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Daily News – 12.10.2015

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 12 / 10 / 2015

Brussels, 12 October 2015

New Seal of Excellence initiative to help regions make top research investments

The Commission has today launched a new initiative that will help regions improve the impact of their investments in research and development by building synergies between EU funding for regional policy and for research. By awarding a "Seal of Excellence" to top quality research projects submitted under the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, regions will be able to more easily make quality research investments under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) or other funding sources. They will equally be able to save money by relying on the robust and demanding Horizon 2020 evaluation process. The initiative was launched by Commissioners Corina Creţu, responsible for Regional Policy and Carlos Moedas, responsible for Research, Science and Innovation at the OPEN DAYS - Week of European Regions and Cities. Speaking before the launch, Commissioner Creţu said: "For 2014-2020, €100 billion worth of investments from the European Regional Development Fund will foster research and innovation, including over 32 billion earmarked to support SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs, the main drivers of innovation in Europe. The Seal of Excellence will help identify and support innovative projects and help them grow and compete internationally." Commissioner Moedas added: "EU regions are already a major investor in quality research and innovation in Europe. Through the Seal of Excellence they can benefit from the world class Horizon 2020 evaluation system to easily identify the best projects in their regions to support with their funds." A press release and factsheet are available online. A joint press point of both Commissioners will be broadcast here at 17:00 today. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz - Tel.: +32 229 50595; Lucia Caudet - Tel.: +32 229 56182)


EU announces support to improve workplace safety and labour practices in producing countries

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, in charge of Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, will today announce an EU contribution for the G7's 'Vision Zero Fund'. Ahead of the G7 Employment and Development Ministerial Meeting in Berlin on 12-13 October, Commissioner Thyssen underlined: "Every year, 2.3 million people die from work related accidents or diseases around the world. This is 6300 people every day. The Commission is strongly committed to preventing workplace accidents, promoting fundamental labour rights and enhancing the level playing field for companies. We are committed to upholding the highest standards, and we are working every day to prevent human suffering and economic costs linked to unsafe workplaces across Europe and abroad. The G7's Vision Zero Fund will contribute to improving working conditions and reduce the health and safety risks for the hundreds of millions of people employed in global supply chains." Commissioner Mimica also said: "Global supply chains are key generators of economic growth and decent work. However, all too often they include unregulated or unsafe work environments, poor industrial relations and compromised workers` rights. The European Commission is determined to play its part in fighting this. That's why we're proud to support the G7's initiative with a €3 million contribution – we want to do all we can to turn this situation around and ensure a fair, level playing field for our businesses and the people who work in them." A press release is available in EN, DE and FR. (For more information: Alexandre Polack - Tel.: +32 229 90677; Christian Wigand - Tel.: +32 229-62253; Tove Ernst - Tel.: +32 229-86764; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


Tackling Tax Avoidance: Commission updates information on third countries listed by Member States for tax purposes

The Commission has carried out a technical update of the consolidated version of Member States' lists of third countries for tax purposes, as referenced in the Action Plan for Fair and Effective Taxation (IP/15/5188). The update reflects changes in Member States' assessments of third countries' tax good governance standards, corrections to national lists and Estonia's decision to withdraw all countries from its national list. The consolidated list is part of the EU's external agenda against corporate tax avoidance and aims to introduce more transparency into national listing processes across the EU, while also encouraging third countries to engage with Member States on tax good governance matters. The steps taken by the EU contribute to enhancing the dialogue between the jurisdictions and the Member States that list them, and encourage Member States to re-examine their national listings to ensure that they are correct and up-to-date. The ultimate goal is to develop a common EU approach, giving Member States collective strength in addressing risks to their tax bases and provide greater legal certainty for businesses and international partners. The Commission has already started discussions with Member States to this end and intends to present a wider strategy against external risks of tax avoidance in 2016. More details can be found here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)


EUROSTAT: Business investment rate up to 22.3% in the euro area

In the second quarter of 2015, the business investment rate was 22.3% in the euro area, compared with 22.0% in the previous quarter. The business profit share in the euro area was 40.0% in the second quarter of 2015, stable compared with the first quarter of 2015. This data come from a first release of seasonally adjusted quarterly European sector accounts from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, and the European Central Bank (ECB). A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 22964950)


EUROSTAT: Household saving rate nearly stable at 12.8% in the euro area

The household saving rate in the euro area was 12.8% in the second quarter of 2015, compared with 12.7% in the first quarter of 2015. The household investment rate in the euro area was 8.3% in the second quarter of 2015, compared with 8.4% in the previous quarter. This data comes from a first release of seasonally adjusted quarterly European sector accounts from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union and the European Central Bank (ECB). A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 229 64950)




Fisheries discard ban: Commission proposes plans for the Atlantic

Today the Commission adopted two proposals to reduce the wasteful practice of discarding – throwing overboard unwanted fish – in the North Western and South Western waters of the Atlantic. These discard plans concern demersal fisheries, i.e. fish that feed on or near the sea bottom, and are temporary measures to phase out discarding and gradually put in place the landing obligation, a key component of the EU's reformed Common Fisheries Policy. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations data estimates that over 7 million tonnes, 8% of the total global fish catches, are discarded yearly. Such practice threatens the sustainable exploitation and economic viability of fisheries. EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "These plans are a major step forward as the fisheries concerned are very significant. Landing what is caught is a start – but more importantly perhaps these plans should lead to more selective fishing, which will help stocks recover and ensure a stable income for our fishermen." The discard plans will apply from 1 January 2016 and by 2019 EU fishermen will gradually be required to land all fish they catch. More information available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 57162; Iris Petsa – Tel.: + 32 229 93321)


Investment Plan for Europe: Vice-President Katainen opens the EFSI-backed project Äänekoski in Finland

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, is in Finland today for theopening ceremony and laying of the foundation stone at the Äänekoski paper and pulp mill. This investment project is one of the first to benefit from the guarantee of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan. The project is expected to generate 6000 new jobs during the construction phase and sustain another 2500 in the long term. This long-term investment includes the production of energy from renewable sources that will allow the mill to be fossil fuel free, as well as an upgrade of existing waste water treatment facilities. The expected renewable energy generation capacity corresponds to 1% of Finland’s current electricity consumption. Vice-President Katainen said: "The Äänekoski project is a great example of where the Investment Plan brings added value. With the EFSI guaranteeing €75 million of finance, this has attracted both private and public sources to come forward to make this €1.2 billion project possible." (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhan Bright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič on Energy Union Tour to Sweden

Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, visits Stockholm on 13 October as part of his Energy Union Tour to Sweden. In addition to contacts with Swedish government authorities and energy market stakeholders the visit, as well as of a field visit to energy facilities. Vice-President Šefčovič will meet the Swedish Minister for Energy, Ibrahim Baylan for bilateral talks. His visit will also include a meeting with the Swedish Parliamentary Committees and conclude with a field visit to Fortum Heat and Power Production Facility. Vice-President Šefčovič said: "Over the last decades Sweden has gone through a significant energy transition. This has resulted in a far-reaching decarbonisation of the energy system across this country. It is an inspiring example for all other European Union countries and I encourage Sweden to lead the charge in the energy transition for Europe that is the Energy Union project." Follow the Energy Union Tour on the Vice-President's blog, as well as on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Find more information on the Commission’s website of the Energy Union. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Vice-President Ansip to discuss the Digital Single Market Strategy in the Czech Republic

Vice-President Andrus Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, is in Prague today to discuss how the Czech Republic and Europe can make the best of digital opportunities. He will meet with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka as well as with Vice-Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, responsible for Finance, and Vice-Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek, responsible for Science, Research and Innovation. He will also participate in a presentation of joint digital projects by Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovakian representatives. This morning Vice-President Ansip had exchanges with the EU Committee of the Senate and the Economic Committee of the Chamber of Deputies on the Commission's Strategy for a Digital Single Market. He also participated in a roundtable with stakeholders, hosted by State Secretary for EU Affairs Tomáš Prouza. They discussed more specifically new e-commerce, telecoms and copyright rules. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)


Le Commissaire Hill est à Paris pour promouvoir le Plan d'Action sur l'union des marchés des capitaux

Le Commissaire Jonathan Hill est à Paris le 12 octobre pour promouvoir le Plan d'Action sur l'union des marchés des capitaux qu'il a annoncé fin septembre afin de stimuler l'investissement, le financement des entreprises européennes et la croissance dans les 28 États Membres de l’UE (voir communiqué de presse, FAQ et vidéo). Il rencontrera le Ministre des Finances et des Comptes publics, Michel Sapin, afin de s'entretenir notamment sur les problématiques concrètes, auxquelles l’Union des marchés de capitaux peut répondre afin de financer les entreprises et les start-ups en Europe. Ils visiteront le laboratoire pharmaceutique Onxeo (Paris, 15ème arrondissement) qui est né de la fusion réussie avec une société biopharmaceutique danoise, et qui développe aujourd'hui des médicaments innovants pour le traitement des maladies orphelines en oncologie. La visite du laboratoire est ouverte aux journalistes. Le Commissaire Hill rencontrera aussi plusieurs entrepreneurs dans le cadre d'un déjeuner avec l'Association française des entreprises privées (AFEP). (Pour plus d'informations: Vanessa Mock – Tél.: +32 2 295 61 94; Maud Scelo – Tél.: +32 2 298 15 21)


Commissioner Vella visits China on 12-15 October

On 12-15 October, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella will make his first official visit to China. The visit is an opportunity to facilitate further EU's cooperation with China and allow for the development of cooperation in environmental, maritime and fisheries policy. Commissioner Vella remarked: "Global environmental and maritime challenges cannot be tackled by Europe alone. As two of the world’s biggest economies, EU and China's role is fundamental to ensuring a greener future. Their work in shaping ocean governance, developing resource efficient and circular green economies can deliver growth, jobs and a safer environment." During his visit, the Commissioner will meet with key Ministers of the Chinese government including Minister Zhang Jianlong, Minister of State Forestry Administration, with Mr Chen Jining, Minister of Environmental Protection, Mr Chen Lei, Minister of Water Resources and Mr Wang Hong, Minister State Oceanic Administration. He will also address students at the historic Dalian Maritime University. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)