Results of European Council (Art. 50), 17/10/2018
At the European Council (Art. 50) working dinner on 17 October 2018, EU27 leaders reviewed the state of the negotiations with the UK.
Ahead of the meeting, Prime Minister Theresa May updated the leaders on the UK perspective of the negotiations.
EU27 leaders reaffirmed their full confidence in Michel Barnier as the negotiator and their determination to stay united. They also noted that, despite intensive negotiations, not enough progress has been achieved.
The European Council (Art. 50) called on the Union negotiator to continue his efforts to reach an agreement in accordance with previously agreed European Council guidelines.
The leaders declared their readiness to convene a European Council, if and when the Union negotiator reports that decisive progress has been made.
The meeting was followed by the European Council on 18 October 2018.
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Commission launches new tool to support digital teaching and learning in schools
Brussels, 25 October 2018
Commission launches new tool to support digital teaching and learning in schools
The European Commission has today unveiled a new tool to help all schools in the EU, as well as in Russia, Georgia and Serbia, to assess how they use digital technology for teaching and learning. In the EU, SELFIE (Self-reflection on Effective Learning by Fostering the use of Innovative Educational Technologies) will be offered to 76.7 million students and teachers in 250,000 schools on a voluntary basis. It is being launched in 24 EU languages with more language versions to follow. Any interested school (upper primary, secondary and vocational education schools) can sign up on the SELFIE platform and run the self-reflection in their school.The Commission's goal is to reach 1 million students, teachers and school leaders by the end of 2019.
Before launching SELFIE at IX High School Klementyna Hoffmanowa, a secondary school in Warsaw, Poland, Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “SELFIE can help our schools to embed technologies in teaching and learning in a purposeful, comprehensive way. By bringing together the views of school leaders, teachers and students, it can play an important role in making education in Europe fit for the digital age. I am confident that SELFIE will help us to strengthen Europeans' digital skills. This is key if we want to enable everyone to seize the opportunities of globalised, knowledge-driven economies. And it is indispensable for building societies in which people are confident, critical users of new technologies, rather than passive consumers.”
SELFIE is one of the 11 initiatives of the Digital Education Action Plan presented by the Commission in January this year. The Action Plan aims to boost digital skills in Europe and support the innovative use of digital technologies in teaching and learning.
How SELFIE works
Once a school decides to use SELFIE, students, school leaders and teachers reflect on a series of short statements to assess if technology is used in teaching and learning. The tool is modular, and schools can choose from a series of optional statements and add up to eight customised questions to suit their respective needs and priorities. The statements take between 20 and 30 minutes to complete. The school then receives a tailor-made report with the results. The SELFIE School Report can then be used for a dialogue within the school community, to define steps to improve the use of digital technology for better learning. This could include, for example, specific training for teachers or support for students on issues such as online safety. All responses to SELFIE are anonymous and no personal data is collected. The data will not be used to rank schools or education systems.
SELFIE is already available in schools in Serbia, and from early next year, it will be made available to all countries in the Western Balkan region. The first SELFIE conference will be organised in Madrid on 4-5 April 2019 in partnership with the Spanish Ministry of Education. The event will bring together schools from across Europe using the tool, and their experiences and feedback will be used to further improve it.
The Commission will also develop support materials for schools to help them take the steps needed to enhance their use of digital technologies after they have completed SELFIE. And the Commission is exploring potential synergies with existing networks of teachers and schools, in particular eTwinning, an online platform supported by the Erasmus+ programme that has grown into the world's largest teachers' network.
The launch is taking place today at a secondary school in Warsaw where Commissioner Navracsics is also attending the eTwinning annual conference. Commissioner Navracsics and the Polish Minister of Education, Anna Zalewska, are visiting the school to meet students and teachers and see how the school is embedding technology in learning.
The Commission has worked in partnership with ministries of education and a community of experts on digital education from across Europe to develop the SELFIE tool. Partner institutions include the European Training Foundation, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) and UNESCO's Institute for Information Technologies in Education.
An early version of the tool was tested last year with 650 schools in 14 countries. This pilot produced 67,000 comments on how to further simplify and improve the tool - feedback that was integrated into the version launched now.
For more information
SELFIE website, including video
SELFIE on Twitter: #SELFIE_EU
IP/18/6178 Copyright European Union
Commission welcomes European Parliament vote confirming relocation of European Medicines Agency and European Banking Authority
Brussels, 25 October 2018
The European Commission welcomes the European Parliament's vote today, which paves the way for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA) to take up their seats in Amsterdam and Paris, respectively, as of 30 March 2019.
For the Commission, the key objective has always been to ensure business continuity for these important agencies and for their staff. This vote gives the necessary certainty to the staff and all the administrations involved, allowing them to ensure a smooth and timely relocation.
The relocation of these two Agencies is a direct consequence of the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union, as notified to the European Council on 29 March 2017. The EMA and the EBA are two key regulatory Agencies for the EU's Single Market, and are essential for the authorisation of medicines and for bank regulation. They must continue to function smoothly and without disruption beyond March 2019.
The decision to relocate both Agencies was for the governments of the 27 Member States to take. It does not form part of the Brexit negotiations. On 29 November 2017, the Commission made two legislative proposals to amend the founding Regulations of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA). This followed the agreement reached in the margins of the General Affairs Council (Article 50) on 20November 2017.
For More Information
Decision on the procedure for relocation of EU agencies currently located in the UK (including criteria)
IP/18/6207 Copyright European Union
LIFE Programme: Member States to benefit from quarter of a billion euros of investments in environment, nature and climate action
Brussels, 25 October 2018
The European Commission has approved an investment package of €243 million from the EU budget for projects under the LIFE programme supporting nature, the environment and quality of life in Europe's transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon future.
The EU funding under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action will mobilise additional investments leading to a total of €430.7 million going towards 142 new projects. With numerous trans-national projects funded, LIFE will have an impact in every EU Member State.
Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "The LIFE programme continues to invest in projects that improve our quality of life, our environment and nature. It helps many talented Europeans to find solutions to some of today's greatest environmental concerns – air pollution, water scarcity, plastic waste, biodiversity and resource loss. And it continues to deliver value for money."
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: "These innovative projects show the added value of European cooperation. In developing and sharing the best ways to reduce emissions and increase resilience to climate change they support implementation of the 2030 climate and energy framework across the EU."
Tackling the biggest challenges
Funds of €196.2 million will go to projects in the field of environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information.
This includes major investments in projects that will enable more plastic to be reused. Turning this waste into high-quality raw materials for the car, construction and packaging industries is just one way in which LIFE gives practical support to achieving the goals of the European Commission's European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy.
LIFEremains at the forefront of efforts to increase awareness of the valuable ecosystem services that nature provides and to conserve endangered habitats and species. From reducing conflicts between people and wildlife in Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain, to promoting sustainable agricultural practices in Italy, Malta and Spain, the many LIFE nature project will help to implement the EU Action Plan for Nature.
In the area of climate action, the EU will invest €46.8 million to support climate change mitigation, adaptation and governance and information projects. This includes practical support for Member States drafting their 2030 national climate and energy plans that will help them collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. LIFE funding will also help farming and forestry adapt to climate change and improve communities' resilience to extreme weather events, from floods and heatwaves to water shortages.
- 55 LIFE environment & resource efficiency projects will mobilise €163.5 million, of which the EU will provide €82.4 million. These projects cover actions in five thematic areas: air, environment and health, resource efficiency, waste, and water. The 20 resource efficiency projects alone will mobilise €43.8 million to help in Europe's transition to a more circular economy, a 15% increase on last year. Some €14.9 million will help improve air quality in Europe.
- 40 LIFE nature & biodiversity projects support the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives and the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. They have a total budget of €153 million, of which the EU will contribute €97.5 million.
- 15 LIFE environmental governance and information projects will raise awareness on environmental matters. They have a total budget of €27.2 million, of which the EU will contribute €16.2 million.
- 11 LIFE climate change mitigation projects have a total budget of €33.7 million, of which the EU will contribute €18.6 million. These action grants are awarded to best practice, pilot and demonstration projects in three thematic areas: industry, greenhouse gas accounting/reporting, and land use, forestry and agriculture.
- 17 LIFE climate change adaptation projects will mobilise €44.2 million, of which the EU will provide €22.9 million. These action grants are awarded to projects in six thematic areas: ecosystem-based adaptation, health and wellbeing, mountain/island areas adaptation focusing on the agriculture sector, urban adaptation/planning, vulnerability assessments/adaptation strategies, and water (including flood management, coastal areas and desertification).
- 4 LIFE climate governance and information projects will improve governance and raise awareness of climate change. They have a total budget of €9.1 million, of which the EU will contribute €5.2 million.
Project descriptions and more details can be found in the Annex to this press release.
The LIFE programme is the EU's funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It has been running since 1992 and has co-financed more than 4 600 projects across the EU and in third countries, mobilising nearly €10 billion and contributing over €4.2 billion to the protection of the environment and climate. At any given moment some 1 100 projects are in progress. The budget for 2014–2020 is set at €3.4 billion in current prices and covers a sub-programme for environment and a sub-programme for climate action. For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission is proposing to increase funding by almost 60% for LIFE.
For information on LIFE
Link to Annex
IP/18/6162 Copyright European Union
Plastic Oceans: MEPs back EU ban on throwaway plastics by 2021
- single-use cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers to be banned from 2021
MEPs added oxo-plastics and certain polystyrenes
plastics where no alternatives available to be reduced by at least 25% by 2025
measures against cigarette filters and lost fishing gear
Single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks or cotton buds, will be banned in the EU under plans adopted on Wednesday.
These products, which make up over 70% of marine litter, will be banned from the EU market from 2021, under draft plans approved by Parliament.
MEPs added to this list of plastics banned from the EU market from 2021: products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene.
National reduction targets for other non-banned plastics
The consumption of several other items, for which no alternative exists, will have to be reduced by member states by least 25% by 2025. This includes single-use burger boxes, sandwich boxes or food containers for fruits, vegetables, desserts or ice creams. Member states will draft national plans to encourage the use of products suitable for multiple use, as well as re-using and recycling.
Other plastics, such as beverage bottles, will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90% by 2025.
Cigarette butts and lost fishing gear
MEPs agreed that reduction measures should also cover waste from tobacco products, in particular cigarette filters containing plastic. It would have to be reduced by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.
One cigarette butt can pollute between 500 and 1000 litres of water, and thrown on the roadway, it can take up to twelve years to disintegrate. They are the second most littered single-use plastic items.
Member states should also ensure that at least 50% of lost or abandoned fishing gear containing plastic is collected per year, with a recycling target of at least 15% by 2025. Fishing gear represents 27% of waste found on Europe’s beaches.
Making producers more accountable
Member states would have to ensure that tobacco companies cover the costs of waste collection for those products, including transport, treatment and litter collection. The same goes for producers of fishing gear containing plastic, who will need to contribute to meeting the recycling target.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE), rapporteur, said: “We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics. It is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming negotiations with the Council, due to start as early as November. Today’s vote paves the way to a forthcoming and ambitious directive. It is essential in order to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe, estimated at 22 billion euros by 2030.”
The report, drafted by Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE), was adopted with 571 votes to 53 and 34 abstentions. Parliament will enter into negotiations with Council when EU ministers will have set their own position on the file.
According to the European Commission, more than 80% of marine litter is plastics. The products covered by these restrictions constitute 70% of all marine litter items. Due to its slow rate of decomposition, plastic accumulates in seas, oceans and on beaches in the EU and worldwide. Plastic residue is found in marine species – such as sea turtles, seals, whales and birds, but also in fish and shellfish, and therefore in the human food chain.
While plastics are a convenient, adaptable, useful and economically valuable material, they need to be better used, re-used and recycled. When littered, the economic impact of plastics encompasses not just the lost economic value in the material, but also the costs of cleaning up and losses for tourism, fisheries and shipping.
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