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Brussels, Friday 16 September 2011

Top News from the European Commission
17 September – 14 October 2011

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

Tuesday 20 September: European Commission presents a strategy for the modernisation of higher education 2

Tuesday 20 September: Commission presents Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe 4

Tuesday 20 September: Commission to set out framework for using criminal law to enforce EU policies and rules 6

Wednesday 28 September: Commission adopts the infringement package 7

Thursday 29 September: Commission organises conference on the completion of the internal energy market by 2014 8

Upcoming early October: Proposal for an EU financial transaction tax 9

Wednesday 12 October: The Common Agriculture Policy after 2013 – towards an economically and ecologically competitive sector. 10

Tuesday 20 September: European Commission presents a strategy for the modernisation of higher education

The news:

The European Commission will set out a strategy to boost the number of graduates, improve the quality of education and maximise the contribution that higher education institutions can make to helping the economy emerge stronger from the crisis.

The background:

The modernisation of higher education is a priority for many Member States but the potential of higher education institutions to contribute to Europe’s prosperity and fulfil their wider role in society remains under-exploited. This is why education is at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Under the strategy, the EU has set a target is to increase to 40% the proportion of 30-34 year olds with a higher education or equivalent degree (achieving the goal would mean an extra 2.6 million graduates).

Our economies need more graduates overall: according to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), 35% of all jobs in the EU will require high-level qualifications by 2020, but only 26% of the total workforce is currently educated to tertiary level.

Despite rising unemployment in the wake of the economic crisis, graduates are significantly less likely to be out of work compared to those without a degree. At the end of 2010, the average unemployment rate among graduates in the EU was 5.4%, compared to an overall unemployment rate of 9.3%.

However, curricula are often slow to respond to the needs of the job market and to anticipate the careers of the future, leaving graduates struggling to secure high quality jobs when they finish their studies. And the university population still does not reflect the diversity of our communities. Attracting a broader cross-section of society into higher education can unlock its opportunities for many more people and enrich their experience of higher education.

Only 28 of Europe’s higher education institutions feature in the world’s top 100 universities, according to the 2011 Shanghai Academic Ranking. As well as focusing on measures to improve quality, the Commission plans to launch a multi-dimensional ranking system for universities. This would provide students with a more user-friendly tool to help them select the best choice for their studies. It will also assess university performance on broader criteria than existing rankings which tend to focus on research and ignore areas such as teaching quality, internationalisation and innovation.

The Commission’s proposals for the next EU budget include substantial increases in investment for education, training and youth (IP/11/857). It wants, for instance, to significantly increase the number of grants available for Erasmus student exchanges for studies and work placements abroad and to introduce a new 'Erasmus for Masters' scheme to provide loan guarantees for Master's students on a full degree course abroad.

The event:

Press conference with Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, Berlaymont press room at 12:30

IP will be available on the day

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission’s website on higher education:

Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou’s website:

  • I-070761 Modernisation of higher education

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott: +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam: +32 2 295 96 67

Tuesday 20 September: Commission presents Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe

The news:

On 20 September the European Commission will present the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe in 2050. The Roadmap outlines a resource efficient competitiveness and growth agenda based on the sustainable use of resources. The objective is to break out of the resource-inefficient and carbon-intensive patterns that underpin our global economies and to promote a more efficient use of resources.

This implies a more rational management and use of all material and natural resources throughout their life cycle, from extraction, transport, transformation and consumption, to the disposal of waste. The Resource Efficiency Roadmap will favour market-based instruments that aim to provide the right signals and incentives to investors, producers and consumers. It will outline the policy milestones to reach this global objective with the appropriate inter-linkages between different sectors and policy-making levels.

The background:

Following decades of resource-intensive growth our economies have been locked in resource-inefficient and carbon-intensive infrastructures. Our current patterns of resource use put too much pressure on scarce resources and increase our dependence on imports.

Resource efficiency means producing more value with fewer inputs and less impact on the environment. It means consuming differently, to limit the risks of resource scarcity and pollution. Resource Efficiency is the sustainable strand of the EU 2020 Strategy – the European growth strategy for the decade to come that aims for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe is derived from the Europe 2020 flagship initiative on Resource Efficiency (IP/11/63). The Roadmap complements many other existing initiatives and should be seen in the context of a global transition towards a green economy.

The event:

A Press Conference with Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik will take place in the Berlaymont on 20 September 2011 at 11:30.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

For information and key documents on resource efficiency please see:

The document of the public consultation will be made available on:

Commissioner Janez Potočnik's website:

  • I-069935 Resource Efficiency

  • I-069889 Using waste as a resource

  • I068650 Resource efficient Europe, commodity markets and raw materials

The contacts:

Joe Hennon +32 2 295 35 93

Monica Westeren +32 2 299 18 30

Tuesday 20 September: Commission to set out framework for using criminal law to enforce EU policies and rules

The news:

The European Commission will adopt a policy communication on how criminal law can be used in a coherent way to strengthen the enforcement of EU policies and rules. It will set out for the first time a framework and guiding principles on applying EU criminal law to protect the interests of citizens in the EU. Criminal law can help ensure that EU-wide rules in important policy areas are respected. These include protecting the environment, preventing manipulation of financial markets such as insider trading, or safeguarding taxpayers' money from fraud against the EU budget.

The background:

Fighting crime was quoted as a top priority by Europeans when asked where the EU should focus action in the coming years. Many crimes occur across borders and mutual trust between judicial systems in the EU is crucial to effectively fight crime and give citizens confidence when moving freely around Europe.

The EU has been taking measures in the area of criminal law for more than a decade, but previous legislation has been developed without a coherent policy basis. The Lisbon Treaty has created a new legal framework for EU criminal law measures: it gives a strong role to the European Parliament through the co-decision process, full judicial control to the European Court of Justice and a strengthened role for national parliaments. The Council of Ministers can adopt proposals by qualified majority.

The event:

The Commission will adopt a policy communication.

An IP will be available on the day.

The sources:

EU criminal law policy:

Vice-President Reding's website:

The contacts:

Matthew Newman +32 2 296-2406

Mina Andreeva +32 2 299-1382

Wednesday 28 September: Commission adopts the infringement package

The news:

On Wednesday 28 September, the European Commission will adopt its monthly infringement package. These decisions cover all Member States and most of EU policies and seek to enforce EU law across Europe in the interest of both citizens and businesses.

The background:

Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) gives the Commission the power to take legal action against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations under EU law. There are three successive stages: Letter of formal notice, Reasoned opinion and referral to the Court of Justice. If, despite the ruling, a Member State still fails to act, the Commission may open a further infringement case under Article 260 of the TFEU. After only one written warning, Commission may refer a Member State back to the Court and it can propose that the Court imposes financial penalties based on the duration and severity on the infringement and the size of the Member State.

The event:

Several IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

The IPs and MEMO will be made available on the day on Rapid:

The contacts:

Overall coordination:

Olivier Bailly: +32 2 296 87 17

Jonathan Todd: +32 2 299 41 07

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

Thursday 29 September: Commission organises conference on the completion of the internal energy market by 2014

The news:

On 29 September 2011, Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for Energy, organises a one day high-level conference on the completion of the EU internal energy market - 'Getting to 2014'. The conference will take stock of the progress made in completing the EU internal energy market and identify further action that must be taken in order to achieve the European Council's objective of having a fully functioning internal energy market by 2014.

The background:

In February 2011, the European Heads of State and government agreed on the need to put a fully functioning, interconnected and integrated European internal energy market into place by 2014.

The process of opening and integrating Europe's electricity and gas markets started more than ten years ago. It has been a step-by-step process, accompanied by several legislative packages, most recently the Third energy package (consisting of three Regulations and two Directives).

The event:

The conference will take place in Brussels. Participants will include a wide spectrum of representatives from Member States, the European Parliament, the European Commission, energy regulators, energy companies, energy exchanges, banks and financial investors, consumer organisations and academics.

You will find a link to the program below.

Registration to the conference is still possible until 22 September 2009, but seats are limited.

The debate can also be followed online via the Commission’s webcast portal:

The sources:

For information on the Internal Energy Market Conference please see:

Commissioner Oettinger's website:

The contacts: +32 2 296 73 99

Upcoming early October: Proposal for an EU financial transaction tax

The news:

The European Commission will propose common rules to tax financial transactions in all 27 EU Member States.

In the context of the current economic crisis, the three main objectives of the new rules are to assure that the financial sector makes a fair and substantial contribution to public finances to recoup the costs of the crisis, to alleviate Member States' contributions to the EU budget and to discourage to a certain extent risky market behaviours.

The background:

The Commission has explored the idea of taxing the financial sector at EU level for several months now. On 29 June 2011, the Commission announced in the context of the multiannual financial framework that it would propose to set up a financial transaction tax as an own resource for the EU budget (IP/11/799, MEMO/11/468).

The decision followed an in-depth study on different tax instruments to make the financial sector contribute to the recovery of the EU economy. The study will be made public together with the legislative proposal.

In parallel, the Commission has explored ways to introduce a financial transaction tax at global level since 2009 with its international partners in the G20 (Pittsburgh, Toronto) and will continue to do so.

This is a key initiative under the Commission's "Europe 2020" strategy which aims to boost growth and jobs by reinforcing economic governance and repairing the financial sector.

The event:

An off-the-record technical briefing will be held in the Berlaymont press room prior to the adoption of the EU financial transaction tax proposal (timing tbc). Commissioner Šemeta will give a press conference on the day of adoption (timing tbc). IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission's website:

Commissioner's website:

The contacts:

David Boublil +32 2 292 15 48

Natasja Bohez-Rubiano +32 2 296 64 70

Wednesday 12 October: The Common Agriculture Policy after 2013 – towards an economically and ecologically competitive sector.

The news:

The Commission is due to adopt the legislative proposals for the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) after 2013. The legislative proposals aim to:

- Address the food supply challenges of the 21st century;

- Enhance the sustainable management of natural resources across the whole of the EU;

- Strengthen territorial and social cohesion in the EU rural areas,

This will be achieved by:

- Making CAP support more balanced between sectors, regions and Member States; making it more clearly linked to environmental public goods provided by farmers and better targeted to active farmers;

- Ensuring that European agriculture is more competitive on local, regional, national, European and world markets, while also being sustainable (ie addressing problems related to water, soil, biodiversity, climate change); making instruments available to help farmers cope with price volatility and the pressures of the food supply chain, and seeking to maintain agricultural production across the whole EU in all its diversity;

- Aiding investment and providing advice to address the environmental and economic challenges; encouraging young farms to enter the sector; supporting innovation, and seeking to accelerate the technological transfer from the laboratory to the field;

- Boosting the broader role of agriculture in the countryside and supporting initiatives to create jobs and boost the rural economy;

- Seeking to simplify the administrative burden for farmers and governments;

The background:

The Common Agricultural Policy is due to be reformed by the end of 2013.

In April 2010 Commissioner Cioloş launched an extensive public debate across the EU to seek views of both stakeholders and society at large on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, its objectives, principles and contribution to the 'Europe 2020' strategy. It stimulated nearly 6000 contributions.

In July 2010, a Conference was organized with a view to bring together the varied opinions presented during the public debate and to provide the opportunity for further discussion around the 4 questions.

In November 2010, based on the public debate, the Commission presented a Communication on the CAP towards 2020 which outlined options for the future CAP. This was then debated by the Council, European Parliament, and other institutions.

The legal proposals will now be presented by the Commission and send to the Council and European Parliament under the co-decision procedure. 

The event:

The Commission will adopt a package of legal proposals to be sent to

Press conference by Commissioner Dacian Cioloş in the Berlaymont press room (to be confirmed)

Technical briefing (Spokesman and DG AGRI experts) (to be confirmed)

IP, MEMO and documents will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

IP/10/1527: Commission outlines blueprint for forward-looking Common Agricultural Policy after 2013.

IP/10/958: Conference on CAP post-2013 to build on success from public debate

SPEECH/10/400 - Dacian Cioloş at the Conference "The CAP after 2013"

SPEECH/10/150 - Dacian Cioloş The future of CAP - Call for a public debate

For information on the CAP after 2013:

All documents and press information will be made available on the day of adoption at:

Commissioner Dacian Coiloş website:

  • I067699 Agriculture and Rural Development - Winter : 2011 STOCKSHOT

  • I066695 Agriculture and Rural Development - Autumn : 2010 STOCKSHOT

  • I066721 Agriculture and Rural Development - Summer : 2010 STOCKSHOT

  • I063778 Agriculture and rural development: Spring 2010 STOCKSHOT

The contacts:

Roger Waite: +32 2 296 14 04

Johan Reyniers: +32 2 295 67 28

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