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Minutes – Monday, 20 November 2017 – PE 613.621v01-00 – Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

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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. 

Daily News 29 / 11 / 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Better rail connections in Sicily thanks to Cohesion policy investments

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

EU delivering on climate commitments through enhanced global partnerships

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Curaeos Holding by EQT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily News 15 / 11 / 2017

Migration: la Commission présentera les progrès réalisés en ce qui concerne l’agenda européen en matière de migration

En amont du Conseil Européen de décembre, la Commission européenne présentera aujourd’hui un rapport sur les progrès réalisés en ce qui concerne l’agenda européen en matière de migration. Le rapport rassemblera, pour la première fois, tous les volets de l’agenda, y compris les aspects internes et externes de la gestion de la migration, et identifiera les domaines dans lesquels une action concertée de l’UE, de ses États membres et de ses pays partenaires est encore nécessaire. Le commissaire Avramopoulos présentera le rapport lors d’une conférence de presse aujourd’hui à 16h30 CET, qui sera diffusée en direct sur EbS. Le matériel de presse sera disponible en ligne au début de la conférence de presse. (Pour plus d’informations: Natasha Bertaud – Tél.: +32 229 67456, Tove Ernst – Tél .: +32 229 86764, Catherine Ray – Tél .: +32 229 69921, Esther Osorio – Tél .: +32 229 62076)

Commission reports on progress in Bulgaria and Romania under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism

The European Commission issued today its latest reports on steps taken by Bulgaria and Romania to meet their commitments on judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria organised crime, in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) set up when the countries joined the European Union in 2007. Today’s reports looks concretely at the progress made to meet the recommendations issued by the Commission in its January 2017 CVM Reports. On Bulgaria, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “We have seen progress in many areas but there is still more work needed. Bulgaria has met or made progress on several of our recommendations, but not yet all. I count on the Bulgarian Government to implement all the planned reforms, and to avoid backtracking, so that we can move towards the goal of ending the CVM under this Commission’s mandate.” On Romania, Timmermans said: “We have seen progress in some areas but there is still more work to be done. Romania has met some of our recommendations, but there is not enough progress yet on others. I count on the Romanian Government to pursue the necessary reforms, and to avoid backtracking, so that we can work together towards the goal of ending the CVM under this Commission’s mandate.” The Commission’s last reports in January 2017 took stock of overall progress in the past ten years and identified 12 specific recommendations for Romania and 17 specific recommendations for Bulgaria, which would help them move towards fulfilment of all CVM benchmarks. The Commission will assess progress again towards the end of 2018. Press releases are available online on the reports for Bulgaria and Romania, and a Memo provides more information about the CVM process and the benchmarks and recommendations. The CVM Reports are available online here. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tim McPhie –Tel.: +32 229 58602)

The future of EU finances: Commissioner Creţu discusses Cohesion policy after 2020 in the Council

This morning, Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu discussed the future of EU funds with the ministers in charge of cohesion, on the basis of the 7th Cohesion Report. Commissioner Creţu said: “Cohesion policy should keep on investing in all EU regions and address the main challenges of our times; the fight against social exclusion and youth unemployment, migration, adaptation to globalisation and climate change. It should continue to support sustainable transport, health and digital infrastructure, small businesses and innovation, focusing on areas where the highest EU value added can be achieved.” On how Cohesion policy can best support structural reforms, Commissioner Creţu suggested that the process of fulfilling and assessing the preconditions to successful investments (so-called “ex-ante conditionalities“) should be reviewed. Incentives for reforms could be provided throughout the funding period and not only in the beginning. “We should also reflect on whether the European Semester annual cycle and the mid-term planning of Cohesion policy could be better linked,” the Commissioner added. Commissioner Creţu called for “a lighter, proportionate and tailor-made approach” to claiming EU payments for beneficiaries: “Real or simplified costs should not be the only options. Many countries support payments upon fulfilment of pre-agreed conditions.” Finally, the Commissioner suggested that similar projects financed under different EU funds should be treated the same way, for example as regards public procurement. The Commissioner’s speaking points are available here. A press conference with Commissioner Creţu and Mr Jaak Aab, Minister of public administration and political representative of the Estonian Presidency responsible for Cohesion policy, is organised in the Council’s Europa building at 13h CET and live on EbS. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Agriculture: €179 millions pour promouvoir les produits agro-alimentaires européens en 2018

Les producteurs européens disposeront d’un budget de €179 million en 2018 pour assurer la promotion des produits agricoles tant à l’extérieur qu’à l’intérieur de l’Union et continuer à trouver de nouveaux marchés. Le budget adopté aujourd’hui par la Commission co-financera des campagnes de promotion ciblant principalement des pays tiers à fort potentiel de croissance, notamment la Chine, le Japon, l’Asie du sud-est, le Mexique, la Colombie, le Canada.  Cette orientation s’inscrit dans la continuité du mouvement lancé au début de l’année par l’offensive diplomatique du commissaire Hogan visant à trouver de nouveaux débouchés et à soutenir la consommation des produits de l’Union à l’étranger. Au sein du territoire de l’Union, l’accent sera mis sur les labels de qualité existants: label bio, IGP, AOP, etc. Par ailleurs, une enveloppe spécifique sera destinée aux campagnes visant à promouvoir la consommation de fruits et légumes, d’une part pour encourager les citoyens européens dans des habitudes alimentaires saines, et d’autre part pour soutenir les producteurs européens de fruits et légumes. Un appel à propositions pour bénéficier du budget alloué à la promotion en 2018 sera lancé au plus tard au mois de janvier de l’année prochaine. Les organisations concernées pourront soumettre leurs projets. Plus d’informations en ligne. (Pour plus d’information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185;Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

 

Commission to amend Land Transport Agreement with Switzerland

The Commission has asked today the Council for a mandate to negotiate with Switzerland an amendment of the 1999 bilateral Land Transport Agreement. This amendment is necessary to allow Switzerland to participate in the European Union Agency for Railways, as foreseen by the Agency regulation. Switzerland applies rules equivalent to those in the EU in the areas of railway interoperability and railway safety, it fulfils the conditions for participation as a third country in the work of the Agency. Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc said: “Switzerland is an important partner for the EU, situated at the heart of the European rail network. Its participation in the work of the Agency European Union Agency for Railways would be mutually beneficial, particularly for railway safety and interoperability.” The mandate requested by the Commission is needed exclusively to negotiate the necessary amendment to the bilateral Land Transport Agreement. Following this action, the exact terms of Swiss participation in the Agency would be negotiated directly between the Agency and Switzerland. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

Bringing inland waterways to the forefront of efficient, digital and low-carbon transport

Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc is attending the Inland waterways and ports dialogue in Strasbourg today. The event gathers stakeholders and EU decision-makers to discuss a vision for inland waterways transport towards 2030. At this occasion Commissioner Bulc said: “European inland waterways and ports have united people and facilitated growth for centuries. Therefore I welcome the sector’s vision towards even more sustainability and innovation. It is high time to boost the potential for a digitally connected, low-carbon, and highly skilled inland navigation and port sector. A major step was achieved yesterday, with the adoption of the Directive on professional qualifications in inland waterways by the European Parliament. The Directive is now only pending the approval of the Council of the EU.” Inland waterway transport, that is, the use of rivers, canals and lakes for connecting people and trade, provide a reliable and environmentally-friendly transport option. The sector is small in relative terms, but with 140 billion tonne kilometres makes a considerable contribution to the EU’s transport system and the aim is to realise more multimodal integration. The EU seeks to make inland waterways a decarbonised, digital and innovative alternative, which provides efficient mobility throughout the EU. EU-supported projects in the sector do not only improve navigability, but also the ecological status and resilience against climate change.  This can be achieved for example by promoting smart, clean and modular barges, and multimodal inland ports, as well as by deploying alternative fuels. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

EU and China strengthen cooperation on education, culture, youth, gender equality and sport

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong met on 13-14 November 2017 on the occasion of the 4th EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue in Shanghai. The dialogue was launched in 2012 to build trust and understanding between the peoples of the EU and China. This year’s exchanges focused on culture, but education, gender equality, youth and, for the first time, sport were also discussed. Following the meeting, Commissioner Navracsics said: “EU and China increasingly share global responsibilities. We work together on complex issues, from fighting poverty and tackling climate change to boosting trade and security. We build on shared views but sometimes we need to bridge differences. Promoting mutual understanding and respect between our people and cultures is therefore today more important than ever if we want to succeed.” Over the past decade the EU and China have closely cooperated in the areas of education, training, culture, multilingualism and youth through sector-focused policy dialogues. In 2012, the European Commission and China decided to integrate these sectoral activities under the High Level People-to-People Dialogue, which complements the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue and High Level Strategic Dialogue. The full press release in EN/FR/DE is available online. (For more information:Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

EU and ASEAN step up their cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) are marking a milestone in their 40 years of bilateral relations, as they are holding their first high level dialogue on Sustainable Development on 17 November in Bangkok. More specifically, the two regions aim to promote green growth, address the challenges posed by climate change and empower women and girls as key drivers of change. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, who is representing the EU at the high level dialogue, said: “The EU and ASEAN are two of the most advanced examples of regional integration. We are therefore natural partners for promoting Sustainable Development, and our cooperation is growing: we are launching today three new ASEAN-EU flagship programmes for a total of EUR 85 million.” The new programmes will further strengthen EU-ASEAN cooperation and support the ASEAN states’ efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change. Recognising that empowering women is a key component for sustainable development, the project launched today under the Spotlight Initiativewill empower women migrant workers in the ASEAN region. Secondly, the EU will support policy dialogue, which will facilitate experience sharing among policy makers, experts and civil society across all sectors from trade and economic development, to social, environmental and security affairs, bringing the ASEAN region and the EU closer together. Thirdly, the EU also promotes sustainable trade and economic integration in line with the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025. The EU has significantly stepped up its support to the ASEAN region, having doubled it to over EUR 170 million for 2014 to 2020. This is in addition to EUR 2 billion already provided to ASEAN Member States at the national level.(For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Irish credit union resolution scheme

The European Commission has found the prolongation of an Irish scheme for the orderly winding-up of credit unions to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular with the 2013 Banking Communication (see also MEMO). The objective of the scheme is to safeguard financial stability when a credit union becomes unable to meet regulatory requirements. It allows Ireland to provide aid for transferring the assets and liabilities of a failing credit union to an acquirer through a competitive process. This will help to achieve the maximum value for the assets and liabilities, ensuring that the aid is limited to the minimum necessary for an orderly winding-up, and that no buyer gains an undue economic advantage through the acquisition of under-priced assets and liabilities. The scheme is valid until 31 May 2018. The Commission initially approved the scheme in December 2011. It has been prolonged several times since then, the last time in July 2017. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.49274. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740).

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Axion by BP and Bridas

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Axion Energy Holding S.L. of Spain by BP p.l.c. of the UK and Bridas Corporation of the British Virgin Islands.  Axion is active in the refining of crude oil and the sale of petroleum products and its derivatives in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It is currently solely controlled by Bridas. BP is active in crude oil and natural gas exploration and production as well as in the refining, supply and transportation of petroleum and related products, along with alternative energies. Bridas is a holding company with indirect activities in exploration, development, production and transportation of crude oil and natural gas, in power generation, and the sale of fuels, lubricants and associated products. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because Axion has negligible activities within the European Economic Area. 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.8671. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740).

Eurostat: Septembre 2017, excédent de 26,4 milliards d’euros du commerce international de biens de la zone euro, excédent de 3,1 mrds d’euros pour l’UE28

D’après les premières estimations pour le mois de septembre 2017, les exportations de biens de la zone euro (ZE19) vers le reste du monde se sont établies à 187,1 milliards d’euros, en hausse de 5,6% par rapport à septembre 2016 (177,2 mrds). Les importations depuis le reste du monde ont quant à elles été de 160,7 mrds d’euros, en hausse de 5,1% par rapport à septembre 2016 (152,9 mrds). En conséquence, la zone euro a enregistré en septembre 2017 un excédent de 26,4 mrds d’euros de son commerce international de biens avec le reste du monde, contre +24,3 mrds en septembre 2016. Le commerce intra-zone euro s’est établi à 157,6 mrds d’euros en septembre 2017, soit +4,9% par rapport à septembre 2016. Un communiqué de presse Eurostat est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel.: +32 229 51383)

STATEMENTS

European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2017 – Statement by Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

Today we mark the 10th anniversary of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, by raising awareness once more about the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – one of the biggest threats to global health. With 25 000 deaths per year and €1.5 billion in healthcare costs and productivity losses in the EU, a robust communication effort is needed more than ever. But raising awareness is not enough, we need action that bridges differences and raises the level of all Member States to that of the highest performer. With increasing resistance even to last-resort antibiotics such as Colistin, we face a frightening “post-antibiotic” future where we could lose the ability to perform any major surgery, organ transplant or successfully implant devices like new hips or heart valves. By 2050, AMR could potentially kill one person every three seconds and become a more common cause of death than cancer. It is precisely to avoid this unthinkable future that on 29 June we presented a new One Health action plan against AMR, building on nearly two decades of EU action in both the human health and veterinary health sectors, taking account of the lessons learnt from the previous EU actions. It stresses that we need to tackle antimicrobial use in people and animals simultaneously, while better addressing the role of AMR in the environment. It stresses that the EU should play a leading role in the fight against AMR and should add value to Member States’ actions. The goal of the new Action Plan is to preserve our ability to effectively treat infections in humans and animals. The key objectives are: ‘Making the EU a best practice region’; ‘Boosting research and innovation’; and ‘Shaping the global agenda’. The Statement is available online. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Lucia Caudet +32 229 56182 Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


ANNOUNCEMENTS

Commissioner Jourová participates in the first G7 Ministerial on gender equality in Taormina, Italy

Today and tomorrow, Commissioner Jourová is representing the European Union at the G7 Ministerial meeting on gender equality, held in Taormina, Italy. This is the first ever G7 Ministerial dedicated to the topic of gender equality. Ministers from the G7 countries will discuss the implementation of the G7 Roadmap for a Gender Responsive Economic Environment, adopted by G7 Leaders at the Summit held last May. Commissioner Jourová said ahead of the meeting: “This first G7 ministerial on gender equality is an important statement to the world. The #MeToo campaign reminded us that violence and sexual harassment is not a problem limited to one country or one region, or just to some women. Also in all G7 countries, women continue to earn less than men. We need to fight the persisting gender inequalities together at international level. We want women to be able to participate fully in order for our economies and societies to thrive.” The Commissioner will attend a working lunch on Women’s economic and political empowerment and then take part in a working session on preventing and combating gender-based violence. On Thursday, the participants will adopt a Final Declaration calling on all G7 countries to adopt national Action Plans on combatting gender-based violence. Commissioner Jourová will also participate in the press conference at 13:30. The European Commission dedicated 2017 to fighting violence against women; it will dedicate its annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights on 20-21 November to “Women’s rights in turbulent times”, and present an Action Plan to tackle the gender pay gap on 20 November. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

Commissioner Andriukaitis attends World Health Organisation Ministerial Conference on Tuberculosis in Moscow

On 16-17 November, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, is in Moscow participating in the first World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Ministerial Conference “Ending Tuberculosis in the Sustainable Development Era: a Multisectoral Response”. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Andriukaitis said: “Tuberculosis is the world deadliest infectious disease. The time has come to join forces and strengthen our efforts – across borders, across sectors, across organisations – to eradicate this disease. I am looking forward to work together with colleagues form WHO,  OIE, the global fund , UNICEF, OECD and the World Bank towards this goal”. Later on Thursday, he will hold a bilateral meeting with the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. On Friday, the Commissioner will attend the ministerial parallel panel on research and innovation. In the margins of the Conference, bilateralmeetings with the Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation, Ms Veronika Skvortsova, and the Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Mr Alexander Tkachev are also foreseen. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Forum sur la qualité de l’air, Paris: l’UE continue de lutter contre la pollution atmosphérique, en mettant l’accent sur le rôle des villes

Du 16 au 17 novembre, la Commission organise le Forum sur la qualité de l’air à Paris. Représentée par le Commissaire à l’environnement Karmenu Vella et le commissaire aux affaires économiques et financières, à la fiscalité et aux douanes Pierre Moscovici, la Commission invitera des décideurs et des acteurs-clés du secteur pour échanger et activer la mise en œuvre des politiques européennes, nationales et locales sur la qualité de l’air. Le Forum vise à catalyser les énergies et renforcer les efforts de la Commission, à travers tous les secteurs économiques et les niveaux décisionnels, pour un air plus pur pour les citoyens. Cela fait suite à l’adoption du paquet sur la Mobilité Propre la semaine dernière, tandis que l’UE se montre à la pointe du combat pour une meilleure qualité de l’air et pour faire avancer l’Accord de Paris à Bonn à la COP23. Le forum se concentrera sur trois domaines: la qualité de l’air dans les villes; l’agriculture et la qualité de l’air; et des nouvelles opportunités pour les entreprises dans le domaine de la qualité de l’air. Parmi les conférenciers figureront la maire de Paris, Anne Hidalgo et l’adjointe au maire de Londres, Shirley Rodrigues, qui présenteront la façon dont leurs villes luttent contre la pollution atmosphérique. Plus d’informations ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Enrico Brivio – Tél .: + 32 229 56172, Iris Petsa – Tél .: +32 229 93321)

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

Daily News 15 / 11 / 2017

Migration: la Commission présentera les progrès réalisés en ce qui concerne l’agenda européen en matière de migration

En amont du Conseil Européen de décembre, la Commission européenne présentera aujourd’hui un rapport sur les progrès réalisés en ce qui concerne l’agenda européen en matière de migration. Le rapport rassemblera, pour la première fois, tous les volets de l’agenda, y compris les aspects internes et externes de la gestion de la migration, et identifiera les domaines dans lesquels une action concertée de l’UE, de ses États membres et de ses pays partenaires est encore nécessaire. Le commissaire Avramopoulos présentera le rapport lors d’une conférence de presse aujourd’hui à 16h30 CET, qui sera diffusée en direct sur EbS. Le matériel de presse sera disponible en ligne au début de la conférence de presse. (Pour plus d’informations: Natasha Bertaud – Tél.: +32 229 67456, Tove Ernst – Tél .: +32 229 86764, Catherine Ray – Tél .: +32 229 69921, Esther Osorio – Tél .: +32 229 62076)

Commission reports on progress in Bulgaria and Romania under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism

The European Commission issued today its latest reports on steps taken by Bulgaria and Romania to meet their commitments on judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria organised crime, in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) set up when the countries joined the European Union in 2007. Today’s reports looks concretely at the progress made to meet the recommendations issued by the Commission in its January 2017 CVM Reports. On Bulgaria, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “We have seen progress in many areas but there is still more work needed. Bulgaria has met or made progress on several of our recommendations, but not yet all. I count on the Bulgarian Government to implement all the planned reforms, and to avoid backtracking, so that we can move towards the goal of ending the CVM under this Commission’s mandate.” On Romania, Timmermans said: “We have seen progress in some areas but there is still more work to be done. Romania has met some of our recommendations, but there is not enough progress yet on others. I count on the Romanian Government to pursue the necessary reforms, and to avoid backtracking, so that we can work together towards the goal of ending the CVM under this Commission’s mandate.” The Commission’s last reports in January 2017 took stock of overall progress in the past ten years and identified 12 specific recommendations for Romania and 17 specific recommendations for Bulgaria, which would help them move towards fulfilment of all CVM benchmarks. The Commission will assess progress again towards the end of 2018. Press releases are available online on the reports for Bulgaria and Romania, and a Memo provides more information about the CVM process and the benchmarks and recommendations. The CVM Reports are available online here. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tim McPhie –Tel.: +32 229 58602)

The future of EU finances: Commissioner Creţu discusses Cohesion policy after 2020 in the Council

This morning, Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu discussed the future of EU funds with the ministers in charge of cohesion, on the basis of the 7th Cohesion Report. Commissioner Creţu said: “Cohesion policy should keep on investing in all EU regions and address the main challenges of our times; the fight against social exclusion and youth unemployment, migration, adaptation to globalisation and climate change. It should continue to support sustainable transport, health and digital infrastructure, small businesses and innovation, focusing on areas where the highest EU value added can be achieved.” On how Cohesion policy can best support structural reforms, Commissioner Creţu suggested that the process of fulfilling and assessing the preconditions to successful investments (so-called “ex-ante conditionalities“) should be reviewed. Incentives for reforms could be provided throughout the funding period and not only in the beginning. “We should also reflect on whether the European Semester annual cycle and the mid-term planning of Cohesion policy could be better linked,” the Commissioner added. Commissioner Creţu called for “a lighter, proportionate and tailor-made approach” to claiming EU payments for beneficiaries: “Real or simplified costs should not be the only options. Many countries support payments upon fulfilment of pre-agreed conditions.” Finally, the Commissioner suggested that similar projects financed under different EU funds should be treated the same way, for example as regards public procurement. The Commissioner’s speaking points are available here. A press conference with Commissioner Creţu and Mr Jaak Aab, Minister of public administration and political representative of the Estonian Presidency responsible for Cohesion policy, is organised in the Council’s Europa building at 13h CET and live on EbS. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Agriculture: €179 millions pour promouvoir les produits agro-alimentaires européens en 2018

Les producteurs européens disposeront d’un budget de €179 million en 2018 pour assurer la promotion des produits agricoles tant à l’extérieur qu’à l’intérieur de l’Union et continuer à trouver de nouveaux marchés. Le budget adopté aujourd’hui par la Commission co-financera des campagnes de promotion ciblant principalement des pays tiers à fort potentiel de croissance, notamment la Chine, le Japon, l’Asie du sud-est, le Mexique, la Colombie, le Canada.  Cette orientation s’inscrit dans la continuité du mouvement lancé au début de l’année par l’offensive diplomatique du commissaire Hogan visant à trouver de nouveaux débouchés et à soutenir la consommation des produits de l’Union à l’étranger. Au sein du territoire de l’Union, l’accent sera mis sur les labels de qualité existants: label bio, IGP, AOP, etc. Par ailleurs, une enveloppe spécifique sera destinée aux campagnes visant à promouvoir la consommation de fruits et légumes, d’une part pour encourager les citoyens européens dans des habitudes alimentaires saines, et d’autre part pour soutenir les producteurs européens de fruits et légumes. Un appel à propositions pour bénéficier du budget alloué à la promotion en 2018 sera lancé au plus tard au mois de janvier de l’année prochaine. Les organisations concernées pourront soumettre leurs projets. Plus d’informations en ligne. (Pour plus d’information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185;Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

 

Commission to amend Land Transport Agreement with Switzerland

The Commission has asked today the Council for a mandate to negotiate with Switzerland an amendment of the 1999 bilateral Land Transport Agreement. This amendment is necessary to allow Switzerland to participate in the European Union Agency for Railways, as foreseen by the Agency regulation. Switzerland applies rules equivalent to those in the EU in the areas of railway interoperability and railway safety, it fulfils the conditions for participation as a third country in the work of the Agency. Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc said: “Switzerland is an important partner for the EU, situated at the heart of the European rail network. Its participation in the work of the Agency European Union Agency for Railways would be mutually beneficial, particularly for railway safety and interoperability.” The mandate requested by the Commission is needed exclusively to negotiate the necessary amendment to the bilateral Land Transport Agreement. Following this action, the exact terms of Swiss participation in the Agency would be negotiated directly between the Agency and Switzerland. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

Bringing inland waterways to the forefront of efficient, digital and low-carbon transport

Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc is attending the Inland waterways and ports dialogue in Strasbourg today. The event gathers stakeholders and EU decision-makers to discuss a vision for inland waterways transport towards 2030. At this occasion Commissioner Bulc said: “European inland waterways and ports have united people and facilitated growth for centuries. Therefore I welcome the sector’s vision towards even more sustainability and innovation. It is high time to boost the potential for a digitally connected, low-carbon, and highly skilled inland navigation and port sector. A major step was achieved yesterday, with the adoption of the Directive on professional qualifications in inland waterways by the European Parliament. The Directive is now only pending the approval of the Council of the EU.” Inland waterway transport, that is, the use of rivers, canals and lakes for connecting people and trade, provide a reliable and environmentally-friendly transport option. The sector is small in relative terms, but with 140 billion tonne kilometres makes a considerable contribution to the EU’s transport system and the aim is to realise more multimodal integration. The EU seeks to make inland waterways a decarbonised, digital and innovative alternative, which provides efficient mobility throughout the EU. EU-supported projects in the sector do not only improve navigability, but also the ecological status and resilience against climate change.  This can be achieved for example by promoting smart, clean and modular barges, and multimodal inland ports, as well as by deploying alternative fuels. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

EU and China strengthen cooperation on education, culture, youth, gender equality and sport

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong met on 13-14 November 2017 on the occasion of the 4th EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue in Shanghai. The dialogue was launched in 2012 to build trust and understanding between the peoples of the EU and China. This year’s exchanges focused on culture, but education, gender equality, youth and, for the first time, sport were also discussed. Following the meeting, Commissioner Navracsics said: “EU and China increasingly share global responsibilities. We work together on complex issues, from fighting poverty and tackling climate change to boosting trade and security. We build on shared views but sometimes we need to bridge differences. Promoting mutual understanding and respect between our people and cultures is therefore today more important than ever if we want to succeed.” Over the past decade the EU and China have closely cooperated in the areas of education, training, culture, multilingualism and youth through sector-focused policy dialogues. In 2012, the European Commission and China decided to integrate these sectoral activities under the High Level People-to-People Dialogue, which complements the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue and High Level Strategic Dialogue. The full press release in EN/FR/DE is available online. (For more information:Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

EU and ASEAN step up their cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) are marking a milestone in their 40 years of bilateral relations, as they are holding their first high level dialogue on Sustainable Development on 17 November in Bangkok. More specifically, the two regions aim to promote green growth, address the challenges posed by climate change and empower women and girls as key drivers of change. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, who is representing the EU at the high level dialogue, said: “The EU and ASEAN are two of the most advanced examples of regional integration. We are therefore natural partners for promoting Sustainable Development, and our cooperation is growing: we are launching today three new ASEAN-EU flagship programmes for a total of EUR 85 million.” The new programmes will further strengthen EU-ASEAN cooperation and support the ASEAN states’ efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change. Recognising that empowering women is a key component for sustainable development, the project launched today under the Spotlight Initiativewill empower women migrant workers in the ASEAN region. Secondly, the EU will support policy dialogue, which will facilitate experience sharing among policy makers, experts and civil society across all sectors from trade and economic development, to social, environmental and security affairs, bringing the ASEAN region and the EU closer together. Thirdly, the EU also promotes sustainable trade and economic integration in line with the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025. The EU has significantly stepped up its support to the ASEAN region, having doubled it to over EUR 170 million for 2014 to 2020. This is in addition to EUR 2 billion already provided to ASEAN Member States at the national level.(For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Irish credit union resolution scheme

The European Commission has found the prolongation of an Irish scheme for the orderly winding-up of credit unions to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular with the 2013 Banking Communication (see also MEMO). The objective of the scheme is to safeguard financial stability when a credit union becomes unable to meet regulatory requirements. It allows Ireland to provide aid for transferring the assets and liabilities of a failing credit union to an acquirer through a competitive process. This will help to achieve the maximum value for the assets and liabilities, ensuring that the aid is limited to the minimum necessary for an orderly winding-up, and that no buyer gains an undue economic advantage through the acquisition of under-priced assets and liabilities. The scheme is valid until 31 May 2018. The Commission initially approved the scheme in December 2011. It has been prolonged several times since then, the last time in July 2017. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.49274. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740).

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Axion by BP and Bridas

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Axion Energy Holding S.L. of Spain by BP p.l.c. of the UK and Bridas Corporation of the British Virgin Islands.  Axion is active in the refining of crude oil and the sale of petroleum products and its derivatives in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It is currently solely controlled by Bridas. BP is active in crude oil and natural gas exploration and production as well as in the refining, supply and transportation of petroleum and related products, along with alternative energies. Bridas is a holding company with indirect activities in exploration, development, production and transportation of crude oil and natural gas, in power generation, and the sale of fuels, lubricants and associated products. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because Axion has negligible activities within the European Economic Area. 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.8671. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740).

Eurostat: Septembre 2017, excédent de 26,4 milliards d’euros du commerce international de biens de la zone euro, excédent de 3,1 mrds d’euros pour l’UE28

D’après les premières estimations pour le mois de septembre 2017, les exportations de biens de la zone euro (ZE19) vers le reste du monde se sont établies à 187,1 milliards d’euros, en hausse de 5,6% par rapport à septembre 2016 (177,2 mrds). Les importations depuis le reste du monde ont quant à elles été de 160,7 mrds d’euros, en hausse de 5,1% par rapport à septembre 2016 (152,9 mrds). En conséquence, la zone euro a enregistré en septembre 2017 un excédent de 26,4 mrds d’euros de son commerce international de biens avec le reste du monde, contre +24,3 mrds en septembre 2016. Le commerce intra-zone euro s’est établi à 157,6 mrds d’euros en septembre 2017, soit +4,9% par rapport à septembre 2016. Un communiqué de presse Eurostat est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel.: +32 229 51383)

STATEMENTS

European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2017 – Statement by Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

Today we mark the 10th anniversary of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, by raising awareness once more about the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – one of the biggest threats to global health. With 25 000 deaths per year and €1.5 billion in healthcare costs and productivity losses in the EU, a robust communication effort is needed more than ever. But raising awareness is not enough, we need action that bridges differences and raises the level of all Member States to that of the highest performer. With increasing resistance even to last-resort antibiotics such as Colistin, we face a frightening “post-antibiotic” future where we could lose the ability to perform any major surgery, organ transplant or successfully implant devices like new hips or heart valves. By 2050, AMR could potentially kill one person every three seconds and become a more common cause of death than cancer. It is precisely to avoid this unthinkable future that on 29 June we presented a new One Health action plan against AMR, building on nearly two decades of EU action in both the human health and veterinary health sectors, taking account of the lessons learnt from the previous EU actions. It stresses that we need to tackle antimicrobial use in people and animals simultaneously, while better addressing the role of AMR in the environment. It stresses that the EU should play a leading role in the fight against AMR and should add value to Member States’ actions. The goal of the new Action Plan is to preserve our ability to effectively treat infections in humans and animals. The key objectives are: ‘Making the EU a best practice region’; ‘Boosting research and innovation’; and ‘Shaping the global agenda’. The Statement is available online. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Lucia Caudet +32 229 56182 Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


ANNOUNCEMENTS

Commissioner Jourová participates in the first G7 Ministerial on gender equality in Taormina, Italy

Today and tomorrow, Commissioner Jourová is representing the European Union at the G7 Ministerial meeting on gender equality, held in Taormina, Italy. This is the first ever G7 Ministerial dedicated to the topic of gender equality. Ministers from the G7 countries will discuss the implementation of the G7 Roadmap for a Gender Responsive Economic Environment, adopted by G7 Leaders at the Summit held last May. Commissioner Jourová said ahead of the meeting: “This first G7 ministerial on gender equality is an important statement to the world. The #MeToo campaign reminded us that violence and sexual harassment is not a problem limited to one country or one region, or just to some women. Also in all G7 countries, women continue to earn less than men. We need to fight the persisting gender inequalities together at international level. We want women to be able to participate fully in order for our economies and societies to thrive.” The Commissioner will attend a working lunch on Women’s economic and political empowerment and then take part in a working session on preventing and combating gender-based violence. On Thursday, the participants will adopt a Final Declaration calling on all G7 countries to adopt national Action Plans on combatting gender-based violence. Commissioner Jourová will also participate in the press conference at 13:30. The European Commission dedicated 2017 to fighting violence against women; it will dedicate its annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights on 20-21 November to “Women’s rights in turbulent times”, and present an Action Plan to tackle the gender pay gap on 20 November. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

Commissioner Andriukaitis attends World Health Organisation Ministerial Conference on Tuberculosis in Moscow

On 16-17 November, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, is in Moscow participating in the first World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Ministerial Conference “Ending Tuberculosis in the Sustainable Development Era: a Multisectoral Response”. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Andriukaitis said: “Tuberculosis is the world deadliest infectious disease. The time has come to join forces and strengthen our efforts – across borders, across sectors, across organisations – to eradicate this disease. I am looking forward to work together with colleagues form WHO,  OIE, the global fund , UNICEF, OECD and the World Bank towards this goal”. Later on Thursday, he will hold a bilateral meeting with the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. On Friday, the Commissioner will attend the ministerial parallel panel on research and innovation. In the margins of the Conference, bilateralmeetings with the Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation, Ms Veronika Skvortsova, and the Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Mr Alexander Tkachev are also foreseen. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Forum sur la qualité de l’air, Paris: l’UE continue de lutter contre la pollution atmosphérique, en mettant l’accent sur le rôle des villes

Du 16 au 17 novembre, la Commission organise le Forum sur la qualité de l’air à Paris. Représentée par le Commissaire à l’environnement Karmenu Vella et le commissaire aux affaires économiques et financières, à la fiscalité et aux douanes Pierre Moscovici, la Commission invitera des décideurs et des acteurs-clés du secteur pour échanger et activer la mise en œuvre des politiques européennes, nationales et locales sur la qualité de l’air. Le Forum vise à catalyser les énergies et renforcer les efforts de la Commission, à travers tous les secteurs économiques et les niveaux décisionnels, pour un air plus pur pour les citoyens. Cela fait suite à l’adoption du paquet sur la Mobilité Propre la semaine dernière, tandis que l’UE se montre à la pointe du combat pour une meilleure qualité de l’air et pour faire avancer l’Accord de Paris à Bonn à la COP23. Le forum se concentrera sur trois domaines: la qualité de l’air dans les villes; l’agriculture et la qualité de l’air; et des nouvelles opportunités pour les entreprises dans le domaine de la qualité de l’air. Parmi les conférenciers figureront la maire de Paris, Anne Hidalgo et l’adjointe au maire de Londres, Shirley Rodrigues, qui présenteront la façon dont leurs villes luttent contre la pollution atmosphérique. Plus d’informations ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Enrico Brivio – Tél .: + 32 229 56172, Iris Petsa – Tél .: +32 229 93321)

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