Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs advocate for rewarding reforms by offering customs union
The November 2017 Eastern Partnership Summit should pave the way to set up a trust fund for Eastern partners and reward reforms by offering them customs union, Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs recommended last Tuesday. They welcome the significant progress made since last Eastern Partnership Summit, held in Riga in 2015, and stressed that some Eastern partners have made major reforms. Moreover, countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova now benefit from free trade and visa-free regimes with the EU. “The Eastern Partnership is about more than signing agreements at biannual summits. It is about supporting the EU's Eastern European partners in implementing reforms in the areas of democracy, rule of law and fundamental freedoms. We want to see more progress on reforms,” co-rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, DE) said.
Companies to notify the authorities of the long-term contracts
The European Council adopted on 9 October a revised regulation concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply, said a message on the Council’s website. “The general purpose of the regulation is to reinforce the EU energy security, reducing its dependency on others for energy supplies and enabling it to deal more quickly and efficiently with any gas supply crises,” said the message.
 
European citizens and businesses will only benefit from deeper financial integration
In order to make European citizens and businesses further benefit from deeper financial integration and a more stable financial system, the Commission plans to accelerate the completion of the Banking Union, the EU press service reported. Building on the significant progress already achieved, the Commission published last Wednesday a Communication that set out an ambitious yet realistic path to ensure agreement on all the outstanding elements of the Banking Union, based on existing commitments by the Council.
 
Cities, regions try to fill digital gap
Maria Koleva, Brussels
A joint platform that will shore up accessibility of high-speed internet across all European cities and regions, even in the rural areas, was kicked off on 12 October by the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions.
Lawmakers insist for new law on dual quality goods
Maria Koleva, Brussels
A debate that addressed the issue of the unacceptable practice in the EU of selling products of dual quality under the same brand and packaging, depending on the country, was held by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) members with a representative of the Commission.
Spain crisis end remains on hold
The outbreak of the crisis in Spain, surrounding the Catalonian referendum, was postponed for at least a week, it became clear last week, with Madrid posing an ultimatum to the separatists in Barcelona after their "tacit" independence declaration. Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont announced last Tuesday independence but immediately placed it on hold and demanded talks.
Political corrida riles business
European markets took relief from Catalonia stopping short of declaring immediate independence from Madrid while Spanish stocks and bonds rallied and the euro hit a two-week high last Wednesday, news wires reported.
EU expands North Korea sanctions
The Council of the EU decided last week to further strengthen restrictive measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) by transposing the sectoral sanctions imposed by UN Security Council resolution 2375 from 11 September.
New rules to resolve tax disputes greenlighted
The Commission welcomed last Tuesday Member States' formal green light for new rules to better resolve tax disputes.
Debating on EU funds after 2020
The Commission published last Monday its 7th Cohesion report, drawing lessons from cohesion spending during the crisis years and setting the scene for Cohesion Policy after 2020, the EU press service reported.
Tax cuts and renewables on new Dutch coalition plans
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte sealed a deal to form a new government on 10 October, ending months of four-party negotiations and marking a rightward shift along the political spectrum.
Merkel reaches compromise, starts true coalition talks
The exploratory talks for a government coalition between CDU/CSU, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens will start on 18 October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last Monday at a joint press conference with Horst Seehofer, chairman of Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Spirit of doubt on how safe glyphosate is
Environment and Agriculture committees MEPs held in Brussels a public hearing on 11 October concerning the EU risk assessment of the herbicide glyphosate, shedding more light on the so-called “Monsanto Papers”.
Governors, mayors urge for dialogue
Two hours before the sitting of the Catalan Parliament on Tuesday, the members of the European Committee of the Regions held a debate on Catalonia, agreeing on putting this additional topic on their plenary session agenda.
Council of Europe seeks violence investigation
The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks (pictured) has urged Spain to launch “swift, independent and effective” investigations into alleged police misconduct and disproportionate use of force during the Catalan independence referendum, news wires reported.
Article 155 - atomic bomb in the Spanish constitution
The Popular Party government of PM Mariano Rajoy is “accompanied” by the opposition Socialist (PSOE) Party in its decision to activate section 155 of the Spanish Constitution if Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont does not renounce his independence declaration.
Crunch time for Spain
Camino Mortera-Martinez
Television footage of Spain's Guardia Civil officers in riot gear manhandling Catalonian citizens as they tried to vote in Sunday’s independence referendum have shocked Europe. But what is happening in Catalonia is not a case of a state denying the democratic rights of its people. It is the product of increasingly radical separatism and a constitutional framework that is too rigid to accommodate those demands.
In Brief
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Nicholas Ilett to head OLAF as acting Director-General
 
Nicholas Ilett will replace Giovani Kessler as Director-General of the EU's anti-fraud office (OLAF), starting from 16 October. He would be an acting head until the appointment of a new Director-General, which is expected to happen in early 2018. Kessler is to be seconded to Italy's Customs and Monopoly Agency following a request by the Italian government. Ilett has worked in OLAF since he joined the Commission in 2002. He has led several of OLAF's Directorates and has also been an acting Director-General in 2010.

Serbia's Prime Minister enjoys welcome in Brussels
 
On her first official visit to Brussels last week Serbian PM Ana Brnabic received strong assurances that Serbia will become EU member. Commissioner Johannes Hahn told Brnabic that the Balkan country "will soon become a part of the European family." EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini said that new chapters in its accession talks will be opened "very soon". At the EP's Foreign Affairs Committee, Brnabic noted that 49% of Serbian citizens are in favour of the country's accession to the EU, and 66% of them support the reforms which are necessary to join the Union.

Member States agree talks on new telecoms rules, 5G
 
Member States signalled last Wednesday readiness to begin talks with the Parliament on new rules for the electronic communications sector that will prepare Europe for the era of 5G. “Our future is digital, and these rules are key to creating a gigabit society throughout the EU,” Estonia's Information Technology Minister Urve Palo said. “I am pleased that the Estonian presidency has obtained this mandate earlier than we expected.” Fifth generation mobile networks are the next telecom standards, promising to offer faster data speeds, capacity and response times than 4G.

EU to fund at least 6,000 free WiFi access points
 
The European Union will fund the establishment of at least 6,000 free wireless internet access points across the bloc by 2020 under a scheme called WiFi4EU, the European Council said on 9 October. Municipalities, hospitals and other public sector bodies will be able to apply for funding to install a new access point where there is no similar existing private or public internet connection. The EU could provide 100% funding under the programme and spending could reach €120m by 2019, the Council said. It will be allocated in a "geographically balanced manner" across the region. New connections must be maintained for at least three years, it said.

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