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Daily News – 26.05.2016

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 26 / 05 / 2016

Brussels, 26 May 2016

Presidents Juncker and Tusk at the G7: Joint press conference and Joint G7 Leaders' Statement on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement/Free Trade Agreement

At a pre-G7 Summit press briefing with President Tusk, President Juncker addressed a wide range of issues, including the recovery of the global economy, the EU's multilateral and bilateral trade agenda and the state of play of the EU-Turkey migration deal. He also announced that given the success of the Investment Plan for Europe, he would propose prolonging the Plan behind 2018. Finally, he expressed concerns about the overcapacity of China in the steel sector calling for stronger trade defence instruments at EU level. President Juncker's remarks are available online. In the margins of the G7 Summit currently taking place in Ise-Shima, Japan, Presidents Juncker and Tusk on behalf of the EU,Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, issued a statement calling for the acceleration of negotiations on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)/Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to reaching an agreement in principle as early as possible in 2016, and commended the work of negotiators for the substantial progress made over the last 3 years. Read the full statement here. The EU is a full member of the G7, and has been participating in all Summits since 1977 - for more information about this year's Summit, a factsheet is available in EN, FR, DE and IT. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524, Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276


Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €47 million to strengthen migration management and to support education of Syrian refugees

Today, the European Commission is delivering on its commitment to accelerate the implementation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey by announcing a further €47 million in new projects, bringing the total amount contracted under the Facility to address the immediate needs of refugees and host communities in Turkey so far to almost €240 million. €20 million has been committed to enhance the capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard to carry out search and rescue operations. A further €27 million will fund educational infrastructure, skills training and social support for Syrian refugees under the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis. This new commitment is part of the accelerated implementation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey which was agreed under the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March. A full press release is available here, a factsheet on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey is available here. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


14 new primary health care centres to be built across Ireland, supported by the Investment Plan for Europe

Fourteen new Primary Care Centres are to be built across Ireland following a new EUR 70 million 27-year loan from the European Investment Bank. The loan benefits from support from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Commission's EUR 315 billion Investment Plan. The new Primary Care Centres are to be built in western Ireland in Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo and Galway, in Limerick, in Waterford, Tipperary and Wexford in the south, as well as Kildare and Dublin. Commissioner Phil Hogan, responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "The EIB loan to build 14 new primary care centres across Ireland was made possible by support from the Investment Plan for Europe. This new, large-scale investment project will improve patient care and create jobs across the country. This is very good news for Ireland, and demonstrates in a very concrete way the added value European investment can bring to local development."(For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


The May infringements package: Commission acts for full, proper and timely implementation of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses

To help citizens and businesses benefit fully from the internal market, the European Commission continuously engages with and, if necessary, initiates infringement procedures against Member States which do not respect European law. The European Commission also closes pending cases where the Member State concerned, in cooperation with the Commission, has solved the problem and ensured compliance with EU law, thus rendering a referral to the Court of Justice of the EU unnecessary. This month, as part of its monthly package of infringement decisions, the Commission took a number of decisions (including on 22 letters of formal notice, 11 reasoned opinions and on 74 closures). A summary of the key decisions as well as the contact details of the relevant Spokespersons and the corresponding press releases can be found in the fact sheet. On the general EU infringement procedure, a memo is also available here. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Uldis Šalajevs – Tel.: +32 229 67560)


EU increases humanitarian support to Ecuador by €4 million following deadly earthquake

The EU has today released € 4 million in humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable victims of the earthquake which struck Ecuador on 16th April 2016. The funding comes on top of an initial € 1 million released only 36 hours after the disaster last month, and the mobilisation of expert teams via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism which were dispatched to crisis zones. "The EU is fully committed to continue helping the people of Ecuador recovering from the devastating earthquake. This additional funding will help address immediate humanitarian needs and will further enhance resilience and disaster preparedness in Ecuador, a country vulnerable to seismic hazards," said Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management. The aid will be delivered through the EU's humanitarian partners in the country and will focus on the provision of emergency shelter to thousands of Ecuadorians who lost their homes. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Finland adopts the SME initiative:  easier access to funding for start-ups and small businesses

Today the European Commission adopted the SME initiative programme in Finland, worth €40 million, with €20 million from the European Regional Development Fund and €20 million from the national budget. The SME initiative boosts the competitiveness of small businesses through better access to finance. The programme provides guarantees to financial intermediaries that give loans to SMEs. Thanks to the leverage effect, the guarantees are expected to unlock over €360 million of fresh loans for Finnish businesses. The SME initiative is part of a broader ambition of the Commission and the EIB Group to encourage Member States to double the amount of European Structural and Investment Funds used through financial instruments, in line with the objectives of the Investment Plan for Europe. Both European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness and Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu expressed their hope that more Member States will join the initiative soon. A full press release is available online. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


Commission launches initiative to reduce barriers to innovation and boost circular economy

Innovation Deals, a new pilot scheme launched by the European Commission today, aim to help innovators with promising solutions to environmental issues overcome what they perceive as regulatory challenges to bringing their ideas to market. In an open invitation published today for expressions of interest the Commission is seeking projects with strong potential to contribute to the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan. The selected projects will benefit from access to a close cooperation framework bringing together national, local and EU regulatory bodies to help navigate regulatory requirements. This pilot is intended to support innovative ideas for maintaining the value of products, materials and resources in the economy. The initiative is being presented in the margins of the Competitiveness Council today by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas. Frans Timmermans said: "Today's launch of the Innovation Deals shows a new way of working which brings together our circular economy and better regulation goals. We are testing a new way of giving practical and pragmatic support to a small number of innovators who want to bring valuable projects to market in Europe for the benefit of our citizens and our environment. Addressing regulatory barriers and providing regulatory certainty is essential to keep Europe at the cutting edge of the green economy." Carlos Moedas said: "Europe has a wealth of innovators with brilliant solutions to societal and environmental challenges. It is important to help innovators to work with us to pin-point what they perceive to be regulatory barriers to innovation. Then we can collaborate at all levels, national, local and EU, to find solutions and ensure European innovation succeeds."Further information is available online.(For more information: Lucía Caudet –Tel.: +32 229 56182; Tim McPhie - Tel.: +32 229 -58602 ; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)


European Commission approves 14 new projects under the Partnership Instrument to boost the EU's cooperation with partners in Asia and the Americas

The European Commission has approved 14 new projects under the Partnership Instrument to boost the EU's cooperation with our partner countries. These new projects, supported by a combined budget of €73.5 million, will underpin the EU's strategic objectives in external relations, boosting our common engagement in priority areas such as sustainable development, implementing commitments to tackle climate change, water diplomacy, increasing social corporate responsibility, enhancing market access conditions and fostering the EU's public diplomacy. The full press release is available online in EN, DE, ES, FR and PT. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)


State aid: Commission endorses UK National Broadband Scheme for 2016- 2020

The European Commission has found that the UK National Broadband Scheme for 2016-2020 complies with EU state aid rules. The scheme aims to connect as many homes and businesses as possible throughout the UK to high speed broadband. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: "Today's decision endorses UK plans to support the roll-out of high speed broadband infrastructure – it aims to bring faster internet to UK consumers and businesses in line with EU state aid rules." The decision comes just over one month after the UK notified the scheme to the Commission on 21 April 2016. The National Broadband Scheme for the UK for 2016-2020 aims to increase coverage of high speed broadband in the UK by deploying Next Generation Access networks (NGA), i.e. networks that can ensure speeds above 30 megabit per second (mbps). The scheme will ensure roll-out of NGA broadband to as many UK homes and businesses as possible, in order to extend coverage as far as possible across the UK. It will be valid until 31 December 2020. The full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Sirti by Pillarstone

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Sirti S.p.A. by Pillarstone Italy S.p.A., both of Italy. Sirti provides civil engineering services to the telecommunications, power, railway, transportation and TV broadcasting industries. Sirti also sells IT services in the telecommunications, government and utilities sectors. Pillarstone is an investment fund indirectly controlled by the global investment firm KKR & Co L.P., of the United States. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, in particular because of the limited overlaps between the companies' activities resulting from the transaction. 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.8001. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)




Vice-President Dombrovskis in Helsinki

Vice-President Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, is in Helsinki today and tomorrow, to discuss the country-specific recommendations to Finland that the Commission presented last week. In this context, he will meet Finance Minister Alexander Stubb, Minister for Family Affairs and Social Services Juha Rehula, and Chair of the Parliamentary Supervisory Council Matti Vanhanen. Vice-President Dombrovskis will also hold discussions with leaders of all major parties, the Grand Committee of the Finnish parliament and social partners. He will also use this opportunity to discuss the future shape of the EMU with key academics and experts from the financial sector. The Vice-President will speak at an event on the economic and social policy challenges for the EU and Finland. He is visiting Finland in the context of the European Semester, the economic policy coordination cycle of the European Union. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)


Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in Rome

Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete will be visiting Rome on 27 May. He will be meeting with Mr Gian Luca Galletti, Italy's Minister of the Environment, to discuss emissions targets for the sectors not included in the Emissions Trading System (ETS). This is to prepare for the upcoming Effort Sharing Decision proposal, which is part of the climate and energy package that shapes Europe's move towards a low-carbon economy and increased energy security. More specifically, the proposal is the next step on delivering on the EU's target to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030. Other topics to be covered are the inclusion of LULUCF (Land use, Land Use Change and Forestry) in the overall climate and energy package, as well as the swift ratification and further implementation of the Paris Agreement. Steering the EU towards a low-carbon economy is one of the key priorities of this Juncker Commission as laid down in the Energy Union Strategy. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Commissioner Mimica pushes for a new phase of action for Least Developed Countries

Today, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will attend the Mid-term Review Conference of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoAs) for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Antalya, Turkey.  The aim of the conference is to take stock of the implementation of the programme by the LDCs and their development partners. Building on the lessons learned and sharing best practices will be at the core of the debate. Exchanges and discussions will try to identify existing constraints and difficulties, and come up with the necessary actions and initiatives needed to overcome those potential obstacles. The EU is determined to help Least Developed Countries meet all the necessary criteria to move on to the status of Middle Income Countries (MICs) by 2020, and support them with a smooth transition.   Ahead of the meeting, Commissioner Mimica said:  "The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reconfirmed that LDCs face special challenges and vulnerabilities and deserve special attention from the global community. The EU will strengthen its partnerships with least developed countries to support their implementation of the Agenda 2030, based on their own country strategies and objectives. I am personally committed to ensure increased support to LDCs under the new Agenda." (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Sharon Zarb – Tel: +32 229 92256)


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