Tag Archives: Biodiversity

Presentation of the 2018 Commission Work Programme to the European Parliament by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans

I have just come from the College where we agreed on our Work Programme for 2018 and I am pleased to be here to present it to you straight away this afternoon.

The Work Programme is the Commission’s commitment to you and to Europeans about what we will do in the coming year – and it is a crucial period because together we have just over eighteen months to show results before our citizens go to the ballot box to re-elect this House.

There are no surprises in what we announce today. The Work Programme reflects fully the ambition, content and tone of Jean-Claude Junker’s State of the Union speech and the Letter of Intent we sent you in parallel.

At the same time our Work Programme has certainly been enriched by, and builds on, the fruitful exchanges we have had in this chamber, with the Conference of Committee Chairs and the Conference of Presidents as well as on our exchanges with the Member States in line with the Inter-institutional Agreement on Better Law-making. We have also discussed with the Council and have had contributions from the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. I would like to thank you for the excellent cooperation we have had and continue to enjoy. We need to build on this in the decisive months to come. And I think we have now established after 3 years quite a routine in doing this, and it’s working well.

The Work Programme sets out an agenda for a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe. It has a two-fold focus.

First, we set out a limited number of new proposals which we will deliver by May 2018 so that the legislative work here and in the Council can be finished before the elections. The Commission has already tabled more than 80% of the proposals needed under the ten priorities set out by President Juncker in 2014.

Now we will focus on getting the remaining proposals on the table and working with you and the Council to see them adopted.

Our focus is on the limited number of proposals needed to complete the strategies we have set out.

To boost jobs, growth and investment, we will pursue work to deliver on the Circular Economy Action Plan, and to complete the Digital Single Market, the Energy Union, the Capital Markets Union and the Banking Union.

We will propose the creation of a dedicated euro area budget line within the EU budget along with other measures to complete the Economic and Monetary Union, including transforming the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund.

To create a deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base we will present an initiative on fair taxation in the digital economy and a proposal to improve the EU food supply chain.

We are – like you – looking forward to the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights next month. We will follow up with a social fairness package that creates a European Labour Authority to help address labour mobility and social security challenges. We will improve the rules requiring employees to be properly informed about their contracts, and will present an initiative on access to social protection so that everyone who works, whether in traditional or new jobs in the gig economy, can contribute and have access to social protection.

We will also table targeted new measures to complete the Security Union, in particular as concerns the fight against terrorism and ensuring the interoperability of stronger and smarter databases for our border, migration and security needs. We will strengthen the Union Civil Protection Mechanism so that we are better prepared to help in situations such as the tragic and devastating forest fires we have seen recently in Portugal and Spain.

We will continue to work on our comprehensive approach to migration, with an emphasis on returns, protecting our external borders, solidarity with Africa and opening legal pathways and, above all, agreeing on Dublin reform and the Blue Card proposal. We will set out our ideas how to modernise our visa policy.

We will keep up the focus on migration management in our relations with third countries, and we will deliver on the Global Strategy whilst also pursuing a balanced and progressive trade policy to harness globalisation.

Honourable Members,

The second focus of our Work Programme is more forward-looking and aims to shape the Union until 2025. This vision is based on three principles which must always anchor our Union – freedom, equality, and the rule of law.

A more united Union will require opening the Schengen area fully to Romania and Bulgaria, and to Croatia if it can fulfil the requirements, as well as a credible enlargement perspective for frontrunner candidates in the Western Balkans. To build a stronger Union, we will table a proposal for the future Multi-annual Financial Framework including own resources. We need a budget that helps us to meet citizens’ expectations of an EU that delivers on the things that matter most and that contributes to the long-term sustainability of the Union.

We will also propose more efficient decision-making for the Single Market and certain foreign policy decisions. We will adopt a Reflection Paper on a sustainable European future and a Communication on the future of EU energy and climate policy, and propose an extension of the tasks of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to also tackle terrorism.

For a more democratic Union, we will make proposals for the creation of a permanent and accountable European Minister of Economy and Finance and an initiative on further enhancing subsidiarity, proportionality and better regulation in the daily work of the European Union. We will also propose an initiative on strengthening the enforcement of the rule of law.

Furthermore since what matters is results on the ground, the Work Programme sets out the Commission’s commitment to step up its work on the enforcement of EU law, working closely with national authorities and the various European networks.

And in parallel with our Work Programme, we are also presenting today a Communication on completing the better regulation agenda. Our work here is grounded on strong stakeholder involvement, including the input of the REFIT Platform.

Honourable Members,

Given the forthcoming European Parliament elections, we are now firmly in a period where we need to deliver. Priority legislative files need to be adopted and where possible implemented before the end of the Parliament’s mandate.

The Joint Declaration on EU Legislative Priorities, signed by the Presidents of the three Institutions last December, has proved valuable in helping us define shared priorities and stick to them. The Commission looks forward to an agreement later this year on a new Joint Declaration shaping our common work for 2018. And we can then also take stock of what we did on the basis of the Declaration of 2017.

We need to use the current momentum to ensure real progress in order to finish what we have started and to deliver on our positive agenda. Because when you rise for elections in a year and a half’s time, the success of the EU will not be judged on the number of proposals that the Commission has launched. We will be judged collectively on the answers we have delivered and how we have responded to the big challenges – like climate change, globalisation, the security of our citizens, migration, jobs, growth – on which Europeans expect effective European solutions.

To watch the video of the First Vice-President’s remarks in Parliament, pelase click here.

The EU's outermost regions: a privileged, renewed and strengthened partnership

IP/17/3585

What are the Outermost Regions of the EU?

The nine Outermost Regions of the European Union consist of six French overseas territories (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint Martin), two Portuguese autonomous regions (the Azores and Madeira) and one Spanish autonomous community (the Canary Islands).http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/policy/themes/outermost-regions/

Despite being located thousands of kilometres from the European continent, they are an integral part of the EU, with a population of 4.8 million, equivalent to that of Ireland or slightly more than that of Croatia.

Mainly islands and archipelagos, they can be found in the Caribbean, near the American continent, in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa and in the Atlantic Ocean between Africa and Europe, while French Guiana is a territory in the Amazon forest bordering Brazil and Suriname.

Why are they different?

The Outermost Regions have a number of specific features, compared to the rest of the EU, which limit their growth: their remoteness and/or insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate and dependence on a few local products. Only a region-by-region approach can help overcome these constraints.

Yet these features are also real assets to Europe. The geographical location of these regions projects a European presence into strategic areas of the world, making them ideal locations for trade, cultural exchange, investment and international cooperation. Their extensive maritime zones offer the potential for the development of a strong blue economy and for them to become key actors in the governance of the oceans.

These regions are also rich in resources. They account for 80% of Europe’s biodiversity and are ideal locations for research and innovation in forward-looking sectors such as the circular economy, pharmacology and renewable energies. Their geographical locations offer unbounded opportunities in space sciences and astrophysics.

What is Europe doing for these regions?

Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognises the specific situation of these regions and gives them a special status. The Article provides for the adoption of specific measures geared to their realities, within the framework of European law. A Court of Justice judgment of 2015 clarified the scope of this Article. On that basis, the Commission intends to establish a strengthened partnership between the EU, the Outermost Regions and their respective Member States.

Between 2014 and 2020, the EU is allocating EUR 13.3 billion to these regions under the European Structural and Investment Funds, with additional amounts to tackle their specific constraints, and the POSEI (Programme of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity), a programme under the Common Agricultural Policy.https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/fundshttps://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/outermost-regions/intro_fr

In addition to European subsidies, the Outermost Regions benefit from specific measures or derogations to facilitate their access to the internal market in areas such as State aid and taxation, in order to mitigate the impact of their constraints and stimulate economic growth.

Recently, the rules on State aid to support the EU’s outermost regions have been clarified and further simplified. Member States will now be able to fully cover both the additional transport costs and other extra costs that undertakings operating in those regions incur, across all sectors of the economy.http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1341_en.htm

In 2004, the Commission presented for the first time a strategy for the Outermost Regions, with the aim of structuring and strengthening the partnership between the EU institutions and these Regions. The strategy was renewed in 2008 and again in 2012 to bring it into line with the Europe 2020 strategy, placing the emphasis on the need for sustainable growth.

 Why renew the strategy today?

Despite the progress of recent years, the Outermost Regions are facing serious challenges: high unemployment, above all among young people, even though it is falling in mainland Europe, vulnerability to climate change, obstacles to growth due to poor infrastructure and dependency on economic sectors that have not incorporated innovative processes to a sufficient degree. Some of these regions are also confronted with migratory pressure and social crises.

The Commission is therefore presenting a new strategy for an enhanced partnership between the EU, the regions and their respective Member States in order to redouble efforts and meet these new challenges.http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/information/publications/communications/2017/un-partenariat-privilegie-renouvele-et-renforce-avec-les-regions-ultraperipheriques

Most of the measures under this strategy respond specifically to requests made by the presidents of the outermost regions in a memorandum submitted to President Juncker at the 4th Forum of the Outermost Regions in Brussels in March 2017.http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/conferences/rup2017/

The aim of the strategy is to better help these regions to take advantage of the globalised world, where they have already experienced the disadvantages without really reaping the benefits. They should therefore be better integrated in the European internal market, as well as in their own region, and trade should be facilitated.

What is the Commission’s new approach to the Outermost Regions?

The aim of the strategy is to make these regions’ economies more robust, ensure they take their place in all European policies and priorities, and guarantee that their specific nature is better taken into account throughout the EU’s decision-making process.

To do this, the Commission will:

1) Take the specific nature of the Outermost Regions into account upstream: in line with the Commission’s Better Law-Making initiative, the impact of decisions taken at European level on these regions will be analysed in advance, in order to shape policies better reflecting their realities and interests.https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/democratic-change/better-regulation_en

For example, this preventive approach will be strengthened when the Commission negotiates international agreements, in particular with regard to fisheries and external trade. The Commission will thus take greater account of the interests of these regions when it negotiates trade agreements involving products important to their economies (e.g. bananas, sugar, wines and spirits).

2) Ensure a closer partnership at all levels: the strategy aims to enhance the dialogue between the Commission and the Outermost Regions, in particular by establishing a platform on common questions raised by the regions or their Member States. It will bring together, as required, the Outermost Regions, their Member States, the European institutions and other institutions such as the European Investment Bank and private actors.http://www.eib.org/?lang=en

But the EU cannot, alone, guarantee the prosperity of these regions; a responsible partnership is needed. That is why the new strategy clearly sets out a series of specific measures that the regions and their Member States must put in place to achieve their growth objectives, while underlining the fact that political will is vital for this.

3) Provide bespoke support: Each of the nine regions is unique, with its own advantages and difficulties. On request, the Commission will set up special working groups with each Member State in question to support them towards growth and to overcome specific difficulties, for example regarding the better use of European funding. Moreover, on the basis of the model of smart specialisation, which has proved its worth, the Commission is encouraging the Outermost Regions to better identify and capitalise on their advantages with the aid of strategic investments, notably as part of the Juncker Plan.http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1995_en.htmhttps://ec.europa.eu/commission/investment-plan_fr

Specifically, how will the EU help the Outermost Regions to speed up their growth?

The strategy aims to help the regions to develop new growth vectors. To encourage research and innovation, including in traditional sectors such as fishing and agriculture, the new strategy will:

help the regions to participate in the European research programme Horizon 2020, by means of a new coordination and support measure to be launched in 2018. It will better inform local teams of funding opportunities and help them to promote the visibility of their research activities, identify European and international partners in their field of expertise, and set up consortia to prepare project proposals, including with the participation of third countries, in particular on the basis of identical advantages from smart specialisation.http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1995_en.htm

Create a new initiative dedicated to the Outermost Regions under the Juncker Plan, in partnership with the European Investment Bank. The aim will be to facilitate access to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), in particular through a single access point within the European Investment Advisory Hub, with enhanced technical support for the more effective planning and funding of projects.http://www.eib.org/?lang=enhttp://www.eib.org/efsi/eiah-lowlight.htm?lang=en

Promote the development of a sound circular economy. Waste management is an area where improvement is needed in some of the Outermost Regions, whilst also being a source of economic opportunity. It will be one of the priorities of the European environmental programme LIFE for the period 2018-2020, so that innovative projects in this field can be funded.http://ec.europa.eu/environment/basics/natural-capital/life/index_en.htm

Support investment in basic infrastructure (roads, drinking water and sewage distribution systems), fundamental for the development of many activities such as tourism, by encouraging strategic planning.

How are you going to help the Outermost Regions to create opportunities for their populations?

The new strategy focuses on mobility and skills, thanks to the Erasmus+ programme and the European Solidarity Corps, in order to tackle long-term unemployment, in particular among young people with no qualifications. The EU will give financial support to young people in the Outermost Regions taking part in these programmes by paying a substantial part of their travel costs.https://info.erasmusplus.en/https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en

Moreover, better transport links within the archipelagos, between the regions and their neighbours and between the regions and the European continent are essential to their economic development and participation in the internal market.

The Commission is launching a study to determine the need for connections and identify key projects in the air and maritime transport sectors. This study also refers to better support in the preparation of projects with a view to potential European funding.

The Commission will explore, in justified cases, the possibility of cofunding ports and airports specifically for the Outermost Regions.

Finally, it will ensure that the connection needs of the Outermost Regions are better taken on board in the context of the Connecting Europe Facility and the Trans-European Networks when they are updated.https://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/infrastructure/ten-t-guidelines/project-funding/cef_enhttps://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/infrastructure_en

How do you intend to help the Outermost Regions to better cooperate with their neighbours and access new markets?

The strategy will help to deepen ties with neighbouring countries by promoting joint projects, in particular in the prevention and management of natural risks, protecting the environment, waste management, transport and energy.

To facilitate cooperation, the Commission will be launching a debate on how best to coordinate and align the rules between the various EU instruments and programmes (such as the European Regional Development Fund and European Development Fund) and considering the option of establishing joint programmes between the Outermost Regions and their neighbouring countries.https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/funds/erdfhttp://ec.europa.eu/budget/explained/budg_system/fed/fed_fr.cfm

The influence of the Outermost Regions in their zone is also facilitated by exchanges, and not only trade; the Commission will be looking at how to extend the Erasmus programme for young entrepreneurs to third countries.

How will the EU better help the Outermost Regions to combat climate change?

The EU is supporting projects to mitigate the impact of climate change (such as measures to manage the final stretches of the main rivers in Funchal, with funding granted to Madeira by the EU).

The new strategy will also take better account of the specific situation of the Outermost Regions, including in its LIFE programme, which supports projects to monitor, anticipate and adapt to extreme natural hazards. The EU will be integrating the challenges faced by the Outermost Regions into its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, introduced in 2013 and currently being assessed with a view to reviewing it.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2013:0216:FIN:EN:PDF

The Commission supports territories affected by natural disasters, and is currently looking at how best to combine various funds (the European Regional Development Fund, European Development Fund and EU Solidarity Fund) to support reconstruction in Saint Martin following Hurricane Irma, whilst proposing a new support mechanism to fund 95 % of the work from the EU budget.https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/funds/erdfhttp://ec.europa.eu/budget/explained/budg_system/fed/fed_en.cfmhttp://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/EN/funding/solidarity-fund/

What are the new features for the fisheries strategy?

The Commission will assess the relevance of the use of State aid to support the renewal of the small-scale fishing fleets of the Outermost Regions, whilst respecting the principle of sustainable fishing. Finally, the strategy will encourage close collaboration with the Member States in combating illegal fishing and in collecting scientific data in the field of fisheries.

What are the new features for the agriculture strategy?

The Commission will seek to continue the POSEI programmes and to maintain specific conditions in the regions’ rural-development programmes  (e.g. operating support for the POSEI programme, more favourable financing rates for rural development programmes).

The agricultural products of the Outermost Regions have the potential to become real competitive assets with a high differentiation potential, such as rum from Martinique, bananas from the Caribbean, the Canaries or Madeira, or wine from the Azores. The strategy calls on the regions to make full use right now of European funding to promote innovation, limit market fluctuation risks and promote their agricultural products using EU, national or “Outermost Region” quality labels.

The EU's outermost regions: a privileged, renewed and strengthened partnership

IP/17/3585

What are the Outermost Regions of the EU?

The nine Outermost Regions of the European Union consist of six French overseas territories (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint Martin), two Portuguese autonomous regions (the Azores and Madeira) and one Spanish autonomous community (the Canary Islands).http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/policy/themes/outermost-regions/

Despite being located thousands of kilometres from the European continent, they are an integral part of the EU, with a population of 4.8 million, equivalent to that of Ireland or slightly more than that of Croatia.

Mainly islands and archipelagos, they can be found in the Caribbean, near the American continent, in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa and in the Atlantic Ocean between Africa and Europe, while French Guiana is a territory in the Amazon forest bordering Brazil and Suriname.

Why are they different?

The Outermost Regions have a number of specific features, compared to the rest of the EU, which limit their growth: their remoteness and/or insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate and dependence on a few local products. Only a region-by-region approach can help overcome these constraints.

Yet these features are also real assets to Europe. The geographical location of these regions projects a European presence into strategic areas of the world, making them ideal locations for trade, cultural exchange, investment and international cooperation. Their extensive maritime zones offer the potential for the development of a strong blue economy and for them to become key actors in the governance of the oceans.

These regions are also rich in resources. They account for 80% of Europe’s biodiversity and are ideal locations for research and innovation in forward-looking sectors such as the circular economy, pharmacology and renewable energies. Their geographical locations offer unbounded opportunities in space sciences and astrophysics.

What is Europe doing for these regions?

Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognises the specific situation of these regions and gives them a special status. The Article provides for the adoption of specific measures geared to their realities, within the framework of European law. A Court of Justice judgment of 2015 clarified the scope of this Article. On that basis, the Commission intends to establish a strengthened partnership between the EU, the Outermost Regions and their respective Member States.

Between 2014 and 2020, the EU is allocating EUR 13.3 billion to these regions under the European Structural and Investment Funds, with additional amounts to tackle their specific constraints, and the POSEI (Programme of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity), a programme under the Common Agricultural Policy.https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/fundshttps://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/outermost-regions/intro_fr

In addition to European subsidies, the Outermost Regions benefit from specific measures or derogations to facilitate their access to the internal market in areas such as State aid and taxation, in order to mitigate the impact of their constraints and stimulate economic growth.

Recently, the rules on State aid to support the EU’s outermost regions have been clarified and further simplified. Member States will now be able to fully cover both the additional transport costs and other extra costs that undertakings operating in those regions incur, across all sectors of the economy.http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1341_en.htm

In 2004, the Commission presented for the first time a strategy for the Outermost Regions, with the aim of structuring and strengthening the partnership between the EU institutions and these Regions. The strategy was renewed in 2008 and again in 2012 to bring it into line with the Europe 2020 strategy, placing the emphasis on the need for sustainable growth.

 Why renew the strategy today?

Despite the progress of recent years, the Outermost Regions are facing serious challenges: high unemployment, above all among young people, even though it is falling in mainland Europe, vulnerability to climate change, obstacles to growth due to poor infrastructure and dependency on economic sectors that have not incorporated innovative processes to a sufficient degree. Some of these regions are also confronted with migratory pressure and social crises.

The Commission is therefore presenting a new strategy for an enhanced partnership between the EU, the regions and their respective Member States in order to redouble efforts and meet these new challenges.http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/information/publications/communications/2017/un-partenariat-privilegie-renouvele-et-renforce-avec-les-regions-ultraperipheriques

Most of the measures under this strategy respond specifically to requests made by the presidents of the outermost regions in a memorandum submitted to President Juncker at the 4th Forum of the Outermost Regions in Brussels in March 2017.http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/conferences/rup2017/

The aim of the strategy is to better help these regions to take advantage of the globalised world, where they have already experienced the disadvantages without really reaping the benefits. They should therefore be better integrated in the European internal market, as well as in their own region, and trade should be facilitated.

What is the Commission’s new approach to the Outermost Regions?

The aim of the strategy is to make these regions’ economies more robust, ensure they take their place in all European policies and priorities, and guarantee that their specific nature is better taken into account throughout the EU’s decision-making process.

To do this, the Commission will:

1) Take the specific nature of the Outermost Regions into account upstream: in line with the Commission’s Better Law-Making initiative, the impact of decisions taken at European level on these regions will be analysed in advance, in order to shape policies better reflecting their realities and interests.https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/democratic-change/better-regulation_en

For example, this preventive approach will be strengthened when the Commission negotiates international agreements, in particular with regard to fisheries and external trade. The Commission will thus take greater account of the interests of these regions when it negotiates trade agreements involving products important to their economies (e.g. bananas, sugar, wines and spirits).

2) Ensure a closer partnership at all levels: the strategy aims to enhance the dialogue between the Commission and the Outermost Regions, in particular by establishing a platform on common questions raised by the regions or their Member States. It will bring together, as required, the Outermost Regions, their Member States, the European institutions and other institutions such as the European Investment Bank and private actors.http://www.eib.org/?lang=en

But the EU cannot, alone, guarantee the prosperity of these regions; a responsible partnership is needed. That is why the new strategy clearly sets out a series of specific measures that the regions and their Member States must put in place to achieve their growth objectives, while underlining the fact that political will is vital for this.

3) Provide bespoke support: Each of the nine regions is unique, with its own advantages and difficulties. On request, the Commission will set up special working groups with each Member State in question to support them towards growth and to overcome specific difficulties, for example regarding the better use of European funding. Moreover, on the basis of the model of smart specialisation, which has proved its worth, the Commission is encouraging the Outermost Regions to better identify and capitalise on their advantages with the aid of strategic investments, notably as part of the Juncker Plan.http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1995_en.htmhttps://ec.europa.eu/commission/investment-plan_fr

Specifically, how will the EU help the Outermost Regions to speed up their growth?

The strategy aims to help the regions to develop new growth vectors. To encourage research and innovation, including in traditional sectors such as fishing and agriculture, the new strategy will:

help the regions to participate in the European research programme Horizon 2020, by means of a new coordination and support measure to be launched in 2018. It will better inform local teams of funding opportunities and help them to promote the visibility of their research activities, identify European and international partners in their field of expertise, and set up consortia to prepare project proposals, including with the participation of third countries, in particular on the basis of identical advantages from smart specialisation.http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1995_en.htm

Create a new initiative dedicated to the Outermost Regions under the Juncker Plan, in partnership with the European Investment Bank. The aim will be to facilitate access to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), in particular through a single access point within the European Investment Advisory Hub, with enhanced technical support for the more effective planning and funding of projects.http://www.eib.org/?lang=enhttp://www.eib.org/efsi/eiah-lowlight.htm?lang=en

Promote the development of a sound circular economy. Waste management is an area where improvement is needed in some of the Outermost Regions, whilst also being a source of economic opportunity. It will be one of the priorities of the European environmental programme LIFE for the period 2018-2020, so that innovative projects in this field can be funded.http://ec.europa.eu/environment/basics/natural-capital/life/index_en.htm

Support investment in basic infrastructure (roads, drinking water and sewage distribution systems), fundamental for the development of many activities such as tourism, by encouraging strategic planning.

How are you going to help the Outermost Regions to create opportunities for their populations?

The new strategy focuses on mobility and skills, thanks to the Erasmus+ programme and the European Solidarity Corps, in order to tackle long-term unemployment, in particular among young people with no qualifications. The EU will give financial support to young people in the Outermost Regions taking part in these programmes by paying a substantial part of their travel costs.https://info.erasmusplus.en/https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en

Moreover, better transport links within the archipelagos, between the regions and their neighbours and between the regions and the European continent are essential to their economic development and participation in the internal market.

The Commission is launching a study to determine the need for connections and identify key projects in the air and maritime transport sectors. This study also refers to better support in the preparation of projects with a view to potential European funding.

The Commission will explore, in justified cases, the possibility of cofunding ports and airports specifically for the Outermost Regions.

Finally, it will ensure that the connection needs of the Outermost Regions are better taken on board in the context of the Connecting Europe Facility and the Trans-European Networks when they are updated.https://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/infrastructure/ten-t-guidelines/project-funding/cef_enhttps://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/infrastructure_en

How do you intend to help the Outermost Regions to better cooperate with their neighbours and access new markets?

The strategy will help to deepen ties with neighbouring countries by promoting joint projects, in particular in the prevention and management of natural risks, protecting the environment, waste management, transport and energy.

To facilitate cooperation, the Commission will be launching a debate on how best to coordinate and align the rules between the various EU instruments and programmes (such as the European Regional Development Fund and European Development Fund) and considering the option of establishing joint programmes between the Outermost Regions and their neighbouring countries.https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/funds/erdfhttp://ec.europa.eu/budget/explained/budg_system/fed/fed_fr.cfm

The influence of the Outermost Regions in their zone is also facilitated by exchanges, and not only trade; the Commission will be looking at how to extend the Erasmus programme for young entrepreneurs to third countries.

How will the EU better help the Outermost Regions to combat climate change?

The EU is supporting projects to mitigate the impact of climate change (such as measures to manage the final stretches of the main rivers in Funchal, with funding granted to Madeira by the EU).

The new strategy will also take better account of the specific situation of the Outermost Regions, including in its LIFE programme, which supports projects to monitor, anticipate and adapt to extreme natural hazards. The EU will be integrating the challenges faced by the Outermost Regions into its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, introduced in 2013 and currently being assessed with a view to reviewing it.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2013:0216:FIN:EN:PDF

The Commission supports territories affected by natural disasters, and is currently looking at how best to combine various funds (the European Regional Development Fund, European Development Fund and EU Solidarity Fund) to support reconstruction in Saint Martin following Hurricane Irma, whilst proposing a new support mechanism to fund 95 % of the work from the EU budget.https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/funds/erdfhttp://ec.europa.eu/budget/explained/budg_system/fed/fed_en.cfmhttp://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/EN/funding/solidarity-fund/

What are the new features for the fisheries strategy?

The Commission will assess the relevance of the use of State aid to support the renewal of the small-scale fishing fleets of the Outermost Regions, whilst respecting the principle of sustainable fishing. Finally, the strategy will encourage close collaboration with the Member States in combating illegal fishing and in collecting scientific data in the field of fisheries.

What are the new features for the agriculture strategy?

The Commission will seek to continue the POSEI programmes and to maintain specific conditions in the regions’ rural-development programmes  (e.g. operating support for the POSEI programme, more favourable financing rates for rural development programmes).

The agricultural products of the Outermost Regions have the potential to become real competitive assets with a high differentiation potential, such as rum from Martinique, bananas from the Caribbean, the Canaries or Madeira, or wine from the Azores. The strategy calls on the regions to make full use right now of European funding to promote innovation, limit market fluctuation risks and promote their agricultural products using EU, national or “Outermost Region” quality labels.

Daily News 23 / 10 / 2017

EU pledges additional €30 million for the Rohingya crisis at Geneva donors’ conference

The European Union is co-hosting today in Geneva a ‘Pledging Conference on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis’. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has announced the EU’s contribution of an additional €30 million for the Rohingya communities in Bangladesh. This comes on the top of over €21 million in overall EU assistance already allocated to Rohingya and host communities in both Bangladesh and Myanmar, bringing total EU support for this year to over €51 million. “Today, we stand united for the right cause. The cause of stateless people who have suffered for too long: the Rohingya. The Rohingya deserve nothing less than every other human being in the world. They deserve a future. We have a moral duty to give these people hope. Our humanitarian support will work to provide essentials like water, sanitation, food, healthcare, protection, and education”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “Beyond the immediate response, we need to think of long-term solutions for Rohingya and host populations alike. Whilst the focus should remain on creating an enabling environment for safe and dignified voluntary returns of Rohingya to Myanmar, we need to also ensure that local communities, who are already facing enormous challenges, are not left behind and that we provide them medium and long-term development assistance. Any solution has to inevitably include political dialogue with all parties involved.” Commissioner Stylianides will travel to Bangladesh next week to meet with Rohingya refugees and visit EU aid projects in the affected areas.Read the full press release here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Commission proposes €5.4 million from Globalisation Fund for former retail workers in Greece and Finland

Today, the European Commission has proposed to provide Greece with €2.9 million euro and Finland with €2.5 million euro from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) following a significant number of redundancies in the Greek and Finnish retail sector. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: “The retail sector in both Greece and Finland has been hit hard by the economic crisis and changing trade patterns. The proposed support from Europe’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund now aims at helping these redundant workers to adapt their skills and facilitate their transition to new jobs or help them set up their own enterprises.” Greece applied for support from the Globalisation Fund following the dismissal of 725 workers in 9 enterprises operating in the retail sector. The redundancies occurred mainly in the Attica region, but ten other regions have also been affected by the layoffs. The measures co-financed by the Globalisation Fund will help the 725 former retail workers by providing them with occupational guidance and counselling; vocational training; contribution to business start-up; hiring incentives; and job-search and training allowances. Finland, on the other hand, applied for support from the EGF following the dismissal of 1,660 workers in three retail enterprises. Thanks to this financial support, 1,500 Finnish redundant workers will be offered support and guidance to find new jobs, for example through vocational and re-training courses. The proposals now go to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for approval. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: high performance of EU agri-food exports continues

Published today by the European Commission, the latest monthly trade report shows that European agri-food exports remain strong for August 2017 further increasing the trade balance to €2.4 billion. The European agri-food exports rose to €11.5 billion in August 2017, an 8% increase compared to July 2017. Highest increases of monthly exports were again towards Russia and the USA, with respectively an added €153 million and €108 million compared to 2016. By sector, exports of wine and vermouth and milk powders have increased the most with respectively an extra €130 million and an added €123 million compared to last year. EU agri-food imports have also increased by 4% compared to the same time last year, resulting in a surplus of €2.4 billion in the agri-food trade balance.This month’s report focuses on agri-food trade with Russia. After an initial drop, both in banned products and non-banned products, EU exports of non-banned products to Russia resumed growth and reached € 6 299 million in the period September 2016 to August 2017, which represents an increase in value by 14% compared to the previous period. This brings back Russia now to be the 4th biggest export destination for EU agri-food products, just before Japan. The full report is online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Ahead of Commissioners’ participation in Council discussion on Digital Single Market: Commission publishes new study to support 5G roll-out

Ahead of tomorrow’s Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council that will concentrate on most pertinent Digital Single Market issues, the Commission published today the latest study on spectrum assignments that will support the EU’s work towards successful 5G deployment. The results affirm that licence duration and auction prices influence investments in better network coverage. For example, there is a tendency for higher investment levels in countries that have awarded longer licences. There is additionally evidence that high spectrum prices can be associated with lower 4G availability. These findings will provide supplementary input to the ongoing negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal for new EU telecoms rules – the European Electronic Communications Code. Tomorrow’s Council meeting in Luxembourg aims to accelerate progress on the Digital Single Market legislative files, in particular on spectrum and 5G deployment. Additionally, the Ministers hold a follow-up debate on cybersecurity following the European Council conclusions, the Tallinn Digital Summit and the Commission’s proposals to scale up the EU’s response to cyber-attacks. For the Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Commissioner Julian King in charge of Security Union, as well as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel will participate. The European Electronic Communications Code is crucial for creating the Digital Single Market, as it will boost investments in high-speed and quality networks. It provides the necessary basis for the 5G roll-out at the same time all across the EU. Read more about the topic in the proposal from 2016. Further details on the spectrum assignments study can be found here. Spectrum factsheet will be available soon here. Overview factsheets on the Digital Single Market can be found here: state of play, timeline, cybersecurity. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)

 

Commission publishes report and its proposal on sustainable development following the latest negotiating round with Mercosur

The Commission’s report from the latest round of trade negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur – the block including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – is now online. The Commission has also made available online its negotiating proposal on the enforcement of the trade and sustainable development chapter. Both publications come as part of the Commission’s commitment to a more transparent trade policy. Other EU negotiating proposals for an agreement with Mercosur are available here. During the round held between 2 and 6 October, all issues were covered and talks advanced in a number of areas. The round report includes details on all of them, including trade in goods and services, technical barriers to trade, government procurement, as well as intellectual property rights (including geographical indications). As regards market access, the EU fulfilled now its commitment by putting on the table the remaining elements of its market access offer in time with a view to reaching a political agreement by the end of the year. This is a well-calibrated offer that takes into account Europe’s agricultural sensitivities. The EU remains committed to reaching a comprehensive, balanced and ambitious trade agreement with Mercosur. Both sides agreed to hold the next round in Brasilia from 6 to 10 November. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

Citizens’ Initiative: Commission receives organisers of ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative 

This morning, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis received the organisers of the ‘Stop Glyphosate’ European Citizens’ Initiative, after they collected and submitted to the Commission over 1 million signatures in support of their Initiative.  This is the 4th successful European Citizens’ Initiative so far. The ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative calls on the European Commission “to propose to member states a ban on glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use”. In line with the Citizens’ Initiative regulation, the Commission has invited the organisers to Brussels to present their ideas in more depth. A public hearing will also be arranged in the European Parliament to allow all stakeholders to present their views, and then the Commission will decide, within 3 months of submission of the Initiative (on Friday 6 October 2017), whether to act by proposing legislation, act in some other way to achieve the goals of the Initiative, or not act at all; all three options are possible under Article 11(4) of the Treaty of the European Union. In all cases, the Commission will present a Communication explaining its reasoning. The European Citizens’ Initiative is a valuable tool in the hands of citizens, and allows them to contribute to shaping EU law and policy. The Commission recently presented a proposed reform of the Citizens’ Initiative Regulation, to make the tool even more accessible to citizens and to encourage its wider use. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Maritime Transport: passenger ships will be safer thanks to the EU

The European Commission welcomes the final adoption of a number of legal texts to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules by the Council of the EU today. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “The adoption of these new safety rules is an important deliverable in our EU maritime year. At times when citizens expect the European Union to protect them, we are sending a clear message: your safety is our priority.” The adopted package ensures that the passenger ship safety rules are clear, proportionate and deliver a common level of safety for EU citizens. For example, once fully implemented by Member States, all competent authorities will have immediate access to passenger data in case of emergency and all passenger ships longer than 24 meters made of steel and aluminium will be built according to common European safety standards. The adopted package is a result of proposals made by the European Commission in June 2016, following recommendations made within the Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme. The new rules will enter into force 20 days after the publication in the Official Journal. More information is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

 

EU announces €106 million support package for people affected by the crises in Sudan

The European Commission has announced a €106 million support package – €46 million in humanitarian assistance and €60 million for development – to directly assist people in Sudan affected by forced displacement, undernutrition, disease outbreaks and recurrent extreme climatic conditions. Some 4.8 million people in Sudan currently need urgent assistance. The announcement comes as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is currently in Sudan, visiting EU humanitarian aid projects in South Darfur. “Here in Sudan the humanitarian situation continues to be critical. Millions have been displaced for many years in Darfur. Our new EU funding is crucial to respond to the needs of the increasing numbers of refugees, notably from South Sudan, and internally displaced people, as well as of the hosting communities. The humanitarian aid I am announcing today will help bring life-saving relief to the most vulnerable populations. Full humanitarian access throughout the country is crucial so that humanitarian workers can deliver aid safely to those in need”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union is committed to directly support the people of Sudan. Our new development aid will boost our ongoing efforts through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. It addresses the needs of the most vulnerable Sudanese communities and offer livelihood opportunities, by better linking the EU’s humanitarian and development work in Sudan”. The full press release is available here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

Commission warns Vietnam over insufficient action to fight illegal fishing

The Commission is continuing its fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing worldwide by warning Vietnam, with a “yellow card”, about the risk of it being identified as a non-cooperating country. Today’s decision highlights that Vietnam is not doing enough to fight illegal fishing, due to the lack of an effective sanctioning system to deter IUU fishing activities and the lack of action to address illegal fishing activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels in waters of neighbouring countries, including Pacific Small Island Developing States. Furthermore, Vietnam has a poor system to control landings of fish that is processed locally before being exported to international markets, including the EU. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “With this action today we demonstrate our firm commitment to fight illegal fishing globally. We cannot ignore the impact that illegal activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels are having on marine ecosystems in the Pacific. We invite the Vietnamese authorities to step up their fight so we can reverse this decision quickly. We are offering them our technical support.” The decision does not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. The “yellow card” is considered as a warning and offers the possibility for Vietnam to take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe. To this end the Commission has proposed an action plan to support the country in addressing the identified shortcomings. A press release is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

La Commission approuve trois nouvelles indications géographiques de Croatie, Danemark et France

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d’inscription de trois nouveaux produits dans le registre des indications géographiques: le «Danbo» (IGP), le «Kintoa» (AOP) et le «Varaždinsko zelje» (AOP). Provenant du Danemark, le Danbo est un fromage affiné à pâte demi-dure élaboré à base de lait de vache. L’appellation Danbo est une combinaison des deux noms danois Dan et Bo. Etymologiquement, Dan est le dérivé scandinave de Danerne, nom désignant le peuple des Danois, tandis que Bo signifie «l’habitant». Le nom Danbo est ainsi l’appellation historique d’un habitant du Danemark. Le Kintoa provient de France et plus particulièrement du Pays basque français. Il s’agit d’une viande de porc issue de la race «Pie noir du Pays basque». Le terme Kintoa trouve son origine dans ce qu’on appelait le droit de quinta: depuis le XIIIème siècle, les rois de Navarre autorisaient les éleveurs de porcs à les emmener en transhumance dans les montagnes royales de Navarre et en échange, ils prélevaient un porc sur cinq, d’où le nom donné à ce droit (quinta).  Enfin, le Varaždinsko zelje est un chou de Croatie cultivé dans le département de Varaždin au nord du pays. Les membres de la famille, toutes générations confondues, participent à la récolte et se transmettent ainsi l’expérience et le savoir-faire nécessaires pour effectuer la récolte manuelle du produit. Ces trois appellations vont rejoindre plus de 1405 produits déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données DOOR. Pour plus d’informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (Pour plus d’information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185;Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of legal support service firm CPA by LGP

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of CPA Global Group (CPA) of the UK by Leonard Green & Partner, L.P. (LGP) of the US. CPA is active in the legal support services sector, more specifically in patent renewal and related services. LGP is a private equity investment firm, which primarily focuses on companies providing services, including consumer, business and healthcare services, as well as retail. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies are not active on the same or related markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8650. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Eurostat: Transmission des données du déficit et de la dette pour 2016 – 2ème notification, déficit public de la zone euro et de l’UE28 respectivement de 1,5% et 1,7% du PIB, dette publique à 88,9% et 83,2%

Le déficit ainsi que la dette publique se sont réduits en termes relatifs en 2016 par rapport à 2015, tant dans la zone euro (ZE19) que dans l’UE28. Le ratio du déficit public par rapport au PIB a baissé dans la zone euro, passant de 2,1% en 2015 à 1,5% en 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 2,4% à 1,7%. Le ratio de la dette publique par rapport au PIB a reculé dans la zone euro, passant de 89,9% à la fin de l’année 2015 à 88,9% à la fin de l’année 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 84,5% à 83,2%. Dans ce communiqué de presse, Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne, fournit les données relatives au déficit et à la dette des administrations publiques, sur la base des chiffres déclarés par les États membres lors de la deuxième notification de 2017 pour les années 2013 à 2016, dans le cadre de l’application de la procédure concernant les déficits excessifs (PDE). Cette notification est fondée sur le système des comptes nationaux SEC 2010. Ce communiqué de presse inclut également des données sur les dépenses et recettes des administrations publiques. Le communiqué EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Šefčovič in Luxembourg for second Energy Union Tour

On Monday 23 October, Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič will be in Luxembourg for the second Energy Union Tour. The Vice-President will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider as well as the Minister for the Environment and Climate Carole Dieschbourg. Vice-President Šefčovič will promote the different components of the Energy Union stressing the need for investment in the clean energy transition which is at the heart of the Clean Energy for All Europeans proposals. Further he will call on the Luxembourgish authorities to use its forward-looking “Third Industrial Revolution” Strategy and its new “Climate Pact” to meet the goals of the Energy Union. The Vice-President will also visit the LuxÉnergie biomass co-generation plant. Ahead of his visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “Luxembourg is making good progress towards its 2020 climate and energy targets, as its emissions decreased by 16 percent between 2005 and 2016. I believe that the recently adopted “Climate Pact” between the state and municipalities is an excellent way forward and even a model for others. Local involvement and leadership is vital for our success in this area.” information on the 2017 Energy Union tour are available here. More information on the Energy Union is available here. More information on the Commission’s website here (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.:+32 229 52589)

 

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen in Facebook live chat

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will participate today Monday 23 October at 15.00 CET in a Facebook live chat on “Trade and the Global Economy” on the European Commission’s Facebook page. Following the State of the Union speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission unveiled in September a progressive and ambitious trade package. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “Global trade needs to be proactively shaped and managed to ensure it is fair, projects values and remains firmly anchored in a rules-based system. With the rising threat of protectionism and weakened commitment of large players to global trade governance, the EU must step up to take the lead. Our approach is balanced and responsible: we open markets, but we also set high rules and standards to govern globalisation, and we make sure there is a level playing-field. Trade enables EU’s industry to thrive, it creates opportunities for SMEs to export and allows them to create jobs.”(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

Daily News 23 / 10 / 2017

EU pledges additional €30 million for the Rohingya crisis at Geneva donors’ conference

The European Union is co-hosting today in Geneva a ‘Pledging Conference on the Rohingya Refugee Crisis’. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has announced the EU’s contribution of an additional €30 million for the Rohingya communities in Bangladesh. This comes on the top of over €21 million in overall EU assistance already allocated to Rohingya and host communities in both Bangladesh and Myanmar, bringing total EU support for this year to over €51 million. “Today, we stand united for the right cause. The cause of stateless people who have suffered for too long: the Rohingya. The Rohingya deserve nothing less than every other human being in the world. They deserve a future. We have a moral duty to give these people hope. Our humanitarian support will work to provide essentials like water, sanitation, food, healthcare, protection, and education”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “Beyond the immediate response, we need to think of long-term solutions for Rohingya and host populations alike. Whilst the focus should remain on creating an enabling environment for safe and dignified voluntary returns of Rohingya to Myanmar, we need to also ensure that local communities, who are already facing enormous challenges, are not left behind and that we provide them medium and long-term development assistance. Any solution has to inevitably include political dialogue with all parties involved.” Commissioner Stylianides will travel to Bangladesh next week to meet with Rohingya refugees and visit EU aid projects in the affected areas.Read the full press release here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Commission proposes €5.4 million from Globalisation Fund for former retail workers in Greece and Finland

Today, the European Commission has proposed to provide Greece with €2.9 million euro and Finland with €2.5 million euro from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) following a significant number of redundancies in the Greek and Finnish retail sector. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: “The retail sector in both Greece and Finland has been hit hard by the economic crisis and changing trade patterns. The proposed support from Europe’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund now aims at helping these redundant workers to adapt their skills and facilitate their transition to new jobs or help them set up their own enterprises.” Greece applied for support from the Globalisation Fund following the dismissal of 725 workers in 9 enterprises operating in the retail sector. The redundancies occurred mainly in the Attica region, but ten other regions have also been affected by the layoffs. The measures co-financed by the Globalisation Fund will help the 725 former retail workers by providing them with occupational guidance and counselling; vocational training; contribution to business start-up; hiring incentives; and job-search and training allowances. Finland, on the other hand, applied for support from the EGF following the dismissal of 1,660 workers in three retail enterprises. Thanks to this financial support, 1,500 Finnish redundant workers will be offered support and guidance to find new jobs, for example through vocational and re-training courses. The proposals now go to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for approval. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: high performance of EU agri-food exports continues

Published today by the European Commission, the latest monthly trade report shows that European agri-food exports remain strong for August 2017 further increasing the trade balance to €2.4 billion. The European agri-food exports rose to €11.5 billion in August 2017, an 8% increase compared to July 2017. Highest increases of monthly exports were again towards Russia and the USA, with respectively an added €153 million and €108 million compared to 2016. By sector, exports of wine and vermouth and milk powders have increased the most with respectively an extra €130 million and an added €123 million compared to last year. EU agri-food imports have also increased by 4% compared to the same time last year, resulting in a surplus of €2.4 billion in the agri-food trade balance.This month’s report focuses on agri-food trade with Russia. After an initial drop, both in banned products and non-banned products, EU exports of non-banned products to Russia resumed growth and reached € 6 299 million in the period September 2016 to August 2017, which represents an increase in value by 14% compared to the previous period. This brings back Russia now to be the 4th biggest export destination for EU agri-food products, just before Japan. The full report is online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Ahead of Commissioners’ participation in Council discussion on Digital Single Market: Commission publishes new study to support 5G roll-out

Ahead of tomorrow’s Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council that will concentrate on most pertinent Digital Single Market issues, the Commission published today the latest study on spectrum assignments that will support the EU’s work towards successful 5G deployment. The results affirm that licence duration and auction prices influence investments in better network coverage. For example, there is a tendency for higher investment levels in countries that have awarded longer licences. There is additionally evidence that high spectrum prices can be associated with lower 4G availability. These findings will provide supplementary input to the ongoing negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal for new EU telecoms rules – the European Electronic Communications Code. Tomorrow’s Council meeting in Luxembourg aims to accelerate progress on the Digital Single Market legislative files, in particular on spectrum and 5G deployment. Additionally, the Ministers hold a follow-up debate on cybersecurity following the European Council conclusions, the Tallinn Digital Summit and the Commission’s proposals to scale up the EU’s response to cyber-attacks. For the Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, Commissioner Julian King in charge of Security Union, as well as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel will participate. The European Electronic Communications Code is crucial for creating the Digital Single Market, as it will boost investments in high-speed and quality networks. It provides the necessary basis for the 5G roll-out at the same time all across the EU. Read more about the topic in the proposal from 2016. Further details on the spectrum assignments study can be found here. Spectrum factsheet will be available soon here. Overview factsheets on the Digital Single Market can be found here: state of play, timeline, cybersecurity. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)

 

Commission publishes report and its proposal on sustainable development following the latest negotiating round with Mercosur

The Commission’s report from the latest round of trade negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur – the block including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – is now online. The Commission has also made available online its negotiating proposal on the enforcement of the trade and sustainable development chapter. Both publications come as part of the Commission’s commitment to a more transparent trade policy. Other EU negotiating proposals for an agreement with Mercosur are available here. During the round held between 2 and 6 October, all issues were covered and talks advanced in a number of areas. The round report includes details on all of them, including trade in goods and services, technical barriers to trade, government procurement, as well as intellectual property rights (including geographical indications). As regards market access, the EU fulfilled now its commitment by putting on the table the remaining elements of its market access offer in time with a view to reaching a political agreement by the end of the year. This is a well-calibrated offer that takes into account Europe’s agricultural sensitivities. The EU remains committed to reaching a comprehensive, balanced and ambitious trade agreement with Mercosur. Both sides agreed to hold the next round in Brasilia from 6 to 10 November. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

Citizens’ Initiative: Commission receives organisers of ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative 

This morning, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis received the organisers of the ‘Stop Glyphosate’ European Citizens’ Initiative, after they collected and submitted to the Commission over 1 million signatures in support of their Initiative.  This is the 4th successful European Citizens’ Initiative so far. The ‘Stop Glyphosate’ Initiative calls on the European Commission “to propose to member states a ban on glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use”. In line with the Citizens’ Initiative regulation, the Commission has invited the organisers to Brussels to present their ideas in more depth. A public hearing will also be arranged in the European Parliament to allow all stakeholders to present their views, and then the Commission will decide, within 3 months of submission of the Initiative (on Friday 6 October 2017), whether to act by proposing legislation, act in some other way to achieve the goals of the Initiative, or not act at all; all three options are possible under Article 11(4) of the Treaty of the European Union. In all cases, the Commission will present a Communication explaining its reasoning. The European Citizens’ Initiative is a valuable tool in the hands of citizens, and allows them to contribute to shaping EU law and policy. The Commission recently presented a proposed reform of the Citizens’ Initiative Regulation, to make the tool even more accessible to citizens and to encourage its wider use. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Maritime Transport: passenger ships will be safer thanks to the EU

The European Commission welcomes the final adoption of a number of legal texts to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules by the Council of the EU today. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “The adoption of these new safety rules is an important deliverable in our EU maritime year. At times when citizens expect the European Union to protect them, we are sending a clear message: your safety is our priority.” The adopted package ensures that the passenger ship safety rules are clear, proportionate and deliver a common level of safety for EU citizens. For example, once fully implemented by Member States, all competent authorities will have immediate access to passenger data in case of emergency and all passenger ships longer than 24 meters made of steel and aluminium will be built according to common European safety standards. The adopted package is a result of proposals made by the European Commission in June 2016, following recommendations made within the Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme. The new rules will enter into force 20 days after the publication in the Official Journal. More information is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

 

EU announces €106 million support package for people affected by the crises in Sudan

The European Commission has announced a €106 million support package – €46 million in humanitarian assistance and €60 million for development – to directly assist people in Sudan affected by forced displacement, undernutrition, disease outbreaks and recurrent extreme climatic conditions. Some 4.8 million people in Sudan currently need urgent assistance. The announcement comes as Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is currently in Sudan, visiting EU humanitarian aid projects in South Darfur. “Here in Sudan the humanitarian situation continues to be critical. Millions have been displaced for many years in Darfur. Our new EU funding is crucial to respond to the needs of the increasing numbers of refugees, notably from South Sudan, and internally displaced people, as well as of the hosting communities. The humanitarian aid I am announcing today will help bring life-saving relief to the most vulnerable populations. Full humanitarian access throughout the country is crucial so that humanitarian workers can deliver aid safely to those in need”, said Commissioner Stylianides. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union is committed to directly support the people of Sudan. Our new development aid will boost our ongoing efforts through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. It addresses the needs of the most vulnerable Sudanese communities and offer livelihood opportunities, by better linking the EU’s humanitarian and development work in Sudan”. The full press release is available here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

Commission warns Vietnam over insufficient action to fight illegal fishing

The Commission is continuing its fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing worldwide by warning Vietnam, with a “yellow card”, about the risk of it being identified as a non-cooperating country. Today’s decision highlights that Vietnam is not doing enough to fight illegal fishing, due to the lack of an effective sanctioning system to deter IUU fishing activities and the lack of action to address illegal fishing activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels in waters of neighbouring countries, including Pacific Small Island Developing States. Furthermore, Vietnam has a poor system to control landings of fish that is processed locally before being exported to international markets, including the EU. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “With this action today we demonstrate our firm commitment to fight illegal fishing globally. We cannot ignore the impact that illegal activities conducted by Vietnamese vessels are having on marine ecosystems in the Pacific. We invite the Vietnamese authorities to step up their fight so we can reverse this decision quickly. We are offering them our technical support.” The decision does not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. The “yellow card” is considered as a warning and offers the possibility for Vietnam to take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable timeframe. To this end the Commission has proposed an action plan to support the country in addressing the identified shortcomings. A press release is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

La Commission approuve trois nouvelles indications géographiques de Croatie, Danemark et France

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d’inscription de trois nouveaux produits dans le registre des indications géographiques: le «Danbo» (IGP), le «Kintoa» (AOP) et le «Varaždinsko zelje» (AOP). Provenant du Danemark, le Danbo est un fromage affiné à pâte demi-dure élaboré à base de lait de vache. L’appellation Danbo est une combinaison des deux noms danois Dan et Bo. Etymologiquement, Dan est le dérivé scandinave de Danerne, nom désignant le peuple des Danois, tandis que Bo signifie «l’habitant». Le nom Danbo est ainsi l’appellation historique d’un habitant du Danemark. Le Kintoa provient de France et plus particulièrement du Pays basque français. Il s’agit d’une viande de porc issue de la race «Pie noir du Pays basque». Le terme Kintoa trouve son origine dans ce qu’on appelait le droit de quinta: depuis le XIIIème siècle, les rois de Navarre autorisaient les éleveurs de porcs à les emmener en transhumance dans les montagnes royales de Navarre et en échange, ils prélevaient un porc sur cinq, d’où le nom donné à ce droit (quinta).  Enfin, le Varaždinsko zelje est un chou de Croatie cultivé dans le département de Varaždin au nord du pays. Les membres de la famille, toutes générations confondues, participent à la récolte et se transmettent ainsi l’expérience et le savoir-faire nécessaires pour effectuer la récolte manuelle du produit. Ces trois appellations vont rejoindre plus de 1405 produits déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données DOOR. Pour plus d’informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (Pour plus d’information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185;Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of legal support service firm CPA by LGP

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of CPA Global Group (CPA) of the UK by Leonard Green & Partner, L.P. (LGP) of the US. CPA is active in the legal support services sector, more specifically in patent renewal and related services. LGP is a private equity investment firm, which primarily focuses on companies providing services, including consumer, business and healthcare services, as well as retail. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies are not active on the same or related markets. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8650. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Eurostat: Transmission des données du déficit et de la dette pour 2016 – 2ème notification, déficit public de la zone euro et de l’UE28 respectivement de 1,5% et 1,7% du PIB, dette publique à 88,9% et 83,2%

Le déficit ainsi que la dette publique se sont réduits en termes relatifs en 2016 par rapport à 2015, tant dans la zone euro (ZE19) que dans l’UE28. Le ratio du déficit public par rapport au PIB a baissé dans la zone euro, passant de 2,1% en 2015 à 1,5% en 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 2,4% à 1,7%. Le ratio de la dette publique par rapport au PIB a reculé dans la zone euro, passant de 89,9% à la fin de l’année 2015 à 88,9% à la fin de l’année 2016, ainsi que dans l’UE28, de 84,5% à 83,2%. Dans ce communiqué de presse, Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne, fournit les données relatives au déficit et à la dette des administrations publiques, sur la base des chiffres déclarés par les États membres lors de la deuxième notification de 2017 pour les années 2013 à 2016, dans le cadre de l’application de la procédure concernant les déficits excessifs (PDE). Cette notification est fondée sur le système des comptes nationaux SEC 2010. Ce communiqué de presse inclut également des données sur les dépenses et recettes des administrations publiques. Le communiqué EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Šefčovič in Luxembourg for second Energy Union Tour

On Monday 23 October, Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič will be in Luxembourg for the second Energy Union Tour. The Vice-President will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider as well as the Minister for the Environment and Climate Carole Dieschbourg. Vice-President Šefčovič will promote the different components of the Energy Union stressing the need for investment in the clean energy transition which is at the heart of the Clean Energy for All Europeans proposals. Further he will call on the Luxembourgish authorities to use its forward-looking “Third Industrial Revolution” Strategy and its new “Climate Pact” to meet the goals of the Energy Union. The Vice-President will also visit the LuxÉnergie biomass co-generation plant. Ahead of his visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said: “Luxembourg is making good progress towards its 2020 climate and energy targets, as its emissions decreased by 16 percent between 2005 and 2016. I believe that the recently adopted “Climate Pact” between the state and municipalities is an excellent way forward and even a model for others. Local involvement and leadership is vital for our success in this area.” information on the 2017 Energy Union tour are available here. More information on the Energy Union is available here. More information on the Commission’s website here (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.:+32 229 52589)

 

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen in Facebook live chat

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will participate today Monday 23 October at 15.00 CET in a Facebook live chat on “Trade and the Global Economy” on the European Commission’s Facebook page. Following the State of the Union speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission unveiled in September a progressive and ambitious trade package. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “Global trade needs to be proactively shaped and managed to ensure it is fair, projects values and remains firmly anchored in a rules-based system. With the rising threat of protectionism and weakened commitment of large players to global trade governance, the EU must step up to take the lead. Our approach is balanced and responsible: we open markets, but we also set high rules and standards to govern globalisation, and we make sure there is a level playing-field. Trade enables EU’s industry to thrive, it creates opportunities for SMEs to export and allows them to create jobs.”(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)