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Brussels, Friday 5 April 2013
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Tuesday 9 April: First anniversary of the European Citizens' Initiative 2
Tuesday 9 April: Commissioner Hahn presents first progress report on the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region 4
Wednesday 10 April: European Commission proposes to modernise its Trade Defence Instruments 5
Monday 15 April: Tackling human trafficking: entry into force of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive 6
Thursday 25 April: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 7
Date to be confirmed: Commission to propose measures to facilitate workers' mobility 8
Tuesday 9 April: First anniversary of the European Citizens' Initiative
To mark European Citizens' Initiative Day 2013, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič will deliver an opening speech at a conference organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The aim of the conference, on 9 April at the EESC headquarters, is to assess the first year of ECIs, garner the experiences of organisers and start preparing for the future review. The conference will be attended not only by decision-makers and experts, but also by the actual organisers of ongoing initiatives. The opening session will be followed at 11.00 by a press conference with Vice-President Šefčovič and EESC President Staffan Nilsson. Throughout the day, journalists can meet ECI organisers, learn about their causes and the stories behind them.
The European Citizens' Initiative was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. Implementing legislation was adopted on 16 February 2011, although the Member States asked for a delay in application until 1 April 2012, to give them time to make the necessary administrative preparations at national level.
The organisers of an ECI, a citizens' committee composed of at least seven EU citizens who are resident in at least seven different Member States, have one year to collect the necessary statements of support after registering their initiative. The deadline for the first group of ECIs is 1 November 2013, so signature collection is still ongoing. The number of statements of support has to be certified by the competent authorities in the Member States. The Commission will then have three months to examine the initiative and decide how to act on it.
The Commission will give serious consideration to requests made by citizens and, before taking any decision, it will receive the organisers to allow them to explain in detail the matters raised by the citizens' initiative. The organisers will also have the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing organised at the European Parliament. If ultimately the Commission decides not to act, it will clearly explain its reasons in an official Communication.
11.00 Joint press conference by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and EESC President Staffan Nilsson at EESC headquarters: rue Belliard 99, 1040 Brussels.
Homepage of Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič:
Homepage of European Citizens' Initiative:
Homepage of EESC conference:
Antony Gravili: +32 2 295 43 17 Antonio.Gravili@ec.europa.eu
Marilyn Carruthers: +32 2 299 94 51 Marilyn.Carruthers@ec.europa.eu
Tuesday 9 April: Commissioner Hahn presents first progress report on the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region
On 9 April the European Commission will release its first progress report on the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). The main findings of the report will be presented by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, at a Press Round Table the same day. Apart from taking stock of the progress achieved, the report outlines recommendations for the future direction of the Danube Strategy.
Since its launch in 2011 (IP/11/472) the 14 countries involved in the EU Strategy (8 Member States and 6 non Member States) for the Danube Region have developed new ways of co-operation to find innovative and sustainable solutions to common challenges. The objective of this new concept of macro-regional strategy is to create an added value for all countries involved through better coordination and use of synergies. Alongside established priority themes, joint action has been taken to boost the competitiveness of the Danube region.
The Strategy has already triggered many innovative transnational projects such as the construction of transport and energy interconnections, joint measures to reduce environmental risks such as pollution or flooding and investments in education and training. Another field of activity is the support of SMEs and of new technologies.
The first Annual Forum of the EUSDR was held in Regensburg, Germany in November 2012, providing an opportunity to showcase its implementation and to discuss its further development. The second Annual Forum will be held in Bucharest, Romania on 28/29 October this year.
The Press Round Table with EU Commissioner Hahn will take place on Tuesday, 9 April at 13.30 p.m. at the Berlaymont building in Brussels, Meeting Room 9 on the 9th floor.
Information on the European Strategy for the Danube Region
Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65 Shirin.email@example.com
Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10 Annemarie.Huber@ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 10 April: European Commission proposes to modernise its Trade Defence Instruments
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.
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.
Technical briefing off-the-record in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels (time to be confirmed).
A press release, as well as the Communication, the legislative proposal and guidelines will be available on the day.
Tackling unfair trade: Trade Defence Instruments
John Clancy +32 2 295 37 73 firstname.lastname@example.org
Helene Banner +32 2 295 24 07 email@example.com
Monday 15 April: Tackling human trafficking: entry into force of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive
The number of people being trafficked to and from the EU is rising, but less traffickers end up behind bars. With the entry into force of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive, presented in 2011, the European Commission is calling for more efforts to curb this worrying trend by ensuring that ambitious legislations and measures to fight trafficking in human beings are developed and implemented in accordance with the Directive. The Commission will also publish newly collected statistics on the number of people trafficked in and to the EU and user-friendly information about the rights to legal assistance, medical help, temporary residence and more. Having a clear overview of such rights granted under EU legislation, will help victims and practitioners working in the field of trafficking in human beings, in order to understand their rights and applying them effectively.
The deadline for transposition of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive expired on 6 April 2013. If the Directive is fully transposed, it has the potential to have a real and concrete impact on the lives of the victims and to prevent others from falling victim to such a devastating crime. The new rules cover actions in different areas such as criminal law provisions, prosecution of offenders, victims' support and victims' rights in criminal proceedings, prevention and monitoring of the implementation.
In a bid to support and complement the implementation of EU legislation on trafficking, the Commission adopted last year an EU Strategy focusing on concrete actions, including for providing information on victims' rights.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
12.30 Press conference with Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs
European Commission Anti-trafficking website
Homepage DG Home Affairs:
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 25 April: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package
On Thursday 25 April 2013, 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:
For more information on infringements:
On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12
Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 email@example.com
On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.
Date to be confirmed: Commission to propose measures to facilitate workers' mobility
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.
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:
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 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.
Working in another EU country:
Commissioner Andor's website:
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 Jonathan.Todd@ec.europa.eu
Cécile Dubois +32 2 295 18 83 Cecile.Dubois@ec.europa.eu