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Daily News – 03.05.2016

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 03 / 05 / 2016

Brussels, 3 May 2016

Spring 2016 Economic Forecast: Staying the course amid high risks

According to the Spring 2016 Economic Forecast, economic growth in Europe is expected to remain modest as key trading partners' performance has slowed and some of the so far supportive factors start to wane. As a result, GDP in the euro area is forecast to continue growing at modest rates over the 2015-2017 period. The Commission expects euro area GDP of 1.6% in 2016 and 1.8% in 2017 after 1.7% in 2015. GDP growth in the EU is expected to moderate from 2.0% last year to 1.8% in 2016 before reaching 1.9% in 2017. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said: "The economic recovery in Europe continues but the global context is less conducive than it was. Future growth will increasingly depend on the opportunities we create for ourselves. That means stepping up our structural reform efforts to address long-standing problems in many countries – high levels of public and private debt, vulnerabilities in the financial sector or declining competitiveness. A decisive policy action to reform and modernise our economies is the only way to ensure strong and sustainable growth, more jobs and good social conditions for our people." Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "Growth in Europe is holding up despite a more difficult global environment. There are signs that policy efforts are gradually delivering more jobs and supporting investment. But we have much more to do to tackle inequality. The recovery in the euro area remains uneven, both between Member States and between the weakest and the strongest in society. That is unacceptable and requires determined action from governments, both individually and collectively." A press release is available in all EU languages. Commissioner Moscovici's remarks (including the slides) at the press conference are available online. For further information, please consult the forecast webpage. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: + 32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: + 32 229 71607)

 

World Press Freedom Day: Commission's Second Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights to focus on Media Pluralism and Democracy

On World Press Freedom Day, the Commission is announcing today that the theme of the 2016 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights will be "Media Pluralism and Democracy". This second Annual Colloquium will be held in Brussels on 17-18 November 2016. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Commissioner Günther Oettinger, and Commissioner Jourová will lead discussions with a wide range of experts on the key role in democratic societies of a free and pluralist media, and in particular digital media. First Vice-President Timmermans said today: "World Press Freedom Day is an occasion to recall that media freedom and pluralism are essential safeguards for well-functioning democracies. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism are enshrined in the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights and are at the core of the basic democratic values on which the European Union is founded." Commissioner Oettinger added: "Most of our Member States have high standards of media freedom and pluralism. However, we shouldn't take this situation for granted. The Colloquium will allow for an open exchange on the many different aspects of media pluralism in a digital world, and the modern media's role in our democratic societies. I look forward to discussing how to protect and promote pluralism and how to address the challenges and opportunities of a converged media environment." The 2016 Colloquium will be based around interactive roundtable discussions with EU institutions, Member States, NGOs, journalists, media representatives, companies, academics and international organisations. The wide range of topics for discussion will include: protecting and promoting media freedom and independence from state intervention and undue political or commercial pressures; empowering journalists and protecting them from threats of physical violence or hate speech; the role of the media and ethical journalism in promoting fundamental rights; and, how a pluralistic media environment can foster political debate on crucial issues for democratic societies. The Commission's Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights, launched by First Vice-President Timmermans in 2015, aims to improve mutual and practical cooperation between different stakeholders. The Colloquium offers a space for dialogue with a wide variety of actors, including civil society and policy makers. The first Annual Colloquium took place in October 2015, on the theme of "Tolerance and Respect: Preventing and Combating Antisemitic and anti-Muslim Hatred in Europe". (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

EU supports UNICEF and WHO with €3 million in humanitarian aid for polio vaccinations in Syria

Today the European Commission has announced €3 million in humanitarian funding for a UNICEF and World Health Organisation-led nationwide polio vaccination campaign in Syria. The campaign aims to reach 2 million children in areas where medical access remains critical, such as in besieged, hard-to-reach and under-served areas. The announcement comes as the United Nations Security Council is set to debate Healthcare in Armed Conflict today. Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management said "Today we are announcing concrete support for Syrian children who are the first to suffer from inadequate access to healthcare. The EU is committed to supporting the most vulnerable victims of the Syrian conflict. Our support can make a real difference. It can save lives and improve conditions. Yet for health workers to do their remarkable job, they need safe and unimpeded access. The systematic attacks on medical facilities in Syria and the rising civilian casualties in recent weeks are worsening the humanitarian situation. I continue to urge all parties to the conflict to cease targeting the civilian population and medical facilities, in accordance with international humanitarian law, and to allow medical items through in aid convoys." A press release is available here(For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

European Green Capital 2018 & European Green Leaf 2017: Finalists announced

Today the Commission has announced the finalist cities to advance to the next stage of the European Green Capital 2018 and European Green Leaf 2017 competitions. For European Green Capital, the finalists are ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Nijmegen in The Netherlands and Umeå in Sweden. For European Green Leaf the finalists are Cornellà de Llobregat in Spain, Galway in Ireland and Mikkeli in Finland. EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said: "Each year the quality of applications grows and it is encouraging to have previously shortlisted cities reapplying and learning from the process. They can become real role models for a sustainable future, showing us how we can make cities better places to live". The six shortlisted cities will now go forward to the next stage which involves presenting their future vision to the Jury. The winners will be announced on 22 June 2016 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Europe's current Green Capital. Today the Commission has also launched the search for the 2019 European Green Capital and 2018 European Green Leaf Awards. More information available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

Single Market: Commission seeks views on how to facilitate cross-border provision of services

The Commission today launched a public consultationon how to make it easier for service providers to provide services across the EU. As announced in the Single Market Strategy, the Commission plans to propose by the end of 2016 a Services Passport to simplify the administrative procedures for service providers who want to expand to other Member States. The Commission is also gathering views on how to address the regulatory barriers for key business services and construction and improve access to professional indemnity insurance coverage when service providers go cross-border. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: "Services account for two thirds of the EU economy. But the cross-border provision of services in the EU is underdeveloped, in particular in the area of business services – such as accounting and engineering services – and the construction sector. The Services Passport will help services providers big or small overcome administrative complexities. By promoting dynamic services markets, the Single Market will help deliver cheaper services and more choice for consumers." The goal of the Services Passport is to give services providers legal certainty and clarity about the rules they have to comply with when they want to operate in another Member State. The Services Passport will simplify administrative procedures without changing the amount of applicable rules or reduce labour law or social protection requirements that service providers need to comply with. By looking at how regulatoryand insurance requirements play a role in service providers' activities and options to reduce them if necessary, the Commission wants to make the best use of the Single Market for growth.The public consultation runs until 26 July. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietilä – Tel.: +32 229 64950)

 

Capital Markets Union: Commission supports crowdfunding as alternative source of finance for Europe's start-ups

The European Commission is today publishing its report on the EU crowdfunding sector, part of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan. Supporting innovative ways of connecting savings to growth and diversifying the funding sources for European businesses is crucial to improving growth and job creation in Europe. The report finds that crowdfunding remain6s relatively small but is developing rapidly. If appropriately regulated, it has the potential to be a key source of financing for SMEs over the long term. EU Member States have begun to put in place national frameworks to support the growth of the sector and ensure investors are appropriately protected. Jonathan Hill, EU Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union,said: "As part of our work to improve the funding conveyor belt for businesses, we are keen to support the development of crowdfunding models as a source of financing for entrepreneurs with bright ideas, start-ups and other SMEs. Our focus is on promoting best practice, appropriate investor protection and consistency of national regimes. We will continue to monitor market and regulatory developments closely." For more information, see our press release here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

Commission opens investigation into statistical reporting in Salzburg

The European Commission has decided today to launch a formal investigation into the possible manipulation or serious negligence in the production of statistics in Land Salzburg, Austria. In April 2014the Austrian Statistical Officecorrected the Austrian national debt and deficit figures, taking into account the previously unrecorded financial transactions by Land Salzburg.The investigation will now examine whether the misrepresentation of Austria's national debt and deficit data over several years was a result of either intent or serious negligence. If manipulation is confirmed, the Commission may recommend to the Council the imposition of a fine. The opening of an investigation, however, does not prejudge the outcome and the Commission is not calling into question the accuracy of national statistics in Austria. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253;Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

 

Eurostat: Selon les estimations, les émissions de CO2 ont légèrement augmenté dans l'UE par rapport à 2014

Eurostat estime que les émissions de dioxyde de carbone (CO2) provenant de la combustion de combustibles fossiles ont augmenté de 0,7% dans l’Union européenne (UE) en 2015 par rapport à l’année précédente. Les émissions de CO2 contribuent fortement au réchauffement de la planète et représentent environ 80% de l’ensemble des émissions de gaz à effet de serre dans l’UE. Elles sont influencées par des facteurs tels que les conditions climatiques, la croissance économique, la taille de la population, les transports et les activités industrielles. Diverses initiatives de l’UE en faveur de l’efficacité énergétique visent à réduire les émissions de CO2 et autres gaz à effet de serre. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

Eurostat: Les prix à la production industrielle en hausse de 0,3% dans la zone euro

En mars 2016 par rapport à février 2016, les prix à la production industrielle ont augmenté de 0,3% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,4% dans l'UE28, selon les estimations d’Eurostat, l’office statistique de l'Union européenne. En février 2016, les prix avaient baissé de 0,7% dans la zone euro et de 0,6% dans l'UE28. En mars 2016 par rapport à mars 2015, les prix à la production industrielle ont reculé de 4,2% dans la zone euro et de 4,1% dans l’UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 22964950)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

EU HR/VP Mogherini, Vice President Šefčovič and Commissioner Arias Cañete in Washington to participate in the US-EU Energy Council

On 4 May, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Energy Union Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete will co-chair the EU-US Energy Council in Washington, D.C. Jointly with their US counterparts - Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz - the EU representatives will discuss cooperation on energy security and diversification of energy sources, with particular attention given to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) trade between the EU and the US. Moreover, ways to achieve the clean energy and climate targets agreed at the Paris Climate Summit will take a prominent place in the meeting. The European and American representatives will debate how to create fair, transparent and liquid global energy markets, promoting energy efficiency, investment in essential energy infrastructure and deployment of new technologies. Cyber security of energy infrastructure and cooperation on global nuclear safety will feature in the agenda too. Moreover, the EU-US Council will explore global energy cooperation with Caribbean, Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries as well as its support for the progressive integration of Ukraine into the European energy market. "This year's EU-US Energy Council is an important element of the transatlantic relationship and will be crucial in addressing energy security and climate action issues, on our sides of the Atlantic as well as across the globe", said High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini. Vice-President Šefčovič added: "Working together with the US on bilateral and global energy issues will help us keep up the momentum to achieve a resilient and climate-friendly energy system globally. Our joint work will also help achieving the EU energy policy goals of secure, sustainable and competitive energy". Commissioner Arias Cañete said: “Close cooperation between the EU and the US is crucial in keeping up the global pressure to make what we agreed in Paris, and signed in New York, becomes a reality. This is the only way for us to lead the global clean energy revolution". A joint statement will be issued afterwards. Read more on EU-US energy relations. (For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Adam Kaznowski– Tel.: +32 229 89359;Nicole Bockstaller - Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

Vice-President Georgieva discusses the EU budget in Paris on 3 May

Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva will be in Paris on 3 May. She will deliver a keynote speech at the World Bank Treasury's Government Borrowers Forum hosted by the French Ministry of Finance and Public Accounts. She will meet Mr Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts of France, and Mr Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs of France, to discuss current challenges for the EU budget and the EU budget focused on results initiative as a means to improve performance, delivery on political priorities and spending and compliance with EU budgetary rules. Photographs of the Vice-President's visit to Paris will be available on EbS. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

 

Commissioner Hahn in Prague at the Ministerial Conference of the Visegrad Group and Eastern partners

On Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th May, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn will travel to Prague for the 7th Annual Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad Group and Eastern Partners. Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the European External Action Service, Helga Schmid, will also participate on behalf of the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, who is currently in the United States to co-chair the EU-USA Energy Council. Participants are expected to discuss the future of the EU's relations with the Eastern Partnership countries in the context of the revised European Neighbourhood Policy, focussing on delivering an effective, differentiated policy for all Eastern partners, regardless of their current relationship with the EU. The conference will also provide an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of commitments taken at the Riga Summit, with a view to the upcoming Eastern Partnership Ministerial Meeting, to be held in Brussels on 23 May. A number of bilateral meetings will be held in the margins of the conference. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570 ; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.:  +32 229 89359)

 

Commissaire Pierre Moscovici à l'OCDE à Paris

Le Commissaire Pierre Moscovici rencontrera M. Angel Gurrìa, Secrétaire général de l'Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Economiques (OCDE), à Paris cet après-midi pour un échange sur les normes internationales de bonne gouvernance dans le domaine fiscal. Cette rencontre est le signe de la volonté des deux institutions de poursuivre leur bonne collaboration et d'améliorer la coordination de leurs actions pour faire avancer ensemble la transparence fiscale internationale. (Pour plus d'informations:Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)

 

Signature of the Eurojust-Montenegro cooperation agreement

Today, Commissioner Jourová will meet Mr Zoran Pažin, the Montenegrin Justice Minister to take stock of Montenegro's justice reforms and participate in the signature of the cooperation agreement between Eurojust and the Republic of Montenegro. This agreement will strengthen the justice cooperation between the European Union with this country to better fight crime, including organised crime and terrorism. It can for instance help to accelerate or facilitate the execution of mutual legal assistance requests.The Agreement also provides for the exchange of liaison prosecutors and Montenegro's participation in operational and strategic meetings. The signature will take place with Mr Zoran Pažin, the Montenegrin Justice Minister, and Ms Michèle Coninsx, the Eurojust President, at 15:45. It will be followed by a press point open to accredited journalists and streamed online. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

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

MEX/16/1653