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AGENDA/11/38

Brussels, Friday 25 November 2011

Top News from the European Commission
26 November – 23 December 2011

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

Monday 28 November: 2011 European Union Prize for Literature ceremony 3

Tuesday 29 November: Commission to adopt package of legislative proposals to ensure "out of court" solutions for every EU consumer 4

Wednesday 30 November: HORIZON 2020 - The European Commission will adopt its new proposals covering the period 2014-2020 for funding programmes for Research and Innovation to boost growth and jobs; for Business Competitiveness and SME, and for EIT Strategic Innovation Agenda 5

Wednesday 30 November: New financial instrument for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries 7

Wednesday 30 November: The Presidents of the Commission, the Parliament and the European Council will meet philosophical and non-confessional organisations to discuss the promotion of democratic rights and liberties 8

Wednesday 30 November (date to be confirmed): Audit market reform 10

Thursday 1 December: Commission extends crisis State aid rules for banks 11

Thursday 1 December: Commission proposes measures to tackle challenges facing EU airports 12

Friday 2 December: Commission calls for asylum solidarity between member states 13

Wednesday 7 December (date to be confirmed): Commission presents its strategy on the future of the Value Added Tax system 14

Wednesday 7 December: Establishing EUROSUR - a more systematic cooperation on border surveillance 15

Wednesday 7 December: Commission proposes new rules to ensure the transparency of pharmaceutical pricing and reimbursement measures 16

Wednesday 7 December: Commission presents proposals for external action instruments 2014-2020 17

Wednesday 7 December: Access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and for social businesses 18

Early December: The European Commission proposes Open Data Strategy 19

Early December: Commission will adopt Proposal for Regulation on the future LIFE Programme 21

In December: Commission adopts proposals on the anti-fraud programmes Hercule III and Pericles 2020 22

Monday 28 November: 2011 European Union Prize for Literature ceremony

The news:

The 12 winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for Literature will receive their awards on 28 November during a ceremony at the Hotel Le Plaza in Brussels in the presence of Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. The event will be also attended by HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, Bogdan Zdrojewski, Polish Minister for Culture and Heritage, and Doris Pack, chair of the European Parliament's Culture and Education Committee.

The background:

The European Union Prize for Literature honours the best new or emerging authors in 36 countries involved in the EU Culture Programme (27 Member States, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey). Each year, national juries in 12 of the countries nominate the winning authors, so that all countries participating in the programme are represented over a three-year period.

The 12 winners were announced on the 11 October: IP/11/1176. This year they come from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Serbia, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The event organised by the European Commission, the European Booksellers' Federation, European Writers' Council and the Federation of European Publishers.

The event:

The European Union Prize for Literature will take place in the Hotel Le Plaza, in Brussels, Belgium on 28 November 2011, starting at 7 pm.

The sources:

Website of the European Union Prize for literature: http://www.euprizeliterature.eu

Commissionner Vassiliou's website:

European Commission: Culture: European Union Prize for literature:

European Commission: Culture: http://ec.europa.eu/culture

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32.(0)2.295.92.58 dennis.abbott@ec.europa.eu

Dina Avraam +32 (0)2 295 96 67 dina.avraam@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 29 November: Commission to adopt package of legislative proposals to ensure "out of court" solutions for every EU consumer

The news:

On 29 November, the European Commission will unveil a pack of legislative proposals to ensure that every EU consumer can solve their problems without going to court, regardless of the kind of product or service that the contractual dispute is about, and regardless of where they bought it in the single European market. The objective is to help boost consumers’ confidence to shop on the EU-wide single market, in the interest of savings and a greater choice, and to help the EU economy grow.

The background:

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to helping consumers resolve disputes with traders when they have a problem with a product or service which they bought. ADR entities are out-of-court (non-judicial) entities. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) means an alternative dispute resolution process aided by online technology. ODR entities allow consumers and businesses for their dispute to be handled online.

The European Commission issued two recommendations (in 1998 and 2001), defining common principles for efficient and effective ADR entities. National authorities have informed the Commission about those national ADR entities which they consider in conformity with these principles.

Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are typically faster, cheaper and easier to use for consumers than courts. Nevertheless, at this stage, out-of-court dispute resolution in the EU is possible only for some business sectors or in some regions. The upcoming adoption of the pack of legislative proposals on ADR aims at tackling this issue.

The event:

What: Press Conference of Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli

When: Tuesday 29/11/2011 after the Midday Briefing

Where: Berlaymont Press Room, in Brussels

IP – with a video message by Commissioner Dalli and MEMO will be available on the day

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Full text of the proposals (available on the day), all policy background and the database of national ADR entities notified to the Commission can be found at:

Commissioner John Dalli's website:

The contacts:

Frédéric Vincent: +32 2 298 71 66 Frederic.Vincent@ec.europa.eu

Aikaterini Apostola: +32 2 298 76 24 Aikaterini.Apostola@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 30 November: HORIZON 2020 - The European Commission will adopt its new proposals covering the period 2014-2020 for funding programmes for Research and Innovation to boost growth and jobs; for Business Competitiveness and SME, and for EIT Strategic Innovation Agenda

The news:

Horizon 2020 is a key component in implementing the Innovation Union flagship under the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Horizon 2020 will be a radical departure from current EU research funding. It will modernise and simplify support for research and innovation around three major objectives: excellent science, competitive industries and better society. It will focus investment more than ever on addressing major concerns shared by all Europeans such as climate change, making renewable energy more affordable, ensuring safe food or coping with the challenges of an aging population. Smart investment in research and innovation provides a direct stimulus to the economy secures our excellent knowledge base and makes our businesses more competitive in a globalised world. The Commission is proposing a budget of €80 billion for Horizon 2020, which will run from 2014 to 2020.

The objective of the new proposal on Business Competitiveness and SME is to strengthen the competitiveness of enterprises and foster the entrepreneurial spirit of Europeans as the main way to overcome the crisis. The priorities will be to facilitate the access to finance for SMEs, support the efforts on who wants to set up their own business and create a better environment for business. The new Business Competitiveness and SMEs Programme will run from 2014 to 2020 and a budget of €2.5 billion.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which focuses on creating Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs) across Europe by bringing together excellent academic and business partners around major innovation challenges, complements other European initiatives in the areas of education, research and innovation and will be an integral part of the new Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Marie Curie Actions will play a key role in Horizon 2020 to develop talents in research and innovation and to make Europe attractive for the world's best researchers. By boosting skills and careers of researchers, by fostering excellent training of doctoral candidates, by enhancing intersectoral and international mobility and knowledge-sharing, they will contribute to broadening and developing research competences, while equipping researchers with creative minds, entrepreneurial and innovation skills to better match the needs of the labour market. The programme, open to researchers of any nationality and to organisations located all over the world, has allowed so far the training and career development of researchers from more than 120 nationalities and the transfer of knowledge between organisations located in more than 75 countries

The background:

The European Union currently funds the largest single publically-funded research programme on the planet the Seventh Framework Programme - with a budget of €55 billion 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.

Current European research and innovation programmes will be highlighted during the first European Innovation Convention. The Convention is fully open to the media. See link for details:

The Business Competitiveness and SMEs Programme aims to encourage the competitiveness of European enterprises. The new programme should double the resources to facilitate SMEs' access to finance through an equity facility for growth-phase investment which will provide commercially oriented reimbursable equity financing primarily in the form of venture capital (VC) and a loan facility will provide risk sharing arrangements with financial intermediaries to cover loans for SMEs.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) was established in 2008 as an autonomous EU body aiming to promote the competitiveness of EU Member States by enabling much needed collaborations between research, education and business around major societal challenges. It provides incentives to universities, research and technology transfer organisations and companies to set up permanent and close partnerships, the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). There are currently three KICs in place, dealing with sustainable energy ('KIC InnoEnergy'), climate change adaptation and mitigation ('ClimateKIC') and future information and communication society ('EIT ICT Labs').

The event:

Press arrangements to be confirmed.

IPs and MEMOs will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission's website on Research:

Innovation Union website:

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn's website:

Commissioner Vassiliou's website:

EIT website: http://eit.europa.eu/

The contacts:

Michael Jennings: +32 2 296 3388 Michael.Jennings@ec.europa.eu

Monika Wcisło: +32 2 295 5604 Monika.Wcislo@ec.europa.eu

Carlo Corazza: +32 2 295 17 52 Carlo.Corazza@ec.europa.eu

Dennis Abbott: + 32 2 295 92 58 Dennis.Abbott@ec.europa.eu

Dina Avraam: + 32 2 295 96 67 Dina.Avraam@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 30 November: New financial instrument for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

The news:

The European Commission will adopt a proposal for a new, single instrument to support the EU's maritime affairs and fisheries policies over the period 2014-2020, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The new fund will replace the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and a number of other instruments, and will be more efficient and simpler to access for potential beneficiaries, including governments, enterprises, fishermen and coastal communities. It will support sustainable growth - sustainable for natural resources and sustainable for local communities.

The EMFF proposal completes the Common Fisheries Policy reform package (adopted by the Commission on July 13th) and reflects the key sustainability objectives of the reform. It focuses on facilitating and incentivising the transition to sustainable fishing and on giving a push to the development of sustainable and competitive EU aquaculture. It also provides targeted support to local communities depending on fishing.

The background:

On 29 June 2011 the Commission presented a proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework. This included the budget for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The EMFF will depart from its predecessor, the EFF in many ways: the eligible actions (what will be funded) and the delivery mechanisms (how it will work). Its strategic focus will be strengthened as it will be included into the Common Strategic Framework, a set of common rules covering also the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Cohesion Fund.

The event:

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy:

Commissioner Maria Damanaki's website:

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 30 November: The Presidents of the Commission, the Parliament and the European Council will meet philosophical and non-confessional organisations to discuss the promotion of democratic rights and liberties

The news:

Around fifteen leading representatives of philosophical and non-confessional organisations will meet at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels to discuss "A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity: a common willingness to promote democratic rights and liberties". As President Barroso wrote in his invitation letter: Building a future based on democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, human rights and social justice is a task and ambition of the European Union, and much still remains to be done, not only in the neighbourhood of the European Union, but in our own countries, too.

Among the representatives are:

- Vassilios PATKAS, Président du Conseil de l'Ordre Maçonnique International "Delphi"

- David Pollock, President of the European Federation of Humanists

- Rüdiger TEMPLIN, Vorsitzender der Vereinigten Großlogen von Deutschland

- Denise OBERLIN, Grande Maîtresse de la Grande Loge Féminine de France

- Jean-Michel QUILLARDET, Président de l'Observatoire Internationale pour la Laïcité

- Pierre Galand, Senior Vice-President of the European Federation of Humanists and President of the Centre d’Action Laïque

- Alan FROMMER, Président de l'Association Européenne de la Pensée Libre

The meeting will be hosted by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and co-chaired by Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council.

The background:

The Treaty of Lisbon explicitly introduces the idea of a dialogue between European institutions and churches, religious communities and philosophical non-confessional organisations (Article 17 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union). This meeting follows the same pattern of the meetings with religions and church leaders, the latest of which took place on 30th May 2011 (IP/11/658)

President Barroso met leading representatives of philosophical and non-confessional organisations on several occasions since his first mandate. The latest of these meetings took place on 15 October 2010 (IP/10/1335) to discuss how to combat poverty and social exclusion.

The event:

The meeting will be held in the Berlaymont building, rue de la Loi 200, from 11h30 to 14h30.

The press conference and the group photo will take place in the Berlaymont press room from 14h10 to 14h30.

For the provisional list of participants, please contact jenni.kinnunen@ec.europa.eu

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

President Barroso's website:

The Commission's site about this dialogue:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen +32 2 2 953 07 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

Jens Mester +32 2 2963973 jens.mester@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 30 November (date to be confirmed): Audit market reform

The news:

As part of its work in creating a sounder and stronger financial system, the Commission will table proposals to reform the European audit market on 30 November (date to be confirmed). In the light of the 2008 financial crisis, important questions and doubts have been raised on the credibility and reliability of audited financial statements, notably those of banks and other financial institutions. Questions have also been raised on the role of auditors, their independence and the general sustainability of the current highly-concentrated audit market that is dominated by four large companies (the "Big Four": Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC).

The Commission proposals will address the weaknesses identified, by ensuring auditor's independence, robust supervision and by facilitating the creation of more capacity at the top end of the market.

The background:

Auditors form an integral part of the financial environment. It is their role to contribute to the credibility and reliability of financial statements of banks, other financial institutions and listed companies for example.

But the financial crisis highlighted weaknesses in the system. Although audits of some large financial institutions just before or during the crisis resulted in 'clean' audit reports, there remained serious intrinsic weaknesses in the financial health of the audited institutions. With a view to learning all the lessons from the crisis and in the wider context of the current financial reform, the Commission launched a consultation last year to have a debate on the role of audit. More than 600 responses were received and these were taken in to consideration in the preparation of the proposal to be unveiled on 30 November.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Michel Barnier, responsible for Internal Market and Services in Berlaymont press room (to be confirmed).

Press material will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Commissioner Barnier's web site:

Commission's web site:

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

Thursday 1 December: Commission extends crisis State aid rules for banks

The news:

On 1 December, the European Commission is expected to extend the special State aid rules for banks during the crisis. The principle of the extension of the crisis regime has already been agreed in view of the continued tensions in the financial markets. But the Commission has, in the words of VP Almunia, to "clarify and update the rules on pricing and other conditions to facilitate the implementation of the package" (SPEECH/11/748) agreed by Member States in October to strengthen the capital of banks and provide guarantees on their liabilities, and to reflect changed market conditions. The Commission will therefore spell out the conditions and modalities of this extension.

The background:

The current crisis State aid rules were introduced in autumn 2008 after the fall of Lehman Brothers which triggered a financial crisis. They have been maintained since but with adaptations reflecting the market conditions but also the duration of the crisis itself. In July 2010, the remuneration of the government guarantees on banks' debt was increased and since the beginning of 2011 all banks receiving a capital injection or an impaired asset guarantee need to present a restructuring plan regardless of the size of the support relative to their risk-weighed assets. The Commission's October Communication A Roadmap to stability and growth already announced the intention to extend the regime beyond 2011 and outlines a 5-point strategy to break the vicious circle between doubts over the sustainability of sovereign debt, the stability of the banking system and the EU's growth prospects, including a plan to strengthen the resilience of the banking sector.

The event:

Press conference by Vice President Joaquín Almunia in charge of Competition Policy (time to be confirmed).

IP + Memo giving an overview of all State aid decisions and of investigations still going on.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Vice-President Joaquín Almunia's speeches on this subject: SPEECH/11/748 and SPEECH/10/711

For the temporary rules established in response to the economic and financial crisis go to:

  • I068615 Financial Sector and EU Financial Supervisory Bodies – 2011

  • I067244 Cross-border crisis management in the banking sector

The contacts:

Amelia Torres: +32 2 295 4629 Amelia.Torres@ec.europa.eu

Maria Madrid: +32 2 295 4530 Maria.madrid-pina@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 1 December: Commission proposes measures to tackle challenges facing EU airports

The news:

The European Commission will announce a comprehensive package of measures to increase the capacity of Europe's airports and improve the quality of service offered to passengers. The measures proposed today will enhance the quality of service passengers receive on the ground before they take off and after landing. The measures also address the complex network of take-off and landing slots, as well as the issue of airport noise.

The background:

Europe currently accounts for one third of the world's air transport market, and Europe's aviation industry is a global leader. Based on present trends, however, nineteen of the most important European airports will be over capacity by 2030, resulting in delays affecting half of all flights across the network. We need to act now if we want to avoid airport operators and airlines facing a capacity crunch in the coming decades.

The event:

The Commission will adopt a package of legislative measures.

Vice-President Siim Kallas will hold a press conference at 12:30 (Berlaymont press room).

Technical briefing with experts will follow the press conference.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Further information on airport policy and legislation:

Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for mobility and transport:

The contacts:

Helen Kearns: +32 2 298 76 38 Helen.Kearns@ec.europa.eu

Dale Kidd: +32 2 295 74 61 Dale.Kidd@ec.europa.eu

Friday 2 December: Commission calls for asylum solidarity between member states

The news:

Europe needs better cooperation and stronger solidarity between EU states when helping refugees and handling asylum applications. The Commission will propose to reinforce solidarity between member states and EU actors on asylum around four priorities:

  • practical cooperation and technical assistance, including through the European Asylum Support Office,

  • financial solidarity, by maximising the use of the European Refugee Fund by 2013 and setting up of a new Migration and Asylum Fund as of 2014,

  • allocation of responsibilities, by reforming the Dublin regulation, developing relocation of beneficiaries of international protection and responding to exceptional circumstances,

  • improving tools for governance of the asylum system, including by completing the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by 2012.

The background:

Intra-EU solidarity has been a guiding principle of the Common EU asylum policy since the start of its development in 1999. Asylum flows are not constant, nor are they evenly distributed across the EU. They have, for example, varied from a peak of 425 000 applications for EU-27 States in 2001 down to under 260 000 in 2010.

It is the Union's responsibility to assist these Member States and to uphold the Union's common values and fundamental rights. Solidarity has been a guiding principle of the CEAS for more than a decade and is now enshrined in Article 80 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

At the same time Member States must ensure that their systems are able to meet the standards set in international and European law, notably the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

The event:

Statement by Commissioner Malmström at the beginning of the Midday briefing.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

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

Wednesday 7 December (date to be confirmed): Commission presents its strategy on the future of the Value Added Tax system

The news:

On 7 December, the European Commission will adopt a Communication setting out its strategy on the future of the Value Added Tax (VAT) system.

This Communication has a dual purpose:

  • It sets out the fundamental features of a future EU VAT system, which will continue to have an important revenue raising function, while also contributing to EU competitiveness.

  • It lists the priority areas for further action in the coming years.

The background:

On 1st December 2010 the Commission adopted a Green Paper on "The future of VAT – Towards a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system". This green paper was followed by a six month public consultation in which the Commission received 1700 contributions from businesses, academics, citizens and tax authorities.

The European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Tax Policy Group consisting of the personal representatives of the finance ministers welcomed the Green Paper and confirmed the need to reform the EU VAT system.

In parallel, the Commission carried out an economic evaluation of the VAT system and proposed setting up a new own resource based on VAT to finance the EU budget.

The event:

Commissioner Šemeta will give a press conference in the Berlaymont press room, which will be followed by a technical briefing (to be confirmed).

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

For information on the key VAT documents please see:

The documents of the public consultation are made available on:

The Communication will be available on the same page.

Commissioner's website:

  • I-063163 – Stockshots: Removing unnecessary administrative burdens

The contacts:

Emer Traynor: +32 2 292 15 48 Emer.Traynor@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 7 December: Establishing EUROSUR - a more systematic cooperation on border surveillance

The news:

The Commission will put forward a legislative proposal for setting up a "European border surveillance system" (EUROSUR).

The aim of EUROSUR is to reinforce control of Schengen external borders, especially at the southern maritime and eastern land borders, in order to bring down the number of irregular migrants entering the EU undetected and reduce the loss of lives of migrants at sea and prevent cross-border crime.

It will do so by establishing a mechanism for Member States' authorities responsible for border surveillance (border guards, coast guards, police, customs and navies) to share and exchange operational information and cooperate with each other, with Frontex and with neighbouring third countries.

The background:

In 2008, the Commission adopted a Communication examining the creation of a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) and setting out a roadmap for the development, testing and implementation of the system (MEMO/08/86).

The priority given to EUROSUR was confirmed by the European Council in June 2011, which asked for the European Border Surveillance System to be further developed as a matter of priority in order to become operational by 2013 and allow Member States' authorities carrying out border surveillance activities to share operational information and improve cooperation. (IP/11/781).

The event:

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

The contacts:

Michele Cercone +32 2 298 09 63 Michele.Cercone@ec.europa.eu

Tove Ernst +32 2 298 67 64 Tove.Ernst@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 7 December: Commission proposes new rules to ensure the transparency of pharmaceutical pricing and reimbursement measures

The news:

As announced by Vice-President Tajani at the beginning of the European Commission’s mandate, the Commission will propose a modernisation of the EU rules on the transparency of Member States’ measures regarding the pricing and reimbursement of medicines. These rules date back from the late 1980s. However, the pharmaceutical market and national policies to control public expenditure on medicines have considerably evolved in the last twenty years. The Commission’s initiative will aim at facilitating the free movement of medicines in the European Union and avoiding delays in access to medicines for European patients.

The background:

In accordance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Member States are responsible for the organisation of their health insurance systems and for the allocation of resources devoted to healthcare. Nevertheless, national decisions regarding the pricing and reimbursement of medicines must not create unjustified obstacles to trade and must comply with the procedural requirements defined in Council Directive 89/105/EEC (often referred to as the “Transparency Directive”). The Commission will propose a new directive to the Council and the European Parliament in order to bring the existing procedural obligations into line with developments in the pharmaceutical market.

The event:

IP will be available on the day.

The sources:

The Transparency Directive 89/105/EEC:

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship

The contacts:

Carlo Corazza: +32 (0)2 29 51 752 Carlo.Corazza@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 7 December: Commission presents proposals for external action instruments 2014-2020

The news:

As part of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020, the Commission will adopt legislative proposals for nine geographic and thematic external action instruments. They follow the architecture of instruments presented by the Commission in the Communication ‘A budget for Europe 2020’ issued on 29 June 2011.

The package will reflect the priorities of the Agenda for Change for Development Policy of 13 October 2011 and the renewed European Neighbourhood Policy. It translates the following principles into concrete proposals:

i) Greater emphasis on values of the European Union: democracy, human rights, rule of law;

ii) Strong contribution to meet the EU commitment of spending 0.7% of GNI on official development aid by 2015 and to attaining the Millennium Development Goals

iii) Enlargement and Neighbourhood funding remains high priority

iv) Differentiated approach: funding that reflects needs, capacities and performance of partner countries and targets EU aid where it can have most impact;

v) Use of innovative financial tools (e.g. blending of grants and loans); Improved EU coordination through joint EU and Member State strategies and joint programming;

vi) New harmonised, simplified and flexible decision-making procedures for all instruments.

The event:

Press conference and technical briefing (to be confirmed)

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

IP and Memo will available on the day

The contacts:

Peter Stano +32.(0)2 295 74 84 peter.stano@ec.europa.eu

Catherine Ray +32 (0)2 296 99 21 catherine.ray@ec.europa.eu

Maja Kocijancic +32 (0)2 298 65 70 maja.kocijancic@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 7 December: Access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and for social businesses

The news:

On 7 December the Commission will launch an initiative to make it easier for managers of venture capital funds to raise capital across the EU which could then be used to invest in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This will be complemented by the introduction of a new European Social Entrepreneurship Fund' label. Social entrepreneurs face a funding gap in Europe. There is a need to develop the market for investment funds which provide much needed finance to social businesses. Therefore the Commission is proposing measures to encourage all private investors to channel their money to support social businesses.

While forming the backbone of the European economy, a large part of the approximately 20 million SMEs established in Europe often face problems finding money to finance their research, develop new products or access new markets. In the context of the ongoing crisis, banks are less willing to grant loans to these small businesses.

The Commission believes that venture capital funds on the other hand are exactly the candidates to take on such kind of risk. Collecting capital from other financial investors, such as pension funds, they are keen to re-invest in firms with a high growth potential.

Venture capital funds for SMEs have so far been active in only a few EU countries such as the UK, France or Denmark. Diverging rules and a heavy administrative burden have prevented them from seeking investments beyond their national borders and kept them quite small compared to the US. The Commission's proposal seeks to change this.

The background:

The package follows up on a number of commitments made by the Commission, including the Single Market Act (see IP/11/469), in which the Commission laid out twelve levers to re-launch the Single Market for 2012 for sustainable, smart and inclusive growth. The first key action the SMA identified was to introduce "legislation that designed to make it easier for venture capital funds established in a Member State to invest freely in any other Member State, without obstacles or additional requirements." This action was also identified in the Commission's Innovation Union – as part of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Social enterprise funds are a flagship action under the social business initiative, (IP/11/1238) which aims to create an EU ecosystem for a flourishing social business sector.

The event:

Press conference in the Berlaymont press room (details tbc).

Press material will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Commissioner Barnier's web site:

Commission's web site:

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

Early December: The European Commission proposes Open Data Strategy

The news:

The European Commission will adopt an Open Data Strategy - a set of measures aimed at increasing government transparency and creating a €32 billion a year market for public data. The package will consist of:

- regulatory measures, including a modification of the existing Directive on the re-use of public sector information;

- deployment measures such as a creation of open data portals at European level.

The background:

Government organisations across Europe produce and collect large amounts of information. Examples are maps, meteorological, legal, traffic, financial and economic information. This information has a significant – currently untapped – potential for re-use in new products and services, for example mobile applications adapting and linking geographical, legal or statistical data. In 2010 the market for products and services based on public sector information was estimated to be worth around €32 billion across the EU, according to a recent study. The same study indicated that further opening up of public sector information by allowing easier access would generate overall economic gains of around €40 billion a year for the EU. The 2003 Directive (2003/98/EC) on the re-use of public sector information has led to a minimum harmonisation and progress across the EU, but significant differences in national rules, for example on licensing and pricing, as well as different practices still exist. This results in a fragmentation in the Single Market for data based products and services. Moreover, the lack of interoperability between the information resources, and insufficient availability of the information in a machine readable format make it impossible to reap the full benefits from the new opportunities of government data in the digital age.

These considerations have led the Commission to revise and strengthen its public data strategy.

The strategy will be presented in a Commission Communication to the European Parliament and to the Council. The Communication will be accompanied by a proposal for modifying the Directive on the re-use of public sector information (the main element of the regulatory framework for re-use) and a revised Commission decision on the re-use of the Commission's information.

The event:

Press conference by Vice President Kroes in the Berlaymont press room (to be confirmed).

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

More detailed information on the EU policy on public sector information and open data strategy, including the study:

Key documents related to public sector information, including the PSI Directive:

Vice President Neelie Kroes' website:

The contacts:

Ryan Heath (+ 32-2) 296 17 16 ryan.heath@ec.europa.eu

Linda Cain: (+ 32-2) 299 90 19 linda.cain@ec.europa.eu

Early December: Commission will adopt Proposal for Regulation on the future LIFE Programme

The news:

In early December 2011 the Commission will adopt the Proposal for a Regulation on the future LIFE Programme.

The most significant modification is the creation of a sub-programme for Climate Action which upgrades the former thematic strand "climate change" under the LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance component. In addition, new "Integrated" projects will promote the implementation of environment and climate policies and the integration of their specific objectives in other policies.

A budget of EUR 3.2 billion is foreseen for the new programme.

The background:

The dedicated funding programme for Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) is part of the Commission proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014-2020, setting out the budgetary framework and main orientations for delivering the Europe 2020 strategy.

The new LIFE Programme will build on the success of the present LIFE+ Programme, with a more strategic, simplified and flexible structure to ensure higher added value.

The desired integration of projects will be achieved by ensuring the coordinated mobilisation of other EU, national and private funds for environmental or climate objectives. Grants to finance projects will remain the main financial instrument, but operating grants for NGOs active in the area of environment or climate will remain possible.

The event:

A technical briefing is foreseen on the day of adoption.

IP and MEMO will be available.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

For information on the consultation process for the Regulation proposal see:

The contacts:

Joe Hennon +32 2 295 35 93 Joseph.Hennon@ec.europa.eu

Monica Westeren +32 2 299 18 30 Monica.Westeren@ext.ec.europa.eu

In December: Commission adopts proposals on the anti-fraud programmes Hercule III and Pericles 2020

The news:

The European Commission will adopt two proposals for new programmes in the field of anti-fraud:

  • Hercule III which promotes activities related to the protection of the EU’s financial interests.

  • Pericles 2020 which aims to strengthen the protection of euro banknotes and coins in Europe and worldwide and the fight against counterfeit money.

The background:

These proposals are part of the Commission’s package linked to the next Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020 (MEMO/11/468).

The budget for the Hercule III programme is € 15 million per year or € 110 million for the whole period. The current programme includes the following measures: coordination of activities related to the protection of the EU's financial interests such as joint customs operations; training and development and supply of specific IT tools.

The Hercule III will among other things result in savings for the Member States as a result of collective procurement of specialised equipment and databases as well as an increased effectiveness of cross-border operations.

The budget for the Pericles 2020 programme is € 1.1 million per year or € 7.7 million in total. The actions organised under Pericles are addressed primarily to national law enforcement agencies, national central banks and banknote issuing institutions as well as judicial authorities, commercial banks, money exchange offices and the cash-operated industry (e.g. cash-machines). They focus on providing technical, scientific and operational assistance, delivering specialised professional training, improving cooperation between competent authorities and raising awareness on the counterfeiting of the euro.

The event:

Press material will be available on this day.

The sources:

Commissioner Algirdas Semeta's website:

OLAF’s website:

The contacts:

Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48 Emer.Traynor@ec.europa.eu

Natasja Bohez-Rubiano +32 2 298 15 21Natasja.Bohez-Rubiano@ext.ec.europa.eu


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