EXME 14 / 07.03
07 / 03 / 14
"Our first priority is a negotiated and peaceful outcome to the current crisis. Europe is willing to do everything in its powers to contribute to a negotiated solution which respects the will of the Ukrainian people", said President Barroso following yesterday's extraordinary meeting of Heads of State and Government.
"The European Union has conveyed a strong message of support to the Prime Minister Yatseniuk and his government. And through them to the Ukrainian citizens", he added. "We have expressed our readiness to support Ukraine to stabilise the economic and financial situation. I am pleased that the European Commission's presentation of a European Union aid package of a total amount of 11 billion Euros has been welcomed by all Heads of State and Government today. The Prime Minister of Ukraine has also expressed his gratitude for this very substantive package of support. Now implementation is key."
More info on the assistance package: MEMO/14/159 .
President Barroso in Greece
President Barroso will travel to Athens tomorrow (Saturday, 8 March) where he will participate in a working lunch with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. President Barroso and Prime Minister Samaras will take stock of achievements under the Greek Presidency of the Council and discuss developments in the EU and Greek economies. In addition, President Barroso will attend the 6th European Summit of Regions and Cities, where he will take part in a high-level debate about the 2014 European elections and the future of the EU.
Who are more likely to leave school early – women or men? What proportion of young women have a degree? Which fields of tertiary education are the most popular among women and which are the least? Are a higher or a lower proportion of women than men in employment? Do women or men more often work part time? What is the difference in earnings between women and men? How have fertility rates changed over the last decade? Answers to these questions can be found in this News Release, published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2014. The tables in this News Release only show a small part of the large amount of gender based data available at Eurostat. A dedicated section on the topic of gender equality is available on the Eurostat web site.
Equality between women and men is a fundamental right and one of the European Union's founding principles. Just like the right to equal pay, it has been enshrined in our founding Treaties since 1957. But these are not just lofty ideals. For over fifty years, Europe has shaped progress towards gender equality. We have developed laws guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, equality in the workplace and minimum rights to maternity leave. In many cases, these changes would have come later – and sometimes perhaps not at all – without European action. We have made the EU's founding principles a tangible reality in Europeans' everyday lives. This is something we can and should be proud of: gender equality is a European achievement. Today's MEMO details Europe's achievements in bringing about greater gender equality. Of course, the very existence of International Women's Day reminds us that differences remain, Europe must therefore continue its quest to shape gender equality in the years to come.
Ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), the European Commission has today adopted a Recommendation asking Member States to improve pay transparency for women and men in a bid to help close the gender pay gap. The pay gap – the average difference between women and men’s hourly earnings across the entire economy – has barely moved in recent years and is stagnating at 16.4% across the European Union. Member States will need to report back to the Commission on what action they have taken to implement the recommendations by the end of 2015. Vice-President Reding said: “Women should not be paid less simply because they are kept in the dark about what their male colleagues earn. Greater transparency will help close the gender pay gap. I hope Member States will take up the challenge and endeavour to make sure women no longer get short-changed." See also: MEMO/14/160
The Commission is marking International Women's Day with news that it has achieved its targets for female representation 11 months ahead of schedule. The latest figures show that all three targets set out in the Equal Opportunity Strategy 2010-2014 for 31 December 2014 were already achieved on 1 February: 27.9% of senior managers are now women, 30.3% of middle managers and 43.2% of non-management administrators. These percentages are expected to continue rising. They represent a significant improvement compared to 1995, when just 4% of senior managers were women, 10.7% of middle managers and 23.9% of non-management administrators.
Ahead of the celebration of International Women's Day the European Commission announces the winners of the 2014 EU Prize for Women Innovators. They are Saskia Biskup (Germany, first prize), Laura van 't Veer (The Netherlands, second prize) and Ana Maiques (Spain, third prize). The competition celebrates women who have combined their scientific excellence with a head for business to set up innovative enterprises. It is open to women who have benefited from EU research and innovation programmes. The three winners will receive their prizes from the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso at the opening ceremony of the Innovation Convention 2014 , Europe’s premier innovation event which will take place in Brussels on 10 and 11 March.
The EU28 seasonally adjusted external current account recorded a surplus of 47.9 billion euro (1.5% of GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with a surplus of 31.8 bn (1.0% of GDP) in the third quarter of 2013 and with a surplus of 22.9 bn (0.7% of GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with the third quarter of 2013, the seasonally adjusted surpluses of the goods account (+11.4 bn euro compared with +0.9 bn), income account (+11.6 bn compared with +8.7 bn) and services account (+42.1 bn compared with +40.8 bn) all increased, and the deficit of the current transfers account fell (-17.2 bn compared with -18.6 bn). These data are subject to revision.
On Monday (10 March), Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will join philanthropist George Soros and Remus Pricopie, the Romanian Minister of Education, to visit education projects in Bucharest which support the social integration of Roma communities. Commissioner Vassiliou will underline the European Commission's determination to combat all forms of discrimination against Roma and explain how the EU can help its Member States to implement their national strategies for Roma integration. Through the ROMED programme, the European Commission and the Council of Europe have co-funded the training of more than 1,000 Roma mediators who are now working in local communities across Europe to ensure that young Roma children enjoy all the benefits of pre-school, primary and secondary education. George Soros is the founder-chairman of the Open Society Foundations, which work closely with the Commission and other agencies in advancing Roma rights and equal opportunities. More information: EU and Roma , ROMED programme , Open Society Foundations .
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the planned acquisition by Huntsman of a number of equity interests held by Rockwood (both of the US) is in line with the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission has concerns that the transaction may reduce competition in the market for sulphate-based titanium dioxide in the European Economic Area (EEA). Titanium dioxide is a chemical used for whitening dishes, paper, bathtubs, clothing, toothpaste, cream, cookies, PVC window frames, etc. It also adds opacity, contributing to brightness and colour. The decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the result of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 22 July 2014, to take a decision.
On 11 March in Brussels, Vice-President Rehn, Commissioner Barnier and Commissioner Šemeta will participate in the meeting of the EU's Council of Economic and Finance Ministers. On the agenda are two important legislative proposals: first the Council will seek to adopt the proposal to amend the Savings Tax Directive and second it is expected to make progress on the Single Resolution Mechanism proposal, which would pave the way towards agreement with the European Parliament in trilogue. The meeting will also be an occasion to take note of the outstanding files on the financial regulation agenda. On the non-legislative activities front, the Council will be informed of the outcome of the recent G20 meeting held in Sydney and the Council will exchange views on the major economic issues of the 2030 energy and climate policy framework.
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead