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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 22 March 2013

Top News from the European Commission
23 March – 19 April 2013

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

Monday 25 March: Making the EU an accessible and attractive destination for foreign students and researchers 2

Monday 25 March: European Commission launches Green Paper consultation on long term financing of the European economy 4

Tuesday 26 March: Innovation Union Scoreboard reveals Member States' innovation performance in a global context 5

Wednesday 27 March: Proposals for modernisation of the trade mark system 6

Wednesday 27 March (date to be confirmed): Commission adopts proposal to cut the cost of broadband rollout 7

Wednesday 27 March: The European Union kicks-off public debate on 2030 energy and climate framework 8

Wednesday 27 March: European Commission to present first edition of the Justice Scoreboard 10

Wednesday 27 March: Europol - the EU hub for support to law enforcement cooperation and training 11

Date to be confirmed: European Commission proposes to modernise its Trade Defence Instruments 12

Date to be confirmed: Commission to propose measures to facilitate workers' mobility 13

Monday 25 March: Making the EU an accessible and attractive destination for foreign students and researchers

The news:

Every year, hundreds of thousands of foreign students and researchers are coming to Europe. This global mobility contributes to economic competitiveness and fosters the generation and acquisition of knowledge, skills and ideas.

However, foreign students and researchers are often faced with complex and unclear admission rules and procedures. To make Europe a more attractive destination for research and innovation, the Commission will propose to improve the current rules and conditions for third country national students, researchers and other groups, such as school pupils, trainees, volunteers and au pairs, to enter and stay in the EU.

The background:

The current EU framework consists of:

- Directive 2004/114/EC, which establishes common rules of admission for non EU nationals to an EU Member State for the purposes of studies, pupil exchange, unremunerated training or voluntary service.

- Directive 2005/71/EC, which sets a specific procedure for admitting third-country nationals for more than three months for the purpose of scientific research.

A number of problems have been identified in the 'Students' and 'Researchers' Directives, which have been unevenly implemented across Member States.

The Commission will propose to improve those rules by addressing a number of weaknesses it had identified in 2011 (report on the 'Students Directive' and report on the 'Researchers Directive'). These concern mainly admission conditions, rights, procedural safeguards, students' access to the labour market during studies, intra-EU mobility provisions as well as a lack of harmonization, as coverage of some groups, such as volunteers, school pupils and unremunerated trainees was left optional to Member States.

The event:

12.30 Press conference by Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

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

Homepage 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

Monday 25 March: European Commission launches Green Paper consultation on long term financing of the European economy

The news:

On 25 March, the European Commission will adopt a Green Paper on long-term financing of the European economy. The Commission’s aim is to start a broad debate on how to address the urgent challenges associated with financing long-term investment needs by governments and companies.

The background:

Europe’s most pressing priority is to put the EU back on the path of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth - creating jobs and building on its areas of competitive advantage. In responding to this task, Europe faces large-scale, long-term investment needs. Long-term investment represents spending that enhances the productive and industrial capacity of the economy.

To fund these long-term investments, governments and businesses of all sizes need access to long-term financing. The capacity of the economy to make such long-term financing available depends on the capability of governments, companies and households to generate and mobilise savings and attract foreign investments. It also depends on its ability to channel the funds effectively and efficiently to the right users and uses – this can be carried out by various intermediaries, including banks, insurers and pension funds. However, Europe is confronted by a range of constraints that affect its long-term financing capacity. The Green Paper will identify issues that could be tackled in areas such as prudential rules, corporate governance, and financial markets for example.

The event:

11.30 Press conference by Commissioner Barnier, preceded by a technical briefing off-the-record at 11.00.

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

Tuesday 26 March: Innovation Union Scoreboard reveals Member States' innovation performance in a global context

The news:

The European Commission will present the latest Innovation Union Scoreboard report (IUS) that benchmarks EU Member States' innovation performance and potential. The IUS 2013 will rank the EU Member States according to their innovation performance – indicating who the leaders, followers, moderate and modest innovators are. It will give the growth rate of EU's innovation performance as well as those of the individual Member States, over a period of five years and also since the launch of the EU2020 Innovation Union flagship strategy in 2010. The report will also look at the impact of the economic crisis on the EU's research and innovation landscape.

The background:

The Innovation Union Scoreboard contributes to the better implementation of the Europe 2020 flagship "Innovation Union" action. For more than 10 years this tool has examined the EU's and the Member States' innovation policy performance, using statistical analysis to track progress towards a more innovative European economy - a vital element of Europe 2020's smart growth objective.

It monitors innovation progress and performance based on twenty five indicators grouped in eight key dimensions relevant to European and national research and innovation systems, such as: human resources, open, excellent and attractive research systems, finance and support, investment by companies, linkages and entrepreneurship, intellectual assets, innovating enterprises and economic effects. The report covers the EU Member States, candidate and associated countries, and to a limited extent the EU's key economic global partners such as the US, Japan, South Korea and the BRICS countries.

The event:

12.30 Press conference by European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani and European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

11.00 Technical briefing off-the-record.

IP and Memo will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/innovation/facts-figures-analysis/innovation-scoreboard/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52 carlo.corazza@ec.europa.eu

Sara Tironi +32 2 299 04 03 sara.tironi@ec.europa.eu

Michael Jennings +32 2 296 33 88 michael.jennings@ec.europa.eu

Monika Wcislo +32 2 295 56 04 monika.wcislo@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 27 March: Proposals for modernisation of the trade mark system

The news:

On 27 March the European Commission will adopt proposals to revise the existing EU legislation on trade marks. In order to improve conditions for business to innovate, the Commission considers that it is time for a review of the trade mark system in Europe, and for further improvement of cooperation between the EU Trade Marks and Designs Agency and national industrial property offices.

The background:

National trade mark registration in the EU Member States has been harmonised for 20 years and the unitary Community trade mark was created more than 15 years ago. Since then, almost 1 million Community trademarks have been registered, compared to the 9 million "national" trade marks currently registered at Member States' industrial property offices since the beginning of trademark registrations there, demonstrating the popularity of the Community trade mark. Community trademarks now represent around a quarter of all trade marks filed in the EU each year: in 2011, there were 105 000 applications for Community trade marks, against 435 000 applications for national trademarks.

The system is therefore popular and important for the European economy, which relies on powerful brands, requiring strong and effective trade mark protection. In 2009, the Commission launched a comprehensive study on the overall functioning of the trade mark system in Europe, and in 2010, in its Communication on Europe 2020, undertook to modernise trade mark rules in order to have more effective and efficient trade mark protection. Finally, in its 2011 IPR strategy for Europe, the Commission announced a review of the trade mark system in Europe with a view to modernising the system, both at EU and at national level, by making it more effective, efficient and consistent overall (see IP/11/630).

The main objective of the review is to foster innovation and economic growth by making trade mark systems all over the EU more accessible and efficient for businesses: lowering costs and complexity, and increasing speed and legal security (mainly by streamlining and harmonising national registration procedures, taking the Community system as benchmark).

The event:

11.30 Press conference by Commissioner Barnier, preceded by a technical briefing off-the-record at 11.00 (Berlaymont press room in Brussels).

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For information on EU Trademark legislation and policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/indprop/tm/index_en.htm

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

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

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 27 March (date to be confirmed): Commission adopts proposal to cut the cost of broadband rollout

The news:

Civil engineering costs are estimated to make up to 80% of the cost of deploying high-speed broadband networks. But there is a potential for synergies with other civil works which often remains unused, not just between different telecom companies, but with other utilities like water, energy, or electricity, which often have separate infrastructures and separately dig up the road to install them. The Commission will propose a Regulation to try and make it easier to access, re-use and share this infrastructure by common civil works projects. It is estimated that by doing so, costs could be cut by up to 30%. The proposed Regulation will aim to scale up existing best practice and create more synergies between civil engineering projects by facilitating better coordination between the stakeholders involved.

The background:

In December 2013 the European Council endorsed the Commission's Single Market Act (SMA) II commitment to present relevant legislative proposals to reduce the cost of the deployment of high speed broadband by Spring 2013. At a conference in January 2013, Vice-President Neelie Kroes outlined 10 major steps needed to ensure fast broadband for all. "As well as cutting perceived project risk, though, I want to cut project costs. And much of that cost simply comes from civil engineering – the cost of mapping, of getting permits, of digging. If we cut those costs, we boost your business case – and that's just what our proposed legislation will do."

The event:

Press conference with Vice-President Neelie Kroes, tbc.

IP and MEMO available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

  1. I-072544 EU: Telecommunications - 2012

https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/broadband-boosting-growth-and-jobs

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-13-80_en.htm

The contacts:

Ryan Heath +32 2 296 17 16 Ryan.Heath@ec.europa.eu

Linda Cain +32 2 299 90 19 Linda.Cain@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 27 March: The European Union kicks-off public debate on 2030 energy and climate framework

The news:

On 27 March 2013 the European Commission will present:

  • Green Paper on a 2030 Framework Energy and Climate policies

  • Renewable energy progress report

  • Consultative Communication on the future of Carbon Capture and Storage in Europe

The background:

Green Paper on 2030 Framework for Energy and Climate policies

The European Union currently has binding 2020 targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy, as well as a non-binding 2020 target for energy savings. This Green Paper launches the discussion on going beyond 2020 on the basis of the 2050 Roadmaps, to ensure investment certainty and reflect on how best to use energy and climate policy to make sufficient progress towards a competitive, sustainable and secure economy and energy system in a 2030 perspective. The paper will also look at the role of targets in meeting these objectives.

Communication "Renewable Energy Progress Report"

The report assesses Member States' progress towards their legally binding 2020 renewable energy targets and the need for further measures to mitigate any negative impacts of EU biofuel consumption. It looks at measures to remove administrative barriers, improve electricity grid operations, and enhance stability and transparency of support schemes.

Consultative Communication on the future of Carbon Capture and Storage in Europe

In order to meet its decarbonisation targets for 2050, the EU will only be able to continue using fossil fuels in energy and industry if coupled with carbon capture and storage (CCS), the only available CO2 reducing technology at the moment. The Consultative Communication starts a public consultation on if and how to ensure the timely development of CCS and what needs to be done to ensure a business case for CCS.

The event:

What: Joint Press Conference of EU Commissioners Hedegaard and Oettinger

When: Wednesday 27/03/2013 12:30

Where: Berlaymont Press Room, in Brussels

IP and MEMOs will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

  1. I-072796 EU - Energy 2012 (Part 1)

  2. I-074166 EU - Energy 2012 (Part 2)

  3. I-074167 EU - Energy 2012 (Part 3)

Commissioner Connie Hedegaard's website:

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

Commissioner Guenther Oettinger's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/oettinger/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Isaac Valero-Ladron +32 2 296 49 71 Isaac.Valero-Ladron@ec.europa.eu

Stephanie Rhomberg+32 2 298 72 78 Stephanie.Rhomberg@ec.europa.eu

Marlene Holzner +32 2 290 01 96 Marlene.Holzner@ec.europa.eu

Nicole Bockstaller +32 2 295 25 89 Nicole.Bockstaller@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 27 March: European Commission to present first edition of the Justice Scoreboard

The news:

The Commission will present the first edition of the EU Justice Scoreboard, a tool to assist the EU and the Member States in improving the quality, independence and efficiency of national judicial systems.

The background:

The improvement of the quality, independence and efficiency of national judicial systems is a key priority in the European Semester – the EU annual cycle of economic policy coordination. An efficient and independent justice system, ensuring predictable, timely and enforceable judicial decisions, contributes to trust and stability, as well as increasing the attractiveness of a Member State as a place for foreign investors to do business. Well-functioning national justice systems therefore play a key role in restoring confidence and the return to growth.

The Justice Scoreboard is a cooperative mechanism, relying on data drawn from the Member States. It is to be operated as part of an open dialogue with Member States. While the Scoreboard includes a comparison on particular indicators, it is not intended to present an overall single ranking, or to promote any particular form of justice system.

The event:

Vice-President Reding will present the Communication at the beginning of the daily Midday briefing. Technical briefing off-the-record at 10.00.

An IP will be available on the day.

The sources:

Justice Newsroom:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/index_en.htm

Vice-President Reding's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/reding

The contacts:

Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 13 82 Mina.Andreeva@ec.europa.eu

Natasha Bertaud +32 2 296 74 56 Natasha.Bertaud@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 27 March: Europol - the EU hub for support to law enforcement cooperation and training

The news:

The European Commission will present a proposal to make Europol more effective at collecting information, analysing it and sharing these analyses with the Member States, in turn providing even more concrete and targeted support to the national law enforcement authorities in their cross-border cooperation and investigations. The new Regulation also strengthens the link between training and support to operational cooperation, by merging the European Police College (Cepol) within Europol and by making Europol responsible for joint training and exchange programmes for police and other law enforcement personnel. At the same time, it increases Europol's accountability, strengthens the protection of personal data, and aligns its governance with those of other EU agencies.

The background:

With the Stockholm Programme, the European Council called on Europol to evolve and "become a hub for information exchange between the law enforcement authorities of the Member States, a service provider and a platform for law enforcement services". It also called for the establishment of European training schemes and exchange programmes for all relevant law enforcement professionals at national and EU level.

The event:

13.00 Technical briefing by expert in DG HOME.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

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

Homepage 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

Date to be confirmed: European Commission proposes to modernise its Trade Defence Instruments

The news:

Trade Defence Instruments (TDI) are the legal means by which European companies can respond to unfair trade practices in third countries, such as dumping or subsidies, to restore a level playing field for their business. The EU system of trade defence applies the highest EU and WTO legal standards but from time to time a review is needed – within these legal frameworks - to ensure they remain relevant to new challenges across the changing economic landscape. This proposal aims to review and improve in a pragmatic and balanced way the EU's Trade Defence Instruments for the benefit of all stakeholders – from producers, importers, to small, medium and large companies and, of course, consumers. The overall ambition is to make these instruments more efficient, transparent and user-friendly.

The background:

In line with WTO rules, the EU has three trade remedy instruments at its disposal to address unfair or suddenly rising imports due to unfair practices by non-EU countries: anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguards, of which anti-dumping is the most frequently used. As an example, when an EU industry considers that imports of a product from a non-EU country are subsidised or sold at prices lower than the market value and therefore injuring the EU industry producing the same product, it can lodge a complaint with the European Commission, providing evidence of the unfair practice and economic difficulties caused. The European Commission is responsible for investigating these allegations of dumping or subsidisation.

The event:

Technical briefing off-the-record in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels (to be confirmed).

A press release, as well as the Communication, the legislative proposal and guidelines will be available on the day.

The sources:

Tackling unfair trade: Trade Defence Instruments

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/tackling-unfair-trade/trade-defence/

The contacts:

John Clancy +32 2 295 37 73 john.clancy@ec.europa.eu

Helene Banner +32 2 295 24 07 helene.banner@ext.ec.europa.eu

Date to be confirmed: Commission to propose measures to facilitate workers' mobility

The news:

The European Commission is due to adopt a Directive to facilitate the free movement of workers in the EU. The initiative aims to enhance labour mobility in the EU by preventing discrimination and reducing the incidence of unfair practices migrant workers face in Europe.

The proposal requires Member States to put in place measures to better apply and enforce the free movement of workers, for example through the creation of national bodies to inform EU migrant workers about their rights, the provision of redress mechanisms at national level, and the possibility for civil society organisations to engage in administrative or judicial procedures on behalf of individual workers in cases of discrimination.

Free movement of workers benefits the individuals concerned, the host countries, the home countries and the EU economy as a whole, notably by allowing for a better match between people with particular skills and employers looking for people with those skills.

The background:

Every EU citizen has the right to work and live in another Member State without being discriminated against on grounds of nationality, including when it comes to access to employment, remuneration and other conditions of work. This is enshrined in the EU Treaty and is a core principle of the Single Market.

However, in practice, mobile EU citizens often lack protection and information in their host country and are unable to overcome the obstacles they face, such as:

  • different recruitment conditions than nationals of the host country

  • nationality conditions to access certain jobs

  • nationality quotas in certain sectors (e.g. professional sport)

  • different working conditions (remuneration, career prospects, grade, etc.)

  • access to social advantages subject to conditions more easily met by nationals of the host country (e.g.; residence conditions)

  • recognition of professional experience and qualifications acquired in another country

These difficulties contribute to low labour mobility in the EU: according to the EU Labour Force survey, in 2011, only 3.1% of the working age European citizens (15-64) lived in another EU country than their own. A Eurobarometer survey (September 2001) indicates that 15% of European citizens would not consider working in another Member State because they feel there are too many obstacles.

The event:

The Commission will adopt the proposal for a directive on measures facilitating the exercise of rights conferred on workers in the context of freedom of movement for workers.

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

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Working in another EU country:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=25

Commissioner Andor's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/andor/

The contacts:

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

Cécile Dubois +32 2 295 18 83 Cecile.Dubois@ec.europa.eu


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