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Daily News – 22.02.2017

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 22 / 02 / 2017

Brussels, 22 February 2017

European Semester Winter Package: review of Member States' progress towards economic and social priorities

The European Commission today publishes 27 Country Reports (for all Member States except for Greece, which is under a dedicated stability support programme), the annual analysis from Commission staff of the economic and social situation in the Member States, including an assessment of remaining imbalances. Also published today are: a report on the implementation of the Fiscal Compact, a report analysing the debt situation in Italy and a report, together with a proposal to the Council for a fine on a case of misrepresentation of statistics in Austria. The Country Reports show that Member States are making headway in implementing the individual policy guidance they received last year around the "virtuous triangle" of boosting investment, pursuing structural reforms and ensuring responsible fiscal policies. The report on the transposition of the Fiscal Compact shows that all parties to the Compact have by now introduced the substance of the Fiscal Compact in their national fiscal frameworks. The full press release and memo as well as a separate memo on Austria are available online. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151; Corentin Cassiers – Tel.: +32 229 53208; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

EU welcomes entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) – the most significant multilateral trade deal concluded since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 – enters into force today, after reaching the required threshold of ratifications by WTO members. The agreement aims to simplify and clarify international import and export procedures, customs formalities and transit requirements. It will make trade-related administration easier and less costly, thus helping to provide an important and much needed boost to global economic growth. The agreement will also help to improve transparency, increase possibilities for small and medium-sized companies to participate in global value chains, and reduce the scope for corruption. EU customs authorities will play a leading role in the implementation of the agreement, acting both as an example to follow and as an engine for further progress in trade facilitation within the EU and at international level. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: "Better border procedures and faster, smoother trade flows will revitalise global trade to the benefit of citizens and businesses in all parts of the world. Small companies, that have a hard time navigating daily bureaucracy and complicated rules, will be major winners." Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica added: "Trade is a key driver for sustainable development. The new agreement will help tapping the huge potential of trade. I am ready to assist our partner countries to make the most of this agreement." The deal was agreed during the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in 2013. More information is available in a press release online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

Fighting illegal fishing: Commission lifts 'yellow cards' for Curaçao and Solomon Islands

The European Commission lifted the 'yellow cards' for Curaçao and Solomon Islands, recognising the significant progress both countries have made in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Speaking on the margins of The Economist's World Ocean Summit in Bali, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “This is a good day for Curaçao and Solomon Islands, and good news for sustainable fisheries around the globe. Countries worldwide have a shared duty to fight illegal fishing, protect law-abiding fishermen, and keep our oceans healthy. I encourage others to join the European Union in this fight and contribute to better ocean governance." Under the IUU Regulation, the European Commission warned Curaçao in November 2013 and Solomon Islands in December 2014 that they were not doing enough against IUU fishing. Since then, both countries have brought their fisheries administrative and legal frameworks in line with international law, and are now equipped to tackle illegal fishing effectively. The IUU Regulation is the EU's main tool in the fight against illegal fishing. It encourages countries to work with the European Commission to improve their fisheries governance and retain access to the EU's market. The EU is the world's biggest importer of fisheries products. The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at approximately 10 billion euros per year, up to 15% of catches worldwide. For more information, see here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola  Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

Child obesity: technical guidance on procurement for healthy food in schools

Today, the European Commission Joint Research Centre and Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety together with the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, presented a report to help authorities implement healthy food standards ensuring that they procure healthy school food. The report provides technical guidance on, among others, drafting clear specifications on foods and food services to be procured to make the healthy food the default choice. Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, said: “Healthy food is essential for the well-being and development of children and young people and schools are an excellent place to make the healthy food choice, the easy choice. This EU research tool will help schools to do exactly that - provide kids with food that enables them to grow and develop in the best way possible." Policy makers, educators and researchers already benefit from a comprehensive overview of European school food policies produced by the Commission's Science and Knowledge Service, the Joint Research Centre in 2014. Building on this overview the technical guidance in the present new report covers key food groups such as fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy products, cakes and sweets and nutrients such as salt, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, and micronutrients like iron, calcium and vitamin C. It also includes specifications for food preparation and catering services in general. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt  Tel.: +32 229 67083; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 52172; Joseph Waldstein  Tel.: +32 229 56184; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

Commission launches public consultation on the review of key competences for lifelong learning

The European Commission has today launched a public consultation which will run until 19 May 2017 with a view to updating the 2006 Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning. This review will seek to determine which skills and competences young people need to acquire to succeed in the job market and in life, with a particular focus on entrepreneurship education. The review was announced in the Commission's New Skills Agenda for Europe adopted in June 2016. The goal is to develop a shared understanding of key competences needed and to further foster their introduction in education and training curricula. The revision will also provide support for better developing and assessing these skills. Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics said: "Today, young people need a broader set of competences to find fulfilling jobs and become independent, engaged citizens who contribute to society. Education and training have a crucial role in enabling young people to develop these competences, giving them the best possible start in life. Participating in this public consultation gives educational authorities, policy makers, practitioners and citizens the chance to define what key competences are necessary for personal fulfilment and development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employment." The Recommendation on Key Competences contributes to the development of quality education and training tailored to the needs of European societies and will now be reviewed to reflect political, social, economic, ecological and technological developments since 2006. The results of the public consultation will be published here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt  Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein  Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Hitachi Koki by KKR

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control over Hitachi Koki of Japan by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) of the US. Hitachi Koki is a global company manufacturing and selling power tools and life-science instruments. KKR owns and manages private equity funds investing in companies active in a variety of sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there is no overlap between companies' activities and the only vertical link between them is extremely limited. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8369. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni  Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Janvier 2017 - Le taux d'inflation annuel de la zone euro en hausse à 1,8% - celui de l'UE en hausse à 1,7%

Le taux d'inflation annuel de la zone euro s'est établi à 1,8% en janvier 2017, contre 1,1% en décembre 2016. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,3%. Le taux d'inflation annuel de l'Union européenne s'est établi à 1,7% en janvier 2017, contre 1,2% en décembre. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,3%. Ces chiffres sont publiés par Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)

 

 

STATEMENTS

 

Statement by Commissioner Jourová on the occasion of the European Day for victims of crime

On the occasion of the European day for victims of crime, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová said: "Every year across the EU, around 1 in 7 people fall victim to crime. All victims of crime need to be treated with dignity and given the support and protection they need. My message to them is: Europe is on your side. The Victims' Rights Directive, which gives all victims of crime across Europe the right to protection, assistance and support, should have been in place in all Member States over a year ago. But rights are not enough if they are not applied in practice. I call once again on all Member States that have not yet transposed the Victims' Rights Directive into their national legislation to do so without further delay. (…) This year, I'd like to focus on women. One in three has experienced some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime. Female victims of any form of violence should not be blamed for what has happened to them. (…) I want these women to know that they can go to the authorities and be heard by police, prosecutors and judges, all trained to listen to them. They should feel safe during a trial and feel protected from the offender outside the courtroom. They should also have access to support services tailored to their individual needs. (…) We must fight it together and give its victims all the support they need to rebuild their lives." The Victims' Rights Directive entered into force on 16 November 2015. The full statement is available here. A Q&A and a factsheet are available online. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans holds a Citizens' Dialogue via Facebook Live

Today, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans holds a Citizen's Dialogue live on Facebook on the topic of "A united Europe, facing our challenges head on". This online conversation is part of the College members' direct engagement with citizens through town hall meetings and other communication channels. The Facebook Live session will start at 4pm CET and the First Vice-President will take questions on the main challenges the European Union faces today. The chat can be followed and questions can be asked on both the First Vice-President's Facebook page, and the European Commission's Facebook page. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

 

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

MEX/17/329