Joint WTO proposal addresses promotion of food security that does not distort the market
The EU and Brazil, two of the world's biggest producers of agricultural products, submitted last Monday a joint proposal on support for agricultural production and food security measures to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the EU press service reported. The objective is to limit market distortions, to ensure a global level-playing field for farmers while taking into account particular needs of developing countries.
Public hearing on sustainable finance took place in Brussels
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Looking ahead to the low-carbon future, one of the main priorities of the Juncker's Commission is strengthening the EU's global leadership on sustainable finance.
 
Unconventional measures to stop the flow from Libya, tension around Brenner Pass remains
The inflow of illegal migrants via the Central Mediterranean route continues to grow and has produced some unconventional solutions at European level but has also triggered escalation in tension among affected Member States.
 
Smart specialisation aids regional growth
To take up the challenge of economic modernisation in the era of globalisation, Europe needs to empower its regions and help them create value. This means embracing innovation, digitisation, decarbonisation and developing people's skills.
More information, more money per capita, more opportunities
Maria Koleva, Brussels
It is a very simple old type of idea: more information leads to more opportunities. You realise where there are holes; you realise where there are problems and begin to think about what can be done.
Positive labour market, social trends continue
The Commission published last Monday the 2017 edition of its yearly Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review, which confirms positive labour market and social trends and continued economic growth, the EU press service reported.
Getting the bioeconomy going
A new Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre that sets together all pieces of the puzzle of this vast area and will fully prop up policymakers and stakeholders with science-based evidence, was kicked off on 20 July by the Joint Research Centre, the Commission's in-house science service, in cooperation with DG Research and Innovation.
Engaging on Egypt priorities
The EU and Egypt have been moving forward engaging on shared priorities under their Association Agreement.
Countering hybrid security threats becomes top priority
The EU outlined plans last Wednesday to counter the growing 'hybrid' threat to its security, such as monitoring and countering illegal online content and propaganda.
Poland contests judicial reforms
Demonstrators took last week to the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities to demonstrate for an independent judiciary in response to controversial reforms put forward by the conservative Polish government.
Vishegrad Group starts talks with EC on inferior foods
Slovak PM Robert Fico (pictured) got a mandate by his colleagues of the Visegrad Group countries to start talks with the European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker for changing EU rules after complaints over inferior quality foods distributed by western companies in the region.
Macron urges local authorities to cut spending by €13bn
French local authorities will have to cut spending by €13bn by 2022, President Emmanuel Macron said last Monday, emphasising that “intelligent” savings can be found.
Europe to become lead market for 5G network
The EU’s competitiveness and telecommunications ministers agreed in Tallinn last Tuesday to work for a future 5G network.
Reaching 40% women in EC management
A new Diversity and Inclusion Charter and fresh action to hire 40% women in its management are two key features of the Commission's new human resources policy presented last Wednesday, the EU press service reported.
Youth organisations to monitor Solidarity Corps
European Solidarity Corps and the Youth Initiative were the topics of the public hearing with the EP, the Commission, civil society organisations and social partners that took place at the EESC in Brussels on 18 July.
In Brief
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EU customs seized over 41 million fake goods
 
Customs authorities detained more than 41 million fake and counterfeit products at the EU's external borders in 2016, 2% more compared to 2015, new figures released by the Commission show. The goods had a total value of over €670m. Everyday products which are potentially dangerous to health and safety, such as food and drink, medicines, toys and household electrical goods, prevail among the intercepted goods. Cigarettes were the top category (24%) for all goods, followed by toys (17%) and foodstuffs (13%). China remains the leading country of origin of the fake goods with 80% of all seized articles.

Promoting digital innovation in health and care services
 
The Commission launched last Thursday a public consultation on how Europe should promote digital innovation in health and care, for the benefits of citizens and health systems in Europe. “We are dedicated to improving European citizens' quality of living by using digital technologies to their full potential,” Commissioners Andrus Ansip, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Mariya Gabriel and Carlos Moedas stated. The consultation will collect information on three main pillars: citizens' secure access to their health data; connecting and sharing data and expertise to advance research; and using digital services to promote citizen empowerment.

Italy investigates €6.7bn of assets held in Swiss bank
 
Italian tax police said last Thursday it has asked its Swiss counterparts for information on nearly 10,000 Italian-controlled bank accounts at lender Credit Suisse, worth about €6.7bn. Taxpayers with undeclared assets abroad face hefty fines if found out. The Guardia di Finanza said in a statement that as part of ongoing investigations into Credit Suisse it has already caught 3,300 Italians among its account holders, and they have so far paid out €173m in penalties. Recent international reforms against tax havens have made it increasingly difficult for Europeans to hide their wealth abroad.

Hamburg police detains record 3.8 tonnes of cocaine
 
The German customs authority announced last Thursday it had seized 3.8 tonnes of cocaine in the port of Hamburg, the largest shipment of that drug it had so far intercepted, it said. The drugs had a reported street value of €800m ($920m). The drugs were seized from three separate shipments from South America between March and May. The seizures all used the so-called rip-off method where legitimate shipments are exploited by traffickers. The first two shipments came from Paraguay and were both concealed in multiple containers of coal. The third seizure came from Uruguay in containers of animal feed.

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