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Daily News – 22.03.2017

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 22 / 03 / 2017

Brussels, 22 March 2017

Déclaration du président Juncker à l'occasion du premier anniversaire des attentats du 22 mars 2016

A l'occasion du premier anniversaire des attentats à Bruxelles le 22 mars 2016, ce matin, le président Juncker a publié une déclaration: "Un an après les lâches attentats du 22 mars 2016 qui ont endeuillé l'Europe toute entière, le souvenir des victimes reste, et restera à jamais gravé dans nos mémoires et dans nos cœurs.  C'est avec une immense tristesse que je pense à chacune de ces vies brisées, dont celle de notre collègue Patricia Rizzo, aux souffrances qu'endurent les blessés et à la douleur des familles et des proches. A tous, je veux dire ma profonde sympathie. Ces attaques terroristes abjectes ont frappé le cœur même de l'Europe, en Belgique, à Bruxelles, dans cette ville polyglotte, multinationale où nous aimons vivre ensemble, en harmonie. Confrontés à cette violence inouïe et incompréhensible, les Bruxellois et les Belges, soutenus par tous les peuples d'Europe ont choisi de résister et de ne pas perdre espoir. Dans cette terrible épreuve, les Européens ont affirmé leur unité dans la lutte contre le terrorisme qui menace leur sécurité, et la paix à travers le monde, et ils ont montré leur détermination à défendre nos valeurs et nos libertés à tout prix. C'est pour cela que les terroristes ont échoué, parce que nous avons répondu à la haine et à la violence, par notre engagement à défendre la démocratie et la coexistence pacifique dans la diversité. Ce sont sur ces élans nobles dont sont capables les Européens que nous devons construire notre avenir, nous le devons à chacune des victimes de ces attentats." La déclaration est disponible en français ici. De verklaring is beschikbaar in het Nederlands hier. Die Erklärung ist erhältlich auf Deutsch hier. The statement is available in English here. (Pour plus d'informations: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Natasha Bertaud – tel.: +32 229 67456)

 

Antitrust: Commission proposal to make national competition authorities even more effective enforcers for the benefit of jobs and growth

The European Commission has proposed new rules to enable Member States' competition authorities to be more effective enforcers of EU antitrust rules. Today's proposal aims to ensure that when applying the same legal basis, national competition authorities have the appropriate enforcement tools, in order to bring about a genuine common competition enforcement area. By ensuring that national competition authorities can act effectively, the Commission's proposal aims to contribute to the objective of a genuine Single Market, promoting the overall goal of competitive markets, jobs and growth. The proposal for new rules takes the form of a Directive that will allow national specificities to be respected. The Directive will now be transmitted to the European Parliament and Council for adoption, in line with the normal legislative process. Once adopted, Member States have to transpose the provisions of the Directive into national law. Commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager said: "EU antitrust rules make markets work better, with Member States' competition authorities and the Commission working hand in hand in this regard. That is why we want all national competition authorities to be able to take decisions fully independently and have effective tools at their disposal to stop and sanction infringements. Because a well-functioning Single Market is to the benefit of European consumers and businesses." Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen said: "The Commission will deepen its partnership with all national competition authorities to make the Single Market work better and get closer to citizens and companies across the EU." A full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and all other languages. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni  Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

European Commission registers two European Citizens' Initiatives on the rights of Union citizens after Brexit and rejects one on preventing Brexit

Today the Commission has registered two European Citizens' Initiatives on the rights of Union citizens in light of the UK withdrawal from the EU, and rejected a third proposal entitled 'Stop Brexit' on grounds of inadmissibility. The Commission found that two of the three proposed European Citizens' initiatives – the "EU Citizenship for Europeans: United in Diversity in spite of jus soli and jus sanguinis" and "Retaining European Citizenship" – met all the necessary conditions under the Regulation on European Citizens' Initiatives, and are therefore both legally admissible. The third proposed Citizens' Initiative did not meet the conditions for registration. The Commission has not examined the substance of the above initiatives. Today's decisions concern only their legal admissibility. The formal registration of the "EU Citizenship for Europeans" and "Retaining European Citizenship" initiatives will take place on 27 March and 2 May respectively. In both cases, this will start a one-year process to collect signatures in support of the initiatives, by their organisers. More information is available in the press release here. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

 

Europe's future is digital: EU countries to commit in Rome to go deeper and further on digital

As part of the celebrations of the 60 years of the Treaties of Rome, the Commission will bring tomorrow together Ministers from many EU Member States to progress on high-performance computing, connected mobility and industry digitisation. The Digital Day – a one-day conference on EU's digital future organised in Rome – aims at boosting cooperation between Member States to better prepare our society and industry to reap the full benefits of the digital transformation. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "For over 60 years, European countries have worked together to capture the economic benefits of larger, better integrated markets, and made sure those benefits flowed to people. The same has to apply to the digital environment. Centuries ago, all roads were said to lead to Rome, but tomorrow's digital highways will link every person, every object and every place. The Digital Day is about making sure that we make digital a truly positive power – in policies and laws, in our economy, society and in the lives of all Europeans." Highlights of the Digital Day include a declaration to establish Europe as a global player in high-performance computing (HPC), a letter of intent to establish, together with the Commission, a legal framework for cross-border trials in connected driving and the launch of a European platform on digitising industry. Initiatives to boost the digital skills of Europeans will also be discussed. Read more in the press release and follow the debate tomorrow via livestream. The full agenda of the Digital Day can be found here. The sessions are interactive, with the possibility to engage via #DigitalDay17 and @DSMeu. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)

 

The European Social Fund celebrates its 60th anniversary: 6 decades of investment in people

The year 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the European Social Fund (ESF), Europe's oldest and main instrument to invest in people. In the past 60 years, the European Social Fund has helped millions of Europeans find a job, gain a qualification or certificate and increase their skills levels. These outcomes are achieved through many thousands of projects carried out everywhere in Europe. Today it is an important driver of job creation, promoting better education, more modern public administrations and social inclusion, and therefore a key tool to ensure fairer opportunities for all citizens. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: "The 60th anniversary of the European Social Fund is a true reason to celebrate. Throughout six decades, the European Social Fund has helped millions of job seekers and employees and has supported hundreds of thousands of companies and start-ups. By investing directly in people, we help to make sure that nobody is left behind, while boosting Europe's competitiveness and keeping pace with the changing world of work. 60 years of success stories showing that the European Union is making a real difference in the lives of Europeans: today, in the past and in the future." Celebrations of the Fund's achievements and debates on the future of human capital funding in Europe will kick off tomorrow with the conference "European Social Fund: past, present and future", hosted by the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU, ahead of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. Throughout the year, Member States are organising similar events and debates to look back at what the ESF has achieved, to take stock of the performance of the Fund and to make the case for strong investment in human capital in the future. During the month of May, thousands of EU-funded projects will open their doors to the public in the frame of the Europe in my Region campaign. More information can be found in this press release. (For more information:Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

 

Commission welcomes agreement on clearer energy efficiency labelling rules to empower consumers

Negotiators of the European Parliament and the Council agreed on a revised energy efficiency label and the relevant regulatory framework. The current A+++ to G labels for products will be replaced by a clear and easier to use A to G labels. This will make energy labels more understandable for consumers and help them make better informed purchasing choices. The measure will be accompanied by the introduction of a public database making it easier for citizens to compare the energy efficiency of household appliances. Consumer surveys show that about 85% of European citizens look at energy efficiency labels when they purchase products. Having the best performing ones in the A+ to A+++ categories was misleading and hid potential substantial differences in energy performance. Giving consumers more accessible information about the energy consumption of products and appliances will make it easier to identify the most efficient appliances. Vice President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: "Technological innovations allow European citizens to enjoy the most advanced products on the market; it was therefore high time to bring our labelling scale up to date. The new labels will be empowering consumers to take energy efficiency into account when choosing their next electric products." Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, added: "This deal is good news for Europe's consumers and businesses, our energy bills and the climate. The revised energy efficiency label – together with ecodesign – can save households close to €500 per year, increase manufacturers and retailers overall revenue by over €65 billion per year and save to the annual energy consumption of Italy and all the Baltic countries combined." Energy efficiency first is a central principle of the Energy Union strategy. Energy efficiency it an effective way to cut emissions, bring savings to consumers and reduce the EU's fossil fuel import dependency. Read full press release IP/17/691. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen  Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

EU sends emergency assistance to help Peru cope with floods

The European Commission has mobilised €250,000 for emergency relief assistance to Peru as the worst floods and mudslides in almost 30 years have struck the country. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has also been activated to facilitate contributions of assistance. As an initial contribution, an environmental expert as well as a liaison officer from the European Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) are being deployed to the country. "My thoughts are with the families of the flood victims in Peru. The EU reacted immediately to help people in need. We are providing both emergency funding and expertise. We are closely monitoring the situation on the ground and we stand ready to provide any further assistance that may be necessary," said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The European Commission's assistance to Peru and other South American countries focuses on providing emergency response to natural hazards and increasing the resilience and preparedness of the most affected communities. Since 2015, the European Commission has allocated over €2.7 million for Disaster Risk Reduction projects in Peru. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

Concentrations: La Commission autorise l'acquisition du Groupe OGF par OTPP

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition du Groupe OGF basé en France par le Régime de retraite des enseignants et des enseignantes de l'Ontario (OTPP) du Canada. Le Groupe OGF fournit des services funéraires en France. OTPP gère les prestations de retraite et place l'actif du Régime pour le compte des enseignants actifs et retraités de l'Ontario. OTPP contrôle en commun le Groupe Westerleigh, promoteur et gestionnaire de crematoriums et de cimetières au Royaume-Uni. La Commission a conclu que l'acquisition envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problèmes de concurrence, compte tenu de son impact très limité sur la structure du marché. La transaction a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.8398. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Nordic Cinema Group by AMC

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Nordic Cinema Group Holding AB ("NCG") of Sweden by AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. ("AMC") of the United States. NCG operates cinemas and provides film distribution and cinema screen advertising services and is active in Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. AMC provides, among others, cinema exhibition services in parts of the European Economic Area (Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom) and the United States. AMC belongs to the Dalian Wanda Group of China which is active, among other activities, in cinema exhibition and film distribution services in Australia and in China. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because there are no overlaps between the parties' activities as they are active in complementary geographic markets. 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.8383. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni  Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič to address North Seas Energy Forum

On 23 March, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič will speak at the very first North Seas Energy Forum, which will see the signature on the North Sea Wind Power Hub. This exemplary project stands out as part of the development of offshore wind energy and interconnectivity in the region. Vice-President Šefčovič said: "The North Sea Wind Power Hub shows what human ingenuity can achieve when we work across Europe's borders. This Wind Power Hub will reduce the costs of offshore wind energy and boost growth and jobs in this sector. It provides strong tail winds to our fight against climate change and to Europe's global leadership in renewable energies." The North Seas Energy Forum, led by the European Commission, brings together representatives from the public, private and non-governmental sectors in the ten North Seas region countries, namely: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. At the meeting, representatives of Dutch, Danish and German transmission system operators will also sign an agreement to develop the North Sea Wind Power Hub. They will build a large artificial island in the North Sea that will link wind farms and transmit the electricity generated there to the entire North Sea region. In line with the Energy Union strategy for a stronger regional energy cooperation and market integration (see IP/16/2029), the project will allow these countries to trade electricity across their borders. In 2016, the North Sea countries signed a Political Declaration at ministerial level, adopting an action plan for offshore wind development in the North Sea, accelerating the building of missing infrastructure links, aligning the regulatory framework and further integration of energy markets. The event is open to media representatives, see programme. More information about the Commission supports regional cooperation in the North Seas region online. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz - Tel.: +32 229 50595; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

Commissioner Arias Cañete to discuss role of gas in clean energy transition at Eurogas conference

European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete will travel to Bratislava on 23 March to speak at the third Eurogas conference. The conference will focus on future energy market design and the role of gas as a bridge technology in the energy transition in Central and Eastern Europe. Commissioner Arias Cañete will present the European Commission's "Clean Energy for All Europeans" package which was proposed on 30 November 2016. Commissioner Arias Cañete said: "The EU is committed to making the energy transition a reality. Politicians and legislators, but also the gas industry, should grasp the opportunities that the 'Clean Energy for All Europeans' package offers for the gas sector. They should provide their input in the form of innovation as well as diversification of gas supplies and routes to ensure that the gas sector can fulfil its potential in the energy transition. As EU countries make the transition to clean energy and use more renewable energy, gas will play an important role. As a relatively low-carbon fossil fuel that can easily be stored, gas can be used to back up supplies of renewables that may vary according to the weather". More information about the conference Can gas spur the energy transition in Central and Eastern Europe?” is on the conference website. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen  Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

Michel Barnier to speak at the 122nd plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions

At the invitation of President Juncker, Michel Barnier today updated the College of Commissioners on his preparatory work as Chief Negotiator for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom. Mr Barnier will speak today at 4pm CET at the 122nd plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions. Mr Barnier will outline the conditions necessary for reaching an agreement with the United Kingdom and will discuss the importance of removing uncertainty early on in the negotiations, particularly for the more than four million citizens directly affected by the UK's decision to withdraw from the European Union.  The speech can be livestreamed here. A French and English version will be available online later this afternoon. (Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Daniel Ferrie – Tel.: +32 229 86500)

 

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

MEX/17/722