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Top News from the European Commission 23 June - 21 July 2012

European Commission - AGENDA/12/23   22/06/2012

Other available languages: FR

European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 22 June 2012

Top News from the European Commission

23 June - 21 July 2012

Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Tuesday 26 June: Strategy for better use of Key Enabling Technologies by EU industry 2

Wednesday 27 June: Commission communication on tax fraud 3

Wednesday 27 June – Sunday 1 July: Danube Strategy: Commissioner Johannes Hahn visits Danube region to take stock of progress 4

Sunday 1st July: New roaming rules enter into force 5

Tuesday 3 July: The Commission proposes legislative initiatives in the financial services sector to boost investment and improve consumer protection 7

Monday 9 July: Investing in growth: €8 billion call for research and innovation projects 9

In July (date to be confirmed): European Commission to propose changes to criminal law to improve protection of EU financial interests 11

Tuesday 26 June: Strategy for better use of Key Enabling Technologies by EU industry

The news:

The European Commission will present a Communication on "A European Strategy for Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) – A bridge to growth and jobs". It will lay down how the KETS, notably micro- and nanoelectronics, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, photonics, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing systems, can be better used to give European industry the necessary boost to keep its technological leadership and to regain competitiveness.

KETs are the indispensable "technology bricks" to build a wide range of product applications to lead the technological leap forward for competitive advanced industrial production: whether it is the electric car, satellites, medical devices or advanced consumer goods, such as smartphones.

The background:

KETs economic impact is considerable. Even more considerable are the applications of KETs that directly and indirectly boost competitiveness and generate jobs, growth and wealth in the economy. The Commission’s European Competitiveness Report 2010 indicated a global current market volume of EUR 646 billion (around 2006/2008), which is projected to grow to over EUR 1 trillion by 2015.

The direct return on public investments from KETs is substantial as case studies show that it can quadruplicate the initial investment.

The event:

12.30 Press conference with Vice President Antonio Tajani in the Berlaymont press room: Presentation of the European Commission Communication on "A European Strategy for Key Enabling Technologies – A bridge to growth and jobs", preceded by a technical briefing off the record (11.00).

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/ict/key_technologies/index_en.htm

The contacts:

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

Sara Tironi: +32 (0)2 29 90 403 sara.tironi@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 27 June: Commission communication on tax fraud

The news:

On 27 June, the European Commission should adopt a Communication on tax fraud, in response to the request of the March European Council.

The background:

In times of fiscal consolidation, Member States should not only consider cutting expenditure or increasing taxes but should make sure that due taxes are effectively collected. The Commission communication will consider ways to improve the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion within the European Union and in relation with third countries. The problems posed by tax fraud and evasion must be tackled at three levels: firstly, the tax collection within each Member State must be improved. Secondly, there is a need to enhance cross-border cooperation between Member States' tax administrations. Thirdly, the EU needs to have a clear and coherent policy vis-à-vis third countries in order to promote its standards at international level and ensure a level playing field.

The importance of tax policy for fiscal consolidation and growth has been clearly recognised in the process of the European Semester and the Euro Plus Pact. This has also been emphasised by the G20. Fair and ambitious fiscal consolidation may be impaired by inefficient and ineffective tax collection.

The broad analysis carried out by the Commission in the context of the European Semester and translated into recommendations both to individual Member States and the Eurozone has revealed that for many Member States there are real and substantial problems of tax evasion sometimes linked to poor administrative capacity. Country-specific recommendations regarding these issues were addressed to 10 Member States.

The event:

12.30 Press conference by Commissioner Algirdas Semeta: Presentation of the European Commission Communication on concrete ways to improve the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion including in relation with third countries.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

For information on the fighting tax fraud please see:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/tax_cooperation/index_en.htm

Commissioner Algirdas Semeta's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/semeta/index_en.htm

The contacts:

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

Wednesday 27 June – Sunday 1 July: Danube Strategy: Commissioner Johannes Hahn visits Danube region to take stock of progress

The news:

One year after the launch of the Danube Strategy, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn is making a tour of the region to meet those who are putting the plan into action. He will discuss how to accelerate implementation of the Strategy which can be an important instrument in creating jobs and growth. The trip is also an opportunity for him to see at first-hand the progress being made through macro-regional cooperation, and to raise awareness, at political and public level, of the added value of the strategy. During the tour which will comprise seven countries, the Commissioner will meet high-level political representatives as well as stakeholders and pay visits to flagship projects. A Danube Day's event will be celebrated in Belgrade and in each country there will be one or several press events.

The background:

The following countries are involved in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region: Germany (Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria), Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The Commission proposed the Strategy at the request of the European Council in December 2010. It was formally endorsed by the Member States in April 2011. It is designed for the better coordination and cooperation between the countries and regions involved in order to address such common challenges as:

  • environmental threats (water pollution, floods, climate change)

  • untapped shipping potential and lack of road and rail transport connections

  • insufficient energy connections

  • uneven socio-economic development

  • uncoordinated education, research and innovation systems

  • shortcomings in safety and security

The event:

The tour will comprise the following countries (in chronological order): Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. It will start with a major press event in Vienna, taking place on 27 June directly at the Danube (Marina Wien) with the participation of the Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister. The visit to the other Danube countries will follow the same pattern: meeting with high-level politicians, stakeholders and visit of regional projects. Press conferences and –events will be held along the way in Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Vukovar, Novi Sad, Drobeta-Turnu Severin and Vidin.

IPs with the detailed programme will be available via the respective EC Representations and Delegations.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

EU Strategy for the Danube Region:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/cooperate/danube/index_en.cfm#4

##EUSDR @EU_Regional

Danube Trip photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/euregional

The contacts:

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10 Annemarie.Huber@ec.europa.eu

Ton Van Lierop +32 2 296 65 65 Ton.Van-Lierop@ec.europa.eu

Sunday 1st July: New roaming rules enter into force

The news:

On 1 July 2012 the new Roaming Regulation will enter into force bringing significant reductions to the cost of using mobile phones whilst travelling in another EU country. For the first time price caps will be introduced for downloading data from the internet using a mobile connection. Prices for voice and text calls will also be reduced.

The new prices caps will be:

  • 29 cents per minute to make a call, plus VAT, down from 35 cents

  • 8 cents per minute to receive a call, plus VAT, down from 11 cents

  • 9 cents to send a text message, plus VAT, down from 11 cents

  • 70 cents per Megabyte (MB) to download data (charged per Kilobyte used), plus VAT. There is no current price cap on this.

By 2014, as prices are cut further, the maximum cost of downloading data will be just 20 cents per MB, plus VAT. Operators are free to offer cheaper rates. Price caps are a maximum level, acting as a safeguard, and competition should drive them lower. The regulation also introduces new rules as from July 2014, allowing customers to shop around and sign up for a separate mobile roaming contract that best suits them. 0r, if they prefer, they can pick one when they arrive at their destination, like selecting a WiFi provider. In addition, as from 1 July 2012, the current warning customers receive if they are running up a high data bill will be extended to countries beyond the EU.

The background:

The EU first introduced caps on roaming prices in 2007 (IP/07/870), ensuring that mobile phone subscribers pay similar roaming tariffs across the EU. In July 2009, revised rules were adopted that cut roaming prices further in instalments so that by July 2011 the maximum roaming charges was 35 cents per minute for calls made and 11 cents for calls received while abroad (see IP/09/1064 and MEMO/09/309). The 2009 roaming rules are applicable until the end of June 2012.

The event:

The new Roaming Regulation will enter into force. Press material will be available.

The sources:

European Commission's roaming website:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/index_en.htm

Neelie Kroes' website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/index_en.htm

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 3 July: The Commission proposes legislative initiatives in the financial services sector to boost investment and improve consumer protection

The news:

On Tuesday 3 July 2012, the European Commission will present a three-part legislative package dedicated to rebuilding consumer trust in financial markets. It includes a proposal for a regulation on transparency in packaged retail investment products (PRIPS), a revision of the Insurance Mediation Directive (IMD), and a proposal for an amendment to the Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) Directive. The main elements of the package's components are:

  • PRIPS: Sales of investment products should be accompanied by a key information document (KID) which provides retail investors with short, clear and comparable information written in accordance with a common standard; this will allow them to better understand the risk and costs associated with an investment decision and compare different investment products.

  • Revision of IMD: The sale of insurance products should be accompanied, when necessary, by honest and professional advice, along with information about the status of the insurance product seller and the remuneration the seller receives. This level of protection should apply whether consumers buy insurance directly from an insurance undertaking or indirectly from an intermediary. Sales of insurance investment products should be subject to enhanced standards including the assessment of suitability and appropriateness of the product for the consumer.

  • UCITS V: New rules on the tasks and liability of depositaries, remuneration of fund managers, and sanctions. If assets held by a depositary are lost, they should normally be replaced as soon as possible with assets of the same type or value; management companies should follow remuneration policies which do not lead to excessive risk-taking.

The background:

The financial crisis has emphasised the importance of reinstating consumer confidence in the financial sector – the sector that consumers currently trust the least, according to a recent survey. Across the EU, a wide range of investment and insurance products are available for purchase. Many of these products are quite complex, and consumers often have trouble comparing them and/or understanding the risks involved before deciding which one to buy. Different standards on transparency and distribution across Member States contribute to consumers unknowingly purchasing risky products and losing confidence in the financial sector.

Events during the financial crisis, such as the Madoff fraud, have shown that the existing requirements on the depositary and its liability towards investors when things go wrong have been interpreted in different ways across Europe, so that investors do not always have the same standards of protection.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Barnier and technical briefing by senior Commission officials (details to be confirmed). Press release and memos with frequently asked questions will be available on the day.

A short video on the consumer package will be shown in the press room prior to the press briefing; it will also be available on the Commission's website.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on PRIPS:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finservicesretail/investment_products_en.htm#consultation

Information on IMD:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/insurance/consumer/mediation/index_en.htm

Information on UCITS:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/investment/legal_texts/index_en.htm#recast

The contacts:

Stefaan De Rynck +32 2 296 3421 Stefaan.De-Rynck@ec.europa.eu

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 8894 Carmel.Dunne@ec.europa.eu

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 1607 Audrey.Augier@ec.europa.eu

Monday 9 July: Investing in growth: €8 billion call for research and innovation projects

The news:

On 9 July, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, will announce the final and biggest work programme of the Seventh Framework Programme for research and development (FP7). The work programme will inject some €8 billion into Europe's research and innovation system, as an investment in competitiveness and Europe's prospects for growth and jobs. The call for projects will give details of the main fields of research and innovation to be covered and where action at EU level is essential to address common challenges such as secure and clean energy, anti-microbial resistance and sustainable water use.

The background:

Member States have put investment in research and innovation at the top of the European political agenda by adopting the Europe 2020 strategy and endorsing the Innovation Union in February last year. When it was launched, FP7 was the largest research funding programme in the world with a budget of €55 billion for 2007-2013. The last call for projects will build a bridge to the future by linking its strategic priorities to the societal challenges identified for Horizon 2020, the next funding programme for EU research from 2014-2020. This challenge-based approach will bring together resources and knowledge across different fields, technologies and disciplines, including social sciences and the humanities. There will be a reinforced focus on innovation-related activities, such as piloting, demonstration, test-beds, and support for public procurement and closer to the market activities. Particular emphasis is also given to the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises in projects.

The event:

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science will present the strategic priorities of the calls at the midday briefing in the Commission's press room. A press release, memo and technical briefing will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Thematic orientation papers for 2013 call:

https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/page/fp7_documentation

Innovation Union: http://ec.europa.eu/innovation-union

Europe 2020: http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020

Horizon 2020: http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020

Information on Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/geoghegan-quinn/index_en.htm

  • I-071701 Research Infrastructures and the Europe 2020 Strategy

The contacts:

Michael Jennings +32 2 296 33 88 michael.jennings@ec.europa.eu

Monika Wcislo +32 2 295 56 04 monika.wcislo@ec.europa.eu

In July (date to be confirmed): European Commission to propose changes to criminal law to improve protection of EU financial interests

The news:

The European Commission is due to adopt a proposal for a Directive to strengthen Member States' criminal law for crimes concerning money from the EU budget. The aim is to increase the protection of EU taxpayers’ money, deter fraudsters, improve the prosecution and sanctioning of crimes against the EU budget, and facilitate the recovery of misused EU funds.

The background:

The Lisbon Treaty gave the EU the mandate to strengthen its fight against fraud by legislating in the area of criminal law. In May 2011, the Commission adopted a Communication on the protection of the financial interests of the EU by criminal law and administrative investigations (IP/11/644). The policy paper underlined the importance of strengthening criminal law and improving criminal and administrative procedures. The changes to Member States’ criminal law in the proposed Directive would complement a proposal planned for next year on the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor's Office to bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against the EU budget.

The event:

Press conference with Vice-President Viviane Reding and Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta in the Berlaymont press room (to be confirmed)

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

IP/11/644 European Commission seeks tougher rules to protect taxpayers' money from fraud

The contacts:

Mina Andreeva +32 (0)2 299 13 82 mina.andreeva@ec.europa.eu

Emer Traynor +32 (0)2 292 15 48 emer.traynor@ec.europa.eu


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