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Parliament set to reject Commission #TaxHaven blacklist

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MEPs are pushing the European Commission to re-assess which countries should be included on the blacklist of unco-operative money laundering jurisdictions. A joint vote of the Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Civil Liberties (LIBE) committees asked the Commission to rethink the list in a resolution on Wednesday (3 May). The resolution will now be put to a vote in the upcoming plenary.


MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group said: "The Commission's blacklist of countries bearing a high risk of money laundering is ridiculous. The list doesn't contain any single important offshore financial centre. Replacing Guyana with Ethiopia in response to the European Parliament's criticism seems like some kind of bad joke from the Commission. It obviously makes no effort to take the concerns of Parliament seriously.

"The EU needs a real blacklist of money-laundering countries. Faced with the recent leaks on money laundering and tax evasion, it is unacceptable that Panama and other important tax havens are still not included on the Commission's blacklist.

"Instead of just following the limited recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Commission must carry out its own assessment and urgently allocate more staff to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The EU Commission is unable to carry out its important tasks in combating financial crimes with just six people working in the basement of the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumer Protection. Personnel and resources must be boosted to at least 20 employees in the short term."

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The Commission identifies high-risk third countries that are then subject to increased customer due diligence measures. The most recent blacklist from July 2016 includes eleven countries. In January 2017, the European Parliament rejected a Commission Delegated Act to remove the State of Guyana. The Commission now proposes simply following the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international forum against money laundering and terrorist financing, and replacing Guyana with Ethiopia. ECON and LIBE have rejected this 'copy pasting' as insufficient.

The European Commission's July 2016 blacklist for high-risk money laundering countries included the following 11 countries: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Guyana, Iraq, Laos, Syria, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yemen, North Korea and Iran. The latest Commission delegated act aims to remove Guyana from the black list and replace it with Ethiopia. The list does not include any of the major offshore financial centers.

Background

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On 19 January 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the rejection of the Commission delegated act of 24 November 2016.

Delegated act of the European Commission of 24 March 2017 amending the list of non-co-operative money laundering third countries.

Letter from Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova to the Chairs of the ECON, LIBE and PANA committees.

Resolution of the ECON-LIBE Committee rejecting the delegated act of the Commission of 24 March 2017.

Amendments tabled to the resolution of the ECON-LIBE Committee rejecting the delegated act of the Commission of 24 March 2017.

Criteria to blacklist countries according to the fourth Anti-money laundering directive (Article 9 paragraph 2 of Directive (EU) 2015/849):

Third-country policy - Article 9

1.   Third-country jurisdictions which have strategic deficiencies in their national AML/CFT regimes that pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union ("high-risk third countries") shall be identified in order to protect the proper functioning of the internal market.

2.   The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 64 in order to identify high-risk third countries, taking into account strategic deficiencies, in particular in relation to:

(a) the legal and institutional AML/CFT framework of the third country, in particular:

(i) Criminalization of money laundering and terrorist financing;
(ii) measures relating to customer due diligence;
(iii) requirements relating to record-keeping, and;
(iv) requirements to report suspicious transactions.

(b) the powers and procedures of the third country's competent authorities for the purposes of combating money laundering and terrorist financing, and;

(c) the effectiveness of the AML/CFT system in addressing money laundering or terrorist financing risks of the third country.

3.   The delegated acts referred to in paragraph 2 shall be adopted within one month after the identification of the strategic deficiencies referred to in that paragraph.

4.   The Commission shall take into account, as appropriate, when drawing up the delegated acts referred to in paragraph 2, relevant evaluations, assessments or reports drawn up by international organisations and standard setters with competence in the field of preventing money laundering and combating terrorist financing, in relation to the risks posed by individual third countries.

Agriculture

Common Agricultural Policy: How does the EU support farmers?

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From supporting farmers to protecting the environment, the EU's farm policy covers a range of different goals. Learn how EU agriculture is funded, its history and its future, Society.

What is the Common Agricultural Policy?

The EU supports farming through its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Set up in 1962, it has undergone a number of reforms to make agriculture fairer for farmers and more sustainable.

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There are about 10 million farms in the EU and the farming and food sectors together provide nearly 40 million jobs in the EU.

How is the Common Agricultural Policy funded?

The Common Agricultural Policy is funded through the EU budget. Under the EU's budget for 2021-2027, €386.6 billion has been set aside for farming. It is divided into two parts:

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  • €291.1bn for the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund, which provides income support for farmers.
  • €95.5bn for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, which includes funding for rural areas, climate action and the management of natural resources.

How does EU agriculture look today? 

Farmers and the agriculture sector were affected by COVID-19 and the EU introduced specific measures to support the industry and incomes. Current rules on how CAP funds should be spent run until 2023 due to delays in budget negotiations. This required a transitional agreement to protect farmers’ incomes and ensure food security.

Will the reform mean a more environmentally-friendly Common Agricultural Policy?

EU agriculture accounts for about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. The reform should lead to a more environmentally friendly, fairer and transparent EU farm policy, MEPs said, after a deal was reached with the Council. Parliament wants to link CAP to the Paris agreement on climate change, while increasing support to young farmers and small and medium-sized farms. Parliament will vote on the final deal in 2021 and it will come into effect in 2023.

Agriculture policy is linked to the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy from the European Commission, which aims to protect the environment and ensure healthy food for everyone, whilst ensuring farmers’ livelihoods.

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Agriculture

Proposed lift on USA lamb ban welcome news for industry

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The FUW met with the USDA in 2016 to discuss lamb export opportunities. From left, US agricultural specialist Steve Knight, US Counselor for agricultural affairs Stan Phillips, FUW senior policy officer Dr Hazel Wright and FUW President Glyn Roberts

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed news that the long standing ban on importing Welsh lamb into the United States is to be lifted soon. The announcement was made by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday 22 September. 

The FUW has long discussed the prospect of lifting the unjustified ban with the USDA in various meetings over the past decade. Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales have highlighted that the potential market for PGI Welsh Lamb in the USA is estimated to be worth as much as £20 million a year within five years of the export restrictions being removed.

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Speaking from his Carmarthenshire sheep farm, FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman, said: “Now more than ever we need to explore other export markets while also protecting our long established markets in Europe. The US market is one we are keen to develop much stronger relationships with and the news that this ban could soon be lifted is most welcome news for our sheep industry.”

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Economy

Sustainable urban transport takes centre stage for European Mobility Week

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Around 3,000 towns and cities across Europe are participating in this year's European Mobility Week, which started yesterday and will last until Wednesday, 22 September. The 2021 campaign has been launched under the theme ‘Safe and healthy with sustainable mobility', and will promote the use of public transport as a safe, efficient, affordable, and low-emission mobility option for everyone. 2021 is also the 20th anniversary of car-free day, from which the European Mobility Week has grown.

“A clean, smart and resilient transport system is at the core of our economies and central to people's lives. This is why, on the 20th anniversary of the European Mobility Week, I am proud of the 3,000 cities across Europe and beyond for showcasing how safe and sustainable transport options help our communities to stay connected during these challenging times,” said Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean.

For this landmark year, the European Commission has created a virtual museum showcasing the history of the week, its impact, personal stories, and how it links with the EU's broader sustainability priorities. Elsewhere, activities around Europe include bicycle festivals, exhibitions of electric vehicles and workshops. This year's event also coincides with a public consultation on the Commission's ideas for a new urban mobility framework, and the European Year of Rail with its Connecting Europe Express train.

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