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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 12 April 2013

Top News from the European Commission
13 April – 10 May 2013

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

Friday 12 April – Monday 15 April: President Barroso in New York 2

Monday 15 April: Tackling human trafficking: entry into force of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive 4

Tuesday 16 April: Commission proposes draft legislation on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information 5

Tuesday 16 April: Strengthening Europe's preparedness against natural and man-made disasters 6

Thursday 18 April: Cohesion Policy is delivering on EU policies across the board and making a real contribution to growth 7

Wednesday 24 April: Commission adopts Green Paper on Converging Audiovisual World 8

Thursday 25 April: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 9

Friday 26 April: Commission to propose measures to facilitate workers' mobility 10

Date to be confirmed: European Commission adopts a proposal for a Directive on bank accounts 12

Friday 12 April – Monday 15 April: President Barroso in New York

The news:

On Friday 12 April, President Barroso will deliver a keynote speech on “New Transatlantic Partnership for Growth & Jobs” in New York. The topics discussed will focus on EU-US partnership to facilitate growth and improve employment opportunities. The event is organised by Bloomberg and by the European American Chamber of Commerce (EACC) New York.

On Monday 15 April, President Barroso will participate in a United Nations high-level thematic debate on “The United Nations and Global Economic Governance”. The thematic debate will examine various forms of interaction between the G20 and the rest of the world, and it is timed to take place just ahead of the spring meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors that will take place in Washington.

During his trip to New York, President Barroso will have side talks with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. They will discuss climate change and sustainable energy issues. President Barroso will show Europe’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals too. International security matters related to Syria, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Middle East Peace Project are expected to be on the agenda as well.

President Barroso will also meet the President of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremić. Rio+20 follow-up, the post 2015 development agenda and EU-UN cooperation in the human rights field will be addressed.

The event:

12/4 at 14.00 New York time - Live broadcast of President Barroso's speech on “New Transatlantic Partnership for Growth & Jobs”

15/4 at 9.30 New York time – Live broadcast of President Barroso's speech in the United Nations high-level thematic debate on “The United Nations and Global Economic Governance”:

http://webtv.un.org/

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

European American Chamber of Commerce:

http://www.eaccny.com/

United Nations web TV:

http://webtv.un.org/

President Barroso's website:

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

The contacts:

Leonor Ribeiro Da Silva +32 2 298 81 55 leonor.ribeiro-da-silva@ec.europa.eu

Raquel Patricio Gomes +32 2 297 48 14 raquel-maria.patricio-gomes@ec.europa.eu

Monday 15 April: Tackling human trafficking: entry into force of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive

The news:

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 background:

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.

The event:

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

12.30 Press conference with Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

  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

European Commission Anti-trafficking website

http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/index.action?breadCrumbReset=true

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

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

  1. I-073610 Trafficking in human beings – victims’ testimonies

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

Tuesday 16 April: Commission proposes draft legislation on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information

The news:

On 16 April, the European Commission will adopt a proposal for a directive enhancing the transparency of certain large companies on social and environmental matters. Companies concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on the boards of directors.

The background:

Current EU legislation, in particular, the Fourth Company Law Directive on annual accounts, addresses the disclosure of non-financial information in a way that companies may choose to make public certain information on environmental, social and other aspects of their activities. However, the requirements of the existing legislation have proved to be unclear and ineffective and applied in different ways in different Member States. Currently, fewer than 10% of the largest EU companies disclose such information regularly.

Yet it is well known that companies which are transparent deliver consistently higher economic performances over time, have lower financing costs, attract and retain talented employees, and ultimately are more successful. Investors and consumers also increasingly demand this kind of information.

Some Member States have introduced disclosure requirements that go beyond the Fourth Company Law Directive. This legislative proposal seeks to improve the situation EU-wide.

The event:

Commissioner Barnier will present the proposal at a press conference in Strasbourg at 15.00. An off-the-record technical briefing will take place in Brussels at 11.15.

Press release and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Non-Financial reporting:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/accounting/non-financial_reporting/index_en.htm

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

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

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50 Chantal.Hughes@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 16 April: Strengthening Europe's preparedness against natural and man-made disasters

The news:

On 16 April, the European Commission will present a Green Paper consultation on insuring against natural and man-made disasters. The Commission’s aim is to initiate a broad debate on how to address the complex challenges associated with increasingly frequent catastrophes as well as possible solutions offered by disaster insurance. The Commission will also present on the same day an adaptation strategy to help strengthen Europe's resilience against the impacts of climate change.

The background:

As in many other regions of the world, the European Union is vulnerable to the increasing impacts of climate change and nearly all types of natural disaster resulting not only in loss of life but also damage to the value of billions of euro every year, affecting economic stability and growth. This is thus an important issue for citizens and companies across the Union.

The Green Paper poses a number of questions concerning the adequacy and availability of appropriate disaster insurance. The objective is to raise awareness and to assess whether or not action at EU level could be appropriate or warranted to increase insurance coverage and improve the market for disaster insurance in the European Union. The public consultation will stay open until 30 June 2013.

The overall aim of the adaptation strategy is to contribute to a more climate-resilient Europe. The intention is to do this by encouraging and supporting action in three priority areas: promoting and supporting actions by Member States, promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors at EU level, and ensuring better-informed decision-making.

The adaptation strategy is addressed to the other EU institutions for their responses. The Commission will hold a stakeholder conference on the strategy on 29 April in Brussels.

The event:

Press release and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

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

Commissioner Connie Hedegaard's website:

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

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50 Chantal.Hughes@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

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

Thursday 18 April: Cohesion Policy is delivering on EU policies across the board and making a real contribution to growth

The news:

On Thursday 18th April, the European Commission will give an overview of how EU Structural Funds are delivering across all EU policy areas in all Member States. The ‘Strategic Report’ on the implementation of 2007-13 Cohesion Policy programmes pulls together available information from Member States, based mostly on 2011 data and is an opportunity for the Commission to highlight important and timely messages on the potential of Cohesion Policy to play its part in the EU's economic recovery.

The background:

While there are 4 more years until closure of the programmes in 2015, so far investment under structural funds (European Development Fund, Cohesion Fund and European Social Fund) have directly led to progress and improvement in all areas of life.

The “Strategic Report” outlines the progress of each country on delivering EU objectives, in line with targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy. It encourages Member States to measure progress in key strategic sectors, such as research and innovation, rail, energy, capacity building, sustainable urban transport, job creation, and training.

Through its three Funds - the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), and the Cohesion Fund - the EU is investing €347 billion in 2007-2013 in the 27 Member States. This represents 35% of the total EU budget for the same period (€975 billion).

The event:

The Report will be presented by Commissioner Hahn at the midday briefing.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/how/policy/strategic_report_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 24 April: Commission adopts Green Paper on Converging Audiovisual World

The news:

On 24th April, the European Commission will adopt its Green Paper "Preparing for a Fully Converged Audiovisual World: Growth, Creation and Values". Broadcast media and the internet are rapidly converging. The objective of this consultation is to find out what convergence in the audiovisual sector means for things such as European economic growth and business innovation, media pluralism, cultural diversity and the protection of consumers, including children. This reflection has already been launched in various Member States and the Commission now wants to hold a broad public consultation at European level on the impact of convergence The consultation does not pre-suppose any outcome but follow-up could include regulatory and/or other policy responses.

The background:

Many consumers now have TV sets with internet connectivity ("connected TV"), watch films and TV shows on tablets, game consoles or smartphones, and view on-demand services on computers. This changing media landscape presents new challenges. Broadcasters argue that the competition is uneven, as new players are not subject to the same regulatory requirements. At the same time, there are opportunities for new players to offer premium content and added-value services to their consumers. There are also single market concerns, as some new devices reportedly do not work in the same way across Member States (for reasons beyond intellectual property). Other relevant issues concern protecting consumers, especially children: users expect higher protection for TV than for internet content, but the line is increasingly hard to draw.

Connected TVs, currently numbering 40.4 million in Europe, could be in the majority of EU households by 2016 and global internet video users could almost double to 1.5 billion.

The event:

Midday statement by Vice-President Kroes.

IP and MEMO available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Digital Agenda for Europe – Convergence:

http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/connectedTV

The contacts:

Ryan Heath +32 2 296 17 16 Ryan.HEATH@ec.europa.eu Twitter: @RyanHeathEU

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

Thursday 25 April: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

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.

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:

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:

http://europa.eu/rapid/

The sources:

For more information on infringements:
http://ec.europa.eu/eu_law/infringements/infringements_en.htm

On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12

The contacts:

Overall coordination:

Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17 olivier.bailly@ec.europa.eu

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

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

Friday 26 April: Commission to propose measures to facilitate workers' mobility

The news:

On Friday 26 April, 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.

12.30 Press conference by Commissioner Andor, followed by a technical briefing off-the-record.

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

Date to be confirmed: European Commission adopts a proposal for a Directive on bank accounts

The news:

The European Commission will unveil the proposal for a directive focusing on the transparency and comparability of bank account fees, bank account switching and access to a basic bank account.

The background:

The proposed directive on bank accounts will concern three areas:

  • Comparability of bank account fees: the aim is to make it easier for consumers to compare the fees charged for bank accounts by banks and other payment service providers in the EU;

  • Bank account switching: the purpose is to establish a simple and quick procedure for consumers who wish to change from their current bank account to a different one, with the same or a different bank or other financial institution;

  • Access to bank accounts: the aim is to allow all EU consumers, irrespective of their country of residence or financial situation, to open a payment account, which allows them to perform essential operations.

Improving the transparency and comparability of fees together with a smoother switching process will enable consumers to benefit from better offers and lower costs for their bank accounts. At the same time, the financial industry will benefit from increased mobility of consumers, with reduced barriers to entry to the market, including cross-border. Finally, to guarantee that as many consumers as possible can enjoy the benefits of these improvements, it is essential to ensure that every EU citizen has the right to access to basic payment account services.

Previous efforts have been made to address these issues, including the adoption by the Commission in July 2011 of a Recommendation on access to a basic payment account (see IP/11/897). However a set of more comprehensive and legally binding measures on payment accounts is needed in order to ensure that the Single Market works for all citizens.

The event:

Commissioners Michel Barnier and Tonio Borg will present the proposal at a press conference preceded by a technical briefing – details to be confirmed.

  1. Available on EbS

Press release and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

Commissioner Tonio Borg’s website:

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

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

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

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50 Chantal.Hughes@ec.europa.eu

Frédéric Vincent +32 2 298 71 66 Frederic.Vincent@ec.europa.eu

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94 Carmel.Dunne@ec.europa.eu

Aikaterini Apostola + 32 2 298 76 24 Aikaterini@Apostola@ec.europa.eu


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