EU Matters - Issue 1/2014


The new College of Commissioners will take up office on 1 November 2014.  The European Parliament will hold hearings with the commissioners-designate before voting in October. Lord Jonathan Hill has been assigned the Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union portfolio and the Agriculture and Rural Development portfolio has been assigned to Phil Hogan, the Irish Commissioner-designate.

The President Elect, Jean Claude Juncker has implemented a number of changes to the structures of the Commission moving to centralise power with the office of the President and a cadre of seven vice presidents.  All vice-presidents will have power to stop any initiative, including legislative initiatives of commissioners working under their watch.

While the aim of this new structure is to avoid excessive legislating, concerns have been expressed that it will made the process more complex and could result in a reduction in the collegiate approach usually used in Commission decision making.


A review of the Executive’s European thematic priorities has resulted in structure change at the Office of the NI Executive in Brussels. A recent review of the ‘Desk Officer’ initiative and in consideration of the cross cutting nature of the former innovation and technology thematic priority, the Barroso Taskforce Working Group has been restructured into three interdepartmental groups covering environment; economy and social themes.  Each of these groups is supported by a Liaison Officer in ONIEB.  In addition the Liaison Officer for the economy theme also co-ordinates activity on Horizon 2020.

Úna Downey – Senior Liaison Officer: Economy
Ben Martin – Liaison Officer: Environment
Keith Ruffles – Liaison Officer: Social/Employment 


Of the 2,666 proposals submitted for Phase 1 of the Horizon 2020 SME funding instrument, 155 proposals have been selected for funding. Spain had the most projects selected (39) followed by the UK (26), Italy (20), Germany (11), Ireland (10). Ireland has had the greatest success rate with 20% of its applications being selected for funding. The UK came 3rd with 11%. 645 projects in total will be funded in 2014.

Belfast based ProAx-SIS is one of 155 SMEs selected for its project on developing tests for lung conditions.They will receive €50,000 to finance a feasibility study plus business coaching and can then be considered for the second phase of the programme, in which applicants can receive between €0.5 and 2.5 million. 


InterTradeIreland has developed 2 travel schemes to help Horizon 2020 participants with the cost of 2establishing North/South partnerships – the Cross Border Collaboration Voucher and the EU Travel Scheme.

A range of events are being held for companies and researchers interested in Horizon 2020 funding.


The European Commission has adopted a Communication and launched a consultation on the EU Urban Agenda. This is to prepare for a second Communication to be adopted next year which will set the policy direction for the incoming Commission.

The consultation is open until 26 September 2014 and is an important opportunity to influence the future development in this area. UK Rep is encouraging participation from across the UK. Contact Andrew Johnston at the EU Unit at DSD.


A Commission proposal to revise the rules for the identification of horses was endorsed this month by EU Member States' experts. This revised Regulation provides a more reliable and safer European system for the registration and identification of horses in the EU. One of the basic aims is to prevent the inadvertent or fraudulent slaughter for human consumption of horses which must be excluded from the food chain. 


The National Assembly for Wales Enterprise and Business Committee published its report on its inquiry into EU funding opportunities for Wales 2014-2020 in July 2014. The report found that funding streams, other those in Structural Funds and Rural Development programmes, were not well exploited in Wales. The report mentions the need for greater Government support and strategic leadership in increasing Welsh engagement and participation in competitive funding opportunities.


The National Assembly for Wales Environment and Sustainability Committee is conducting an inquiry into the potential impacts on Wales of the European Commission’s proposals for a Regulation on organic production, labelling of organic products and the proposals made in the Action Plan on the future of organic production in the EU. The Committee’s call for evidence closes on 24 October 2014.


Current inquiries being undertaken by the House of Lords EU Committee and its Sub Committees:

  • EU Financial Regulatory Framework
  • Civil Use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems
  • The EU and Russia
  • EU Regional Marine Co-operation
  • The UK’s Opt-In and International Agreements
  • EU Alcohol Strategy

Inquiry reports recently published:

  • EU’s Contribution to Food Waste Prevention
  • Economic and Monetary Union: Implications for the UK
  • Youth Unemployment in the EU: A Scarred Generation?
  • Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership
  • European Public Prosecutor’s Office: Impact on Non-Participating Member States
  • UK’s 2014 Opt Out Decision (Protocol 36)
  • The Right to be Forgotten


The European Scrutiny Committee (ESCOM) published its report on the draft Ports Regulation this month. This draft Regulation seeks to establish a regulatory framework to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of EU ports. The Committee views that this Regulation could have highly significant impacts on the companies and workers involved with the UK ports sector and concerns have been 3expressed by both the ports industry and trade unions on how the proposals are developing.

ESCOM also reported on:

  • EU Waste programme
  • The European Police College

Other EU documents recently reported on by ESCOM:

Business, Innovation and Skills: Cooperation to strengthen cross-border consumer protection; Resource efficiency in the building sector; EU merger control; Application of geographical indication protection to non-agricultural products; Gender balance on corporate boards; unfair trading practices in the food supply chain; Developing an EU Urban Agenda; Communication on Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in the EU; Communication on Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Third Countries; Insolvency proceedings; EU legislation on waste; 

Culture, Media and Sport: The Telecommunications Single Market; Towards a data-driven economy in Europe;

Energy and Climate Change: Energy efficiency and security: 2030

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: The EU and the post-2015 development agenda; Green Action Plan for small and medium sized enterprises; 

Home Office: Europol; EU Strategy on Trafficking in Human Beings; Unaccompanied minors seeking asylum; The UK’s 2014 block-opt out decision;

Justice: Procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings; Detention, supervision and previous convictions of EU citizens; EU Charter of Fundamental Rights;

Transport: Working time: inland waterway transport;

Work and Pensions: An EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work; European aid to the most deprived.


The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, Queen’s University Belfast and the Institute for British-Irish Studies (IBIS) at University College Dublin are jointly hosting a conference on the topic of ‘Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and the European Union: Facing the Prospect of Change’.

The event takes place at QUB on 9 October 2014 and will explore Northern Ireland's position within the EU and the implications for Northern Ireland, for the NI-EU relationship and, by extension, for the North-South relationship in Ireland, of the evolving debate on the current and future nature of the UK's relationship of the EU.  Contact Dara Gannon at UCD or David Phinnemore at QUB 


OECD has launched a Regional Wellbeing database which aims to look beyond national averages to get a more accurate picture of quality of life across regions.  It covers eight main themes: income, jobs, education, health, environment, safety, civic engagement and access to services.  You can see NI compared to the UK as a whole and also compare UK to other countries.  The database is part of the OECD’s Better Life Initiative, which looks beyond economic growth to measure overall well-being. This includes the Better Life Index, which enables users to compare well-being across countries according to their own priorities. 


On 16 September 2014, the Assembly agreed the nomination of Megan Fearon as a full member and Fearghal McKinney as the alternate member of the Committee of the Regions for the 2015-2020 mandate.  The Assembly also noted the NILGA nomination of Cllr Trevor Cummings as the full member and Alderman Arnold Hatch as the alternate. 


NIABT will undertake its annual European Programme from 17-19 November 2014.  The Programme includes a tour of the European Parliament, meeting with MEPs and presentations/Q&A session on Horizon 2020 opportunities for SMEs; discussion on the economy from IBEC and CBI; Northern Ireland’s relationship/interface with UKREP; Scotland’s relationship with Europe post Referendum; discussion with the European Economic & Social Committee; and discussion with DG Enterprise and Industry.


Date Name Venue Further details
25-26 September 2014  C-TRIC TMED6 Conference ‘Personalising Health and Care’ City Hotel, Derry/Londonderry C-TRIC
8 October 2014  Environmental Conference on INTERREG VA funding available for cross-border initiatives.  Dundalk, Crowne Plaza Hotel SEUPB
9 October 2014 QUB/UCD Conference on NI, UK and the EU QUB David Phinnemore
29-30 October 2014 eChallenges 2014 Conference Hilton Hotel Templepatrick InterTrade Ireland
4 November 2014  Focus on Horizon 2020 Workshop -Manufacturing & Transport Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE), Belfast InterTrade Ireland
3 December 2014 ‘Collaborate to Innovate’ Horizon 2020Conference Dublin Castle  InterTrade Ireland



The list below shows a selection of open consultations. The full list of open Commission consultations is here.

Research and Technology, Internal Market, Energy, Employment and Social Affairs, Education, Economic and Financial Affairs, Communications Networks, Content & Technology, Climate Action: 

05.05.2014 – 31.10.2014  Public consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy   More Information  


05.08.2014 – 04.11.2014  Consultation on the Review of the Insurance Block Exemption Regulation More Information  


29.07.2014 – 30.11.2014  Green Paper on the Safety of Tourism Accommodation Services


08.09.2014 – 15.12.2014  A strong European policy to support Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs 2015-2020 – Public consultation on the Small Business Act (SBA) More Information 


30.07.2014 – 07.11.2014  Consultation on policy options to optimise water reuse in the EU More Information  

05.06.2014 – 17.10.2014  Consultation on the future EU initiative on No Net Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services More Information  

Internal Market:  

25.07.2014 – 31.10.2014  Public consultation on the Evaluation of the Commercial Agents Directive (86/653/EEC) More Information  

15.07.2014 – 28.10.2014  Public consultation on a possible extension of geographical indication protection of the European Union to non-agricultural products – Making the most out of Europe’s traditional know-how More Information  

Maritime Affairs & Fisheries 

04.08.2014 – 30.09.2014 Second draft of the new Block Exemption Regulation applicable to the fishery and aquaculture sector More Information  

27.06.2014 – 30.09.2014 Fishing Opportunities for 2015 under the Common Fisheries Policy More Information  

Research and Technology:  

11.07.2014 – 12.10.2014  Public consultation on Horizon 2020 "Science with and for Society" Work Programme 2016-2017 More Information  

03.07.2014 – 30.09.2014  Consultation on ‘Science 2.0’: Science in Transition More Information  


14.08.2014 – 24.10.2014  A policy initiative on opening the market for remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS or civil drones) More Information  

Find MLAs


Locate MLAs


News and Media Centre


Read press releases, watch live and archived video

Find out more

Follow the Assembly


Keep up-to-date with the Assembly

Find out more