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Daily News – 08.04.2014

EXME 14 / 08.04


08 / 04 / 14

European Commission to propose tough new standards to regulate civil drones

The European Commission has proposed today to set tough new standards to regulate the operations of civil drones (remotely piloted aircrafts, RPAS). Drones are already being used in Europe in different sectors, but there are no clear general rules, at national or at European level, which put in place the necessary safeguards to protect the safety, security and privacy of citizens. The new standards to be proposed by the Commission will cover safety, security, privacy, data protection, insurance and liability. This policy framework will concern civil rules and commercial operations. For more information please see MEMO/14/259 .

President Barroso and Commissioner Andor opened Youth Guarantee conference

President Barroso has today called on Member States to quickly establish youth guarantees to tackle the "alarming" level of youth unemployment in Europe. He urged Member States to draw on the support and funding available at EU level, including the €6 billion Youth Employment Initiative. "There is an urgent need to ensure that sufficient funding, and in this context European funding, is in place as soon as possible to support the Youth Guarantee roll-out," President Barroso said. "It is now high time we delivered on the ground and achieved concrete results."

At a "Youth Guarantee: Making it Happen" conference hosted by the European Commission today in Brussels, President Barroso and Commissioner Andor gathered national and international organisations to discuss progress in tackling youth unemployment through the Youth Guarantee . The conference will also look at how EU countries are implementing the schemes, as recommended by the Commission.

Opening the conference, President Barroso added: "The need for a comprehensive strategy supporting the move from school to work is a novel requirement for most Member States. The point is that the Youth Guarantee needs to be a comprehensive scheme that reaches all unemployed or inactive young people, even those who are hardest to help."

Commissioner Andor said "The Youth Guarantee is not business as usual. It’s an ambitious and innovative policy for youth employment targeting a clear result: that every young person gets a good labour market opportunity within 4 months. This requires investment and many structural changes in how young people are supported in moving from school to work. We cannot expect all young people's job prospects to improve from one day to the next. But we do expect all Member States to promptly implement the Youth Guarantee to give everyone a real chance."

The conference, also attended by Director General of the International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder, is taking place at the Management Centre Europe, in Brussels, and is open to the press.

Read President Barroso’s full speech online.

EU challenges Russia in the WTO over pork import ban

The EU today launched a case in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the Russian ban on imports of pigs, fresh pork and certain pig products from the EU.

Russia closed its market to the EU – cutting off almost 25% of all EU exports – at the end of January 2014. It based its decision on four isolated cases of African swine fever (ASF) detected in wild boar at the Lithuanian and Polish borders with Belarus.

This trade ban has exposed the EU farming sector to significant losses. Bilateral discussions with Moscow have not brought any results thus far. Given that there seems to be no solution forthcoming, the EU has decided to resort to the WTO's dispute settlement procedures by requesting formal consultations with Russia.

Commissioner Oettinger chairs two meetings in the field of energy

Commissioner Oettinger chairs two meetings today in Brussels in the field of energy: The official Gas Coordination Group (it is made up amongst others by representatives from national authorities and EU bodies like the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators) and the Roundtable on Security of Supply with the gas industry. The meetings have been convened against the background of the March European Council, where the Commission committed to conduct an in-depth study of EU energy security and to present by June 2014 a comprehensive plan for the reduction of EU energy dependence. Given Ukraine's role as a transit country for EU gas supply, a delegation from Ukraine led by Energy Minister Prodan participates in the Roundtable on Security of Supply with the gas industry.

Other news

Data retention directive: Commissioner Malmström's statement on today's Court judgment

"The judgment of the Court brings clarity and confirms the critical conclusions in terms of proportionality of the Commission's evaluation report of 2011 on the implementation of the data retention directive. The European Commission will now carefully asses the verdict and its impacts. The Commission will take its work forward in light of progress made in relation to the revision of the e-Privacy directive and taking into account the negotiations on the data protection framework," said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.

For more information please also refer to MEMO/14/269 .

Court of Justice upholds independence of data protection authorities in case against Hungary

In a case brought by the European Commission, the European Court of Justice has today ruled that the abrupt termination the Hungarian Data Protection Commissioner’s term in office by the government constitutes an infringement of the independence of the Hungarian Data Protection Authority and is hence in breach of EU law. Commenting on the ruling, Vice-President Reding, said: "The Court's judgment confirms the Commission's legal analysis: Hungary's decision to cut short the Data Protection Commissioner’s term was against EU law. The independence of national data protection authorities is the very cornerstone of guaranteeing effective data protection rights for our citizens. Lack of independence means lack of effective supervision and oversight, and a lowering of the level of data protection."  It is now for Hungary to inform the Commission of the steps it intends to take to remedy the situation.

A smooth euro changeover in Latvia

The European Commission today adopted a report on the introduction of the euro in Latvia. The report presents the most important aspects of the smooth and successful changeover and draws some conclusions for future changeovers in other Member States. In particular, it shows that preventing abusive practices regarding pricing was a key element of the changeover’s success. According to the recent Flash Eurobarometer survey, a large majority of Latvians (79 %) perceived the changeover as smooth and efficient.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Eurosport by Discovery

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Eurosport of France, by Discovery of the United States.  Discovery is a global media entertainment company. Eurosport is a European sports television channel provider. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties only have moderate market shares on the markets for the acquisition of TV rights, wholesale TV channels and TV advertising, where their activities overlap. 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.7170 .  

Environment: European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme – 2014 award winners announced

The European Commission announced the winners of this year's European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme Awards in Hannover, Germany, last night. This year's winners, selected from 29 entries, are VAS. & EK. KOTTARIDI G.P. (Greece), HR Björkmans Entrémattor AB (Sweden), Sächsische Bildungsgesellschaft Dresden mbH and Umweltbundesamt (Germany), Voestalpine VAE + Weichensysteme + HYTRONICS GmbH (Austria), Aeropuerto de Menorca Aena-Aeropuertos S.A. (Spain). The winners all apply innovative solutions as a way of improving their environmental performance, demonstrating how important innovation is in the transition towards a circular and resource-efficient economy.  Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "It is a real pleasure to see the levels of creativity, excellence and engagement shown by the entries for the EMAS Awards 2014. Eco-innovation not only brings environmental benefits, but also makes sound business sense. So I am proud to congratulate all the EMAS Award winners for their outstanding achievements. Keep up the great work!"

First inter-institutional exchange of views with OLAF takes place

Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for anti-fraud, is today taking part in the first formal exchange of views between the Commission, Council, European Parliament and OLAF. Representatives of the OLAF Supervisory Committee are also participating in the meeting. This inter-institutional exchange of views is foreseen in the new OLAF Regulation (see MEMO/13/651). The aim is to facilitate closer cooperation and better information exchange on strategic matters between all parties, at political level, in order to ensure the best possible protection of the EU’s financial interests. The inter-institutional dialogue does not, however, open the way for any interference in OLAF's independent investigations under way. At today's meeting, participants will for example discuss OLAF's investigative policy priorities, and the new working arrangements agreed between OLAF and its Supervisory Committee.

Innocent until proven guilty: 'Yes', says European Parliament committee

The European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) backed the European Commission's proposal to guarantee respect for the presumption of innocence ( IP/13/1157 , MEMO/13/1046). The Committee voted by 13 in favour of an opinion backing the proposal (to 0 votes against and 0 abstentions). Welcoming the vote, Vice-President Viviane Reding said: "Today's vote paves the way towards putting in place a series of procedural rights which will apply to all citizens who are caught in criminal proceedings, throughout the European Union. We are building a true European area of justice. This proposal will make sure that the core principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is made effective across the EU." The proposal aims to guarantee respect for the presumption of innocence of all citizens suspected or accused by police and judicial authorities, and the right to be present at trial.

Building a Better Europe for consumers

The European Union’s Consumer Agenda is a strategy which takes consumer policy to the heart of the EU agenda. In a report on its implementation published yesterday the European Commission shows the progress made in 4 areas: improving consumer safety (RAPEX and Product Safety Package) increasing people's awareness about their rights as consumers (Consumer Classroom and proactive European Consumer Centres), improved enforcement of existing rules (sweeps, Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Regulation on On-line Dispute Resolution), the adoption of new laws to safeguard the consumer interest across policy areas (e.g. telecoms, energy, transport). The report also identifies pressing consumer issues which need to be addressed in the years to come. Issues such as the difficult economic situation of many households; the need for more effective enforcement; the digitalisation of our daily lives or the need to allow Member States with a weaker consumer culture to catch up.

Reducing the global impact of disasters: the European Commission sets out its priorities

The European Commission has adopted a communication on The Post 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action: Managing Risks to achieve Resilience.

This lays the ground for a common EU position at the upcoming international negotiations on reducing the impact of disasters. The objective is to forge a new global framework for disaster risk reduction - the so-called post 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action.

The Commission is acting in response to a significant increase in the frequency and intensity of disasters. In the EU alone, natural disasters have caused more than 80 000 deaths and €95 billion in economic losses during the last decade. Developing countries are even more vulnerable. For further information:

For further information please also visit the European Commission's website for humanitarian aid and civil protection and Commissioner Georgieva's website .