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Daily News – 27.11.2013

Daily News of 2013-11-27

European Commission - 27/11/2013

EXME 13 / 27.11

DAILY NEWS

27 / 11 / 13

EU-US agreements: Commission reports on TFTP and PNR

Today the European Commission adopted the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) evaluation report and a report on the joint review of the US Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement. A Communication was also adopted on a European Terrorist Finance Tracking System (TFTS), concluding that the establishment of such a system is not expected at this stage. Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs said: "The TFTP and PNR agreements regulate the transfer and use of personal data, and provide effective safeguards to protect the fundamental rights of European citizens. We have taken the allegations very seriously of possible US access to Swift financial data outside the scope of the TFTP agreement and, as promised to the European Parliament and the European citizens, we have asked the US to shed full light on this issue." See also: MEMO/13/1054 ; MEMO/13/1164

The Right to… - a Fair Trial! Commission wants more safeguards for citizens in criminal proceedings

The European Commission is today presenting a package of proposals to further strengthen procedural safeguards for citizens in criminal proceedings. Today’s proposals aim to guarantee the respect for the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial; make sure children have special safeguards when facing criminal proceedings; guarantee access of suspects and accused to provisional legal aid at the early stages of proceedings and especially for people subject to a European Arrest Warrant. "We are building a true European continent of justice. Citizens should expect a similar level of protection when they travel in the EU as they find at home", said Vice-President Viviane Reding the EU's Justice Commissioner. For more information, watch the press conference on EBS at 12:30 and see IP/13/1157 ; MEMO/13/1046

Third Eastern Partnership Summit

The third Eastern Partnership summit will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania on 28-29 November 2013. It will bring together heads of state or government from the 28 EU member states with those of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

The summit will be chaired by the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy who, together with the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, will represent the European Union. The summit will be hosted by the President of Republic of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite. The six partner countries will be represented by the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, President Georgi Margvelashvili of Georgia, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca and Vladimir Makei, Foreign Minister of Belarus.

Other news

Cypriot government delegation visits the Commission

Today, President Anastasiades and several members of the Cypriot government are visiting the Commission. President Barroso and President Anastasiades will kick off the visit by holding a bilateral meeting. President Anastasiades and five Cypriot government ministers will then join the weekly Commission meeting for a plenary debate, followed by a working lunch. The meetings are expected to cover several issues, including economic developments in Cyprus under the adjustment programme, how Cyprus can benefit from the technical assistance offered by the Cyprus Support Group, and the Cyprus settlement issue. President Barroso and President Anastasiades will meet the press at the VIP corner at 14h30. President Barroso's statement will be available online afterwards.

Commission proposes visa-free regime to Moldova

The Commission proposed today to allow visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. This proposal builds on the successful implementation by the Republic of Moldova of all the benchmarks set in its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan. "I am very pleased to propose abolishing visa requirements for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. I wish to congratulate the Moldovan's authorities for their efforts to implement key reforms and the important achievements they made. (…) It is my sincere hope that other Eastern partners seeking visa-free travel to the EU will continue to work towards achieving this important goal," said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

EGNOS safer landings scheme extended to Ukraine

Ukraine will be able to benefit from the European EGNOS scheme, which will make air transport safer, will open up business opportunities and will improve the GPS signal for private users. In this context, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani and Ukrainian Vice-Prime Minister Oleksandr Vylkul will sign a Joint Statement in Brussels today declaring both sides' intention to include the Ukrainian territory in the coverage of EGNOS (the European Geostationary Overlay Service). The EU-Ukraine Cooperation Agreement in the field of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), concluded in November 2013, will be a win-win arrangement for both sides. It will increase the robustness of the EGNOS performances in the Eastern part of the EU and will allow the provision of the services over Ukraine. The utilisation of EGNOS services in Ukraine is also contributing to the creation of a Single European Transport Area covering 1 billion people in the EU and the neighbouring countries. A press release will be published here at 13:00 CET.

Antitrust: Commission fines four North Sea shrimps traders € 28 million for price fixing cartel

The European Commission has fined four European North Sea shrimps traders a total of € 28 716 000 for operating a cartel in breach of EU antitrust rules. The companies are Heiploeg, Klaas Puul, Kok Seafood (all of the Netherlands) and Stührk (of Germany). Between June 2000 and January 2009 Heiploeg and Klaas Puul agreed to fix prices and share sales volumes of North Sea shrimps in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Kok Seafood participated at least from February 2005 and Stührk was involved in price fixing in Germany in the period from March 2003 to November 2007. Klaas Puul received full immunity from fines under the Commission's 2006 Leniency Notice, as it was the first to provide information about the cartel.

State aid: Commission approves resolution of French mortgage lender Crédit Immobilier de France

The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules the orderly resolution of Crédit Immobilier de France (CIF) for reasons of financial stability. France will provide up to €28 billion of state guarantees to fund the orderly resolution. According to the resolution plan CIF will cease any new business and run off its assets over a period of up to 22 years. This will eliminate any distortions of competition caused by the state guarantee.

State aid: Commission authorises restructuring aid for Italian bank Monti dei Paschi di Siena

The European Commission has concluded that the public support granted for the restructuring of the Italian bank Banca Monti dei Paschi di Siena S.p.A. (MPS) is in line with EU state aid rules. MPS received a state recapitalisation of €3.9 billion and state guarantees of €13 billion granted on MPS under the Italian guarantee scheme for banks (case SA.34032). In view of MPS' commitments to raise at least €2.5 billion capital from the market and to redeem the full share of state bonds within five years, the Commission approved the measures for reasons of financial stability. The Commission is satisfied that MPS' restructuring plan ensures the long-term viability of the bank, provides for an appropriate contribution by MPS to the costs of restructuring and mitigates competition distortions created by the aid.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Life Technologies by Thermo Fisher, subject to conditions

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Life Technologies Corp. by rival Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., both US-based companies active in life science markets. Their activities overlap in the supply of laboratory instruments and consumables. The clearance is conditional on divestments of businesses producing and supplying (i) media and sera for cell culture, (ii) gene silencing products and (iii) polymer-based magnetic beads. In these areas, the merger, as initially notified, would have significantly reduced competition.

European Public Prosecutor’s Office: Commission analyses opinions submitted by national parliaments under the subsidiarity scrutiny procedure

Following the triggering of the subsidiarity control mechanism foreseen under Article 7.2 of Protocol No 2, the European Commission has today issued a Communication analysing and responding to reasoned opinions issued by national Parliaments regarding the compliance of the proposal to establish a European Public Prosecutor's Office ( IP/13/709 , MEMO/13/693) with the principle of subsidiarity. Following a thorough analysis of the reasoned opinions received from 14 national parliamentary chambers in 11 Member States on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity, the Commission confirms that its proposal complies with the principle of subsidiarity as enshrined in the EU Treaties and decides to maintain its proposal explaining the reasoning behind this decision. The Commission reaffirms that the protection of the EU budget against fraud can be better achieved at Union level, by reason of its scale and effects. The Commission will, nevertheless, take due account of the opinions submitted by national parliaments during the on-going legislative process. The setting up of the European Public Prosecutor's Office is explicitly called for by the Lisbon Treaty (Article 86 TFEU). This Treaty article also foresees a special procedure for the adoption of the European Public Prosecutor's Office: if unanimity cannot be reached in the Council, a group of at least nine Member States can go ahead with the proposal entering into an enhanced cooperation.

European Commission calls on the U.S. to restore trust in EU-U.S. data flows

Today the European Commission has set out the actions that need to be taken to restore trust in data flows between the EU and the U.S., following deep concerns about revelations of large-scale U.S. intelligence collection programmes have had a negative impact on the transatlantic relationship. The Commission's response today takes the form of a strategy paper on transatlantic data flows, an analysis of the functioning of 'Safe Harbour' and a report on the findings of the EU-US Working Group. Vice-President Viviane Reding  said: "Massive spying on our citizens, companies and leaders is unacceptable. Citizens on both sides of the Atlantic need to be reassured that their data is protected and companies need to know existing agreements are respected and enforced." Commissioner Cecilia Malmström added: ''European citizens' trust has been shaken by the Snowden case, and serious concerns still remain following the revelations of widespread U.S. illegal access to personal data. If the U.S. wants to overcome the current tensions and rebuild trust in EU-U.S. data flows, they need to shed full light on these allegations." See also: MEMO/13/1059

Global dimension of Tax and Customs: Commissioner Šemeta in Asia and Australia

Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Audit and Anti-fraud Algirdas Šemeta will be in Singapore and Australia from 28 November to 3 December. The purpose of his trip is to discuss international tax matters – notably the global fight against tax evasion – as well as customs cooperation and trade facilitation.

European Commission formally requests the Austrian regulator to amend or withdraw its proposal for broadband wholesale access regulation

The European Commission has formally requested the Austrian telecoms regulator (TKK) to withdraw or amend its proposal for regulating broadband wholesale access, including the fees which the dominant operator, A1TA, can charge other operators who want to sell broadband services based on A1TA's network.

Juvenes Translatores: 3000 teenagers test translation skills in EU-wide contest

More than 3 000 teenage students across the European Union will be putting their translation skills to the test on 28 November as they take part in the seventh annual EU Young Translator contest. The Juvenes Translatores test, open to students born in 1996, is run at the same time in nearly 750 secondary schools all over the EU, including schools in the Canary Islands, the Azores and La Réunion. Two to five pupils per school have two hours (10:00-noon Brussels time) to translate a one-page text in any of the 552 language combinations possible from among the EU’s 24 official languages. For the first time, students can translate from or into Croatian and 12 schools from Croatia will take part. The texts will focus on European citizenship, the theme of the current European Year. After the contest, European Commission translators mark the papers and select one winner per country. The winners will be announced in early February and will be invited to an award ceremony in Brussels in April. To contact any of the schools, get in touch with the European Commission's Representations in each country. Videos, photographs and students' reactions after the contest will appear on Facebook.com/translators . Contest website: ec.europa.eu/translatores , Twitter: @translatores (#JuvenesTranslatores), DG Translation: ec.europa.eu/dgs/translation

Côte d´Ivoire: people in need get better access to healthcare thanks to innovative EU collaboration on debt reduction

Ivorians will get better maternal and child health services thanks to an €18 million deal on debt reduction between Côte d´Ivoire, France and the European Commission. The funds will be used to ensure a smooth transition from humanitarian aid to sustainable development in the country's public health services, as Côte d´Ivoire gets back on its feet.

Commission proposes fishing opportunities for the Black Sea for 2014

The European Commission has presented its proposal for fishing opportunities for fish stocks in the Black Sea for 2014. Only two Member states, namely Bulgaria and Romania, are concerned by the proposals. The Commission proposes to cut the EU quota for turbot by 15%, to 74 tonnes and to keep the EU quota for sprat unchanged at 11,475 tonnes. The EU quota for turbot is divided evenly between the two Member States whilst for sprat Bulgaria and Romania's national quotas are set respectively at 70% and 30 % of the total EU quota. The proposal takes into consideration the advice by the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) and will be discussed by EU member states ministers at the December Fisheries Council. On behalf of the EU, the Commission is promoting the adoption of management measures for the Black Sea in the framework of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). This year a set of technical measures affecting the turbot fishery have been adopted whilst the GFCM will also test in 2014 the feasibility of establishing management plans in the region.

New Director-General for Education and Culture

The College has decided to transfer in the interest of the service Mr Xavier PRATS MONNE, currently Deputy Director-General in the Education and Culture Directorate-General, to the function of Director-General in the same service. Mr Prats Monné is currently responsible for EU policies and programmes for mobility and cooperation in education and training including the new Erasmus+ Programme for 2014-2020 and the Marie Curie Programme, and for relations with non-EU countries and international organisations in the field of education. He is the European Commission representative on the Governing Board of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT). Previously he was Director for employment policy, where his responsibilities included the creation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. He was one of the five founding members of the EC's Impact Assessment Board, reporting to the President of the European Commission. He also served as Director of the European Social Fund, as Deputy Head of Cabinet of former Commission Vice-President Manuel Marin and as adviser to Commissioner Michel Barnier. Mr Prats Monné, a Spanish national, holds degrees in Social Sciences/Anthropology from the Central University of Madrid, Spain; in Development Cooperation from the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies in France; and in European Studies from the College of Europe in Belgium, where he graduated first in the Class of 1981-82 and served as assistant professor. This decision takes effect on 1 August 2014.

New Director-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

The College has decided to transfer in the interest of the service Mr Michel SERVOZ, currently Deputy Secretary-General in the Secretariat-General, to the function of Director-General in the Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Directorate-General. This decision takes effect on 1 February 2014. As Deputy Secretary-General, Mr Servoz has focused on co-ordination of the European semester, and proposals for the 2014-2020 multi-annual financial framework. From 2005-2009 he was a Director in the Secretariat-General, responsible for the elaboration of the Europe 2020 strategy, and preparation of the European Economic recovery plan. Previously, he worked in the Trade Directorate-General, on commercial defence policy, after which he was responsible for both WTO and bilateral negotiations in the fields of services and e-commerce. Mr Servoz, a French national, has a Masters in Law and also a Masters in Economics and International Relations, as well as a Diploma from the National School for Judges in Paris. Before joining the European Commission he worked as a Law Professor and then a judge in Lyon, moving on to become the Deputy Secretary General of the Court of Cassation in Paris.

Acquisition of citizenship in the EU - EU27 Member States granted citizenship to around 780.000 persons in 2011

In 2011, 783 100 persons acquired citizenship of an EU27 Member State, down by 4% compared with 2010. This decline, which occurred after three consecutive years of increase, is mainly due to the decreases recorded in four of the five largest countries in terms of granted citizenships: the United Kingdom (177 600 persons, -9% compared with 2010), France (114 600, -20%), Spain (114 600, -7%) and Italy (56 200, -15%), while only Germany (109 600, +5%) registered an increase. These five countries together still accounted for almost three quarters of all citizenships granted by the EU27 Member States.

What Commissioners said

President Barroso calls for common action in dealing with poverty

On Tuesday, President Barroso participated in the Third Annual Convention of the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion. Since last year's convention many actions have been taken at European level to fight poverty and social exclusion, as the Youth Employment Package and the Social Investment Package. But many challenges still lay ahead. President Barroso urged all levels: European, national, regional and local level to act together and to learn from each other to deal with poverty. "We can and must complement what is done at national and subnational level with European responsibility and European solidarity. And the European Commission has been very consistent in asking Member States to show this commitment to European solidarity", President Barroso said.

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