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Daily News – 23.07.2014

EXME 14 / 23.07


23 / 07 / 14

Higher and achievable energy savings for 2030

New opportunities for European businesses, affordable energy bills for consumers, increased energy security through a significant reduction of natural gas imports and a positive impact on the environment: these are some of the expected benefits of the energy efficiency proposal for 2030 to be put forward today by the European Commission in a Communication. The Communication on energy efficiency and its contribution to energy security and the 2030 framework to be presented today will also review progress towards the European Union's 20% energy efficiency target for 2020. The EU is currently forecast to achieve energy savings of 18-19% in 2020; however, the agreed target of 20% can be reached if all EU countries fully implement the already agreed legislation. The Commission does not intend to propose new measures, but calls on the Member States to step up their efforts to ensure collective delivery of the 2020 target.

The press conference by Vice-President Oettinger is taking place at 14:15 CET and can be watched online on EBS .

Ukraine - Council's request for proposal on possible targeted measures

The Foreign Affairs Council has requested the Commission and the EEAS to finalise their preparatory work on possible targeted measures and to present proposals for taking action on access to capital markets, defence, dual use goods, and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector and to present the result of this work. The Commission will be presenting the result of its work tomorrow (24 July) and is ready to follow up with legislative proposals whenever required by the Council. The Council has also asked to accelerate the ongoing work on the list of persons and entities falling under the enhanced criteria agreed following the special European Council last week.

Other news

State aid: Commission adopts package of decisions regarding aid to airports and airlines in France and Germany; asks France to recover incompatible aid granted to airlines

The European Commission has adopted six decisions concerning public support granted to airports and airlines in France and Germany. The decisions are based on the Commission's new guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines (see IP/14/172) adopted in February 2014 as part of its State Aid Modernisation (SAM) strategy. The Commission has taken into consideration the importance of regional airports for local accessibility and economic development as well as the need to preserve a level playing field in the sector. The Commission has approved the state aid granted to the airports of Dortmund, Leipzig Halle, Niederrhein-Weeze, Pau, Angoulême and Nîmes, and found it to be in line with the Commission's guidelines. See also: MEMO/14/498 .

State aid: Commission refers Italy to Court for failure to recover incompatible aid from Italian ground handling operator SEA Handling

The European Commission has referred Italy to the EU Court of Justice (EUCJ) for failing to comply with a Commission decision of 2012 ordering the recovery of incompatible state aid. In the decision, the Commission had found that around €360 million of state aid granted between 2002 and 2010 by SEA, the Italian state-owned operator of the Milan airports, to its subsidiary SEA Handling was incompatible with EU state aid rules and had to be recovered (see IP/12/1414). More than one and a half years after the Commission's decision, this has still not been done.

State aid: Commission approves regional aid map 2014-2020 for Cyprus

The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules Cyprus' map for granting regional development aid between 2014 and 2020. The map is based on the new regional aid guidelines adopted by the Commission in June 2013 (see IP/13/569), which set out the conditions under which Member States can grant state aid to businesses for regional development purposes. The guidelines aim to foster growth and greater cohesion in the Single Market.

State aid: Commission approves restructuring aid for National Bank of Greece

The European Commission has found the restructuring plan of the National Bank of Greece (NBG) to be in line with EU state aid rules. The measures already implemented and those envisaged in the future will enable the bank to fully restore its long term viability, while limiting the distortions of competition brought about by the state aid granted.

State aid: Commission approves restructuring aid for Greek Piraeus Bank

The European Commission has found the restructuring plan of Greek bank Piraeus, including the integration of several Greek banks, to be in line with EU state aid rules. The measures already implemented and those planned will enable Piraeus to fully restore its long term viability, while limiting the distortions of competition created by the large amount of state aid granted.

Commission welcomes Council's agreement to improve how seas and coastal areas are used

The EU's General Affairs Council has adopted legislation to improve the planning of maritime activities. The new Maritime Spatial Planning Directive will help Member States develop and coordinate various activities taking place at sea so that they are as efficient and sustainable as possible.

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki welcomed the Council's green light: "We want to make the growth of maritime sectors both smart and sustainable. The Directive reconciles the diverse uses of the sea and will make access to maritime space more predictable. This will help avoid potential conflicts between users, so that businesses can enjoy a more stable and assured environment, and so that we can better manage the impact of human activities on the marine environment." Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik added: "This is a good example of how economic development and safeguarding the environment can go hand in hand. Good planning means a win on both counts."

The Directive is a cornerstone in the EU's Blue Growth strategy, allowing more efficient implementation of EU legislation for both economic and environmental gain. With Maritime Spatial Planning, operators and developers will have greater certainty about their investments and should also see a reduction in red tape. Each relevant EU Member State must now transpose the Directive into their national legislation and to nominate a Competent Authority in charge of its implementation by September 2016. Although national maritime spatial plans must comply with a number of minimum requirements set by the Directive, countries are free to tailor the content of the plans to their specific economic, social and environmental priorities, as well as to their cultural traditions and legal context.

European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2014: Shortlisted projects announced

Hundreds of projects competed in the 2014 national competitions for a chance to represent their country in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards; 22 projects have now been shortlisted. A record number of 31 countries entered the Awards this year including 28 EU member states as well as Iceland, Serbia and Turkey. A high-level jury representing business, government and academia reviewed the entries and established a shortlist of 22 nominees in six categories. The Jury is chaired by Joanna Drake from the European Commission's Directorate General for DG Enterprise and Industry. The winners for each of the six categories will be announced at a central event of the European SME Week , the SME Assembly on 2 October 2014 in Naples, Italy, to which all nominees will be invited. One project will also receive the prestigious Grand Jury Prize, which will be awarded by Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, the newly appointed Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship.

Seventh Activity Report of the Task Force for Greece: reforms delivering results

The Commission's Task Force for Greece (TFGR) today published its seventh activity report, which confirms a stepping up of technical assistance in the period February to May 2014. Technical assistance has helped to advance implementation of the reforms under the Economic Adjustment Programme. It is helping to build a more solid basis for growth and job creation, based on sustainable public finances, a stable financial system, and a more competitive and dynamic economy to serve the needs of the Greek people. Technical assistance has particularly intensified in key areas such as tax administration, the management of EU Structural and Investment Funds, the reform of the public administration, the coordination of monitoring of compliance with EU law as well as in the coordination of state aid. This memo provides a list of examples of achievements, which are detailed in the report. See the full report on:

Lithuania: euro adoption preparations progressing well, room for further progress to protect consumers

As the other Member States have done under previous euro changeovers, Lithuania is taking proper action for providing sufficient information to citizens and involvement of stakeholders in fair pricing campaigns. The Commission today reported on Lithuania's practical preparations for the changeover to the euro. The "14th Report on the practical preparations for the future enlargement of the euro area" confirmed that preparations for Lithuania to join the euro area on 1 January 2015 are proceeding well, although there is room for progress in some areas. The report comes on the day the EU's Council of Ministers is due to give the final green light for Lithuania to adopt the euro, following the overwhelming endorsement by the European Parliament on 16 July. This memo presents the key conclusions of today’s report. In the coming months, the Commission will reassess Lithuania's practical preparations for introducing the euro, including its response to the recommendations set out in the report issued today.

See the full report:

First quarter of 2014: Seasonally adjusted government deficit almost stable at 2.7% of GDP in the euro area - Deficit decreases to 1.9% of GDP in the EU28

In the first quarter of 2014, the seasonally adjusted general government deficit to GDP ratio stood at 2.7% in the euro area (EA18), nearly stable compared with the fourth quarter of 2013 (2.6%). In the EU28, the deficit to GDP ratio decreased from 3.1% of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 1.9% of GDP in the first quarter of 2014, largely due to one-off effects described in the Statistics Explained article.

Three more Balkan countries sign up for Creative Europe

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have signed agreements to participate in the European Union's Creative Europe programme. By doing so, cultural and creative organisations from these countries can bid for funding from Creative Europe to cooperate with their EU counterparts and receive support for the translation of literary works. They can also join cultural and creative networks and platforms and benefit from transnational exchange of know-how and data-collection. Bosnia and Herzegovina will participate in both the Culture and the MEDIA sub-programmes of Creative Europe; the other two countries are involved only in the Culture arm of the programme for the time being. Serbia and Albania signed similar agreements in June ( IP/14/698 and IP/14/716). More information Commissioner Vassiliou's website ; Twitter @VassiliouEU

EU 'Cohesion Report' says Energy efficiency, jobs and SME support are where the bulk of future investments will go

The European Commission today publishes its '6th Cohesion Report' analysing how EU Cohesion Policy is delivering on Europe 2020 growth goals by creating jobs and reducing social and economic disparities across Europe. Looking ahead to 2014‑2020, the Report outlines how investments will be focused on key areas like energy efficiency, employment, social inclusion and SMEs to get the most of the investments to the benefit of citizens. In the coming years more focus will be on key sectors such as the low-carbon economy, SME competitiveness, innovation and social inclusion, with more than €38 billion being made available to support the shift to a more environmentally-friendly economy, up to €33 billion to support Europe's SMEs and more than €80 billion will be invested to help people up-skill and find jobs. EU Cohesion Policy – 6th Cohesion Report

Mergers: Commission fines Marine Harvest € 20 million for taking control of Morpol without prior EU merger clearance

The European Commission has imposed a fine of € 20 million on salmon farmer and processor Marine Harvest ASA for acquiring its rival Morpol ASA, both of Norway, without having received prior authorisation under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission concluded that Marine Harvest should have been aware of its obligations to notify and await clearance from the Commission before proceeding with the acquisition.

Seven New Senior Management Appointments

Mr CHRISTOPHER JONES, A British national, has been appointed Deputy Director-General in the Directorate-General for Energy, with responsibility for the "Coordination of Directorates A, B and C". Christopher Jones joined the Commission in 1985. He started his career in Directorate-General Competition, where he dealt with antitrust issues, and was subsequently a Member of Cabinet of the Competition Commissioner and Assistant to Directors General Ehlermann and Schaub. He joined Directorate General Energy in 1997, as Head of Unit for Electricity and Gas, and subsequently became Deputy Head of Cabinet of Energy Commissioner Piebalgs. In 2008 he was appointed as Director in DG Energy for New and Renewable sources of energy, Energy Efficiency and Innovation. He is currently Head of Cabinet for Commissioner Piebalgs. This decision will take effect on 1 November 2014.

Mr MARC MOULIGNEAU has been appointed as Director of the Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Brussels (OIB). Mr Marc Mouligneau, who is Belgian, is currently Head of Department 'Real Estate' and acting Director in the OIB since 1 September 2012. He was previously Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Human Resources and Security. Mr Mouligneau holds an Informatics degree from the University of Brussels (VUB/ULB). Before joining the European Commission, he held different positions as an IT consultant in Belgium. The date of effect of this decision will be 1 August 2014.

Mr KOEN DOENS, who is Belgian, has been appointed as Director of "Human and Society Development" in Directorate-General Development and Cooperation. Mr Doens, is currently Head of the Spokesperson's Service of the European Commission. He was previously Head of Cabinet of Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid. Before joining the European Commission, Mr Doens worked in the Cabinets of the Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister and the Trade Minister and was posted as a Belgian diplomat in Syria, Iran and the Russian Federation. Koen Doens holds a Masters Degree in Classical Philology and a Masters in International Politics. The date of effect will be determined later.

Mr ANTHONY WHELAN, an Irish national, has been appointed as Director of "Electronic Communications Networks and Services" in Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology. This decision will take effect on 1 August 2014. Anthony Whelan is currently Head of the Spectrum Policy Unit of this same Directorate-General where he has been since 2013. He was formerly Head of Cabinet to Vice-President Neelie Kroes as Competition Commissioner and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda.

Ms SILKE STAPEL-WEBER, a German national, has been appointed Director "National Accounts, prices and key indicators" in Directorate-General Eurostat. Silke Stapel-Weber has worked as Head of Unit in the Publications Office and at Eurostat being responsible for the production of annual and quarterly National Accounts and Balance of Payments, after joining the Commission in 1999 as an official. Before that she already worked for Eurostat as a temporary agent and national detached expert in the area National Accounts and prices. She started her career in the area of macroeconomic statistics in the German federal Statistical Office (DESTATIS). This decision will take effect on 1 August 2014.

Mr GALLO GUEYE, A French National has been appointed as Director of "Social statistics" in the Directorate-General Eurostat. Gallo Gueye joined the Commission in 1995. He started his career in Eurostat where he dealt with national accounts methodology and Own Resource statistics for the EU budget. He then worked on monetary, financial and balance of payments statistics. As Head of Unit, as from 2006, he has been responsible for national accounts, sector accounts and principal European economic indicators (PEEIs). In particular he has been responsible for the development of the new European System of Accounts (ESA 2010). This decision will take effect on 1 August 2014.

Ms SARAH CLIFFE, has been appointed as Director "East and Southern Africa and ACP Coordination" in the Development and Cooperation - EuropeAid Directorate-General. Ms Cliffe is currently working for the United Nations as Special Adviser and Assistant Secretary General, Civilian Capacities. From 1996 to 2011 she held various posts in the World Bank, including Director "World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development". Sarah Cliffe has a BA from Cambridge University and an MA in International Relations/International Economic Policy from Columbia University. This decision will take effect on 1 November 2014.

What Commissioners said

Commissioner Hahn asks Europeans to "make their views heard" for a future EU Urban Agenda

Launching a public consultation for a future EU Urban Agenda and marking the adoption of a Commission Communication (" The Urban Dimension of EU Policies "), Johannes Hahn, EU Regional Policy Commissioner said yesterday: "An EU Urban Agenda sets out to give cities a higher profile in EU policymaking and to reflect the realities of their putting Policies into action. The public consultation will tap into opinions from the cities until September 26 – I urge you to take part. This is a chance for the public, stakeholders and those who work and live in cities to have their say and a response to the call from City Associations, the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions and EU Member States. All agree the need for more coherence and less overlap in policymaking at every level. Commissioner Hahn "From pollution to poverty, from unemployment to energy, we cannot confront Europe's challenges or achieve its goals unless we tackle these issues in Europe's cities. Our communication stresses that the EU Urban Agenda should reflect the EU's overall objectives – but it should also complement national polices in Member States and respect subsidiarity". Consultation . Q&A on an Urban Agenda and the urban dimension of EU policies

The right to a basic bank account for all European citizens: Commission welcomes Council adoption

The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by the EU’s Council of Ministers of the Directive on the transparency and comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to a basic payment account. The Directive will foster the creation of a real Single Market for retail financial services bringing numerous benefits to EU citizens by providing them with a right to a basic payment account irrespective of their place of residence or financial situation.  As Vice-President Michel Barnier said: "The Directive will help millions of consumers who often encounter difficulties in accessing a bank account in the EU, allowing them to better enjoy the benefits of the single market in this area and to participate fully in the economic and social life of a modern society." The Directive will also substantially improve the transparency of bank account fees and make it easier to switch a bank account from one bank to another. As Commissioner Mimica said “Thanks to the new Directive, consumers will get clearer information about the fees they have to pay and people will be able to compare the costs of different accounts and switch to the better option more easily.” See also IP/13/415 .