European Union

Extended rules on trafficking

  A major step was taken on 21 March in the fight against trafficking in human beings. The Council adopted EU-wide minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and the level of sanctions in this area. The new rules also strengthen the prevention of the crime and the protection of victims of trafficking.

The new directive widens the definition of the offences. Trafficking in view of forced begging or labour, and the removal of organs, for instance, or the sheer attempt to commit such an offence will be punishable.

Potential paths for future farming

 The agriculture of the future was outlined in Presidency conclusions adopted by the Council on 17 March 2011. They will provide an input for the Commission's proposal on the CAP towards 2020.

Since its introduction, the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP) has undergone several reforms in response to changed circumstances. The conclusions cover the many elements that must be considered in the new CAP.

Commission proposes reform of European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)

Today, the European Commission adopted a proposal to reform the EU's Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF. The aim is to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of OLAF, while safeguarding its investigative independence. Since it was set up in 1999, OLAF has carried out around 4500 investigations and has contributed greatly to protecting the EU budget against fraudulent activity. Improvements are nonetheless needed to assist OLAF in performing to its full potential.

European corporate tax base: making business easier and cheaper

 The European Commission has today proposed a common system for calculating the tax base of businesses operating in the EU.

Towards stronger economic governance

   At its meeting on 15 March the Council agreed a general approach on six legislative proposals aimed at strengthening economic governance in the EU, and especially in the euro area. The main objective is the enhancement of budgetary discipline in the member states and broader surveillance of member states' economic policies. The proposals are part of the EU's response to the challenges highlighted by the recent economic and financial crisis.

Unitary patent to boost innovation

 At its meeting on 10 March the Council authorised the launch of enhanced cooperation on the creation of a unitary patent title, in which 25 member states will participate. This is the first step towards a streamlined and less costly patenting system. This complex issue has been discussed for decades.

A reform of the current patent system in Europe is deemed necessary to boost innovation and increase the competitiveness of European businesses by simplifying patenting procedures and reducing their costs.

Developments in Libya: an overview of the EU's response

As events continue to unfold in Libya, the European Union is reacting in many ways. It has imposed sanctions against the Libyan leadership. In a spirit of solidarity, the member states are coordinating repatriation of their nationals and are running a joint border control operation in Italy. Humanitarian aid is being sent to the region.On 11 March EU leaders will meet to discuss the strategic lines of the Union's response.

A new energy strategy for the decade

 At the Energy Council on 28 February, ministers defined EU energy priorities for 2011-2020. The aim is to ensure sustainable, secure and affordable energy for all Europeans.

"We are on the right track to finalise our political views and to implement all those decisions that were made during the February 4th European Council meeting concerning the internal market development by 2014 and the no-island policy by 2015," said Tamás Fellegi, Hungarian Minister for National Development, who chaired the Council meeting.

Increasing prosperity across the Union

Cohesion policy is a major driver of growth and competitiveness in the EU. On 21 February, the General Affairs Council issued guidelines for future policy.

János Martonyi, Hungarian Foreign Minister and President of the General Affairs Council, summed up the ministers' debate as follows: "There is a consensus that we definitely need a cohesion policy also in the future. It must be efficient. It must be cost-effective. It must be differentiated. At the same time it must be very well concentrated and focussed. It must be aligned very closely with Europe 2020."

Citizens' voice

 From 2012, EU citizens will be able to ask the Commission to propose legislation once a million signatures have been collected in at least seven member states. The number of signatories required from each country depends on the size of the population and varies from 3 750 to 74 250.

This citizens' initiative, a major innovation based on the Lisbon Treaty, was given the final go-ahead on 16 February in Strasbourg by the Council and the European Parliament.

Focus

The message of Minister for European Affairs George Ciamba at the end of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

06/28/19

“Presiding over the Council was the maturity test for Romania and a means to reconfirm its attachment to the European project” – George Ciamba We are preparing to hand over the Presidency of the EU Council after six intense months,…

Harnessing the power of innovation to prevent and address crises” exhibit organized in Brussels by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the

06/14/19

Between 11-14 June 2019, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU together with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) organized in Brussels, in the Council of the EU, an interactive exhibit that showcases how innovation enhances the…