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Daily News – 17.02.2014

EXME 14 / 17.02


17 / 02 / 14

New survey shows we are afraid to use our mobile phones when we roam in the EU

A new Eurobarometer survey from January 2014 shows that more than a quarter of us turn our phone off altogether when we travel within the EU. This means that telco companies are missing out on extra potential revenue, and it shows that EU citizens travelling for work or pleasure are afraid of being stung with a huge bill when they get home. The Commission calculates that 94% of people who would normally use social media at home, avoid doing so from another EU country.   And consumers are not just limiting their mobile use when abroad. At home, 70% of people who call other EU countries limit these calls for cost reasons.  European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “I am honestly shocked by these figures. It shows we have to finish the job and eliminate roaming charges.  It’s not just a fight between holiday-makers and telecoms companies. Millions of businesses face extra costs because of roaming, and companies like app makers lose revenue too. Roaming makes no sense in a single market – it’s economic madness.”

Vice-President Maroš Šefcovic receives organisers of the first successful European Citizens' Initiative

This morning Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič received representatives of the organising committee of the first successful European Citizens' Initiative , Right2Water , for a formal meeting with all Commission services concerned by the initiative. The meeting, a legal right for the organisers under the ECI legislation, provides them with an opportunity to explain their ideas and demands in more depth. After a symbolic handover of the 1.68 million signatures by the organisers, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič stated: "Today is a good day for grassroots democracy. I am extremely happy to meet the organisers of this European Citizens' Initiative. Their presence here proves the success of our joint efforts to make this ambitious new instrument of participatory democracy work. It is also positive news more generally, especially in an electoral year, as it shows how it is possible to mobilise and motivate citizens, even across borders. "This initiative will receive very close attention today: this morning during the meeting here in the Commission and this afternoon in the public hearing in the European Parliament. I and my colleagues will be in listening mode, to get a deeper understanding of what exactly the organisers want. Then we will look at possible ways forward. Thank you." After listening to the views and arguments of the organisers, the Commission has until 20 March to decide on what follow-up it intends to give to this first European Citizens' Initiative.

EU and France to sign tax agreement for St Barthélemy

An agreement on the continued application of key EU tax legislation in St Barthélemy will be signed by the EU and France this afternoon. The agreement will be signed by Greek Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras (EU Presidency) and Tax Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta on behalf of the EU, and by French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici. The aim is to ensure that the EU Savings Directive and Administrative Cooperation Directive continue to be applied in St Barthélemy, following its change in status from French outmost region to overseas collectivity.. These two Directives are central to the European agenda for greater tax transparency and information exchange. Importantly, today's agreement also states that any amendments to this EU tax legislation will also be applied in St Barthélemy. This is significant given that both Directives are currently being reviewed, in order to ensure the widest possible scope of automatic exchange of information. The signature ceremony will take place today, Monday 17 February at 17:45 in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels.

2013 industrial structure report highlights need for industrial renaissance

According to a European Commission report published today on the current status of EU industry, most sectors have still not regained their pre-crisis level of output and significant differences exist between sectors and Member States. The " EU industrial structure report 2013: Competing in Global Value Chains " sheds more light on the downward trend in manufacturing. Also highlighted are the mutually beneficial links between manufacturing and services as well as the importance of global value chains. The report ultimately underlines the growing need to mainstream industrial competitiveness into other policy fields. These issues, recently highlighted by the Commission's Communication on a European Industrial Renaissance , will be directly addressed at the forthcoming Competitiveness Council meeting on 20-21 February. See also MEMO/14/111

Energy – 2012 data - Energy consumption down by 8% between 2006 and 2012 in the EU28 - Nuclear power and renewables made up half of the energy production

Over the last two decades, gross inland energy consumption in the EU28, which stood at 1 670 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 1990, rose to a peak of 1 830 Mtoe in 2006 and then decreased to 1 680 Mtoe in 2012. Between 2006 and 2012, gross inland energy consumption in the EU28 has fallen by 8%. The energy dependence rate, which shows the extent to which a country is dependent on energy imports, was 53% in the EU28 in 2012. The domestic production of primary energy was 794 Mtoe in the EU28 in 2012. Nuclear energy (29%), accounted for the largest share, followed by renewables (22%), solid fuels (21%), gas (17%) and oil (10%).

EU to support the destruction of Syrian chemical stockpiles

The European Union announced today financial support of €12 million to help destroy Syrian chemical stockpiles, by contributing to a Trust Fund established by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), recipient of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. The activities covered by this programme include the transport, treatment and disposal of the chemical materials and effluents outside Syria, and will be implemented jointly by the OPCW and the United Nations, in order to secure their safe and environmentally sound destruction. Commissioner Piebalgs said: "This is an unprecedented programme in terms of scale and timing in the history of chemical weapons destruction." High Representative Catherine Ashton added: “This is an important step, which complements the Geneva peace negotiations, since the OPCW track helps to build much-needed confidence.”

President Barroso to participate in the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System conference (18/02/2014)

On Tuesday 18 February, President Barroso will participate in an 'In Conversation' session at the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) conference. The title of this year's ESPAS conference is Global Trends 2030: Key Challenges Ahead for the European Union.

The President Barroso heads an impressive line-up of speakers at this event whose conclusions will help shape the first EU Global Trends Report due to be published by ESPAS in mid-2014.

The President's session will run from 09.30-10.30 and will be moderated by John Peet, Europe Editor of the Economist.

The conference takes place at Thon Hotel EU, Rue de la Loi, in Brussels; Conference Programme available online.

What Commissioners said

President Barroso on the situation in Italy

During a joint press point with the President of Romania, President Barroso answered a question of a journalist on the resignation of Prime Minister Letta as follows:

"Of course we have taken note of the announcement of the President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, Enrico Letta, to hand in his resignation.

We have no comment to make on what is an internal democratic process. What I can tell you and, in fact, today I called Prime Minister Letta to say that to him personally, is that I have great appreciation for the great cooperation that we have developed during this time, with the Prime Minister of Italy, who has always been a very committed European and someone with whom it is indeed a pleasure to work with.

I will not now comment on the prospects of the new government, but since you have mentioned Mr Renzi, let me tell you that I've met him several times already, I know him, and he seems to me a very committed European, with a deep interest in advancing the process of European integration, and with the general position of Italy being always very loyal to the European project.

So the Commission remains confident in Italy's willingness and capacity to pursue its reform and consolidation efforts.

We are looking forward to working with Italy in the context of the Italian Presidency of the Council in the second half of this year."

Vice-President Kallas: The Sea of Europe – routing the map for economic growth

Transport plays a vital role in Europe’s economic recovery - it underpins exports and competitiveness; it stimulates economic growth and helps to create employment. This is especially true of shipping, given that more than 70% of the European Union’s imports and exports are carried by sea.

“We need a top-quality shipping sector that can compete internationally, based on world-class safety records with high social and environmental standards. It has to be properly linked with other forms of transport – like road and rail - within a truly European network,” Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, said at the Sea of Europe conference in Thessaloniki, hosted by the Greek EU Presidency.

“Now there is the chance to make a real difference: by building that network to shape Europe’s transport system for the next 10 to 20 years. The revised policy for the Trans-European Transport Network, especially its concept of integrated transport corridors, will be the future of EU transport,” Kallas said.

Each transport sector will have to prepare for the future, he said. “While all transport sectors have their specific issues to address, I believe that focusing on quality, innovation and sustainability will make sure that everyone comes out as winners,” Kallas said.

The speech will be available on RAPID at 3 PM on 17 February 2014.