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Brussels, Friday 16 November 2012
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Tuesday 20 November: Commission adopts strategy on skills for the future 2
Wednesday 21 November: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 4
Wednesday 28 November: An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU 5
Wednesday 5 December: The Commission presents a Communication on a Youth Employment Package 7
Wednesday 5 December: The Commission presents Package to fight tax evasion and aggressive tax planning 9
Wednesday 5 December: The Commission presents two proposals for amendments to the Enabling and Procedural Regulations as part of State Aid Modernisation 10
Tuesday 20 November: Commission adopts strategy on skills for the future
On 20 November, the European Commission will publish its strategy on how to modernise and finance education and training systems in Europe in the future. Part of the package is the first Education and Training Monitor which reports on progress and lingering weaknesses in the fulfilment of the Framework for Cooperation in Education and Training 2020. A Country Analysis will reveal how individual countries are performing in relation to headline targets, benchmarks and indicators.
One of the key priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy is to boost quality and resource-efficient education and training in a lifelong learning perspective. Too much of the EU's human capital remains undeveloped due to structural barriers and blind spots in learning provision. The strategy addresses some of the main challenges ahead in ways that reinforce and complement the Youth Employment package.
Measures will be proposed to improve the provision of basic skills, to foster key competences in a lifelong learning perspective and to integrate and interlink different sectors of education and training. New initiatives will be announced in areas like ICT and open educational resources, support to teachers and school leaders and rallying education authorities and stakeholders around issues of funding.
The package will contain a wealth of quantitative information and comparative analysis, based on the most recent data provided by Eurydice, GHK, OECD and several other sources. Part of the material has already been used to back up the country-specific assessment during the European Semester and the subsequent recommendations to the Member States.
16.30 Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will present the Communication and the accompanying package at a press conference in Strasbourg.
12.30 Technical briefing in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.
A press release, reports and executive summaries will be available on the day.
Information on education policy:
Information on Eurydice reports on education:
Information on Commissioner Vassiliou:
Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67 email@example.com
Wednesday 21 November: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package
On Wednesday 21 November 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.
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.
A comprehensive Memo on all referrals and reasoned opinions, specific IPs on each referral and a Memo on the procedure will be available on the day on Rapid:
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 firstname.lastname@example.org
On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.
Wednesday 28 November: An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU
The Commission will adopt a Green Paper consultation on the delivery of parcels, with special emphasis on cross border issues and e-commerce needs.
E-commerce is widely acknowledged as a key contributor to economic growth and increasing employment levels across the European Union. The Commission's Communication on e-commerce and online services of January this year (see IP/12/10) identifies delivery as one of the top five priorities to boost e-commerce by 2015 and its importance has been reiterated by the European Council and Parliament1. Delivery is indeed critical as it has a substantial impact on facilitating e-commerce and is a key element for building trust between sellers and buyers.
With this Green Paper, the Commission will launch an extensive consultation to collect information on the current state of the delivery markets for products bought online, and to identify any potential hurdles for the creation of an EU-wide integrated parcel delivery market. Furthermore, it will seek stakeholders' views on how best to serve the interests of customers and consumers. On this basis, the Commission will come up with solutions for developing a seamless delivery process in the EU, which in turn would support the growth of e-commerce and ensure that e-commerce benefits are accessible to all citizens and SMEs across all regions of Europe.
Details to be announced.
Press release and memo with frequently asked questions available on the day.
Further information on the postal market:
Commissioner Barnier's website:
Stefaan De Rynck +32 2 296 34 21 Stefaan.De-Rynck@ec.europa.eu
Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94 Carmel.Dunne@ec.europa.eu
Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 16 07 Audrey.Augier@ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 5 December: The Commission presents a Communication on a Youth Employment Package
On 5 December, the European Commission will present a Communication on a Youth Employment Package with concrete proposals and measures aimed at combating youth unemployment.
The Communication will include a proposal for a Council Recommendation on Youth Guarantees, building on best practice from Member States such as Austria and Finland. The concept of Youth Guarantees is that every young person should receive a quality offer of employment or training or further education within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed. The proposal will include guidelines to ensure the successful and rapid implementation of Youth Guarantees schemes, making full use of EU funding and in particular the European Social Fund.
Last, the Communication will launch a second phase consultation of social partners for the elaboration of a Quality Framework on Traineeships. Such a Framework would include guidelines on the form and content of traineeship agreements that would help ensure that trainees take out valuable knowledge and skills from their traineeship.
The Communication will also provide an update on the most recent trends on youth unemployment, give an overview of the related issues addressed in the first two European Semesters, present targeted initiatives in the area of apprenticeships and mobility and cover the role of the EU funds in fighting youth unemployment.
Youth unemployment rate is on average twice as high as for the total working age population in Europe. In Italy it has risen to some 35% and in Spain and Greece, it even reaches over 50%. The ability of a whole generation to access the labour market, to progress in life in decent conditions and to contribute to social security systems is at stake.
The Youth Employment Package builds on the endorsement by the European Council on 29 June 2012 of both the Youth Guarantees concept and the usefulness of a quality framework for traineeships.
European enterprises currently offer company training positions for a total of about 9.4 million students. Apprenticeship-type students represent approximately 40.5% of total secondary education students in the 27 Member States.
Youth Opportunity Initiative:
Your First EURES Job:
Youth unemployment: studies show apprenticeships and traineeships useful but need to be improved
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 email@example.com
Nadège Defrère +32 2 296 45 44 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 5 December: The Commission presents Package to fight tax evasion and aggressive tax planning
On 5 December, the European Commission will adopt a comprehensive package to strengthen the fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax planning in the EU. Tax evasion and avoidance deprive Member States of almost €1 trillion every year. Not only does this result in a serious loss of revenues for public expenditure, it also undermines the fairness of tax systems and creates competitive disadvantages for honest businesses. Given the cross-border nature of tax evasion and avoidance, stronger EU coordination is essential in tackling them.
On 2nd March 2012, the European Council called on the Council and the Commission to rapidly develop concrete ways to improve the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion, including in relation to third countries and to report by June 2012. In April the European Parliament adopted a resolution echoing the urgent need for action in this area.
As a first response, on 27 June 2012 the Commission adopted a Communication (IP/12/697) which outlined how tax compliance can be improved and fraud and evasion reduced, through better use of existing instruments and the adoption of pending Commission proposals. It also identified areas where further legislative action or coordination would benefit the EU and Member States.
The June Communication announced the preparation, before the end of 2012, of an action plan to enhance administrative cooperation and to support the development of the existing good governance policy, the wider issues of addressing tax havens and of tackling aggressive tax planning.
There will be a press conference by Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation in the Commission's press room (timing TBC).
IP and Memo will be available on the day.
Information on Taxation and Customs:
Information on Commissioner Šemeta:
Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48 email@example.com
Natasja Bohez-Rubiano +32 2 296 64 70 natasja.bohez-Rubiano@ext-ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 5 December: The Commission presents two proposals for amendments to the Enabling and Procedural Regulations as part of State Aid Modernisation
On 5 December, the European Commission will present two proposals as part of its own initiative on State Aid Modernisation to amend two key state aid instruments: the Enabling Regulation and the Procedural Regulation.
The Enabling Regulation allows the Commission to declare certain categories of aid compatible and exempt them from notification to the Commission. In this context, the amendment would allow to exempt new categories of aid, such as aid for culture, innovation or aid in relation to natural disasters.
The Procedural Regulation sets out the rules governing state aid investigations. As announced in the Communication on State aid Modernisation of 8 May 20122, the reform of the state aid procedure mainly focuses on two areas: improving the handling of complaints and ensuring that the Commission obtains complete and correct information from the market.
The Commission indicated in its Communication on State aid Modernisation that state aid enforcement should focus on cases with the biggest impact on the internal market and allow faster decision-making.
Both proposals described above would allow faster decision-making and would allow the Commission to focus its enforcement on what matters most at the EU level. They are thus crucial elements of the State Aid Modernisation package.
On 5 December, the Commission will present the proposals for the Enabling Regulation and the Procedural Regulation as part of State Aid Modernization.
A press release and a memo will be available on the day.
Information on State Aid Modernisation:
Information on Commissioner Almunia:
Antoine Colombani +32 2 297 45 13 Antoine.Colombani@ec.europa.eu
Maria Madrid Pina +32 2 295 45 30 Maria.Madrid-Pina@ec.europa.eu
Council of the EU, Conclusions on the Digital Single Market and Governance of the Single Market, 31 May 2012; Report on completing the internal market for e-commerce (2010/2012(INI)) A7-0226/2010.
COM(2012) 209 final