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Leaving no one behind Petra De Sutter

Poor people are more likely to develop cancer and can expect lower survival rates; these inequalities need to be addressed, writes Petra De Sutter.

Poor people are more likely to develop cancer and can expect lower survival rates; these inequalities need to be addressed, writes Petra De Sutter.

 Photo credit: Adobe Stock


On February 4, the European Commission starts its outreach on the new European Cancer strategy.

If we want to be a Union that strives for more, fighting inequalities should be our core priority. As such, the EU must support national cancer plans, ensure access to affordable medicines and fight the causes of cancer.

Like most European citizens, my personal network contains many people who have been affected by cancer.


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Every 9 seconds, an EU citizen receives the bad news that he or she is diagnosed with this terrible disease.

While Europe accounts for about 9 percent of the world’s population, we account for 25 percent of all global cancer deaths. Recent projections suggest that cancer rates in Europe could double by 2035.

In addition to these alarming statistics, another challenge concerns inequalities: while cancer affects people from all backgrounds and countries, there are large disparities in the European Union.

Survival rates are generally lower in Eastern European countries and there are large differences when it comes to screening, early diagnosis and access to innovative medicines.

There are also large inequalities within countries, with poor people more likely to get cancer and have a lower survival rate.

“While Europe accounts for about 9 percent of the world’s population, we account for 25 percent of all global cancer deaths”

Developing and implementing policies to fight cancer are not the sole responsibility of national policymakers.

The EU has played an important role in the fight against cancer since the development of the first ‘Europe against Cancer’ programme in 1985, and over the years the disease has become a clear priority on the EU agenda.

Rightly so, as there is no other issue that affects European citizens more than their health. According to the Eurobarometer, 70 percent of Europeans want the EU to do more for health.

By focusing on cancer, the EU can clearly show its added value to all its citizens. The Commission has clearly understood the importance of the theme and Ursula von der Leyen has tasked the new Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, to develop a new cancer plan by the end of 2020.

For this cancer strategy to be successful, it needs to address the huge disparities between and within countries. With equality as one of the core European values, we should work towards a Union in which a poor worker in Bulgaria who is affected by the disease has as much access to care as a wealthy German businessman. The EU can work towards this goal by focusing on several aspects.

First, the EU can play an important role in the development and update of national cancer control plans. While 90 percent of Western European countries have national cancer control plans, only 54 percent of Central and Eastern European countries have such plans.

“For this cancer strategy to be successful, it needs to address the huge disparities between and within countries”

And even if plans are in place, implementation often remains a challenge. The EU can help Member States identify the right priorities and assist them in planning, updating and implementing their national plans.

Second, there is an important role for the EU when it comes to access to medicines. Thanks to ground-breaking research we have made major progress towards beating cancer and there is no doubt that the EU should continue supporting this innovative research.

However, at the same time, European policymakers should also find solutions in assuring access to medicines for all citizens. It does not make sense to develop highly innovative cancer cures if there are no strategies in place on how European societies will be able to pay for these medicines.

Together with EU governments and industry, the EU should consider how a balance can be struck between innovation and affordability.

Last but not least, we should not only wage a war on cancer, but also the causes of cancer. We know that 4 out of 10 cancers are preventable and that many risk factors are the same as for other noncommunicable diseases.

Consequently, prevention eff orts would benefit not only the majority of European citizens but also national health budgets. But despite the undoubtable economic benefits, European countries on average only spend 3 percent of their budget on prevention.

In order to realise the potential of prevention, we need to focus on a wide range of issues. When it comes to tobacco consumption, alcohol abuse, and healthy diets, policymakers should not only focus on individual behaviour but also take structural measures by regulating the market.

Environmental policies also play a key role. Europeans are exposed daily to several substances that are proven to be carcinogenic or procarcinogenic - banning these should be a key priority.

In conclusion, fighting inequalities should be at the heart of the new European Cancer Strategy. Similar to the European Green Deal, which has to combine the green and social agenda, we need a European cancer strategy that leaves no one behind.

/articles/opinion/leaving-no-one-behind Mon, 03 Feb 2020 16:28:25 +0100
Barnier warns of Brexit ‘cliff edge’ as transition period begins Martin Banks

UK premier Boris Johnson has said a no-deal scenario will happen at the end of the 11-month transition period if the EU side continues to insist on a “level playing field” in any future deal.

UK premier Boris Johnson has said a no-deal scenario will happen at the end of the 11-month transition period if the EU side continues to insist on a “level playing field” in any future deal.

Photo credit: PA Images


Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has warned there is a “real risk” of a Brexit “cliff edge” unless the trade talks between the two sides are conducted “in a spirit of mutual respect.”

Speaking in Brussels on Monday, Barnier said the EU was ready to make an “exceptional offer” but warned that the UK and EU will “need more time” to reach full agreement than the 11 months until 31 December 2020.

Addressing the possibility of the UK and EU failing to reach a trade agreement by the end of this year, Barnier told reporters, “This will be a constraint so we must prepare for all options, including a no deal. I don’t want that and will try to avoid it because there will be a widespread cliff edge if we don’t reach a deal.”


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He warned, “If we want to make progress in these talks it is important that they are conducted in a spirit of mutual respect and professionalism. This will always be my attitude and also that of my team.”

“I will act in good faith but will also defend and promote the EU interests and those of its citizens and businesses while at the same time striving to come up with solutions that will take account the choice of the UK which remains our friend and partner.”

Barnier, setting out the EU’s position for the upcoming trade talks, which are due to start next month, said, “It is important to understand that, even if do achieve a best-in-class agreement it cannot be business as usual. We will have two separate markets instead of one and new customs formalities will apply.”

He warned that the import of goods into the EU from the UK will, in future, have to “comply with EU rules” and will be “subject to regulatory checks.”

“We must prepare for all options, including a No Deal. I don’t want that and will try to avoid it because there will be a widespread cliff edge if we don’t reach a deal” Michel Barnier

“These are some of the mechanical consequences of the UK choice to leave so businesses must adapt now, I repeat now, to this new reality. The more we have common standards the better the agreement will be, but this is up to the UK to decide.”

“It is up to UK to decide on how closely this alignment is. This issue will be fundamental to our future relationship.”

His comments contrast sharply with those by Johnson who, also speaking on Monday, set out the UK’s negotiating stance.

He said once again that Britain will resist accepting any EU rules on social protections and the environment in the post-Brexit trade talks with the bloc.

Three days after the UK ended its 47-year membership of the EU, the Prime Minister used his first major speech since the decisive general election victory to set out his hard-line position to the post-Brexit talks.

As of midnight on Friday, Britain entered the “transition period” with the bloc and will continue to abide by the EU’s rules over the next 11 months, while officials in London and Brussels attempt to hammer out a future relationship.

Johnson has already vowed not to extend the negotiating period, and if no deal is agreed by 31 December then the UK could be forced to rely on WTO trading terms with the EU by 2021.

“It is important to understand that, even if do achieve a best-in-class agreement it cannot be business as usual. We will have two separate markets instead of one” Michel Barnier

Barnier, however, said he was determined to “defend EU interests”, adding, “We are clear that in any future deal we wish to have reciprocal access to fishing waters and a level playing field. This will be inextricably linked to a trade deal.”

He pointed out that Johnson has ruled out an extension to the transition period, adding, “That means that in a very short space of time we must make progress in these talks. This will not be easy so we need mutual trust. Mr Johnson has paid a lot of attention to every word and comma in the WD text to which he has committed.”

“One thing is for sure: you will not be able to accuse the EU of lacking ambition in these talks.”

Asking to comment on Johnson’s comments, he said, “The last 3 years have been marked by statements on both sides but I will listen to what people have to say and repeat that I want a fair deal.”

“We want to avoid unfair competition but it is up to him [Boris Johnson] to decide on this. For me, I will keep a cool head and stay calm. I will show respect and expect that in return. It is important that we are not overwhelmed by the things people might say.”

“I will not get involved in polemics or make judgements on what Mr Johnson or UK ministers are saying.”

He spoke of the “very sombre moment and very emotional moment” when the UK exited the EU on Friday, adding “but this is also a chance for a new start and a new relationship. The objective from now on is to construct with this great ally a new partnership and we must do this in the same spirt of trust and with the same transparency as we have done in the last three years.”

He said the draft negotiating directive, or “mandate for the future” had been adopted by the Commission earlier on Monday.

“This has been prepared for a while now so there won’t be any real surprise in it for anyone and it should be seen in the context of Council guidelines adopted by Council on 27 April 2017 and also the political declaration, a joint document which was approved by Boris Johnson on 17 Oct 2019.

“The aim is an ambitious partnership with the UK but we will remain clear headed. The most ambitious partnership is the one we had with the UK in the EU. You cannot have as favourable a position if you are not a member so we must address the UK’s choice to leave.”

“As I understand the UK will leave the single market and customs union in December so the UK can no longer benefit from the rights and advantages which are the preserve of an EU member.”

He outlined the “3 main chapters” of the draft - economic, security and governance issues - saying that there was the chance of zero tariffs on all goods entering the single market from the UK and an “ambitious FTA in services with wide sectoral coverage.”

“We are ready to offer all this even if we know there will be strong competition between the EU and UK in the future. But competition is normal.”

“Because of our geographical proximity and inter-dependence, this exception offer is conditional on two things. First, ensuring that competition is and remains open and fair and avoiding unfair competitive advantages.”

“We must now agree on the specifics that will guarantee a level playing field over the long term. That means upholding the highest standards in things like social and labour protection and state aid. Second, any FTA must include a deal on fisheries and providing for continue reciprocal access to our markets and waters.”

“If we can agree on this we will achieve an ambitious FTA.”

He said he will present the draft to Parliament on Wednesday and hopes it will be adopted at the EU summit on 25 February.

“We will have to make the best possible use of our time until 31 December, which is the date chosen by the UK to leave the single market. These are the conditions for what are an extraordinary set of talks but which will be subject to time constraints.”

“The consequences of a No Deal means that we will have to move forward more quickly in areas where there is the greatest of risk of a No Deal. However, will still be vigilant in ensuing that the 600 page WD is fully and properly implemented including the issue of citizens’ rights. I will issue, at regular intervals, reports on this.”

In order to boost transparency in the talks, he said he will also “step up dialogue with all stakeholders, unions and national parliaments and regularly publish all negotiating documents.”

Barnier said, “We must respect what is a very demanding framework for the talks. This has never been done before and it will be a real challenge to do it in 11 months, including a possible trade deal like those signed with Canada, South Korea and Japan. Of course, such FTAs also come with rights and obligations.”

The EU will take into account the “UK red lines” and added, “I believe that where there’s a will there is a way. We have the will but we will also be constrained by the decision of Mr Johnson to leave the single market and customs union at end of the year. He must decide if the UK leaves with or without a deal. There is a risk of the most serious cliff edge without a deal.”

Barnier conceded that any talk of “alignment” was a “red rag to the UK” but added, “the UK is asking for access to a market of 450 million and with zero quotas  but this won’t happen for nothing.”

He defended the role and importance of the ECJ, and added, “We favour free trade but we are not going to be naïve. Also, this is not just about trade but a lot of other issues too such as security and strong cooperation on data exchange and extradition.”

/articles/news/barnier-warns-brexit-%E2%80%98cliff-edge%E2%80%99-transition-period-begins Mon, 03 Feb 2020 15:59:27 +0100
Committee guide 2020 | DROI: Ambitious and vigilant Maria Arena

Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights will continue to keep a critical eye on the EU’s external policies while playing a constructive role in upholding international law and human rights standards, explains Maria Arena.

Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights will continue to keep a critical eye on the EU’s external policies while playing a constructive role in upholding international law and human rights standards, explains Maria Arena.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock


The Subcommittee on Human Rights’ (DROI) principle priorities are defined by both emerging challenges and our citizens’ expectations.

The issue of business and human rights is currently one of the most high-profile areas of attention, with a focus on moving towards more responsible business conduct globally, through the introduction of new voluntary standards as well as compulsory company due diligence.

Compulsory due diligence at EU level was a key European Parliament demand during the previous parliamentary term and we are determined to deliver on this. There is also a clear need to face up to new challenges and threats such as climate change.


Migration linked to serious human rights violations and conflicts continues to be a global challenge. DROI members are keen to continue their task of scrutinising all new EU policy developments, particularly the recently announced EU human rights sanctions regime; legislation repeatedly called for by Parliament.

As the Subcommittee’s chair, I am also determined to look for new and more effective ways to protect human rights defenders. I must emphasise right at the outset: the Subcommittee cannot do this alone. This is a task for Parliament as a whole.

One of our biggest challenges is upholding European ambitions on universal values and human rights standards, against the backdrop of a weakened multilateral system.

We need to work towards safeguarding and improving the EU’s credibility in the world as an actor that recognises human rights and a rules-based international system as a strategic interest, not as a distraction from other foreign policy objectives.

Another challenge for DROI, in addition to its Subcommittee status, is to remain relevant across all policies and to ensure that it is not perceived as a separate, detached parliamentary structure.

“DROI members are keen to continue their task of scrutinising all new EU policy developments, particularly the recently-announced EU human rights sanctions regime; legislation repeatedly called for by Parliament”

Citizens and policymakers are now waking up to the fact that global value chains are also about human rights. Climate change, deforestation, arms control, data protection and Artificial Intelligence all have major implications for human rights.

There can be no progress without injecting human rights into the policy debates about development, empowering women and civil society, as well as contributing to a stable and democratic neighbourhood for the EU.

Our aim is to bring these issues to the forefront of the EU policy debate. DROI must remain central to these debates.

Therefore, we will keep a critical eye on the EU’s external actions while striving to play a constructive role in working towards viable solutions in upholding international law and human rights standards.

Citizens’ expectations are clear: people across the EU want us to stand up for universal values and deliver active and effective EU external action that protects and promotes human rights. I will never side with those who say that security or economic interest should trump human rights.

I do not underestimate the challenge, but I do believe it is possible to reconcile these objectives.

Taking the lead in promoting human rights is a clear treaty obligation and we should be faithful to the spirit and the letter of the EU Treaty.

“One of our biggest challenges is upholding European ambitions on universal values and human rights standards, against the backdrop of a weakened multilateral system”

While it is true that the world has become multipolar, we are facing a pushback against multilateralism and the rules-based international order, often from the newly emerging powers and even from our traditional allies.

They are becoming increasingly assertive, including in our direct neighbourhood, repeatedly undermining international law and cooperation.

But I am not an EU pessimist. The EU still has a responsibility and the potential to live up to this challenge, by taking the lead in promoting human rights, making use of its leverage and acting as a responsible and reliable partner within both multilateral and bilateral frameworks.

Balancing the need to develop international trade with the promotion of human rights is often presented in an antagonistic manner and as a zero-sum game. We need to challenge this view.

I recognise the need for the EU to remain competitive, innovative and to offer opportunities for all economic actors. But this need not come at the expense of a race to the bottom on labour and environmental standards and human rights.

On the contrary. We need to demonstrate that we understand what is at stake beyond pure economic interest and that there is a European way of doing this.

This requires some political courage and ambition when we deal with trade and investment agreements.

For example, we could greatly improve the use of human rights clauses and their implementation in our international agreements.

The EU should not shy away from establishing redress and complaints mechanisms. We need to deliver true and measurable improvements on the ground before granting trade preferences and should raise the bar on implementing international commitments with our partners.

I also think we should be more ambitious about understanding the full environmental and human rights impact of our trade relations and perhaps be more vigilant about inward investment to the EU.

/articles/feature/committee-guide-2020-droi-ambitious-and-vigilant Mon, 03 Feb 2020 15:02:52 +0100
Committee guide 2020 | SEDE: Protecting Europe Nathalie Loiseau

With the EU facing a growing number of security threats, Nathalie Loiseau stresses that although voters are demanding greater efforts to improve defence, there still needs to be ‘democratic control’.

With the EU facing a growing number of security threats, Nathalie Loiseau stresses that although voters are demanding greater efforts to improve defence, there still needs to be ‘democratic control’.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock


What do you see as the committee’s principal priorities for the next couple of years?

The first role of the Security and Defence Subcommittee (SEDE) is to monitor the activities of the European institutions in defence and security. This starts with the EU missions and operations abroad; from the moment they are created to when they are completed. I believe we must pay special attention to operations and missions closely linked to the security of our continent. New instruments have been created, such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the European Defence Fund (EDF) and the European Peace Facility (EPF). SEDE will follow these new developments closely in order to ensure they achieve their objectives and deal with the new threats and challenges the EU faces. We also need to focus on the military dimension of space, the impact of AI in the defence industry sector, hybrid threats and cybersecurity, amongst others.


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What are the biggest challenges facing the committee and how do you plan to tackle them?

We need to make sure that the Parliament in general, and the SEDE Subcommittee in particular, are fully involved in the drafting, decision making and implementation of key decisions on the security and the defence of the EU. The creation of new instruments designed to increase our strategic autonomy is a new development and thus needs the required accountability to the European Parliament. European citizens are asking for greater efforts to improve European defence and we must respond to this request. But we also need to ensure that these new measures are subject to the necessary level of democratic control.

In which policy areas do you think citizens want to see the greatest benefit from your work over the next couple of years?

We will spend European money to encourage a European industrial and technological defence base. However, supporting research and development in the defence industry must come with results. We need to improve the way we prevent and fight cyberattacks. We need to see significant progress in the fight against jihadi terrorists in the Middle East and Africa. Europe is a continent of peace, one which is respectful of others, but it also wants to be respected and protected.

"European citizens are asking for greater efforts to improve European defence […] we also need to make sure these new measures face the necessary level of democratic control"

As part of any final deal, do you expect the UK to remain part of the EU’s security and defence apparatus? If so, how do you see this developing?

I regret the British decision to leave the EU. I think in our current world, as dangerous and unpredictable as it is, unity is needed more than ever; division will only weaken us. However, I respect their decision and we now have to negotiate a new relationship, where we protect our common interests, but also our respective sovereignties. This will be the purpose of the forthcoming negotiations on the future relationship. It is in our common interest to have a strong defence and security relationship between the EU and the UK, but one where each side will protect its decision-making autonomy.

As the NATO alliance becomes increasingly fractured, how important is it that the EU develops its own security and defence capabilities?

EU defence efforts are not against NATO, they complement the alliance. The EU treaties clearly state that for its members, NATO remains the cornerstone of European security. But we have to face it; NATO cannot only rely on the commitment of the United States. There needs to be a stronger European pillar in NATO, both for reasons related to burden sharing and to have our voice heard. We must also concede that the alliance doesn’t answer all the security challenges we face, as some Member States are not NATO members. Some of the threats we face cannot be dealt with solely by NATO. In addition, given some of the strategic choices made by Turkey; in Syria, in the Eastern Mediterranean or in Libya, we now face a tough time within the alliance.

/articles/feature/committee-guide-2020-sede-protecting-europe Mon, 03 Feb 2020 14:52:20 +0100
Committee guide 2020 | AFET: Fostering stability David McAllister

The EU is not yet a global player, but with a stronger, united, proactive and more strategic foreign policy, it will play a more prominent role on the world stage, writes David McAllister.

The EU is not yet a global player, but with a stronger, united, proactive and more strategic foreign policy, it will play a more prominent role on the world stage, writes David McAllister.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock


In today’s rapidly-changing world, the European Union needs to position itself so that we can quickly respond to new challenges. Multilateralism and collective action have naturally been the first responses in the quest for mutual benefit and stability. Universal rules and values are either being called into question or taken advantage of. At the same time, new political forces try to realise their own global and regional ambitions. The full scale of the strategic implications and geopolitical consequences remains hard to predict.

Many foreign affairs issues that will be discussed over the coming years are yet to be known. Geographically, I have identified nine foreign policy priorities for our Foreign Affairs Committee: the Western Balkans, the Eastern Partnership, Transatlantic relations, China, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, the Arctic and, last but not least, the relations with the United Kingdom after Brexit.


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The Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) will continue to promote multilateralism and a global rules-based order founded on international law. Three challenges are therefore crucial. First, the Committee will remain an important pillar in making our Common Foreign and Security Policy more effective. The EU’s capacity to act autonomously in areas of security and defence has to be strengthened.

Second, fostering the European Parliament’s diplomacy role. For years, MEPs have played a prominent role in parliamentary diplomacy, including in mediation, conflict prevention and dialogue processes.

Third, the AFET Committee has been a fully-fledged co-legislator on the EU’s external financing instruments. It is also playing an increasing role in their oversight and scrutiny.

"For years, MEPs have played a prominent role in parliamentary diplomacy, including in mediation, conflict prevention and dialogue processes"

The new term will be a decisive moment for Parliament to reinforce this role. The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) will provide a new set of tools for foreign affairs that will determine how EU assistance to third countries will be shaped. According to the latest Eurobarometer analysis, more than three-quarters of Europeans support a common defence and security policy among Member States.

In this area, the European Union has made major progress in recent years. Even though security and defence matters remain largely in the hands of Member States, the EU has been playing an increasingly important role in streamlining national efforts and coordinating defence policies with our partners and NATO.

The borderless nature of security threats, the current fragmentation of defence markets, the lack of interoperability and deficient cost-effectiveness are some of the key elements pushing Europe towards a more efficient use of resources and greater coordination of national efforts. I call for a genuine Defence Union to be established by 2025.

"The EU has been playing an increasingly important role in streamlining national efforts and coordinating defence policies with our partners and NATO"

As far as EU-US relations are concerned, I believe this is a partnership based on strong political, cultural, economic and historic links, as well as the promotion of shared values and common goals. However, this partnership has been facing a number of challenges and disruptions lately, including the Middle East, climate change, and the disengagement of the US in multilateral agreements and trade issues.

The European Parliament has stressed the importance for the EU and the US to continue jointly addressing global challenges and regional conflicts based on the principles of international law. We have also highlighted the importance of fostering links across the Atlantic to promote the merits and importance of the transatlantic partnership at different levels.

In the years to come, both sides should work closely together to strengthen the transatlantic alliance. The European Union is a global payer, but not yet a global player. The EU’s foreign policy has to become stronger, united, effective, proactive and more strategic. The EU can only deliver its full potential when speaking and acting with one voice.

Therefore, qualified majority voting in the Council would make our foreign and security policy more effective and speed up the decision-making process. In my opinion, new formats such as an EU Security Council and new alliances with like-minded partners would be a way to strengthen Europe’s role in the world.

/articles/feature/committee-guide-2020-afet-fostering-stability Mon, 03 Feb 2020 12:51:46 +0100
The European Green Deal: a milestone for cancer prevention Véronique Trillet-Lenoir

Cancer claims the lives of millions of people each year, but the European Green Deal could have a life-extending effect on citizens’ health, explains Véronique Trillet-Lenoir

Cancer claims the lives of millions of people each year, but the European Green Deal could have a life-extending effect on citizens’ health, explains Véronique Trillet-Lenoir

Photo credit: Adobe Stock


Among the priorities of the new European Commission is an ambitious plan to beat cancer, one of the leading causes of mortality in many Member States.

Cancer claims the lives of around 1.5m citizens per year and causes untold distress for the patients and their relatives.

The cost of cancer, including care-related expenses as well as loss of income, is estimated at €126bn per year.


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A plan to beat this deadly disease will have to address reinforced measures to limit tobacco use and alcohol abuse; equal access to affordable medicines, including anti HPV vaccines, with a special focus on the increasing risk of shortages and the need to converge on acceptable prices.

Other areas of focus must be high-level research and innovation especially in the field of Artificial Intelligence and digital health; networking against rare diseases including childhood cancers; the efficient collection and sharing of clinical data; recommendations for good practices; improvement of palliative care as well as social and professional reinsertion after rehabilitation.

“A plan to beat this deadly disease will have to address reinforced measures to limit tobacco use and alcohol abuse”

Given that 40 percent of cancers appear to be avoidable, concerted eff orts should be made to implement active prevention policies.

Since the main goal of the European Green Deal is to improve the wellbeing and survival rates of plants, animals and, of course, humans, not surprisingly it entails a large-scale public health programme focused on prevention aspects.

The Green Deal aims to reduce environmental pollution and considering the dramatic consequences of air pollution on human health, a significant decrease in fossil energies is crucial.

Likewise, cracking down on environmental pollutants such as endocrine disrupters present in some pesticides, should contribute to reduce the incidence of two major hormone-related and frequent killers: breast cancer (the leading cause of death from cancer in women) and prostate cancer (the most frequent type of cancer in men).

Reduction of toxic substances in the air, water and soil (including those derived from anti-cancer pharmaceuticals and carcinogenic tobacco residues) will have to be effective in all living spaces.

This particularly applies to workplaces, where the incidence of cancer due to occupational carcinogens exposure reaches 120,000 citizens per year, leading to approximately 80,000 death annually.

The Green Deal’s ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy of enhanced safety and health of agriculture-derived food, including better information for consumers through improved food labelling such as the Nutri-Score, will contribute to prevent colon and rectal cancers, known to be linked to obesity due to bad nutrition habits.

The Green Deal will also be an important factor in establishing energy-efficient housing, as well as providing incentives to a healthier lifestyle in terms of soft transportation and increased adapted physical activity (another factor in preventing breast, colon and uterine cancers).

The success of this potentially life-extending effect of the Green Deal on citizens’ health will depend on crucial conditions: the training of health professionals and involvement of all stakeholders (including politicians and patients associations, for example) to share and implement this new vision of care.

It also depends on identifying simple and reproducible epidemiological indicators to assess the real impact of the policies, as well as reducing health inequalities known to be related to a low level of education or/and income.

“Taking steps towards a healthier and safer environment should also have an impact on the reduction of various other diseases such as asthma, thanks to decreased air pollution”

Taking steps towards a healthier and safer environment should also have an impact on the reduction of various other diseases such as asthma, thanks to decreased air pollution.

Moreover, metabolic dysfunctions such as obesity and diabetes, as well as heart failures or strokes, should benefit from healthier food production and increased physical activity.

Finally, the Green Deal’s priority to fight against climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will hopefully reduce the direct and indirect consequences on health: dehydration and malnutrition, mental health degradation, as well as the worrying proliferation of insect vectors of emerging viruses, already present in European countries.

The announcement of two major programmes aiming at improving the well-being and health of EU inhabitants is an outstanding opportunity to follow the Sustainable Development Goals, to implement the ‘Health in all policies’ principle and to make the transition to a safer and healthier continent.

/articles/opinion/european-green-deal-milestone-cancer-prevention Mon, 03 Feb 2020 12:19:11 +0100
Pedro Silva Pereira: A beacon of democracy The Parliament Magazine

The European Parliament has an impressive array of goals to pursue and challenges to face in the coming years, but policymakers are undaunted by the job ahead. Vice-President Pedro Silva Pereira shares his insights into the action plan designed to make the EU a global heavyweight.

The European Parliament has an impressive array of goals to pursue and challenges to face in the coming years, but policymakers are undaunted by the job ahead. Vice-President Pedro Silva Pereira shares his insights into the action plan designed to make the EU a global heavyweight.

Pedro Silva Pereira MEP | Photo credit: Giancarlo Rocconi


The political agenda of the European Parliament for the coming years will be very demanding. In the short term, we have to find an agreement with the Council on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which ensures that we have enough budgetary resources to deal with the serious challenges we face.

Among these challenges are the need for greater convergence and the fight against inequalities as well as migration, defence and security, climate change, decarbonisation and the digital transition.

At the same time, we have to push for a more growth-friendly fiscal policy in the Eurozone, as the European Central Bank has requested, so that fiscal policy can - together with monetary policy - address the slowdown in our economy and deliver better results in terms of prosperity and job creation.


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More urgently, from a structural perspective, there is still a lot to be done on the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union, the conclusion of the Banking Union and the implementation of both the new European Green Deal and the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Other important issues will also be high on our agenda; namely migration policy and the respect for rule of law in the EU.

On both issues, we must ensure that our fundamental European values are fully safeguarded. All these and other topics will be up for discussion in the Conference for the Future of Europe, which starts in May.

This Conference is a major opportunity to engage with European citizens and debate where we want to go from here in building a fairer, more prosperous and democratic Europe.

On top of this, if you add the negotiations with the UK on the future relationship with the EU following Brexit, it is clear that we will have an extremely busy agenda in the European Parliament.

“I would say that the committees are paramount in the whole process of democratic policymaking in the European Union”

I think that the greatest challenge facing the European Parliament and MEPs is the task of delivering better results for our citizens.

We cannot ignore the rise of nationalism in Europe, which has taken the form of a strong populist, anti-European extreme-right movement.

However, for the first time in four decades, the European elections last May showed an increase in the overall turnout of voters, particularly among young people.

What’s more, the outcome of the elections gave a strong mandate to pro-European forces. Nevertheless, if you look at the current composition of the Parliament, you can see that Eurosceptic parties are tighter and better-organised under the common goal of undermining the European project, while selling illusions on going back to old borders and divisions.

Sadly, European history shows how misleading and damaging these ideas can be. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that we stay united behind a strong pro-democratic, pro-European front, one that works to promote unity, consensus and trust as well as address the legitimate concerns of European citizens.

Fighting misinformation and fake news, improving our democratic procedures, promoting our European values and delivering more concrete results to our citizens - these are the best ways in which the Parliament can foster a strong feeling of belonging in the European Union.

The European Parliament held decisive political sway in shaping the new Commission, contributing to a better and more transparent choice of the College of Commissioners. It also improved on the original proposed agenda for the next five years.

Parliament is already playing a key role in the MFF discussions and for good reason; we want Europe to be able to implement our citizens’ main expectations. In order to do this, we need to have the appropriate financial means, without the major cuts initially proposed by the Council.

This will not be an easy task, but I hope that we will be able to reach a compromise among the three institutions, even if it takes longer than expected.

Converting the Social Pillar from words into effective action with clear and broad commitments will undoubtedly be one of our most important political initiatives in the upcoming years.

Let us not forget that among the proposals in the Social Pillar are the creation of a Child Guarantee to fight poverty and exclusion and establish a European minimum wage - two crucial aspects that we, as social democrats, want to turn into reality.

I hope that citizens will recognise that European democracy is improving. The European Parliament - the only one of the institutions directly elected by the people - will play a leading role during the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe.

“Trade agreements emerge as an opportunity for the EU to play a major role in the global economy, but also to promote sustainable development, environmental goals and workers’ rights”

This is a Europe-wide initiative that will ask citizens to participate, debate and express their views on what kind of Europe they want for the future. This will be a cornerstone of our mandate and I, as Vice-President for democracy, will follow the debates very closely.

The Committees of the Parliament play a fundamental role in shaping the whole decision-making process, as well as scrutinising the work of the European Commission.

By allowing for specialised debates by the committee members - which often gather the opinions of experts in a certain field - the committees provide the necessary space for discussion among political groups, allowing for a much-needed consensus in shaping EU policies.

I would say that the committees are paramount in the whole process of democratic policy-making in the EU. As far as the new Commission under Ursula von der Leyen is concerned, I must say that up to now, the cooperation has been very positive and the Green Deal is undoubtedly an important milestone.

The S&D Group deserves much of the credit for putting this on top of the EU agenda, making sure that the new Commission would follow through with our proposals and hear the hopes and aspirations of European citizens.

I believe that Commissioner Frans Timmermans has done remarkable work in a very limited time. We will now work with the Commission to translate this strategy into legislative proposals and financial instruments.

It will take some time, but the political signal is there - Europe is taking the lead against climate change. The European Parliament and the S&D Group have been calling for a more ambitious green agenda at European level, namely on CO2 emission targets.

I am glad to see that the ambition is clear: we want Europe to be the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050. Climate change is a serious problem that requires full political commitment.

I can only echo what António Guterres, the Portuguese Secretary-General of the United Nations, said recently when he called for greater action at global level, asking major economies to pull their weight in order to avoid reaching the “point of no return.”

The fact that there is no single political group with an overall majority in Parliament is far from a new situation in the framework of the European political outset, and I do not believe that the power balance is significantly different from the previous term.

The main political families are still the same and political compromises are still needed. This is how democracy works in the European Parliament.

“It will take some time, but the political signal is there - Europe is taking the lead against climate change”

The Parliament has always taken its political responsibility very seriously and, despite some difficulties in a number of issues, we are normally able to build compromises across different political groups in order to have a strong position in negotiating with the Commission and the Council.

This was quite clear when we recently rejected three proposed European Commissioners and when we decided, of our own accord, to elect David Sassoli as Parliament President.

I do not see any reason for the European Parliament’s political position to be weaker this time when dealing with the other Institutions.

Moving on to trade, I would say that - despite the current trade war and protectionist trends - we live in an ever-increasing interdependent global economy.

The EU’s highly ambitious trade agenda gives the bloc a major strategic role on the world trading scene, pushing for an open and fair global order.

The EU aims to achieve wider opportunities for people and companies, removing trade barriers and creating efficient multilateral cooperation between partners.

Trade agreements emerge as an opportunity for the EU to play a major role in the global economy, but also to promote sustainable development, environmental goals and workers’ rights, among other features.

We must bear in mind that the EU is the world’s largest exporter of manufactured goods and services and the main economic and investment partner for 80 countries in the world.

Our success as a Union also depends on the relations that we manage to establish with other regions. As the rapporteur for the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the most important bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU, whose two partners represent nearly a quarter of world’s total GDP, I can tell you that this agreement will be a game-changer.

Due to the removal of tariff s and various trade barriers, together with the inclusion of a highly progressive sustainable development chapter, this agreement is a great example of how the EU is actually capable of shaping global trade rules, promoting its values and rejecting protectionism.

When it comes to the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, I would say that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, and therefore the existing proximity between the EU and the UK will no longer be the same.

Even an ambitious agreement, widely and extensively negotiated, as envisaged, will not be able to keep things as they are.

Nonetheless, we will work together to build a sound and positive relationship, doing our best to ensure the integrity of the single market while fully protecting citizens’ rights.

/articles/interviews/pedro-silva-pereira-beacon-democracy Mon, 03 Feb 2020 10:00:21 +0100
EU presidents embrace ‘new chapter’ as UK bows out of bloc Martin Banks

Though the Brexit Day gathering of the Parliament, Commission and Council presidents was clearly tinged with sadness, the leaders were keen to focus on the future of the EU.

Though the Brexit Day gathering of the Parliament, Commission and Council presidents was clearly tinged with sadness, the leaders were keen to focus on the future of the EU.

Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


European Council President Charles Michel, speaking on the day the UK leaves the EU, has insisted that the EU has “many strengths.”

Speaking alongside his Commission and Parliament counterparts, Ursula von der Leyen and David Sassoli in Brussels, Michel said, “This is an exceptional day for the EU and I have mixed feelings. It is never a happy moment when someone leaves but we have to open a new chapter and use all our energy to build a stronger and more ambitious EU.”

The UK will leave the EU at midnight.


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The three took part in a “retreat” on Thursday to discuss the future of the EU in the wake of losing one of its biggest members, the first ever such departure.

Michel, a former Belgian Prime Minister, told reporters the retreat had been a chance to discuss a “strategy between the EU institutions on forging better cooperation together.”

“We face the challenge of a digital age, climate change and economic growth but we have many strengths: the same values, freedoms and rule of law. We have 27 strong democracies, 22 million businesses, and a big single market.”

“More than ever we have to think how to use the tools we have to be more efficient and deliver more for citizens. I am convinced that in the next months we will work closely together to show again that this unique EU project, unique in history, is very strong and is for all EU citizens.”

“This is an exceptional day for the EU and I have mixed feelings. It is never a happy moment when someone leaves but we have to open a new chapter” Charles Michel, Council President

He said that at the international level there was “every reason for the EU to be more confident and self-assertive.”

Asked what lessons, if any, the EU could derive from Brexit, he said, “It is important to respond much more to the expectations of citizens and to explain the added value of this project. You have got to bring citizens together and it is also crucial to demonstrate that you can deliver.”

“The upcoming conference on the future of Europe is an opportunity to much more involve citizens in decision-making.”

He admitted that “unity is never easy, but I feel a real will to work together. People thought we wouldn’t keep unity in the talks with the UK but we did. But we now have to work day after day to strengthen confidence of citizens.”

Von der Leyen, a former defence minister in Germany, said, “There was a very nice quote from Jean Monnet [a founding father of the EU] who said ‘I am not pessimistic, I am not optimistic but I am determined.’”

“It is good that the three of us have today and yesterday joined forces. We are not pessimistic, we are not optimistic but we are determined.”

“It is important now to harness the digital agenda, the Green Deal and build competition, with our values embedded in it. Europe leads in these areas as a global authority.”

“Our strength does not lie in splendid isolation but in our unique union” Ursula von der Leyen, Commission President

She added “As the sun rises on Saturday a new chapter will open for the EU 27. It’s a chance to ensure that the EU continues to lead the way.”

“Saturday will also mark the end of nearly 50 years of UK membership. When the UK joined I was still at school and we had just six Member States. Today there are 27 and during all these years our union has gained political impetus and become an economic  powerhouse.

“Our strength does not lie in splendid isolation but in our unique union. Nowhere else can you find a union of 450 million people, speaking 24 languages in 27 countries who all work and live together.

“This is not by chance but is grounded in decades of experience and a determination to shape our future together.”

She added, “Let there be no doubt though: the challenges we face have not changed because of Brexit. These include climate change and the green deal.”

“We want Brexit to be the start of a new partnership with the UK. But, be clear, non-membership can never be the same as being a member.”

In a Q and A with journalists, she said there was a “clear legal basis” to guarantee citizen’s rights for Britons in the EU and EU citizens in the UK, saying, “this guarantee is in the WD and was put there by both sides. We found a very good solution on citizen’s right as well as the Ireland issue.”

“Over the next weeks, months and years we will have to loosen some of the threads carefully stitched together between the EU and the UK over five decades. And as we do so, we will have to work hard to weave together a new way forward as allies, partners and friends” David Sassoli, Parliament President

She added, “I want to stress that we are a union of 27 and every member has the same influence and same voice. No one was ever forced to join the EU. They all came voluntarily and that is because the EU represents like no other region the rule of law and personal dignity.”

“It is not just a common market; it is more than that and there are values that unify us and that is why many countries still knock at the door and want to join.”

“The EU has been criticised and some say it has to be faster and more visible. Yes, maybe, but if you look at what it has achieved and the unity it brought to a continent torn apart before that we can be proud of the EU. We have to ensure all do all we can to protect it and make it thrive and grow.”

“It is the British who decided to go and that must be respected but, in the talks, we saw a precious experience: how much that unity counts and how strong we are in unity. This weighs far more as an EU27 than you can ever have alone.”

“We are losing a pragmatic, down-to-earth member. It was not always easy, but dealing with all 27 was not always easy. We have shared lot of history and experience.”

“But, I stress, it was the choice of the British to be on their own. It is now up to us to negotiate the best possible agreement.”

For his part, Parliament President David Sassoli said, “We need to look to the future and build a new partnership between enduring friends. Together, our three institutions will do everything in their power to make it a success. We are ready to be ambitious.”

“How close that partnership will be depends on decisions that are still to be taken. Because every choice has a consequence. Without the free movement of people, there can be no free movement of capital, goods and services. Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, there cannot be the highest quality access to the single market. Without being a member, you cannot retain the benefits of membership.”

He added, “Over the next weeks, months and years we will have to loosen some of the threads carefully stitched together between the EU and the UK over five decades. And as we do so, we will have to work hard to weave together a new way forward as allies, partners and friends.”

The Italian MEP added, “We have always deeply regretted the UK’s decision to leave but we have always fully respected it, too. The agreement we reached is fair for both sides and ensures that millions of EU and UK citizens will continue to have their rights protected in the place they call home.”

/articles/news/eu-presidents-embrace-%E2%80%98new-chapter%E2%80%99-uk-bows-out-bloc Fri, 31 Jan 2020 17:39:01 +0100
Movers and Shakers | 31 January 2020 Mia Bartoloni and Megan MacDougall

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our Movers and Shakers column.

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our Movers and Shakers column.

Today’s Movers & Shakers are about: A fresh face in the European Parliament, EPP decides the fate of Fidesz, a Commission Director-General announces her retirement, the EU bids farewell to the UK, the latest Parliament committee and delegation changes, public affairs appointments, and more!

European Parliament

Incoming
The Parliament welcomes its newest member Christian SAGARTZ (EPP, AT) to replace outgoing member Karoline EDTSTADLER who was elected to the Austrian Parliament earlier this year as Minister for the EU. SAGARTZ was the top on the list for Burgenland ÖVP and received 17,332 preferential votes, finishing eighth in the overall ÖVP results.

Composition of Political Groups
Martin BUSCHMANN (DE) has reigned from the GUE/NGL group after admitting after admitting that he had been a member of the German far-right NDP party in the 1990s. He now sits with non-attached members.

Theodoros ZAGORAKIS (EPP, EL) has been expelled from Greece’s ruling New Democracy party by the country’s prime minister Kyriakos MITSOTAKIS. The decision follows escalating government tension around football.

European People’s Party chair Donald TUSK declared on Wednesday that Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party would remain suspended from the group. The party was suspended last March over issues of democratic freedom and rule of law in Hungary.

Committees and Delegations

Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (AGRI)
Atidzhe ALIEVA-VELI (RE, BG) has moved from substitute to member, replacing Sheila RITCHIE (RE, UK).

Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL)
Atidzhe ALIEVA-VELI (RE, BG) who was previously a member, has left the committee.

Fisheries Committee (PECH)
Maite PAGAZAURTUNDÚA (RE, ES) who was previously a substitute, has left the committee.

Petitions Committee (PETI)
Maite PAGAZAURTUNDÚA (RE, ES) has joined as a substitute.


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European Commission

Directorates-General

Human Resources
Irène SOUKA has announced her retirement from the role of Director General. SOUKA has been in her current role for eleven year. Her replacement is yet to be decided. In the meantime, Deputy Director General Bernard MAGENHANN will take on SOUKA’s responsibilities.


 Want to know more? Click here for more information on our Dods People EU service. 


EU Institutions and Agencies

Council of the European Union

Diplomat João VALE DE ALMEIDA (PT) has been selected as the first post-Brexit ambassador to the UK has been selected will take up the role on 1 February. Until last year, VALE DE ALMEIDA was ambassador to the United Nations in New York and has also served as ambassador to the United States between 2010 and 2015.

European Investment Bank (EIB)
Thomas ÖSTROS (SE) has been appointed vice-president and member of the management committee effective 27 January, succeeding Alexander STUBB (FI).

Public Affairs

Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI)
Ignazio CAPUANO has been elected the new chair. The mandate will last two years, effective immediately until the end of 2021.

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Florentine HOPMEIER has been appointed head of the Brussels office with immediate effect. She takes over from Gwilym JONES who left in October 2019.


Got a new appointment you would like us to include in our next newsletter? Click here to let us know about it!


National News

Brexit
Following from the UK parliaments passing of the Withdrawal agreement last week, on Wednesday the European Parliament approved the Withdrawal agreement with 621 votes in favour, 49 against and 13 abstentions. On Friday 31 at 11pm GMT, the UK will leave the EU.

Croatia
Minister for Health Milan KUJUNDZIC has been fired from his ministerial position over real estate issues.

Croatian prime minister Andrej PLENKOVIC said he will nominate Vili BEROS, assistant to the health minister, as health minister to replace Milan KUJUNDZIC.

Slovenia
Minister for Finance Andrej BERTONCELJ resigned from his position, over the feasibility of proposals put forward by the Minister for Health.

Prime Minister Marjan SAREC resigned on Monday over the minority government’s inability to pass key legislation, he has called for a snap election. The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) are the largest opposition party and are expected to attempt to form a new government, with an early election occurring If this fails.

Minister for Health Ales SABEDER resigned from his position, he reportedly handed in his resignation over two weeks ago and was to come into effect with the submission of two key healthcare bills.


/articles/news/movers-and-shakers-31-january-2020 Fri, 31 Jan 2020 15:48:53 +0100
The end of an era – Brexit Day dawns Martin Banks

After three and a half years of “will they, won’t they?” the United Kingdom will finally leave the European Union at midnight tonight.

After three and a half years of “will they, won’t they?” the United Kingdom will finally leave the European Union at midnight tonight.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock


The contrasting extremes of Brexit were on stark display in Brussels on Friday - the day the UK finally leaves the EU.

The first was a barely-disguised show of triumphalism by the Brexit party, whose MEPs, led by a Scottish piper, walked “in formation” from Parliament just before 9am to Place Luxembourg.

Amid a huge media scrum, the members, led by Anne Widdecombe, a former contestant on a dancing show in the UK, held court about their success in pulling the UK out of the EU.


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The former Tory MP told reporters, “This is a day for rejoicing and we can now go forward. We have done our duty and now we are off.”

She and her colleagues passed a spot where on Thursday, Remainers planed an English oak tree to symbolise what they say are the UK’s “roots” in the EU.

In clear celebratory mood and waving Brexit party umbrellas, though, Widdecombe and a gaggle of colleagues then boarded the “Brexodus Express” bus which took them to the city’s Midi station and their Eurostar train journey “home.”

Party leader Nigel Farage is thought to be in London for similar “celebrations” later in the day.

“This is a day for rejoicing and we can now go forward. We have done our duty and now we are off” Ann Widdecombe, Brexit Party MEP

A few metres away, though, came another symbol - one representing the millions in the UK who voted to stay in the EU.

A small group of campaigners staged a “dignified and quiet vigil close to the parliamentarium, the parliament’s museum about its activities, where, on Friday morning the presidents of the three EU institutions - Parliament, Commission and Council – held a news conference on “future of Europe.”

New Europeans, a campaign group, has also organised a silent procession and candlelit vigil in Westminster on Friday “to remind those watching as Britain leaves the EU that many of the citizens' rights issues are still unresolved.”

Roger Casale, its CEO, told this site, “To be frank the EU has not covered itself in glory vis-à-vis the treatment of UK citizens in the EU.”

Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, will later speak on the draft negotiating directives for the future relationship negotiations with the UK.

Parliament President David Sassoli said, “It deeply saddens me to think that we have come to this point and that a long-time EU member, partner and friend has decided to leave our EU family.”

“Today is a day full of emotions: we are grateful for the valuable contribution provided by the UK, and in particular, by British members, but at the same time we feel a sense of sadness for the fact that we can no longer continue our European journey together.”

“To be frank, the EU has not covered itself in glory vis-à-vis the treatment of UK citizens in the EU” Roger Casale, New Europeans

He went on, “We obviously respect and fully accept the decision of the people of the UK and their wish to build a different future outside the EU. We will continue to be close friends and partners; the things we have in common from a shared history and geography to our values will lead us to continue to cooperate closely in almost every area.”

“However, our relationship will be different, this is inevitable, and in ways, that we still cannot fully foresee.”

A Labour MEP told this website, “The timing of the speeches by the presidents is impeccable. It is a chance for them to state clearly what people can now expect for the EU’s future. They have to be clear that the EU is ready to change and take heed of the UK’s exit.”

The UK flag will be taken down at midnight from outside the institutions.

Speaking nearby, Belgian Greens MEP Philippe Lamberts told reporters that it can “no longer be business as usual” for the EU now that it has lost one of its most important members.

He said, “No, it cannot be business as usual anymore. If the EU thinks business as usual is okay then we are going to see a rise in dissatisfaction with the EU.”

Further comment from former SNP MEP Alyn Smith, who, in a message to the EU, said, “Please keep a light on for Scotland.”

“It deeply saddens me to think that we have come to this point and that a long-time EU member, partner and friend has decided to leave our EU family” David Sassoli, Parliament President

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon outlined the party’s latest plans for Scottish independence on Friday.

With tough negotiations on the next phase of Brexit set to begin, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned that the UK was now at a “crossroads” adding that he thinks there is a risk of “it turning in on itself.”

BusinessEurope President Pierre Gattaz said, “We regret that the UK will no longer be a member of the EU but we respect the decision of the British people. Now we must focus on the future.”

“Business is far from having any certainty on the future EU-UK relationship and the spectre of a ‘cliff edge’ is not yet off the table. We need to move quickly to avoid this outcome and ensure a smooth transition to the future EU-UK relation with a clear and stable framework that gives confidence to citizens and businesses.”

His colleague, BusinessEurope Director General Markus Beyrer said: “The future EU-UK relation will have a strong impact on businesses and we expect to be closely engaged in the negotiation process. We want a comprehensive and ambitious EU-UK agreement but we are aware there is limited time to achieve it.”

He added, “Brexit will not diminish the importance of EU-UK relations and we call on negotiators to work towards a comprehensive deal that will enable the EU and the UK to tackle together the many common future challenges.”

On 1 February, the UK will enter the so-called transition period, during which little will change in its economic relations with the EU. As this period will expire on 31 December 2020, only 11 months remain for both sides to negotiate and implement a deal on the future relationship.

“It cannot be business as usual anymore. If the EU thinks business as usual is okay then we are going to see a rise in dissatisfaction with the EU” Philippe Lamberts, Greens co-leader

Belgium, home to the EU institutions, has marked the UK’s exit in its own ways.

The Stib transport service has bid farewell to the UK in the European Union, with a video showing some of them - including Churchill, Darwin and Montgomery.

Several stops also carry the name of British towns and cities - Dover, Liverpool and Lancaster.

The Grand Place was lit up in red, white and blue on Thursday for a special event, "Brussels Calling", to mark Britain's exit from the European Union, including live music and British icons, from a red telephone box to Sherlock Holmes.

/articles/news/end-era-%E2%80%93-brexit-day-dawns Fri, 31 Jan 2020 13:29:37 +0100