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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 23 November 2012

Top News from the European Commission
24 November – 21 December 2012

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

Tuesday 27 November: The Presidents of the Commission, the Council and the Parliament meet philosophical and non-confessional organisations to discuss solidarity between generations and demographic challenges across Europe 3

Tuesday 27 – Wednesday 28 November: Europe in Action - The Danube Strategy One Year On 5

Wednesday 28 November: The Commission presents the 2013 Annual Growth Survey, Alert Mechanism Report and Single Market Integration Report 7

Wednesday 28 November: The Commission presents a Blueprint for a deep and genuine economic and monetary union 8

Thursday 29 November: An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU 9

Wednesday 5 December: The Commission presents a Communication on a Youth Employment Package 11

Wednesday 5 December: The Commission presents two proposals for amendments to the Enabling and Procedural Regulations as part of State Aid Modernisation 13

Wednesday 5 December: 45 Countries worldwide join forces to fight Child Sexual Abuse online 14

Thursday 6 December (date to be confirmed): The Commission presents Package to fight tax evasion and aggressive tax planning 15

Wednesday 19 December: The Commission adopts new Broadband Guidelines 16

Tuesday 27 November: The Presidents of the Commission, the Council and the Parliament meet philosophical and non-confessional organisations to discuss solidarity between generations and demographic challenges across Europe

The news:

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, will on Tuesday 27 November host a meeting with philosophical and non-confessional organisations under the motto 'Intergenerational Solidarity: Setting the Parameters for Tomorrow's Society in Europe'. The meeting will be co-chaired by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and László Surján, Vice-President of the European Parliament. On the agenda is a discussion on intergenerational solidarity and other important demographic challenges, like tackling unemployment, fostering active ageing, and reconciling work and private life, in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy and the 'European year for active ageing and solidarity between generations'.

Among the representatives of the philosophical and non-confessional organisations are:

  • Joseph ASSELBERGH, Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Belgium

  • Andràs DAVID, Representative of the International Adogmatic Association of Central and Eastern Europe

  • Sonja EGGERICKX, President of the Executive Committee of the International Humanist and Ethical Union

  • Alan FROMMER, President of the European Association for Free Thought

  • Pierre GALAND, President of the European Humanist Federation

  • José Alberto HIDALGO PIÑERO, President of the Spanish Federation of the International Mixed Masonic Order, "El Derecho Humano"

  • Catherine JEANNIN-NALTET, Grand Mistress of the Women's Grand Lodge of France

  • Fernando LIMA, Grand Master of the Grand Orient Lusitano, Portugal

  • Rüdiger TEMPLIN, President of the United Grand Lodges of Germany

The background:

2012 marks the 'European year for active ageing and solidarity between generations'. It is in this context that the representatives of philosophical and non-confessional organisations have been invited to engage in an open dialogue with the European Union on important demographic challenges. Moreover, the Europe 2020 strategy aims to deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and to do so, it focuses also on ambitious goals in the areas of employment, innovation, education, poverty reduction and climate/energy.

The European Commission maintains an open, transparent and regular dialogue with philosophical and non-confessional organisations, as well as with churches and religious communities. The Lisbon Treaty enshrines this dialogue into primary law (Art 17 TFEU). Beyond regular seminars with the different interlocutors, there is one annual high-level meeting with representatives of philosophical and non-confessional organisations, and one with religious leaders.

The event:

The meeting with philosophical and non-confessional organisations will take place in the Berlaymont building on Tuesday 27 November 2012 from 10h00 to 14h00. A press release and a full list of participants will be published on the day. A press conference of President Barroso, President Van Rompuy and Vice-President Surján together with the representatives of the philosophical and non-confessional organisations will be held in the European Commission's press room at 13h30.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth:

http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm

Information on the European year for active ageing and solidarity between generations:

http://europa.eu/ey2012

Information on the European Commission's dialogue with philosophical and non-confessional organisations and with churches and religious communities:

http://ec.europa.eu/bepa/activities/outreach-team/dialogue/index_en.htm

Website of José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission:

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

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen +32 22953070 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

Jens Mester +32 22963973 jens.mester@ec.europa.eu

Dirk Volckaerts +32 2 2993944 dirk.volckaerts@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 27 – Wednesday 28 November: Europe in Action - The Danube Strategy One Year On

The news:

EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will launch the "First Annual Forum of the Danube Strategy" on 27 November. The two day event celebrates the results of the first year of the Strategy which aims to find common solutions to shared challenges in areas like transport, employment, environment, security and growth across 14 countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also attends, with a key note speech on 28 November at 14.15. The Forum will be attended by ministers and state secretaries from among the 14 countries involved in the Strategy. Alongside them will be over 600 representatives from the private sector, regional businesses, civil society and academia.

The European Council has asked the Commission to deliver its first progress report on the Danube Strategy by June 2013. In preparation of that, the Commission will present its Reflection Paper at the Forum in Regensburg on results so far and how to improve the Strategy's performance for the future.

The background:

The EU Strategy for the Danube Region was launched on 13 April 2011. It brings regions and countries together to invest in key areas, creating vital networks across the Danube Macro-Region.

The Strategy has already helped to bring about key initiatives such as the Memorandum of Understanding between Romania and Bulgaria on navigation of the Danube Other projects now underway include The Danube Region Gas Market Model where results are so encouraging they plan to extend EU-wide, Danube Tourism: One Brand - Innovative marketing of the Macro-Region, Danube Flood Risk Project: 19 institutions along 8 countries participating to "floodmap" and protect the region and The Danube Business Forum: the first networking platform for small and medium sized businesses in the regions: 300 SMES are involved.

The countries involved in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region are: Germany (Baden Württemberg and Bavaria), Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The event:

A joint press conference will be held at 13.15 on November 27 between Commissioner Johannes Hahn, State Minister for European Affairs of Bavaria, Emilia Muller and Mayor of Regensburg.

A press release will be available on Monday.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on the Danube Strategy

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/cooperate/danube/index_en.cfm

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65 shirin.wheeler@ec.europa.eu

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10 annemarie.huber@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 28 November: The Commission presents the 2013 Annual Growth Survey, Alert Mechanism Report and Single Market Integration Report

The news:

On 28 November, the European Commission will present its third Annual Growth Survey (AGS), setting out the overall economic and social priorities for the EU for the coming year. It will also provide Member States with policy guidance on boosting growth and employment in line with the EU's long-term growth strategy, Europe 2020. The AGS kick-starts the European Semester, the EU's calendar for coordinating budgetary and economic policies.

At the same time, the Commission will present its second Alert Mechanism Report (AMR) under the new surveillance system for the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances. The AMR checks Member States' performance against a scoreboard of 11 economic indicators – for example, unit labour costs and house prices - indicating whether further investigation into the existence of imbalances is required. This year, an indicator on financial sector liabilities has been added to the scoreboard.

And for the first time, as part of the Annual Growth Survey package, the Commission will publish a report on Single Market Integration. The report will present an analysis of Single Market integration and look at the main barriers to a better functioning Single Market, particularly in areas with the greatest growth potential, i.e. services, networks and the digital economy.

The background:

The AGS package kicks off the European Semester, which was introduced in 2010 to closer align national budgetary and economic planning. It allows for appropriate EU surveillance to ensure that Member States are moving in the same direction and to prevent policies in one Member State having negative side-effects in another. The Semester begins with the AGS, which is discussed and endorsed at the March European Council. AGS priorities feed in to national fiscal and economic strategies (presented by Member States in April), which together form the basis for the Commission's Country-Specific Recommendations (published in May and endorsed in June by the European Council).

The event:

The reports will be presented at a press conference on 28 November. IPs and MEMOs will be available alongside the original reports on the AGS, AMR and Single Market. The AGS package also includes a macroeconomic report and a joint employment report.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Europe 2020 website:

http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde +32 2 295 30 70 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76 sarah.collins@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 28 November: The Commission presents a Blueprint for a deep and genuine economic and monetary union

The news:

On 28 November, the European Commission will present a Blueprint on how to move towards a deep and genuine economic and monetary union that can deliver lasting financial stability, economic prosperity and social welfare in the future. As announced by President Barroso in his State of the Union address on 12 September, the Blueprint will identify what remains to be done to achieve a true banking, fiscal and economic union. It will set out the steps to take both in the next months and over the next years. It will identify the necessary tools and instruments to achieve the objectives, and address the legal options to implement them, including, where necessary, through treaty change. The Blueprint will also discuss ways to ensure the necessary democratic legitimacy and accountability which must be part and parcel of this process.

The background:

The Blueprint will inform the debate at the December European Council and feed in to the report prepared by the President of the European Council, in close cooperation with the Presidents of the European Commission, Eurogroup and European Central Bank. Preliminary discussions on the interim report of the four presidents were held at the October European Council, where they agreed to present a specific and time-bound roadmap for all essential building blocks on which a genuine EMU should be based.

The event:

President Barroso will present the EMU Blueprint at a press conference on 28 November. IPs and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

President Barroso's website:

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

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde +32 2 295 3070 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

Simon O'Connor +32 2 296 7359 simon.o'connor@ec.europa.eu

Sarah Collins +32 2 296 8076 sarah.collins@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 29 November: An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU

The news:

The Commission will adopt a Green Paper consultation on the delivery of parcels, with special emphasis on cross border issues and e-commerce needs.

The background:

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.

The event:

11.30 Technical briefing off-the-record in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.

Press release and memo with frequently asked questions available on the day.

The sources:

Further information on the postal market:

http://www.cc.cec/markt/intranet/index.cfm?action=page&id_page=1267

e-Commerce communication:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/e-commerce/communication_2012_en.htm

Commissioner Barnier's website:

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

  1. I-065354 E-commerce

  2. I-071939 Card, internet and mobile payments - 2012

The contacts:

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

The news:

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.

The background:

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.

The sources:

Youth Opportunity Initiative:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1006

Your First EURES Job:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=993&langId=en

Youth unemployment: studies show apprenticeships and traineeships useful but need to be improved

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-731_en.htm

  1. I-070907 Youth@work

  2. I-069404 Youth (un)employment

  1. I-073435 Youth Opportunities Initiative

  2. I-073047 Your first EURES job

The contacts:

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 jonathan.todd@ec.europa.eu

Nadège Defrère +32 2 296 45 44 nadege.defrere@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

The news:

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 background:

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.

The event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on State Aid Modernisation:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/modernisation/index_en.html

Information on Commissioner Almunia:

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

The contacts:

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

Wednesday 5 December: 45 Countries worldwide join forces to fight Child Sexual Abuse online

The news:

On 5 December, Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström together with US Attorney General Eric Holder will launch a Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online, with participation of Ministers and other high-level officials from 45 countries. This initiative aims to unite efforts around the world to more effectively combat online sexual crimes against children. The 45 participating countries will make political commitments to pursue a number of key policy targets and goals, notably: enhancing efforts to identify victims and ensuring that they receive the necessary assistance, support and protection; enhancing efforts to investigate cases of child sexual abuse online and to identify and prosecute offenders; increasing children's awareness of online risks; reducing the availability of child pornography online and the re-victimization of children.

The background:

The EU has made progress on a variety of fronts, not least through ambitious legislation to combat trafficking in Human beings (Directive 2011/36/EU) and the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography (Directive 2011/93/EU). These laws cover the prosecution of offenders, protection of victims and prevention of the crime.

Yet much more needs to be done, and it has to be done globally. The Global Alliance will keep the fight against child sexual abuse online high on national agendas. This in turn is likely to improve resources dedicated to combating these crimes, legislation and cooperation of national forces worldwide. 45 countries are joining forces now, and more may come once the Global Alliance has been formally launched.

In addition to the 27 EU Member States, 19 third countries have so far joined the Global Alliance: Albania, Australia, Cambodia, Croatia, Georgia, Ghana, Japan, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Serbia, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, and Vietnam.

The event:

A one day launching conference will take place in Brussels under the High Patronage of H.M. Queen Paola of Belgium. Experts and practitioners from participating governments, as well as representatives from NGOs or international organisations and academics will examine the state of the problem and discuss the different policy targets of the Global Alliance.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Commissioner Malmström:

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

Information on DG Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Michele Cercone +32 2 298 09 63 michele.cercone@ec.europa.eu

Tove Ernst +32 2 298 67 64 tove.ernst@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 6 December (date to be confirmed): The Commission presents Package to fight tax evasion and aggressive tax planning

The news:

On 6 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.

The background:

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.

The event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Taxation and Customs:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/index_en.htm

Information on Commissioner Šemeta:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/semeta/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48 emer.traynor@ec.europa.eu

Natasja Bohez-Rubiano +32 2 296 64 70 natasja.bohez-Rubiano@ext-ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 19 December: The Commission adopts new Broadband Guidelines

The news:

On 19 December, the European Commission is due to adopt new Broadband Guidelines on state aid to broadband networks, replacing its current Broadband Guidelines of 2009 (see IP/09/1332 and MEMO/09/396).

The Broadband Guidelines set out the criteria under which public funding to the deployment of broadband networks in the EU is compatible with the internal market. In this context, the new Guidelines contribute to the objectives of the EU Digital Agenda (see IP/10/581 and MEMO/10/199) while limiting distortions of competition and disincentives to private investment.

The modernised Guidelines address the new market, technological and regulatory developments regarding, inter alia, the conditions for aid to next generation networks and the necessary wholesale access obligations to subsidised networks. Furthermore they aim at ensuring more transparency regarding aided projects.

The background:

The Commission has to review the current Broadband Guidelines within three years of their entry into force in 2009. The revision process was launched in April 2011 by the first of two rounds of public consultation. Based on the comments received and recommendations from a commissioned study, the Commission services published new draft Guidelines on 1 June 2012. The new Guidelines are part of the State Aid Modernisation package.

The event:

Vice-President Joaquin Almunia, the European Commissioner for Competition, will present the main elements of the proposals at the midday briefing in the Commission's press room (to be confirmed). A press release will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Public consultation on the revision of the Broadband Guidelines:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2012_broadband_guidelines/index_en.html

Information on State Aid Modernisation:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/modernisation/index_en.html

Information on Commissioner Almunia:

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

  1. I-072544 EU: Telecommunications - 2012

The contacts:

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

1 :

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.

2 :

COM(2012) 209 final


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