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Daily News – 27.07.2016

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 27 / 07 / 2016

Brussels, 27 July 2016

Rule of Law: Commission issues recommendation to Poland

The European Commission has today adopted a Rule of Law Recommendation on the situation in Poland, setting out the Commission's concerns and recommending how these can be addressed. This new step under the Rule of Law Framework follows the intensive dialogue that has been ongoing with the Polish authorities since 13 January. After the adoption of an Opinion on the situation in Poland on 1 June, the Polish Parliament adopted a new Law on the Constitutional Tribunal on 22 July. The Commission has assessed the overall situation, including in the light of the new law, and reaches the conclusion that even if certain of its concerns have been addressed by that law, important issues of concern regarding the rule of law in Poland remain. The Commission is therefore laying out concrete recommendations to the Polish authorities on how to address these concerns. The Commission believes that there is a systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland. The fact that the Constitutional Tribunal is prevented from fully ensuring an effective constitutional review adversely affects its integrity, stability and proper functioning, which is one of the essential safeguards of the rule of law in Poland. Where a constitutional justice system has been established, its effectiveness is a key component of the rule of law. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said today: "Despite the dialogue pursued with the Polish authorities since the beginning of the year, the Commission considers the main issues which threaten the rule of law in Poland have not been resolved. We are therefore now making concrete recommendations to the Polish authorities on how to address the concerns so that the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland can carry out its mandate to deliver effective constitutional review". A press release and a Q&A are available. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 295 8602)

 

President Juncker appoints Michel Barnier as Chief Negotiator in charge of the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the TEU

Today, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, appointed Michel Barnier, former Vice-President of the European Commission and former French Minister, as Chief Negotiator in charge of leading the Commission Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the TEU. Michel Barnier will report directly to the President and will have at his disposal the best Commission experts. He will be advised by a group of Directors-General dealing with the issues relevant to the negotiations. A press release with further information is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524)

 

Commission presents an update on the fiscal situation of Spain and Portugal

The European Commission will today come back to the fiscal situations of Spain and Portugal. Commission Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici will be in the press room, following the read-out of the College meeting by First Vice-President Timmermans, to present an update based on the recommendations that will be adopted by the College today. The event can also be followed live on EbS. A press release and memo will be available online from when the press conference begins. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

 

Investment Plan for Europe: €50 million for Italian SMEs

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Tenax Capital Limited (Tenax) have signed an InnovFin SME guarantee agreement in Italy to provide €50 million to innovative small and medium sized businesses in Italy. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Thanks to this new InnovFin EFSI agreement, Italian innovative SMEs and small mid-caps will benefit from a new injection of finance. Tenax will be able to provide companies with financing solutions at a reduced overall interest rate. I am pleased to see that the Investment Plan of Europe is enjoying such success in Italy and I encourage other Member States to follow its lead.” (For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

 

European Commission launches public consultation on personal pensions

The Commission services are today launching a public consultation on personal pensions. Personal (or private) pensions are long-term savings products that individuals contribute to on a voluntary basis, complementing state and workplace pensions. Today's consultation invites individuals to provide information on their experience using personal pension schemes and whether they are interested in using these schemes to save for their retirement. The consultation will also seek the views of professionals working in the pensions industry and their interest in offering simple, affordable and transparent personal pension products which work towards providing better returns. The EU's changing demographics means that the proportion of workers supporting those in retirement will be halved by 2060. As a result, European pension systems will face the dual challenge of remaining financially sustainable and being able to provide an adequate income to pensioners. The consultation will enable the Commission to assess what can be done at EU level to support a wider choice of personal pensions competing across borders. As key players in capital markets, increasing investment in personal pensions is one of the priorities of the Capital Markets Union. They offer the potential to inject more savings into capital markets and channel additional financing to productive investments. The public consultation will run until 31st October 2016. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Letizia Lupini - +32 229 51958)

 

Commission registers 'Let'sFly2Europe' and 'People4Soil' European Citizens' Initiatives

The European Commission has today taken the decision to register the 'LetsFly2Europe' and 'People4Soil' European Citizens' Initiatives (ECIs). The 'LetsFly2Europe' ECI invites the Commission to propose "an abolition of provisions under Directive 2001/51/EC which penalise transport companies allowing refugees to enter the EU via airplane". The 'People4Soil' ECI invites the Commission to "recognise soil as a shared heritage that needs EU level protection and develop a dedicated legally binding framework covering the main soil threats." The formal registration of the 'LetsFly2Europe' initiative will be on 2 September and the registration of the 'People4Soil' initiative will be on 12 September. In both cases, this will start a one-year process of collection of signatures in support of the proposed ECI by its organisers. Should an ECI receive one million statements of support within one year, from at least seven different Member States, the Commission will have to react within three months. The Commission can decide either to follow the request or not, and in both instances would be required to explain its reasoning through the adoption by the College of a Communication. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

 

Aide d’État: la Commission autorise la France à octroyer une aide en faveur d'une installation pilote de production d'énergie hydrolienne sur le site du Raz Blanchard

La Commission européenne a estimé que le projet de la France d'accorder une aide à une installation de production d'énergie hydrolienne était conforme aux règles de l’Union européenne en matière d'aides d'État. Cette mesure contribuera à promouvoir la production d’électricité à partir de sources d'énergie renouvelables, conformément aux objectifs énergétiques et climatiques de l’UE, sans fausser indûment la concurrence au sein du marché unique. La ferme pilote hydrolienne NEPTHYD (Normandie Energie PiloTe HYDrolien) sera située sur le site du Raz Blanchard, à l'ouest de la péninsule du Cotentin, dans la Manche. La Commission a constaté que le projet soutenait l’entrée sur le marché d’une technologie innovante liée aux énergies renouvelables, conformément aux lignes directrices. Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne en FR, EN et DE. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of SGI Italia by Macquarie and Swiss Life

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Società Gasdotti Italia Holding S.p.A. (SGI Italia) of Italy by MEIF 4 Luxembourg C. Holdings S.à.R.L., ultimately owned by Macquarie Group Limited of Australia and Swiss Life GIO II Eur Holding S.à.r.l., ultimately owned by Swiss Life Holding AG of Switzerland. SGI Italia is an independent transport system operator which owns a limited part of the Italian high pressure gas network. Macquarie is a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment funds and management services. In Italy, Macquarie is also active in the generation of electricity through a portfolio of wind farms. Swiss Life is active in life insurance, risk, pensions, health insurance and asset management. It also operates nine photovoltaic plants in Italy. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition will raise no competition concerns as the companies’ activities do not overlap. The Commission also assessed a vertical link between SGI Italia’s gas transmission activity and the acquiring companies’ electricity generation activity. The Commission found that this was unlikely to prevent competitors from accessing the gas transmission network in view of the acquiring companies' limited position in the downstream market for the production and wholesale supply of electricity. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8116. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

European Commission further strengthens senior management by appointing four Deputy Directors-General

Today, the European Commission further strengthened its top management by appointing four Deputy Directors-General as of 1 September 2016: Ms Charlina Vitcheva to its Joint Research Centre (DG JRC), Ms Ruxandra Draghia-Akli to its department for Research and Innovation (DG RTD), Mr Mario Campolargo to the Informatics department (DG DIGIT) and Mr Carlos Alegria to its department for Interpretation (DG SCIC). More details are available in the press release here (also in BG, DE, FR, PT and RO). (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

 

European Commission appoints four Directors, reappoints Director of its European Research Council Executive Agency

Today, the European Commission appointed Ms Michaela Di Bucci as Director for Resources in its department for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), Mr John F. Ryan as Director for Public Health, Country Knowledge, Crisis Management in DG Health and Food Safety (SANTE), as well as Mr Marcel Haag to the position of Director for Policy Co-ordination and Mr Enrico Forti as Director for Relations with other Institutions in the Secretariat-General (SG). The starting date of Ms Di Bucci will be determined later, the other three appointments take effect on 1 September 2016. The Commission also decided to reappoint today Mr Pablo Amor as Director of the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA) in Brussels for a period of four years, starting on 1 August 2016. Ms Di Bucci, an Austrian national, joined the Commission as a Head of Sector in 1996 and first became Head of Unit in 2005. Currently, she is Head of Unit for the Cyprus Settlement Support at the Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS). Mr Ryan, an Irish national, joined the Commission in 1983. Since 2001, he has been a Head of Unit in DG Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) and is currently heading the unit in charge of health determinants and inequality. He has been acting as a Director for Public Health in DG SANTE since 2012. Mr Haag, a German national, joined the Commission in 1992. He has worked as a Head of Unit in the Secretariat-General since 2005. Mr Haag is currently in charge of its unit "Europe 2020, European Semester, Economic Governance". Mr Forti, an Italian national, started working in the Commission in 1990. Since 2003, he has served as a Head of Unit and has been in charge of the unit "Policy Implementation and Planning" in the Commission's communications networks department (DG CONNECT). Mr Amor, a Spanish national, joined the Commission in 1987 and spent 15 years of his career in the area of research policies. From 1997 to 2002, he was a Counsellor for Science, Technology and Education at the Commission's Delegation to Washington D.C. He joined ERCEA in 2009 and has been heading the agency for the past five and a half years, of which the first year and a half as ad interim. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commissioner Věra Jourová opens first workshop on implementing the new EU data protection rules

Today, the European Commission is gathering stakeholders' views on the effective implementation of the EU's new data protection rules. The aim is to ensure the EU's new data protection rules will be effectively and consistently implemented across the EU, allowing citizens and businesses alike to benefit from strong and level data protection rules across the EU. Today's meeting is attended by stakeholders, NGOs and businesses from across the EU, as well as the data protection authorities.Commissioner Věra Jourová said: "Now is time to ensure these high quality rules we have sealed on paper will become a reality for businesses and consumers across the EU. The General Data Protection Regulation will benefit everyone in the EU. The new rules will help stimulate the Digital Single Market by fostering trust in online services by consumers and legal certainty for businesses based on clear and uniform rules." The EU's new framework for data protection making protection fit for the 21st century was adopted in April this year (see Statement, IP/15/6321). Member States have until 25 May 2018 – two years from the date of publication in the Official Journal - to apply theGeneral Data Protection Regulation. This two-year timeframe gives Member States and companies sufficient time to adapt to the new rules. The Commission will work closely with Member States, notably the data protection authorities, and stakeholders to prepare. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

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

MEX/16/2655