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Daily News – 06.12.2016

European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 06 / 12 / 2016

Brussels, 6 December 2016

Commissioner Navracsics and OECD Deputy Secretary-General Frantz present the PISA 2015 results

Today, Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and OECD Deputy Secretary-General Douglas Frantz presented the 2015 results of the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA), which compares the performance of 15-year-old students in education systems around the world. Commissioner Tibor Navracsics said: "Basic Skills are crucial for success not only in school, but also later in life, in further education and in the labour market. Too many young Europeans are not sufficiently well prepared for the challenges of modern, highly innovative societies. We must continue to support Member States in overcoming disadvantages related to social or immigrant background. High quality early childhood education and care play an important role here, just like good teacher education and training. I strongly believe that determined action today will contribute to reducing social exclusion tomorrow and to building a socially cohesive European society." Every three years, PISA evaluates the quality, equity and efficiency of school systems and student outcomes. It is worth noting that in 2015, for the first time ever, all EU Member States took part in PISA in the same year, which allows comparing across the EU. However, in most EU countries, more than 15% of 15-year-olds are not able to tackle tasks that require, at least, a minimal ability and disposition to think autonomously in one of the tested domains. Boosting basic skills will be one focus of the review of the Key Competences Framework that the Commission is launching next year. Across the OECD, more than one in five students falls short of baseline proficiency. PISA 2015 covers the 35 OECD member countries as well 37 non-OECD countries and economies. PISA Volumes I and IIas well as the OECD press release are available online. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

Le Président Juncker annonce la présentation d'une communication sur le futur de la Politique Agricole Commune

La Commission Européenne devra adopter avant la fin de 2017 une Communication sur le futur de la Politique Agricole Commune (PAC) post-2020. L'annonce a été faite ce matin à Bruxelles par le Président de la Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, à l'occasion du coup d'envoi des deux jours de la conférence annuelle organisée par la DG AGRI sur les perspectives du secteur agricole: "Simplification et modernisation seront dès lors les maîtres mots et l'objectif premier de la communication sur l'avenir de la politique agricole commune que la Commission prévoit d'adopter avant la fin de l'année 2017", a expliqué le Président Juncker, ajoutant que "la première étape sera celle d'une consultation publique qui sera lancée en début d'année prochaine et qui permettra à chacun d'entre vous de contribuer au débat sur l'orientation que devrait prendre à l'avenir cette politique stratégique d'une importance capitale". Devant près de 400 représentants et acteurs des marchés agricoles, le Commissaire Hogan s'est pour sa part dit convaincu que la PAC "se devait de garantir certaines règles de bases pour assurer une plus grande résilience des marchés, une production agricole plus durable et un meilleur renouvellement des générations." Les Commissaires Miguel Arias Cañete et Karmenu Vella comptent aussi parmi les nombreux intervenants de ce premier jour de conférence dont le thème général est "Changement climatique et disponibilité des ressources: des défis pour l'agriculture de l'Union Européenne". Le deuxième jour se concentrera sur les perspectives à dix ans des marchés des produits laitiers, de la viande et des céréales. Le programme complet de la conférence est en ligne. Toutes les sessions peuvent être suivies en direct et en ligne à ces liens-ci pour le mardi et pour le mercredi. Le hashtag de la conférence sur twitter est #EU_AgriOutlook. Le discours du Président Juncker est en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin - Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Commission welcomes new rules granting tax authorities access to important anti-money laundering information

The Commission welcomes the green light given today by EU Finance Ministers for new rules ensuring that tax authorities in the EU will access data collected under current anti-money laundering rules. This includes important information such as customer due diligence records and information held in national beneficial ownership registries. Tax authorities will now be able to easily identify the ultimate owner behind an opaque company or entity, and be able to react quickly to instances of tax evasion and avoidance. Following the adoption, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, said: "This is yet another leap forward in improving transparency and cross-border tax cooperation within the EU, providing Member States with a valuable tool to protect the integrity of their tax systems. Quick agreement at the Council once again reflects the importance Member States attach to the fight against tax evasion and avoidance." The proposal formed part of initiatives put forward by the Commission in July and the new measures should come into effect on 1 January 2018. Today's formal adoption of this new legislation comes after the European Parliament gave its opinion on this file. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini - Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

The European Union supports refugees fleeing the war in Syria

The European Union is delivering on its commitments to support refugees fleeing the war in Syria and their overstretched host communities in neighbouring countries. At this very moment, the board meeting of the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis is taking place in Brussels. The meeting brought together the European Commission, EU Member States, representatives of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, as well as international financial institutions. The board is discussing new actions to be adopted in the fields of health, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as socio-economic opportunities for stabilisation in neighbourhood countries. A press release with the outcome of the meeting will be online at approximately 17:00 and factsheet on the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis will be available. Also, today at 12:30 Commissioner Hahn will open the joint European Commission – UNICEF photo exhibition "Standing Strong: Human Faces of the Syrian Crisis" which will take place at the Berlaymont. The exhibition will present photos of Syrian refugee children and families in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey as well as drawings by Syrian refugee children hosted by these three countries. Photos and videos of the opening of the exhibition will be available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

 

Fighting illegal online hate speech: first assessment of the new code of conduct

Today, the European Commission publishes the first evaluation of how IT companies applied the code of conduct to combat illegal online hate speech. The code was agreed with the IT companies (Facebook, Google (YouTube), Twitter and Microsoft) on 31 May 2016. Initial results show that 28 % of all notifications of alleged illegal online hate speech lead to the removal of the flagged content. However, only 40 % of all notifications are currently reviewed under 24 hours, while the aim of the code of conduct is to review the majority within 24 hours. Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová said:" It is our duty to protect people in Europe from incitement to hatred and violence online. This is the common goal of the code of conduct. The last weeks and months have shown that social media companies need to live up to their important role and take up their share of responsibility when it comes to phenomena like online radicalisation, illegal hate speech or fake news. While IT Companies are moving in the right direction, the first results show that the IT companies will need to do more to make it a success." As part of the code of conduct IT companies pledged to review valid removal notifications against their community guidelines and where necessary national laws transposing the Framework Decisionon combating racism and xenophobia  in less than 24 hours and to remove or disable access to content, if necessary. 12 NGOs based in9 EU countries have analysed the responses to notifications over a period of six weeks. The findings indicate that among the 600 notifications made in total, 28% lead to a removal, 40% of all responses were received within 24 hours while another 43% arrived after 48 hours. The results will be discussed at the High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and all forms of intolerance on 7 December 2016, by justice ministers at the Justice Council on 8 December as well as at the EU Internet forum. A second monitoring exercise will take place in 2017 to assess progress and decide on next steps. Results are available in a factsheet. A press release from the launch of the code of conduct and a Q&A are available. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Relacom by Nordea and DNB

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Relacom Management AB by Nordea Bank AB and DNB Bank ASA, all of Sweden. Relacom is a technology services provider in the telecommunications, power and machine-to machine sectors. Both Nordea and DNB are banks offering a wide range of financial services. DNB Bank ASA belongs to the Norwegian based DNB ASA Group. Nordea and DNB are already shareholders of Relacom. The acquisition of joint control is the result of the exit of another shareholder. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of its very 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.8230. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)

 

Concentrations: la Commission autorise la création d'une entreprise commune par AXA et ATP

La Commission Européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition du contrôle en commun d'une nouvelle entreprise par les groupes AXA, établi en France, et le groupe Arbejdsmarkedets Tillӕgspension ("ATP"), établi au Danemark. L'entreprise commune sera propriétaire et concèdera un bâtiment hôtelier, actuellement en construction à Amsterdam, aux Pays-Bas. AXA est un groupe mondial d'assurance présent sur les marchés de l'assurance-vie, de l'assurance-santé et d'autres formes d'assurance, ainsi que dans la gestion d'investissements. ATP est un fonds de pension public danois, soumis au contrôle de l'autorité danoise de contrôle des services financiers. Il gère plusieurs régimes de prévoyance et de sécurité sociale. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence, compte tenu de son impact 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.8295. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)

 

Concentrations: La Commission approuve l'acquisition conjointe de Maïa Eolis par Engie, Omnes Capital et Prédica

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen relatif au contrôle des concentrations, l'acquisition en contrôle conjoint de la société française Maïa Eolis par les sociétés françaises Engie S.A., Omnes Capital et Prédica Prévoyance Dialogue du Crédit Agricole S.A. Maïa Eolis produit et vend de l'électricité à partir de plusieurs parcs éoliens en exploitation sur le territoire français. Engie est un fournisseur de gaz, d'électricité et de services énergétiques. Omnes Capital est une société de gestion d'actifs indépendante. Prédica est active dans le secteur de l'assurance et fait partie du Groupe Crédit Agricole. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne soulevait pas de problèmes de concurrence en raison de chevauchements très limités entre les activités des entreprises concernées. L'opération a été examinée en vertu de la procédure simplifiée de 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.8289. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)

 

Concentrations: la Commission approuve la création d'une entreprise commune entre DCNS et SPI dans le secteur des énergies marines renouvelables

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition en contrôle conjoint de la nouvelle entité DCNS Energies par DCNS et SPI Société de Projets Industriels (SPI). DCNS Energies regroupera les activités de DCNS dans le secteur des énergies marines renouvelables (EMR), en particulier de l'énergie thermique des mers, de l'énergie éolienne flottante et de l'énergie hydrolienne. DCNS est une entreprise française active principalement dans le secteur de la défense navale. SPI est un fonds professionnel de capital investissement qui a pour mission d'investir dans des projets structurants pour l'industrie française. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne poserait pas de problème de concurrence car les chevauchements éventuels entre les activités des entreprises concernées sont minimes, en ce compris sur les marchés connexes. L'opération a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée en matière de 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.8260. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)

 

Mergers: Commission approves the creation of a joint venture for motorway service areas in Portugal

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a new joint venture (Brisáreas) by Brisa – Auto-Estradas de Portugal S.A. and Áreas Portugal – Restauraçaõ e Distribuçaõ S.A., all of Portugal. Brisáreas will be responsible for the management, operation and commercial development of service areas in certain motorways operated by Brisa in Portugal. Brisa constructs, maintains and operates motorway concessions in Portugal and offers ancillary services to road mobility. Áreas, controlled by Elior S.A. of France, operates food service concessions at airports and motorways service areas in Portugal and other European Economic Area countries. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given its limited impact on the market structure. The case 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.8148M.8148. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)

 

EUROSTAT: Le PIB en hausse de 0,3% dans la zone euro et de 0,4% dans l'UE28

Au cours du troisième trimestre 2016, le PIB corrigé des variations saisonnières a progressé de 0,3% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,4% dans l'UE28 par rapport au trimestre précédent, selon l'estimation publiée par Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. Au cours du deuxième trimestre 2016, le PIB avait également augmenté respectivement de 0,3% et 0,4%. En comparaison avec le même trimestre de l'année précédente, le PIB corrigé des variations saisonnières s'est accru de 1,7% dans la zone euro et de 1,9% dans l'UE28 au troisième trimestre 2016, après également +1,7% et +1,9% au deuxième trimestre 2016. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici.(Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

 

STATEMENTS

 

Statement by Commissioners Avramopoulos and King: Systematic checks of EU citizens at external borders agreed by European Parliament and Council

The European Parliament and the Council reached agreement yesterday on the Commission's proposal to introduce mandatory systematic checks of all travellers, including EU citizens, against relevant databases when crossing the EU's external borders. The Commission welcomes the agreement and now looks forward to the swift adoption of the proposal by the European Parliament Plenary and the Council. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, we proposed to introduce systematic checks of all citizens at all external borders so we know exactly who crosses our borders. I welcome that the European Parliament and the Council have now agreed on our proposal to modify the Schengen Borders Code to that effect. In addition to the successful launch of the European Border and Coast Guard in October, enforcing systematic controls on all travellers crossing EU external borders is another crucial step in our work to preserve the freedom of movement within the Schengen area and ensuring the security of our citizens." Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King said: "Terrorists don't respect national borders and systematic checks at the external borders are a key way to stop them from coming into the EU but also from travelling to conflict zones. I welcome today's agreement as it will mean that for the first time all those entering and exiting the EU will be checked against a key database for law enforcement in the EU – the Schengen Information System. It will help detect all the wanted individuals who have an alert placed on them– including foreign terrorist fighters. The agreement should now be formally adopted by the co-legislators so that it can enter into force and be applied by Member States as soon as possible." The full statement is available online here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 22980423; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Joint EU-U.S. press statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting

On 5 December 2016, the US-EU Ministerial Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs took place in Washington, D.C. The meeting reaffirmed the strong and historical bonds between the United States and the European Union, and the commitment to continue working closely together in the areas of Justice and Home Affairs. The United States of America, hosting the event at the Department of Justice, was represented by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and by Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson. The EU was represented by the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos and by Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Robert Kaliňák, on behalf of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The full statement is available online here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

 

Commissioner Thyssen gives keynote speech at Conference on Labour Provisions in Trade Agreements

This afternoon, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will give a keynote speech at the Conference on Labour Provisions in Trade Agreements, jointly organised by the European Commission and the International Labour Organisation and taking place in Brussels. At the Conference, participants will discuss an ILO-led impact assessment of labour provisions in trade agreements on labour market outcomes. Ahead of the Conference, Commissioner Thyssen stressed: "According to ILO data, one-third of all our jobs are directly or indirectly related to supply chains. This illustrates well the importance of trade for the global economy. However, labour provisions should empower labour market institutions and actors, and be based on internationally agreed standards. Labour provisions in EU trade and investment agreements are powerful tools for promoting EU values and principles. ILO research will help us to improve those provisions and their application even further." More information on the Conference can be found here. Commissioner Thyssen's speech will be made available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

 

Commissioner Bieńkowska travels to Argentina to strengthen business relations with Mercosur countries

Today, Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs is leading an economic diplomacy mission to Buenos Aires to strengthen bilateral relations with Argentina and enhance cooperation with the Mercosur region. She will meet the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri to discuss negotiations on the EU-Mercosur association agreement and build on the previous visit of Mr Macri in Brussels earlier in July this year. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: "This visit is a great opportunity to re-launch our relations. The partnership between the EU and Argentina has a great potential to create jobs and prosperity in both our economies. And we hope to strengthen our cooperation with the entire Mercosur region." As part of the trip, the Commissioner will also meet Susana Malcorra, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Juan José Aranguren, Minister of Energy and Mining, Mariano Mayer, State Secretary for Entrepreneurs and SMEs, Martin Etchegoyen, State Secretary for Industry, Lino Barañao, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation and Alfonso Prat-Gay, Minister of Treasury and Public Finances. In addition, a group of business representatives from different sectors are accompanying the Commissioner on the trip, where they will also meet various Argentinean companies to talk about how to improve the business environment and facilitate strategic investments. (For more information, Lucìa Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 22987278)

 

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

MEX/16/4288