CommuniqEU – European News Roundup

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by Keith Zahra


Environment and Biodiversity

The European Commission has adopted a comprehensive new Biodiversity Strategy to bring nature back into our lives and a Farm to Fork Strategy in its efforts towards a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. The two strategies are mutually reinforcing, bringing together nature, farmers, business and consumers for jointly working towards a competitively sustainable future.

In line with the European Green Deal, they propose ambitious EU actions and commitments to halt biodiversity loss in Europe and worldwide and transform our food systems into global standards for competitive sustainability, the protection of human and planetary health, as well as the livelihoods of all actors in the food value chain. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated how vulnerable the increasing biodiversity loss makes us and how crucial a well-functioning food system is for our society.

The two strategies commit to increase the protection of land and sea, restoring degraded ecosystems and establishing the EU as a leader on the international stage both on the protection of biodiversity and on building a sustainable food chain.

The new Biodiversity Strategy tackles the key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as unsustainable use of land and sea, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and invasive alien species.

The strategy brings forward concrete steps to put Europe’s biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030, including transforming at least 30% of Europe’s lands and seas into effectively managed protected areas and bringing back at least 10% of agricultural area under high-diversity landscape features.


Financial Services

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU Securities Markets regulator has asked companies to called for transparency with regard to the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on the half yearly financial reports of listed companies.

ESMA insisted on the importance of providing relevant and reliable information, which may require issuers to make use of the time allowed by national law to publish half-yearly financial reports while not unduly delaying the timing of publication.

The regulator said that it was of utmost importance to update the report’s information to adequately inform stakeholders of the impacts of COVID-19, in particular in relation to significant uncertainties and risks, going concern, impairment of non-financial assets and presentation in the statement of profit or loss; and

It called for the need for entity-specific information on the past and expected future impact of COVID-19 on the strategic orientation and targets, operations, performance of issuers as well as any mitigating actions put in place to address the effects of the pandemic.

ESMA further emphasises the role of audit committees in promoting high-quality half-yearly financial reports at this difficult junction in time.

ESMA and European national enforcers will monitor and supervise the application of the IFRS requirements as well as any other relevant provisions outlined in the Statement, with national authorities incorporating them into their examinations and taking corrective actions where appropriate.

Neighbourhood Relations

The EU has approved €3 billion in loans to help its neighbours and partner countries deal with the fallout of COVID-19.

The loans, which will be given on highly favourable terms and disbursed over a year, will help the following ten countries whose economies have been pushed into recession by the pandemic: the Republic of Albania (€180 million), Bosnia and Herzegovina (€250 million), Georgia (€150 million), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (€200 million), Kosovo (€100 million), the Republic of Moldova (€100 million), Montenegro (€60 million), the Republic of North Macedonia (€160 million), the Republic of Tunisia (€600 million) and Ukraine (€1.2 billion).

The goal of the funding is to allow these countries to mitigate the negative social and economic effects of the crisis while preserving the state’s financial stability.

The assistance can start being disbursed once the countries sign their respective Memorandum of Understanding, which will list the conditions of the loans. The European Commission expects the first tranche to be disbursed in the autumn of 2020, and the second and final tranche in early 2021.

EU assistance will help these jurisdictions cover their immediate financing needs which have increased as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Together with the support from the International Monetary Fund, the funds will help enhance macroeconomic stability and create space to allow resources to be allocated towards protecting citizens and to mitigating the negative socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Affairs

The European Council criticised decisions by Turkey to dispatch a drilling ship to within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and accused Ankara of breaching international law. In a statement, the EU Foreign Ministers came out against Turkey’s “illegal activities” in the Eastern Mediterranean and called for dialogue and negotiation.

The European Council urged Turkey to pursue good neighbourly relations in the region and said that it backs a proposal by the governments of Cyprus and Greece to develop a common maritime delimitation between relevant coasts.

The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said that member states are united in their position: “We have sent a strong message to Turkey today in support of Cyprus and Greece,” he explained, “We continue our diplomatic efforts for a creative partnership.”

The Council’s statement warns that the continued illegal actions by the Turkish government would have a negative impact on broader EU-Turkey relations.