Brussels Letter week beginning May 9
Greenpeace Netherlands released secret documents of the EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations which comprise about half of the draft text as of April 2016, prior to the start of the 13th round of TTIP negotiations on proposals from both the EU and U.S. on various topics
According to the spring 2016 Economic Forecast, economic growth in Europe is expected to remain modest as key trading partners' performance has slowed and some of the supportive factors to date have started to wane. As a result, GDP in the euro area is forecast to continue growing at modest rates over the 2015-2017 period. The Commission expects the euro area’s GDP to be 1.6 percent in 2016 and 1.8 percent in 2017 after 2015’s figure of 1.7 percent. In the EU, GDP growth is expected to moderate from 2.0 percent in 2015 to 1.8 percent in 2016 before reaching 1.9 percent in 2017.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe, European Commission President Juncker and European Council President Tusk met at a EU-Japan leaders meeting in Brussels.
“I want to strengthen economic relations between Japan and the EU, and I want to conclude a free trade agreement between Japan and the EU by the end of the year,"Japan’s Prime Minister Abe said before the leaders’ working dinner.
European Commission President Juncker said that he was confident that Japan and the EU can seal the agreement before the end of this year. Tusk said that they would review progress in bilateral relations and provide a clear political path to negotiators over a free trade agreement. Japan and EU have been in negotiations for a free trade agreement since March 2013, and both sides held the 16th round of talks last month in Japan.
Visa free travel
The European Commission recommended visa-free travel for Turkish citizens inside Europe’s Schengen borderless zone. Turkey has five benchmarks, out of an initial total of 72, to fulfill by the end of June, according to the European Commission. In order for the visa waiver to take effect from July, the commission’s recommendation must first be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states, which have relied heavily on Turkey to stem the flow of refugees seeking to enter Europe.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized one of the European Union requirements on terrorism legislation to enable visa freedom for Turkish citizens.
Among the five remaining benchmarks for Turkey to address, the EU demanded a change in Ankara's legislation on terrorism in exchange for visa liberalization for Turkish citizens.
"We will go our way; you go yours," Erdogan said, addressing a local rally in Istanbul. "The EU is telling us to change our law on combatting terrorism. They are allowing terrorists to raise tents and then [they] come with requirements. "
His comments come two days after the European Commission proposed visa-free travel for Turks.
€250.000 fine for non-acceptance of asylum seekers
The European Commission presented proposals to reform the Common European Asylum System. Through the basic principle, asylum seekers should, unless they have family elsewhere, apply for asylum in the first country they enter – but a new fairness mechanism will ensure no Member State is left with a disproportionate pressure on its asylum system. The new system will automatically establish when a country is handling a disproportionate number of asylum applications. If one country is receiving disproportionate numbers above and beyond that reference, all further new applicants in that country will be relocated, after an admissibility verification of their application, across the EU until the number of applications is back below that level. A Member State will also have the option to temporarily not take part in the reallocation. In that case, it would have to make a solidarity contribution of €250,000 for each applicant for whom it would otherwise have been responsible under the fairness mechanism, to the Member State that is reallocated the person instead.
€500 bill will be discontinued
-ECB has decided to discontinue the production and issuance of €500 banknotes.
The European Central Bank (ECB) has decided to permanently stop producing the €500 banknote and to exclude it from the Europa series, taking into account concerns that this banknote could facilitate illicit activities. The issuance of the €500 will be stopped around the end of 2018, when the €100 and €200 banknotes of the Europa series are planned to be introduced. Other denominations – from €5 to €200 – will remain in place.
Greece’s macroeconomic program
This week, the Eurogroup will hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the state of play of the macroeconomic adjustment program for Greece. Discussions will cover a comprehensive package of policy reforms as well as the sustainability of Greece's public debt. Both elements need to be in place in order to finalize the program's first review and unlock further financial assistance for Greece.
This week the legal aspects of the EU-Turkey statement of Mar. 18 2016 and the third progress report regarding Turkey's visa liberalization roadmap requirements will be looked at by the Committee on Civil Liberties and Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament.