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Brussels, Friday 11 February 2011

Top News from the European Commission
11 February –17 March 2011

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

Tuesday 15 February: The Commission will adopt Opinion on a limited Treaty amendment 2

Tuesday 15 February: European Commission to present an EU agenda on rights of the child 3

Thursday 17 February: The Commission outlines plans for co-operation on early childhood education and care 5

Wednesday 23 February: Adoption of the Small Business Act Review 6

Tuesday 15 February: The Commission will adopt Opinion on a limited Treaty amendment

The news:

The European Commission will adopt an Opinion in accordance with Article 48(6) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) on the proposed amendment of Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to establish a permanent European Stability Mechanism.

The background:

Last December the European Council agreed on a text of a limited amendment of the Treaty on the establishment of a future permanent mechanism to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as a whole. It decided to immediately launch the simplified revision procedure provided for in Article 48(6) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Acting as required by the Treaty the Commission will present its opinion on the limited Treaty amendment.

The event:

12h00: Commission meeting

15h00: President Barroso will present the Commission's Opinion to the Members of the European Parliament (TBC)

  • Live streaming of the EP plenary available on EbS (TBC)

The sources:

President Barroso's website:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 3070

Mark Gray +32 2 298 8644

Tuesday 15 February: European Commission to present an EU agenda on rights of the child

The news:

The European Commission will present an agenda for reinforcing children's rights in the EU by putting the principles included in the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights into action.

The purpose is to reaffirm the strong commitment of all EU institutions and of all Member States to promote and protect the rights of the child in all relevant EU policies and to turn them into concrete results. In the future, EU policies that affect directly or indirectly children should be designed, implemented, and monitored taking into account the principle of the best interests of children.

The initiative will list a series of concrete actions where the EU can provide added value to national policies for children's well-being and safety, including promoting child-friendly justice (for example when a child has to get involved with a justice system), better informing children about their rights, and making the internet safer for kids.

The background:

Children’s rights form part of the fundamental rights that the EU is committed to respect under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Treaty of Lisbon also requires the EU to promote the protection of the rights of the child. In addition, all 27 EU countries have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Europe 2020 Strategy sets out a vision for the 21st century of a Europe where the children of today will have a better education, access to the services and to the resources they need to grow up and, one day, lead Europe into the 22nd century.

Many of the actions taken by the EU have an impact on children. It can therefore bring essential added value in the field of children’s rights in several policy areas. The EU can support the Member States in their efforts, both by assisting them in certain areas and by providing a framework for mutual learning within which Member States can identify and adopt the many good practices to be found across the Union.

The event:

Adoption of the EU Agenda on children's rights

The sources:

Website on Children's rights:

Vice-President Viviane Reding's Website:

European Commission – Justice Newsroom:

  • I-068765 Stockshots: Rights of the child

The contacts:

Matthew Newman +

Mina Andreeva +

Thursday 17 February: The Commission outlines plans for co-operation on early childhood education and care

The news:

The Commission will set out key areas for European co-operation to improve the accessibility and quality of early childhood education and care in Member States.

The background:

Ensuring that education and care for young children is both accessible and of high quality helps to reconcile family and work life; it is also the foundation for lifelong learning, social integration, personal development and employability later in life.

Early childhood education and care is particularly beneficial for the disadvantaged as it can break the cycle of poverty and social exclusion. In recent years, many Member States have therefore started to review their early childhood education systems.

In 2009, Education Ministers set a target for 95% of children between the age of 4 and the start of compulsory school education should receive early childhood education and care.

The Commission's proposals come in response to a request from Member States to measure and analyse progress on improving access to early childhood education and care and to identify best practice in teaching, staffing and governance.

The Commission's plans arelinked to the Europe 2020 flagship initiatives "Youth on the Move", "Agenda for New Skills and Jobs" and the "European Platform against Poverty". They will also strongly contribute to achieving two of the Europe 2020 headline targets: reducing early school leaving to below 10% and lifting at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and social exclusion.

The event:

A press release will be available on the day.

The sources:

European Commission's website on early childhood education and care

Commissioner Vassiliou's website:

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott: + 32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam: + 32 2 295 96 67

Wednesday 23 February: Adoption of the Small Business Act Review

The news:

On 23 February the European Commission will adopt the review of the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA), Europe’s policy framework for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The review will present an overview of the progress made in implementing the SBA launched by the Commission in 2008 and propose ways to improve its uptake. It will maintain the ten guiding principles and insist on the full implementation of the existing actions set out in the SBA, in particular the “Think Small First” principle. New actions will be proposed to take into account the latest economic developments and ensure a close link with the priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The background:

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are the growth engine of the European economy. They represent some 99,8% of all enterprises, are important job creators and contribute to social cohesion across the EU. Due to their economic and social importance, the Commission has placed SMEs at the centre of its priorities with the adoption of the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA) in June 2008. The SBA puts in place a comprehensive SME policy framework for the EU and the Member States by proposing ten guiding principles accompanied by concrete initiatives to boost SMEs’ competitiveness and job creation potential. An important objective of the SBA is to ensure that the so-called “Think Small First” principle is fully applied in the European and national policy-making process.

The event:

  • The following event will be available on EbS:

Press conference to be held by Vice-President Antonio Tajani in the Berlaymont Press Room on 23 February at 11.30 am

The sources:

European Commission website on the “Small Business Act”

The contacts:

Charlotte Arwidi: +32 (0)2 298 77 97

Andrea Maresi: +32 (0)2 299 04 03

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