaking at a meeting of the High-Level Steering Group of the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials this morning, Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: The supply and affordability of raw materials are of strategic importance for the future of the European economy and society. With the European Innovation Partnership, the raw materials community has taken important steps towards increased security of supply and a more circular economy. Today, we made the case for the need to support investment in the field of raw materials, in particular for start-ups and SMEs trying to optimise their resource use. The meeting was organised by the European Commission as part of its efforts to secure a sustainable supply of raw materials for Europe and to boost investment into the raw materials and recycling sectors. The group, which is composed of representatives of the industry, NGOs, researchers, ministers and the Commission, adopted a’Strategic Evaluation Report’ on future priorities in the area of raw materials. The group also presented a voluntary ‘Declaration of Support’ for the setting up of a European Investment Platform on Raw Materials and Recycling for start-ups, brought forward by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its innovation community, EIT Raw Materials, under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). More information regarding the ‘Strategic Evaluation Report’ and the ‘Declaration of Support’ on the websites of DG Grow and JRC. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Innovation performance compared: How innovative is your country?

Today, the Commission released the 2016 results of the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer. The main findings of the three reports are that Sweden is once again the innovation leader, Latvia has become the fastest growing innovator, and EU innovation is catching up with Japan and the US.By boosting private investment and improving the framework conditions for innovation, the EU has the potential to lead in innovation at the global stage.Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “I want Europe to be a place where innovative SMEs and start-ups flourish and scale up within the Single Market. This requires a concerted effort. At EU level, we need to simplify VAT regulation, adapt insolvency rules, make information on regulatory requirements more easily accessible and work on a clear and SME-friendly intellectual property framework. We also need to keep adapting the Single Market to ensure that innovative services such as the collaborative economy find their place.” Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, added: “Leading countries and regions are supporting innovation across a wide range of policies from investment to education, from flexible labour conditions to ensuring public administrations that value entrepreneurship and innovation. The Commission is doing its part by promoting innovation across policy areas too. Not only that, we’re also improving access to private finance through the €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe and the Capital Markets Union, as well as creating a new European Innovation Council.“Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: “Smart specialisation strategies help Member States and regions capitalise on their competitive assets in Research & Innovation and find opportunities for cooperation between business and academia. As such, they are compasses for innovative, long-term investments supported by ESI Funds and, when possible, other EU sources of finance. This contributes greatly to Europe’s shift towards a knowledge-based economy.” For further details on the results and the Commission’s actions to support innovation, a press release, frequently asked questions, the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer are available online. (Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184, Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

European Commission appoints new Head of Representation in Lisbon

The European Commission has appointed Ms Sofia Colares Alves as the new Head of its Representation in Portugal. She will take up office on 16 July, bringing over twenty years of European and International affairs experience to the post. Ms Alves is an experienced lawyer and works for the European Commission since 2003, specialising in competition policy. She was a member of the Cabinet of former Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia (from 2010 to 2013), a Head of Unit in DG Competition (from 2013 until 2015) and since May 2015 was seconded to the Portuguese Competition Authority (PCA) in Lisbon as Head of Cabinet advising the Board on all areas of competence of the PCA. Ms Sofia Colares Alves obtained a Law Degree from the University of Lisbon and a Master of European Legal Studies (LLM.) from the College of Europe in Bruges. A complete press release for Ms Sofia Colares Alves is available online, also in DE, FR and PT. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Dombrovskis visits Japan

Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, will visit Tokyo, Japan on 14 and 15 July. During this visit, he will participate in the 16th EU-Japan Symposium, delivering the opening address on the theme of contemporary social and employment issues. He will also hold bilateral meetings with Mr Haruhiko Kuroda, Governor of the Bank of Japan; Mr Taro Aso, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister; and Mr Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Economic Revitalisation. Finally, he will meet representatives from the European Business Council. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Siobhan Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57367)

 

Commissioner Thyssen attends the Informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Labour Ministers will hold an informal meeting on 14 and 15 July 2016 in Bratislava, under the Council Presidency of Slovakia. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen. Ministers will focus their discussions around three main topics: ageing, digitalisation, and migration. They will discuss how these three key challenges impact Member States’ labour markets and social security systems and exchange experiences and policies to turn these challenges into opportunities for Europe. In this context, Commissioner Thyssen will highlight some of the emerging issues in its consultation on the European pillar of social rights, a key initiative to make social rights in Europe fit for purpose in the 21st century. The meeting will also include a field visit to a Slovak company, which has expanded its production and innovation in times of global competition and digitalisation. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 6225)

 

Commissioner Hogan on official visit to Slovenia

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, is today on official visit in Slovenia. Together with Mr Dejan Židan, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food for Slovenia, he visited this morning an educational farm in Poljane. In the afternoon, Commissioner Hogan and the Minister will meet with representatives of the consultative Council for Agriculture. This meeting will be followed by a joint press conference, after which they will visit a cheese dairy farm in Gorenja vas. From 2014-2020, the CAP will invest around €1.8 billion in Slovenia’s farming sector and rural areas. More information about the CAP in Slovenia can be found here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Commissioner Andriukaitis visits Montenegro

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis is visiting Montenegro today and tomorrow (14-15 July). Commissioner Andriukaitis will meet national authorities, including the Deputy-Prime minister and the ministers in charge of Health and Agriculture, with whom he’ll mainly discuss the recent (30 June) opening of the Chapter 12 (Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy) of the negotiations of accession. The Commissioner will underline the importance of this Chapter since it deals with the safety of food products, a topic of the highest concern for EU citizens and consumers. He will detail to his interlocutors how they can learn from previous negotiations in this area. On the occasion of the visit he said: “It is of the utmost importance that Montenegro follows as closely as possible its strategy for transposition and implementation of the EU acquis for this Chapter. Montenegro has a major task ahead since this is a very demanding area, but I’ll make sure that all the expertise needed will be pooled to help this country. A step-by-step harmonisation with EU standards will allow Montenegrin products to access the EU markets“. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

* Updated on 14/07/2016 at 14:44, adding “and its innovation community, EIT Raw Materials”

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Europe to provide clean water for 120.000 households across Ethiopia

Europe to provide clean water for 120.000 households across Ethiopia

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Europe to provide clean water for 120.000 households across Ethiopia

EIB Vice President Pim Van Ballekom, Deputy Director General of AFD Jacques Moineville, Ethiopian State Minister of Finance Ato Ahmed Shide and Minister of State for Development and Francophony Annick Girardin

Ethiopia

15/07/2015

Rights Free

More than 120,000 households across Ethiopia are expected to benefit from significant new investment in water, wastewater and sanitation infrastructure. Three leading European development finance institutions today confirmed more than EUR 81 million of support for the upgrading programme to improve water services around the country by the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy.

The European Investment Bank, French Agency for Development (AFD – Agence Française de Developpement) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, represented in Ethiopia by the Italian Development Cooperation Local Technical Unit (IDC), announced the new backing on the sidelines of the Third International Conference on Finance for Development currently being held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“The European Investment Bank is very glad to be back in Ethiopia after many years to help finance a project in such a crucial sector as water and sanitation. Our engagement here shows our continued commitment to water investments across Africa and around the world. The programme that we’ve agreed to jointly finance today is expected to lead to improvements in health conditions and thus the quality of life of many Ethiopians.” said Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice-President.

The new programme, which will include both technical assistance during its implementation and long-term loans, will provide new water and sanitation infrastructure as well as rehabilitate existing services in small and medium towns across Ethiopia. Expected to directly benefit more than 120,000 households, the scheme will be supported by the Water Resources Development Fund’s (WRDF), and technical assistance will also be provided to regional water authorities.

The three European partners today agreed to provide more than EUR 81 million to the programme. This includes EUR 40 million from the European Investment Bank, EUR 20 million from AFD and EUR 15 million from Italian development cooperation a further EUR 6,4 million in grant funding from the three partners will complement the loans.

Over the last five years the European Investment Bank has provided more than EUR 500 million to support water investment including in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in the Sahel, Cameroon in central Africa as well as Tanzania, Uganda, Lesotho and Zambia.

In 2014 the European Investment Bank provided more than EUR 2.5 billion to support infrastructure and private sector investment across Africa.

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EUR 50 million Lilongwe water investment programme gets European backing

European financial and technical support for investment to alleviate critical water shortages in Malawi’s largest city was confirmed today by the signature of finance agreements confirming a new EUR 24 million loan from the European Investment Bank to support the new EUR 49.2 million investment programme to be implemented by Lilongwe Water Board. The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest lender for the water sector and owned directly by the 28 European Union member states.

New water investment is essential as the population of Lilongwe is expected to double in the next 20 years. Crucial upgrading and improvements to the city’s water infrastructure will be managed by the Lilongwe Water Board over the next four years and increase water supply in low-income areas where services are currently limited as well as reducing water leakage. In this way the new investment will ensure efficient use of the existing water network and scarce water sources, as the city is dependent on water from the Lilongwe River. The project will both improve reliable water supply for customers and share water management best practice staff of the Lilongwe Water Board under a dedicated technical assistance programme.

The new support by European Investment Bank for crucial investment in the capital city was formally agreed in Lilongwe today by Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for lending in Africa and Goodall Gondwe, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development for the Republic of Malawi.

“On behalf of the people and Government of Malawi, I am very happy to have signed this project which will help the Government address some of the bottlenecks facing the Lilongwe Water Board.” said Goodall Gondwe, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.

“The European Investment Bank has a successful track record of supporting water investment that has helped to secure the supply of clean water to millions of people across Malawi. Our new engagement in the country demonstrates the EIB’s continued commitment to supporting water investment that improves lives across Africa and around the world. Being able to see at first hand the impact of previous water investment supported by the EIB in Malawi shows the crucial need to continue to upgrade existing water infrastructure and expand the supply of drinking water to more communities. I am confident that the new project confirmed today will improve the quality of water supply and waste water treatment in Lilongwe for many years to come.” said Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President.

“With this new investment project Lilongwe Water Board is closing the gap between supply and demand. By increasing the supply of quality water we will secure the supply clean drinking water for 250,000 people by 2021. This will involve addressing critical issues concerning water quantity and quality, quality of service, efficiency, and continued capacity building of the local water practitioners. We are proud of the strong history of partnership between the EIB and LWB, and we are very honoured for this cooperation to be strengthened today.” said Eng. Alfonso Chikuni, Chief Executive Office of the Lilongwe Water Board.

“Access to water remains a challenge for many Malawians but with EU and EIB support 372 public water kiosks have now been constructed in Lilongwe, providing safe drinking water for many thousands of Malawians. The EU has also contributed EUR 5.5M towards addressing water and sanitation issues in 7 Malawian cities and towns. I welcome the news that the Lilongwe water board and the EIB will continue working together towards reducing leaks and improving services for the city.” says EU Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann.

Mr. Alfonso Chikuni, Chief Executive Officer and other senior representatives of the Lilongwe Water Board, and Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann, Head of the European Union to Malawi, were also present.

The new investment programme managed by Lilongwe Water Board and backed by the European Investment Bank support will help to cater for expected increased demand for water in the city where water has been rationed for the last 3 years and the population is growing by 4% each year. This scheme includes increasing water storage capacity and supply by an additional 30,000 cubic metres of water a day to the city, construction of 100 water kiosks in low-income areas and replacing pipes and pumps that currently act as bottlenecks in the city water system. The water supply networks will also be expanded to areas of Lilongwe not currently connected.

Vice President van Ballekom is in Malawi for a three day official visit to the country, the first visit by high-level representatives of the largest lender for water investment worldwide. During the visit the EIB delegation will also visit successfully completed water investment projects previously financed by the bank. The new initiative represents one of the first public sector projects to be supported by the EIB since 2008.

Over the last five years the European Investment Bank has provided more than EUR 500 million to support water investment including in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in the Sahel, Cameroon in central Africa as well as Tanzania, Uganda, Lesotho and Zambia.

In 2014 the European Investment Bank provided more than EUR 2.5 billion to support infrastructure and private sector investment across Africa.

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