The real problem is actually the overcapacity in the steel sector, MEPs claimed in a debate
The EU will focus on securing an exemption from US metals tariffs rather than provoking a trade war, Commission VP Jyrki Katainen told European Parliament last Wednesday. “This is not a dispute between Europe and the US as such. That's why the Commission will concentrate on problem-solving, instead of provoking further problems,” he said in a debate about the tariff threat. “What we want to do is clear up this mess. I think there are good reasons why both sides will accept, at the end of the day, that we don't need a trade war. Instead, we should concentrate on improving our trading conditions,” Katainen pointed out.
Brussels steps up to boost cross-border investment funds market
The Commission outlined last Monday yet another step towards the development of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) by promoting alternative sources of financing and removing barriers to cross-border investments, the EU press service reported. While the CMU will benefit all Member States, it will particularly strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by promoting private risk-sharing.
The High-Level Group recommends fact-checking made in a very transparent way, not blacklisting
Maria Koleva, Brussels
A Code of Practices that online platforms, print and broadcast news media organisations, journalists, fact-checkers and the advertising industry, to commit to, was proposed by the High-Level Expert Group on Fake News and Disinformation in its report.
EP set its stance on future EU-UK ties
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Even closely aligned third countries with identical legislation cannot enjoy similar benefits or market access to those of EU Member States, said MEPs in their position on a possible framework for EU-UK future relations, backed on 14 March during the plenary session in Strasbourg. Free trade deal, internal security, cooperation in foreign policy and defence, plus thematic cooperation, like such on cross-border research and innovation projects, are the pillars on which the post-Brexit ties could be based. The resolution was endorsed by 544 votes in favour, 110 votes against, with 51 abstentions.
Steps toward strengthening rights of posted workers
The European Commission is taking more concrete new initiatives to further deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights. On 13 March, the EU executive body presented its plans to set up an European Labour Office beginning in 2019 to ensure and control the minimum wage and social standards for those that start work in another Member State or who work in a third country inside the bloc.
Boosting food quality, countering food fraud
In attempt to respond and calm down consumer concerns across Europe about food quality and fraudulent practices concerning food, the Commission launched last Tuesday a Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality, operated by the Joint Research Centre, the EU press service reported. The Centre, a network made up of experts in and outside the Commission, will support EU policymakers and national authorities by providing access to, and sharing up-to-date scientific knowledge on food fraud and food quality issues. The Centre's launch was followed by the opening of the exhibition “Putting science at the heart of European policymaking”.
MEPs revolt over Juncker close aide's elevation to top EU post
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's close aide and chief of staff since 2014, Martin Selmayr, fell last Monday into the eye of a political storm after the Parliament decided with an almost unanimous vote to launch a probe into his promotion to EC Secretary General, news wires reported. Juncker announced in late February that Selmayr would take over the Commission's top civil servant post from Alexander Italianer, who is retiring. MEPs, however, revolted over the German-born official promotion raising questions about the decision's integrity and transparency.
Toys, cars top dangerous products list
Toys, cars and motorcycles topped the list of dangerous products detected and removed from the market in 2017, according to a report announced last Monday by the Commission. It showed that during the last year the Rapid Alert System for dangerous products was increasingly used by national authorities with more than 2,200 alerts. These alerts prompted nearly 4,000 follow-up actions, such as the withdrawal of products from the market.
Merkel starts her fourth term as German Chancellor
Chancellor Angela Merkel was sworn in for her fourth term last Wednesday, nearly six months after Germany's election and following lengthy coalition-building efforts. Lawmakers in Berlin's Reichstag voted 364-315, with nine abstentions, for Merkel.
Take refugees or face visa caps, EU tells other countries
The EU moved on 14 March to speed up the return of unauthorised migrants, announcing plans to punish countries that refuse to take back their nationals by restricting visas for their diplomats.
New rules to further reduce bad loans tabled
The Commission adopted last Wednesday new rules to tackle non-performing loans (NPLs) in attempt to further reduce risks in the banking sector, the EO press service reported. The proposal includes faster recovery of collateral and increased loss coverage as well.
Slovakia heads towards snap vote as political crisis rages
Slovakia is heading towards snap elections as political crisis caused by the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee raged on last week, news wires reported.
Slovenian PM Miro Cerar quits as court annulled referendum
Slovenian PM Miro Cerar resigned last Wednesday after the Constitutional court annulled the result of a referendum, which approved a flagship government infrastructure project to upgrade transport links to Koper port on the Adriatic coast, news wires reported.
Quality apprenticeships are effective tool to upskill staff
The EU Ministers for Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) meet on 15 March 2018 to hold policy debates on the future of social Europe post-2020 and on how to close the gender pay gap, contributing thus to the achievement of the goals of the European Social Pillar.
Ombudsman calls for review on Barroso's Goldman move
The European Ombudsman called on the Commission last Thursday to review whether its former president, Jose Manuel Barroso (pictured), ought to be working for Goldman Sachs after complaints that he was harming the EU's image, news wires reported. The recommendation follows a year-long inquiry triggered after Barroso joined the London arm of the US investment bank in mid-2016.
In Brief
EU extends sanctions on Russia over Ukraine crisis
The EU extended last Monday its sanctions against Russia, imposed over the annexation of Crimea and supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine, for another six months. The sanctions, including travel restrictions and asset freezes against 150 people and 38 companies, would be now valid until 15 September. “An assessment of the situation did not justify a change in the sanctions regime,” the Council said in a statement. The EU and other Western countries say Russia has also been providing a lifeline to separatists in eastern Ukraine, where a conflict has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.

Erasmus+ goes virtual
Erasmus+, one of the EU's iconic and most successful programmes, added last Thursday an online version to link more young people from European countries and the EU Southern Neighbourhood. The Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange will promote intercultural dialogue and improve the skills of at least 25,000 young people through digital learning tools over the next two years. The online version will complement the traditional physical mobility programme and could be extended to other regions as well. “Through Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange we will facilitate contacts between people, reach youth from different social backgrounds and promote intercultural understanding,” Education Commissioner Tibor Navracsics said.

MEPs back moving EMA to Amsterdam with conditions
The law enacting the European Medicines Agency's relocation from London to Amsterdam, due to Brexit, was last Thursday approved by MEPs. Nonetheless, lawmakers pressed the Commission and the Dutch authorities to deliver the new facilities on time, so as to ensure a smooth transition for the agency in order to move to its new permanent headquarters no later than mid-November 2019. “We are concerned about the risk of delay in the construction of the new building in Amsterdam, as this could cause a deterioration of the agency's workflow,” Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT) said.

Improving cross-border parcel delivery to boost buying online
Clearer information on the prices of parcel delivery services should help to increase consumer confidence in cross-border shopping and shipping, MEPs said while approving new rules of e-commerce. Under them, parcel delivery service providers will be required to provide their tariffs for a predefined list of most used services. The Commission will publish the prices on a dedicated website to enable consumers and businesses to compare domestic and cross-border tariffs between Member States and between providers and opt for the best deal. The new regulation should encourage the reduction of unreasonable differences between tariffs.