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AGENDA/11/40

Brussels, Friday 9 December 2011

Top News from the European Commission
10 December 2011 – 13 January 2012

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

Monday 12 December: Establishing EUROSUR - a more systematic cooperation on border surveillance 2

Monday 12 December: Commission will adopt Proposal for Regulation on the future LIFE Programme 3

Monday 12 December: The European Commission proposes Open Data Strategy 4

Tuesday 13 December (date to be confirmed): Commission presents programme for statistics for next 5 years 6

Wednesday 14 December: Europe for Citizens Programme 2014-2020 7

Thursday 15 December: Report 'Employment and Social Developments in Europe' 8

Monday 19 December (date to be confirmed): Commission adopts proposals on the anti-fraud programmes Hercule III and Pericles 2020 9

Monday 19 December (date to be confirmed): Commission modernises mobility rules for professionals 10

Tuesday 20 December: Decisive action against youth unemployment: the Youth Opportunities Initiative 11

Tuesday 20 December: Commission adopts new package on State aid rules for services of general economic interest (SGEI) 12

In December: Commission presents Energy Roadmap 2050 13

Monday 12 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

Monday 12 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:

IP and MEMO will be available.

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

Monday 12 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:

11:00 Press conference by Vice President Kroes in the Berlaymont press room.

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

Tuesday 13 December (date to be confirmed): Commission presents programme for statistics for next 5 years

The news:

The European Commission will adopt a proposal on the European statistical programme 2013-2017. The programme aims at

  • providing high quality statistics to better design and evaluate EU policies,

  • implementing more efficient methods of producing EU statistics

  • and strengthening the role of official statistics worldwide

The background:

This proposals is part of the Commission's package linked to the next Multi-annual Financial Framework for 2014-2010 (MEMO/11/468).

The budget for the European statistical programme is €299.4 million for the whole period 2013-2017. The objective is to support policy-making by providing European Institutions and the governments of Member States with high quality statistics. In the current debate on how to enhance economic governance of the EU, European statistics need to be more widely and intensely used. Reliable European statistics and indicators are a key underpinning for policy decisions in economic and social reforms at national and EU levels.

The event:

Press material will be available on the day.

The sources:

Commissioner Algirdas Semeta's website:

The contacts:

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

Natasja Bohez Rubiano: +32 2 296 64 70 Natasja.BOHEZ-RUBIANO@ext.ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 14 December: Europe for Citizens Programme 2014-2020

The news:

The European Commission will adopt a proposal for a new 'Europe for Citizens' programme to cover the period from 2014 until 2020. In June 2011, the Commission adopted the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2014-2020. The Commission is now complementing this framework with new sectoral programmes.

In his 2011 State of the Union Address, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that we are now facing the greatest challenge that the European Union has gone through in its entire history. This is a financial, economic and social crisis, but also a crisis of confidence. National plans or even intergovernmental co-operations are not sufficient to tackle such large scale economic and social problems. However, too many citizens are still not aware of the European Union’s role and achievements. The Commission thus needs to find ways of increasing citizens' awareness about and understanding of the European project.

Citizens should be at the very centre of European policies. The current Europe for Citizens programme 2007-2013 provides a legal framework to support a wide range of activities and organisations promoting European citizenship. The new programme will support activities to increase awareness and citizens' understanding of the EU, its values and history, such as the remembrance of Europe’s past and partnerships between cities (town-twinning). It will also help people become more engaged in civic and democratic activities. As part of helping citizens become more aware of European citizenship, the `Europe for Citizens’ programme will support think tanks, international organisations such as UNESCO, citizens' groups and other civil society organisations. This will fit in with the Commission’s plans to designate 2013 as the "European Year of Citizens, which will aim to increase citizens' participation in EU policy-making, particularly the 2014 European Parliament elections.

The background:

The proposal for the new programme builds on the mid-term evaluation of the current one and was fine-tuned after a long and comprehensive consultation of current and potential future stakeholders.

The event:

IP will be available on the day.

The sources:

Vice-President Reding's website:

The contacts:

Matthew Newman +32 2 296-2406 Matthew.Newman@ec.europa.eu

Mina Andreeva +32 2 299-1382 Mina.Andreeva@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 15 December: Report 'Employment and Social Developments in Europe'

The news:

On 15 December, Commissioner Andor will present the first annual review of the Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE), which underlines that in a context of fiscal consolidation and bleak economic outlook a mix of employment and social policies is necessary to ensure a long-term job rich recovery.

The background:

The review analyses three policy areas: job polarisation and income inequality; measuring poverty and the in-work poverty phenomenon; the ageing challenge and workers' mobility and offers policy recommendations. Its conclusions and policy recommendations will feed into the European Semester as part of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The review of the Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) builds upon and extends on two previous reports of published by DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion: Employment in Europe and the Social Situation Report.

The event:

The Commission will adopt Report ' Employment and Social Developments in Europe'.

12:00 Announcement by Commissioner László Andor in the Berlaymont press room (tbc).

After the Midday: Technical briefing (timing tbc)

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

The text of the report will be available online.

Commissioner Andor's website:

The contacts:

Cristina Arigho: +32 2 2985399 Cristina.Arigho@ec.europa.eu

Maria Javorova: +32 2 2998903 Maria.Javorova@ec.europa.eu

Monday 19 December (date to be confirmed): 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

Monday 19 December (date to be confirmed): Commission modernises mobility rules for professionals

The news:

On 19 December, the European Commission will present a proposal updating the EU system for the recognition of professional qualifications. The update responds to the increasing need for a smooth system supporting the mobility of professionals across Europe, for example by providing a European professional card in the form of an electronic certificate. The working age population in many Member States is shrinking, but the demand for a highly qualified labour force remains an important source of future growth. Demand for highly skilled people is projected to rise by over 16 million jobs in the European Union between now and 2020.

The background:

While the primary objective of the 2005 Directive was to simplify the legislative framework by consolidating the separate directives adopted since the 1960s, the forthcoming proposal will focus on bringing the Directive into the 21st century and adapting it to an evolving labour market. The main objective of the initiative is to facilitate the mobility of professionals, addressing the challenges of filling vacancies for high-skilled jobs and offering more possibilities for job seekers. The modernisation would also cover existing rules on doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, veterinarians and architects and foresee changes where necessary. However, given its success in the past, automatic recognition for these professions is to be preserved.

Modernising the system of recognition of professional qualifications was identified in the Single Market Act (see IP/11/469) as one of the 12 key actions to boost growth and restoring people's trust in the Single Market.

The event:

Statement by Commissioner Barnier in the Berlaymont press room at 12.00

Technical briefing by experts from the Commission's Internal Market and Services DG (to be confirmed).

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Web site of Commissioner Barnier:

For information on the Professional Qualifications Directive

  • I070234 EU Professional qualifications 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

Tuesday 20 December: Decisive action against youth unemployment: the Youth Opportunities Initiative

The news:

On 20 December, the European Commission will launch a Youth Opportunities Initiative to boost youth employment, in particular the access to a first job, apprenticeships and traineeships.

The background:

Referring to the dramatic situation where 1 in 5 young people cannot find work, President Barroso, in his State of the Union speech 2011, called on Member States to join forces with businesses, the social partners, national authorities and the Union level to work on a "Youth Opportunities Initiative" (YOI).

The Commission's proposal for a Youth Opportunities Initiative (YOI) will focus on:

  • getting those who are neither in school, training nor employment and who have not achieved upper secondary level back into to education or vocational training;

  • and helping young jobseekers with a diploma find a first good job.

The Commission will do this by presenting a number of actions to help Member States tackle youth unemployment, in particular through the European Social Fund, but also by financing direct measures for youngsters that promote mobility, quality traineeships/apprenticeships, the transition into the labour market and informal learning.

The event:

The Commission will adopt a Communication on the 'Youth Opportunities Initiative'.

Press conference by Commissioner László Andor in the Berlaymont press room (to be confirmed).

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

The text of the Communication will be made available online.

Commissioner Andor's website:

The contacts:

Cristina Arigho: +32 2 2985399 Cristina.Arigho@ec.europa.eu

Maria Javorova: +32 2 2998903 Maria.Javorova@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 20 December: Commission adopts new package on State aid rules for services of general economic interest (SGEI)

The news:

On 20 December, the European Commission is expected to adopt the new package on State aid rules for services of general economic interest (SGEI): two Communications on application and compensation, one Decision on compensation granted to certain undertakings entrusted with SGEI operations and one Regulation on de minimis aid – see link below. The package would revise the so-called Monti-Kroes package of 2005 of rules applicable to services of general interest that are of economic nature. The main objective of the revision, as stated by Vice President Almunia in his numerous speeches, on the subject, is to have clearer and simpler rules, avoid having to review SGEI that are local in scope and often involve small compensation amounts and focus instead on economic services that have an important cross-border impact. The reform package has taken into account many of the comments received during the public consultation including in its last stage.

The background:

In March 2011, the Commission adopted a Communication setting out the broad political objectives of the reform: clarification, simplification and an increased focus on efficiency and competition considerations for large commercial SGEIs.

In September 2011, the Commission published drafts of the four new texts, which translate the broad objectives into concrete proposals. The Commission has consulted extensively on these draft texts and has received valuable contributions from Member States, European institutions and stakeholders. On 20 December, the Commission is expected to adopt the final texts for three out of the four documents. The fourth text, a Regulation, is subject to a longer procedure and is expected to be final in the spring of 2012.

The event:

Press conference by Vice President Joaquín Almunia in charge of Competition Policy.

IP + Memo.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Vice-President Joaquín Almunia's speeches on this subject:

For the current rules on SGEI, the reform process and the draft texts of the new rules go to:

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

In December: Commission presents Energy Roadmap 2050

The news:

The Commission will publish its Energy Roadmap 2050. The Communication analyses a set of possible post-2020 scenarios, exploring their trade-offs, costs and timing. The results will feed an overall debate on possible ways of transforming the EU energy system.

The background:

The 2050 Energy Roadmap will present different scenarios about how the 2050 objective of reducing green house gases by 80-95% compared to 1990 level can be achieved.

The Roadmap should result in an iterative process between Member States and the EU to shape a common view on how to achieve Europe's energy system transformation, and will be followed by further policy initiatives on specific energy policy areas in the coming years.

The event:

Press Conference of Energy Commissioner Oettinger and technical briefing off the record, date tbc.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Website of DG Energy:

  • I069024 Roadmap to a low-carbon economy (long version) VNR

  • I069513 Time to Invest in Energy Efficiency (long version) VNR

The contacts:

Marlene Holzner +32 2 296 01 96 marlene.holzner@ec.europa.eu

Nicole Bockstaller +32 2 295 25 89 nicole.bockstaller@ec.europa.eu


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