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Daily News – 22.01.2019

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 22 / 01 / 2019

Brussels, 22 January 2019

Visit to the Commission of Mr Romano Prodi/working lunch with College tomorrow, Wednesday 23 January

Tomorrow, following their weekly meeting, President Juncker and the College of Commissioners will receive former President of the European Commission and former Prime Minister of Italy, Mr Romano Prodi. President Juncker will welcome Mr Prodi at the Commission's VIP corner at 12:30 CET; they will then hold a bilateral meeting, before being joined by the College for a working lunch at 13:00 CET. Mr Prodi will be accompanied by two of the co-authors of the report "Boosting Investment in Social Infrastructure in Europe", Dr Lieve Fransen and Prof Edoardo Reviglio. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: European Commission publishes new survey on Antisemitism, FVP Timmermans visits Poland [updated on 22/01/2019 at 12:16]

Ahead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day this 27 January, the European Commission is publishing the results of a Eurobarometer survey on the perception of Europeans of Antisemitism. First Vice-President Timmermans said: “Sadly, antisemitism is still rearing its ugly head all over Europe. At a time when hate has yet again become a political tool, our Jewish communities all too often live in fear of being at the receiving end of discrimination, abuse and even violence. Whenever mutual respect and tolerance are coming under pressure, antisemitism will be on the rise. Therefore it is essential that every European citizen knows and understands to what horrors antisemitism has led in our history. As the last holocaust survivors are passing away, the responsibility to keep the memory of these darkest pages in our history alive rests on the shoulders of our and future generations. It is our sacred duty to honour the memory of six million victims. So that they will not be forgotten, so that we will not revisit the horrors of the past.” Commissioner Věra Jourová, in charge of Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality,added:  “We may take the presence of the Jewish communities in Europe for granted. But 74 years after the end of the Holocaust, we know it is not a given. With all the initiatives undertaken, I sincerely hope that the efforts countering Antisemitism advanced by the Juncker Commission, will become a turning point for the Jewish people in Europe.”The results of the survey show that there is a perception gap on Antisemitism: while 89% of Jewssay that Antisemitism has significantly increased over the past 5 years, only 36% of the general public consider it has increased. On average, only 4 in 10 Europeans think the Holocaust is sufficiently taught in schools. Of the respondents, 34% do not know that Holocaust denial is criminalised. Over 27,600 people in the 28 Member States took part in the survey.The Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the day when 74 years ago, the Allied Forces liberated the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. To mark this occasion, First Vice-President Timmermans will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp, where he will lay a wreath in front of the Death Wall and light a candle in memory of the victims' monument. The following day in Krakow, he will participate in a Citizens' Dialogue co-organised by the Tuscany Region's Memory Train project. This dialogue will bring together Italian and Polish students, teachers, Holocaust survivors and representatives from various organisations. During his visit to Poland, FVP Timmermans will also meet with Mr Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of Krakow. Again on the occasion of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, Commissioner Jourová gave a speech this morning at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels to present the work of the Juncker Commission in the fight and prevention of Antisemitism as well as the results of todays' Eurobarometer survey. The Jewish Museum exposes Jewish life and customs and thus is a stark reminder of the lives and culture destroyed by the Holocaust. The full results of the Eurobarometer including the report, factsheets and infographic can be found here. A Q&A presenting all the Commission actions is available online, as well as an information page. The visits of First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Jourová can be followed on EbS. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: + 32 229 58659; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

 

World Economic Forum recognises European Commission as champion in the circular economy

Yesterday evening in Davos, the European Commission was awarded the 2019 Circular Economy prize by the World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders as recognition of the work done to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy that protects the environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions while delivering opportunities for jobs, growth and investment. Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Vella received The Circulars prize offered in the category “Public Sector” on behalf of the Commission. First Vice-President Timmermans, who was unable to attend the ceremony but has been a key actor in the Commissions' work on the circular economy, said: "I would like to share this prize with the European circular economy community, including businesses, public authorities, and civil society engaged in the circular transition, and with 500 million Europeans. We need their active involvement to push the transformation that has already started forward." Vice-President Katainen said: “This prize is an acknowledgement of the work done in the past years and of the fact that the circular economy can indeed boost businesses' competitiveness, open up new markets for green products and services and create jobs in Europe. And it also encourages us to do more." Commissioner Vella commented: “We started with a very ambitious and comprehensive plan how to change our economy. This award recognises that our choice of 'redesign, reuse, recycle' is the right one for the environment and the industry alike. Such recognition puts even more responsibility on us to continue in the spirit of circularity." In 2015, the Commission established a unique comprehensive strategy, the Circular Economy Package, aiming to close the resource loop by introducing measures covering the whole lifecycle of products and materials – from production and consumption to management of waste and its re-use as secondary raw materials in the economy. The suggested measures also tackle climate change with energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and include the first-ever European Strategy for Plastics. The Commission has delivered more than 90% of the 54 planned actions. A circular economy is part of the modernisation and transformation needed for the EU to become the world's first major economy to go climate neutral by 2050, as per the long-term strategy put forward by the Commission in November 2018. Furthermore, the Commission is currently reflecting on which steps are now needed to make Europe ever more sustainable. More information is available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Daniela Stoycheva - Tel.: +32 229 53664)

 

Le Plan Juncker soutient le développement de supermarchés plus économes en énergie au Portugal

La Banque européenne d'investissement (BEI) vient d'accorder un prêt de 55 millions d'euros soutenu par le Plan d'Investissement pour l'Europe – le Plan Juncker – à la société portugaise Sonae, pour améliorer l'efficacité énergétique de sa chaîne de supermarchés. Ce prêt permettra à 300 supermarchés portugais de réduire leur consommation énergétique de 10% grâce à l'installation d'outils de gestion énergétique. Carlos Moedas, Commissaire chargé de la Recherche, de la Science et de l'Innovation, a déclaré: "Ce nouvel accord conclu sous le Plan Juncker montre que la réalisation de nos objectifs ambitieux en matière de transition énergétique et de lutte contre le changement climatique crée aussi de nouveaux emplois pour les citoyens européens. Nous pouvons être fiers de ce projet et je suis très heureux que l'Union européenne en fasse partie grâce au Plan Juncker." Le financement permettra aussi d'installer des systèmes de réfrigération et d'éclairage plus économes en énergie, des moteurs utilisant du biogaz provenant de déchets alimentaires ainsi que plusieurs bornes de rechargements pour voitures électriques. Ce projet devrait créer 1.200 emplois lors de sa mise en œuvre. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. En décembre 2018, le Plan Juncker a mobilisé plus de 371 milliards d'euros supplémentaires en Europe. Le Portugal est le troisième bénéficiaire le plus important du Plan Juncker en termes d'investissement par rapport au PIB, avec plus de 8,8 milliards d'euros d'investissements mobilisés. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tél.: +32 229 56153; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tél.: +32 229 56169)

 

Commission welcomes the Women4Cyber initiative and launches progamme to detect bugs in software used by all EU institutions

Today, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, is kicking-off the Women4Cyber initiative in Brussels, which was launched by the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) in November last year. It aims to increase the involvement of women in the development and promotion of European cybersecurity. Commissioner Gabriel says: "Women have so much to bring to the table and their talents and expertise need to be recognised. Cybersecurity will become much more important in our digital future and we should make use of their potential. Women remain underrepresented in the cybersecurity field. This is why I welcome this initiative and wish it all success. It is important that this initiative delivers concrete outcomes for the inclusion and career advancement of women in the cybersecurity sector in Europe." ECSO has invited a number of top European female leaders from the cybersecurity field, including from the European Commission, to become the founding members of the initiative. In 2018 Commissioner Gabriel has outlined a number of Commission actions to increase women's participation in the overall digital sector. Tomorrow, the Commission will also launch a special EU bug bounties programme for individuals discovering vulnerabilities in selected open source software programmes used by all EU institutions. Awards range from €3,000 to €25,000. This programme is a key component of EU-FOSSA 2 (Free and Open Source Software Auditing), a project financed by the European Parliament and implemented by the European Commission to make open source software used by the EU institutions more secure. Both the Women4Cyber initiative and the Commission's programme to report bugs are also in line with the latest concrete measures EU has taken to enhance EU's cybersecurity. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

L'UE investit dans le centre national de la mer Nausicaá dans les Hauts-de-France

L'UE va investir 17 millions d'euros au titre du Fonds européen de développement régional (FEDER) dans le centre national de la mer Nausicaá situé en France à Boulogne-sur-Mer. Nausicaá, le plus grand aquarium d'Europe, est un pôle touristique et économique majeur pour la région des Hauts-de-France. Les travaux cofinancés par l'UE prévoient l'extension du centre et de ses bassins afin d'accueillir davantage de visiteurs, ainsi que pour développer les activités de recherche et agrandir l'espace dédié à l'élevage d'espèces marines en voie de disparition. La Commissaire chargée de la Politique régionale, Corina Creţu, a déclaré: "À Nausicaá, il est à la fois possible pour les visiteurs d'admirer la richesse des écosystèmes marins, et pour les chercheurs de prendre le pouls des océans. Les enfants peuvent découvrir avec passion la biodiversité marine et mieux comprendre l'importance de sa protection. Le centre est également une locomotive pour l'économie des Hauts-de-France et contribue à la transformation économique de la région. C'est un beau projet, qui montre toute la valeur ajoutée de l'Europe dans la vie quotidienne des Français." Le projet, cofinancé par l'UE, comprend la rénovation des espaces d'exposition "Des Rivages et des hommes", "Au Pays de l'aurore polaire" avec ses bassins de morses et de manchots, "Voyages en haute mer" et "Images et spectacles", ainsi que la création d'une salle 4D de 300 places. Des travaux de rénovation visant à rendre le centre plus économe en eau et en énergie sont également prévus. (Pour plus d'informations: Christian Spahr – Tél.: +32 2 295 00 55; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tél.: +32 229 56169)

 

Antitrust: Commission fines Mastercard €570 million for obstructing merchants' access to cross-border card payment services

The European Commission has fined the card scheme Mastercard €570 566 000 million for limiting the possibility for merchants to benefit from better conditions offered by banks established elsewhere in the Single Market, in breach of EU antitrust rules. Card payments play a key role in the Single Market, both for domestic transactions and for payments across borders or over the internet. When a consumer uses a debit or credit card in a shop or online, the bank of the retailer (the “acquiring bank”) pays a fee called an “interchange fee” to the cardholder's bank (the “issuing bank”). The acquiring bank passes this fee on to the retailer who includes it in the final prices for all consumers, even those who do not use cards. Mastercard's rules obliged acquiring banks to apply the interchange fees of the country where the retailer was located. As a result, retailers in high-interchange fee countries could not benefit from lower interchange fees offered by an acquiring bank located in another Member State. In April 2013, the Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation and in July 2015, the Commission issued a Statement of Objections. The Commission investigation found that because of Mastercard's cross-border acquiring rules retailers paid more in bank services to receive card payments than if they had been free to shop around for lower-priced services. This led to higher prices for retailers and consumers, to limited cross-border competition and to an artificial segmentation of the Single Market. On this basis, the Commission concluded that Mastercard's rules prevented retailers from benefitting from lower fees and restricted competition between banks cross border, in breach of EU antitrust rules and decided to impose a fine on Mastercard. The infringement ended when Mastercard amended its rules in view of the entry into force of the Interchange Fee Regulation.  Mastercard cooperated with the Commission by acknowledging the facts and the infringements of EU competition rules. In return for this cooperation, the Commission granted Mastercard a 10% fine reduction. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “European consumers use payment cards every day, when they buy food or clothes or make purchases online. By preventing merchants from shopping around for better conditions offered by banks in other Member States,Mastercard's rules artificially raised the costs of card payments, harming consumers and retailers in the EU.” The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Energy, Chemicals & Resources business division of Jacobs by WorleyParsons

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of the Energy, Chemicals & Resources business division of Jacobs Engineering Group (“Jacobs ECR”) of the US by WorleyParsons of Australia. Jacobs ECR supplies engineering consultancy services primarily in the energy, chemicals and resources sectors, providing a range of services to customers including engineering strategy and design, project and construction management, operation and maintenance services. WorleyParsons is a global professional services provider, which supplies engineering consultancy services in the hydrocarbons, power, infrastructure, chemicals, minerals and metals and other sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of its limited impact on the market structure. 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.9208. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)

 

Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of Luminor Bank by the Blackstone Group

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of sole control over Luminor Bank of Estonia by the Blackstone Group (“Blackstone”) of the US. Luminor Bank is active in financial services, including retail and corporate banking, in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Blackstone is a global asset manager and provider of financial advisory services. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, given its limited impact on the market structure. 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.9135. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)

 

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

MEX/19/583