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Daily News – 22.02.2018

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 22 / 02 / 2018

Brussels, 22 February 2018

President Juncker visits the Western Balkans

Following President Juncker's announcement in his 2017 State of the Union address, on 6 February the Commission adopted a strategy for the region with new flagship initiatives and support. It is in this context that from Sunday 25 February to 1 March, President Juncker, with High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioner Hahn, will be in the Western Balkans. He will start his tour in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, before travelling to Albania in the evening. On Monday 26 February in the afternoon, President Juncker will travel to Serbia, followed by Montenegro on Tuesday 27 February, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo on Wednesday 28 February, and lastly Bulgaria on 1 March, where he will attend an official lunch hosted by Prime Minister Borissov together with the six Western Balkans Interlocutors. All press events throughout the visit will be covered by EbS. For the details of President Juncker's meetings in the Western Balkans, please consult the President's agenda online. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 913825)

 

Le Président Juncker coprésidera demain la Conférence internationale de haut niveau sur le Sahel

La Commission européenne accueillera demain la Conférence internationale de haut niveau sur le Sahel à Bruxelles. Le Président Jean-Claude Juncker coprésidera la Conférence aux côtés du Président en exercice du G5 Sahel, Mahamadou Issoufou, Président du Niger; du Président de la Commission de l'Union africaine, Moussa Faki Mahamat, et du Secrétaire général adjoint des Nations Unies aux opérations de maintien de la paix, Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Les arrivées auront lieu au coin VIP du Berlaymont à partir de 07h15 (+/). Les discours d'ouverture des quatre co-présidents de la Conférence seront diffusés en direct sur EbS vers 09h00 (+/-). En amont de la Conférence, le président Juncker a déclaré: "Nous renforçons de plus en plus nos relations avec nos partenaires africains. L'UE est le premier partenaire du Sahel, et de l'Afrique dans son ensemble. Nous voulons aider la région à être plus sûre, plus forte, et offrir des opportunités pour l'avenir de ses habitants, en particulier la jeunesse. Pour y parvenir, nous devons, ensemble, nous assurer que sécurité et développement aillent de pair."Une conférence de presse conjointe par la Haute Représentante et Vice-Présidente Federica Mogheriniet les trois autres co-présidents de la Conférence se tiendra à 11h30 (+/-). Le commissairepour la coopération internationale et le développement Neven Mimica participera également à la Conférence. La Conférence vise à renforcer le soutien international indispensable aux pays du Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritanie, Niger, Tchad) dans les domaines de la sécurité et du développement, notamment via un soutien financier concret à la Force Conjointe du G5 Sahel. L'UE soutient les pays du G5 sur trois axes principaux: politique, développement et sécurité. Pour plus d'information, une fiche technique sur le partenariat de l'UE avec les pays du G5 Sahel est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations : Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Juncker Plan supports €67 million for SMEs in Hungary

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Erste Bank Hungary have signed a guarantee agreement to support €67 million of loans and leases to innovative Hungarian companies. The agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. Today's €67 million transaction is expected to benefit around 350 businesses in Hungary.Commissioner for Education, Youth, Culture and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: "Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Hungarian economy. They need better access to affordable and long-term finance in order to continue to grow, to export to other European markets and create new jobs across the country. The agreement signed today is an important step, but many more businesses in Hungary could benefit from similar advantages. I therefore encourage them to apply in order to receive support from the Investment Plan for Europe.”(Full press release is found here. For all the latest EFSI results see the Investment Plan website or contact Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57361)

 

EU solidarity at work: Commission delivers financial assistance to France, Greece, Portugal and Spain following natural disasters

The Commission is today proposing to amend the EU budget to ensure swift mobilisation of €104.2 million in EU support to France, Greece, Portugal and Spain, all hit by natural disasters in 2017. The assistance from the European Solidarity Fund (EUSF), announced last week, concretises the Juncker Commission's promise to offer help to EU Member States affected by natural disasters. The Fund is used to support reconstruction efforts and cover some of the costs of emergency services, temporary accommodation, clean-up operations and protection of cultural heritage, in order to relieve the financial burden borne by national authorities. Once adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the Solidarity Fund will mobilise €50.6 million for reconstructions in the Centro region in Portugal following violent forest fires in June and October 2017, while Spain will be supported with €3.2 million to overcome the damage in the neighbouring region of Galicia. France will be assisted with €49 million to repair the damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the French regions Saint Martin and Guadeloupe in September 2017.Finally, Greece will be supported with €1.3 million to repair homes, business and infrastructure in the aftermath of the Lesbos Earthquakes of June 2017. A press release on the Commission's proposal from 15 February is available here. Factsheets on EUSF interventions in France, Greece, Portugal and Spain can be found online, as well as more information on how EUSF aid is calculated. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Aviation Strategy: EU at forefront of safe drone operations

The European Union today published a set of common rules for safe and secure drones operations, an important milestone under the Commission's Aviation Strategy for Europe. The technical opinion released today by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), has kept the rules as simple as possible with a strong focus on the risk of the operation. Flying the same drone over a city center or over the sea entails a completely different risk. This "risk-based" approach is best suited to address the safety challenges posed by drones without creating red-tape or stifling innovation. Common European rules will also cement the internal market for drones and drone-related services and therefore contribute to the EU's global leadership in this booming sector. This comes only two months after the European Parliament and the Member States agreed to make the EU competent for drone legislation. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said "A clean, safe and secure drone ecosystem in Europe is now becoming a reality, as we move to the implementation phase of our rules. Work also continues in parallel on the U-space to develop a modern airspace management system for safe drone operations in our skies." The EU is breaking new ground by combining product and aviation legislation, which will ensure the highest safety and security standards and support the competitiveness of the EU's aviation industry.  Next steps: On the basis of this technical opinion the European Commission will adopt concrete regulatory proposals later in the year, which will in turn help deliver the target of getting drone services up and running in the U-space by the end of 2019. For further information: EASA press release. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

 

Education: New report on teaching careers in Europe

Even though most European countries suffer from teacher shortages or expect to in the future, many are not planning long-term how to manage supply and demand of teachers. This is one of the findings of the report on 'Teaching careers in Europe' published by the European Commission today, presenting data from the Eurydice network. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: "Teachers are crucial for the future of our children. Europe has world-class teachers, but the interest in the profession is decreasing, and staff shortages are holding back the quality of education. I therefore call on Member States to invest in teaching careers that are attractive to the best candidates, offer prestige and rich opportunities and enable professional growth and development from recruitment to retirement. This new report tells us what countries are already doing, and what more they could do, to reach that goal.The Commission stands ready to support them.” In May 2017, the Commission adopted a communication on 'School development and excellent teaching for a great start in life' which proposed EU-level actions to support Member States in their education reforms. One of the objectives outlined is to achieve excellent teaching and learning by ensuring teachers and school leaders are well-trained and receive the support and recognition they deserve. European ministers and stakeholders, meeting just a month ago on the occasion of the first European Education Summit, confirmed that it is essential to develop a shared agenda to modernise and better support the teaching profession. For further background information please see the Eurydice report on Teachers' and school heads' salaries and allowances in Europe, 2015/16. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

Les citoyens de l'Union européenne restent attachés à la politique agricole commune

La grande majorité des citoyens de l'UE considère l'agriculture et les zones rurales comme étant importantes pour l'avenir, et la plupart d'entre eux (à plus de 60%) estiment que la politique agricole commune (PAC) remplit son rôle, selon une nouvelle enquête Eurobaromètre sur "Les Européens, l'agriculture et la PAC". Le fait que les citoyens de l'UE aient identifié l'offre de produits de bonne qualité et la protection de l'environnement comme les deux principaux objectifs de la politique agricole de l'UE confirme les résultats de la consultation publique de l'été dernier sur la future PAC. Commentant les résultats de l'enquête, le Commissaire à l'agriculture Phil Hogan a dit: "Je me réjouis de voir que la PAC est une politique que les gens connaissent et qu'ils savent que son rôle et ses bénéfices peuvent s'étendre à tous les citoyens européens. Les trois priorités identifiées par les personnes interrogées comme importantes - renforcer le rôle des agriculteurs dans la chaîne alimentaire, développer la recherche et l'innovation et encourager les jeunes à travailler dans le secteur agricole - sont également des priorités pour la Commission, et elles seront reflétées dans les propositions législatives que la Commission devrait adopter dans les mois à venir. Cela démontre que la Commission est à l'écoute de l'opinion publique. Nous veillons à ce que la PAC continue d'être fortement soutenue, pertinente, et capable d'évoluer pour faire face aux défis nouveaux et émergents." Des préoccupations ont été exprimées au sujet des conditions socio-économiques dans les zones rurales, soulignant l'importance d'un soutien continu de l'UE aux zones rurales. En choisissant leurs produits alimentaires, les Européens se soucient clairement de la tradition, du savoir-faire, de la qualité et de la proximité (à plus de 70%).  Toutefois, il est apparu qu'il était possible de faire davantage pour promouvoir les labels des indications géographiques (AOP, IGP, STG) puisque dès lors que les consommateurs les reconnaissent, ils sont alors plus à même d'acheter un produit en portant un. Cet aperçu des points de vue des citoyens de l'UE sur l'agriculture reflète les orientations annoncées dans la Communication sur l'avenir de l'alimentation et de l'agriculture: un soutien continu aux agriculteurs, un renforcement de la protection de l'environnement et la mise en avant des innovations pour le secteur. Le rapport complet de l'Eurobaromètre est en ligne. Plus d'informations sur les conclusions sont également disponibles en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Daniel Rosario – Tél.: +32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tél.: +32 229 52509)

 

State aid: Commission finds that two contracts between Lübeck airport and Ryanair do not involve State aid

The European Commission has found two agreements concluded in 2010 between the Lübeck airport operator and Ryanair to be in line with EU State aid rules. Lübeck Blankensee is a small regional airport in the north of Germany, 78 km from Hamburg. The Commission assessed the contracts under its 2014 Aviation Guidelines, and found that the agreements were carried out at conditions that a private investor would have accepted and thus do not involve State aid. In February 2017 the Commission already found a number of different measures concerning the financing and privatisation of Lübeck airport and a 2000 agreement between Lübeck airport and Ryanair to be in line with EU State aid rules. With today's decision, the Commission completes its assessment of the various measures at stake regarding Lübeck airport. More information will be available, once potential confidentiality issues have been resolved, in the public case register on the Commission's competition website under the case numberSA.31149.(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso  Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)

 

Aides d'État: la Commission autorise le développement de 180 MW d'électricité à partir de biomasse en France

La Commission européenne a autorisé, en vertu des règles de l'UE relatives aux aides d'État, l'organisation d'appels d'offres pour la construction et l'exploitation en France de 180 mégawatts d'installations de production d'électricité à partir de biomasse (y compris des installations de méthanisation). Les installations de biomasse concernées doivent être des installations de cogénération à haut rendement. L'aide sera octroyée sous la forme d'une prime s'ajoutant au prix du marché auquel les producteurs vendent leur électricité. Cette mesure aidera la France à déployer davantage les sources d'énergie renouvelables, et en particulier à augmenter la production d'électricité à partir de sources d'énergie renouvelable stables. La mesure aidera également l'Union à atteindre ses objectifs en matière d'utilisation des énergies renouvelables. En même temps, les producteurs d'énergie renouvelable seront pleinement intégrés au marché de l'électricité, ce qui minimisera les distorsions de concurrence engendrées par le soutien de l'État. Plus d'informations seront disponibles disponibles dans le registre des aides d'État sur le site internet de la DG Concurrence sous le numéro SA.46698. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso  Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Takata Corporation by KSS Holdings

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Takata Corporation of Japan by KSS Holdings of the US. Both Takata and KSS supply seat belts, steering wheels and airbags to automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The Commission's investigation concluded that the proposed acquisition will not change the competitive landscape because strong alternative suppliers such as Autoliv or ZF remain in the market. The increment resulting from the transaction is generally limited as KSS is a small player in the European Economic Area. Furthermore, Takata's market position will likely be affected by the incidents related to its PSAN inflators and the subsequent recalls in that context. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8741. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso  Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)

 

STATEMENTS

 

Statement by Commissioner Jourová on European Day for Victims of Crime

"In a Union founded on the principles of dignity, justice and solidarity, victims deserve support and protection to help rebuild their lives. The European Union has in place the highest standards when it comes to victims' right. The Victims' Rights Directiveensures that all victims of crime in Europe receive proper support, protection and access to justice, wherever they are in Europe. Unfortunately, these rights will remain only words, if they are not applied in practice by Member States. I deeply regret that some EU countries still have not completely transposed these rules since November 2015. I call once again on these countries to take action without further delay. This is a double injustice for the victim. The Commission has made the implementation of the Directive a priority and we are determined to ensure that it is complete, correct and that it works well in practice." Information on the victims' rights directive is available online, in a Q&A, as well as in a factsheet. The full statement is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin - Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Vice-President Dombrovskis in Berlin

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, is on a European Semester visit in Germany today and tomorrow.  He meets the acting Federal Minister of Finance, Peter Altmaier, acting Labour Minister Katharina Barley and the Bundestag President, Wolfgang Schäuble. The Vice-President will deliver two speeches while in Berlin: at the High-level conference on sustainable finance on Thursday and at the Handelsblatt Bankenkonferenz on Friday. The visit to Germany is part of the regular dialogue with Member States on topical economic and social issues in the context of the European Semester. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194;  Annikky Lamp– Tel.: +32 229 56151; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

 

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

MEX/18/1101