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Daily News – 05.10.2015

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 05 / 10 / 2015

Brussels, 5 October 2015

Opportunities for jobs and growth: Commissioner Crețu in Greece

From today until 8 October, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu is in Greece. She meets with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Giorgos Stathakis, Minister of Economy, and with Ministers in charge of EU funds. "This visit will focus on what we, the Commission and the Greek authorities, can do to pave the way for a prosperous future in the country. The contribution of both the European Structural and Investment Funds and of the Investment Plan for Europe to growth and job creation in Greece will be at the heart of my exchanges with national and regional stakeholders. We will also discuss the urgency of the refugee crisis in Greece and what we can do to help" the Commissioner stated, ahead of her visit. "For 2014-2020, over €35 billion from the EU budget are ready to flow into the real economy. At the initiative of President Juncker, the Commission presented in July a number of proposals to help Greece fully benefit from EU funds. These exceptional measures are a strong message of European solidarity but they will only bear fruit if our Greek partners carry out the necessary reforms to ensure a return to sustainable growth and a lasting recovery," she added. More information on Cohesion Policy in Greece and on the Commission's agenda on migration is available online. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Adequate Pensions: new report calls for measures to enable people to work until they reach the pension age

Europe’s pension systems can be expected to deliver adequate pensions also to future generations of retirees provided Member States pursue strong policies to enable as many workers as possible to stay in jobs until they reach the statutory pension age. This is one of the main conclusions of a new report on pension adequacy. Employment policies should provide more possibilities for older workers to stay longer in the labour market. However, pension systems must also provide protection for those who are unable to remain in the labour market long enough to build up sufficient pension entitlements. The findings of the 2015 Pension Adequacy Report will be endorsed today by the Employment and Social Affairs Council. Welcoming the report, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility commented: "Recent pension reforms have focused on ensuring pensions for a much larger older population without destabilising public finances. This can only be achieved if the great majority of people are offered enough opportunities to keep on working until they reach the regular retirement age that is set to rise across the EU. Our priority must be to invest enough in people’s skills and health to enable them to use such opportunities. We also need solidarity with those who cannot and may need to rely on unemployment or invalidity benefits before reaching the retirement age." A press release and memo are available. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.:+32 229 62253; Tove Ernst – Tel.:+32 229 86764)

Education: Teacher pay on the rise, confirms new European report

After several years of stagnation and sometimes, decreases, teacher salaries are increasing again in 23 European countries. This is one of the main findings of the latest annual update on teachers’ and school heads’ salaries around Europe, compiled by the European Commission's Eurydice network and published on the occasion of International Teachers’ Day. Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said, "It is encouraging that countries invest in this important profession. Europe relies on highly motivated and qualified teachers. They are crucial to provide quality education to the next generations.' The report also includes detailed country information". More information on teachers' profiles around Europe was published by Eurostat on 2 October: (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel: +32 229 67083; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)

Commission outlines multiannual plan for EU Forest Strategy

EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan will present the Multi Annual implementation Plan (MAP) of the EU Forest Strategy to the European Parliament Agriculture Committee in Strasbourg this evening. Aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainable management and development of forests in the EU, the MAP is a follow-on from the 2013 Forest Strategy, updating the challenges which the sector faces, while still balancing the economic, social and environmental benefits of forests. EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said today: "Forestry is one of the main sectors that keep our rural areas still vibrant and sustainable, providing over three million jobs in the EU. I believe that forestry is key in the transition towards a low-carbon and climate friendly economy. It is therefore important to keep the sector resilient to the ever-changing challenges it faces. Although the Rural Development Programmes (RDP) for 2014-2020 have not been finalised in all Member States, we estimate that, taking all 118 RDPs together, approximately €7.2 billion of public investment is programmed for the forest sector. The Forest multi-annual plan will assess how these measures could bring more added-value and how they could be applied more effectively." Forests are one of the most important land uses, covering about 40% of the EU total area, and have been expanding steadily over the last 50 years. Although the potential benefits are widely acknowledged - notably through the 2013 Forest Strategy which set a number of objectives to be achieved by 2020 - the challenges faced by the sector are evolving. More information is available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509) 

Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigation into International Skating Union's eligibility rules

The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into International Skating Union (ISU) rules that permanently ban skaters from competitions such as the Winter Olympics and the ISU World and European Championships if they take part in events not approved by the ISU. The Commission will in particular investigate whether ISU rules are unduly preventing athletes from exercising their profession by putting disproportionate and unjustified obstacles in the way of companies not linked to the ISU that want to organise alternative ice-skating events. This may prevent alternative event organisers from entering the market or drive them out of business. If confirmed, such practices could constitute anti-competitive agreements and/or an abuse of a dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules. The investigation follows a complaint by two Dutch ice speed skaters, Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "For many, sport is a passion – but it can also be a business. We recognise and respect the role of international sports federations to set the rules of the game and to ensure proper governance of sport, notably in terms of the health and safety of the athletes and the integrity of competitions. However, in the case of the International Skating Union we will investigate if such rules are being abused to enforce a monopoly over the organisation of sporting events or otherwise restrict competition. Athletes can only compete at the highest level for a limited number of years, so there must be good reasons for preventing them to take part in events." She also said: "The Commission has decided to pursue this investigation because it raises specific allegations of breaches of competition law at the international level rather than wider issues of internal governance or rule-making in a sport federation." The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and NL. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over a portfolio of hotels by Benson Elliot, Walton Street and Starwood

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over a hotel portfolio comprising eight hotels located in Nuremberg (Germany), Rome, Venice, Milan (Italy), Warsaw (Poland), Paris (France) and Brussels (Belgium) by Benson Elliot of the United Kingdom and Walton Street of the US. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide of the US currently has joint control over five of these hotels, located in Nuremberg, Rome, Venice, Milan and Warsaw and will continue to exercise joint control together with Benson Elliot and Walton Street. Benson Elliot is an investment firm with a core focus on global real estate, Walton Street is a private equity investment firm and Starwood owns, franchises and manages hotels worldwide. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of its limited impact on the market structure. 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.7705. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

EUROSTAT: Volume of retail trade stable in both euro area and EU28

In August 2015 compared with July 2015, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade remained stable in both the euro area (EA19) and the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In July retail trade rose by 0.6% and 0.4% respectively. A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

EUROSTAT: Just over 40% of the EU population lives in cities

Out of 100 persons in the European Union (EU) in 2014, 40 were living in densely-populated areas (or cities), 28 in thinly-populated (or rural) areas and 32 in intermediate areas (or towns and suburbs). There are significant discrepancies between the EU Member States, some of them having a mainly urban population while in others the population is mainly rural. A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)



Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen participate in Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in Luxembourg, 5 October

Meeting in Luxembourg today, EU Ministers for employment and social affairs will discuss how to make EU social governance more inclusive. Vice-President Dombrovskis will address the way forward on social governance in an inclusive Europe and inform the Council on the state of play on the re-launch of social dialogue. A few months ahead of the presentation of the Commissions Labour Mobility Package, Commissioner Thyssen will present a number of facts, figures and issues in the field of labour mobility. Commissioner Thyssen will inform the Ministers about recent Commission proposal for a recommendation on the integration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market. The Council is also expected to adopt a decision on the employment guidelines. Ministers will be invited to endorse the key messages of the report 'Adequate retirement incomes in the context of ageing societies' and to adopt conclusions on the report. The Council is also expected to adopt conclusions on a new Agenda for Health and Safety at Work to foster better working conditions. Over lunch, Ministers and Commissioner Thyssen will discuss the impact of the refugee crisis on the labour markets and social policy and notably assess how EU funds can be best be used on the ground. The public debates and the press conference can be followed here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)

Boosting startups and digital networks in Europe: Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Bieńkowska meet the European Round Table of Industrialists

This afternoon, Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Bieńkowska will meet top European business leaders representing the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT).These discussions are a follow-up to the meeting between German Chancellor Merkel, French President Hollande, Commission President Juncker and the ERTwhich took place on 1 June in Berlin and focused on the creation of a Digital Single Market in Europe – one of the Commission's top priorities (see press conference). Today's work, and earlier exchanges on the free flow of data in Europe (20 July), will help prepare the next meeting between the leaders to be held in Paris on 27 October. This afternoon, Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Bieńkowska will discuss with the ERT how to support entrepreneurship in Europe. Startups and SMEs are the backbone of the economy and their development is at the core of the Commission's policies, funding and networking opportunities. Cutting red tape, harmonising rules and facilitating access to capital for small businesses are part of the Commission's Digital Single Market Strategy, presented in May, and of the upcoming Internal Single Market Strategy. Today's discussions will also explore how to encourage investment in digital networks, especially in rural areas (see recent public consultations on EU telecoms rules and broadband needs). (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)

Commissioner Malmström in Turkey for the G20 Trade Ministerial Meeting

Today, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is in Istanbul for the meeting of the G20 Trade Ministers. In the margins of the G20, Commissioner Malmström will have various bilateral meetings with Ministers. The main objective of these meetings will be to discuss ways to advance the WTO Doha Round and to make the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi this December a success. To this end, the Commissioner will meet, on Monday, with WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevedo. Following this meeting, Commissioner Malmström, together with the Luxembourgish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean Asselborn, representing the Council Presidency, will hand over to the WTO Director-General the documents confirming ratification by the EU of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Photos of the hand-over will be available on EbS. She will meet the United States Trade Representative, Michael Froman, the Turkish Minister of Economy, Nihat Zeybekçi, and the Japanese State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Yosuke Takagi, the Russian Minister of Economic Development, Mr Alexei Ulyukayev and the Indonesian Trade Minister, Mr Thomas Lembong. Finally, Commissioner Malmström will participate in a panel discussion at the G20-OECD Global Forum on International Investment. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

Intelligent Transport Systems: Commissioner Bulc opens World Congress

Today EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc is opening the 22nd World Congress on intelligent transport systems (ITS) in Bordeaux. ITS covers the application of information and communication technologies to the transport sector, for example for traffic management. Commissioner Bulc said "By optimising the use of the transport infrastructure, ITS can contribute to the decarbonisation objectives of the Commission. They also provide business and export opportunities for European companies, thereby creating jobs and strengthening the global competitiveness of the EU, which is our top priority." Besides the opening ceremony, Commissioner Bulc will attend a Ministerial Roundtable discussing how to further promote ITS, and will meet promoters of ITS projects beneficiating from EU funding. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 69143)