Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: FR


Brussels, Friday 16 April 2010

Top News from the European Commission

19 April to 2 May 2010

Background notes from the Spokesperson's service for journalists.

The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Tuesday 20 April: Commission revises competition rules in distribution sector 2

Tuesday 20 April: Commission outlines Plan to Strengthen Justice and Security for Europe's Citizens 3

Tuesday 20 to Wednesday 21 April: Commissioner Vassiliou participates in EU Sport Forum and meets EU Sport Ministers in Madrid 5

Wednesday 21 April: Announcement of Development "Spring Package": how can Europe move ahead towards the Millennium Development Goals? 6

Monday 26 April: Industrial competitiveness and the role of policy and markets in difficult times 8

Tuesday 27 April: European strategy on clean and energy efficient vehicles 10

Tuesday 27 April: Green Paper "Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries" is adopted by the European Commission. 11

Thursday 29 April: "For diversity. Against discrimination." - Journalist Award 2009 12

Thursday 29 to Friday 30 April: Second High Level Conference on Postal Services - Delivery Services for a Digital World (Valencia) 14

Friday 30 April: Report on removing tax obstacles to venture capital investments within the EU 16

Tuesday 20 April: Commission revises competition rules in distribution sector

The news:

The Commission next week is due to update the rules providing a 'safe harbour' for agreements between manufacturers and distributors - and other forms of so-called vertical agreements. The existing Vertical Restraints Block Exemption Regulation (VRBER) and accompanying Guidelines expire at the end of May. They are 10 years old. The novelties in the new texts are that they clarify the rules applicable to vertical agreements concerning on-line sales, recognising the development in the last decade of the Internet as a force for cross-border commerce and, second, that they extend the market share threshold to buyers, on top of a manufacturer's threshold, above which the exemption does not apply. These updates of the rules reflect market dynamics, competition enforcement and economic research.

The background:

The current Block Exemption Regulation was adopted in 1999 and exempts supply and distribution agreements that comply with its provisions from the EU competition rules' ban on restrictive business practices (Article 101(1) of the EU-Treaty). It expires in May 2010. At the time of its adoption, the Regulation aimed at reducing the regulatory burden, in particular for companies without significant market power like small and medium sized companies (SMEs). The Regulation and the accompanying Guidelines also introduced an effects-based approach to the assessment of vertical restraints. The overwhelming opinion is that the VRBER has been a success in reducing compliance costs and bureaucracy for all firms operating in Europe while ensuring consumers benefit from choice and price competition. The Commission published a draft of the new Regulation and Guidelines in July 2009 on which it received comments by trade associations, the legal community, the NCAs and many other interested parties – a total of over 150 submissions.

The event:

Press Conference by Vice President and Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

IP/09/1197: Antitrust: Commission launches public consultation on review of competition rules for distribution sector

Special website created for the review of the competition rules applicable to vertical agreements, including submissions made during public consultation:

Commissioner Almunia's website:

Press release and MEMO will be available.

The contacts:

Amelia Torres +32 2 295 46 29

Tuesday 20 April: Commission outlines Plan to Strengthen Justice and Security for Europe's Citizens

The news:

Delivering a genuine European area of freedom, security and justice is as difficult and ambitious as completing the European Single Market. The Stockholm Programme (2010-2014), which was endorsed by European leaders last December, includes 170 initiatives to achieve this goal. The European Commission will present concrete actions – with set timetables – to turn these objectives into a reality. The Commission's proposals will enhance citizens' security and fundamental rights. Businesses will also benefit from less red tape and more legal certainty in cross-border transactions.

The action items include:

  • improving data protection for citizens in all EU policies and in all relations with international partners

  • removing administrative burdens for citizens and businesses by ensuring that judicial decisions and civil documents are recognised across borders without cumbersome procedures or excessive costs

  • increasing protection for citizens travelling outside their home countries in the EU when they book a holiday package or file a claim after a road accident. For travel outside the EU, citizens will have better consular protection

  • creating a common asylum and immigrating policy based on respect of fundamental rights, solidarity and burden sharing amongst Member States

  • stepping up the fight against cross-border crimes by tightening sanctions, in particular for human trafficking, violence against women, money laundering or cybercrime

  • improving security in Europe: fighting the use of the Internet by terrorists, cutting off terrorists' financing and preventing the spread of explosives and other weapons

  • promoting an EU approach to the use of passenger name record data (PNR) for law enforcement purposes

The background:

The European Council of 10-11 December 2009 adopted the Stockholm Programme, a comprehensive plan of EU justice and security policies for 2010–2014. The Commission will take these political objectives and turn them into concrete actions for the next five years.

The event:

Tuesday 20 April at 16.00pm: Joint Press Conference by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

SPEECH/10/108: Next steps for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship in the EU

Commissioner Reding's website:

Commissioner Malmström's website:

The contacts:

Matthew Newman +32 2 296 2406

Michele Cercone +32.2 298 0963

Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 1382

Tuesday 20 to Wednesday 21 April: Commissioner Vassiliou participates in EU Sport Forum and meets EU Sport Ministers in Madrid

The news:

Key representatives of international, European and national sport organisations will gather in Madrid to discuss the new EU agenda for sport.

The background:

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union gives the EU powers to support and encourage the development of sport in EU countries. The EU Sport Forum will include a joint session with Commissioner Vassiliou and Sport Ministers on 20 April which will be followed by an informal Ministerial meeting on 21st. The agenda includes: Member States' priorities for a new EU agenda for sport, structured dialogue on sport, the creation of a new working group ,"Social inclusion and equal opportunities in sport", and progress reports on economic statistics, health and sport, and the fight against doping.

The Forum is an opportunity for the Commission to exchange views with EU sport stakeholders' ahead of the adoption of the Commission's Communication on sport. Participants will include European and international sports stakeholders (federations, Olympic movement, leagues, clubs, athletes, the sport for all and leisure/fitness sector), as well as national Olympic committees and national sports umbrella organisations.

The event:

The event will take place on 19-21 April in Madrid at the "Palacio Municipal de Congresos" in Madrid.

Two press conferences are organised by the Spanish Presidency with the participation of Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for sport. They will take place the 20 April before the beginning of the joint session (between 12:00 and 13:00 tbc) and at the end of the Ministerial on 21 April (13:00).

The sources:

European Commission's website on sport:

Website of the Spanish Presidency of the EU:

Commissioner Vassiliou's website:

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67

Wednesday 21 April: Announcement of Development "Spring Package": how can Europe move ahead towards the Millennium Development Goals?

The news:

On 21st April the Commission will adopt a "12-point EU Action Plan in support of the Millennium Development Goals”. This sets out a blueprint for the EU position in the MDG Summit in September of this year.

The action plan will include proposals to Member States on how to foster delivery on aid commitments by 2015. It will also emphasize on key elements such as making aid more efficient, more coherent with other EU policies as well as mobilising more resources from innovative sources.

The background:

2015 is the deadline for attaining the Millennium Development Goals. On 21st April the publication of the twelve-point EU action plan in support of the Millennium Development Goals will demonstrate the Commission's commitment towards reaching this important deadline. The Commission has already published a number of documents this year aiming to get developing countries back on track towards the attainment of the MDGs:

  • More and better education in developing countries" adopted on 4 February;

  • “EU action plan on gender equality & women's empowerment in development" on 8 March

  • Communication on “The EU role in global health” on 31 March

  • Communication on “An EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges" on 31 March

The following will be published on 21 April:

Tax and Development – cooperating with developing countries on promoting good governance in tax matters

4 associated Staff Working Documents on aid effectiveness, aid for trade, policy coherence for development and the Monterrey monitoring report

The event:

20 April at 11.00am: Technical Briefing off the record presented by DG DEV and DG TAXUD in the press room of the Berlaymont building.

21 April at 11.30am: Press Conference by Commissioner Piebalgs in the press room of the Berlaymont building.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Commissioner Piebalgs' website:

DG Development on Europa:

The Commission's MDG dashboard at:

IP/10/403: Global Health: Commission calls on EU to gear up on health actions

IP/10/404: Renewed impetus for food security: the EU tackles hunger in developing countries

  • I-056970 Archives (short): Millennium development goals

The contacts:

Catherine Ray +32 229 69 921

Monday 26 April: Industrial competitiveness and the role of policy and markets in difficult times

The news:

The time is ripe to take a fresh look at how to foster the competitiveness of European industry, and set out a “recovery and entry strategy”. On 26th April the Barroso II Commission will present, for discussion, some of its ideas on the industrial policy element of the European Strategy for a Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth (Europe 2020) at the 2nd high-level conference on industrial competitiveness.

The background:

A rather dynamic but still fragile economic recovery seems to be gaining ground. However, the underlying structural weaknesses of significant parts of our economies and the un-sustainability of public finances have not yet been tackled. Also, the adjustment pressure on industry coming from demographic change, accelerating globalization and the need for making Europe much more resource efficient is rising. Therefore, the time has come to take stock of what Europe has learnt from the financial and economic crisis and the related policy responses, and to develop recipes on how to make industry flourishing and successfully tackling these challenges and turning them into opportunities. It is necessary to take a fresh look at European economic governance and the role of markets beyond the immediate economic crisis and set out a “recovery and entry strategy”, especially for European industry.

The event:

2nd High-level conference on industrial competitiveness: The role of policy and markets in difficult times: What have we learnt – where do we go?

High-level speakers and panelists such as José M. Barroso, Joaquin Almunia, Antonio Tajani, Nick Reilly, Mario Monti, Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Wolfgang Münchau have confirmed their participation. The mix of European policy makers, business leaders and social partners, internationally renowned economists and journalists will ensure an interesting and highly-relevant public dialogue about policy needs and responses, and the division of labour between policy and markets. About 400 representatives from the fields of politics, business, social partners, NGOs, academia and the media are expected to participate.


Charlemagne Building (room Gasperi)

170 Rue de la Loi (Wetstraat)

1049 Brussels


8:45am – 17:30pm

The sources:

European Commission's website on Enterprise and Industry:

Commissioner Tajani's website:

The contacts:

Fabio Pirotta +32 2 29 67 284

Andrea Maresi +32 2 29.90 403

Tuesday 27 April: European strategy on clean and energy efficient vehicles

The news:

The Commission will adopt a Communication on a European Strategy on Clean and Energy Efficient Vehicles. The Communication will set out an ambitious strategy to support the creation of a clean and energy efficient transport system in the EU that will contribute to achieving the Europe 2020 objectives by reinforcing Europe’s capacity to produce smart and sustainable vehicles.

The background:

The strategy will set out an action plan for the coming years to support the decarbonisation of transport, based on a fresh industrial policy approach that will create jobs geared to green products, while reinforcing the global position of EU industry.

Clean and energy-efficient vehicles, such as electric cars will contribute significantly to the Europe 2020 priorities of developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation (smart growth) and promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy (sustainable growth).

For example, electric vehicle technology can address a number of energy and environmental challenges facing the EU. It can:

  • contribute to combating global warming through if the electricity used for charging the vehicles is produced from low- and zero-carbon sources

  • promote the use of energy from renewable sources to power road transport

  • cut local air pollution (particulate matter, NOx and CO) from transport

  • reduce dependency of road transport on fossil fuels if the electricity for charging the vehicles is produced from non-fossil sources.

The event:

Press conference (tbc)

The sources:

European Commission's website on European strategy on clean and energy efficient vehicles:

Commissioner Tajani's website:

  • I-063650 Stockshots (long): Green economy: products and transport

The contacts:

Fabio Pirota +32-2-2967284

Andrea Maresi +32-2-2990403

Tuesday 27 April: Green Paper "Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries" is adopted by the European Commission.

The news:

Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will hold a press conference to present the European Commission's Green Paper on "Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries". The Green Paper launches a major public consultation to better understand how the EU can foster the right environment for these industries to contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Commisioner Vassiliou will be joined at the press conference by Peter Dundas, Creative Director of Emilio Pucci.

The background:

The cultural and creative industries are one of Europe's most dynamic economic sectors, employing more than 5 million people across the EU-27, contributing 2.6 % to EU GDP and growing faster than many other sectors in the economy. Cultural and creative industries support social and territorial cohesion, as well as driving creativity and innovation with beneficial spillover effects for the rest of the economy and society as a whole.

Digitization and globalization open new market opportunities for European cultural and creative industries, in particular for small businesses.

But these businesses often face obstacles to fulfilling their full potential. Cultural and creative industries need the right business environment which meets the specific needs of creative entrepreneurship.

The event:

27 April at 12.30am.

A press conference will be held with Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and Peter Dundas in the Berlaymont building (Press room, floor -1).

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission's website on culture:

Commissioner Vassiliou's website:

Press release will be available on the day.

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam +322 295 96 67

Thursday 29 April: "For diversity. Against discrimination." - Journalist Award 2009

The news:

This year marks the sixth edition of the EU's "For Diversity. Against Discrimination." Journalist Award. The Commission will present awards to three European online and print journalists who, through their work, have contributed to a better public understanding of the benefits of diversity and the fight against discrimination. The winners are selected by an independent jury of media professionals and anti-discrimination experts. The competition was open to journalists in the EU who write on issues of discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, age, disability and sexual orientation.

In anticipation of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, this year’s competition includes a Special Award for journalists whose work highlights how discrimination can lead to poverty and/or how poverty can lead to discrimination.

Competition at national level has already taken place and the national winning articles are available on the campaign website. These articles are competing for the EU Awards.

The background:

The Journalist Award is one of the key activities under the European Commission's “For Diversity. Against Discrimination” information campaign.

The campaign is running in all 27 EU Member States in order to raise awareness of discrimination and the legislation which exists to combat it, as well as to promote the benefits of diversity. It aims to fight discrimination based on a person’s race or ethnic origin in all areas of life (which is prohibited under the Race Equality Directive, 2000/43/EC) and on age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief in the workplace (prohibited under the Employment Directive, 200/78/EC). In July 2008, the Commission proposed a new directive to ban discrimination outside the sphere of employment.

The campaign is funded through PROGRESS, the EU’s employment and social solidarity programme.

The event:

Awards ceremony and a press conference with the Commission and jury members – details to be confirmed.

The sources:

For diversity. Against discrimination. Campaign website:

Diversity Journalist Award website:

Commissioner Reding's website:

Special Eurobarometer 317 on discrimination in Europe

  • I-064939 STOCKSHOT: European Year for combating Poverty and Social Exclusion - Roma people

  • TV LINK Europe: Do we really know the Roma? International Roma Day raises the question.

The contacts:

Matthew Newman +32 2 296-2406

Mina Andreeva +32 2 299-1382

Thursday 29 to Friday 30 April: Second High Level Conference on Postal Services - Delivery Services for a Digital World (Valencia)

The news:

On 29-30 April 2010, the European Commission and the Spanish Presidency will hold a High Level Conference on the future of the postal services in the European Union.

With only 8 months to go before a majority of Member States are to fully open their postal market to competition and implement the 3rd Postal Directive the Conference will provide a forum for all stakeholders to discuss the future of postal markets in the EU. While the economic downturn and the widespread use of e-mail have significantly affected the postal sector in recent years, the rise of e-commerce in Europe offers major potential for growth of this sector.

Hosted in Valencia, Spain, the conference will bring together policymakers, regulators as well as representatives from the industry, trade unions and consumer organisations to engage in a debate on issues such as:

  • The preparation of an open market in postal services

  • The role of postal regulators

  • Cross-border delivery and e-commerce

  • International aspects of postal regulation

Keynote speakers will include:

  • Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services

  • Joaquín Almunia, Commissioner for Competition

  • Jose Blanco Lopez, Minister of Transport and Public Works, Spain

The background:

EU postal reform dates back to the 1992 Green Paper. The postal service sector constitutes an essential instrument for communication and accounts for 1% of EU GDP and employs 5 million people.

Pursuing gradual market opening, the Postal Directive reduced the scope of the reserved area for former monopolists (from mail under 350 grams in 1997 to under 50 gram in 2006), while guaranteeing a universal service for citizens. The experience has been positive with improved service quality, innovation, more modern and efficient infrastructure, more choice and better quality of universal service.

The Third Postal Directive (Directive 2008/6 EC) thus forms the final step in this two-decade process. Adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU in February 2008, it sets a deadline for full market opening by 31 December 2010 for 16 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). Together they represent 95% of the overall postal volume of the EU.

The remaining 11 Member States (Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) have until 31 December 2012.

The event:

The Commission High Level Conference on Postal Services will be held at the Hilton Valencia, Spain. Attendance is by invitation only. For security reasons, journalists are to register in advance by sending an e-mail to:

A final programme of the event will be sent after receiving the registration.

The sources:

Presidency Website on the Second High Level Conference on Postal Services:

More information on EU Postal Reform:

Commissioner Barnier's website:

  • I-057998 Archives (short): EU Internal Market for postal services

  • I-052349 Stockshots (short): Postal Services

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Friday 30 April: Report on removing tax obstacles to venture capital investments within the EU

The news:

The Commission will publish the final report of the Expert Group set up to look at removing tax obstacles to cross-border venture capital investments in the EU.

The background:

Venture capital is a vital source of growth capital for SMEs, and the EU 2020 strategy underlines the importance of an efficient European venture capital market to ensure access to finance for small and medium enterprises.

Fr many years, the Commission has been working to encourage and facilitate cross-border venture capital investment within the Single Market. As part of these efforts, in May 2007, the Commission set up the Venture Capital Tax Expert Group, to focus on removing tax obstacles to cross-border venture capital investments. The Group consisted of government and business tax experts from across the EU, who were asked to provide independent advice to the Commission on this issue. The report will reflect the work of this independent Expert Group.

The event:

Experts will give a technical briefing on the context, content and conclusions of the report at 11am in the Berlaymont press room.

The sources:

Commission Communication on removing obstacles to cross-border investments by venture capital funds:

Commissioner Semeta's website:

The contacts:

Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48

Side Bar