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Daily News – 20.12.2016

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 20 / 12 / 2016

Brussels, 20 December 2016

Review of Employment and Social Developments in Europe highlights more employment, less poverty and a changing world of work

The latest annual review of Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) published today shows some encouraging results. Around 3 million jobs have been created and employment has risen, pushing back poverty. However, unemployment remains high, with huge disparities across Member States. Labour markets and societies will need to adapt to new forms of work. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, commented: "This annual Review shows that our efforts of the last years are bearing fruit. Our economies continue to create jobs, and households saw their disposable incomes increase. However, many people who work are still poor, which shows that it is not just about creating jobs, but about creating quality jobs. In addition, societies and labour markets are changing, due to new technologies and new forms of work. These bring new opportunities, but also new challenges, and we need to ensure that no one is left behind. With the European Pillar of Social Rights and new initiatives in the framework of our New Skills Agenda, we aim at tackling these challenges head on." This year's report focussed on employment as a means to tackle poverty, digitalisation and the changing world of work, the role of social dialogue, convergences and divergences among Member States and the integration of refugees in the labour market. More information can be found in the press release and memo online.(For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Firearms: Agreement on Commission proposal to increase citizens' security 

After a year of discussions, the European Parliament and Council have reached a provisional political agreement on the Firearms Directive. The Commission proposed a revision of the current EU rules on firearms on 18 November 2015 to make it harder to legally acquire high capacity weapons in the European Union, allow better tracking of legally held firearms thus reducing the risk of diversion into illegal markets, and strengthen cooperation between Member States. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "We have fought hard for an ambitious deal that reduces the risk of shootings in schools, summer camps or terrorist attacks with legally held firearms. Of course we would have liked to go further, but I am confident that the current agreement represents a milestone in gun control in the EU." The provisional political agreement retains a majority of what the Commission originally proposed, such as the ban of automatic firearms transformed into semi-automatic firearms, the inclusion of collectors and museums in the scope of the directive, the regulation of alarm and acoustic weapons, the regulation of Internet sales, the regulation of deactivated weapons and more exchange of information between Member States. At the same time, the Commission regrets that some parts of the original proposal were not supported by the Parliament and the Council. However, considering that the overall package is an improvement compared to the current situation, the Commission can accept the compromise found. A press release and FAQs are available online. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: + 32 22987278)


Investment Plan for Europe: EUR 30 million to support new space technologies 

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a loan agreement with OHB System AG worth EUR 30 million to finance a new research and development programme. These transactions benefit from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. The loan will help to fund research into improving the efficiency and reducing the cost of satellite propulsion platforms. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "Supporting research in the latest space industry technologies is a key component of the Commission's space strategy. I welcome the news that the EFSI is playing a valuable role in achieving this effort by backing OHB's ambitious research programme. By investing today, we can ensure that Europe will remain a leading player in this evolving, competitive market." (For more information see here: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)


Déjà 130 milliards d'euros investis dans l'économie réelle en Europe au titre des Fonds structurels et d'investissement européens

Pour la première fois, la Commission a publié un rapport d'avancement couvrant les cinq fonds: il montre une accélération marquée des investissements au cours de ces derniers mois, la mise en œuvre devant atteindre sa vitesse de croisière en 2017. Le vice-président de la Commission européenne chargé de l'emploi, de la croissance, de l'investissement et de la compétitivité, Jyrki Katainen, a déclaré:«Grâce à l'accent que les Fonds ESI mettent sur les grandes priorités et au cadre axé sur les performances dans lequel ils s'inscrivent, ils contribuent de manière significative à la réalisation de nos objectifs de croissance et d'emploi à l'échelle de l'Union.» Corina Creţu, Commissaire responsable de la politique régionale a déclaré: «Les chiffres parlent d'eux-mêmes. Ils montrent que nous sommes sur la bonne voie en ce qui concerne la mise en œuvre. Il est temps de donner une véritable impulsion aux projets financés par l'UE, et j'invite l'ensemble des États membres à accélérer encore la sélection.» À la fin de 2015, un million de projets financés par l'UE avaient été sélectionnés, pour une valeur de près de 60 milliards d'euros. Ce chiffre a doublé en neuf mois, et à l'automne 2016, près de 130 milliards d'euros avaient été investis dans les petites entreprises, la recherche, le haut débit, l'efficacité énergétique et des milliers d'autres projets axés sur les grandes priorités de la stratégie de l'UE en matière de croissance et d'emploi. En parallèle, la Commission lance aujourd'hui une nouvelle version de la plateforme "Cohesion Open Data", qui propose désormais des rubriques consacrées à la performance des investissements et aux progrès accomplis dans la réalisation des objectifs. Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


The EU and Egypt to foster sustainable economic development in the country

Today, the European Union and Egypt signed two EU assistance programmes that will strengthen social safety nets and foster inclusiveness and sustainable economic development in the country. Today's signatures launch the "EU Facility for Inclusive Growth and Job Creation", an instrument that will leverage some €420 million in support of reforms to improve the environment for business creation and to facilitate access to finance for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).The High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini, who signed the agreements in Cairo together with Egyptian Minister for International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, said: "This is time for concrete cooperation. With these programmes, we will work together to create jobs for young people, support children attending school, including the most vulnerable. The priority for the European Union is working for the citizens of our region". Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: "These programmes underscore the European Union's strong support to the people of Egypt. The current financial package will contribute to stabilisation in Egypt by promoting sustainable economic development and hence improving the future prospects of the population". The full press release is available online. Videos and photos of the signatures will be available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


The European Commission provides new support of €104 million for Kenya

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, signed yesterday financing agreements with Kenya, together with Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta. The support provided will focus, amongst others, on supporting smallholder agriculture through access to finance, training or market integration. Commissioner Mimica stated: "These projects, worth a total of €104 million, will have a real and tangible impact for Kenyan small holder farmers and for Kenyan people in general. In some of the dry parts of rural Kenya, farmers risk losing their crops or cattle during periods of drought. The Climate proofed water supply programme and the support to market integration of small holder farmers will help ease such problems." A press release is available online. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229-65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


Commission and United Nations Environment Programme step up cooperation for healthy and productive oceans

Protecting the world's oceans from the rising threats of pollution, marine litter and overfishing will be a cooperation priority for the Commission and the United Nations Environment Programme next year. Following the recent Commission Communication on Ocean Governance, Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and UN Environment head Erik Solheim, agreed today on a joint cooperation Roadmap. Safeguarding the world's oceans, on which more than three billion people depend for livelihoods, is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.I am very pleased to have a strong international partner in the UN Environment Programme,” said Commissioner Vella. “Regional cooperation and good governance is of utmost importance for addressing cumulative pressures to marine environment." The two organizations will closely collaborate at the upcoming UN Oceans Conference in June and the Our Ocean conference hosted by the European Union in Malta in October 2017. More information here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)


La Commission approuve une nouvelle indication géographique d'Italie

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d'inscription d'un nouveau produit d'Italie dans le registre des indications géographiques protégées (IGP). L' «Olio di Calabria» est une huile d'olive vierge extra obtenue à partir d'olives cultivées dans la région de la Calabre dans le sud de l'Italie. Des documents commerciaux datant de 1865 font référence à cette huile ce qui atteste du lien ancien entre l'huile et la région. L'«olio di Calabria» a été ces dernières années récompensée de nombreuses fois lors de concours nationaux et internationaux. Cette nouvelle appellation, la 291ème pour l'Italie, va rejoindre plus de 1380 produits déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données DOOR. Pour plus d'informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (Pour plus d'information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)


Central clearing requirements: pension funds to benefit from further exemption

Today, the Commission is further extending transitional relief for Pension Scheme Arrangements (PSAs) from central clearing for their over-the-counter (OTC) derivative transactions until 16 August 2018. PSAs – which encompass all categories of pension funds – are active participants in the OTC derivatives markets in many Member States. However, without such extension, PSAs would have to source cash for central clearing. Since PSAs hold neither significant amounts of cash nor highly liquid assets, imposing central clearing requirements on them would require very far-reaching and costly changes to their business model which could ultimately affect pensioners' income.  The Commission concluded that central counterparties (CCPs) need this additional time to find solutions for pension funds. Today's decision takes the form of a Delegated Act under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR). It is the second time that the Commission makes use of its power under EMIR to extend the temporary clearing exemption for PSAs. The upcoming targeted review of EMIR, announced under the Commission's 2017 work programme as a REFIT initiative, will provide an in-depth opportunity to assess this issue. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)


Commission adopts first European List of ship recycling facilities safe for workers and environmentally sound

The Commission adopted the first version of the "European List of ship recycling facilities", taking an importantfirst step to help ensure that ships are recycled in facilities that are safe for workers and environmentally sound. All vessels sailing under an EU flag are required, under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, to use an approved ship recycling facility. The first 18 shipyards are all located in the EU. They fulfil the strict requirements for inclusion in the List and as a result will have exclusive access to the recycling ships flying the flags of the EU Member States. The inclusion of yards from third countries is as important and the Commission is currently assessing applications on whether they meet the necessary strict requirements to be included in 2017. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "I congratulate the 18 European companies which have made it on the European List of ship recycling facilities. The List sends a clear signal that there is business and employment in safe and environmentally sound ship recycling, starting in Europe. With the List we close the loop for the European naval industry: these ships were often designed and built in Europe; we can take care of them at the end of their life too – in a respectful way". The Commission has also adopted measures where all ships visiting European ports – irrespective of the flag they fly – should provide information on hazardous materials on board. The measure is expected to improve sourcing of quality ship parts globally and benefit European shipbuilding yards. The European List is available here(For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)


Gestion des risques de catastrophes: nouvel élan pour la coopération entre l'Algérie et l'Union européenne

La Direction Générale de la Protection Civile en Algérie (DGPC) et la Direction Générale de la Protection Civile et des Opérations d'Aide Humanitaire de la Commission européenne (ECHO) ont formalisé aujourd'hui à Bruxelles leur coopération dans le domaine de la gestion des risques de catastrophes. La signature d'un arrangement administratif marque une nouvelle étape pour le travail commun de l'UE et de l'Algérie en matière de protection civile. C'est la première fois que la Commission européenne conclut un tel accord avec l'un de ces voisins du Sud. L'arrangement administratif reconnait que face à l'augmentation du nombre de catastrophes et de leurs impacts, l'Algérie et l'UE ont un intérêt mutuel à renforcer leurs liens pour mieux gérer les risques. Plus d'informations sur le mécanisme européen de protection civile ici. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


State aid: Commission approves auction scheme for electricity from renewable sources in Germany

The European Commission has found amendments to the German renewable energy scheme to be in line with EU state aid rules. As of 2017 support will mainly be granted through auctions. This will promote the steady deployment of renewable energy whilst maintaining competition in the German energy market. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition, said: "Competitive bidding processes support the deployment of renewable energy whilst keeping electricity costs at bay for consumers. The amendments to the German EEG law we approved today make sure that one of the largest renewable support schemes in the EU will be based on auctions. The decision allows Germany to organise separate auctions for different renewable energy technologies to keep its electricity grid stable, and commits Germany to test alternative auction designs for the future through pilot projects." In July 2016, Germany notified amendments to the German Law on support to the production of renewable electricity (EEG 2017) for assessment under EU state aid rules. The amendments aim to generalise the use of auctions for selecting renewable electricity producers eligible for aid. A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


State aid: Commission clears German Network Reserve for ensuring security of electricity supply

The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules German plans to put in place for four years a reserve to ensure sufficient electricity capacity in Southern Germany (the Network Reserve). The measure maintains security of supply without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. Under the scheme, German transmission system operators pay operators of power plants that have notified their intention to close down but that are relevant to keep the electricity system in balance, for remaining available to the network. In addition, foreign power plants located for instance in Austria and Italy can also be contracted and subsequently required to increase or decrease production to keep the grid in balance if so instructed by the transmission system operator. In order to remove the necessity for the Network Reserve in the future, Germany will also implement a number of additional measures to improve congestion management by the transmission system operators. Most notably, Germany has committed to support the review of bidding zones undertaken by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) and to take into account its outcome, including the possibility of different bidding zones within one Member State. A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission alleges Facebook provided misleading information about WhatsApp takeover

The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Facebook alleging the company provided incorrect or misleading information during the Commission's 2014 investigation under the EU Merger Regulation of Facebook's planned acquisition of WhatsApp. The Commission takes the preliminary view that, contrary to Facebook's statements and reply during the merger review, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook users' IDs with WhatsApp users' IDs already existed in 2014. The current investigation is limited to the assessment of breaches of procedural rules. As the Commission's October 2014 decision to clear Facebook/WhatsApp was based on a variety of factors going beyond the possibility of matching user accounts, the current investigation will not have an impact on that decision which remains effective. Facebook now has now until 31 January 2017 to respond to the Statement of Objections. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Companies are obliged to give the Commission accurate information during merger investigations. They must take this obligation seriously. Our timely and effective review of mergers depends on the accuracy of the information provided by the companies involved. In this specific case, the Commission's preliminary view is that Facebook gave us incorrect or misleading information during the investigation into its acquisition of WhatsApp. Facebook now has the opportunity to respond."A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


State aid: Commission approves Polish scheme for resolution of small commercial and cooperative banks 

The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules a resolution scheme in Poland that could be used for small commercial and cooperative banks with total assets of below €3 billion. This is a measure that would be available for such small banks, if they were found to be in distress by the competent national authorities. The approval of the scheme is to facilitate the work of the Polish resolution authorities should a concrete case and need arise. In cases where a small bank is in serious difficulties, this type of scheme allows the prior authorisation of aid, enabling the national authorities to carry out an orderly resolution of that bank. On this basis, the Commission found the Polish scheme to be compatible with EU state aid rules, in particular the 2013 Banking Communication and EU banking rules. The authorisation of aid under the scheme is granted for six months from today until 30 June 2017 and can be prolonged following a report by the Member State and an assessment by the Commission. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.46575 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Hammer by Exertis

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Hammer of the United Kingdom, by Exertis, of Ireland.  Hammer and Exertis are both wholesale distributors of information technology hardware. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because the market share increment resulting from the transaction in both, the European Economic Area as a whole and in individual Member States, is very limited. The transaction was reviewed under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8175.  (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Angela Nardella- Tel.: +32 229 86801)


EUROSTAT: Utilisation d'internet par les particuliers - Près de 8 internautes sur 10 dans l'UE ont navigué sur internet au moyen d'un téléphone mobile ou d'un smartphone en 2016

Plus de 80% des personnes âgées de 16 à 74 ans dans l'Union européenne ont utilisé internet en 2016, dans de nombreux cas au moyen de différents appareils. Téléphones mobiles ou smartphones étaient les appareils les plus utilisés pour naviguer sur internet, par plus des trois quarts (79%) des internautes. Ils étaient suivis par les ordinateurs portables ou netbooks (64%), les ordinateurs de bureau (54%) et les tablettes (44%). Au cours des douze derniers mois, plus de 70% des internautes dans l'UE ont fourni des données personnelles en ligne et beaucoup ont pris diverses mesures afin d'en contrôler l'accès sur internet. Près de la moitié d'entre eux (46%) ont refusé l'utilisation des données personnelles à des fins publicitaires et 40% ont limité l'accès à leur profil ou contenu sur les sites de réseaux sociaux. En outre, 37% des internautes ont lu les déclarations relatives à la protection de la vie privée avant de fournir des données personnelles et 31% ont limité l'accès à leur localisation. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund - Tel.: +32 229 50698)


EUROSTAT: Première estimation pour octobre 2016 - Excédent de 16,1 milliards d'euros des échanges courants de l'UE28

Le compte des opérations courantes de la balance des paiements de l'UE28, corrigé des variations saisonnières, a enregistré un excédent de 16,1 milliards d'euros en octobre 2016, contre des excédents de 17,4 mrds en septembre 2016 et de 7,3 mrds en octobre 2015, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. En octobre 2016 par rapport à septembre 2016, basé sur des données corrigées des variations saisonnières, l'excédent du compte des biens s'est réduit (+9,5 mrds d'euros, contre +13,4 mrds) et le déficit du compte des revenus secondaires s'est légèrement creusé (-6,4 mrds d'euros, contre -6,0 mrds). L'excédent du compte des services a augmenté (+13,4 mrds d'euros, contre +12,1 mrds) et le déficit du compte des revenus primaires s'est réduit (-0,5 mrds d'euros, contre -2,1 mrds). Sur une période de 12 mois cumulés se finissant en octobre 2016, le compte des opérations courantes a affiché un excédent de 175,9 mrds d'euros, contre +147,8 mrds pour la période de 12 mois jusqu'à octobre 2015. L'excédent du compte des biens s'est accru durant cette même période (+147,0 mrds d'euros, contre +99,8 mrds), tandis que l'excédent du compte des services s'est réduit (+138,7 mrds d'euros, contre +143,4 mrds). Le déficit du compte des revenus secondaires (-79,2 mrds, contre -74,9 mrds) tout comme celui du compte des revenus primaires (-30,6 mrds d'euros, contre -20,4 mrds) se sont creusés. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)  




Commissioner Moedas in Portugal for the 123rd Citizens' Dialogue of the Commission

Today, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas is in Minho, Portugal as part of his "science roadshow" to take part in a Citizens' Dialogue with students and staff from the university of Minho. He will also visit the Medicine School of the university and will meet with Mr António Cunha, rector of the university, Erasmus + students as well as student associations. The Citizens' Dialogue will be live streamed at 12:00 here. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)


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