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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 31 August 2012

Top News from the European Commission

1 – 28 September 2012

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

Thursday 6 September: EU High Level Group presents recommendations to increase level of literacy in Europe 2

Thursday 6 – Friday 7 September: Commission builds momentum for strong employment policies 3

Tuesday 11 September: OECD and European Commission present 2012 Education at a Glance report 5

Wednesday 12 September: Banking union - Commission to propose a single banking supervision mechanism 7

Wednesday 12 September: President Barroso will deliver the State of the Union Address 2012 9

Thursday 27 September: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 10

Thursday 6 September: EU High Level Group presents recommendations to increase level of literacy in Europe

The news:

The EU high level group of experts on literacy will present recommendations on how to tackle low literacy levels in Europe. H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, who chaired the group, will hand over its final report to Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou at a Presidency conference on literacy in Cyprus.

The background:

73 million adults in the EU are low-skilled, and the results of the most recent PISA (programme for international student assessment) survey show that one in five 15 year olds in the EU has poor reading skills. EU countries therefore need to step up their efforts significantly if they are to reach their joint target for reducing the ratio of low performers in reading, maths and science to less than 15% by 2020.

Launched in February 2011, the high level group has examined research, gathered evidence and analysed the most successful literacy programmes and policy initiatives in Europe. The report's recommendations reflect discussions within the group as well as the input received through their consultations with a wide variety of other experts, organisations and stakeholders.

The members of the group are experts on literacy from academia, politics and business. They met eight times over the past 18 months.

The event:

Press Conference with Commissioner Vassiliou and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, Nicosia, Cyprus, 6 September, 13.00 local time.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

IP/11/115: Commission launches high-level expert group on literacy chaired by Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands

European Commission's website on literacy

Commissioner Vassiliou's website

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott: +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam: +32 2 295 96 67

Thursday 6 – Friday 7 September: Commission builds momentum for strong employment policies

The news:

The Commission is organising a major conference on employment policy, under the title "Jobs for Europe", on 6-7 September 2012.

The conference will build on the Employment Package put forward by the Commission on 18 April and on the outcomes of the 2012 European Semester, but also on a series of conferences which the Commission organised during 2011 in order to explore new dimensions of employment policy, notably regarding the functioning of European labour markets, wage developments, flexicurity in a crisis context, and inequalities.

The conference will be addressed, among others, by European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy and future Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder. Keynote speeches will be given by 2010 Nobel Prize laureate Christopher Pissarides, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, and Italy's Minister of Labour, Social Policies and Equal Opportunities, Elsa Fornero.

The background:

The "Jobs for Europe" conference on 6 and 7 September is the Commission's key employment event of the year. The objective is to build further momentum for strong employment policies as tools for ensuring recovery in Europe.

The Europe 2020 Strategy, with its focus on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and a target of 75% employment by 2020, remains the key roadmap for Europe to emerge from the crisis. But the employment situation in 2012 is worse than it was in 2010, and we need to strengthen efforts to turn this around. The June European Council conclusions make clear that employment policy is an important part of the growth agenda at both European and national levels, as jobs deliver growth.

The Employment Package underlines that boosting demand for labour, investing in skills and increasing mobility are crucial to bringing down unemployment in a sustainable manner. It makes clear that employment policies not only support job creation but also drive economic sustainable growth – people with jobs boost production and demand for goods and services at the same time.

The event:

The conference will last for two days on 6-7 September at the Charlemagne building in Brussels. Two press conferences will be organised:

Thursday 6th September: 13:00 - 13:30 – with Commissioner Andor, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, Italy's Minister of Labour, Social Policies and Equal Opportunities, Elsa Fornero and 2010 Nobel Prize laureate Christopher Pissarides

Friday 7th September: 13:00 - 13:30 – Commissioner Andor, Professor Charalambous and the future Director-General of the International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder

Webstreaming will be accessible via the event webpage.

The sources:

For information on the conference:

Commissioner Andor's website:

The contacts:

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

Nadège Defrère +32 2 296 45 44

Tuesday 11 September: OECD and European Commission present 2012 Education at a Glance report

The news:

Education at a Glance 2012 provides up-to-date statistical data on education and training in 34 OECD countries and key partner countries, including 21 European Union countries. This annual publication enables policy-makers in European and non-European countries to compare how they deliver education and training, and to draw conclusions for future policy.

The background:

The report provides key information on the state of play in education across Europe, including the financial and human resources invested in education; access, participation and progression in education as well as data on the learning environment and organisation of schools.

New indicators focus on the effect of the global economic crisis on education expenditure and the impact of education on macroeconomic outcomes, such as GDP. The report also covers topics such as early childhood education systems, intergenerational mobility in higher education, factors that influence education spending, career expectations among 15-year-olds, the makeup of the teaching force and the impact of examinations on access to secondary and higher education.

The report features data on education from the 34 OECD member countries. These include 21 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), 4 other European countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey), and 9 non-European countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, United States). Furthermore, data is presented for Brazil, the Russian Federation, and – in some cases – Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

The 6 EU Member States that are not OECD member countries and therefore not covered in the report are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Romania.

The report will be presented by Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Xavier Prats Monné, Deputy Director General at the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture.

The event:

11h00: On-the-record technical briefing in the Jenkins room, Charlemagne Building, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission: Education and training:

Commissioner Vassiliou's website:

OECD: Education:

OECD: Education at a Glance 2011:

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67

Wednesday 12 September: Banking union - Commission to propose a single banking supervision mechanism

The news:

The Commission will present proposals to design a single banking supervision mechanism in the euro area, further strengthening our response to the current crisis while fully preserving the integrity of the single market. A single supervision mechanism, built around the European Central Bank (ECB), will be a major step forward. It will send a strong political signal of credibility to our partners and to global investors. It will show once again the irreversibility of the euro. The Commission expects these proposals to be adopted by the end of the year, in order for the new system to enter into force early in 2013, as a key component of a "banking union".

These proposals will address the key questions of the concrete functioning of the new supervisory role for the ECB; the relationship between national supervisors and the ECB; bridging the interface between euro area countries and those not participating in the euro and clarifying the role of the European Banking Authority in this context.

The background:

At the European Council of 28/29 June, EU leaders agreed to deepen economic and monetary union as one of the remedies of the current crisis. At that meeting, the leaders discussed the report entitled 'Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union'1, prepared by the President of the European Council in close collaboration with the President of the European Commission, the Chair of the Eurogroup and the President of the European Central Bank. This report set out the main building blocks towards deeper economic and monetary integration including banking union and fiscal union.

The banking union will build on recent major proposals to strengthen the regulation of the banking sector, notably regarding more harmonised capital requirements for banks, deposit guarantees and bank resolution. The aim of this additional integration is to break the link between Member States and their banks; restore the credibility of the financial sector; preserve tax payers' money and to ensure that banks serve society and the real economy.

Common and more integrated supervision is the first step. Once this is in place, the intention is to build on existing proposals for deposit guarantee schemes and bank recovery and resolution, moving towards a more integrated approach also in these areas in order to achieve a complete EU single rule book for banks.

Once common supervision is established, the way will be open for the European Stability Mechanism to take a decision enabling it to directly recapitalize banks.

The event:

Press conference and technical briefing (details to be confirmed).

Press material available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

More information on financial supervision:

Commissioner Barnier's website:

  • I-068615 Financial Sector and EU Regulatory Bodies - 2011

  • 86075 EU Economic and Financial Affairs (2012)

The contacts:

Stefaan De Rynck +32 2 296 34 21

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 16 07

Wednesday 12 September: President Barroso will deliver the State of the Union Address 2012

The news:

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, will deliver the third "State of the Union Address" on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 at the European Parliament at 9 o'clock. The speech will be followed by a debate in plenary with the leaders of the political groups and other members of the European Parliament.

The background:

At the beginning of his second mandate, the President has agreed with the European Parliament to give a yearly programmatic address on the State of the Union in which he assesses where the Union stands and charting the way ahead.

The event:

12 September, 9h00: President Barroso will deliver the "State of the Union Address 2012" at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

  • Live streaming of the speech and the parliamentary debate available on EbS

The sources:

President Barroso's website:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde +32 2 295 3070

Mark Gray +32 2 298 8644

Thursday 27 September: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

On Thursday 27 September 2012, the European Commission will adopt its monthly infringements package. These decisions cover all Member States and most of EU policies and seek to enforce EU law across Europe in the interest of both citizens and businesses.

The background:

Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) gives the Commission the power to take legal action against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations under EU law.

There are three successive stages: Letter of formal notice, reasoned opinion and referral to the Court of Justice.

If, despite the ruling, a Member State still fails to act, the Commission may open a further infringement case under Article 260 of the TFEU. After only one written warning, Commission may refer a Member State back to the Court and it can propose that the Court imposes financial penalties based on the duration and severity on the infringement and the size of the Member State.

The event:

Several IPs and MEMOs will be available on the day.

The sources:

The IP and MEMO will be made available on the day on Rapid:

The contacts:

Overall coordination:

Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

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