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Daily News 12 / 12 / 2017

College meeting: Glyphosate: Commission responds to European Citizens’ Initiative and announces more transparency in scientific assessments

With the Communication adopted today, the Commission replies to the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides” and commits to presenting a legislative proposal in 2018, to further increase the transparency and quality of studies used in the scientific assessment of substances. Following a thorough scientific assessment of all available data on glyphosate concluding that there is no link between glyphosate and cancer in humans, and a positive vote by Member States’ representatives on 27 November 2017, the Commission today adopted a renewal of the approval of glyphosate for 5 years. In addition, in responding to the European Citizens’ Initiative, the European Commission announces measures to make the process to authorise, restrict or ban the use of pesticides more transparent in the future. Today’s Communication sets out the way forward: it provides a detailed explanation of EU rules on pesticides, and announces a legislative proposal for spring 2018 to enhance the transparency, quality and independence of scientific assessments of substances. It furthermore announces future amendments to the legislation to strengthen the governance of the conduct of relevant studies. The press release in all EU languages as well as MEMO are available online. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

College meeting: Security Union: Commission closes information gaps to better protect EU citizens

Today, the European Commission has proposed to close information gaps by upgrading EU information systems for security, border and migration management and making them work together in a smarter and more efficient way. The measures will enable information exchange and data sharing between the different systems and ensure that border guards and police officers have access to the right information exactly when and where they need it, whilst ensuring the highest data protection standards and full respect of fundamental rights. In the context of recent security and migratory challenges, the proposal will ensure greater safety of EU citizens by facilitating the management of the EU’s external borders and increasing internal security. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: At this moment our EU information systems for security and border management are working separately which slows down law enforcement. With our proposal they will become fully interoperable.” Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Today we are delivering the final and most important element of our work to close gaps and remove blind spots in our information systems for security, borders and migration.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said:“This is an ambitious new approach to managing and using existing information: more intelligent and targeted; connecting the dots to protect EU citizens while also protecting data by design and by default.” The press conference by Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos andCommissioner for the Security Union Julian King will take place in Strasbourg today at 16:00 and will be streamed live on EbS. A press release, Q&A and factsheets on closing the information gap and EU Information Systems are available online. The Commission is today also reporting on progress made on other security related priority files in its 12thSecurity Union report, taking stock of actions to deny terrorists the means to act, strengthen cyber resilience, counter radicalisation online and offline and build up the external security dimension. A video highlighting the actions taken by the Commission to better protect Europeans is also available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229  67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

 

College meeting: EU proposes a modernised partnership with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific countries

The European Commission has today presented a recommendation to the Council, including a proposal for negotiating directives. This is an important milestone towards opening negotiations with the countries of the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP). High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, stated: “The EU and the ACP countries represent together more than 100 countries, and more than half of the United Nations member states. Together, we have an important role in shaping the global agenda and international cooperation. As an essential part of our commitment to multilateralism, modernising our ACP-EU partnership will allow us to jointly tackle today’s global challenges of building peaceful and resilient states, ensuring respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and democratic principles.” Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, stated: “Renewing our partnership with the ACP countries is a unique opportunity to shape a true partnership of equals, moving beyond traditional donor-recipient perceptions. Only together can we achieve sustainable development. Only our joint commitment can lead us to tangible results in areas such as economic growth, jobs and investment or climate change and bring forward the sustainable development agenda.” The recommendation by the Commission sets out the basis and the main orientations for a modernised political partnership between equals, focusing on common interests and values, and going beyond development policy only. A press release and a MEMO are available online. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

#InvestEU: Commission and European Investment Bank Group welcome final adoption of extended and improved European Fund for Strategic Investments

Today Members of the European Parliament voted to adopt the Regulation to extend and enhance the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. This successful final step follows the agreement in principle reached by the European Parliament and Member States on 13 September. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The Investment Plan has brought real benefits to companies across Europe. And we want to do more. We listened to the feedback we received on how the European Fund for Strategic Investments works and we have made some improvements. We are making the EFSI’s investment decisions even more transparent and providing more technical support at a local level. We are also extending the EFSI’s lifetime to end-2020 and its investment target to €500 billion. The EFSI has already helped create 300,000 jobs – let’s keep up the momentum”. The extended EFSI will in particular provide even more financial support to smaller companies. Moreover, a provisional agreement was found this morning between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council on how to simplify the blending of EFSI with Cohesion Policy funds. (For more information on EFSI 2.0 see the press release, Q&A and factsheet. For all Investment Plan- and EFSI-related news and results, see the Investment Plan website or contact Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57361)

 

Cohesion Policy: negotiators agree on more flexibility, less red tape and simpler blending with the EFSI

Today, the negotiators of the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the mid-term review of the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy regulation. Key objectives of this review were cutting red tape for the beneficiaries of the funds and simplifying combination with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Juncker Plan, to help finance riskier yet promising projects. “I welcome this agreement,” said Commissioner Crețu,“Making Cohesion Policy even simpler and more flexible is high on our agenda, also for the post 2020 period; we are doing it for entrepreneurs, businesses and citizens.” On the basis of the High Level Group on Simplification‘s proposals, to get reimbursed by the EU, beneficiaries will now be able to use estimates, such as flat rates for certain categories of costs; staff, insurance or rent, for instance. As regards simpler blending with EFSI, negotiators decided to bring further clarifications on the existing possibilities and to give incentives to national and local authorities managing EU-funded projects: from now on Cohesion Policy funds invested in EFSI projects won’t require national co-financing anymore. The revised regulation will also open the possibility for combined financial instruments where Cohesion Policy contribution covers the first loss.  Finally, the agreement also includes the possibility of introducing a new priority for investments entirely dedicated to the integration of migrants in Cohesion Policy programmes across Europe. “The migration challenge showed that flexibility in Cohesion Policy investments is more needed than ever; this new provision will help Member States deal with this challenge in the long-term,” added Commissioner Crețu. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

European Defence Fund: Commission welcomes Member States’ agreement

The Commission welcomes EU Ministers’ agreement (‘general approach’) on its proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), a key pillar of the European Defence Fund announced by President Juncker in September 2016 and launched in June 2017. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “We are making great strides in developing the European Security and Defence Union that our citizens expect. By developing defence capabilities together, Member States will spend taxpayer money more efficiently and produce cutting-edge, fully interoperable technologies and equipment.” Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “We have made rapid progress thanks to the very efficient Estonian Presidency and the engagement of the Member States. I now count on the European Parliament’s support, and invite Member States and industry to start putting forward project proposals eligible for funding. In parallel, we are already making progress on defence research, where we hope to sign the first grant agreements in the coming weeks.” As part of the European Defence Fund, the Commission presented a legislative proposal for a dedicated defence and industrial development programme. With this programme, the EU will create incentives for Member States to cooperate on joint development of defence equipment and technology through co-financing from the EU budget (€500m for 2019 and 2020). Some of the collaborative defence projects under Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), formally established yesterday, may be eligible and receive a higher rate of co-financing if they fulfil the criteria of the programme. The capability strand of the European Defence Fund is complemented by full and direct EU funding for defence research, with €90m from the EU budget (2017-2019) allocated for defence research grants. The first research grants in the areas of drones, strategic technology foresight and protection and equipment for soldiers will be signed in the coming weeks. President Juncker has been calling for a stronger Europe on security and defence since his election campaign, and made the case for creating a fully-fledged European Defence Union by 2025, most recently in his 2017 State of the Union address. More information on the European Defence Fund is available here. (For more information:Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyon – Tel. +32 229-80379)

Sommet «One Planet »: La Commission dévoile un plan d’action pour la planète

Deux ans après l’accord de Paris, l’UE joue clairement un rôle moteur dans la lutte contre le changement climatique. La Commission a pris part au sommet One Planet organisé par le président français Emmanuel Macron à Paris aujourd’hui. Lors de ce sommet, la Commission a présenté son plan d’action pour la planète, qui contient 10 initiatives de nature à rendre l’économie plus moderne et la société plus juste. Le président Juncker a déclaré: «Le moment est venu d’élever notre niveau d’ambition collective en matière d’action pour le climat et d’enclencher tous les leviers d’action, qu’ils soient réglementaires, financiers ou autres, ce qui nous permettra d’atteindre les objectifs ambitieux que nous nous sommes fixés. C’est un impératif dicté par nos conditions de vie actuelles et celles des générations futures. Le moment est venu d’agir ensemble pour la planète. Demain, il sera déjà trop tard. Nous aurions besoin d’au moins 4 planètes pour continuer à vivre, produire et consommer comme nous le faisons aujourd’hui. Or, nous n’en avons qu’une.» La délégation de la Commission a été conduite par le Vice-président chargé de l’Union de l’énergie, Maroš Šefčovič, qui sera accompagné par le Vice-président pour l’euro et le dialogue social, également chargé de la stabilité financière, des services financiers et de l’union des marchés des capitaux, ValdisDombrovskis et le Commissaire chargé à l’action pour le climat et de l’énergie, Miguel Arias Cañete. L’accord de Paris envoie un message clair aux marchés de capitaux et aux investisseurs, publics et privés: la transition mondiale vers l’énergie propre est inéluctable. La Commission voit également en l’accord de Paris l’occasion pour les entreprises de l’UE de conserver et d’exploiter leur avantage en tant que pionnières lorsqu’il s’agira de promouvoir les énergies renouvelables et l’efficacité énergétique ou de développer d’autres technologies à faible intensité de carbone concurrentielles sur le marché mondial. L’UE montre l’exemple et met en place les conditions favorables à l’accélération de l’investissement public et privé dans l’innovation et la modernisation dans tous les principaux secteurs de l’économie. Plus d’information est disponible dans l’IP/17/5163 et MEMO/17/5224. Une nouvelle page web de la Commission sur le One Planet Summit fournit plus d’informations. (Pour plus d’informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Commission challenges researchers and innovators to turn sunlight into sustainable fuel

The Commission launched today a competition on artificial photosynthesis. The €5 million award will go to the best prototype that produces sustainable fuel by combining sunlight, water and carbon from the air. The competition was opened during the high-level One Planet Summit in Paris. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Europe is the world leader in innovative clean energy solutions that help tackle climate change. This new prize and other EIC Horizon Prizes will move these efforts up a gear by challenging bright minds to think outside the box and come up with novel technologies that improve our daily lives and help protect the planet.” Artificial photosynthesis, considered one of the most promising breakthrough technologies for producing clean energy, mimics the process of natural photosynthesis. Once fully developed, this technology will provide sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels for a range of applications in industry, housing and transport. Overall, the EU will invest €2.2 billion during the next three years in developing sustainable clean energy technologies under Horizon 2020. These investments will focus on four interrelated areas: renewables, energy efficient buildings, electro-mobility and storage solutions, including €200 million to support the development and production in Europe of the next generation of electric batteries. The prize is the second of six European Innovation Council (EIC) Horizon Prizes and is run under Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme. More information is available in a news item, the prize page and the EIC website. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040; Maud Noyon – Tel. +32 229-80379)

Plan d’investissement pour l’Europe: premier financement vert dans le secteur du transport maritime, 150 millions d’euros à Brittany Ferries

La Banque Européenne d’Investissement (BEI), Société Générale et Brittany Ferries ont signé le premier accord de financement maritime vert dans le cadre du programme Green Shipping Guarantee. Cet accord a été rendu possible grâce au soutien de la garantie du Fonds européen pour les investissements stratégiques (FEIS), qui constitue le principal pilier du Plan Juncker. Le nouveau navire “Honfleur” sera le premier ferry alimenté au gaz naturel liquéfié (GNL) opéré par Brittany Ferries qui confirme ainsi son intention de développer le GNL. Celui-ci est actuellement la source de carburant la plus propre, ce qui contribue à une amélioration significative de la performance environnementale de la flotte et à la transition vers une mobilité à faible taux d’émissions. Pierre Moscovici, commissaire pour les affaires économiques et financières, la fiscalité et les douanes a déclaré à ce sujet: «Ce financement permettra à Brittany Ferries d’améliorer l’efficacité énergétique de ses navires et de réduire ainsi leur empreinte écologique. Ce projet bas carbone va dans le sens de l’histoire, alors que le One Planet Summit est sur le point de commencer. Et les projets à énergie propre seront sans cesse plus nombreux à être financés dans le cadre du Fonds Européen pour les Investissements Stratégiques 2.0.» (Pour plus d’information sur les projets et les résultats du Plan Juncker, voir le site web ou contacterJohannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tél.: +32 229 57361)

 

Des fonds européen supplémentaires pour les entreprises et l’innovation en Italie

665 millions d’euros du Fonds européen de développement régional (FEDER) vont être ajoutés au budget du programme italien de la politique de Cohésion “Entreprises et Compétitivité“. Plus précisément, 362 millions d’euros seront entièrement dédiés à la compétitivité des petites et moyennes entreprises dans tout le pays, un montant qui inclut 220 millions d’euros qui viendront abonder le programme italien de l’Initiative pour les PME. Ce programme vise à assurer un meilleur accès aux financements aux entreprises et startups en investissant les fonds de la politique de Cohésion à travers des instruments financiers. 287 million d’euros seront ensuite investis dans des projets innovants, dont 49 million pour les régions du Centre-Nord et les 238 millions restants pour les régions du Sud de l’Italie (Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia, Sardegna) afin de soutenir la stratégie nationale de spécialisation intelligente et favoriser la coopération entre les centres de recherche du Sud et du reste du pays. La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu a commenté: “Un coup de pouce à la recherche, à l’innovation et aux PME en Italie, et notamment dans le Sud, voilà la recette de la création d’emplois de qualité, d’une compétitivité durable et de davantage de cohésion dans tout le pays.” L’argent provient de l’enveloppe supplémentaire d’1,6 milliard d’euros de fonds européens que l’Italie va recevoir suite à l’ajustement technique, c’est-à-dire la réévaluation en 2016 de tous les budgets nationaux de la politique de Cohésion pour la période 2014-2020, afin de prendre en compte l’impact de la crise. (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

The European Union adopts new assistance programme to improve health services in Libya

The Commission adopted a new €10.9 million health programme which will support Libyan people to get better access to healthcare. The EU-funded action will directly benefit the population of Libya and improve their access to healthcare. Measures will include assistance to maternal and new-born health, trainings for future nurse and midwifery, and the establishment of a national prevention strategy at primary health care level countrywide. “The European Union stands by the Libyan population in these challenging times. This new assistance shows our commitment to alleviate the suffering of the Libyan population by improving healthcare, an essential public good“, commented Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. A full press release is available online. The factsheet EU – Libya Relations is also available. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

 

EU Trust Fund for Africa: new actions to support refugees and foster stability in the Horn of Africa

The European Commission will announce today a set of new actions under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to support refugees and host communities in the Horn of Africa region. At this occasion, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union stands by refugees and local populations in the Horn of Africa. With these new actions, we are stepping up our support – to protect vulnerable migrants, to create economic opportunities on the ground and to foster stability in the region.” The new actions will focus for example on providing energy access to refugees and local populations, delivering basic social services in refugee-hosting districts, as well as help to provide education in emergencies and create employment opportunities on the ground. The new measures build on previously approved programmes, worth a total of €665 million. They are aimed at providing regional sustainable solutions to irregular migration and forced displacement under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. A press release and a MEMO will be available around 18.00 today. (for more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of Skybox by CVC and Providence

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Skybox Security, Inc. (‘Skybox’) of the US by CVC Capital Partners SICAV-FIS S.A. (‘CVC’) of Luxembourg and Providence Equity Partners, L.L.C. (‘Providence’) of the US. Skybox is active in IT security and IT vulnerability management. CVC provides investment advice and manages investments. Providence is a private equity investor in the media and communications sectors globally. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there are only limited overlaps between the activities of the companies. 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.8706. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition de contrôle commun de l’hôtel Le Méridien Nice par Foncière des Régions et Marriott International

La Commission Européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition de contrôle commun de Le Méridien Hôtel à Nice, par Foncière des Régions (“FDR”), société basée en France, et Starwood, une filiale de Marriott International, Inc., dont le siège est aux Etats Unis. Le Méridien Nice est un hôtel 4 étoiles situé à Nice (France). FDR est un groupe français d’investissement immobilier dont le portefeuille d’actifs commerciaux comprend principalement des bureaux ainsi que des biens résidentiels et des hôtels. Marriott est une société hôtelière diversifiée qui agit comme un gestionnaire et franchiseur d’hôtels et de propriétés à temps partagé. FDR acquerra indirectement le contrôle commun de Le Méridien Nice avec Starwood qui gère l’hôtel en vertu d’un contrat de gestion. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence,compte tenu de son impact limité sur la structure du marché.L’opération 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.8685. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

EUROSTAT: Faits et chiffres sur la mondialisation de l’économie – Caractéristiques du commerce et des investissements de l’UE

La mondialisation, qui peut être définie comme une intégration croissante de l’économie mondiale, inclut la circulation des biens, des services, des personnes, des capitaux et des technologies. Elle a des répercussions sur les entreprises, les gouvernements et les citoyens, dans la mesure où le commerce et l’investissement mondialisés modifient de façon notable les modes de consommation et de production, impulsent la transformation des marchés du travail et favorisent le transfert de technologies ainsi que la restructuration industrielle. Les statistiques peuvent aider à mieux comprendre l’ampleur de ces répercussions. C’est précisément l’objet de la toute nouvelle publication intitulée «Globalisation patterns in EU trade and investment», publiée aujourd’hui par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. Une communiqué de presse Eurostat est à votre disposition en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kina Malinowska – Tel.: +32 22951383)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commission appoints two Directors to its digital department

The Commission decided today to appoint Mr Pearse O’ Donohue to the position of Director for Future Networks and Ms Lucilla Sioli to the position of Director for Digital Industry, respectively, in its Communications Networks, Content and Technology department (DG CNECT). Mr O’ Donohue, an Irish national, joined the Commission in 1995. After having worked on labour law issues for some time, including as member of the private office of Commissioner Padraig Flynn, most of Mr O’ Donohue’s career focused on telecommunications, including as deputy head of the private office of Vice-President Neelie Kroes. He first became Head of Unit in 2008 being responsible for Radio Spectrum Policy and is currently Head of Unit for Cloud and Software in DG CNECT, in addition to being acting Director for Future Networks there. Ms Lucilla Sioli, an Italian national, joined the Commission first in 1997. Throughout her career Ms Sioli worked on issues relating to the digital economy, including broadband, as well as country monitoring, through the Digital Economy and Society Index and the European Semester. Since 2015, she led the development of digital skills policies, managing the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and heading the reflection on digitisation and labour markets. She first became Head of Unit in 2009 being responsible for Economic and Statistical Analysis in DG CNECT and is currently Head of Unit for Digital Economy and Skills there. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Commissioner Jourová in Japan to make progress on data flows

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, will visit Japan from 13 to 15 December. The main focus of her visit will be to make progress on the data protection discussions with the aim to reaching an adequacy decision as soon as possible in 2018.  To that end, she will meet the Personal Information Protection Commissioner, Masao Horibe and Members of the Japanese Parliament working on data protection. She will also discuss the entry into force of the General Data Protection Rules with the Japan Business Federation, Keidanren. Her visit will be an opportunity to build ties with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Vice Minister Ogushi on digital topics, such as Artificial Intelligence or robotics. As first Justice European Commissioner to visit Japan, Commissioner Jourová will meet the Ministry of Justice’s Senior Vice Minister Hanashi to discuss the existing judicial cooperation with Japan. She will exchange views with Minister for internal affairs and communication Noda and with Members of the Parliament on gender equality policy. Finally, she will also discuss data privacy with civil society organisations, including consumer groups. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

Commissioner Navracsics visits Ireland

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, will be in Dublin tomorrow, 13 December, for a series of high-level meetings and events. Tomorrow morning at Dublin Castle, he will open the Creative Ireland Forum, hosted by Irish Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, in the presence of the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar. The Forum is also the platform for launching the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in Ireland where the Heritage Council is the national coordinator. In the afternoon, the Commissioner will hold a Citizens’ Dialogue on youth and the future of Europe with Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, at the Royal Irish Academy before addressing the Joint Oireachtas (Parliamentary) Committee on EU Affairs on recent developments in education policy. He will then visit Dublin City University where he will among others learn about a project funded by the Erasmus+ programme that supports teachers in working with gifted students in regular classrooms. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tél .: +32 229 56184)

 

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

Daily News 12 / 12 / 2017

College meeting: Glyphosate: Commission responds to European Citizens’ Initiative and announces more transparency in scientific assessments

With the Communication adopted today, the Commission replies to the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides” and commits to presenting a legislative proposal in 2018, to further increase the transparency and quality of studies used in the scientific assessment of substances. Following a thorough scientific assessment of all available data on glyphosate concluding that there is no link between glyphosate and cancer in humans, and a positive vote by Member States’ representatives on 27 November 2017, the Commission today adopted a renewal of the approval of glyphosate for 5 years. In addition, in responding to the European Citizens’ Initiative, the European Commission announces measures to make the process to authorise, restrict or ban the use of pesticides more transparent in the future. Today’s Communication sets out the way forward: it provides a detailed explanation of EU rules on pesticides, and announces a legislative proposal for spring 2018 to enhance the transparency, quality and independence of scientific assessments of substances. It furthermore announces future amendments to the legislation to strengthen the governance of the conduct of relevant studies. The press release in all EU languages as well as MEMO are available online. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

College meeting: Security Union: Commission closes information gaps to better protect EU citizens

Today, the European Commission has proposed to close information gaps by upgrading EU information systems for security, border and migration management and making them work together in a smarter and more efficient way. The measures will enable information exchange and data sharing between the different systems and ensure that border guards and police officers have access to the right information exactly when and where they need it, whilst ensuring the highest data protection standards and full respect of fundamental rights. In the context of recent security and migratory challenges, the proposal will ensure greater safety of EU citizens by facilitating the management of the EU’s external borders and increasing internal security. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: At this moment our EU information systems for security and border management are working separately which slows down law enforcement. With our proposal they will become fully interoperable.” Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Today we are delivering the final and most important element of our work to close gaps and remove blind spots in our information systems for security, borders and migration.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said:“This is an ambitious new approach to managing and using existing information: more intelligent and targeted; connecting the dots to protect EU citizens while also protecting data by design and by default.” The press conference by Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos andCommissioner for the Security Union Julian King will take place in Strasbourg today at 16:00 and will be streamed live on EbS. A press release, Q&A and factsheets on closing the information gap and EU Information Systems are available online. The Commission is today also reporting on progress made on other security related priority files in its 12thSecurity Union report, taking stock of actions to deny terrorists the means to act, strengthen cyber resilience, counter radicalisation online and offline and build up the external security dimension. A video highlighting the actions taken by the Commission to better protect Europeans is also available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229  67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

 

College meeting: EU proposes a modernised partnership with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific countries

The European Commission has today presented a recommendation to the Council, including a proposal for negotiating directives. This is an important milestone towards opening negotiations with the countries of the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP). High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, stated: “The EU and the ACP countries represent together more than 100 countries, and more than half of the United Nations member states. Together, we have an important role in shaping the global agenda and international cooperation. As an essential part of our commitment to multilateralism, modernising our ACP-EU partnership will allow us to jointly tackle today’s global challenges of building peaceful and resilient states, ensuring respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and democratic principles.” Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, stated: “Renewing our partnership with the ACP countries is a unique opportunity to shape a true partnership of equals, moving beyond traditional donor-recipient perceptions. Only together can we achieve sustainable development. Only our joint commitment can lead us to tangible results in areas such as economic growth, jobs and investment or climate change and bring forward the sustainable development agenda.” The recommendation by the Commission sets out the basis and the main orientations for a modernised political partnership between equals, focusing on common interests and values, and going beyond development policy only. A press release and a MEMO are available online. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

#InvestEU: Commission and European Investment Bank Group welcome final adoption of extended and improved European Fund for Strategic Investments

Today Members of the European Parliament voted to adopt the Regulation to extend and enhance the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. This successful final step follows the agreement in principle reached by the European Parliament and Member States on 13 September. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The Investment Plan has brought real benefits to companies across Europe. And we want to do more. We listened to the feedback we received on how the European Fund for Strategic Investments works and we have made some improvements. We are making the EFSI’s investment decisions even more transparent and providing more technical support at a local level. We are also extending the EFSI’s lifetime to end-2020 and its investment target to €500 billion. The EFSI has already helped create 300,000 jobs – let’s keep up the momentum”. The extended EFSI will in particular provide even more financial support to smaller companies. Moreover, a provisional agreement was found this morning between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council on how to simplify the blending of EFSI with Cohesion Policy funds. (For more information on EFSI 2.0 see the press release, Q&A and factsheet. For all Investment Plan- and EFSI-related news and results, see the Investment Plan website or contact Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57361)

 

Cohesion Policy: negotiators agree on more flexibility, less red tape and simpler blending with the EFSI

Today, the negotiators of the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the mid-term review of the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy regulation. Key objectives of this review were cutting red tape for the beneficiaries of the funds and simplifying combination with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Juncker Plan, to help finance riskier yet promising projects. “I welcome this agreement,” said Commissioner Crețu,“Making Cohesion Policy even simpler and more flexible is high on our agenda, also for the post 2020 period; we are doing it for entrepreneurs, businesses and citizens.” On the basis of the High Level Group on Simplification‘s proposals, to get reimbursed by the EU, beneficiaries will now be able to use estimates, such as flat rates for certain categories of costs; staff, insurance or rent, for instance. As regards simpler blending with EFSI, negotiators decided to bring further clarifications on the existing possibilities and to give incentives to national and local authorities managing EU-funded projects: from now on Cohesion Policy funds invested in EFSI projects won’t require national co-financing anymore. The revised regulation will also open the possibility for combined financial instruments where Cohesion Policy contribution covers the first loss.  Finally, the agreement also includes the possibility of introducing a new priority for investments entirely dedicated to the integration of migrants in Cohesion Policy programmes across Europe. “The migration challenge showed that flexibility in Cohesion Policy investments is more needed than ever; this new provision will help Member States deal with this challenge in the long-term,” added Commissioner Crețu. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

European Defence Fund: Commission welcomes Member States’ agreement

The Commission welcomes EU Ministers’ agreement (‘general approach’) on its proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), a key pillar of the European Defence Fund announced by President Juncker in September 2016 and launched in June 2017. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “We are making great strides in developing the European Security and Defence Union that our citizens expect. By developing defence capabilities together, Member States will spend taxpayer money more efficiently and produce cutting-edge, fully interoperable technologies and equipment.” Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “We have made rapid progress thanks to the very efficient Estonian Presidency and the engagement of the Member States. I now count on the European Parliament’s support, and invite Member States and industry to start putting forward project proposals eligible for funding. In parallel, we are already making progress on defence research, where we hope to sign the first grant agreements in the coming weeks.” As part of the European Defence Fund, the Commission presented a legislative proposal for a dedicated defence and industrial development programme. With this programme, the EU will create incentives for Member States to cooperate on joint development of defence equipment and technology through co-financing from the EU budget (€500m for 2019 and 2020). Some of the collaborative defence projects under Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), formally established yesterday, may be eligible and receive a higher rate of co-financing if they fulfil the criteria of the programme. The capability strand of the European Defence Fund is complemented by full and direct EU funding for defence research, with €90m from the EU budget (2017-2019) allocated for defence research grants. The first research grants in the areas of drones, strategic technology foresight and protection and equipment for soldiers will be signed in the coming weeks. President Juncker has been calling for a stronger Europe on security and defence since his election campaign, and made the case for creating a fully-fledged European Defence Union by 2025, most recently in his 2017 State of the Union address. More information on the European Defence Fund is available here. (For more information:Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyon – Tel. +32 229-80379)

Sommet «One Planet »: La Commission dévoile un plan d’action pour la planète

Deux ans après l’accord de Paris, l’UE joue clairement un rôle moteur dans la lutte contre le changement climatique. La Commission a pris part au sommet One Planet organisé par le président français Emmanuel Macron à Paris aujourd’hui. Lors de ce sommet, la Commission a présenté son plan d’action pour la planète, qui contient 10 initiatives de nature à rendre l’économie plus moderne et la société plus juste. Le président Juncker a déclaré: «Le moment est venu d’élever notre niveau d’ambition collective en matière d’action pour le climat et d’enclencher tous les leviers d’action, qu’ils soient réglementaires, financiers ou autres, ce qui nous permettra d’atteindre les objectifs ambitieux que nous nous sommes fixés. C’est un impératif dicté par nos conditions de vie actuelles et celles des générations futures. Le moment est venu d’agir ensemble pour la planète. Demain, il sera déjà trop tard. Nous aurions besoin d’au moins 4 planètes pour continuer à vivre, produire et consommer comme nous le faisons aujourd’hui. Or, nous n’en avons qu’une.» La délégation de la Commission a été conduite par le Vice-président chargé de l’Union de l’énergie, Maroš Šefčovič, qui sera accompagné par le Vice-président pour l’euro et le dialogue social, également chargé de la stabilité financière, des services financiers et de l’union des marchés des capitaux, ValdisDombrovskis et le Commissaire chargé à l’action pour le climat et de l’énergie, Miguel Arias Cañete. L’accord de Paris envoie un message clair aux marchés de capitaux et aux investisseurs, publics et privés: la transition mondiale vers l’énergie propre est inéluctable. La Commission voit également en l’accord de Paris l’occasion pour les entreprises de l’UE de conserver et d’exploiter leur avantage en tant que pionnières lorsqu’il s’agira de promouvoir les énergies renouvelables et l’efficacité énergétique ou de développer d’autres technologies à faible intensité de carbone concurrentielles sur le marché mondial. L’UE montre l’exemple et met en place les conditions favorables à l’accélération de l’investissement public et privé dans l’innovation et la modernisation dans tous les principaux secteurs de l’économie. Plus d’information est disponible dans l’IP/17/5163 et MEMO/17/5224. Une nouvelle page web de la Commission sur le One Planet Summit fournit plus d’informations. (Pour plus d’informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Commission challenges researchers and innovators to turn sunlight into sustainable fuel

The Commission launched today a competition on artificial photosynthesis. The €5 million award will go to the best prototype that produces sustainable fuel by combining sunlight, water and carbon from the air. The competition was opened during the high-level One Planet Summit in Paris. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Europe is the world leader in innovative clean energy solutions that help tackle climate change. This new prize and other EIC Horizon Prizes will move these efforts up a gear by challenging bright minds to think outside the box and come up with novel technologies that improve our daily lives and help protect the planet.” Artificial photosynthesis, considered one of the most promising breakthrough technologies for producing clean energy, mimics the process of natural photosynthesis. Once fully developed, this technology will provide sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels for a range of applications in industry, housing and transport. Overall, the EU will invest €2.2 billion during the next three years in developing sustainable clean energy technologies under Horizon 2020. These investments will focus on four interrelated areas: renewables, energy efficient buildings, electro-mobility and storage solutions, including €200 million to support the development and production in Europe of the next generation of electric batteries. The prize is the second of six European Innovation Council (EIC) Horizon Prizes and is run under Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme. More information is available in a news item, the prize page and the EIC website. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040; Maud Noyon – Tel. +32 229-80379)

Plan d’investissement pour l’Europe: premier financement vert dans le secteur du transport maritime, 150 millions d’euros à Brittany Ferries

La Banque Européenne d’Investissement (BEI), Société Générale et Brittany Ferries ont signé le premier accord de financement maritime vert dans le cadre du programme Green Shipping Guarantee. Cet accord a été rendu possible grâce au soutien de la garantie du Fonds européen pour les investissements stratégiques (FEIS), qui constitue le principal pilier du Plan Juncker. Le nouveau navire “Honfleur” sera le premier ferry alimenté au gaz naturel liquéfié (GNL) opéré par Brittany Ferries qui confirme ainsi son intention de développer le GNL. Celui-ci est actuellement la source de carburant la plus propre, ce qui contribue à une amélioration significative de la performance environnementale de la flotte et à la transition vers une mobilité à faible taux d’émissions. Pierre Moscovici, commissaire pour les affaires économiques et financières, la fiscalité et les douanes a déclaré à ce sujet: «Ce financement permettra à Brittany Ferries d’améliorer l’efficacité énergétique de ses navires et de réduire ainsi leur empreinte écologique. Ce projet bas carbone va dans le sens de l’histoire, alors que le One Planet Summit est sur le point de commencer. Et les projets à énergie propre seront sans cesse plus nombreux à être financés dans le cadre du Fonds Européen pour les Investissements Stratégiques 2.0.» (Pour plus d’information sur les projets et les résultats du Plan Juncker, voir le site web ou contacterJohannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tél.: +32 229 57361)

 

Des fonds européen supplémentaires pour les entreprises et l’innovation en Italie

665 millions d’euros du Fonds européen de développement régional (FEDER) vont être ajoutés au budget du programme italien de la politique de Cohésion “Entreprises et Compétitivité“. Plus précisément, 362 millions d’euros seront entièrement dédiés à la compétitivité des petites et moyennes entreprises dans tout le pays, un montant qui inclut 220 millions d’euros qui viendront abonder le programme italien de l’Initiative pour les PME. Ce programme vise à assurer un meilleur accès aux financements aux entreprises et startups en investissant les fonds de la politique de Cohésion à travers des instruments financiers. 287 million d’euros seront ensuite investis dans des projets innovants, dont 49 million pour les régions du Centre-Nord et les 238 millions restants pour les régions du Sud de l’Italie (Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia, Sardegna) afin de soutenir la stratégie nationale de spécialisation intelligente et favoriser la coopération entre les centres de recherche du Sud et du reste du pays. La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu a commenté: “Un coup de pouce à la recherche, à l’innovation et aux PME en Italie, et notamment dans le Sud, voilà la recette de la création d’emplois de qualité, d’une compétitivité durable et de davantage de cohésion dans tout le pays.” L’argent provient de l’enveloppe supplémentaire d’1,6 milliard d’euros de fonds européens que l’Italie va recevoir suite à l’ajustement technique, c’est-à-dire la réévaluation en 2016 de tous les budgets nationaux de la politique de Cohésion pour la période 2014-2020, afin de prendre en compte l’impact de la crise. (Pour plus d’informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

The European Union adopts new assistance programme to improve health services in Libya

The Commission adopted a new €10.9 million health programme which will support Libyan people to get better access to healthcare. The EU-funded action will directly benefit the population of Libya and improve their access to healthcare. Measures will include assistance to maternal and new-born health, trainings for future nurse and midwifery, and the establishment of a national prevention strategy at primary health care level countrywide. “The European Union stands by the Libyan population in these challenging times. This new assistance shows our commitment to alleviate the suffering of the Libyan population by improving healthcare, an essential public good“, commented Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. A full press release is available online. The factsheet EU – Libya Relations is also available. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

 

EU Trust Fund for Africa: new actions to support refugees and foster stability in the Horn of Africa

The European Commission will announce today a set of new actions under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to support refugees and host communities in the Horn of Africa region. At this occasion, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “The European Union stands by refugees and local populations in the Horn of Africa. With these new actions, we are stepping up our support – to protect vulnerable migrants, to create economic opportunities on the ground and to foster stability in the region.” The new actions will focus for example on providing energy access to refugees and local populations, delivering basic social services in refugee-hosting districts, as well as help to provide education in emergencies and create employment opportunities on the ground. The new measures build on previously approved programmes, worth a total of €665 million. They are aimed at providing regional sustainable solutions to irregular migration and forced displacement under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. A press release and a MEMO will be available around 18.00 today. (for more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of Skybox by CVC and Providence

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Skybox Security, Inc. (‘Skybox’) of the US by CVC Capital Partners SICAV-FIS S.A. (‘CVC’) of Luxembourg and Providence Equity Partners, L.L.C. (‘Providence’) of the US. Skybox is active in IT security and IT vulnerability management. CVC provides investment advice and manages investments. Providence is a private equity investor in the media and communications sectors globally. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there are only limited overlaps between the activities of the companies. 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.8706. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition de contrôle commun de l’hôtel Le Méridien Nice par Foncière des Régions et Marriott International

La Commission Européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition de contrôle commun de Le Méridien Hôtel à Nice, par Foncière des Régions (“FDR”), société basée en France, et Starwood, une filiale de Marriott International, Inc., dont le siège est aux Etats Unis. Le Méridien Nice est un hôtel 4 étoiles situé à Nice (France). FDR est un groupe français d’investissement immobilier dont le portefeuille d’actifs commerciaux comprend principalement des bureaux ainsi que des biens résidentiels et des hôtels. Marriott est une société hôtelière diversifiée qui agit comme un gestionnaire et franchiseur d’hôtels et de propriétés à temps partagé. FDR acquerra indirectement le contrôle commun de Le Méridien Nice avec Starwood qui gère l’hôtel en vertu d’un contrat de gestion. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence,compte tenu de son impact limité sur la structure du marché.L’opération 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.8685. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

EUROSTAT: Faits et chiffres sur la mondialisation de l’économie – Caractéristiques du commerce et des investissements de l’UE

La mondialisation, qui peut être définie comme une intégration croissante de l’économie mondiale, inclut la circulation des biens, des services, des personnes, des capitaux et des technologies. Elle a des répercussions sur les entreprises, les gouvernements et les citoyens, dans la mesure où le commerce et l’investissement mondialisés modifient de façon notable les modes de consommation et de production, impulsent la transformation des marchés du travail et favorisent le transfert de technologies ainsi que la restructuration industrielle. Les statistiques peuvent aider à mieux comprendre l’ampleur de ces répercussions. C’est précisément l’objet de la toute nouvelle publication intitulée «Globalisation patterns in EU trade and investment», publiée aujourd’hui par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. Une communiqué de presse Eurostat est à votre disposition en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kina Malinowska – Tel.: +32 22951383)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commission appoints two Directors to its digital department

The Commission decided today to appoint Mr Pearse O’ Donohue to the position of Director for Future Networks and Ms Lucilla Sioli to the position of Director for Digital Industry, respectively, in its Communications Networks, Content and Technology department (DG CNECT). Mr O’ Donohue, an Irish national, joined the Commission in 1995. After having worked on labour law issues for some time, including as member of the private office of Commissioner Padraig Flynn, most of Mr O’ Donohue’s career focused on telecommunications, including as deputy head of the private office of Vice-President Neelie Kroes. He first became Head of Unit in 2008 being responsible for Radio Spectrum Policy and is currently Head of Unit for Cloud and Software in DG CNECT, in addition to being acting Director for Future Networks there. Ms Lucilla Sioli, an Italian national, joined the Commission first in 1997. Throughout her career Ms Sioli worked on issues relating to the digital economy, including broadband, as well as country monitoring, through the Digital Economy and Society Index and the European Semester. Since 2015, she led the development of digital skills policies, managing the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and heading the reflection on digitisation and labour markets. She first became Head of Unit in 2009 being responsible for Economic and Statistical Analysis in DG CNECT and is currently Head of Unit for Digital Economy and Skills there. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Commissioner Jourová in Japan to make progress on data flows

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, will visit Japan from 13 to 15 December. The main focus of her visit will be to make progress on the data protection discussions with the aim to reaching an adequacy decision as soon as possible in 2018.  To that end, she will meet the Personal Information Protection Commissioner, Masao Horibe and Members of the Japanese Parliament working on data protection. She will also discuss the entry into force of the General Data Protection Rules with the Japan Business Federation, Keidanren. Her visit will be an opportunity to build ties with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Vice Minister Ogushi on digital topics, such as Artificial Intelligence or robotics. As first Justice European Commissioner to visit Japan, Commissioner Jourová will meet the Ministry of Justice’s Senior Vice Minister Hanashi to discuss the existing judicial cooperation with Japan. She will exchange views with Minister for internal affairs and communication Noda and with Members of the Parliament on gender equality policy. Finally, she will also discuss data privacy with civil society organisations, including consumer groups. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

Commissioner Navracsics visits Ireland

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, will be in Dublin tomorrow, 13 December, for a series of high-level meetings and events. Tomorrow morning at Dublin Castle, he will open the Creative Ireland Forum, hosted by Irish Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, in the presence of the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar. The Forum is also the platform for launching the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in Ireland where the Heritage Council is the national coordinator. In the afternoon, the Commissioner will hold a Citizens’ Dialogue on youth and the future of Europe with Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, at the Royal Irish Academy before addressing the Joint Oireachtas (Parliamentary) Committee on EU Affairs on recent developments in education policy. He will then visit Dublin City University where he will among others learn about a project funded by the Erasmus+ programme that supports teachers in working with gifted students in regular classrooms. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tél .: +32 229 56184)

 

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

Questions and answers on EU and Climate finance

Our emissions decline while the economy grows, largely thanks to innovative technologies, showing that growth and climate action can go hand in hand. Whereas GDP grew by some 10% from 2005 to 2015, primary energy consumption decreased by almost 11% in the same period. The signal is clear – cleaner energy and economic growth can go hand in hand.

What is the investment need in in the coming years?

The Paris Agreement sends a clear signal to capital markets and investors – public and private – that the global transition to clean energy is here to stay. The Commission is committed to putting in place the necessary reforms to transform our financial sector. Shifting and rapidly scaling up private investment is essential to avoid the “lock-in” of fossil fuels infrastructure and carbon intensive assets and to reach the Paris agreement targets for 2030.

To limit the increase in temperature to well below two degrees Celsius, Europe needs an estimated €179 billion in additional yearly investment for the next couple of decades. Public climate finance will continue to play a significant role. However, this is not enough. We need a broader range of contributions. To achieve our goals, we need to increase the flow of the private capital in green and sustainable investment.

I. Public finance

What is the EU contribution to international climate finance?

The EU has shown its commitment to the fight against climate change by mainstreaming spending on climate action across all EU programmes. At least 20% of the EU’s budget for 2014-2020 – as much as €180 billion − should be spent on climate change-related action.

Climate is integrated into all major EU spending programmes, in particular cohesion policy, regional development, energy, transport, research and innovation, the Common Agricultural Policy as well as the EU’s development policy.

The EU is the biggest climate finance contributor globally. Total contributions from the EU and its member states amounted to €20.2 billion in 2016, a significant increase of 15% compared to 2015. Climate finance from the EU budget will more than double between 2014 and 2020.

Year

Percentage

2014*

13.6

2015*

17.3

2016*

20.9

2017*

19.3

           2018* (draft)

19.5

2019**

19.9

2020**

19.8

Source:
* draft budget report 2018

** programming 2019-2020

 

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With an initial contribution from the EU budget of €4.1 billion, the European Fund for Sustainable Development is designed to trigger up to €44 billion of additional investments. Three of the five investment windows under the new Fund will directly target climate action.

II. Climate-related spending beyond the EU budget

Beyond the EU budget, with the European Investment Plan, the Juncker Commission has scaled up support to attract additional public and private financing to transition to a low-carbon economy. The European Investment Plan has triggered €240.9 billion worth of investment so far through the European Fund for Strategic Investments. The energy sector is currently the first in terms of the number of approved operations and the majority of the supported projects are investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate-friendly energy infrastructure. This is supported by a new rule in place since September 2017 whereby at least 40% of projects under the infrastructure and innovation window should contribute to the climate objectives.

From 2014-2020, European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) will allocate €18 billion to energy efficiency, €6 billion to renewable energy – notably in buildings and district heating and cooling – and around €1 billion to smart distribution grids.

How do other EU innovative financing instruments and Bank institutions aim to leverage private investment?

European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD): A minimum share (28 %) of EFSD funding should support investments contributing to implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The fund is established in September 2017 and the heart piece of the EU’s new External Investment Plan (EIP) targeting the European Neighbourhood and Africa and following the same approach as EFSI.

European Investment Bank (EIB): The EIB is committing at least 25% of their investments to climate change mitigation and adaptation, supporting low-carbon and climate-resilient growth. In 2016, the European Investment Bank exceeded its climate action target for the seventh year running, providing over EUR 19.5 billion to help mitigate climate change and adapt to its impact.

Multilateral Development Banks: Minimum commitments on investment support for climate relevant projects vary between 28% to 40%. In October 2016, the main Multilateral Development Banks issued a statement to develop together a joint climate action partnership aimed at developing a more collaborative and coherent approach that will focus on scaling up low-carbon and climate-resilient investments for sustainable infrastructure, including in particular speeding the energy transition consistent with the Paris Agreement.

How does the EU generate investment in research and stimulate innovation?

The Commission is boosting new investment in clean energy and climate research and innovation by increasing targeted public investment in clean energy and climate science and innovation – worth €3.4 billion in 2018-2020 under the EU’s flagship Horizon 2020 research programme.

Furthermore, the EU Emissions Trading System will include two new Innovation and Modernisation funds that have the potential to generate up to €18 billion of revenue during the next decade. The revenue is intended for European industry to invest in new technologies and for the Member States to modernise their power sector and energy systems.

What is the EU specific contribution towards Africa and the EU Neighborhood?

The EU’s new External Investment Plan will play an important role in promoting inclusive growth and job creation in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood countries. Sustainable economic development and resilience in Africa and the EU neighbourhood are also factors in tackling the root causes of migration.

The newly created European Fund for Sustainable Development will leverage public investment to trigger more private capital flows to sustainable projects. This new external instrument, adapted to the specific needs of partner countries, builds on the success of the European ‘Juncker Plan’ model which has already triggered around €250 billion of investment within the EU. Like the Juncker Plan, it will also create opportunities for European industrial and technological leadership.

How is the EU mobilising action on the local level and in the regions?

Under the Smart Cities and Communities initiative, the Commission has so far contributed over €270 million co-funding to projects demonstrating sustainable, cost-effective and replicable district-scale solutions at the intersection of energy and transport enabled by ICT. They bring together cities and industry to integrate and demonstrate solutions in energy, infrastructure and transport, to provide other cities with insights on how they work in practice and opportunities for replication. 36 ‘lighthouse’ cities and 42 ‘follower’ cities participate, and the partnership keeps growing.

Under Urban Innovative Actions, an envelope of €371 million was granted from the European Regional Development Fund for 2015-20; first 18 winning projects starting 2016 in circular economy, urban mobility and other topics.

Under the €130 million CIVITAS project, 85 local authorities are participating in innovative, integrated transport demonstration projects: micro depots in Munich, cycling and pedestrian safety in Stockholm, charging e-busses with alternative measures in Constanta, safe routes to school in Limassol – with global ‘observer cities’ benefiting from experiences.

In the context of the EU Cohesion Policy, EU Member States and regions have developed over 120 smart specialisation strategies for the 2014-2020 period, with more than €40 billion allocated to regions through the European Regional Development Fund (more than €65 billion including national co-financing).

Five interregional smart specialisation partnerships on bioenergy, marine renewable energy, sustainable construction, smart grids and solar energy have been launched since 2015 with the support of the Commission. About 60 regions from 20 Member States and EU neighbouring countries are participating in these partnerships.

How does the EU support the Youth in the fight against climate change?

The European Solidarity Corps is the new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe. Over €900m will be spent on the European Solidarity Corps and Erasmus+ for 2018-2020.

The European Solidarity Corps could dedicate over €40 million to creating volunteering opportunities in the areas of environment and climate action by 2020. Additional funding transferred from other EU programmes to Erasmus+ or the European Solidary Corps could also benefit the Youth for Climate Action initiative.

What is the EU doing to support mobility?

Cohesion policy is funding research and development of new transport technologies and services, co-financing transport investments to the tune of €70 billion in the 2014-2020 programmes, supporting infrastructure, equipment and vehicles of the future. Under the Connecting Europe Facility, the EU’s financial mechanism supporting the roll-out of infrastructure networks, €18.1 billion has so far been committed to the rail and inland waterway sectors, as these are the two most sustainable transport modes, representing 80% of the total investment in transport infrastructure under this programme. As of November 2017, the transport sector also accounts for 9% of investment under the Juncker Plan, boosting investments in the transport sector by €22.7 billion. In the research field, over €1.8 billion has been budgeted for transport from 2014 to 2017.

Support for alternative transport and the supporting infrastructure is a priority for the Commission. Up to €800 million of new EU investments will support alternative fuels infrastructure, and could leverage public and private investment of up to €4 billion.

III. Sustainable finance

What is the role of financial sector for enhancing sustainable investment, and what has the EU done already in this area?

The financial sector has an important role to play in reaching the climate change goals of the Paris Agreement and the EU’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is vital that more private capital is mobilised towards investments in the low-carbon economy.

The European Union has been at the forefront of efforts to build a financial system that supports sustainable investments by the private sector. As of next year, the new rules on non-financial disclosure will require large companies listed in EU markets to disclose information on social and environmental aspects of their business. In June 2017 the Commission adopted guidelines to enhance transparency of companies on sustainability issues.  The EU has also taken steps to incentivise pension funds and shareholders to take sustainability into account in their investment decisions.

What are the Commission’s upcoming plans on sustainable finance?

The Commission is firmly supporting the work on sustainable finance through the flagship project of Capital Markets Union (CMU).

In December 2016 the Commission established a High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance to advise on how to help the transition to a low-carbon economy, and it delivered its first recommendations for action in its Interim Report of July 2017. This HLEG is expected to deliver the Final Report by the end of January 2018.

The Commission will present the EU strategy on sustainable finance by the first quarter of 2018 and will complement that strategy with adequate measures such as a proposal to integrate sustainability considerations into the duties that asset managers and institutional investors; and steps to amend capital charges for banks to boost green investments and loans. The Commission is also exploring other actions, including developing a taxonomy for sustainable finance, as well as EU standards and labels for green bonds and green investment funds. 

The Commission is organising a High Level conference on 22 March 2018, notably with the objective of presenting the Commission Strategy and Action Plan on Sustainable Finance. This event will be the occasion to demonstrate our commitment to the Paris Agreement objectives, and to encourage the engagement of the financial sector. 

Opening speech at the European Culture Forum, Milan – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament

(check against delivery)

I should like to thank Commissioner Tibor Navracsics for organising this Forum. It provides a rare opportunity to exchange views and compare experiences in relation to this vital sector.  

As an Italian, I am delighted that Milan should have been chosen to host the event marking the official start of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

We are in a city which has great symbolic significance, where the culture and creativity of the past nurture the living culture of the present.

The history of Milan mirrors that of our continent. For three millennia, it has been a trading centre, a melting pot of peoples, ideas and cultures. It stands at a crossroads: people and goods which have crossed the Alps, passed by the great lakes and travelled the northern Italian plain reach the Mediterranean from here. It is a bridge between North and South, between East and West.

Here, business, innovation and creativity have always been inseparable. Patrons, artists, entrepreneurs, artisans and scholars have been instrumental in ensuring that Milan has remained open at all times to the new, to the future.

Milan has always attracted talented people, one being Leonardo da Vinci, the man who embodied the very essence of the Renaissance, of genius, of versatility. He was a consummate artist, but also an experimenter and inventor, whose interests spanned architecture, science and engineering. He was an industrial designer before the concept even existed.

Milan Cathedral, and its Fabbrica, which has remained active down the centuries and which we will visit tomorrow with Commissioner Navracsics, is another symbol of unceasing dynamism.

This makes Milan one of the capitals of culture, of design, of fashion and of luxury goods. It is a model for the European way of life which is the envy of the whole world. Milan is living proof that history, creativity and innovation are vital to an internationally competitive and successful EU.

We are the continent with half of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Europe is still leading in several sectors of the cultural and creative industries. Wherever you go in the world, Europe is a synonym for style, know-how and beauty.

This is our leadership. A leadership which cannot be delocalised and which has to serve as our springboard for political and economic renewal.

Culture and creativity as factors for growth and job creation

Digitalisation, robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence are wreaking drastic changes in our working and private lives. We are in the throes of an industrial revolution in which the new jobs being created are not enough to offset those being lost by people who have been replaced by machines and technologies.

Recent research suggests that around half of all human activities could be replaced by automated processes. In France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, 54 million jobs will be at risk in the next few years alone.

The Union must steer this process of change, by investing more in training and by focusing on sectors in which manual labour and creativity will remain essential. I am thinking of tourism, design, the digitalisation of cultural sites, luxury goods and high-end craft products.

Cultural heritage and European creativity can be key factors in generating growth and jobs.

By adopting the Ehler-Morgano report on A coherent EU policy for the cultural and creative industries, the European Parliament issued a clear call to tap the potential of this sector.

The cultural and creative industries employ 12 million people, 7.5% of the EU workforce, and generate a turnover of EUR 509 billion. The sectors which draw most on intellectual property account for one-quarter of those jobs and one-third of that turnover.

Authors, artists and designers are the main sources of that creativity, which spills over massively into other sectors and contributes to the excellence of European products.

Let’s take luxury goods as an example: it is a market worth EUR 1000 billion in which Europe is the leader, accounting for 70% of production. 

Some 62% of the luxury goods manufactured in Europe are sold abroad and they make up 10% of the EU’s total exports.

Synergies between tourism and the cultural and creative industries

Synergies between the cultural and creative industries and tourism are another key engine for growth.

Already today, tourism accounts for 10% of EU GDP and 10% of jobs in the Union. Between now and 2030, the number of visitors to Europe will double, from 1 to 2 billion.

Europe can cater for the travel interests of this new emerging class, many of whom are Asians, by exploiting its historical heritage, its way of life and its creativity. The aim is to consolidate our leading position, by increasing the number of tourists who come to Europe from the current figure of 550 million to 700 million by 2020. Over the next 10 years, we can create up to 5 million jobs.

Manufacturing excellence and the creative industries attract tourism, in the same way that tourism fosters exports. This goes for clothing, cheese and wine just as much as for cars, luxury hotels and the audiovisual sector. People in China who buy our high-quality products or watch films set in Europe will be encouraged to visit our continent.

2018 will also be the Year of EU-China Tourism, another opportunity we must not waste. The official launch, which I will have the pleasure of attending, will take place in Venice on 19 January 2018, in the presence of the Chinese Prime Minister. It is a prime example of cultural diplomacy and will generate growth and lead to closer cooperation with China.

The digital revolution – opportunities and challenges

The digital revolution is opening up unprecedented possibilities: three-dimensional virtual tours of museums and cathedrals; ‘journeys through time’ or ‘augmented reality experiences’ at archaeological sites; new kinds of online booking and shopping services; and the availability of audiovisual products on demand. By 2020, 20% of purchases of branded goods will be made online.

Political governance of this revolution is essential. Economic opportunities and new freedoms for consumers and firms must not be allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all, and they must not serve to legitimise the piracy which enables people to enrich themselves at the expense of those who create content.

The rules must be the same for all businesses, whether they operate online or offline. Digital platforms must not be above the law. Like other firms, they must be accountable, pay taxes, guarantee transparency and safeguard social rights, minors, security, consumers and intellectual property.

The market for pirated and counterfeit goods is continuing to grow, thanks in no small part to the web. Anyone who visits platforms in order to enjoy, free of charge, audiovisual content and artistic images, read the news or find information about hotels and restaurants is lining the pockets of the web giants. They are earning billions through advertising, the provision of intermediary services and the mining of personal data, and their coffers swell whenever people click on their pages in search of content created by others.

Those who once touted themselves as champions of freedom and innovation are now acting like the feudal lords who, in the Middle Ages, imposed tolls on anyone who used the roads they controlled from their castles.

The dominant positions which many platforms enjoy in the areas of commerce, bookings, the provision of news and online advertising – positions made possible by regulatory disparities – are suffocating SMIs and creativity.

Music rights holders receive more in royalties from bars with a few dozen customers than from the people who make their works available to millions of people on the internet. Amazon has sent small publishing houses to the wall. Google and Facebook use news reports and content to sell advertising, without offering the journalists concerned proper remuneration in return.

The web giants create very few jobs in Europe, and pay derisory amounts of tax, avoiding most of what would be an annual bill of roughly EUR 20 billion. In Italy, they pay just EUR 11.7 million.

The digital single market is the main driving force behind the cultural and creative industries. It makes it possible to disseminate content and branded products and to launch start-ups.

It is essential that this market safeguard the work done by product and fashion designers and creators of songs, TV series, films, articles and books. If we fail to protect creativity, investment will dwindle, with disastrous consequences for Europe’s competitiveness.

The most recent European legislation on copyright dates back to 2001, to a time before the web giants existed.

Commissioners Bieńkowska and Gabriel are working to complete the digital market, and Parliament is calling for measures to promote creativity and equal conditions for everyone.

Attracting investment

The cultural and creative industries face a series of obstacles which are stifling their potential. Access to finance, for example, especially for SMEs, remains a problem.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage will also be the year in which we discuss the next multiannual budget.

If we are to revitalise the Union and provide our citizens with answers, then we need a budget that reflects their priorities. Investment in education and culture must be increased.

Other sources of financing can be found, without asking the public to make further sacrifices, by collecting taxes from those who are currently not paying them – starting with web platforms.

At the same time, existing sources of funding need to be used more effectively. EU regional funds, in synergy with Horizon 2020, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the European Investment Bank, can be used to provide the guarantees needed to back projects in the fields of culture and creativity. This could contribute, for example, to the rediscovery, harnessing and digitisation of Europe’s cultural heritage – with a corresponding increase in visitor numbers and jobs.

It is also vital to invest more in skills and training. There is a shortage of museum managers, skilled chefs, digital experts, cultural mediators, designers and programmers, but also of the manual skills needed to produce high-end goods.

Conclusion

Awareness of our own identity is the foundation for a strong and open Europe, one which does not just accept diversity, but regards it as an asset. Being Italian means being European. We have no need for new barriers or borders or parochial nationalism.

Drawing on our deep-rooted faith in humankind, we rose out of the ashes of war and put the freedom and dignity of the individual at the centre of our European project.

Our identity is one born on the shores of the Mediterranean and it has been shaped by openness to exchanges of all kinds – of goods, of ideas and of culture. It has Judeo-Christian roots, and was forged in abbeys and universities, during the Humanist period, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage, of which the European Parliament has been a strong advocate, offers an opportunity to rediscover and promote that identity and bring the Union closer to its peoples.

Even more than our economy, culture is the glue which holds Europe together, and culture must be the starting point for our efforts to revitalise our Union.

Opening speech at the European Culture Forum, Milan – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament

(check against delivery)

I should like to thank Commissioner Tibor Navracsics for organising this Forum. It provides a rare opportunity to exchange views and compare experiences in relation to this vital sector.  

As an Italian, I am delighted that Milan should have been chosen to host the event marking the official start of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

We are in a city which has great symbolic significance, where the culture and creativity of the past nurture the living culture of the present.

The history of Milan mirrors that of our continent. For three millennia, it has been a trading centre, a melting pot of peoples, ideas and cultures. It stands at a crossroads: people and goods which have crossed the Alps, passed by the great lakes and travelled the northern Italian plain reach the Mediterranean from here. It is a bridge between North and South, between East and West.

Here, business, innovation and creativity have always been inseparable. Patrons, artists, entrepreneurs, artisans and scholars have been instrumental in ensuring that Milan has remained open at all times to the new, to the future.

Milan has always attracted talented people, one being Leonardo da Vinci, the man who embodied the very essence of the Renaissance, of genius, of versatility. He was a consummate artist, but also an experimenter and inventor, whose interests spanned architecture, science and engineering. He was an industrial designer before the concept even existed.

Milan Cathedral, and its Fabbrica, which has remained active down the centuries and which we will visit tomorrow with Commissioner Navracsics, is another symbol of unceasing dynamism.

This makes Milan one of the capitals of culture, of design, of fashion and of luxury goods. It is a model for the European way of life which is the envy of the whole world. Milan is living proof that history, creativity and innovation are vital to an internationally competitive and successful EU.

We are the continent with half of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Europe is still leading in several sectors of the cultural and creative industries. Wherever you go in the world, Europe is a synonym for style, know-how and beauty.

This is our leadership. A leadership which cannot be delocalised and which has to serve as our springboard for political and economic renewal.

Culture and creativity as factors for growth and job creation

Digitalisation, robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence are wreaking drastic changes in our working and private lives. We are in the throes of an industrial revolution in which the new jobs being created are not enough to offset those being lost by people who have been replaced by machines and technologies.

Recent research suggests that around half of all human activities could be replaced by automated processes. In France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, 54 million jobs will be at risk in the next few years alone.

The Union must steer this process of change, by investing more in training and by focusing on sectors in which manual labour and creativity will remain essential. I am thinking of tourism, design, the digitalisation of cultural sites, luxury goods and high-end craft products.

Cultural heritage and European creativity can be key factors in generating growth and jobs.

By adopting the Ehler-Morgano report on A coherent EU policy for the cultural and creative industries, the European Parliament issued a clear call to tap the potential of this sector.

The cultural and creative industries employ 12 million people, 7.5% of the EU workforce, and generate a turnover of EUR 509 billion. The sectors which draw most on intellectual property account for one-quarter of those jobs and one-third of that turnover.

Authors, artists and designers are the main sources of that creativity, which spills over massively into other sectors and contributes to the excellence of European products.

Let’s take luxury goods as an example: it is a market worth EUR 1000 billion in which Europe is the leader, accounting for 70% of production. 

Some 62% of the luxury goods manufactured in Europe are sold abroad and they make up 10% of the EU’s total exports.

Synergies between tourism and the cultural and creative industries

Synergies between the cultural and creative industries and tourism are another key engine for growth.

Already today, tourism accounts for 10% of EU GDP and 10% of jobs in the Union. Between now and 2030, the number of visitors to Europe will double, from 1 to 2 billion.

Europe can cater for the travel interests of this new emerging class, many of whom are Asians, by exploiting its historical heritage, its way of life and its creativity. The aim is to consolidate our leading position, by increasing the number of tourists who come to Europe from the current figure of 550 million to 700 million by 2020. Over the next 10 years, we can create up to 5 million jobs.

Manufacturing excellence and the creative industries attract tourism, in the same way that tourism fosters exports. This goes for clothing, cheese and wine just as much as for cars, luxury hotels and the audiovisual sector. People in China who buy our high-quality products or watch films set in Europe will be encouraged to visit our continent.

2018 will also be the Year of EU-China Tourism, another opportunity we must not waste. The official launch, which I will have the pleasure of attending, will take place in Venice on 19 January 2018, in the presence of the Chinese Prime Minister. It is a prime example of cultural diplomacy and will generate growth and lead to closer cooperation with China.

The digital revolution – opportunities and challenges

The digital revolution is opening up unprecedented possibilities: three-dimensional virtual tours of museums and cathedrals; ‘journeys through time’ or ‘augmented reality experiences’ at archaeological sites; new kinds of online booking and shopping services; and the availability of audiovisual products on demand. By 2020, 20% of purchases of branded goods will be made online.

Political governance of this revolution is essential. Economic opportunities and new freedoms for consumers and firms must not be allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all, and they must not serve to legitimise the piracy which enables people to enrich themselves at the expense of those who create content.

The rules must be the same for all businesses, whether they operate online or offline. Digital platforms must not be above the law. Like other firms, they must be accountable, pay taxes, guarantee transparency and safeguard social rights, minors, security, consumers and intellectual property.

The market for pirated and counterfeit goods is continuing to grow, thanks in no small part to the web. Anyone who visits platforms in order to enjoy, free of charge, audiovisual content and artistic images, read the news or find information about hotels and restaurants is lining the pockets of the web giants. They are earning billions through advertising, the provision of intermediary services and the mining of personal data, and their coffers swell whenever people click on their pages in search of content created by others.

Those who once touted themselves as champions of freedom and innovation are now acting like the feudal lords who, in the Middle Ages, imposed tolls on anyone who used the roads they controlled from their castles.

The dominant positions which many platforms enjoy in the areas of commerce, bookings, the provision of news and online advertising – positions made possible by regulatory disparities – are suffocating SMIs and creativity.

Music rights holders receive more in royalties from bars with a few dozen customers than from the people who make their works available to millions of people on the internet. Amazon has sent small publishing houses to the wall. Google and Facebook use news reports and content to sell advertising, without offering the journalists concerned proper remuneration in return.

The web giants create very few jobs in Europe, and pay derisory amounts of tax, avoiding most of what would be an annual bill of roughly EUR 20 billion. In Italy, they pay just EUR 11.7 million.

The digital single market is the main driving force behind the cultural and creative industries. It makes it possible to disseminate content and branded products and to launch start-ups.

It is essential that this market safeguard the work done by product and fashion designers and creators of songs, TV series, films, articles and books. If we fail to protect creativity, investment will dwindle, with disastrous consequences for Europe’s competitiveness.

The most recent European legislation on copyright dates back to 2001, to a time before the web giants existed.

Commissioners Bieńkowska and Gabriel are working to complete the digital market, and Parliament is calling for measures to promote creativity and equal conditions for everyone.

Attracting investment

The cultural and creative industries face a series of obstacles which are stifling their potential. Access to finance, for example, especially for SMEs, remains a problem.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage will also be the year in which we discuss the next multiannual budget.

If we are to revitalise the Union and provide our citizens with answers, then we need a budget that reflects their priorities. Investment in education and culture must be increased.

Other sources of financing can be found, without asking the public to make further sacrifices, by collecting taxes from those who are currently not paying them – starting with web platforms.

At the same time, existing sources of funding need to be used more effectively. EU regional funds, in synergy with Horizon 2020, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the European Investment Bank, can be used to provide the guarantees needed to back projects in the fields of culture and creativity. This could contribute, for example, to the rediscovery, harnessing and digitisation of Europe’s cultural heritage – with a corresponding increase in visitor numbers and jobs.

It is also vital to invest more in skills and training. There is a shortage of museum managers, skilled chefs, digital experts, cultural mediators, designers and programmers, but also of the manual skills needed to produce high-end goods.

Conclusion

Awareness of our own identity is the foundation for a strong and open Europe, one which does not just accept diversity, but regards it as an asset. Being Italian means being European. We have no need for new barriers or borders or parochial nationalism.

Drawing on our deep-rooted faith in humankind, we rose out of the ashes of war and put the freedom and dignity of the individual at the centre of our European project.

Our identity is one born on the shores of the Mediterranean and it has been shaped by openness to exchanges of all kinds – of goods, of ideas and of culture. It has Judeo-Christian roots, and was forged in abbeys and universities, during the Humanist period, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage, of which the European Parliament has been a strong advocate, offers an opportunity to rediscover and promote that identity and bring the Union closer to its peoples.

Even more than our economy, culture is the glue which holds Europe together, and culture must be the starting point for our efforts to revitalise our Union.