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Daily News – 20.01.2014

EXME 14 / 20.01


20 / 01 / 14

Commission sets out an action plan to support the development of blue energy

Commissioners Maria Damanaki and Günther Oettinger today presented a new action plan to facilitate the further development of the renewable ocean energy sector in Europe. A central element in this action plan will be to establish an Ocean Energy Forum, bringing together stakeholders to build capacity and foster cooperation. The action plan should help drive forward this nascent 'blue energy' sector towards full industrialisation. Ocean energy covers all technologies to harvest the renewable energy of our seas and oceans other than offshore wind. Its exploitation would contribute to the decarbonisation of the EU's economy and provide secure and reliable renewable energy to Europe. See IP/14/36 and MEMO/14/31

The European Commission hosts meeting on the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic

The European Commission and OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, are co-chairing a high-level meeting on the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). Taking place today, the meeting gathers in Brussels representatives from UN agencies, donor countries, NGOs, the Red Cross family and states of the region. They are taking stock of the humanitarian challenges in CAR, identifying priorities for action in this emergency and working together to make sure that humanitarian organisations have the necessary resources to deliver adequate assistance to the victims of the crisis.

The humanitarian crisis in CAR has escalated in recent months and today affects the entire population of 4.6 million people. Reaching them with assistance is complicated by insecurity and violence. The European Union is the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the victims, with funding of over EUR 76 million in 2013. Thanks to the support of the European Commission, humanitarian aid worth 39 million EUR is flowing into the country.

The conference will be followed by a press point at 13:00, with Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, UN Under-Secretary General for humanitarian affairs Valerie Amos and France's Deputy Minister for Development Pascal Canfin.

Latest news on the EU assistance in CAR

Humanitarian crisis in CAR

Free movement of people: Commission to tackle tax discrimination against mobile EU citizens

Member States' tax provisions are to be scrutinised to ensure that they do not discriminate against mobile EU citizens, in a targeted initiative launched by the Commission. The focus is on both economically active individuals such as workers and self-employed, and those that are not, such as retired persons. The initiative complements and completes a previous project which looked at the tax treatment of cross-border workers ( IP/12/340).

Other news

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Clariant Masterbatches Limited by Clariant and Tasnee

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Clariant Masterbatches Limited (CMBSA) of Saudi Arabia, by Clariant AG (Clariant) of Switzerland and National Industrialisation Company (Tasnee) of Saudi Arabia. Clariant is active globally in the production and distribution of organic specialty chemicals, including masterbatches. Tasnee is active globally in the production and sale of petrochemicals, chemicals, metals, diversified plastics and various related services. CMBSA will be active in the production of masterbatches only outside of the European Economic Area (EEA). The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the overlaps between the parties' activities in the EEA are minor. 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.7041 .  

President Barroso meets the Secretary General of Amnesty International

At 15:00 today, President Barroso will meet with Mr Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International to discuss human rights, migration, refugees and asylum issues. The situation In Syria will also be addressed.

Photo opportunity is scheduled before the meeting on the 13th floor (please be at the reception at 14:45).

EU announces future commitments for development cooperation with Iraq

Around €75 million of development support will be made available to Iraq during the period 2014 – 2020, will today announce European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, during a meeting with the Iraqi delegation led by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

The three proposed main areas of cooperation are: Rule of Law and Human Rights, Capacity Building in primary and secondary education and Sustainable Energy for all. On the challenges faced by the country, Commissioner Piebalgs underlined that “over the past months the escalation of violence has undermined its stability, but the EU is confident that the Iraqi authorities will work towards a successful transition to democracy and long term stability for the benefit of all of Iraq’s citizens.”

EU and China begin investment talks

The first round of negotiations for an EU-China investment agreement will take place in Beijing on 21-23 January 2014. The agreement should provide a simpler, secure and predictable legal framework to EU investors in China. One of the EU's priorities in the negotiations will be to remove barriers to EU investors on the Chinese market. Whereas goods and services traded between the EU and China are worth well over €1 billion every day, the current level of bilateral investment between the EU and China is below potential: just 2.1% of overall EU Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is in China.

Commissioner Barnier opens high-level group on retail competitiveness

Today's inaugural meeting of the High Level Group on Retail Competitiveness was opened by Commissioner Barnier in Brussels. The meeting was also attended by the Chair of the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee Malcolm Harbour. The group, which is composed of executive managers representing the different stakeholders in the retail chain, will advise the Commission on retail policy. It represents different types of retailer, traditional as well as online. The commercial sector is at the core of the European economy. Retailing and wholesaling account for 11% of the EU's GDP with 6 million enterprises active in the sector. It provides for nearly 30 million jobs, almost 15% of the European total employment. Its competitiveness is therefore crucial to ensuring growth and jobs in the EU. The High Level Group on Retail Competitiveness will advise the Commission on retail policy, building on the recommendations of the European Retail Action Plan adopted by the Commission on 31 January 2013 ( IP/13/78). The action plan set out a strategy for improving the functioning of the retail sector with a number of concrete and targeted actions to facilitate consumer decisions, improve access to retail services, promote fairer and sustainable trading relationships along the retail supply chain, promote innovation and create a better working environment. For Commissioner Barnier's speech: SPEECH/14/25 .

President Barroso meets Prime Minister Dačić of Serbia

On Tuesday 21 January, at 8:30, President Barroso and Prime Minister Dačić of Serbia will meet, just ahead of the IGC. The short meeting will take place in the European Commission headquarters and will be preceded by a short photo-op. An IP will be released after the meeting.

President Barroso discusses EU-Turkey relations with Prime Minister Erdoğan of Turkey

On Tuesday 21 January, at 11:00, President Barroso meets the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey. They will discuss EU-Turkey relations, developments with respect to the accession process and also the situation in Syria. The press conference will take place in the European Council (Justus Lipsius building), at 14:30, following a lunch hosted by President Van Rompuy with President Barroso, President Schulz, High Representative and Vice-President Catherine Ashton and Prime Minister Erdoğan.