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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 29 June 2012

Top News from the European Commission

30 June - 28 July 2012

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

Sunday 1st July: New roaming rules enter into force 2

Tuesday 3 July: The Commission proposes legislative initiatives in the financial services sector to boost investment and improve consumer protection 4

Monday 9 July: Investing in growth: €8 billion call for research and innovation projects 7

Friday 13 July: Commission organizes Conference on CAP towards 2020 – Taking stock with civil society 9

Tuesday 17 July: European Commission to propose changes to criminal law to improve protection of EU financial interests 11

In July (date to be confirmed): Completing a single market for innovation 12

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.

The sources:

IP/12/709 Digital Agenda: Wave goodbye to mobile internet rip-offs from 1 July; voice and SMS prices to fall also

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:

3 July at 15.30 in Strasbourg: Press conference by Commissioner Barnier.

2 July at 12.30 in Brussels: Technical briefing off the record by senior Commission officials.

Press release and memos with frequently asked questions will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on PRIPS:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finservices-retail/investment_products_en.htm

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:

12.30 Press conference by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science, to present the strategic priorities of the calls (Berlaymont press room, Brussels).

11.00 Technical briefing (Berlaymont press room, Brussels).

A press release and a memo 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

Friday 13 July: Commission organizes Conference on CAP towards 2020 – Taking stock with civil society

The news:

On 13 July 2012, the European Commission will organize a conference on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) towards 2020 – Taking stock with civil society. The event comes as a follow-up to the broad consultation on the challenges faced by European agriculture in 2010, which culminated in a similar conference in July 2010. This comes at the initiative of Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development who has always underlined that "the CAP is not just for farmers, it is for all EU citizens – but carried out by farmers".

The conference will provide a forum for civil society to discuss the CAP reform proposals for post-2013 which were published by the Commission in October 2011. The conference will focus on food security; the sustainable management of natural resources and mitigation and adaptation to climate change; and maintaining the territorial balance of rural areas in the EU.

The background:

The Common Agricultural Policy is due to be reformed by 2013. After a wide-ranging public debate held in 2010, the Commission presented a Communication outlining options for the future CAP and launching the debate with the other institutions and stakeholders. This concluded that the 3 main challenges for the future CAP were food security, the sustainable management of natural resources and maintaining the territorial balance. In October 2011 the Commission then presented a set of legal proposals to make the CAP more effective for a more competitive and sustainable agriculture and vibrant rural areas. Under co-decision with the Council and the European Parliament, the aim is to reach a political agreement on CAP reform in early 2013, so that all the different regulations and implementing acts can be completed by the end of 2013, with a view to having the CAP reform in place as from 1 January 2014.

In line with the other Commission policy initiatives for the period after 2013, the reformed CAP will promote jobs and growth, promote innovation, fight against climate change, and enhance both the economic and ecological competitiveness of agriculture.

The event:

The conference will be opened by Dacian Cioloş Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, Sofoclis Aletraris, Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environment of the Republic of Cyprus, President in office of the Council, and Czesław Siekierski, Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture & Rural Development.

In the course of plenary sessions and workshops, speakers will include senior officials from the Commission's AGRI Directorate General, farmers and food industry organisations, research institutes, think tanks active in environment and agriculture, and international organisations (OECD, FAO) will intervene in the plenary sessions and workshops. The event will end with a press conference.

Participation in the conference is on invitation only. Everybody will, however, have the opportunity to follow the event through live streaming.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

For information on the CAP reform:

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-post-2013/index_en.htm

For information on the conference:

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/events/cap-conference-2012_en.htm

Commissioner Dacian Çiolos' website:

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

The contacts:

Roger Waite: +32 2 296 1404 roger.waite@ec.europa.eu

Fanny Dabertrand: +32 2 299 06 25 fanny.dabertrand@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 17 July: 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

In July (date to be confirmed): Completing a single market for innovation

The news:

The European Commission will set out steps needed to complete the European Research Area (ERA). ERA means a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation in Europe, which will enable researchers, research institutions and businesses to better move, compete and co-operate across borders. The deadline to complete ERA is 2014, as called for by EU leaders at their summits in February 2011 and March 2012. Proposals will cover measures to remove barriers to researcher careers and mobility in the EU, to encourage more cross-border cooperation and funding of research into common challenges and to make the results of EU-funded research more widely available.

The background:

A European Research Area was one of the original goals of the EU's Lisbon strategy launched in March 2000. Its completion was identified in 2010 as an important priority in the Innovation Union flagship of the Europe 2020 strategy, a goal subsequently endorsed by EU leaders at their February 2011 summit. Between September and November 2011 the European Commission asked stakeholders what were the main issues holding back cross-border research cooperation and received nearly 700 responses, mostly from individual researchers. Issues highlighted included barriers to research careers and mobility and cross-border access to research funding programmes and infrastructures. On June 20, the Commission will set out how to tackle these issues in a Communication to the European Parliament and Council.

The event:

Press conference with European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (time to be confirmed).

IP + MEMO available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

ERA page on DG Research and Innovation website: http://ec.europa.eu/research/era

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

March 2012 European Council conclusions:

http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/12/st00/st00004-re02.en12.pdf

February 2011 European Council conclusions:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/119175.pdf

  • I-071701 Research Infrastructures and the Europe 2020 Strategy

The contacts:

Michael Jennings +32 (0)22963388 michael.jennings@ec.europa.eu

Monika Wcislo +32 (0)22955604 monika.wcislo@ec.europa.eu


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