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Montenegro's local authorities enter 2018 in upbeat mood

In meeting with the European Committee of the Regions, Montenegro’s mayors focus on efforts to spread benefits of economic growth and to prepare for EU membership.

Montenegro’s local leaders projected optimism about the country’s progress towards membership of the European Union in a meeting with the European Committee of the Regions on 8 December, noting that public support for accession to the EU remains strong and expressing confidence that the country’s communities will be well prepared to meet EU obligations.

The mood at the mayors, who met in Danilovgrad at the invitation of Mayor Branislav Djuranović, has been lifted by comments in recent months by Jean-Claude Juncker in which the European Commission’s president has said that he hopes Montenegro will become a member by 2025, by strong economic growth and by the national government’s inclusive approach to the EU negotiations. The government in Podgorica has, they said, sought to ensure that municipalities have a voice in shaping Montenegro’s positions in negotiations with the EU, and the country’s minister for European affairs, Aleksandar Pejović, spoke at the meeting, answering questions at length.

The mayors were speaking at a meeting of a joint consultative committee created on one side by the European Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly for local and regional leaders, and, on the other side, by the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro. The joint consultative committee met for the first time in November 2012, with the aim of helping Montenegro’s local and regional authorities on issues such as decentralisation, regional and cross-border cooperation, fundamental rights, good governance, and administration. Around 70% of EU legislation requires action by regions and cities.

On this occasion, the committee, which meets twice a year, focused on economic development using Montenegro’s local resources and on sustainable tourism. Peter Janech of the World Tourism Organization, a United Nations agency, highlighted lessons from this year’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, while Christine Chang from Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council spoke about boosting entrepreneurial ecosystems in regions for young entrepreneurs. Members of the CoR shared their approach to regenerating post-industrial regions and to giving small communities a national and international profile.

Mr Pejović said that the government was drawing on experience from the EU’s Danube strategy and Adriatic-Ionian macro-region, to boost the capacity of central and local administration in project development and implementation, and suggested that, as another step, courses should be created for local authorities, as part of an effort to equip them with the skills and capacity to apply for the EU’s structural funds. He praised the level of cooperation across the region that has been generated by the ‘Berlin process’, which has concentrated on cross-border infrastructure as part of an effort to encourage economic integration in the western Balkans. He said, however, that the government in Podgorica would like to see more attention paid to business. According to a recent survey, support for EU accession remains at over 70%, with 22% of the population consistently opposed.

Mr Pejović said that Montenegro is looking to spread the benefits of over 3% annual growth in the national economy around the country and, in particular, to develop tourism in a sustainable fashion. Montenegro is one of only a small number of countries with a minister responsible for both sustainable development and tourism, partly reflecting the importance of tourism to the country’s economy. Year to year, the sector accounts for between 22% to 25% of gross domestic product.

Jelena Drenjanin (SE/EPP), the committee’s co-chairwoman and member of Huddinge Municipal Council, praised the Montenegrin government for helping the professional development of local civil servants and for making changes to the law on the financing of local government, but stressed that more needed to be done to boost local government’s self-sufficiency and in the recruitment and training of local officials. The other co-chairman of the committee is Aleksandar Bogdanović, mayor of the Old Royal Capital Cetinje.

Montenegrin mayors in the committee – Slavoljub Stipjepović (Podgorica), Zoran Srzentić (Bar), Aleksandar Žurić (Bijelo Polje), Dejan Medojević (Mojkovac), Veselin Grbović (Nikšić), Mirko Đačić (Pljevlja), Miomir Vujačić (Šavnik), and Veselin Vukićević (Žabljak) in addition to Mr Djuranović and Mr Bogdanović – said that tourism has been important in the economy’s expansion, which has resulted in Montenegro becoming a net importer of labour, but the benefits have been unevenly shared, with unemployment high in the north of the country, attributable in part to a change in the fortunes of the region’s industries. One possibility is to try to develop winter tourism in the north. At present, tourists currently primarily come to Montenegro in the summer and stay in the south of the country.

Kevin Peel (UK/PES) spoke of efforts by his city, Manchester, to revitalise its economy in the wake of deindustrialisation. Andres Jaadla (EE/ALDE), a member of town council of Rakvere, emphasised the importance of towns and small communities identifying an approach that would distinguish them from others. Rakvere, a town of roughly 16,000 in Estonia, projects itself as ‘crazy but smart’, coupling a drive towards a green, knowledge-based economy with cultural activities as its Punk Song Festival, its Green Christmas rock festival and the Men Dance Festival.

Thomas Hagleitner from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations stressed the need for Montenegro to continue its reforms, saying that accession in 2025 cannot be taken for granted. The European Commission plans on 6 February to publish a “Strategy for a successful EU accession of Serbia and Montenegro”, identifying the critical steps that Montenegro needs to take, notably related to the rule of law, fundamental rights and the fight against corruption. Montenegro has opened 28 of 35 negotiating chapters, and has provisionally closed three of the chapters.

Other members of the CoR’s delegation were: Arnoldas Abramavičius(LT/EPP); Matteo Bianchi (IT/NI); Dimitrios Birmpas(EL/PES); Mario D’Attis(IT/EPP); Gillian Ford(UK/European Alliance); and Andreja Potočnik(SL/ALDE).

Europe – the continent of solidarity: Joint Statement on the occasion of International Migrant Day

On the occasion of International Migrant Day on 18 December, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, and Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, made the following statement:  

“On International Migrant Day, we remember all those who live outside their county of birth and are on the move – either by choice or forcibly. We remember that our own continent, Europe, is built on migration. Our common history is marked by millions of people fleeing from persecution, war or dictatorship – looking only 100 years back. Today, our European Union allows people across the continent to freely travel, to study and work in other countries. This has made Europe one of the richest places in the world – in terms of culture, of economy, of opportunities and in terms of liberties. But this day is also an occasion to remember those who have left their homes, in the face of conflict, political oppression, poverty or lack of hope, and who struggle to build a new and decent life elsewhere. While for some, migration is a positive and empowering experience, too many others have to endure human rights violations, xenophobia, exploitation and unacceptable living conditions along their journeys.  

Protecting and upholding the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their status, has always been and will always be our priority. This is at the heart of our European Agenda on Migration. We are working relentlessly, inside and outside the European Union, in close cooperation with our Member States and our international partners to save lives, provide protection, offer safe and legal pathways for migration and tackle the root causes that force people to leave their homes in first place, as well as fight the criminal networks that often take advantage of people’s despair.    

We have a shared responsibility towards people on the move and we need to act on a global scale to support them and to uphold the safety, dignity and human rights of migrants and refugees. It requires the engagement and the consistent implementation of international agreements by all.

Europe is committed to remaining the continent of solidarity, tolerance and openness, embracing its share of global responsibility. And for those who we have recently welcomed to Europewe want the same as we want for all Europeans, namely to prosper and flourish and contribute to a better future for our continent.  

We strongly support the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and will continue to actively work towards the adoption of the UN Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees at the United Nations.  

Background 

Over the past 20 years, the European Union has put in place some of the highest common asylum standards in the world. And in the past two years, European migration policy has advanced in leaps and bounds with the European Agenda on Migration proposed by the Juncker Commission in May 2015. Progressively, a more united approach to dealing with migration is emerging, internally and externally. 

Internally, work has been intensified on the reform of the Common European Asylum System to put in place a more effective and fair approach, based on solidarity and responsibility, alongside continuous support to the Member States most exposed and reinforced cooperation with partner countries. 

The European Union has also stepped up its efforts to protect vulnerable groups, in particular children who are among the most exposed of migrants, including through new Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child and recommendations on the protection of children in migration.

Externally, the EU has progressively put in place a genuine external dimension of its migration policy, complementing and reinforcing its actions within the Union. The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development recognises the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development. It also recognises that both challenges and opportunities of migration must be addressed through coherent and comprehensive responses.   

Along the migratory routes, we are working to save people’s lives with our international partners, such as the UN agencies. We are fighting the criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and in trafficking in human beings, through our Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations on the ground and by supporting regional initiatives, such as the G5 Sahel Joint Force. We are also conducting search and rescue operations at sea, with the support of the European Border and Coast Guard and EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. These efforts help to save thousands of lives every month.   

The EU also works on opening up safe and legal pathways through resettlement – to allow those in need of protection to come to Europe without having to risk their lives in the desert and at sea. An ambitious target for the resettlement of 50,000 persons in need of international protection was set by President Juncker in September 2017. A particular focus should be put on resettlement from North Africa and the Horn of Africa, notably Libya, Egypt, Niger, Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia, whilst ensuring continued resettlement from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

We also continue, jointly with our UN and civil society partners on the ground, to support concrete actions in Libya and along the migratory routes, to ensure the respect of human rights, improve migrants’ living conditions and assist migrants and refugees, who too often become victims of smuggling and trafficking networks. The establishment of a joint Task Force between the African Union, the United Nations and the EU, is an important step that will help to accelerate our joint work. In concrete terms, actions will aim to evacuate those in need of international protection to Europe, accelerate the assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin for those stranded in Libya, as well as intensify our efforts to dismantle criminal networks.  

For More Information 

Joint African Union-European Union-United Nations Task Force to Address the Migrant Situation in Libya

2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the protection of children in migration

EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child

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Conseil Européen, 14-15 Décembre 2017

Aujourd’hui et demain, les Chefs d’état et de gouvernement de l’Union européenne se réuniront à Bruxelles pour des discussions qui constitueront une étape importante dans la feuille de route pour une Union plus unie, plus forte et plus démocratique. Le Conseil Européen débutera aujourd’hui avec le lancement historique de la coopération structurée permanente en matière de défense. Ensuite, les chefs d’état de gouvernement tourneront leur attention vers l’éducation et la culture suivant le succès du sommet social de Göteborg en novembre. Ce soir, la politique européenne en matière de migration figurera en tête de l’ordre du jour. Aujourd’hui à 14:40 CET, le Président Juncker signera la nouvelle déclaration conjointe sur les priorités législatives de l’UE pour 2018-2019, aux côtés du président du Parlement européen, Antonio Tajani, et du Premier ministre estonien, Jüri Ratas. La déclaration énonce 31 nouvelles propositions législatives présentées par la Commission qui seront traitées en priorité par le Parlement et le Conseil pour adoption ou progrès substantiels au moment des élections du Parlement européen en 2019. La cérémonie de signature sera transmise par EbS. Vendredi, les 27 chefs d’État ou de gouvernement de l’Union Européenne se réuniront pour le sommet de la zone euro dans la matinée, un autre jalon important sur laroute vers Sibiuque le Président Juncker a exposé dans son discours sur l’État de l’Union 2017. Les dirigeants devraient également tenir une première discussion sur nos propositions visant à approfondir l’Union économique et monétaire européenne. Lors d’une session de travail dédiée, les 27 dirigeants discuteront les derniers développements dans les négociations au titre de l’article 50 avec le Royaume-Uni suite à la recommandation de la Commission européenne du 8 décembre de conclure que des progrès suffisants avaient été accomplis au cours de la première phase des négociations. Une conférence de presse est prévue pour demain, vendredi 15 décembre, vers 13:00 CET avec le Président Juncker, le Président Tusk et le Premier ministre estonien Ratas et sera transmise en direct sur Ebs. (Pour plus d’informations : Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

President Juncker meets with the Visegrád 4 leaders and Prime Minister of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni

Only two months after the first meeting in October, President Juncker, together with Prime Minister Gentiloni, met again with the leaders of the four Visegrád countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – ahead of today’s European Council. Together they reaffirmed their joint determination to address common challenges together.  Migration featured prominently on the agenda of the meeting, particularly the EU Trust Fund for Africa. At the October European Council, all EU Member States agreed to contribute more to fill gaps in the Fund and today the Visegrád 4 made good on that commitment, announcing a further €35 million contribution to the North Africa window of the Fund. This constitutes a clear expression of solidarity and commitment towards the EU’s external action to manage and address the root causes of migration. In his statement today, President Juncker said: “I want cooperation to be as close as possible between the Visegrád Four countries and the Commission. Today I am happy that there are results. The V4 countries did deliver on this point, which is important. This is the proof that the Visegrád Four countries are fully aligned when it comes to solidarity with Italy and with others.” The North Africa window of the Fund has already helped more than 14,000 vulnerable migrants return voluntarily from Libya to their countries of origin and this figure should reach 18,000 by the end of 2017. The Fund has also provided medical help and direct support to more than 20,000 migrants inside and outside detention centres. The Africa Trust Fund – and the Visegrád contribution to it, is one part of the collective European solution to irregular migration on our shores. Last week the Commission proposed a political roadmap to reach a comprehensive agreement by June 2018 on how to pursue a sustainable migration policy, contributing to the European Council where this evening Member States will discuss the topic. Watch President Juncker’s statement here. More information on the roadmap here.  (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

 

Commerce électronique: accord pour une livraison de colis plus abordable

Les négociateurs européens sont parvenus hier soir à un accord provisoire pour améliorer la livraison transfrontière de colis. Le nouveau règlement est une étape essentielle pour stimuler le commerce électronique en Europe, en permettant aux consommateurs et aux entreprises, en particulier les PME, d’acheter et de vendre des produits et des services en ligne plus facilement et en toute confiance dans un marché en évolution. Le vice-président Andrus Ansip, en charge du marché unique numérique, a déclaré: «Les prix élevés des livraisons sont un problème majeur pour les consommateurs et les entreprises, en particulier les PME. Une transparence accrue et un rôle plus important accordé aux autorités réglementaires permettront de faire face à ce problème. Cette bonne nouvelle s’inscrit dans la série d’accords visant à améliorer la protection des consommateurs, à simplifier les règles de la TVA et à lutter contre le blocage géographique injustifié.» La commissaire Elżbieta Bieńkowska, chargée du marché intérieur, de l’industrie, de l’entrepreneuriat et des PME, a ajouté: «Des millions d’Européens font le choix d’acheter leurs cadeaux en ligne, mais ils se heurtent toujours à de nombreux obstacles, notamment des prix de livraison élevés et des possibilités de renvoi peu claires. Grâce à l’accord conclu aujourd’hui, nous nous rapprochons d’une solution qui aidera les consommateurs et les entreprises à tirer pleinement parti du marché unique de l’UE et du commerce électronique transfrontière.» Dorénavant, les entreprises prestataires devront communiquer les tarifs des services fréquemment utilisés par les consommateurs et les petites entreprises, que la Commission publiera sur un site web dédié. Un communiqué de presse et des questions et réponses précisent ces nouvelles dispositions. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucía Caudet – Tél.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyon – Tél.: +32 229-80379; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tél.: +32 229 55040)

 

WTO ministerial conference in Buenos Aires: A missed opportunity

The 11th biannual ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ended last night in Buenos Aires. In a statement made at the final meeting of Heads of Delegations, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “All WTO Members have to face a simple fact: we failed to achieve any of our objectives, and did not achieve any multilateral outcome. The sad reality is that we did not even agree to stop subsidising illegal fishing. Now, I hope that several WTO members, whose actions here in Buenos Aires prevented an outcome, will use the time following this Ministerial meeting for valuable self-reflection.” Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, also attending the conference, said: “From the agriculture perspective, it is very disappointing that a work programme could not be agreed post Buenos Aires. That means that important issues such as food security will not now be prioritised in the work of the WTO. This is not in the interest of farmers and rural people in the developing world, nor in the developed world for that matter. This is a lose-lose outcome for all involved – a negative-sum outcome. The WTO is not a zero sum game, it is a positive-sum game when everyone plays their part.” Many WTO members recognised the central role of the organisation to global trade and development. In this respect Commissioner Malmström said: “Luckily, we still have the WTO’s current agreements, its structures of cooperation, and its invaluable dispute settlement system. It is a global public good, and the EU attaches enormous value to it. In the coming months, we will do what is necessary to support it if it comes under further pressure. We also need to intensify efforts to find solutions to important issues in the international trading system, such as on e-commerce, working with all willing WTO members in an open, inclusive and transparent manner.” The full statement by Commissioner Malmström, as well as more comments on the outcome of the ministerial conference, are available online. In the run-up to the conference, the EU challenged its WTO partners to plan for substantive outcomes in Buenos Aires, with text proposals in six areas of work(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

Commission welcomes agreement by European Parliament and Council on its proposal to make people’s skills and qualifications more visible

The European Commission welcomes the political agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the revision of the Europass Decision achieved in Strasbourg yesterday. Europass is a suite of tools and services which support the transparency of skills and qualifications across the European Union. The main aim of the revision is to make people’s skills and qualifications more visible, to not only help people into jobs, but also to better understand and anticipate labour market trends and skills needs. Following the agreement, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: We neededto upgrade our Europass system to make it relevant for the digital age. The new Europass will be an even more effective tool to deliver for people on the ground so that they can better showcase their skills and manage their careers. With this agreement, the rollout of our European Skills Agenda is delivering and I want to thank the Estonian Presidency and the European Parliament for the excellent cooperation in achieving this result.” The political agreement has still to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council. More information on the initial Commission proposal can be found here. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

Commission welcomes agreement on key legislation to tackle climate change 

The European Parliament and Council today reached a provisional agreement on a key legislative proposal for implementing the EU’s 2030 climate objectives – on accounting of emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). They form part of the EU’s policy to drive Europe’s transition to a modern and clean economy. A robust climate policy framework is a key element of the EU’s Energy Union and a successful transition to a modern and clean economy. This is a necessary shift that will require a contribution from all sectors of the economy. Incentives for climate-friendly land use and forestry ensure the continued growth and sustainable productivity of our rural communities, which provide important services and economic benefit. A sustainably managed land use sector can supply renewable energy and materials, ensuring that the EU remains a world leader in these markets. Welcoming the political agreements, Energy Union Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: “Today is yet another milestone for the European Union in its job to deliver on its Paris Agreement commitments. Today’s agreement recognising the role of land and forests in mitigating climate change puts the European Union firmly on track. Climate action must outpace climate change and we are once again setting a positive precedent that others beyond Europe can follow.” Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete added: “After long and complex negotiations, we have found an agreement to include emissions and removals from land use, land use-change and forests in our collective efforts towards the 2030 objectives and in line with our commitment under the Paris Agreement. This is yet another example of Europe’s determination to turn the Paris Agreement into a reality, through concrete policies and measures.” Read full statement here. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

European Union takes over chairmanship of Kimberley Process on conflict diamonds

Today the European Union has formally taken over the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process from Australia and will head the international initiative to stem the trade in conflict diamonds during 2018. On the occasion of assuming the lead role, HR/VP Federica Mogherini said “For the European Union, the Kimberley process is part of our work for sustainable development. It is part of our work for sustainable peace – to prevent new conflicts and cut the revenues of criminal and terrorist groups. It is part of our work for human rights – to make sure that diamonds produce wealth, not modern slavery. It has spread the idea that natural resources belong to communities, not militias. The main strength of the Kimberley process has always been that it looks beyond governments, to civil society and to private sector. This is our main asset as we chart the way ahead. We look forward to working closely with all stakeholders in this coming year.” More information is available here.(For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229-69140)

Appel à candidature: l’UE offre un soutien sur mesure aux régions en transition industrielle

La Commission invite aujourd’hui les régions en transition industrielle à manifester leur intérêt pour bénéficier d’un soutien sur mesure de l’Europe afin de bâtir des économies robustes et moderniser leurs industries. Mardi, dans le cadre du Plan d’Action dévoilé au sommet “One Planet” à Paris, la Commission a déjà annoncé que les régions Hauts-de-France (FR), Norra Mellansverige (SE), Piémont (IT), Saxe (DE) et Wallonie (BE) étaient sélectionnées pour bénéficier de cet accompagnement de l’UE, suite à un appel à candidature lancé par la Commission en septembre 2017. Face au nombre de candidatures reçues, la Commission a décidé de renouveler l’appel, avec un budget similaire de 2,5 millions d’euros. Cela permettra de fournir expertise et soutien à cinq autres régions, afin qu’elles élaborent et mettent en œuvre leurs propres stratégies de transformation économique, sur la base de leurs atouts de “spécialisation intelligente“. “Certaines régions paient le prix de la mondialisation sans avoir bénéficié jusqu’ici de ses avantages,” a commenté la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu,”L’UE, à travers la politique de Cohésion, s’engage pour que toutes les régions puissent tirer leur épingle du jeu dans une économie mondialisée. Cela implique qu’elles identifient leurs atouts compétitifs et apprennent à capitaliser dessus et c’est précisément en cela que nous pouvons aider.” L’appel vise tout particulièrement les régions “en transition” et les régions “plus développées”, les régions dites “moins développées” pouvant bénéficier d’autres formes de soutien de l’UE. Les régions peuvent envoyer leurs candidatures ici jusqu’au 19 janvier 2018. Les résultats seront connus courant février. (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel .: +32 229 58615, Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel .: +32 229 56169)

Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of Banco Popular’s real estate business by Blackstone 

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of control over the real estate business of Banco Popular Español S.A. of Spain by The Blackstone Group L.P. of the US. Banco Popular is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Banco Santander. Its real estate business mostly comprises the Spanish portfolio of repossessed properties, non-performing loans relating to the real estate sector, and certain assets, as well as the operations of Banco Popular’s real estate management company, Aliseda. Blackstone is a global asset manager. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlap between the companies’ activities. 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.8679. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of sole control over Getec Energie companies by EQT Fund Management

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of sole control over the Getec Energie companies of Germany by EQT Fund Management S.à.r.l. of Luxembourg. The Getec Energie companies consist of (i) Getec Heat & Power AG; (ii) Getec Wärme & Effizienz AG; (iii) Getec Media AG; (iv) Getec shared services GmbH; and (v) Getec Contracting GmbH. They are specialised in energy contracting in Germany and the Netherlands. EQT is an investment fund that seeks to make investments in infrastructure as well as related assets and businesses in Northern Europe, Continental Europe and North America. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given that EQT already held joint control over the Getec Energie companies prior to the transaction. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competitionwebsite, in the public case registerunder the case number M.8729. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

 

Eurostat: Une entreprise de l’UE sur six a vendu sur le web en 2016

L’année passée, 16% des entreprises situées dans l’Union européenne (UE) et employant au moins dix personnes ont reçu des commandes via un site web ou via des applications. Ces ventes web comprennent tant les ventes aux consommateurs individuels qu’aux autres entreprises. La part des entreprises de l’UE ayant réalisé des ventes web a progressé entre 2010 et 2014, passant de 12% à environ 16%, mais est depuis restée relativement stable. Parmi ces entreprises, en 2016, la quasi-totalité (97%) a vendu au sein même de son pays, tandis que moins de la moitié (44%) a effectué des ventes à des clients situés dans d’autres États membres de l’UE et plus d’un quart (28%) à des clients extra-communautaires. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici.

 

Eurostat: La consommation par habitant a varié entre 53% et 132% de la moyenne de l’UE

La consommation individuelle effective (CIE) est une mesure du bien-être matériel des ménages. En 2016, la CIE par habitant exprimée en standards de pouvoir d’achat (SPA) s’est située, parmi les États membres, entre 53% de la moyenne de l’Union européenne (UE) en Bulgarie et 132% au Luxembourg.Ces données, publiées par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne, sont basées sur des parités de pouvoir d’achat révisées, ainsi que sur les dernières données du PIB et de la population. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici.

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

Daily News 14 / 12 / 2017

Conseil Européen, 14-15 Décembre 2017

Aujourd’hui et demain, les Chefs d’état et de gouvernement de l’Union européenne se réuniront à Bruxelles pour des discussions qui constitueront une étape importante dans la feuille de route pour une Union plus unie, plus forte et plus démocratique. Le Conseil Européen débutera aujourd’hui avec le lancement historique de la coopération structurée permanente en matière de défense. Ensuite, les chefs d’état de gouvernement tourneront leur attention vers l’éducation et la culture suivant le succès du sommet social de Göteborg en novembre. Ce soir, la politique européenne en matière de migration figurera en tête de l’ordre du jour. Aujourd’hui à 14:40 CET, le Président Juncker signera la nouvelle déclaration conjointe sur les priorités législatives de l’UE pour 2018-2019, aux côtés du président du Parlement européen, Antonio Tajani, et du Premier ministre estonien, Jüri Ratas. La déclaration énonce 31 nouvelles propositions législatives présentées par la Commission qui seront traitées en priorité par le Parlement et le Conseil pour adoption ou progrès substantiels au moment des élections du Parlement européen en 2019. La cérémonie de signature sera transmise par EbS. Vendredi, les 27 chefs d’État ou de gouvernement de l’Union Européenne se réuniront pour le sommet de la zone euro dans la matinée, un autre jalon important sur laroute vers Sibiuque le Président Juncker a exposé dans son discours sur l’État de l’Union 2017. Les dirigeants devraient également tenir une première discussion sur nos propositions visant à approfondir l’Union économique et monétaire européenne. Lors d’une session de travail dédiée, les 27 dirigeants discuteront les derniers développements dans les négociations au titre de l’article 50 avec le Royaume-Uni suite à la recommandation de la Commission européenne du 8 décembre de conclure que des progrès suffisants avaient été accomplis au cours de la première phase des négociations. Une conférence de presse est prévue pour demain, vendredi 15 décembre, vers 13:00 CET avec le Président Juncker, le Président Tusk et le Premier ministre estonien Ratas et sera transmise en direct sur Ebs. (Pour plus d’informations : Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

President Juncker meets with the Visegrád 4 leaders and Prime Minister of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni

Only two months after the first meeting in October, President Juncker, together with Prime Minister Gentiloni, met again with the leaders of the four Visegrád countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – ahead of today’s European Council. Together they reaffirmed their joint determination to address common challenges together.  Migration featured prominently on the agenda of the meeting, particularly the EU Trust Fund for Africa. At the October European Council, all EU Member States agreed to contribute more to fill gaps in the Fund and today the Visegrád 4 made good on that commitment, announcing a further €35 million contribution to the North Africa window of the Fund. This constitutes a clear expression of solidarity and commitment towards the EU’s external action to manage and address the root causes of migration. In his statement today, President Juncker said: “I want cooperation to be as close as possible between the Visegrád Four countries and the Commission. Today I am happy that there are results. The V4 countries did deliver on this point, which is important. This is the proof that the Visegrád Four countries are fully aligned when it comes to solidarity with Italy and with others.” The North Africa window of the Fund has already helped more than 14,000 vulnerable migrants return voluntarily from Libya to their countries of origin and this figure should reach 18,000 by the end of 2017. The Fund has also provided medical help and direct support to more than 20,000 migrants inside and outside detention centres. The Africa Trust Fund – and the Visegrád contribution to it, is one part of the collective European solution to irregular migration on our shores. Last week the Commission proposed a political roadmap to reach a comprehensive agreement by June 2018 on how to pursue a sustainable migration policy, contributing to the European Council where this evening Member States will discuss the topic. Watch President Juncker’s statement here. More information on the roadmap here.  (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

 

Commerce électronique: accord pour une livraison de colis plus abordable

Les négociateurs européens sont parvenus hier soir à un accord provisoire pour améliorer la livraison transfrontière de colis. Le nouveau règlement est une étape essentielle pour stimuler le commerce électronique en Europe, en permettant aux consommateurs et aux entreprises, en particulier les PME, d’acheter et de vendre des produits et des services en ligne plus facilement et en toute confiance dans un marché en évolution. Le vice-président Andrus Ansip, en charge du marché unique numérique, a déclaré: «Les prix élevés des livraisons sont un problème majeur pour les consommateurs et les entreprises, en particulier les PME. Une transparence accrue et un rôle plus important accordé aux autorités réglementaires permettront de faire face à ce problème. Cette bonne nouvelle s’inscrit dans la série d’accords visant à améliorer la protection des consommateurs, à simplifier les règles de la TVA et à lutter contre le blocage géographique injustifié.» La commissaire Elżbieta Bieńkowska, chargée du marché intérieur, de l’industrie, de l’entrepreneuriat et des PME, a ajouté: «Des millions d’Européens font le choix d’acheter leurs cadeaux en ligne, mais ils se heurtent toujours à de nombreux obstacles, notamment des prix de livraison élevés et des possibilités de renvoi peu claires. Grâce à l’accord conclu aujourd’hui, nous nous rapprochons d’une solution qui aidera les consommateurs et les entreprises à tirer pleinement parti du marché unique de l’UE et du commerce électronique transfrontière.» Dorénavant, les entreprises prestataires devront communiquer les tarifs des services fréquemment utilisés par les consommateurs et les petites entreprises, que la Commission publiera sur un site web dédié. Un communiqué de presse et des questions et réponses précisent ces nouvelles dispositions. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucía Caudet – Tél.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyon – Tél.: +32 229-80379; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tél.: +32 229 55040)

 

WTO ministerial conference in Buenos Aires: A missed opportunity

The 11th biannual ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ended last night in Buenos Aires. In a statement made at the final meeting of Heads of Delegations, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “All WTO Members have to face a simple fact: we failed to achieve any of our objectives, and did not achieve any multilateral outcome. The sad reality is that we did not even agree to stop subsidising illegal fishing. Now, I hope that several WTO members, whose actions here in Buenos Aires prevented an outcome, will use the time following this Ministerial meeting for valuable self-reflection.” Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, also attending the conference, said: “From the agriculture perspective, it is very disappointing that a work programme could not be agreed post Buenos Aires. That means that important issues such as food security will not now be prioritised in the work of the WTO. This is not in the interest of farmers and rural people in the developing world, nor in the developed world for that matter. This is a lose-lose outcome for all involved – a negative-sum outcome. The WTO is not a zero sum game, it is a positive-sum game when everyone plays their part.” Many WTO members recognised the central role of the organisation to global trade and development. In this respect Commissioner Malmström said: “Luckily, we still have the WTO’s current agreements, its structures of cooperation, and its invaluable dispute settlement system. It is a global public good, and the EU attaches enormous value to it. In the coming months, we will do what is necessary to support it if it comes under further pressure. We also need to intensify efforts to find solutions to important issues in the international trading system, such as on e-commerce, working with all willing WTO members in an open, inclusive and transparent manner.” The full statement by Commissioner Malmström, as well as more comments on the outcome of the ministerial conference, are available online. In the run-up to the conference, the EU challenged its WTO partners to plan for substantive outcomes in Buenos Aires, with text proposals in six areas of work(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)

 

Commission welcomes agreement by European Parliament and Council on its proposal to make people’s skills and qualifications more visible

The European Commission welcomes the political agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the revision of the Europass Decision achieved in Strasbourg yesterday. Europass is a suite of tools and services which support the transparency of skills and qualifications across the European Union. The main aim of the revision is to make people’s skills and qualifications more visible, to not only help people into jobs, but also to better understand and anticipate labour market trends and skills needs. Following the agreement, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: We neededto upgrade our Europass system to make it relevant for the digital age. The new Europass will be an even more effective tool to deliver for people on the ground so that they can better showcase their skills and manage their careers. With this agreement, the rollout of our European Skills Agenda is delivering and I want to thank the Estonian Presidency and the European Parliament for the excellent cooperation in achieving this result.” The political agreement has still to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council. More information on the initial Commission proposal can be found here. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

Commission welcomes agreement on key legislation to tackle climate change 

The European Parliament and Council today reached a provisional agreement on a key legislative proposal for implementing the EU’s 2030 climate objectives – on accounting of emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). They form part of the EU’s policy to drive Europe’s transition to a modern and clean economy. A robust climate policy framework is a key element of the EU’s Energy Union and a successful transition to a modern and clean economy. This is a necessary shift that will require a contribution from all sectors of the economy. Incentives for climate-friendly land use and forestry ensure the continued growth and sustainable productivity of our rural communities, which provide important services and economic benefit. A sustainably managed land use sector can supply renewable energy and materials, ensuring that the EU remains a world leader in these markets. Welcoming the political agreements, Energy Union Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: “Today is yet another milestone for the European Union in its job to deliver on its Paris Agreement commitments. Today’s agreement recognising the role of land and forests in mitigating climate change puts the European Union firmly on track. Climate action must outpace climate change and we are once again setting a positive precedent that others beyond Europe can follow.” Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete added: “After long and complex negotiations, we have found an agreement to include emissions and removals from land use, land use-change and forests in our collective efforts towards the 2030 objectives and in line with our commitment under the Paris Agreement. This is yet another example of Europe’s determination to turn the Paris Agreement into a reality, through concrete policies and measures.” Read full statement here. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

European Union takes over chairmanship of Kimberley Process on conflict diamonds

Today the European Union has formally taken over the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process from Australia and will head the international initiative to stem the trade in conflict diamonds during 2018. On the occasion of assuming the lead role, HR/VP Federica Mogherini said “For the European Union, the Kimberley process is part of our work for sustainable development. It is part of our work for sustainable peace – to prevent new conflicts and cut the revenues of criminal and terrorist groups. It is part of our work for human rights – to make sure that diamonds produce wealth, not modern slavery. It has spread the idea that natural resources belong to communities, not militias. The main strength of the Kimberley process has always been that it looks beyond governments, to civil society and to private sector. This is our main asset as we chart the way ahead. We look forward to working closely with all stakeholders in this coming year.” More information is available here.(For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229-69140)

Appel à candidature: l’UE offre un soutien sur mesure aux régions en transition industrielle

La Commission invite aujourd’hui les régions en transition industrielle à manifester leur intérêt pour bénéficier d’un soutien sur mesure de l’Europe afin de bâtir des économies robustes et moderniser leurs industries. Mardi, dans le cadre du Plan d’Action dévoilé au sommet “One Planet” à Paris, la Commission a déjà annoncé que les régions Hauts-de-France (FR), Norra Mellansverige (SE), Piémont (IT), Saxe (DE) et Wallonie (BE) étaient sélectionnées pour bénéficier de cet accompagnement de l’UE, suite à un appel à candidature lancé par la Commission en septembre 2017. Face au nombre de candidatures reçues, la Commission a décidé de renouveler l’appel, avec un budget similaire de 2,5 millions d’euros. Cela permettra de fournir expertise et soutien à cinq autres régions, afin qu’elles élaborent et mettent en œuvre leurs propres stratégies de transformation économique, sur la base de leurs atouts de “spécialisation intelligente“. “Certaines régions paient le prix de la mondialisation sans avoir bénéficié jusqu’ici de ses avantages,” a commenté la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu,”L’UE, à travers la politique de Cohésion, s’engage pour que toutes les régions puissent tirer leur épingle du jeu dans une économie mondialisée. Cela implique qu’elles identifient leurs atouts compétitifs et apprennent à capitaliser dessus et c’est précisément en cela que nous pouvons aider.” L’appel vise tout particulièrement les régions “en transition” et les régions “plus développées”, les régions dites “moins développées” pouvant bénéficier d’autres formes de soutien de l’UE. Les régions peuvent envoyer leurs candidatures ici jusqu’au 19 janvier 2018. Les résultats seront connus courant février. (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel .: +32 229 58615, Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel .: +32 229 56169)

Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of Banco Popular’s real estate business by Blackstone 

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of control over the real estate business of Banco Popular Español S.A. of Spain by The Blackstone Group L.P. of the US. Banco Popular is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Banco Santander. Its real estate business mostly comprises the Spanish portfolio of repossessed properties, non-performing loans relating to the real estate sector, and certain assets, as well as the operations of Banco Popular’s real estate management company, Aliseda. Blackstone is a global asset manager. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlap between the companies’ activities. 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.8679. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of sole control over Getec Energie companies by EQT Fund Management

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of sole control over the Getec Energie companies of Germany by EQT Fund Management S.à.r.l. of Luxembourg. The Getec Energie companies consist of (i) Getec Heat & Power AG; (ii) Getec Wärme & Effizienz AG; (iii) Getec Media AG; (iv) Getec shared services GmbH; and (v) Getec Contracting GmbH. They are specialised in energy contracting in Germany and the Netherlands. EQT is an investment fund that seeks to make investments in infrastructure as well as related assets and businesses in Northern Europe, Continental Europe and North America. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given that EQT already held joint control over the Getec Energie companies prior to the transaction. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competitionwebsite, in the public case registerunder the case number M.8729. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

 

Eurostat: Une entreprise de l’UE sur six a vendu sur le web en 2016

L’année passée, 16% des entreprises situées dans l’Union européenne (UE) et employant au moins dix personnes ont reçu des commandes via un site web ou via des applications. Ces ventes web comprennent tant les ventes aux consommateurs individuels qu’aux autres entreprises. La part des entreprises de l’UE ayant réalisé des ventes web a progressé entre 2010 et 2014, passant de 12% à environ 16%, mais est depuis restée relativement stable. Parmi ces entreprises, en 2016, la quasi-totalité (97%) a vendu au sein même de son pays, tandis que moins de la moitié (44%) a effectué des ventes à des clients situés dans d’autres États membres de l’UE et plus d’un quart (28%) à des clients extra-communautaires. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici.

 

Eurostat: La consommation par habitant a varié entre 53% et 132% de la moyenne de l’UE

La consommation individuelle effective (CIE) est une mesure du bien-être matériel des ménages. En 2016, la CIE par habitant exprimée en standards de pouvoir d’achat (SPA) s’est située, parmi les États membres, entre 53% de la moyenne de l’Union européenne (UE) en Bulgarie et 132% au Luxembourg.Ces données, publiées par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne, sont basées sur des parités de pouvoir d’achat révisées, ainsi que sur les dernières données du PIB et de la population. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici.

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

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