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AGENDA/11/25

Brussels, Friday 8 July 2011

Top News from the European Commission
8 July – 21 July 2011

Background notes from the Spokespersons' service for journalists.
The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Wednesday 13 July: Commission proposes new, modern fisheries policy for the EU 2

Wednesday 13 July: Green Paper on the online distribution of Audiovisual Works: opportunities and challenges - towards a digital single market 4

Wednesday 13 July: A European Terrorist Finance Tracking System: Available Options 6

Thursday 14 July: Green Paper on the promotion of agricultural products 7

Thursday 14 July: Commission reports on detention of counterfeit goods at EU borders 8

Monday 18 July: Commission issues a Recommendation promoting access to a basic payment account for consumers 9

Tuesday 19 July: The European Commission to kick-start innovation through research with the launch of Europe’s biggest ever call for research 11

Tuesday 19 July: Commission presents First Certification Schemes for Biofuels 13

Wednesday 20 July: Commission proposes to enhance prudential requirements and corporate governance of banks and investment firms 14

Wednesday 13 July: Commission proposes new, modern fisheries policy for the EU

The news:

The European Commission will present its proposals for a new, simpler system for managing fisheries at EU level. The aim of the new policy is to restore fish stocks to healthy levels - to provide EU citizens with a stable, secure and healthy food supply for the long term. It should return the fishing sector to profit, end dependence on public subsidies, and create new opportunities for jobs and growth in coastal areas.

The proposals will, for example:

  • Introduce a long-term management system rather than short-sighted fixes

  • Reduce fleet overcapacity through market measures rather than subsidies

  • Ban discarding of unwanted catches

  • Decentralise decision-making away from micro-managing in Brussels

  • Develop sustainable aquaculture

  • Improve scientific knowledge about the state of stocks

  • Promote sustainable management and conservation of fisheries resources at the international level and introduce a new generation of sustainable fisheries agreements.

The background:

Europe’s fisheries are in urgent need of reform. EU boats are catching more fish than nature can reproduce, wiping out individual species and threatening the entire marine ecosystem. With over two-thirds of North Atlantic fish stocks now overfished, the fishing industry is experiencing decreasing returns and an uncertain future. A new policy is therefore needed to make fishing sustainable – economically, socially and environmentally.

The last reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy dates from 2002.

The event:

Press conference by Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at 12:30 at the Berlaymont press room, followed by a technical briefing, Berlaymont press room.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

EbS stockshots and Video News Release will be available for TV stations.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

DG MARE website on CFP reform:

Website of Commissioner Damanaki:

DG MARE fisheries website:

  • I-070359 Common fisheries policy (active on the day of adoption)

The contacts:

Oliver Drewes +32 2 299 24 21 oliver.drewes@ec.europa.eu

Lone Mikkelsen +32 2 296 05 67 lone.mikkelsen@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 13 July: Green Paper on the online distribution of Audiovisual Works: opportunities and challenges - towards a digital single market

The news:

On 13 July, the European Commission will launch a major consultation on how to avail of the opportunities offered by the online distribution of films, video-on-demand, TV programmes and other audiovisual works in order to move towards a digital single market in Europe. The objective is to assess the current state of play in the development of online audiovisual services in the EU including on a cross-border basis and thereby assessing ways of promoting incentives in the production of high quality audiovisual works and tackling market fragmentation. Digital technology and the internet are rapidly changing the way in which audiovisual content is produced, marketed and distributed: broadcasters increasingly make their programming available on the internet (catch-up TV services, downloads) and new media platforms are emerging, offering retail video-on-demand and streaming services. Consumers increasingly expect to be able to watch anything, anywhere, anytime and on any device. The pace of change is likely to accelerate with the advent of internet-enabled TV and "cloud-based" services. The Green Paper will ask questions on what is needed to enable business and consumers to capitalise on these new opportunities. With our cultural diversity as an asset, the internet offers the audiovisual sector opportunities to develop its potential further, and to reach wider audiences both within Europe and beyond. The Green Paper will also look at ways to attract more investment in the different sectors of the digital single market, to ensure that the EU meets its Europe 2020 targets for high speech internet roll out thereby contributing to more growth and more jobs.

The background:

The cultural industries in Europe, including the audiovisual sector, make a significant contribution to the EU economy: creating about 3% of EU GDP - corresponding to an annual market value of 500 billion EUR - and employing about 6 million employees. In addition, the sector plays an important role in fostering innovation in particular for devices and networks. The EU records the second highest TV viewing figures globally, produces more films than any other region in the world and is home to more than 500 online video services. The Commission's Green Paper is published in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy, which aims to boost smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe, the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581) and the Commission's Strategy for Intellectual Property Rights which was presented in May (see IP/11/630).

The event:

Press release and memo with frequently asked questions available on the day.

Technical briefing in the Berlaymont press room at 11.15

The sources:

More information on copyright and audiovisual works can be found at:

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50 chantal.hughes@ec.europa.eu

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94 carmel.dunne@ec.europa.eu

Catherine Bunyan +32 2 299 65 12 catherine.bunyan@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 13 July: A European Terrorist Finance Tracking System: Available Options

The news:

In its Communication, the European Commission will present the different options available for the establishment of a European Terrorist Finance Tracking System (EU TFTS). Given the political importance of the issue and its legal and technical complexity, this will be the basis for a discussion with the European Parliament and the Council on the best options before the Commission presents concrete proposals.

The background:

On 28 June 2010, the European Union and the United States of America signed an agreement on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data for the purpose of the Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (EU-US TFTP Agreement). On the same occasion, the Council of the European Union asked the European Commission to propose, by 1 August 2011, "a legal and technical framework for extraction of data on EU territory". The Commission has since worked on the possible introduction of an equivalent EU system which would allow for a more targeted transfer of data to the US and provide a new tool to the EU and its Member States for combating terrorism and its financing. This Communication is a first step towards concrete proposals.

The event:

IP and MEMO available on the day.

The sources:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

The contacts:

Michele Cercone: +32 229-80963 Michele.Cercone@ec.europa.eu

Tove Ernst: +32 229-86764 Tove.Ernst@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 14 July: Green Paper on the promotion of agricultural products

The news:

The European Commission is about to launch a consultation on promotion measures and information provision for agricultural products. The objective is to shape a new promotion and information strategy which will be targeted and ambitious in scope in order to draw greater benefit from the resources of Europe's farming and agri-food sector.

The background:

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) enables better use to be made of the potential of the European agricultural and agri-food sector. A reform is under way which will ensure, with effect from 2013, that this policy feeds directly into the Europe 2020 Strategy for intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth by promoting an agriculture sector which delivers food security, a sustainable use of natural resources and more dynamic rural areas. This calls in parallel for a fundamental review of the policy for information provision and promotion measures for agricultural products, which is one of the instruments of the CAP.

The event:

The European Commission will adopt a Green Paper on 'promotion measures and information provision for agricultural products: a reinforced value-added European strategy for promoting the taste of Europe.' All stakeholders will be invited to submit their contributions on the issues raised in this Green Paper by 30 September 2011.

Press conference by Dacian Cioloş, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, at 12.30 at the Berlaymont press room

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

A press release will be available on the day.

For information on the policy on the promotion of agricultural products:

Information on the public consultation will be available at the same address.

Commissioner Cioloş' website:

The contacts:

Roger Waite: +32 2 296 14 04 roger.waite@ec.europa.eu

Johan Reyniers: +32 2 295 67 28 johan.reyniers@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 14 July: Commission reports on detention of counterfeit goods at EU borders

The news:

On 14 July, the European Commission will publish its annual report on customs activities related to intellectual property rights (IPR) infringing goods. This report gives statistics on the number, the type of product, the origin and the transport method of counterfeit goods seized by national customs administrations at the EU's external borders in 2010. This year's report will also include information on the market value of the goods seized.

The background:

Effective IPR enforcement is essential to safeguard the health and safety of consumers and legitimate business concerns in Europe. Certain counterfeited products (such as foodstuffs, body-care articles and children’s items) can pose a serious safety hazard. Counterfeiting and piracy also undermine revenues of businesses who have invested in developing innovative products or brands.

EU Customs play a crucial role in stopping products which violate EU intellectual property rights from entering the European Internal Market. A number of actions are being carried out by the Commission to strengthen Customs’ ability to combat such trade. On 24 May 2011, the Commission adopted a proposal for a new regulation on customs enforcement of IPR, as part of a comprehensive package of IPR measures (see IP 11/ 630, MEMO 11/327).

The event:

Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta will hold a press conference on Friday 14 July at 11:15 in the press room of the Berlaymont building to present this year's Report. IP and MEMO will also be available on the day. Samples of counterfeit products will also be displayed on that day in the press room.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

The Commission's annual report will be available on:

Commissioner Algirdas Semeta's website:

The contacts:

David Boublil: +32 2 296 55 73 David.Boublil@ec.europa.eu

Maud Scelo: +32 2 298 15 21 Maud.Scelo@ec.europa.eu

Monday 18 July: Commission issues a Recommendation promoting access to a basic payment account for consumers

The news:

On 18 July, the European Commission will issue a recommendation to all Member States to ensure that consumers have access to a basic payment account if they need one. Access to payment services has become a necessary precondition for participating fully in the economic and social life of a modern society, particularly within the Single Market. A basic payment account would enable consumers to receive, place, transfer and withdraw available funds, and combat problems of financial and social exclusion that those currently without bank accounts face. This Recommendation is expected to have an impact on the millions of consumers who are currently deprived from using essential payment services.

The background:

Consumers without a basic payment account face a number of issues today, including problems relating to property rental, the payment of wages or access to other services. In addition, individuals taking up opportunities for cross-border study, traineeships, or employment have encountered difficulties with opening payment accounts because they are not permanent residents in the Member State where they wish to open a payment account. Such problems would be rectified if Member States act following the principles set out in this recommendation.

Moreover, access to a payment account would make it possible for more consumers to benefit from the Single Euro Payments Area as well as from the rights and protection introduced by the Payment Services Directive. Payment of benefits by public administrations would thus be easier and more cost-effective.

The event:

Commissioner Barnier will make a statement at the midday briefing.

Press release and memo available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

More information on the recommendation can be found:

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

  • I056056 Single Euro payments area

  • I057468 Access to financial services: the impact on financial inclusions

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50 chantal.hughes@ec.europa.eu

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94 carmel.dunne@ec.europa.eu

Catherine Bunyan +32 2 299 65 12 catherine.bunyan@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 19 July: The European Commission to kick-start innovation through research with the launch of Europe’s biggest ever call for research

The news:

On 19 July, the European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, will announce the biggest ever call for proposals to fund European research and innovation, totalling around € 7 billion. The Commissioner plans to boost innovation through research with the announcement of the first calls for proposals since the adoption of the Innovation Union flagship and will give details of the main fields of research and innovation to be covered. The main focus of these work programmes is the integration of research and innovation. Particular emphasis has been placed on SMEs.

The background:

The European Union currently funds the largest single research programme on the planet the Seventh Framework Programme - with a budget of more than €53billion for the period 2007-2013. Member States have put research and innovation at the top of the European political agenda, by adopting the Europe 2020 strategy and endorsing the Innovation Union in February this year, making it the cornerstone of plans for investment in sustainable growth and jobs.

In order to build on the success of the current Seventh Framework Programme for Research, the Commission proposed on 29 June a 46 % increase in research and innovation funding under the 2014-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework, and intends to further streamline and simplifying research and innovation funding under the new Horizon 2020 programme which will begin in 2014.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn at 12.30 at the Berlaymont press room.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission's website on Research:

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn's website:

The contacts:

Mark English +32 2 296 2410 mark.english@ec.europa.eu

Monika Wcisło +32 2 295 5604 monika.wcislo@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 19 July: Commission presents First Certification Schemes for Biofuels

The news:

The Commission will present the very first EU Certification Schemes for biofuels which prove that the biofuels produced in the EU or imported into the EU are sustainable. This means that no forest has been chopped down or wet lands dried to produce biofuels on it.

The EU Commission has approved seven schemes and will present those.

The background:

Biofuels can represent an environmentally-friendly replacement of fossil fuels. However, we need to make sure that tropical forests and carbon rich peatlands are not turned into oil palm or sugarcane plantations. We also have to guarantee that compared to fossil fuels biofuels used in the EU deliver tangible greenhouse gas savings. To this end, the sustainability of biofuels needs to be checked by Member States or through voluntary schemes which have been approved by the European Commission.

The event:

A press conference with Energy Commissioner Oettinger will take place in the Berlaymont press room at 11:15.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Press Release Commission sets up system for certifying sustainable biofuels

Memo

The contacts:

Marlene Holzner: 02/296.01.96 marlene.holzner@ec.europa.eu

Nicole Bockstaller: 02/295.25.89 nicole.bockstaller@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 20 July: Commission proposes to enhance prudential requirements and corporate governance of banks and investment firms

The news:

On 20 July, the European Commission will propose more stringent requirements for banks and investment firms in an effort to strengthen Europe's financial system and make it more robust in times of difficulty.

The proposed changes, follow on two earlier Commission proposals amending the Capital requirements Directive (CRD), and relate to seven specific policy areas, most of which reflect commitments made by G20 leaders at summits in London and Pittsburgh during 2009. These commitments included building high-quality capital, strengthening risk coverage, mitigating pro-cyclicality and discouraging leverage, as well as strengthening liquidity risk requirements and forward-looking provisioning for credit losses.

Under the new rules, banks and investment firms will need to hold more and better minimum capital than in the past; will need to build up 'capital buffers' over time so they will have money on-hand in an economic downtown; will need to monitor closely their liquidity positions and leverage; and improve corporate governance practices in order to increase risk awareness. Should banks or investment firms not comply with the new rules, they will face supervisory intervention and sanctions. This proposal is expected to benefit all parties involved: citizens and businesses can be more secure in their bank deposits and access to credit; banks can operate competitively across the EU without being subject to national differences in banking rules and supervision; and taxpayers will be less likely to have to cover the cost of a bank failure, since banks will become better capitalised and safer.

The background:

The world banking system entered the recent financial crisis with capital of insufficient quantity and quality. Moreover, the economic crisis was made worse by the excessive risk taking of certain banks, poor corporate governance practices, and banks' inability to be deterred by existing sanctions.

To address these issues, an international standards setting body, the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision, recommended improvements to strengthen world financial markets. This must be implemented in all jurisdictions, including in EU legislation in order to be applied homogeneously within all Member States. Its dissuasive sanctions will ensure that the new rules are properly adhered to. The Basel III framework endorsed by the G20 Leaders last November is a tremendously important step forward in learning the lessons from the crisis and adopting a new approach to risk.

The Commission proposals need to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. This will likely occur during 2012.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Michel Barnier at 12.30 at the Berlaymont press room. Press release and Frequently Asked Questions available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

More information on the recommendation can be found:

  • I068615 Financial Sector and EU Regulatory Bodies - 2011

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50 chantal.hughes@ec.europa.eu

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94 carmel.dunne@ec.europa.eu

Catherine Bunyan + 32 2 299 6512 catherine.bunyan@ec.europa.eu


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