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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 7 September 2012

Top News from the European Commission

8 September – 5 October 2012

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

Tuesday 11 September: OECD and European Commission present 2012 Education at a Glance report 2

Wednesday 12 September: Banking union - Commission to propose a single banking supervision mechanism 4

Wednesday 12 September: President Barroso will deliver the State of the Union Address 2012 and answer citizens' questions afterwards 6

Wednesday 19 September: The Commission proposes a Regulation for the set-up of the European Voluntary Corps in Humanitarian Aid 7

Wednesday 19 September (date to be confirmed): Commission adopts its Cloud Computing Strategy 9

Wednesday 26 September: The Commission presents report on boosting the contribution of cultural and creative sectors to growth and jobs 12

Thursday 27 September: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 14

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:

11 September, 16.30 (time to be confirmed) - Off the record technical briefing (Strasbourg).

12 September, 14.00 - Press conference by Commissioner Barnier (Strasbourg).

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 and answer citizens' questions afterwards

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.

On 19th September at 19:00 CET, President Barroso will answer citizens' questions on the State of the Union in a live interview hosted by Euronews, using Google+ Hangout video technology. Between 7th September and 18th September at midday CET, people are invited to submit video or text questions for him to answer. Questions can be submitted - and voted on - via EUtube, the European Commission's YouTube channel ( From amongst the top voted video questions, Euronews will select several participants to put their questions to the President in person, live, via Google+ Hangout. (Watch the President's call for action:

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.

19 September, 19h00: Live interview with citizens on the State of the Union.

The sources:

Submit your question to President Barroso at the following address:

For more information see also:

MEMO/12/651 Ask President Barroso about the state of the Union - he will answer in a live interview on 19 September

President Barroso's website:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde +32 2 295 3070

Mark Gray +32 2 298 8644

Jens Mester (for the interview) +32 2 296 3973

Wednesday 19 September: The Commission proposes a Regulation for the set-up of the European Voluntary Corps in Humanitarian Aid

The news:

On 19 September, the European Commission will adopt its proposal for a Regulation on the setting up of the European Voluntary Corps in Humanitarian Aid – a new body envisaged by the Treaty of Lisbon.

After a Communication on the Voluntary Corps presented in 2010, followed by a series of successful pilot projects, this new proposal intends to lay the legal basis for the Voluntary Corps in good time, so that the Corps becomes fully functional as of 2014.

The background:

The aim of the European Humanitarian Aid Corps is to express the European Union's humanitarian values and its solidarity with people in need.

The body will strengthen the Union's capacity to respond to humanitarian crises through the deployment of well-trained volunteers. It will also help reinforce the resilience of vulnerable communities by deploying volunteers to work on preparedness of disaster-prone areas. It will also provide opportunities for young Europeans to train as volunteers, to acquire useful professional skills and unique experience and to show leadership.

The Corps will give 9500 European volunteers the opportunity to engage directly in humanitarian operations worldwide. Over 7000 staff and volunteers from third countries will benefit from capacity-building activities, while around 10,000 people are expected to participate in the Corps through online volunteering.

The event:

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, will present the legislative proposal in the Commission's press room. A press release and the text of the draft Regulation will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on the EU Humanitarian Aid Corps:

Information on the European Commission's work on humanitarian aid and civil protection:

Information on Commissioner Georgieva:

The contacts:

David Sharrock +32 2 296 89 09

Irina Novakova +32 2 295 75 17

Wednesday 19 September (date to be confirmed): Commission adopts its Cloud Computing Strategy

The news:

On 19 September (date to be confirmed), the Commission will adopt a Communication "Towards an Integrated Cloud Computing Strategy for the European Union". Cloud computing is promising a revolution in technology of a similar scale to expansion of the World Wide Web. But without EU-level intervention, we may miss the full scale of the benefits, which includes the potential for 2 million new jobs by 2015, and efficiencies of €500 per citizen per year. The cloud can deliver such benefits because it allows people, businesses and governments to rent services and data storage for much cheaper than buying new equipment and software themselves. It can also allow the development of new services, the public sector, business and consumers, in fields ranging from health care to music. Anyone who uses webmail, a social network or an online music service is de facto using the cloud.

A legal environment that is friendly to cloud innovation is essential for our economic growth. That requires rapid adoption of common standards so the cloud lives up to its borderless promise, harnessing public spending to grow the economies of scale that are possible and supporting research and innovation so that we stay at the cutting edge of cloud development.

Many of the goals of the strategy will be achieved by the establishment of a European Cloud Partnership later in 2012 to join the forces of private industry and public sector users to shape demand for Cloud services in the EU. This will fast-track governments towards greener and cost efficient IT services, where different government services better interoperate.

The background:

Cloud computing is expected to grow rapidly worldwide. But Europe and Europeans will not see the full benefits of the Cloud unless steps are taken at European level to deal with the remaining barriers to Cloud adoption and use, including uncertainty on the legal jurisdiction over Cloud data & services, security and data protection issues and uncertainty over moving data and applications between different vendors of Cloud services. The current patchwork of different rules at Member State, regional or EU level does not allow the flexibility which the Cloud needs in order to realise its potential. Pooling public requirements could bring higher efficiency and common sectoral requirements (for example for eHealth, social care or eGovernment services), reduce costs and enable interoperability.

The Cloud economy will change industry structures and spawn a wealth of completely new products and services. By 2014, it is estimated that the EU public Cloud services market will reach €11 billion in revenues or 3.6% of the total IT market. All actors involved stand to benefit from an integrated EU strategy on the Cloud: the ICT industry and SMEs in particular, the public sector and individual citizens. Solving these problems, by ensuring EU rules exist and are well understood, will therefore aid growth.

The event:

Press conference and technical briefing (to be confirmed).

The sources:

Information on Cloud computing:

Information on the European Cloud Partnership:

Neelie Kroes' website:

The contacts:

Ryan Heath +32 2 296 17 16

Linda Cain +32 2 299 90 19

Wednesday 26 September: The Commission presents report on boosting the contribution of cultural and creative sectors to growth and jobs

The news:

The European Commission will adopt a report which will highlight the contribution that the cultural and creative sectors make to growth and jobs – and how to boost this in future. The report will highlight five main areas that Member States should focus on to better exploit the potential of these sectors:

  • Skills needs,

  • Improving access to finance,

  • Enlarging marketplaces through partnerships and new business models,

  • Expanding international reach, and

  • Reinforcing co-operation with other sectors and policies, such as industry, innovation, ICT, education, tourism, urban and regional development and territorial planning.

    The Commission will announce EU initiatives to unlock the potential of these sectors, by promoting a favourable environment for these sectors to develop, to increase their competiveness and export potential, and to maximise the spill over effects in other areas.

The background:

    According to the 2010 European Competitiveness Report and other sources, the cultural and creative sectors account for between 3.3% and 4.5% of GDP and employ up to 8.5 million people. Evidence collected at European, national, regional and local levels confirms the economic importance of the sectors, which have shown above average rates of growth and shown, notably in terms of employment, a relative resilience in the current economic downturn. The capacity of these sectors to trigger innovation as well as their role in global competition for influence and attractiveness are also increasingly recognised. However, the sectors face major challenges stemming from the digital shift and globalisation as well as from a high degree of fragmentation of markets along cultural and linguistic lines.

The event:

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will present the proposals at the midday briefing in the Commission's press room.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Culture:

Information on Commissioner Vassiliou:

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67

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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