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High Representative/Vice President Borrell travels to Washington

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High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell (pictured) will be in Washington DC to 15 October. He will hold a number of high-level meetings focused on the relationship between the European Union and the United States of America, on advancing the transatlantic agenda and on pressing international developments. This will be the first official visit by High Representative Borrell to Washington since the new US administration took up office. On Thursday, 14 October, High Representative Borrell will meet with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss current foreign policy issues and initiatives to deepen further the EU-US strategic partnership and advance an already close cooperation on foreign and security policy. He will also hold a meeting with the US Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks to discuss how to pursue enhanced bilateral co-operation in the field of security and defence. More information is available here.

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European Commission

Commission participation in the Annual Meetings of World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund

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Several members of the Commission will participate in the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) taking place this week in Washington DC, United States of America. The meetings will bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector representatives, civil society, and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, global financial stability, poverty eradication, jobs and growth, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni will attend the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors and the G7 ministerial meeting. Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis will participate virtually in the plenary session of the International Monetary and Financial Committee. A written statement will be contributed by Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, to the plenary session of the Development Committee Meeting.

This meeting will revolve around two topics: ‘WBG Financing for Green, Resilient and Inclusive Development (GRID) – Towards A Post Pandemic Approach' as well as ‘Prevention, Preparedness, and Response: The WBG's Role in Future Crises'. Commissioner Gentiloni will also appear at an event organised by the Brookings Institution and will hold an exchange of views with the US Chamber of Commerce on the economic outlook and current policy priorities on Thursday, 14 October.

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Baltics

Baltic Sea: Agreement reached on 2022 fishing

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The Council of the European Union has reached an agreement on the fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2022, on the basis of the Commission's proposal. The agreement comes at a difficult time for the Baltic Sea, as environmental pressures and challenges stemming from pollution are taking their toll on fish stocks as well. Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius welcomed the agreement: “Restoring the marine environment and the fish stocks in the Baltic Sea is at the heart of the Commission's approach to setting fishing opportunities and I am happy that the Council has agreed to follow it for most of the stocks. In recent years, the problems in the Baltic have had a devastating impact on our fishers. This is why our comprehensive approach, with concrete actions targeting environment, is crucial. The decisions reached are difficult, but necessary, so that the Baltic Sea can remain the source of livelihood for fishermen and women today and tomorrow.” 

The Council adopted fishing opportunities for several stocks with substantial reductions, such as -88% for western Baltic cod. It also agreed on additional recovery management measures, such as limiting fishing to unavoidable by-catches for salmon in the southern main basin and western herring, as well as extended spawning closure and a ban on recreational fisheries for western Baltic cod. The agreement on the Joint Recommendation of Baltic Member States for a more selective fishing gear for flatfish is a step change in fisheries management, which allowed to increase the plaice total allowable catch (TAC) accordingly, without putting at risk the ailing cod stocks. The Council agreed increases for herring in the Gulf of Riga, sprat and salmon in the Gulf of Finland. More information in this news item.

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European Commission

Commission carries out unannounced inspections in the wood pulp sector

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On 12 October, the European Commission conducted unannounced inspections in locations in several member states at the premises of companies active in the wood pulp sector.

The Commission has concerns that the inspected companies may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.

Wood pulp is a dry fibrous material made from wood, which is used to manufacture different paper products (tissue, writing paper, paperboard, etc.).

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Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in an investigation into suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.

The Commission fully respects the rights of defence in its antitrust proceedings, in particular the right of companies to be heard.

The inspections have been conducted in compliance with all coronavirus health and safety protocols to ensure the security of those involved.

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There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate with the Commission and the scope of the exercise of the rights of defence.

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