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Daily News – 04.01.2016

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 04/01/2016

Brussels, 4 January 2016

The trade part of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement became operational on 1 January 2016

On 1 January 2016, the EU and Ukraine started applying the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) which forms part of the Association Agreement signed in June 2014. The application of the DCFTA of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement constitutes a milestone in the bilateral relationship, as it will offer new economic benefits to both sides. On this occasion, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “The entry into force of this trade area on 1 January 2016 creates unique opportunities for Ukraine to stabilise, diversify and develop its economy to the benefit of all its citizens. Assistance from the EU will be made available to help Ukrainian SMEs seize these new opportunities, to grow, and thereby create jobs. EU businesses will benefit as well by gaining improved access to a market of 45 million people.” Commissioner Hahn added: ”With the DCFTA new opportunities are opening up for Ukraine in the EU and beyond, since European standards are often international standards. We want to see Ukraine succeed and make use of the full potential of the DCFTA.” As a consequence of this agreement, Ukrainian businesses receive stable and predictable preferential access to the largest market in the world with 500 million customers, while EU businesses will be able to benefit from easier access to the Ukrainian market and build new relationships with Ukrainian suppliers and cooperation partners. The full press release on the application of the DCFTA is available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56 172; Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86 570)


Single Resolution Mechanism came into effect on 1 January 2016

The Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) became fully operational on 1 January 2016. The SRM implements the EU-wide Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) in the euro area. The full resolution powers of the Single Resolution Board (SRB) also apply as of 1 January 2016 (a press release is available online). The SRM will bolster the resilience of the financial system and help avoid future crises by providing for the timely and effective resolution of cross-border and domestic banks. The EU has taken significant steps to address the root causes of the financial crisis, to ensure that banks are now much better capitalised and more effectively supervised and to identify risks that may be building in the system. But despite closer supervision and a greater emphasis on crisis prevention, there may still be cases of banks getting into difficulty. The SRM Regulation establishes the framework for Member States participating in the Banking Union when banks need to be resolved. Commissioner Jonathan Hill, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: "The Banking Union already has the tools it needs to supervise the banks within the euro area. As of 1 January, the Single Resolution Mechanism is in place. This means that we now have a system for resolving banks and of paying for resolution so that taxpayers will be protected from having to bail out banks if they go bust. No longer will the mistakes of banks have to be borne on the shoulders of the many." The full press release published on 31 December is available online. (For more information: Vanessa Mock - +32 229 56194; Patrick McCullough - +32 229 87183)


Commission welcomes entry into application of Solvency II Directive

The European Commission welcomes the entry into application on 1 January 2016 of the Solvency II Directive. Solvency II is a revision of EU insurance and reinsurance law designed to improve consumer protection, modernise supervision, deepen market integration and increase the competitiveness of European insurers. Under the new system, European insurers are required to assess all the types of risk to which they are exposed and to manage those risks more effectively and with greater transparency. Commissioner Jonathan Hill, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: "The entry into force of Solvency II is a very significant moment for the insurance sector and the culmination of years of effort. As part of our work on Capital Markets Union, we have proposed some changes to Solvency II to make it more attractive for insurers to invest in infrastructure: now the main focus is on getting these reforms to bed in, for a strong and competitive sector that can both help people manage risks, and invest in our society for the long term." (For more information: Vanessa Mock - +32 229-56194; Patrick McCullough - +32 229-87183)

 

Wrocław and San Sebastián are European Capitals of Culture 2016

With the start of the new year, Wrocław (Poland) and Donostia / San Sebastián (Spain) have become the two new European Capitals of Culture for 2016. Each of the cities will launch a full-year cultural programme that will include hundreds of concerts, exhibitions and shows reflecting the richness and diversity of European culture. The events aim to attract tourists from around Europe and work closely with local communities to create memorable and lasting cultural legacies for the cities. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, welcomed the new Capitals of Culture, saying: "Being a European Capital of Culture helps cities create a sense of community and brings long-lasting benefits to their citizens and their economies. I wish Wrocław and San Sebastián every success as they showcase their cultural programmes throughout the year." The official opening of the Wrocław programme, which carries the motto "Spaces of Beauty", will take place with a grand parade in the city centre in the presence of Commissioner Navracsics during the weekend of 15-17 January. San Sebastian, which will centre its programme on the idea of "Culture of Coexistence", opens with five days of cultural activities, including the traditional Tamborrada grand fiesta, starting 20 January. The two cities mark the 31st year of the European Capitals of Culture programme, taking over from Mons (Belgium) and Plzen (Czech Republic) in 2015. Initiated in 1985 by the then Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercury, the programme has become one of the most high-profile cultural initiatives in Europe. More information is available in the press release online. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystad - +32 229 67083; Mirna Talko - +32 229 87278)

 

Agriculture: Commission opens Private Storage Aid for pigmeat to stabilise the EU market

New rules opening Private Storage Aid in the pigmeat sector have entered into force today 4 January. Aimed at easing pressure on the EU market, which is still struggling from the Russian ban on imports from February 2014, this measure provides EU funding to help cover the costs of storing certain pigmeat products for periods of 3 to 5 months. Announced by EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, in September last year as part of the €500 million support package for farmers, this measure will also include lard - not previously covered by Private Storage Aid - because of the large volumes previously exported to Russia. Commissioner Phil Hogan stated today: "I am aware that the pigmeat sector is facing difficulties and prices have been in decline since September, and so I hope this measure will help the market." Aid for private storage is a market measure within the frame of the CMO Regulation 1308/2013 that compensates part of the storage cost for a certain period. Member States will notify twice a week the quantities submitted into storage. Regular updates of the pigmeat markets are available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel: +32 229 56 172; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)

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