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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 14 September 2012

Top News from the European Commission

15 September – 12 October 2012

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

Tuesday 18 September: "Sharing Borders, growing closer"- Official Launch of the European Cooperation Day 2

Wednesday 19 September: President Barroso answers citizens' questions on the State of the Union – submit your video questions 3

Wednesday 19 September: The Commission proposes a Regulation for the set-up of the European Voluntary Corps in Humanitarian Aid 4

Monday 24 – Friday 28 September: EU participation in UNGA Ministerial Week 6

Wednesday 26 September: The Commission presents report on boosting the contribution of cultural and creative sectors to growth and jobs 8

Wednesday 26 September: Commission to adopt a new legal framework for medical devices, more robust, transparent and better adapted to scientific and technological progress 10

Thursday 27 September: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 12

Thursday 27 September (date to be confirmed): Commission adopts its Cloud Computing Strategy 13

Tuesday 2 October: 'Connecting Europe'- Conference on the Connecting Europe Facility 16

Tuesday 18 September: "Sharing Borders, growing closer"- Official Launch of the European Cooperation Day

The news:

On 18 September, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will kick off the European Cooperation Day in the course of an information event at the European Parliament in Brussels. The European Cooperation Day (ECD) will be celebrated across Europe and in neighbouring countries for the first time on 21 September 2012. The initiative aims at raising awareness of the achievements and the added value of European Territorial Cooperation.

The background:

Under the slogan "Sharing borders, growing closer" almost 40 countries will come together to celebrate the cooperation and bridge-building between their countries and regions. The initiative is coordinated by the INTERACT programme in association with the European Commission (DG REGIO, EuropeAid and EEAS), and supported by the Committee of the Regions and the European Parliament.

The event:

The official launch-event of the ECD will take place on 18 September during the lunch-break (12.30) of the regular meeting of the Committee for Regional Development at the European Parliament in Brussels. Key notes speeches will be held by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn and the MEPs Danuta Hübner, Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid and Riikka Manner.

On 21 September more than 200 events and activities will take place throughout Europe, involving almost 40 countries.

The sources:

The IP will be made available on 18 September on RAPID:

Commissioner Johannes Hahn's website:

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler: +32 2 29 66565

Annemarie Huber: +32 2 2993310

Wednesday 19 September: President Barroso answers citizens' questions on the State of the Union – submit your video questions

The news:

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:

President Barroso delivered the third "State of the Union Address" on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 at the European Parliament at 9 o'clock (read more on the speech and watch it). The speech was followed by a debate in plenary with the leaders of the political groups and other members of the European Parliament.

The event:

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

More on the State of the Union Speech:

President Barroso's website:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde +32 2 295 3070

Jens Mester +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

Monday 24 – Friday 28 September: EU participation in UNGA Ministerial Week

The news:

The 67th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations opens in New York on 18 September, with Ministerial week beginning the following Monday, 24 September. Commission President José Manuel Barroso, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Catherine Ashton and Commissioners Kristalina Georgieva (International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response), Connie Hedegaard (Climate Action) and Andris Piebalgs (Development), together with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, will travel to New York to represent the EU in discussions on peace and security, sustainable development, human rights and strengthening the role of the United Nations.

The background:

The EU will be represented in the General Debate on Wednesday, 26 September by President Van Rompuy. The EU's priorities for the 67th UNGA session were adopted by the Council in July.

President Barroso will participate in a number of high-level bilateral meetings and together with President Van Rompuy and High Representative/Vice-President Ashton, will inaugurate the new offices of the EU Delegation in New York on Wednesday 26 September, in the presence of EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs.

High Representative/Vice-President Ashton will be in New York from 23 to 28 September. On her agenda will be priority issues relating to Syria, Iran, the Middle East peace process, Libya, European Neighbourhood Policy, the Belgrade/Pristina dialogue, Somalia and the Sahel. Notably, she will meet with a number of Foreign Affairs Ministers and will discuss the crisis in Syria with United Nations/League of Arab States Special Envoy Brahimi and League of Arab States Secretary-General Nabil El Araby.

Commissioner Georgieva will participate in the event "Ensuring Resilient Livelihoods", organised by USAID, on September 25. Together with other high-level figures from the world of humanitarian and development aid, she will discuss the Sahel and Horn of Africa crises at the "Resilience Champions" meeting on September 26, as well as the humanitarian situation in Yemen and Sudan/South Sudan.

Commissioner for Climate Action Hedegaard will meet with representatives of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to advance negotiations in the run-up to the next round of international climate negotiations. Besides a series of bilateral meetings, Commissioner Hedegaard hosts an Informal High-level Climate change Roundtable for the Durban Platform on 28 September. She will also take part in the Major Economies Forum on 27 September.

Commissioner for Development Piebalgs will highlight the leading role of the EU in development. He will participate notably in the Sustainable Energy for All high-level meeting and will present his ideas on addressing food security challenges to the G8 Global Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. He will participate in a meeting on natural resources and transparency, and at the Scaling-Up Nutrition meeting he will reiterate the EU's commitment to reach at least seven million malnourished children with its development programmes by 2025.

The event:

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

EU's priorities for the 67th UNGA session:

Press and audio-visual material will be available on the Europa and EEAS websites as well as via EbS.

The contacts:

Leonor RIBEIRO DA SILVA +32 (0)2 298 81 55

Maja KOCIJANCIC +32 (0)2 298 65 70

Catherine RAY +32 (0)2 296 99 21

David SHARROCK +32 (0)2 296 89 09

Isaac VALERO LADRON +32 (0)2 296 49 71

Eamonn PRENDERGAST +32 (0)2 299 88 51

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

Wednesday 26 September: Commission to adopt a new legal framework for medical devices, more robust, transparent and better adapted to scientific and technological progress

The news:

On 26 September, the European Commission will propose new legislative rules so that every EU citizen can be assured of the safety and performance of the medical devices on which they rely every day. There is a twofold rationale behind this new set of rules. On the one hand, the objective is to improve the health, safety and quality of life of millions of people and to help to restore patient confidence in the regulatory system. On the other hand, the reform is necessary in order to keep pace with scientific and technological progress.

The background:

The EU rules on active implantable medical devices (AIMDD), on medical devices (MDD) and on in vitro diagnostic medical devices (IVDD), were adopted during the 1990ies and have been providing a relatively stable regulatory framework for medical devices until now. They cover a huge spectrum of products: from sticking plasters to X-ray machines, scanners, pacemakers, drug-eluting stents or blood tests.

The medical devices sector is hugely innovative and much of the innovation takes place in Europe. The EU market for medical devices amounts to around €95bn (2009) with growth rates even during the economic and financial crisis.

The medical devices Directives are based on what was called at that time the "New Approach". This means that the Directives set out the essential requirements for the safety and performance of medical devices while more detailed product specifications are laid down in harmonized standards.

Nevertheless, the current Directives need to keep pace with regulatory and technological development. Moreover, the enforcement of the legal requirements is differing significantly between the Member States. And last but not least, obstacles concerning the free movement of medical devices, and thus impair the functioning of the internal market in this sector, need to be tackledl. This new framework is geared to addressing all these issues in an effective way.

The event:

What: Press Conference of Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli

When: Wednesday 26/09/2012, after the Midday Briefing

Where: Berlaymont Press Room, in Brussels

The sources:

More information can be found at:

Commissioner John Dalli's website:

The contacts:

Frédéric Vincent: +32 2 298 71 66

Aikaterini Apostola: +32 2 298 76 24

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.

Thursday 27 September (date to be confirmed): Commission adopts its Cloud Computing Strategy

The news:

On 27 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

Tuesday 2 October: 'Connecting Europe'- Conference on the Connecting Europe Facility

The news:

Top business leaders and representatives from the EU institutions and Member States will discuss the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) – a new instrument proposed by the European Commission under the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020.

Targeted investment of 50 billion euros from the EU budget would boost transport, energy and digital networks and consequently remove bottlenecks and fill missing links in the EU's Single Market. This would generate growth and jobs in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy and make work and travel easier for millions of European citizens and businesses. EU project bonds, whose pilot phase was endorsed by the June European Council, could complement the financing of this infrastructure from private sector funding.

After the opening of the event by European Commission President Barroso and Leif Johansson, Chairman of Ericsson and Chairman of the European Round Table, participants will debate the achievements and challenges of European funded infrastructure projects, the added value of the Connecting Europe Facility, and the increased efficiency and leverage of private sector funding through it.

Other speakers and participants include:

Mr Andrus Ansip, Prime Minister of Estonia

Mr Rene Obermann, Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Telekom

Ms Amalia Sartori MEP, Chair EP Industry, Research and Energy Committee

Mr Maciej Witucki, President, Polish Telekom

Mr Marc Hamy, Chief Operating Officer, AirbusProSky

Apart from President Barroso the following members of the European Commission will participate: Ms Neelie Kroes, Mr Siim Kallas, Mr Johannes Hahn and Mr Gunther Oettinger.

The background:

The Commission presented its proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework on 29 June 2011. The proposal for the CEF followed on 19 October 2011. Negotiations on the future EU budget are entering into their final phase now. On 22-23 November 2012 a special European Council is dedicated to the Multiannual Financial Framework. The Connecting Europe Facility, being an instrument of true and exclusive European added value, has few supporters so far.

The event:

2 October 2012, 10:00-16:30 :Connecting Europe Facility – conference in Brussels, Berlaymont building, Schuman room.

Journalists can register online at (limited number of places available)

  • Live streaming of the event on EbS

The sources:


Website of the conference with updated programme:

MFF website:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde +32 2 295 3070

Jens Mester +32 2 296 3973

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