Tag Archives: CatherineRay

Daily News 27 / 11 / 2017

African Union – European Union Summit to start in Côte d’Ivoire

President Juncker will lead the European Commission delegation at the 5th African Union – European Union Summit starting on 29 November in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The President will be joined by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica. The EU is Africa’s main partner, and the summit will be an opportunity for both sides to scale up their partnership. The African Union (AU) and the EU need to tackle the common challenges of today, from fostering sustainable development and strengthening peace and security to boosting investment in the African continent and better managing migration. Under President Juncker’s leadership, the Commission has added new innovative tools on top of its traditional cooperation instruments, bringing EU cooperation with Africa to a new level. On this occasion, President Juncker said: “What happens in Africa matters for Europe, and what happens in Europe matters for Africa. Our partnership is an investment in our shared future. It is a partnership of equals in which we support each other, help each other to prosper and make the world a safer, more stable and more sustainable place to live.” The summit will be held under the overarching theme of “Youth”, and young people have played a vital role on the run up to the AU-EU Summit, notably through the Youth Summit, which took place in Abidjan on 9-11 October. The participants have developed a Youth Declaration, with concrete recommendations for European and African leaders. A selected group of young fellows have continued to work on these in the EU-funded intercontinental AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative. Tomorrow, on 28 November 2017, ministers of Foreign Affairs from Europe and Africa will gather in Abidjan for a Ministerial meeting. During the AU-EU Summit itself, 29-30 November, leaders will discuss many areas that shape our common agenda: Peace and Security; Migration and Mobility; Connectivity and Job creation. A factsheet is available on the EU’s key partnership with Africa. (for more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


Europe and Africa are in business! Investing in opportunities at 6th business forum

Business leaders, investors, innovative startups, young and female entrepreneurs from Africa and Europe are coming together for the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President responsible for the EU’s Digital Single Market, delivered this morning a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Business Forum, which takes place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, ahead of the African Union – European Union Summit (29-30 November). Vice-President Ansip said: “This Business Forum will look at areas where the situation could be improved. Not only how to create the best conditions for long-term private investment, but also how to support jobs for young people – especially women.” At this occasion, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica added: “Improving the conditions for investment in Africa is essential to create jobs for Africa’s youth and promote sustainable development. This is a key focus of the AU-EU Summit, where the EU will present its new External Investment Plan. This innovative plan will help to unlock €44 billion of investment for decent jobs and sustainable growth.”High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will give closing remarks at the Business Forum, which will be available on EbS. Vice-President Ansip‘s keynote address is available here as well as via@Ansip_EU. This year Forum is dedicated to “Investing in job creation for Youth” and is centered around youth and women, sustainable investment in Africa, agriculture, sustainable energy and digital economy. The EU-Africa Business Forum contributes to the AU-EU Summit through high level discussions and concrete project proposals with a focus on developing solutions for youth employment and entrepreneurship, innovative financing instruments, public-private dialogue and digital policy development. For example, the Forum hosts a Startup Fair, a pitching session, a high level roundtable on the digital economy, investment workshops and many other activities designed to reinforce the digital links between the EU and Africa. Participants will furthermore develop a declaration with concrete recommendations to leaders on how to improve the business and investment climate. The Forum provides a unique platform for young European and African entrepreneurs and startups to express their vision for the future, to exchange views with mature companies and to interact with government representatives. More information on the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum can be found online atwww.euafrica-businessforum.com. Join the debate on Twitter#EABF2017. (For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083)


Payment services: Consumers to benefit from safer and more innovative electronic payments

The Commission has today adopted rules that will make electronic payments in shops and online safer. This will also allow consumers to access more convenient, cost-effective and innovative solutions offered by payment providers. These rules implement the EU’s recently-revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) which aims to modernise Europe’s payment services so as to keep pace with this rapidly evolving market and allow the European e-commerce market to blossom. Today’s rules allow consumers to use innovative services offered by third party providers, also known as FinTech companies, while maintaining rigorous data protection and security for EU consumers and businesses. These include payment solutions and tools for managing one’s personal finances by aggregating information from various accounts. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: “We have struck the delicate balance between security and convenience. Thanks to these new rules, there will be exciting new opportunities for all market players, old and new, to offer better consumer services. At the same time, the new rules will make electronic payments safer.” A key objective of PSD2 is to increase the level of security and confidence of electronic payment. In particular, PSD2 requires payment service providers to develop strong customer authentication (SCA). Today’s rules therefore have stringent, built-in security provisions to significantly reduce payment fraud levels and to protect the confidentiality of users’ financial data, especially relevant for online payments. A full press release and MEMO can be found online. (for more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)


Une compétitivité économique accrue en Pologne grâce à de meilleures connexions de transport financées par l’UE

66,3 millions d’euros du Fonds de Cohésion sont investis dans l’amélioration du réseau ferroviaire au sud de la Silésie, près de la République tchèque, entre les communes de Chybie, Żory et Rybnik et entre Nędza et Turze. Dans cette région polonaise industrielle, notamment autour de la ville de Rybnik, de meilleures connexions permettront de réduire les temps de trajet, tant pour le transport de fret que pour les passagers. La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu a commenté: “Ce projet, qui promeut une mobilité propre en Silésie, contribuera directement à la croissance locale, en facilitant le transport des biens.Investir dans de meilleures connexions ferroviaires, c’est investir directement dans l’économie régionale.” Certaines sections du réseau régional font partie du réseau global de transport transeuropéen (RTE-T). L’UE finance la rénovation des voies sur sept sections différentes ainsi que la construction de 30 ponts et viaducs. Le projet devrait être opérationnel d’ici l’été 2019.  (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Commission launches public consultation on a European Labour Authority, as well as a European Social Security Number

Today the European Commission has launched a public consultation to gather views of the broader public on setting up a European Labour Authority and the introduction of a European Social Security Number. Both initiatives were announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address. The European Labour Authority should ensure that EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way. Concretely, building on existing structures, the Authority would support national administrations, businesses, and mobile workers by strengthening cooperation at EU level on matters such as cross-border mobility and social security coordination. It would also improve access to information for public authorities and mobile workers and enhance transparency regarding their rights and obligations. The European Social Security Number (ESSN) aims at simplifying and modernising citizens’ interaction with administrations in a range of policy areas. An EU Social Security Number would facilitate the identification of persons across borders for the purposes of social security coordination and allow the quick and accurate verification of their social security insurance status. It would facilitate administrative procedures for citizens by optimising the use of digital tools. Legislative proposals for both initiatives are announced in the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2018 and planned to be tabled by spring 2018. Find more information on the European Labour Authority in this factsheet and online. The public consultation can be found here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

Publication of latest agri-food trade figures: EU agri-food trade balance has an increasing surplus

The latest monthly trade report published today by the European Commission, shows that the value of EU agri-food exports in September 2017 kept its very high level, now at €11.7 billion. The trade balance further improved to a surplus of €2.8 billion, with agri-food imports to the EU going down to a monthly value of €8.8 billion. Over the past 12 months, wine and milk powders exports have been performing very well, while exports of wheat and other cereals decreased. Agri-food imports from third countries increased by 4% compared to the same period one year ago. Imports from Indonesia increased most significantly. The full report is online.(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Spain’s support for coal power plants

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether Spain’s “environmental incentive” for coal power plants is in line with EU State aid rules. At this stage, the Commission has concerns that the support has been used to implement mandatory environmental EU standards as regards sulphur oxide emissions, which applied to coal power plants at the time. If confirmed, this means that the scheme did not actually have any environmental incentive effect. Furthermore, the financial support may breach an established principle of EU State aid rules, namely that Member States may not grant State aid to companies to meet mandatory environmental EU standards. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “If you pollute, you pay – this is a long-standing principle in EU environmental law. EU State aid rules do not allow Member States to relieve companies of this responsibility using taxpayer money. We currently believe that this Spanish scheme did not incentivise coal power plants to reduce harmful sulphur oxide emissions – they were already under an obligation to do so under EU environmental law. Therefore, we are concerned that the support gave these coal power plants an unfair competitive advantage. We will now investigate this issue further.” The opening of an in-depth investigation gives Spain and interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and ES. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of EXIM Holding by DER Touristik Deutschland

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of sole control over EXIM Holding A.S. of the Czech Republic by DER Touristik Deutschland GmbH of Germany. EXIM is a Czech company with four subsidiaries active in the tourism sector in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. DER Touristik forms part of the Travel &Tourism Division of REWE Group of Germany, which operates in the tourism sector as well as in the food and non-food retail sector via a separate branch. DER Touristik was already jointly controlling EXIM before the transaction. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited changes it brings to the market. 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.8668. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)


Mergers: Commission clears a joint-venture between Deutsche Alternative Asset Management and M&G Alternatives Investment Management

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Belmond JV by Deutsche Alternative Asset Management (Global) Limited (“DAAM”) and M&G Alternatives Investment Management Limited (“MAGAIM”), all three of the UK. Belmond JV will be established as a full-function joint venture and will be active in the operational leasing of rolling stock to the West Midlands rail franchise in the UK and, potentially, in associated ancillary capital investments. DAAM is an affiliate of the Deutsche Bank Group of Germany and provides investment management and fund management services. MAGAIM is the investment management division of Prudential Group of the UK in Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited changes it brings to the market. 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.8667.(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Study on digital public services points out room for development in using eIDs and eDocuments

The new 2017 eGovernment Benchmarking report shows that European countries are providing better digital public services, but they still need to improve on their use of supporting technology to boost cross-border accessibility and transparency. The study found that public administrations across 34 countries in Europe score highly (80%) in the provision of readily available, mobile and user friendly online public services. The study also reveals that there is progress in cross-border availability of digital services but suggests that these services could further benefit from increased use of key enablers like eIDs or eDocuments. The report is based on the findings from EU Member States but also from Iceland, Norway, Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland, and Turkey. The study implies that more needs to be done to inform users about issues such as the duration of administrative processes or when personal data is used to complete an administrative task. To address these areas, the development of the proposed Single Digital Gateway regulation will give EU Member States centralised access to people and businesses to information on cross-border rights and procedures. This study confirms once again the need for more action – a point which Member States agreed to tackle in the recently adopted Tallinn declaration on eGovernment which will help to improve better digital public services in the EU. Furthermore, the annex to the Tallinn declaration contains user-centricity principles agreed on by the Member States, which puts citizens and businesses at the centre of digital public services. Further details on the report are available here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)


Commissioner Andriukaitis to award NGOs for initiatives that promote vaccination

Today Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety,will present the EU Health Award 2017 for NGOs promoting vaccination, at the Health Policy Platform annual meeting in Brussels. To see the results as they happen, tune-in live. In the run-up to the award ceremony, Commissioner Andriukaitis said: “Immunising people against diseases caused by viruses or bacteria is one of the most cost-effective public health measures available today. Yet, worryingly, misconceptions and scepticism about the need to vaccinate is growing. The public-facing role of Non-Governmental Organisations is crucial in the effort to ensure high vaccination coverage. Picking the top three initiatives was a challenging task for the jury, and while I will be proud to announce the overall winners, all 10 NGOs on the shortlist should be proud of their contribution to better public health through vaccination.”  For more information:EU Health award for NGOs 2017, EU action on vaccination. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229  91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


Commissioner Andriukaitis on official visit to Veghel, the Netherlands

On 28 November,European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis is in Veghel, the Netherlands. He will visit Agrifirm, member of the Dutch association of former foodstuff processors.  Later on Tuesday, he will visit Three Sixty, Ecosystem for circular economy in action, together with Ms Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands. The Commissioner will also meet with the Dutch Taskforce Circular Economy in Food. For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


Commissioner Avramopoulos in Lisbon to discuss security on land, at sea and on the internet

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will be in Lisbon on 28 November to meet the directors of the nine EU agencies working on justice and home affairs – Europol, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), eu-LISA, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the European Police College (CEPOL), Eurojust, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). They will discuss their collaboration on migration and security issues with a focus on border management and the fight against organised crime. The meeting is being hosted by the EMCDDA and is part of the ongoing close cooperation between the agencies, formally established in a network since 2006. Commissioner Avramopoulos will also meet the newly-appointed Portuguese Minister of Internal Affairs, Eduardo Cabrita, and the Director of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre, Michael O’Sullivan. In a press conference at 11:45 CET Commissioner Avramopouloswill present a report on drugs and the darknet co-authored by Europol and the EMCDDA, together with the directors of the two agencies, Rob Wainwright and Alexis Goosdeel respectively. The press conference will be available on EbS. (For more information:Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 2 296 74 56, Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Thomas Kramer – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

Commissioner Bulc hosts the EU-Turkey High Level Transport Dialogue

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc today received Mr Ahmet Arslan, Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication of Turkey, for the EU-Turkey High Level Transport Dialogue. Together, they discussed a number of issues of mutual interest, including the infrastructure connections between the EU and Turkey, road safety and aviation cooperation. They also agreed on a concrete roadmap to pursue and deepen the High-Level dialogue in the future. Commissioner Bulc said, “Transport clearly is an area of common interest for the EU and Turkey. The High-Level dialogue can create a new momentum in our cooperation, and I look forward to continue building on this positive agenda.” Press statements by Commissioner Bulc and Minister Arslan will shortly be available on EBS. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

Commissioner Bulc and EESC President Dassis launch platform for equal opportunities in the transport sector

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and Georges Dassis, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will be joined by Kadri Simson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure of Estonia and Karima Delli, Chair of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament, for the launch of the EU Platform for Change later today in Brussels. This initiative aims to increase female employment and equal opportunities in the transport sector. The Platform was developed in cooperation with the European Economic and Social Committee to give transport companies and organisations the possibility to highlight their initiatives for gender equality and to exchange good practices. To show their commitment, organisations dedicated to equal opportunities in transport will sign an official Declaration at the event. The Declaration will also be opened for signature online. Commissioner Bulc said: “Only 22% of transport workers are women. There is a huge potential for the sector to improve equal opportunities and I am excited that companies and organisations agree on this and are committing themselves to the increase of female employment. By engaging women and men together towards gender equality we will ensure that our societies will flourish at all levels.” More information here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

Commissioner Jourová participates in the European Platform for Roma Inclusion on the transition from Education to Employment

Tomorrow and Wednesday, the European Commission is organising the 11th European Platform for Roma Inclusion. On Tuesday morning, Commissioner Jourová will open his edition dedicated to the topic of the transition of young Roma from education to employment, as Roma are still the most underrepresented group on the labour market. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said ahead of the Platform: “Europe cannot afford to let young Roma fail to fulfil their potential. The growing proportion of young Roma not in education, employment or training is worrying. Policy-makers need to look carefully at the causes and address them. Poverty, low levels of education, discrimination in both education and employment constitute serious barriers for Roma to obtain stable jobs.” Over these two days, government representatives, local and regional authorities, civil society organizations, international organizations, and European institutions representatives participants will engage in debates related to the transition of young Roma from education to employment. The outcomes of the discussions will be presented to decision makers, representatives of education, employers, businesses and other stakeholders. More information about the event can be found here. You can follow the event live online here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Commissioner King to speak at meeting of National Parliaments

Tomorrow Commissioner King will be in Tallinn, Estonia, where he will take part in a meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the EU (COSAC), hosted by the Estonian Council Presidency. Commissioner King will deliver a keynote speech on “State of play – building an effective and sustainable Security Union” during the fourth session of the conference. More information is available on the COSAC website here.(For more information:Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

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

Daily News 13 / 06 / 2017

College of Commissioners due to discuss more robust supervision of central counterparties (CCPs)

The College of Commissioners will meet today in Strasbourg to discuss a proposal to amend the so-called European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR). As was announced during the EMIR REFIT review of at the beginning of May, today’s proposal aims to further improve the financial stability of the European Union. Specifically, the proposed reforms seek to ensure a more consistent and robust supervision of CCPs in EU and non-EU countries to deal with emerging challenges. The EU adopted the European Market Infrastructure Regulation in 2012 following the financial crisis to better manage and monitor the risks arising from derivatives markets for financial stability. A press conference and read-out of today’s College meeting by Vice-President Dombrovskis will take place in Strasbourg at 17:00 and can be followed live on EbS. You will be able to find press release and MEMO online. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)


European Agenda on Migration: Commission reports on progress and calls on Member States to make further efforts to implement measures

Meeting in Strasbourg today ahead of next week’s European Council, the Commission will present four progress reports on measures taken under the European Agenda on Migration. The Commission will review the progress made in the EU’s emergency relocation and resettlement schemes and, as announced in its previous progress report, will specify its position on making use of its powers under the Treaties for those Member States that have not yet implemented the Council decisions. The Commission will also report on the roll-out of the European Border and Coast Guard and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement. In addition, the Commission will present results and lessons learned under the Partnership Framework on Migration one year after its launch and the efforts undertaken along the Central Mediterranean route. Press releases on the implementation of the European Agenda on Migration and Partnership Framework on Migration will be available online at the start of the press conference with Commissioner Avramopoulos in Strasbourg, which is scheduled for 15h30. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921)


30 ans de séjours «Erasmus» à l’étranger: la Commission lance une application mobile pour fêter cet anniversaire

Aujourd’hui, l’UE célèbre les 30 ans de son programme de séjours d’étude et de formation à l’étranger «Erasmus», dont ont déjà bénéficié 9 millions de personnes. Le président de la Commission européenne Jean-Claude Juncker et le président du Parlement européen Antonio Tajani présideront les célébrations du 30e anniversaire du programme Erasmus, devenu Erasmus+ en 2014, qui se dérouleront au Parlement européen à Strasbourg aujourd’hui. À cette occasion, la Commission lancera une nouvelle application mobile Erasmus+. Conçue pour les étudiants, les élèves d’établissements professionnels et les participants à des échanges de jeunes, l’application facilitera les démarches administratives et l’intégration des bénéficiaires tout au long de leur séjour. Le président Juncker a déclaré: «Chaque euro que nous investissons dans le programme Erasmus+ est un investissement dans l’avenir — l’avenir d’un jeune et de notre idée européenne. Je ne vois pas dans quoi il pourrait être plus important d’investir que dans ces porte-drapeaux de demain. Alors que nous fêtons le 9 millionième participant au programme, faisons en sorte que nous soyons neuf fois plus ambitieux pour l’avenir d’Erasmus.» Pour un programme qui aura aidé plus de 4 millions de personnes à étudier, se former et faire du bénévolat à l’étranger entre 2014 et 2020, l’application mobile Erasmus+ contribuera à rendre le programme plus inclusif et accessible: la Commission a en effet la ferme volonté de bâtir l’avenir d’Erasmus+ au-delà de 2020 avec la génération Erasmus+, afin d’ouvrir le programme à un éventail encore plus large de jeunes. Un communiqué de presse, une fiche d’information et un MEMO sont en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tél.: + 32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tél.: + 32 229 50698)

Recherche et innovation: dernière ligne droite pour un nouveau partenariat euro-méditerranéen

Carlos Moedas, commissaire pour la recherche, la science et l’innovation, a salué hier au Parlement européen les avancées décisives sur le partenariat en matière de recherche et d’innovation dans la zone méditerranéenne (PRIMA). Ce partenariat, soumis au vote des eurodéputés aujourd’hui, vise à développer des solutions innovantes pour une gestion durable de l’eau et de la production alimentaire dans la région. Le commissaire Moedas s’exprimait hier lundi en plénière à Strasbourg et a déclaré: «Avec le feu vert du Parlement, PRIMA pourra élaborer des solutions indispensables aux graves pénuries d’eau et d’alimentation dans les régions les plus affectées de la zone méditerranéenne, répondre aux besoins les plus essentiels et ainsi agir sur une des causes profondes de l’immigration subie. Ce partenariat euro-méditerranéen en matière de recherche et d’innovation est une occasion unique pour les États membres de l’UE et les pays tiers de la Méditerranée de mettre en commun leurs ressources et de travailler pour l’avenir de la région. PRIMA est également un excellent exemple de l’ouverture de la recherche et de l’innovation européenne sur le monde et c’est pour cela que je me félicite que ce vote ait lieu aussi rapidement.» La proposition pour établir PRIMA a été présentée par la Commission le 18 octobre 2016. Le partenariat inclut d’ores et déjà dix-neuf pays qui contribueront au financement de PRIMA en complément d’un apport de l’Union européenne de près de 200 millions d’euros au travers du programme-cadre de recherche Horizon 2020. Suite à l’accord du Parlement, le Conseil devrait formellement finaliser le processus législatif le 26 juin prochain. Une fois adopté, le partenariat débutera en 2018, pour une durée de dix ans. Plus de détails seront disponibles à l’issue du vote au Parlement, en début d’après-midi, ici et ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucía Caudet – Tél.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tél.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tél.: +32 229 80379)


La Commission approuve une nouvelle appellation d’origine protégée de France

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d’inscription de l’«Ail violet de Cadours» dans le registre des appellations d’origine protégées (AOP). Il s’agit d’un ail sec  produit à partir des variétés Germidour et Valdour. Ce produit est conditionné dans une région se situant au confluent des départements de la Haute-Garonne, du Gers et du Tarn-et-Garonne en France. L’ail, originaire d’Orient, a probablement été introduit dans la région par la colonisation romaine des premiers siècles. Le commerce de l’ail s’est développé régulièrement jusqu’à la mise en place d’un marché hebdomadaire spécifique à l’ail violet. Ce marché se tient toujours à Cadours tous les mercredis, de mi-juillet à mi-décembre. Cette nouvelle appellation devient le 1400ème produit à être protégé. La liste complète 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: Alexander Winterstein – Tel: +32 2 29 93265;Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)


Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Intrum Justitia by Nordic Capital, subject to conditions

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Intrum Justitia by Nordic Capital. The decision is conditional on the divestment of the companies’ overlapping debt collection and debt purchasing activities in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Commission’s investigation focused on the markets for debt collection and debt purchasing where both Intrum Justitia and Lindorff, a portfolio company of Nordic Capital, are active. The Commission was concerned that the takeover would reduce competition in both markets in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden. In order to address the competition concerns identified by the Commission, Nordic Capital offered to divest the whole of the debt collection and debt purchasing businesses of Lindorff in Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Sweden, and the whole of the debt collection and debt purchasing business of Intrum Justitia in Norway. The Commission was therefore able to conclude that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns. The decision is conditional upon full compliance with the commitments. The full press release is available online in ENFR, DE and SV. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Eurostat: La consommation par habitant a varié plus que du simple au double selon les États membres de l’UE – Rapport de près de un à six pour le PIB par habitant

La consommation individuelle effective (CIE) est un indicateur du niveau de bien-être matériel des ménages. Basée sur les estimations préliminaires pour l’année 2016, la CIE par habitant exprimée en standards de pouvoir d’achat (SPA) s’est échelonnée, parmi les États membres, de 53% à 132% de la moyenne de l’Union européenne (UE). Dix États membres ont enregistré une CIE par habitant supérieure à la moyenne de l’UE en 2016. Le niveau le plus élevé de l’UE a été relevé au Luxembourg, à 32% au-dessus de la moyenne de l’UE. L’Allemagne et l’Autriche se situaient à environ 20% au-dessus de la moyenne, suivis par le Royaume-Uni, le Danemark, la Finlande, la Belgique, la France, les Pays-Bas et la Suède, qui enregistraient tous des niveaux compris entre 10% et 15% au-dessus de la moyenne de l’UE. Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations:Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)



Commissaire Jourová signe la convention sur la prévention et la lutte contre la violence à l’égard des femmes

La Commissaire Jourová signe aujourd’hui l’accession de l’UE à la convention sur la prévention et la lutte contre la violence à l’égard des femmes et la violence domestique ce midi à Strasbourg, en présence du Secrétaire Général, M. Thorbjørn Jagland. La convention d’Istanbul du Conseil de l’Europe est le plus vaste traité international sur la lutte contre la violence à l’égard des femmes et la violence domestique. Elle reconnaît que la violence à l’égard des femmes constitue une violation de leurs droits humains et prévoit des mesures visant à prévenir les actes de violence, à protéger les victimes et à poursuivre les auteurs de tels actes. Suite à une proposition de la Commission européenne, le Conseil a validé l’accession de l’UE à cette convention en mai dernier. La lutte contre la violence à l’égard est une des priorités en 2017 de la Commission européenne qui a lancé une campagne afin de soutenir les activités nationales de sensibilisation et les organisations de la société civile travaillant sur ce sujet. La campagne se décline aussi sur les médias sociaux: #SayNoStopVAW. La déclaration jointe du Premier Vice-Président Timmermans et de la Commissaire Jourová sur la décision du Conseil , ainsi que des fiches d’information sur la convention d’Istanbul et sur les actions de l’UE dans la lutte contre la violence à l’égard des femmes sont disponibles en ligne.  (Pour plus d’informations: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Commissioner Creţu visits the Greek islands of Chios and Leros

On 13-16 June Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu is in Greece. On 14 and 15 June the Commissioner will visit the Greek islands of Chios and Leros, meet the regional governors of the North and South Aegean islands and the mayors of the islands received in Brussels by President Juncker in March 2017. Commissioner Creţu will inaugurate a new EU-funded desalination plant in Leros and visit other Cohesion Policy projects. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Creţu said: “Responding to President Juncker‘s call, I will meet mayors of the North and South Aegean islands to assess the current situation and reflect on measures and actions which could alleviate the impact of the refugee crisis while boosting the local economy. The way the mayors have dealt with the migration challenge is admirable and my visit is a clear signal that they shall not be left alone in dealing with this extraordinary pressure. My visit will also focus on Cohesion Policy in the country and on the future of Cohesion Policy. Thanks to the July 2015 “A New Start for Jobs and Growth in Greece” Plan and to the efforts of the Greek authorities, Greece ranks among the top Member States in terms of implementation. Overall, Greece has received almost €11 billion of EU funds since July 2015. We are ready to help Greece seize further the opportunities offered by EU funds, for the direct benefit of the country’s real economy.” In Athens, on 13 June, the Commissioner will meet the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, and attend an event on resilient cities organised by the Mayor of Athens, Giorgios Kaminis. On 16 June, Commissioner Creţu will meet Dimitris Papadimitriou, Minister of Economy and Development, and Alexis Charitsis, Alternate Minister in charge of EU funds. The Commissioner will also deliver a keynote speech at an event on entrepreneurship, innovation and smart specialisation organised by the Governor of the region of Attica, Rena Dourou, and visit EU-funded projects in the capital. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Food waste: EU leading the way in the fight against food waste

Tomorrow (14 June), Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, in charge of Health and Food Safety, will address members of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste (FLW)at its second meeting where key deliverables from the Circular Economy Action Plan will be discussed. Ahead of the meeting, Commissioner Andriukaitis said: “At the first meeting the members called for policy coherence and integrated action at EU and national levels that I fully support. Now we need to get into the heart of the matter: methodology, guidelines on food donation, date marking. I am convinced that this unique forum dedicated to food waste prevention can help us all to move more quickly, find and adopt new solutions, seize opportunities to save food resources and together design new business models for healthier and more sustainable food systems”. The Platform brings together both public and private interests in order to foster cooperation amongst all key players in the food value chain and help accelerate the EU’s progress towards the global Sustainable Development Goal of halving food waste by 2030. Since its launch last autumn, the members of the Platform have supported the Commission in developing harmonised methodology for quantifying food waste, called for by the Commission’s waste legislation as well as the elaboration of EU guidelines on food donation, which the Commission intends to adopt by the end of 2017.  Focussed on supporting members in taking effective action to prevent food waste, a half-day will be dedicated to sharing experience in the implementation of national frameworks for action as well as new regulatory frameworks established in some Member States. New digital tools will also be presented to facilitate exchange of information, best practice and foster cooperation between members. The meeting will be web-streamed here. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

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

Daily News 12 / 05 / 2017

European Commission imposes anti-dumping duties on more Chinese steel products

The Commission today published definitive anti-dumping measures a new type of steel products originating in China. The latest investigation confirmed the preliminary findings that the Chinese seamless pipes had been sold in Europe at dumped prices. Chinese exports will now be taxed with an extra duty ranging from 29.2% to 54.9%. This is another clear example of how the EU is using the available toolbox of trade defence instruments to address unfair imports of steel. The EU currently has an unprecedented number of trade defence measures in place targeting unfair imports of steel products related to high levels of industrial overcapacity and subsidies in China. At the same time, the Commission is seeking Member States’ and the Parliament’s approval to its proposals to make the system better suited to the current reality of international trade. The Commission welcomes the progress in that context, with the Council’s support yesterday to a Presidency compromise text on a new anti-dumping methodology. In addition to that, the EU is tackling the root causes of overcapacity in the global steel industry by his active involvement in the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity created last December. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185 and Kinga Malinowska – Tel.: + 32 229 51383)


The Commission launches the EU Platform on Animal Welfare

The Commission is publishing today the composition of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare (the Platform) announced in January 2017. The Platform brings together 75 member organisations both from the public and private sector and relevant international intergovernmental organisations, in order to maximise the outcome of the discussions and thereby improve the welfare of animals in the EU. Following a call for applications for private sector organisations and independent experts, the Commission has selected a total of 40 members from academia, NGOs and industry. The other members of the Platform were nominated by competent authorities in the Member States and in EEA countries. Members were selected based on their experience in improving animal welfare and their capacity for stakeholder outreach. The Platform will support all players in the better application of EU rules on animal welfare through exchanges of best practices in the field of animal welfare; the development and use of voluntary commitments by businesses; and the promotion of EU animal welfare standards at global level. The inaugural meeting of the Platform is scheduled for 6 June 2017 in Brussels. For more information on the Platform see here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172;Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


La Commission lance une consultation publique sur les règles encadrant le nom de domaine “.eu”

Le domaine “.eu” a été initialement créé en 2002 et officiellement lancé le 7 décembre 2005. Il est donc désormais temps de vérifier si les règles qui encadrent le nom de domaine de l’Union européenne sont toujours adaptées. Avec plus de 3,7 millions d’enregistrements au total, “.eu” se place aujourd’hui au 7ème rang des noms de domaine de premier niveauet offre un nom de domaine unique pour les organisations et les personnes résidant dans les États membres de l’UE ainsi qu’en Islande, au Liechtenstein et en Norvège. Depuis l’entrée en vigueur des règlements encadrant le “.eu”, le marché des noms de domaine a beaucoup gagné en dynamisme et en concurrence. C’est pour cela que la Commission a ouvert aujourd’hui une consultation publique jusqu’au 4 août 2017 à laquelle toute personne intéressée est invitée à participer. Plus d’informations sont disponibles ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tél .: + 32 229 67083; Johannes Bahrke – Tél .: +32 229 58615; Inga Höglund – Tél .: +32 229 50698)

Winner of 2017 EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award announced

The European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation announced today the winner of the 2017 EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture: the prize will be given to the innovative renovation of Kleiburg, a 1960s apartment building in Amsterdam, by NL Architects and XVW architectuur. The project, which was among five finalists from 356 projects nominated, was rewarded for the renovation of one of the biggest apartment buildings in the Netherlands by a consortium involving the owner, the neighbours, the Bijlmer Museum, which is dedicated to the history of the district where Kleiburg is located, and the architects. The 2017 Emerging Architect Special Mention is awarded to Belgian architects MSA and V+ for the NAVEZ project, five social units in northern Brussels, designed as a landmark at the entrance of the city and providing exemplary passive apartments for large families. Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “I congratulate the winners of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, who demonstrate the high quality of European architecture, its creative potential and its ability to address the social, economic and environmental challenges of our time. The Commission is committed to sustainable urban development and supports the values of contemporary architecture and its contribution to the well-being of our citizens. Moreover, the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 will be an excellent opportunity to strengthen the role of architecture in saving and enhancing heritage sites and buildings.” The award ceremony will take place on 26 May at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona. The €60,000 biennial Prize, which is the most prestigious in European architecture, was launched in 1987 to highlight the contribution of European architects to the development of new ideas and technologies in contemporary urban development. It is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe. For further information, please see here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.:+32 2 29 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)

EUROSTAT: Mars 2017 comparé à février 2017 – La production industrielle en baisse de 0,1% dans la zone euro – Stable dans l’UE28

En mars 2017 par rapport à février 2017, la production industrielle corrigée des variations saisonnières a diminué de 0,1% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et est restée stable dans l’UE28, selon les estimations d’Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. En février 2017, la production industrielle avait également baissé de 0,1% dans la zone euro et était demeurée stable dans l’UE28.En mars 2017 par rapport à mars 2016, la production industrielle a progressé de 1,9% dans la zone euro et de 2,4% dans l’UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations:Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 229 80379)




High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini to attend the Plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean

High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, in her role as Co-President of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), will participate in the annual Plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean tomorrow in Rome. The Assembly brings together 280 elected representatives from the national parliaments of all members of the UfM, equally distributed between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean. The plenary session will be dedicated to Sustainable Development and New Job Opportunities in the Mediterranean area, which are issues crucial for the sustainable development and stabilisation of the region. The discussions are expected to focus on the creation of quality jobs and viable socio-economic development opportunities. Audio-visual coverage will be available on EbS.  (Pour plus d’informations: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Lauranne Devillé – Tel.: +32 229 80833)

Vice-President Katainen visits Beijing, China, to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will be in Beijing, China, on 14-15 May to represent the European Union in the “Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation“. The “Belt and Road Initiative” is China’s major economic diplomacy project to upgrade infrastructure which contributes to sustainable growth in the Euro-Asian region. The Forum, focusing for example on connectivity, is one of the biggest international events China hosts this year. Vice-President Katainen will meet Vice-Premier Ma Kai to discuss EU-China economic, trade and investment relations. More broadly, the European Union advocates for a level-playing field and reciprocity in its global trade and investment relations. Vice-President Katainen will also participate in a series of meetings with representatives of the business community. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182)


Commissioner Thyssen in Madrid on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the European Disability Forum

Tomorrow, 13 May, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will be in Madrid, Spain, where she will attend the Annual General Assembly of the European Disability Forum. On the occasion of the Forum’s 20th anniversary, Commissioner Thyssen will give a keynote speech, reaffirming the Commission’s commitment to make the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a reality. The speech will be published here. The Commissioner will also benefit from the occasion to visit European Social Fund projects. She will first visit a fair organised in light of this year’s 60th anniversary of the Fund, where she will get a first-hand look at projects co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Once Foundation. There she will meet with entrepreneurs with disabilities to discuss about their experiences and businesses, as well as with representatives of companies that have employed people with disabilities. Furthermore, Commissioner Thyssen will visit a smart, accessible and sustainable house that manages to adapt itself to the needs and circumstances of the people who inhabit it. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)


Commissioner Stylianides begins visit to Myanmar/Burma, announces new EU humanitarian funding

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has today started his official visit to Myanmar/Burma from 12-14 May to meet with government officials and assess the humanitarian situation on the ground. His visit follows the meeting on 2 May in Brussels of HR/VP Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides with State Counsellor and Foreign Minister, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and marks the first ever of a European Commissioner to Northern Rakhine State. Arriving in the country today he announced new EU humanitarian assistance to the country and the region. “The European Union has not forgotten Myanmar/Burma. This is why we have mobilized over €12 million for direct humanitarian assistance and disaster risk reduction activities in the country. Our new funding will help deliver life-saving aid to the most vulnerable, and it will make communities stronger in the face of natural disasters. Humanitarian organisations need full access to all affected communities, so that help can reach those who need it the most,” said Commissioner Stylianides. Over €9 million will be allocated for direct humanitarian assistance to communities living in the conflict-afflicted areas of the country, including Rakhine, Shan, and Kachin States. Some €3 million will fund disaster-risk-reduction activities to reduce the impact of natural disasters and strengthen the resilience of communities at risk in Myanmar/Burma. This new funding is part of a bigger package for South and East Asia and Pacific amounting to over €27 million. During his mission, the Commissioner is meeting with Union Ministers in Nay Pyi Taw before visiting projects financed by EU humanitarian aid in Northern Rakhine State. More details on his visit as well as audio-visual material will be made available at the end of the visit. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Commissioner Jourová visits Eurojust in The Hague

Commissioner for Justice, Vera Jourová, is visiting today Eurojust, the agency of the European Union dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters. She will meet with the president of Eurojust, Ms. Coninsx and speak to the College of Eurojust. She will present her priorities in the field of criminal justice, including the setting up of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which will investigate and prosecute on EU budget fraud and important cross-border VAT fraud. A press release will be available this afternoon on Eurojust’s website. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

The Commission extends the mandate of Jan Figel, Special Envoy for the promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union

The Commission has decided to extend by an additional year the mandate of Jan Figel as Special Envoy for the promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union. Since his appointment in May 2016 Mr Figel visited a number of third countries, including Iraq, Jordan, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, and participated in many international events and processes. He has engaged very actively in dialogue with governments and civil society representatives, including religious and non-governmental actors. At the heart of Mr Figel’s work lie the EU Guidelines on Freedom and Religion of Belief, adopted in 2013. Such new function has been well received within and outside the EU. “The EU is and must remain a credible promoter of human dignity for all and everywhere. Freedom of conscience and religion is a universal right and an essential value” commented Jan Figel. Mr Figel performs his duties in close cooperation with various Commission services and the European External Action Service. The Special Envoy will continue to serve as Special Advisor to Commissioner Neven Mimica, who is responsible for International Cooperation and Development, with the objective to foster greater awareness on freedom of religion or belief within the development cooperation agenda. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


The Commissioners’ weekly activities

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

Daily News 18 / 03 / 2016

Building the Energy Union by completing the internal energy market: Commission releases €200 million for cross-border energy networks
Today, the European Commission has opened a call for proposals under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to help finance key EU energy infrastructure projects. €200 million will be made available for projects which aim at eliminating bottlenecks preventing the free flow of energy across EU countries. Once finalised, the projects will help complete the EU internal energy market and create a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy, a priority of the Juncker Commission. EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “With this call for proposals we are actively investing EU money where it is most needed and where it will bring most gains. With the necessary investments, EU consumers will be able to enjoy the benefits of a modern, reliable and sustainable EU-wide energy system. A fully functioning energy market with well-connected energy networks is an essential building block for the Energy Union.”This EU money is expected to act as a catalyst for speeding up the implementation of the projects and attracting much needed financing from private and public investors. With a total of €800 million for grants foreseen in 2016, this is the first of two CEF energy calls for this year. The deadline to submit applications is 28 April 2016. A decision on the selection of proposals to be funded is expected to be adopted by the end of July. Find more information about the CEF energy call for proposal and the Energy Union online. Furthermore, the Investment Plan for Europe (EFSI) has already helped to finance 21 projects in the energy and climate action sector. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Investment Plan for Europe: another €150 million for Italian SMEs

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Credito Valtellinese s.c. (CREVAL) have signed an InnovFin agreement in Italy to provide €150 million in loans to innovative small and medium sized businesses in Italy. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Innovation is a key driver for job creation and economic growth in Europe. We want to help Italian businesses access the capital they need to turn their innovative ideas into reality. With today’s €150 million agreement we are doing exactly that.” More information is available online. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

Antitrust: e-commerce sector inquiry finds geo-blocking is widespread throughout EU

The European Commission has published initial findings on the prevalence of geo-blocking which prevents consumers from purchasing consumer goods and accessing digital content online in the European Union. The information was gathered by the Commission as part of its ongoing antitrust sector inquiry into the e-commerce sector, launched in May 2015. In particular, the replies from more than 1400 retailers and digital content providers from all 28 EU Member States show that geo-blocking is common in the EU for both consumer goods and digital content. 38% of the responding retailers selling consumer goods and 68% of digital contentproviders replied that they geo-block consumers located in other EU Member States. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said “The information gathered as part of our e-commerce sector inquiry confirms the indications that made us launch the inquiry: Not only does geo-blocking frequently prevent European consumers from buying goods and digital content online from another EU country, but some of that geo-blocking is the result of restrictions in agreements between suppliers and distributors. Where a non-dominant company decides unilaterally not to sell abroad, that is not an issue for competition law. But where geo-blocking occurs due to agreements, we need to take a close look whether there is anti-competitive behaviour, which can be addressed by EU competition tools.” The press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and all other languages. The factsheet is available in EN. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

State aid: Commission approves aid for Finnish LNG terminal at Hamina

The European Commission has found that Finland’s plans to grant €28 million to build a small scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Hamina, on Finland’s South-East coast, are in line with EU state aid rules. The project improves security of energy supply in the region and contributes to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, in line with EU energy and environmental objectives and without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. In particular, ending the energy isolation of the Baltic Sea Region and integrating it fully into EU energy markets is a key building block for the EU’s Energy Union strategy and one of the priorities of the Juncker Commission. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The Hamina LNG terminal is one of several planned in Finland. These small scale LNG terminals will provide a new source of cleaner fuel for the maritime industry and diversify Finland’s gas supply sources. It is a good example of EU state aid rules encouraging sound public investment and helping the EU reach its energy security and environmental goals.” A full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE, FI and SV. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


New Development Education and Awareness Raising programme to be announced

Today EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will announce a new Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) programme call for proposals, following wide consultations with civil society organisations across Europe. €90 million of funding to European Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities, including small and grassroots organisations, will be made available. The announcement will be made at the Civil Society Organisations Forum, taking place on March 17-18, in Brussels. Ahead of the event, Commissioner Mimica said: “The active engagement of the European public in global development issues is fundamental. During the migration crisis, civil society organisations have played a key role in the response which shows how powerful the involvement of the public and civil society has become. This new call for proposals will support civil society organisations in doing just that.” The DEAR programme supports projects designed and led by Civil Society Organizations and Local Authorities (LAs), on topics such as climate change, migration or gender equality, workers’ rights, and sustainable consumption. The programme will also raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a universally agreed framework adopted by the United Nations in 2015 that involves all countries and people in order to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

Road Transport: Commission adopts common rules to facilitate enforcement and enhance road safety

The European Commission has today adopted a series of rules applicable to road hauliers and road passenger transport operators. They include a common classification of serious road safety infringements under transport legislation, as well as new specifications for smart tachographs (the device that records driving times of lorry, bus and coach drivers) making the best use of new digital technologies such as Galileo. The objective is to enhance road safety, contribute to a fairer competition between road transport operators and to facilitate a consistent enforcement of EU rules across borders. More information is available here. A Road Transport Conference bringing together Member States and stakeholders will be held in Brussels on 19 April.(For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 69143)


EUROSTAT: Fourth quarter of 2015 – Euro area job vacancy rate up to 1.6% – EU28 rate up to 1.7%

The job vacancy rate in the euro area (EA19) was 1.6% in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from 1.5% in the previous quarter and the fourth quarter of 2014, according to figures published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The job vacancy rate in the EU28 was 1.7% in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from 1.6% in the previous quarter and the fourth quarter of 2014. A EUROSTAT press release is available online. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

EUROSTAT: Fourth quarter of 2015 – Annual growth in labour costs up to 1.3% in euro area – Stable at 1.9% in EU28

Hourly labour costs rose by 1.3% in the euro area (EA19) and by 1.9% in the EU28 in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared with the same quarter of the previous year. In the third quarter of 2015, hourly labour costs increased by 1.1% and 1.9% respectively. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The two main components of labour costs are wages & salaries and non-wage costs. In the euro area, wages & salaries per hour worked grew by 1.5% and the non-wage component by 0.7%, in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. In the third quarter of 2015, the annual changes were +1.5% and +0.2% respectively. In the EU28, hourly wages & salaries rose by 2.0% and the non-wage component by 1.4% for the fourth quarter of 2015. In the third quarter of 2015, annual changes were +2.1% and +1.2% respectively. A EUROSTAT press release is available online. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Commissioner Johannes Hahn visits Bosnia and Herzegovina

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will be in Sarajevo on Monday 21 March for an official visit. The Commissioner will meet key interlocutors of the country including the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Chairman Mr. Bakir Izetbegović, as well as Presidency members Mladen Ivanić and Dragan Čović, Foreign Minister Mr. Igor Crnadak, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Mr. Denis Zvizdić, the Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mr. Fadil Novalić, and the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska Ms. Zeljka Cvijanović. The aim of the mission will be to discuss with the political representatives about the latest developments and country authorities’ efforts to further deliver on the EU integration path of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ahead of the visit Commissioner Hahn said: “I am encouraged by the country authorities’ efforts to deliver on the necessary steps towards the EU, in line with Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens’ expectations. It is essential that these reform efforts continue in order for the country to move forward on its EU path”. Videos and photos of the visit will be available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

Federica Mogherini in Lebanon on Monday 21 March

The High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini will travel to Lebanon on 21 March. During her visit she will meet with the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Tammam Salam, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri. This visit comes in the framework of the strong EU-Lebanon partnership, and is aimed at discussing developments in the country at these difficult times, and addressing common challenges such as the Syria crisis, the impact of refugees and the fight against terrorism. At the London conference, the EU and Lebanon agreed to do more to sustainably address the needs of refugees and host communities and on how to support the economic and social resilience of the country. A factsheet on the EU support to Lebanon in dealing with the refugee crisis is also online. Videos and photos of the visit will be available on EbS. (For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 2 29 69921; Nabila Massrali – Tel.: +32 2 29 69218)

Le Commissaire Moscovici est en déplacement au Mans aujourd’hui

Pour ce 4eme déplacement en région en France qui a pour but de rapprocher l’Europe de ses territoires, le Commissaire Moscovici a souhaité mettre l’accent sur la recherche et l’innovation, et sur la complémentarité des universités et des entreprises en la matière. Le Commissaire rencontrera des équipes dont le travail au quotidien illustre cette complémentarité. Il s’agit notamment de celle de l’Institut des Molécules et matériaux du Mans, de celle du laboratoire d’acoustique de l’Université du Maine, et de celle du centre de transfert de Technologie du Maine. Ces deux derniers établissements bénéficient de fonds européens. Après ces visites, Pierre Moscovici s’entretiendra avec des acteurs économiques locaux, des universitaires et des étudiants. Dans la perspective de ce déplacement, le Commissaire Moscovici a déclaré : “L’innovation et la recherche sont un socle de développement important pour l’Europe, qui se construit aussi au cœur des régions et des territoires. Je me réjouis d’échanger avec des chercheurs, universitaires et entreprises de la région du Mans sur leurs projets et la manière dont l’Europe est à leurs côtés, eux qui sont des artisans de la relance de l’économie européenne”. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen participate in the Annual Convention for Inclusive Growth

On Monday 21 March, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will open the first edition of the Annual Convention for Inclusive Growth taking place in Brussels, together with the Secretary of State for Social Affairs and Employment of The Netherlands, Jetta Klijnsma. Vice-President for the Euro and Social dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, will close the event. The Convention will also be attended by Allan Larsson, special adviser to President Juncker on the European Pillar of Social Rights (speech is available online). The Annual Convention for Inclusive Growth, which takes up the torch of the previous Convention of the European Platform against Poverty, will gather around 400 policy makers and representatives of the civil society. The aim of the Convention is to discuss what the EU can do to ensure that all citizens reap the benefits of truly inclusive growth. This includes fighting poverty, reducing unemployment and making sure no one is left behind. The Convention will also provide an opportunity to discuss the European Pillar of Social Rights, on which the Commission has launched a broad consultation on 8 March. Commissioner Thyssen commented: “The Annual Convention for Inclusive Growth reflects our firm commitment to reconnect policy making with the expertise and views of the civil society. I am confident that it will lead to a fruitful exchange on social policies and notably on building the Pillar of Social Rights. I want to involve as many people as possible, from all walks of life so that the Pillar is as representative and realistic as possible in the context of a rapidly changing world.” The event is open to accredited journalists and will also be web streamed. Vice-President Dombrovskis‘ closing remarks will be made available here, Commissioner Thyssen‘s speech here and the agenda of the Convention can be found here(For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)


Commissioner Cecilia Malmström meets with US Trade Representative in Brussels

EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrӧm meets today with US Trade Representative Michael Froman in Brussels as part of the joint efforts to keep up an accelerated pace in the negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The meeting will focus on market access issues, notably services, public procurement and industrial tariffs. The Commissioner and the Trade Representative will take stock of negotiations and build on recent progress made, notably in the field of regulatory cooperation. In the evening, the two will take part in the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum, where they will participate in a discussion on TTIP and other trade issues moderated by David Ignatius of the Washington Post. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)


Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in Vienna for high-level EU-OPEC meeting

On 21 March EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete attends the high-level EU-OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) meeting in Vienna. The meeting will focus on the challenges caused by the recent downward trends in oil prices and analyse possible future trends in the oil market in the light of a sharp decline in investment in oil exploration and production. The discussions will also reflect on how the current times of low oil prices can be an opportunity to phase out environmentally harmful fossil fuel subsidies, and to promote measures on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Commissioner Arias Cañete said: “Excessive oil price volatility is harmful for the economies of both producing and consuming countries. As we demonstrated in the Paris climate talks last year, Europe’s commitment to a clean energy future is non-negotiable. Eliminating fossil fuels subsidies worldwide is certainly a step in the right direction. I look forward to discussing with OPEC countries how we can best work together to ensure the global clean energy transition.” The EU’s oil imports are expected to account for more than 90% of its total oil consumption by the next decade. OPEC comprises 13 oil producing nations which account for over one-third of the global oil supply all together. The EU has held meetings within the EU-OPEC dialogue since 2004. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Competition: Commissioner Vestager meets Chinese counterparts in Beijing to discuss competition policy and economic reform

During her visit to Beijing, Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager had various meetings with her counterparts in the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of State Administration of Industry and Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission, the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, and the Development Research Center of the State Council, to discuss cooperation on competition issues between the EU and China, as well as China’s reform agenda. Following her meetings, Commissioner Vestager said: “The meetings confirmed our shared interest in strengthening our cooperation on competition matters. They provided me with a first-hand sense of the challenges and urgency of China’s reform—in particular the ambition to let the market shape the economy, for domestic and foreign operators alike. I believe the European experience of building our open single market and our history of restructuring and liberalising a number of sectors contains useful ideas in this respect. In particular, I shared with my Chinese counterparts the Commissions experiences as enforcer of state aid control within the single market.” For more details see website of DG Competition. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)




The Commissioners’ weekly activities