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European Parliament consents to new Commission

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Novel European Commission set to tackle ambitious agenda
After the European Parliament backed the new European Commission, views from Brussels on what we expect from Juncker’s team in the key areas of financial services, energy and digital. http://www.brunswickgroup.com/publications/reports/

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European Parliament consents to new Commission

  1. 1. Brunswick Group 22 October 2014 Talking Politics Novel European Commission set to tackle ambitious agenda With a 423 to 209 vote the European Parliament consented on 22 October 2014 to the new European Commission and removed the last hurdle before the new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his College of Commissioners can begin their new mandate. All that remains now is a final rubber-stamping by EU Member States and then the new Commission will take office on 1 November 2014. This note analyses the Commission’s new ‘modus operandi’ and what policy priorities to expect over the next five years in financial services, energy, and digital affairs, which we believe are the three key sectors for delivering on the ten priorities spelled out in Juncker’s Political Guidelines. A short and focused overview of key new Commissioners and their working relations follows. The Commission’s role and tasks  The Commission is the ‘guardian’ of EU Treaties – it represents and upholds the interests of the EU as a whole.  Most importantly, it is the initiator of new European legislation, which will then be amended and adopted by EU Member States in the Council and by the European Parliament.  Moreover, it manages the day-to-day business of implementing EU policies and spending EU funds. Early deliverables for the Juncker Commission  Flesh out the €300 billion investment package intended to jumpstart the European economy. The plan needs serious commitment and concrete smart proposals to leverage sufficient private money through additional public investments, notably in infrastructure. President-elect Juncker wants to present the package before Christmas.  Publish the Recovery and Resolution package for non-bank institutions. The proposal is one of the few ‘new’ pieces of financial services primary legislation to be brought forward in the near future. It will address risks to financial stability arising from non-banking institutions such as central counterparties (CCPs) and potentially insurance companies.  Only if the security situation in Eastern Ukraine improves, address the current sanctions regime aimed at specific sectors of Russia’s economy amidst the continued efforts to solve the gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia and diversify Europe’s energy supplies.  Help the Italian and Latvian Presidencies navigate the Data Protection Regulation through the Council and ensure an agreement with the Parliament in 2015, while keeping close working relations with the U.S. on questions surrounding the Safe Harbour agreement, the mechanism enabling transfers of personal data from the EU to the U.S. The Commission in Numbers Former Ministers Men Women Former MEPs Current Commissioners Former Deputy Prime Ministers Former Prime Ministers The Commission’s Political Guidelines The Commission’s ten policy priorities, as formulated by President-elect Juncker 1. A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment 2. A Connected Digital Single Market 3. A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy 4. A Deeper and Fairer Internal Market with a Strengthened Industrial Base 5. A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union 6. A Reasonable and Balanced Free Trade Agreement with the US 7. An Area of Justice and Fundamental Rights Based on Mutual Trust 8. A New Policy on Migration 9. A Stronger Global Actor 10. A Union of Democratic Change The Commission’s new ‘project teams’  Previous Commissions have been criticized for their inefficient working style and lack of cooperation. Overcoming this so-called ‘silo mentality’ has been one of Juncker’s key objectives so far. As a result, five out of the Commission’s seven Vice Presidents will be in charge of ‘project teams’, overseeing and coordinating the work of several Commissioners.  This new working structure is a bold move and remains a bit of an unknown. It will only pay off if ‘ordinary’ Commissioners and VPs have a sound working relationship based on trust. People and coordination skills will matter a great deal in the new College to make sure that the Commission’s administrative staff in the Directorates General (DGs) do not receive conflicting political signals.  The College will need to demonstrate quickly the added benefits of the new structure to win over sceptics; a considerable amount of Juncker’s political capital is invested in this new approach.  While individual legislative proposals will still originate from within the Commission’s bureaucracy and be the main responsibility of an individual Commissioner, the new Vice President structure means that top level long-term engagement plans need to take into consideration more targets than before. 20 19 9 8 7 5 4
  2. 2. Financial Services Over the next five years Financial Services Regulation at EU level will be a question of implementation, implementation, and implementation. After probably the most intense period of new legislation ever seen in response to the 2008 crisis, financial services will no longer be the ‘it’ topic – with the focus likely shifting to Energy, Climate Change and Digital. That said, quite a lot remains on the table from the last Commission and Parliament (e.g. proposals on benchmarks, a financial transaction tax, payments and credit card fees, money market funds and splitting out wholesale from retail banking) – and the Council and Parliament will shortly be inundated with secondary legislation flowing from the frenetic re-regulation period. It will be interesting to see how the European Supervisory Agencies and the Commission perform here – and whether they will push the boundaries of what the primary legislation allows, which could provoke a backlash from the other institutions. Besides a proposal on the recovery and resolution of non-bank financial institutions – which will most probably be restricted to CCPs and possibly some other infrastructure providers – Commission officials will be itching to open their top left hand drawers and dust off their proposals for reviews of existing legislation which has been put on hold to provide bandwidth for the re-regulation package. Some of the earlier re-regulation proposals, such as EMIR on the authorisation and operations of CCPs are already due for review in 2015 – and a number of commentators are convinced that once the re-regulation package is fully implemented the combined effect of all the measures will need further calibration – and possibly revised legislation – to ensure that the optimum balance is achieved between ensuring financial stability and making finance available to fuel growth and jobs. Key in this debate will be the much vaunted Capital Markets Union – on which Jonathan Hill, the new UK Commissioner for financial stability, received so many questions from the Parliament. Whilst this is a snappy new title it does little more than try to breathe new life into an issue which has taxed the EU for the last 20 years: how to make the EU’s financial markets look more like the US – and shift the dependence on bank based financing to the capital markets. Revitalising high quality securitisation and extending the technique to the SME markets will figure large. Completion of the Banking Union will also be a key priority – and in their questioning of Hill MEPs made it clear that they were impatient to see a common deposit guarantee scheme proposal to back-up the legislation already in place. However, Hill countered this clearly by saying that in view of the lack of progress on the existing proposal for harmonised national schemes he thought it unlikely that the political conditions for a common scheme were likely to exist any time soon. Politically it will be interesting to see how a Conservative British Commissioner for Financial Services fairs working in a matrix management scheme with Commissioners from the Eurozone on issues which will go to the core of greater European integration through the single currency. A new administrative structure for financial services A new Commission Directorate General (DG) Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, which will be responsible for relations with the EBA, ESMA, EIOPA, ESRB, and the Single Resolution Board (SRB) will report to Commissioner Hill. The new DG ‘Financial Stability’ will include:  Directorates F (Capital and Companies), G (Financial Markets), and H (Financial Institutions) from DG MARKT, except Unit F2 (Corporate Governance, Social Responsibility), which moves to DG JUST (and Commissioner Jourová, who is also responsible for remuneration).  The task force for the establishment of the SRB.  Unit MARKT 02 from DG MARKT (Financial services policy)  Unit E1 (Financial Markets and Infrastructures) and E2 (National Financial Systems) from DG ECFIN.  The part of Unit E3 (Financial Institutions and Stability Mechanisms) dealing with Financial Integration and Regulatory Policy, from DG ECFIN, with the exception of the part covering the European Stability Mechanism firewall. Selected key Commission Members for Financial Services Jyrki Katainen Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Leads ‘A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment’ project team “Public investment should not crowd out private investment. Money from the public side should be used as a catalyst for private investment.” Valdis Dombrovskis Vice President for the Euro and Social Dialogue Leads ‘A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union’ project team “If we want to return to economic growth we need to facilitate investments and stimulate demand. We need to concentrate on the demand side of economy, including increasing wages by moving taxation from labour to capital, property and other areas.” Jonathan Hill Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union In charge of DG Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union “The EU should not try to impose the exact same financial services rules globally, but any decision on equivalence must be supported by a rigorous technical assessment of third country rules.” Pierre Moscovici Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Union In charge of DG Economic and Financial Affairs and DG Taxation and Customs Union “I'm not here to change EU fiscal rules. I'm here to enforce them, while using all the margins they offer. One principle of vital importance is equal treatment. It would not be acceptable to give privileged treatment to some countries and not others.” Věra Jourová Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality In charge of DG Justice (includes remuneration policies) “I am comfortable supervising the topic of bankers’ bonuses. I think we’re going the right way on remunerations because we should set rules to prevent moral hazard.” Margrethe Vestager Competition In charge of DG Competition “We have to come back to the usual application of State aid control in the banking sector. I am ready to do so as soon as the market conditions permit.”
  3. 3. Energy The ‘Energy Union’ project team under the supervision of Vice President Maroš Šefčovič must not only deliver one of the key objectives of President- elect Juncker’s Political Guidelines, it will have to do so from the very first day and in a challenging international environment. The conflict in Eastern Ukraine has amplified the issue of energy security, but also introduced new political momentum into the process of addressing it. The prospect of a genuine Energy Union may now be a plausible one. The completion of the internal energy market remains the key objective in this regard and will require a measured approach to balance the EU’s and Member States’ myriad interests. High energy prices continue to hamper the competitiveness of Europe’s industries. At the same time, the new Commission will want to make sure that the various proposals aimed at increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewables, as well as measures to diversify Europe’s energy sources, routes, and suppliers are employed in a way that ensures the EU’s ambitious greenhouse emission targets are taken into due consideration ahead of next year’s international climate change conference in Paris. The complementary nature of future initiatives in the areas of energy, environment and competitiveness has been emphasized by a number of Commissioners and Juncker himself, and the distribution of responsibilities and portfolios reflect this understanding, with the Commission’s energy and climate DGs now both reporting to the same Commissioner (Miguel Arias Cañete) and the Vice President for Energy Union Šefčovič overseeing the work not only of Commissioner Canete, but also Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella. Still, Juncker’s heavy focus on jumpstarting the European economy and combating high unemployment has generated some criticism that he is neglecting the environment. The new Commission will have to demonstrate how it intends to turn these ambitious aims into tangible policies that deliver. Šefčovič will find a number of ongoing initiatives on his desk. Last week the Commission published a report on the progress achieved in establishing an internal energy market (IEM) and the results of stress tests to assess the vulnerabilities of Member States if gas supplies from Russia were to be disrupted over the winter. The IEM report identified a number of outstanding issues, such as incomplete implementation of the EU’s Third Energy Package, missing interconnectors and the need for additional and urgent investment in infrastructure. Expect the second iteration of the List of Projects of Common Interests (PCIs) in energy infrastructure in 2015 to provide a better picture of how the Energy Union will materialize into concrete projects. In competition matters, the ongoing anti-trust investigation into Gazprom will be assessed and completed by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Although she pledged a technical and legal approach to competition cases, the Gazprom case will inevitably be assessed in the wider political context of the Ukrainian crisis and the implementation of an EU energy strategy. Grand ambitions and declarations regarding a genuine single European energy policy will nevertheless be difficult to implement in full. In the foreseeable future, there is little the EU can do to significantly reduce dependence on Russian energy. The realisation of the Southern Corridor is going to take some time, and alternatives such as shale gas exploration are politically contested. The EU’s push to include an energy chapter in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement has not yet borne fruit, and in light of the uncertainties surrounding this particular free trade agreement, might never do so. The EU seems to be, at least in the short term, largely stuck with their traditional energy suppliers. One umbrella for energy, climate and environment The Commission’s DGs for Climate Action (CLIMA) and Energy (ENER) will both report to and work for the same Commissioner from now on. This reflects President-elect Juncker’s aim to bring these two policy streams under the same roof, and aligns with the Commission’s 2030 framework for climate action and energy policies, which Member States are expected to agree on during the European Council Summit on 23-24 October. Selected key Commission Members for Energy Maroš Šefčovič Vice President for Energy Union Leads ‘A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward Looking Climate Change Policy’ project team “It is ‘our solemn duty’ to make sure citizens do not face energy shortages. In case of a cut-off from Russia, we are much better prepared than ever before. Russia is using gas supply as an instrument of pressure and a political measure. This is unacceptable.” Miguel Arias Cañete Climate Action and Energy In charge of DG Climate Action and DG Energy “The South Stream pipeline cannot be developed unless we secure its compliance with existing EU laws.” Karmenu Vella Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries In charge of DG Environment and DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries “The issue of sustainability will be at the core of all my future actions. The economy and the environment need to go together to bring sustainable growth.” Elżbieta Bieńkowska Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs In charge of merged DG Internal Market and Services / DG Enterprise and Industry “High energy prices are holding back Europe’s industry. Energy efficiency measures are not disturbing industries, they are supporting them.” Margrethe Vestager Competition In charge of DG Competition “A sustainable energy market is a key priority of President-elect Juncker. A competitive energy market is in the interest of consumers.”
  4. 4. Digital President-elect Juncker has identified the digital economy as a key driver for economic growth and job creation. Creating a digital single market where content and services flow freely across borders is central to Juncker’s policy agenda. His commitment to this aim, which he championed throughout his electoral campaign, was evident in the appointment of a Vice- President for the Digital Single Market (Andrus Ansip) above the Digital Economy & Society Commissioner (former Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger), and in his setting of ambitious objectives for progress on the Digital Single Market. These include introducing measures within six months to modernise rules on copyright rules and online/digital purchases, as well as to conclude negotiations on the General Data Protection Regulation and the EU- U.S. Safe Harbour Agreement in 2015. Reflecting the horizontal nature of digital issues, Ansip will “steer and coordinate” the work of several relevant Commissioners who will bring forward concrete legislative initiatives. His first addressee will be Oettinger, who will lead on breaking down national silos in telecoms regulation and copyright. He will also oversee the Commission’s work on key issues such as net neutrality, cyber security, internet governance, cloud computing, big data and audiovisual policies. In addition, Ansip (and Oettinger) will work with new Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová, who has competence over data protection; and with Financial Stability Commissioner Jonathan Hill, who is charged with the modernisation of the regulatory framework on digital/electronic payments. Other Vice Presidents will be involved in the cross-cutting work, notably Jyrki Katainen, Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. Katainen’s first priority will be delivering a package to secure €300 billion in private and public investment focused in large part on broadband infrastructure and research. The digital industry will also be the focus of the new Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who will continue the work on the Google search anti-trust case, but also increasingly on big data, what she calls the ‘new currency of the Internet.’ The relationship between tax practices, competition and the digital industry has also emerged as one of the clear priorities of the new Commission. The digital economy and foreign multinationals have been singled out by Vestager, Ansip and tax Commissioner Pierre Moscovici for their aggressive practices. We therefore expect this Commission to continue focusing on tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning in the digital sector, and pursuing ongoing state-aid investigations related to national tax rulings granted to U.S. (primarily tech) multinationals. Confidence in data protection and security on both sides of the Atlantic has been recognized as a cornerstone of the digital single market. Moving forward, much emphasis will be placed on concluding negotiations on the EU’s comprehensive data protection reform, a process that has been slowed by disagreements between Member States on countless aspects of the proposals. During the confirmation hearings, the future fate of the EU-U.S. Safe Harbour Agreement, a framework that streamlines the process for U.S. companies to comply with EU data protection rules, was thrown into question by numerous MEPs. Jourová expressed doubts on Safe Harbour, but rejected the idea of putting a stop to it right away, while Ansip said it was clear that the existing agreement must change. For both, figuring out the next steps on Safe Harbour in conversation with the U.S. will be a near-term priority. Critical to the Commission’s work will be finding the right balance between ensuring confidence and trust in the digital market and creating an environment where digital services can continue to thrive. According to Juncker, European growth, jobs and competitiveness will depend on it. Oettinger to oversee copyright developments The Commission’s units dealing with copyright, copyright enforcement and online services will be moved from DG MARKT to DG CONNECT, which will report to Commissioner Oettinger, a sign of the increased focus on making rules fit for the digital era. Selected key Commission Members for Digital Affairs Andrus Ansip Vice President for the Digital Single Market Leads ‘A Digital Single Market’ project team “The priority is to complete the Digital Single Market. If completed this market will enhance the economy and create new jobs. To this end, we need to build robust and strong cyber-security and data protection rules and remove remaining obstacles.” Günther Oettinger Digital Economy and Society In charge of DG Communications Networks, Content & Technology “A copyright law that is fit for the digital world doesn’t mean everything is going to be available for free - we must make sure that we have a market for cultural goods but also make sure authors receive remunerations.” Věra Jourová Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality In charge of DG Justice “I share the Parliament’s strong doubts about Safe Harbour, but it would be irresponsible to stop it without a further assessment. We will investigate whether the system is fair, and what other tools we could use to replace it.” Margrethe Vestager Competition In charge of DG Competition “Our competition rules need to be as sharp as the companies: we must find new tools that are suitable for this ever-changing digital environment.” Contact Brunswick Brussels Address 27 Avenue Des Arts 1040 Brussels Belgium Tel.+32 2 235 6510 Fax+32 2 235 6522 Email brusselsoffice@brunswickgroup.com
  5. 5. Spotlight on the New European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Head of Cabinet: Martin Selmayr Jonathan Hill Pierre Moscovici Miguel Arias Cañete Karmenu Vella Cecilia Malmström Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Union Climate Action and Energy Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Trade Günther Oettinger Věra Jourová Elżbieta Bieńkowska Margrethe Vestager Violeta Bulc Digital Economy and Society Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Competition Transport Carlos Moedas Vytenis Andriukaitis Tibor Navracsics Marianne Thyssen Neven Mimica Research, Science and Innovation Health and Food Safety Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility International Cooperation and Development Dimitris Avramopoulos Christos Stylianides Johannes Hahn Phil Hogan Corina Crețu Migration and Home Affairs Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Agriculture and Rural Development Regional Policy