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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary‑General.

**Migrants Day

Today is International Migrants Day.  In his message for the Day, the Secretary‑General stressed that solidarity with migrants has never been more urgent.  He said that evidence overwhelmingly shows that migrants generate economic, social and cultural benefits for societies everywhere and yet hostility towards them is growing around the world.  He called for international cooperation in managing migration to ensure that its benefits are most widely distributed and that migrants’ human rights are protected.

Today at 2 p.m., the Secretary‑General will be taking part in a panel discussion at UNICEF House, which you are welcome to attend.  And my guests today at the briefing will include Béla Hovy, Chief of the Migration Section of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Béla will be discussing the International Migration Report 2017, which the Department produced, and also here will be Leonard Doyle, the Head of Communications for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

**Middle East

Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed members of the Security Council today in an open meeting — that’s part of the regular, the periodic briefing on the situation in the Middle East, as well as the briefing on the follow‑up to resolution 2334 (2016), passed just about a year ago.  He said that he is particularly concerned as to the future of our collective efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  The Secretary‑General, he recalled, has been clear that ending the occupation and realizing the two‑state solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine, is the only way to achieve such a vision.  Today, however, he warned, there is a growing risk that the parties may revert to unilateral actions.  His full statement is online and I believe the Council went into closed consultations.


Our colleagues from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) tell us that a patrol — a UN patrol — hit a suspected improvised explosive device in Kidal city this morning.  One peacekeeper was slightly wounded.  In response to the attack, the Mission deployed a Quick Reaction Force and an explosive ordnance disposal team to secure and clear the incident site and to recover a vehicle that was damaged.  This follows four separate attacks against peacekeeping personnel and premises in Kidal on Friday, all of which were repelled by peacekeepers.  One peacekeeper was severely wounded.  Two UN Mission staff and two civilians were slightly wounded, as well, and they were immediately given medical attention.  In a statement over the weekend, the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, strongly condemned the attacks on peacekeepers that also put civilians at risk, adding that the Mission would continue to repel all attacks in a similar robust manner.


The Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, today deplored Saturday’s deadly ambush on a convoy carrying humanitarian food supplies for people impacted by conflict.  He also expressed grave concern over the limitations that attacks of this nature may have on the delivery of life‑saving supplies to people in need in north‑east Nigeria.  Four civilians are reported to have been killed in the ambush that took place on the road between Dikwa and Gamboru, in Borno State.  Aid items destined to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people have also been destroyed.


The Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Pernille Dahler Kardel, met separately this morning with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.  She said she also met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri last week.  Ms. Kardel, who arrived in Lebanon last week, discussed with Lebanon’s top leaders the key issues that are on the agenda between Lebanon and the UN.  She underscored the UN’s continued support for Lebanon on crucial issues related to peace and security, stability and socioeconomic development.


Humanitarian organizations working in Yemen released a joint statement yesterday on allegations of corruption and bias in the provision of relief assistance, in which they condemned in the strongest terms allegations put forward by the parties to the conflict in Yemen without proper substantiation.  The humanitarian partners in Yemen emphasized that they maintain their neutrality and do not take sides with any of the parties to the conflict.  Meanwhile, clashes and air strikes are reportedly continuing in southern Hodeidah Governorate, about 100 km south of Hodeidah.  Renewed clashes along the south‑west coast have reportedly caused significant civilian displacement, although comprehensive displacement estimates are not yet available.  That’s it.  I will stop there and take some questions, and then we’ll have Brenden [Varma], and then we’ll go to our guests.  Mr. Lee.  Why not?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure.  I’m… And I’m… you’ve just spoke about Yemen, and I… I may have missed it.  This airstrike in Ma’rib, did you address that?

Spokesman:  No.  We’re aware of the… we’re very much aware of the reports, and we continue to call on the parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international law not to target civilians or civilian infrastructure, among other items.

Question:  Sure.  I guess just to follow… it seems it’s a pretty well‑sourced report, and it seems these were women on the way to a… to a wedding…?

Spokesman:  I mean, we’ve seen… as I said, you know… I’ve seen the reports.  We’re just not in a position to confirm them.  I mean, the reports as they stand are fairly horrific by any standard…

Question:  What I meant to ask was this… in… in creating that list under Children and Armed Conflict, it seemed that the Secretary‑General concluded or said that the Saudi‑led Coalition had taken steps to… to avoid these things.  And so I’m wondering whether an incident like this calls into… is it… is it… is it an aberration?  What were those steps that they took?

Spokesman:  Well, obviously, the steps they had briefed us upon is better command and control and more detailed information as to where… I guess, better targeting.  I mean, I… you know, they’ve told us they’ve taken steps.  I mean, obviously, those are for the military side of the Coalition led by Saudi Arabia.  All of these events, as events around the world, are obviously… continue to be checked and rechecked by our staff and would be then put into the relevant reports.

Okay.  And I do have a statement on the attacks over the weekend in Pakistan:  The Secretary‑General strongly condemns the attack on a Methodist church in Quetta in Pakistan.  He extends his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to those injured.  He calls for the perpetrators of the attack to be brought to justice.  Yes, in the back?

Question:  Thank you.  On Honduras, the Organization of American States (OAS) have asked for the elections… presidential elections to be held again because of the many irregularities.  Does the Secretary‑General share these concerns, or what is his opinion on the elections?  And I have another question afterwards.

Spokesman:  Sure.  I mean, we’ve been, obviously, following the developments over the last few weeks in Honduras very closely, especially in the wake of the elections.  As far as the Secretary‑General is concerned, he reiterates his call for leadership with responsibility in this crucial moment and for a solution to differences within the mechanisms established by the Electoral Law.  He again urges calm and restraint.  He’s aware of the questions raised by the preliminary electoral observation reports of the Organization of American States and the European Union and of the pronouncements of the Secretary General of the OAS.  Yes, ma’am, and then Walter.  Yes, you.  Yep?

Question:  Hi.  [Inaudible] a few weeks ago, [António] Guterres proposed several internal change at the UN.  Could you please make some comments about the progress in the process of reforms?

Spokesman:  Sure.  The process of reform of the United Nations is not an easy one.  The proposals on management reform, on the peace and security pillar, on the development system reform are continuing.  There are very deep and detailed consultations with Member States, often led by the Secretary‑General himself.  We do hope to have more a public update, at least on the development system report, in the next few days to share with you.  But the work is continuing, and we very much continue to hope and hope we will receive the full support of the Member States for these efforts.  Ma’am?

Question:  Hi.  Eve from Al Arabiya.  So, we saw the Secretary‑General’s report on the implementation of 2231 (2015).  Does the Secretary‑General believe that there’s clear evidence of Iran’s involvement in supplying the Houthis with weapons?

Spokesman:  Sure, I mean, I know there was some exchanges last week with the Spokesman characterizing the conclusions of the report to 2231.  I just want to make it clear that we do not wish to characterize the conclusions and information contained in the report in any way.  The information and the Secretary‑General’s words in the report are clear, and the conclusions speak for themselves.  Walter?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  This morning, a new Government was sworn in in Austria.  It includes the right‑wing Freedom Party.  Does the Secretary‑General have any comment?

Spokesman:  You know, we obviously… we’re aware of these latest developments and the formation of the government.  Austria is obviously a very important partner to the United Nations, and I hope to have a bit more to say on this shortly.  Evelyn.  Sorry.  I thought you had raised your hand but… Sorry, Linda, or one of you.  Whoever’s holding the mic, so since Linda is holding the mic, go ahead.

Question:  Thank you, Steph.  I just wanted to ask a question about the migration report that said that there are about 260 million people living in countries other than their birth, that of their birth, and that it’s… there’s been a 50 per cent rise since 2000.  I just have a question about policy… UN policy towards migration.  I mean, within those numbers, are they… does that include legal immigration, you know, where there are patterns and people follow that, or does it include sort of everyone, migrants who decide that they want to leave their countries, go wherever they go, and then have the right to stay in the country…?

Spokesman:  I think it’s a very interesting and detailed questions, and I will let our guest, Béla Hovy, from Department of Economic and Social Affairs, answer that question, because [he] is much more learned in this process than I ever will be.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I… this is… it may be a different kind of UN reform or changes, but I’d wanted to ask you, I’ve become aware that… that… that… you know, throughout the building, there’s various changes to called like flex… flex space or hot desking.  So I learned of… protocol… the protocol office, which is here on this floor, is being moved down to 3B, and I’m told that it’s going to cost $500,000 to essentially rip out the… the configuration that was put in just under the Capital Master Plan.  So, I’m wondering, I mean, I know that there are competing mandates on the Secretary‑General, but how can you justify the… the… the… the… a recently renovated space being torn down at… at pretty substantial cost when the… when the UN is also saying it shouldn’t face budget cuts?

Spokesman:  I don’t know the exact cost.  The whole point of shared space is to make much more efficient use of the space that we have in this building, which enables us to stop renting and paying tenants outside of the UN Headquarters.  So, we’re freeing up a space that we’re paying rent on.  So, obviously, there are some costs involved in the creation of that space, but in the long term, it will be a cost saving.

Question:  But in the case of protocol, like, are there prot… are there offices of protocol that are based in the Albano or in other buildings?  And… and… and was it considered sort of, basically for the next three months at least, you’re going to have diplomats going down to 3B to get whatever information they need and…

Spokesman:  I think anytime an organization is being reformed or a space is being refurbished, it involves some inconvenience.  The whole point is about better use and more efficient use of the space that we have and cutting down on costs of rental properties.

Question:  But was any of this known at the time that the Capital Master Plan built up these spaces that they would, in fact, be torn out at greater costs within two years or three years?

Spokesman:  That I cannot answer.  Yes, sir.  And then… sorry, then we’ll go to you, Evelyn.

Question:  Thank you again.  On Mexico, Congress just approved a national security law that could further endanger human rights, according to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other experts of the UN in Geneva.  Does the Secretary‑General has… have any comments, or is he concerned about this decision?

Spokesman:  I can’t speak to that, because I haven’t seen those reports.  So, right now I would leave you with what the High Commissioner says and what other experts have said.  If I have something from the Secretariat, I will share it with you.  Walter, I know you… I have some more information for you, which is that the Secretary‑General congratulates the Austrian government led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.  As Austria is a long‑standing partner of the United Nations, the Secretary‑General trusts that the new government will continue to strengthen the bonds of international cooperation, uphold shared ideals, and play a leading role in the promotion of peace and security and to promote human rights, foster greater equality and minority rights.  Evelyn?

Question:  Thank you, Steph.  On Yemen, [inaudible] months ago [inaudible] investigate, quote, mishaps, tragedies that their air force had inflicted and that these would be publicized.  Has the UN ever seen any of these or…

Spokesman:  I will check if we’ve gotten any updates.

Correspondent:  And the SG gave a very nice comment on his reform on Friday night.

Spokesman:  Alright, I will leave you with Brenden for a brief briefing, and then we will go get our guests.  Thank you.

Daily News 29 / 11 / 2017

Intellectual property: Protecting Europe’s know-howand innovation leadership 

The Commission today presents measures to ensure that intellectual property rights (IPR) are well protected, thereby encouraging European companies, in particular SMEs and start-ups, to invest in innovation and creativity. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Europe’s economic growth and competitiveness largely depends on our many entrepreneurs investing in new ideas and knowledge. This package improves the application and enforcement of intellectual property rights and encourages investment in technology and product development in Europe.” Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “Today we boost our collective ability to catch the ‘big fish’ behind fake goods and pirated content which harm our companies, our jobs, our health and safety. We are also placing Europe as a global leader with a patent licensing system conducive to the roll-out of the Internet of Things from smartphones to connected cars.” Today’s initiatives will make it easier to act efficiently against breaches of IPR, facilitate cross-border litigation, and tackle the fact that 5% of goods imported into the EU (worth €85 billion) are counterfeited or pirated. When it comes to Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), the Commission encourages fair and balanced licensing negotiations which ensure that companies are rewarded for their innovation while allowing also others to build on this technology to generate new innovative products and services. Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Bieńkowska will hold a press conference following the College meeting which will be broadcasted live here. A press release, a MEMO and three factsheets (on Intellectual Property Rights, and Why IPRs matter, and on SEPs) are available. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 229 80379; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040)

L’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation- Présentation des orientations de la Commission pour une politique agricole commune flexible, juste et durable

Le collège des commissaires a adopté aujourd’hui les orientations de la Commission pour simplifier et moderniser la politique agricole commune (PAC) dont les principaux objectifs demeurent le soutien aux agriculteurs et le développement d’une agriculture durable et verte. L’initiative phare présentée dans la Communication, intitulée “l’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation”, consiste à renforcer les compétences des États membres en matière de choix et de modalités d’affectation des ressources de la PAC afin d’atteindre des objectifs communs ambitieux dans les domaines de l’environnement, de la lutte contre le changement climatique et de la durabilité. Jyrki Katainen, vice-président chargé de l’emploi, de la croissance, de l’investissement et de la compétitivité, a déclaré: «La politique agricole commune nous accompagne depuis1962. Nous devons veiller, d’une part, à ce qu’elle continue de fournir aux consommateurs des denréesalimentaires saines et de qualité tout en créant des emplois et de la croissance dans les zones rurales,et, d’autre part, à ce qu’elle évolue parallèlement aux autres politiques.“. Phil Hogan, commissaire pour l’agriculture et le développement rural, a dit: «La Communication publiée aujourd’hui apporte l’assurance que la politique agricole commune permettra la réalisation d’objectifs nouveaux et émergents, tels que la promotion d’un secteur agricole intelligent et résilient, le renforcement de la protection de l’environnement et de l’action en faveur du climat et la consolidation du tissu socio-économique dans les zones rurales.” La structure actuelle à deux piliers sera maintenue, mais l’approche plus simple et plus flexible qui est prévue comprendra les mesures  précises visant à permettre la réalisation des objectifs convenus au niveau de l’UE. Chaque pays de l’UE élaborera ensuite son propre plan stratégique – qui sera approuvé par la Commission – dans lequel il indiquera comment il envisage d’atteindre les objectifs. Les propositions législatives mettant en œuvre les objectifs définis dans la Communication seront présentées par la Commission avant l’été 2018, après la proposition du cadre financier pluriannuel. La Communication sur “l’avenir de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation” est en ligne. Un communiqué de presse ainsi qu’un mémo seront disponibles en ligne dans toutes les langues au début de la conférence de presse du Vice-Président Katainen et du Commissaire Hogan (aux alentours de 12h45) sera retransmise en direct sur EbS. (Pour plus d’informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

Brexit: European Commission proposes legislative amendments for the relocation of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority from London

The European Commission has today made two legislative proposals to amend the founding Regulations of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA). This follows last week’s agreement in the margins of the General Affairs Council (Article 50 format) to move the EMA and the EBA from London to Amsterdam and Paris, respectively. The Commission is acting swiftly in order to provide legal certainty and clarity, ensuring that both Agencies can continue to function smoothly and without disruption beyond March 2019. Under the ordinary legislative procedure, the co-legislators (the European Parliament and the Council) are expected to give priority to the handling of these legislative proposals. (full press release available here) (For more information: Margaritis Schinas: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229-91382, Daniel Ferrie – Tel.: +32 229 86500)


Commission proposes to extend Single Resolution Board Chair’s term of office

The European Commission has today proposed to extend the mandate of Ms Elke König, Chair of the Single Resolution Board (SRB), for five years as of 24 December 2017. Ms König, a German national, was appointed Chair of the SRB at the end of 2014 for an initial period of three years. Ms König, a former President of the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, has spent all her career in the financial and insurance sector. In 2010 and 2011, Ms König was a member of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in London. Today’s decision follows a hearing of the SRB Board’s plenary session on 10 October 2017. The proposal will now be transmitted to the European Parliament for approval, and the Council will also be informed. Following that approval, the Council would have to adopt an implementing decision to extend the mandate (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

64 millions d’euros du fonds de Cohésion pour un environnement mieux protégé en Croatie

Le Fonds de Cohésion de l’UE investit 64,3 millions d’euros dans des infrastructures de gestion de l’eau dans l’agglomération de Varaždin, au Nord du pays. “Ce projet est un nouvel exemple concret de la valeur ajoutée d’une Union européenne qui se soucie de l’environnement et de la santé de ses citoyens,” a commenté la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu. Plus de 200 km d’égout et 108 postes de pompages vont être construits dans le cadre de ce projet financé par l’UE, qui contribuera à protéger l’environnement et assurer un accès à une eau plus saine pour près de 95 000 personnes.  Les travaux devraient être achevés à l’automne 2021. (Pour plus d’informations:Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Better rail connections in Sicily thanks to Cohesion policy investments

Over €105 million from the European Regional Development Fund is invested in the modernisation of the Messina-Palermo railway line, on the section between the Fiumetorto train station and the village of Ogliastrillo. The EU-funded project covers the doubling of the tracks, for enhanced safety and reduced travel time between the two Sicilian cities. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu commented: “This project will give a boost to tourism, shorten travel time and promote clean mobility in this beautiful region; that is EU money well spent.” TheMessina-Palermo line is an important section of the Italian national and regional transport plan, and it is also part of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), stretching from Finland and Sweden in the North to the southern Italian ports and Malta in the South. Works should be completed in December 2019. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel .: +32 229 58615, Sophie Dupin from Saint-Cyr – Tel .: +32 229 56169)

EU delivering on climate commitments through enhanced global partnerships

To cooperate more closely with major economies to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change and on environmentally-friendly practices more broadly, the European Union has launched new strategic partnerships. These include a programme co-financed by the EU’s Partnership Instrument (worth €20 million) and co-financed by the German International Climate Initiative with €5 million) to advance bilateral cooperation on climate change and contribute to improved public awareness. In addition, and following the 14th EU – India Summit which reinforced the strategic importance of India as a key partner of the European Union in the fields of climate action, environment, climate change and urbanisation, the EU is also launching a programme entitled “Business Support to the EU-India Policy Dialogues”, worth €3.8 million, to develop the EU – India partnership further by promoting sustainable energy, urbanisation and environmentally friendly practices, with technical solutions from EU businesses. This will also contribute to an increased and diversified presence of EU companies in the Indian market. See the full press release here. (For more information:Maja Kocijančič – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)

State aid: Commission approves €3.1 million investment aid for CO2 transport infrastructure in The Netherlands

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, Dutch plans to grant €3.1 million of public support to the company OCAP CO2 B, for the construction of CO2 transport infrastructure in PrimA4a, in the Greenport of Aalsmeer. This measure is expected to reduce 21 kilotonnes of CO2 emissions per year. In particular, the infrastructure will transport waste CO2 (e.g. from Shell) to greenhouses in the PrimA4a horticulture area, which need CO2 for their crop growth. Currently, these greenhouses produce their own CO2 using heating systems such as cogeneration systems or gas fired boilers. In summer, when heating is not needed, the greenhouses nevertheless use their heating systems for the sole purpose of CO2 generation. Thanks to this measure, greenhouses in future will be able to use excess waste CO2 instead. This will benefit the environment by reducing the use of primary energy sources to produce CO2. The Commission assessed and approved the measure by applying principles set out under the Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State aid for Environmental protection and Energy. More information on today’s decision will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.48816. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition du contrôle conjoint d’ADTIM par DIF et CDC

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition du contrôle en commun de la société ADTIM basée en France, par les sociétés DIF Management Holding B.V. (“DIF”) basée aux Pays Bas, et la Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (“CDC”) basée en France. ADTIM est une société délégataire de service public d’un organisme public local français (Syndicat mixte Ardèche Drôme Numérique) qui fournit des services de télécommunications. DIF est un gestionnaire de fonds indépendant qui investit dans des projets d’infrastructure à long terme liés au capital-investissement. CDC est un établissement public français à statut juridique spécial, exerçant des activités d’intérêt général, dont la gestion de fonds privés. La Commission a conclu que l’acquisition envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence compte tenu de son impact très limité sur la structure du marché. L’opération a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d’affaire M.8602. (Pour plus d’informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Curaeos Holding by EQT

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Curaeos Holding B.V. of the Netherlands by EQT Fund Management S.à.r.l. of Luxembourg. Curaeos Holding is an international dental services provider which owns dental clinics, dental labs and a dental products distribution business. It also operates a migraine clinic in Germany. EQT is an investment fund making investments primarily in Northern and Continental Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because EQT is not engaged in any business activity related to Curaeos Holding’s business. 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.8698.  (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition de Maersk Olie og Gas par Total

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition de la société danoise Maersk Olie og Gas A/S par l’entreprise française Total S.A. Maersk Olie og Gas est présente dans les secteurs de l’exploration, la production et le négoce de pétrole brut et de gaz naturel. Total est un producteur et fournisseur international d’énergie, intégré et présent dans tous les secteurs de l’industrie pétrolière et gazière. La Commission a conclu que l’ operation envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence du fait de la faiblesse relative des parts de marchés combinées à l’issue de l’opération. L’operation a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée de contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d’affaire M.8662. (Pour plus d’informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Eurostat: Household energy prices in the EU down compared with 2016

In the European Union (EU), household electricity prices slightly decreased (-0.5%) on average between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2017 to stand at €20.4 per 100 kWh. Across the EU Member States, household electricity prices in the first half of 2017 ranged from below €10 per 100 kWh in Bulgaria to more than €30 per 100 kWh in Denmark and Germany. A press release is available here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyan – Tel.: +32 229 80379)

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

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 24 / 11 / 2017

5th Eastern Partnership Summit set to consolidate strong ties

The 5th Eastern Partnership Summit kicked off this morning in Brussels with leaders focussing on the way in which the initiative – which brings together the EU institutions, the 28 EU Member States, and the six Eastern partner countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine – can continue to be a Partnership of added value for citizens across the continent. “I expect that the relationship between our neighbours and the European Union will be consolidated”, said the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker upon arrival to the Summit. Ahead of the Summit, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn said: “It is in the EU’s interest for its neighbours to have peace, stability and prosperity. The way to do this is through strong partnerships, to support our neighbours in their reform efforts, and to focus on bringing real and concrete results that are positively felt by ordinary people. Results so far show that we are doing this, and today will be a time to make sure this trend continues.” Leaders will discuss a forward-looking agenda, the 20 deliverables for 2020, which span the four focus areas of the Eastern Partnership: stronger economies; stronger governance; stronger connectivity; and stronger societies. They will also look back on a number of significant achievements since the last Summit in Riga (May 2015) and take forward a number of agreements with the individual partner countries. President Juncker will, together with President Tusk and the Prime Minister of Estonia, Jüri Ratas, hold a joint press conference at 15:30, which will be live on EbS. A number of factsheets are available on the Summit website. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Maja Kocijančič – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

Energy Union – the year of engagement

The Third Report on the State of the Energy Union shows that Europe’s transition to a low-carbon society is becoming the new reality on EU’s ground. The Third State of the Energy Union Report published today tracks the progress made over the past year after the publication of the Second State of the Energy Union in February 2017 and looks forward to the year ahead. The Third Report on State of the Energy Union also confirms that energy transition is not possible without adapting the infrastructure to the needs of the future energy system. To address this, the Commission today adopted a Communication on the 2030 electricity interconnection target of 15%. It also adopted the third list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI). Commenting on the report Maroš Šefčovič, the Vice-President responsible for the Energy Union, said: “The Energy Union will only succeed if we all pull in the same direction. The aim is to deliver on our commitment to complete the Energy Union by the end of the Commission’s current mandate. By 2019, the Energy Union must no longer be a policy but a daily reality benefitting every European citizen. This will require increased ownership by all parts of society. Therefore, I see the next year as the year of engagement”. Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said: “Europe’s energy transition is well underway, with record levels of renewable energy and rapidly falling costs. But Europe’s energy infrastructure must develop in the same direction and with the same speed to fully support this energy transition. That’s why we are proposing to focus the new list of projects on key electricity interconnections and smart grids. Today’s steps to boost clean energy infrastructure are another important move towards making our energy system more sustainable, more competitive and more secure – providing genuine European added value”. The full press release is available online in all languages. The MEMO on PCIs is available online in EN, FR, DE.(For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

La Commissaire Bulc à Varsovie pour le lancement de projets de transport d’une valeur de 800 million d’euros

La Commissaire en charge des Transports Violeta Bulc est aujourd’hui à Varsovie où elle a ouvert une conférence sur le thème des investissements de transport. Durant cette conférence, la Commission a officiellement lancé 10 nouveaux projets pour la Pologne qui recevront un total de 800 millions d’euros du budget européen, dans le cadre du Mécanisme pour l’Interconnexion en Europe (MIE). Ces projets amélioreront les infrastructures, ferroviaires en particulier, et encourageront la transition vers une mobilité à faible émission. Ils stimuleront en outre l’investissement à des fins de création d’emplois, ce qui est une priorité de la Commission Juncker. La Pologne est le principal bénéficiaire du MIE pour la période 2014-2020, avec un total de 4.2 milliards d’euros soutenant 41 projets. La Commissaire Bulc a déclaré à ce sujet, “Avec les 10 projets lancés aujourd’hui, le MIE offre à nouveaux des résultats concrets pour la Pologne. C’est une excellente nouvelle pour les Polonais qui bénéficieront d’un transport plus rapide et respectueux de l’environnement. Je suis également ravie que l’Union Européenne joue un tel rôle dans les progrès effectués par la Pologne en matière d’infrastructure. Nous devons maintenant construire sur ces succès pour préparer les défis de mobilité et d’investissement de demain”. Plus d’information est disponible ici. Aujourd’hui, la Commissaire s’est également entretenue avec un certain nombre de membres du gouvernement polonais. Ensemble, ils ont discuté des dossiers actuels, et plus particulièrement des paquets mobilité présentés par la Commission en Mai et Novembre de cette année. (Pour plus de renseignements: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

EU protecting the rights and safety of women migrant workers in South East Asia with €25 million

The Commission launched a new regional programme to make labour migration safe and fair for all women migrants in South East Asia. This programme is part of the new EU-UN “Spotlight Initiative” to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls worth €500 million. With a financial support of over €25 million, the new programme “Safe and Fair” will contribute to improving the labour migration conditions for women in the ASEAN region. Together with UN Women and the International Labour Organization, the EU will work with governments, community-based organisations, civil society and service providers to improve labour laws, access to information and services, and ultimately prevent and put an end to violence and trafficking of women and girls. The programme will also aim at improving data and knowledge on the rights and contributions of women migrant workers. Through targeted awareness raising campaigns, the EU will actively promote the change in attitudes of relevant stakeholders to ensure safety, well-being and fair treatment of women migrant workers in the region. “Our Spotlight Initiative is a movement without precedent in the global fight to end violence against women and girls”, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica commented. “With Safe and Fair programme we want to empower female migrant workers in the ASEAN region so that they become less vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking, violence and abuse. Through our €25 million contribution, and in cooperation with our international and local partners, we are investing in a brighter future that fully respects and protects all women and girls.” The programme was officially launched at the occasion of the ASEAN-EU Dialogue on Sustainable Development in Bangkok, Thailand, on 17 November 2017, ahead of the International Day on the elimination of violence against women on 25 November. Read the full press release here. (for more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


REFIT Platform continues its work to make EU law more effective and efficient

Meeting today for its annual Plenary meeting, the Commission’s REFIT Platform has adopted a further 11 Opinions, with concrete suggestions on how to make existing EU law more effective and efficient in delivering our ambitious policy objectives for European citizens. Cohesion Policy was one of the main areas of focus, and the meeting, chaired by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, also benefitted from the contribution of former Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, who now chairs the High-Level Group on Simplification for beneficiaries of EU structural and investment funds. Other issues featured in the recommendations from the REFIT Platform today include the clarification of divergent national rules on copyright levies, the SME test, the Consumer Rights Directive, and, the Citizenship Directive. Today’s REFIT Platform Opinions bring the total number of recommendations made to the Commission to 69. The Commission analyses all the REFIT Platform’s recommendations and explains how it intends to follow them up, including through its annual Work Programme. All the Opinions can be found on the REFIT Platform website, and a video on the Platform’s role is available here.(For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel. +32 229 58602)

Migration and border management: Commission awards additional €40 million in emergency funding to support Italy

The European Commission has today awarded €39.92 million in emergency assistance to support Italy in better managing the migratory flows from the Central Mediterranean Route. With the additional support, the Commission is delivering on the commitment made on 4 July 2017 in its Action Plan to support Italy, reduce migratory pressure and increase solidarity. Commenting on funding decision, EU Migration Commissioner Avramopoulos said: “With this decision, the European Commission once again delivers on its commitment to support Italy in its efforts to provide humanitarian support to migrants and refugees rescued in the Central Mediterranean.  Italy is one of the countries most affected by migration flows due to its geographical position, but the problem is not Italian, it is global. The European Union is founded on the principles of solidarity and sharing of responsibility which is why Italy can count on our support in its response to migration.”  Channelled through 11 projects, the funding will contribute to improving services provided to migrants and asylum seekers including medical assistance, interpretation and inter-cultural mediation in the hotspots and other arrival areas. Financial support will also be provided for human resources and equipment in existing and future reception centres as well as additional support for the authorities responsible for sea border surveillance and search and rescue. The assistance will also fund the provision of specialised equipment for security checks and equipment to address smuggling and trafficking in human beings. Additionally, the Commission is currently evaluating an additional project proposal submitted by the Italian authorities for assistance for vulnerable migrants, such as victims of trafficking and unaccompanied minors. The €39.92 million awarded today brings the total emergency assistance made available by the Commission to Italy under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security Fund (ISF) to €189 million. This comes on top of the €634.25 million already allocated to Italy under the 2014-2020 national programmes under the home affairs funds (€381.49 million from AMIF and €252.76 million from ISF). A factsheet on EU financial support to Italy to manage migration is available online. (For more information:Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 2 296 74 56, Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Thomas Kramer – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

State aid: Commission approves joint capacity mechanism for Ireland and Northern Ireland

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules the new capacity mechanism for the jointly operated Irish and Northern Irish electricity market. Under the capacity mechanism, power plants and othercapacity providers will obtain a payment for being available to generate electricity or, in the case of demand response operators, for being ready to reduce their electricity consumption to help balance demand with supply. It helps to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet electricity demand at all times in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The joint Irish and Northern Irish capacity mechanism will help ensure security of electricity supply in the years to come. I think it is a good thing that this mechanism is operated across national borders and fosters competition among all potential capacity providers, to the benefit of consumers.” The Commission assessed the measure under the 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy. It concluded that the capacity mechanism complies with EU State aid rules, in particular because it is open to all potential types of capacity providers, including demand response. Furthermore, the measure will keep costs for consumers in check thanks to the regular, competitive auctions to allocate capacity contracts. The press release is available online in EN, FR, DE, GA. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

State aid: Commission approves Greece’s plan to exchange its Eurobank preference shares with Tier 2 bonds

The European Commission has endorsed, under EU State aid rules, a plan notified by Greece to exchange the State’s existing preference shares in Eurobank for Tier 2 bonds. The Greek authorities considered that this exchange does not involve State aid but notified the measure to the Commission for legal certainty. In May 2009, Eurobank received a capital injection of €950 million in the form of preference shares under the recapitalisation measure of the Greek Banks Support scheme. The Commission found that, compared to these preference shares, the terms of the new Tier 2 Bonds imply an improvement for the Greek State. In particular, while the preference shares have a high nominal coupon, its payment is subject to conditions and in practice the coupon has not been paid since 2011 and is not expected to be paid in the future. In contrast, the coupon payment of the new Tier 2 Bonds can be waived only in very limited circumstances. The Commission concluded that a private investor would accept the exchange at the envisioned terms and therefore the exchange does not result in additional State aid to Eurobank. On this basis, the Commission has approved the exchange under EU State aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.49459. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of a real estate portfolio in Poland by Oaktree and PIMCO

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of a real estate portfolio consisting of 28 commercial properties located in Poland by Oaktree Capital Group LLC and Pacific Investment Management Company LLC (PIMCO), both of the US. Oaktree is a global investment manager specialising in alternative investments in distressed debt, corporate debt (including high yield debt and senior loans), convertible securities, real estate and listed equities. PIMCO is a global investment manager providing its services, among others, to governments, insurance companies, high-net-worth investors, financial institutions, retail investors and investment vehicles. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of its limited impact on the market structure. 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.8661. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

European Union and Moldova agree on €100 million assistance programme

Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has signed, on behalf of the EU, a Memorandum of Understanding for a second Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) programme with the Republic of Moldova worth €100 million. MFA is an exceptional EU crisis-response instrument available to the EU’s neighbouring partner countries experiencing severe balance of payments problems. As laid out in the agreement reached by the co-legislators in September 2017 and the Memorandum of Understanding, disbursements under the programme are tied to respecting of democratic mechanisms, the rule of law and human rights. Disbursements are also dependent on the implementation of specific policy measures in areas such as public governance, financial sector governance, energy sector reforms and tackling corruption. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)


En finir avec la violence à l’égard des femmes: Déclaration de la Commission européenne concernant la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes

À la veille de la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes, la Commission a publié la déclaration suivante: “Nous le réaffirmons une nouvelle fois: la violence doit cesser maintenant. Des femmes et des jeunes filles souffrent encore tous les jours de violences, tant à l’intérieur qu’à l’extérieur de l’Union européenne.(…) Pour éliminer ces violences à caractère sexiste une fois pour toutes, nous devons améliorer l’éducation et la législation et modifier les normes sociales. Nous avons consacré l’année 2017 à l’action européenne pour l’élimination de toutes les formes de violence exercées contre les femmes et les jeunes filles, tant dans la sphère publique que privée. Des praticiens du droit, des médecins, des enseignants et des policiers, notamment, sont formés pour soutenir les victimes et prévenir les violences à caractère sexuel, grâce au concours financier fourni par l’UE à diverses ONG. Agissant au-delà de nos frontières, nous avons lancé avec les Nations unies l’initiative Spotlight, qui bénéficie d’un investissement de départ inégalé de 500 millions d’euros. Cette initiative s’attaque à l’échelle mondiale aux causes profondes des violences faites aux femmes et aux jeunes filles, vient en aide aux victimes et leur offre les moyens de contribuer à des sociétés plus sûres, plus résilientes, plus riches et plus libres. L’élimination des violences à l’égard des femmes et des jeunes filles est une première étape vers la paix et la sécurité dans le monde et est au cœur du programme de développement durable à l’horizon 2030. (…) L’Union européenne continuera d’œuvrer sans relâche, avec toute la panoplie d’instruments dont elle dispose, à l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes et des jeunes filles et à faire en sorte que celle-ci appartienne au passé. Enfin, ce soir et demain soir, le bâtiment de la Commission européenne, le Berlaymont, et le bâtiment du Service européen pour l’action extérieure seront éclairés en orange pour soutenir la campagne de l’Organisation des Nations Unies contre la violence à l’égard des femmes. La déclaration et un Q&A sont disponibles en ligne. Plus d’informations se trouvent sur un site dédié aux actions de 2017. (Pour plus d’informations:Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Maja Kocijancic– Tel.: +32 229 86570; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 5865)



Vice President Šefčovič and Commissioner Crețu at the 3rd Cities Forum in Rotterdam

During this major two-day event (27-28 November) dedicated to urban policy and hosted by the Commission, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the Energy Union, and Regional policy Commissioner Corina Crețu will meet ministers and mayors from many EU countries in order to feel the pulse of Europe’s cities. Exchanges will focus on the progress achieved under the Urban Agenda for the EU in light of the recent Commission report, on how to best support cities in planning their own investment strategies and on the future Cohesion policy after 2020, especially as regards the access and management of EU funds by cities. Participants will also discuss the concrete role of cities in the implementation the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Cities and local governments are essential to turn our pledges under the Paris agreement into concrete action. They are vulnerable to impacts of climate change, but they are also hubs for innovation and will benefit from the transition – through new jobs, improved air quality, less traffic congestion, and improved attractiveness of cities and regions for people and investors alike,” said Vice President Šefčovič. “Cities should be smart, cities should be clean, safe, but they should also be inclusive,” added Commissioner Crețu, “Strengthening the integration of our most vulnerable communities in cities, including migrants, is high on our agenda. This is a challenge the future Cohesion Policy will have to continue addressing.” One of the highlights of the Forum will be the launch of a new advisory service designed to help cities maximise the investment potential at their disposal. More information on the programme of the forum, including speakers and workshops, is available here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169;Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


L’innovation au service d’une Europe plus sociale

Les 27 et 28 novembre prochains, la Commission européenne accueillera à Lisbonne, avec le gouvernement portugais et la Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, la Conférence sur l’innovation sociale. La conférence rassemblera des entrepreneurs sociaux, des représentants de la société civile, des décideurs politiques, des innovateurs et des investisseurs. Ils discuteront des opportunités pour stimuler l’innovation sociale en Europe et pour promouvoir des politiques publiques inclusives et créatrices de ressources. Marianne Thyssen, la commissaire en charge de l’emploi, des affaires sociales, des compétences et de la mobilité des travailleurs, et Carlos Moedas, le commissaire en charge de la recherche, de la science et de l’innovation, prononceront les discours d’ouverture et de clôture de cette conférence. Réaliser une Europe plus sociale et plus juste est une des priorités majeures de la Commission Juncker, ainsi définie dans le document de réflexion sur la dimension sociale de l’Europe. Lundi, la Commission lancera un prix Horizon 2020 pour l’innovation sociale, doté de deux millions d’euros. Le concours vise à encourager la création de solutions de mobilité innovantes pour les seniors. La Commission offre déjà un financement direct pour soutenir l’innovation sociale grâce au Programme pour l’emploi et l’innovation sociale, du programme de recherche et d’innovation Horizon 2020, des Plates-formes de sensibilisation collective ou des fonds structurels et d’investissement européens. Toutes les sessions du programme de la conférence peuvent être suivies en direct. Mme Thyssen visitera également sur place un projet financé par l’UE dans le cadre du Programme pour l’emploi et l’innovation sociale, qui facilite l’accès aux structures d’accueil pour les enfants issus de familles défavorisées. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucía Caudet – Tél.: +32 229 56182, Christian Wigand Tél.: +32 229 62253, Victoria von Hammerstein – Tél.: +32 229 55040, Sara Soumillion Tél.: +32 229 67094, Maud Noyon – Tél.: +32 229-80379)

Commissioner Thyssen attends closing and award ceremony of Vocational Skills

Today, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will give a keynote speech at the closing event of the second European Vocational Skills Week. The Commissioner will also hand out awards to people, institutions and projects that can be considered as outstanding examples of what Europe has to offer in the field of vocational education and training. The aim of the awards is to showcase the excellence, quality and benefits of vocational education and training. On the occasion of the Award ceremony, Commissioner Thyssen said: “Over the past week, more than 1,300 events have taken place across Europe, reaching out to almost 1 million people. I would like to thank you all for putting vocational education and training in the spotlight that it deserves. Students, business and society all need these skills. VET is a great first choice for a first-rate career.” In the context of this year’s Vocational Skills Week, over 1,300 events took place in 45 countries (including all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, the Balkans, Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan) under the banner ‘Discover Your Talent’. In addition to the national events, two Pan-European and 15 national Ambassadors are raising awareness of the Week and excellence in vocational education and training. More information on the Skills week can be found here. The list of award-winners is available here. The closing and award ceremony will be broadcast here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

Le commissaire Navracsics se rendra en Croatie pour les célébrations du 30ème anniversaire d’Erasmus

Le Commissaire à l’éducation, la culture, la jeunesse et au sport, Tibor Navracsics, se rendra lundi à Zagreb, en Croatie, où il prononcera le discours d’ouverture d’un événement célébrant les 30 ans du programme Erasmus+ et de ses prédécesseurs. Avant sa visite, le Commissaire Navracsics a déclaré: “Les célébrations se déroulent non seulement au niveau européen, mais aussi au niveau national et local, et je suis ravi d’avoir l’occasion de visiter la Croatie en cette année du 30ème anniversaire du programme Erasmus. Depuis que la Croatie a rejoint l’UE en 2013, plus de 50 000 Croates ont bénéficié directement du programme et nous devons nous assurer que beaucoup d’autres en auront l’opportunité à l’avenir. Au cours de sa visite, le Commissaire aura des entretiens bilatéraux avec le ministre des Sciences et de l’Education, Blaženka Divjak, la ministre de la Culture, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, et la ministre de la Démographie, de la Famille, de la Jeunesse et des Politiques sociales, Nada Murganić, afin de discuter des développements actuels dans les domaines de l’éducation, la culture et la jeunesse. (Pour plus d’informations: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tél .: +32 229 67083, Joseph Waldstein – Tél .: +32 229 56184)


The Commissioners’ Weekly Activities

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

Opinion – Gender Equality in EU Trade Agreements – PE 610.543v02-00 – Committee on Development

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