At their most recent meeting, EU Heads of State or Government postponed decisions on nominating a set of high-level EU appointments, including the position of President of the European Commission. EU leaders will now reconvene for a special meeting of the European Council on 30 June, with the aim of reaching an agreement on a package of candidates. On climate policy, the European Council did not achieve consensus on ensuring climate neutrality by 2050 either. Conversely, it adopted the strategic agenda for 2019-24, setting four priority areas that will guide the work of the EU institutions over the next five years. EU leaders also discussed a wide range of external relations issues, including the situation in eastern Ukraine and the Azov Sea, and reconfirmed economic sanctions on Russia.
Today, the Commission published the results of a pan-European testing campaign of food products showing that some products are identically or similarly branded while having a different composition.
During a joint action day coordinated by Eurojust, judicial authorities from Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria and Romania took down an organised crime group suspected of large-scale VAT fraud in the EU drinks market. Following numerous house searches in Italy, Germany, Austria and Romania, mobile phones and relevant documents were seized; moreover, bank details and records as well as other criminal assets were identified. 7 suspects residing in Italy, Austria and Romania were arrested, following the execution of pre-trial arrest warrants. The total amount of tax evasion is estimated at almost €2 million. Earlier today, with Eurojust’s support, 18 people, involved in another VAT fraud with alcoholic drinks, were arrested.
More than €100 million worth of potentially dangerous food and drinks was seized in the latest Operation OPSON, coordinated by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordination Centre and INTERPOL. 672 individuals were arrested so far, with investigations ongoing in many countries.
In 2018, the European Commission, together with Europol, decided to launch a targeted action on organics in the framework of the OPSON VIII operation. The aim of this operation was to protect the reputation of the EU organic logo, and guarantee the confidence European consumers rightly have in it. It is important to stress that organic fraud does not present food safety risks and, if discovered, products that are non-compliant with the organic rules are downgraded and sold as conventional ones.