Modernisation of EU export controls

The Commission welcomes the agreement reached today by the European Parliament and the Council on its proposal for a modernisation of EU export controls on sensitive dual-use goods and technologies. The changes agreed today will upgrade and strengthen the EU’s export control toolbox to respond effectively to evolving security risks and emerging technologies. Thanks to the new Regulation, the EU can now effectively protect its interests and values and, in particular, address the risk of violations of human rights associated with trade in cyber-surveillance technologies without prior agreement at multilateral level.  It also enhances the EU’s capacity to control trade flows in sensitive new and emerging technologies.

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “I warmly welcome this agreement to upgrade our controls on dual-use technologies. These can have a far-reaching impact and pose a risk to national and international security, while cyber-technologies can lead to human rights violations. We will now have robust export controls to mitigate against abuses of dual-use tech and exporters will have to follow due diligence obligations. The Commission will work now closely with Member States and the European Parliament to implement the new Regulation effectively. We will also interact closely with industry, which is the ‘first line of defence’ to guard against proliferators and other malevolent actors.”

This new Regulation provides a new basis for the coordination of controls on a wider range of emerging dual-use technologies between the Commission and Member States in support of the effective enforcement of controls throughout the EU. Due diligence obligations and compliance requirements for exporters have also been introduced, recognising the role of the private sector in addressing the risks posed by trade in dual use items to international security. Transparency will also be enhanced through the obligation to publish reports on the licenses granted. Continue reading “Modernisation of EU export controls”

Rebound interrupted as resurgence of pandemic deepens uncertainty

The coronavirus pandemic represents a very large shock for the global and EU economies, with very severe economic and social consequences. Economic activity in Europe suffered a severe shock in the first half of the year and rebounded strongly in the third quarter as containment measures were gradually lifted. However, the resurgence of the pandemic in recent weeks is resulting in disruptions as national authorities introduce new public health measures to limit its spread. The epidemiological situation means that growth projections over the forecast horizon are subject to an extremely high degree of uncertainty and risks.

An interrupted and incomplete recovery

The Autumn 2020 Economic Forecast projects that the euro area economy will contract by 7.8% in 2020 before growing 4.2% in 2021 and 3% in 2022. The forecast projects that the EU economy will contract by 7.4% in 2020 before recovering with growth of 4.1% in 2021 and 3% in 2022. Compared to the Summer 2020 Economic Forecast, growth projections for both the euro area and the EU are slightly higher for 2020 and lower for 2021. Output in both the euro area and the EU is not expected to recover its pre-pandemic level in 2022.

The economic impact of the pandemic has differed widely across the EU and the same is true of recovery prospects. This reflects the spread of the virus, the stringency of public health measures taken to contain it, the sectoral composition of national economies and the strength of national policy responses.

Rise in unemployment contained compared to drop in economic activity

Job losses and the rise in unemployment have put severe strains on the livelihoods of many Europeans. Policy measures taken by Member States, together with initiatives at EU level have helped to cushion the impact of the pandemic on labour markets. The unprecedented scope of measures taken, particularly through short-time work schemes, have allowed the rise in the unemployment rate to remain muted compared to the drop in economic activity. Unemployment is set to continue rising in 2021 as Member States phase out emergency support measures and new people enter the labour market, but should improve in 2022 as the economy continues to recover.

The forecast projects the unemployment rate in the euro area to rise from 7.5% in 2019 to 8.3% in 2020 and 9.4% in 2021, before declining to 8.9% in 2022. The unemployment rate in the EU is forecast to rise from 6.7% in 2019 to 7.7% in 2020 and 8.6% in 2021, before declining to 8.0% in 2022. Continue reading “Rebound interrupted as resurgence of pandemic deepens uncertainty”

EESC calls for digitalisation of mining to enhance the resilience of European industrial supply chains

Securing sustainable access to raw materials, including metals, industrial minerals and construction raw materials, and particularly critical raw materials (CRM), is of huge importance to the European economy, where at least 30 million jobs depend on the availability of raw materials. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the importance of digital transformation.

At its September plenary, and at a crucial moment for the implementation of the Green Deal and the EU recovery plan, the EESC adopted an own-initiative opinion on Digital Mining in Europe: New solutions for the sustainable production of raw materials drafted by Marian Krzaklewski and Hilde Van Laere.

In the opinion, the EESC recommends the digitalisation of the EU raw materials sector as a unique opportunity to enhance the resilience of European industrial supply chains, to improve the environmental performance of the minerals sector and to increase transparency and dialogue with citizens and communities affected by mining activities.

The EESC points out the importance of having a global, comprehensive minerals intelligence network to underpin the digital transformation and informed decision-making at EU level. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is developing and maintaining a European raw materials information system, which is acknowledged by the EESC. Continue reading “EESC calls for digitalisation of mining to enhance the resilience of European industrial supply chains”