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Brussels, Friday 19 April 2013
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Tuesday 23 April: Tax evasion - Commission sets up a good governance platform 2
Wednesday 24 April: Commission wants to remove bureaucratic hurdles for EU citizens when getting documents accepted in another Member State 3
Wednesday 24 April: Commission adopts Green Paper on Converging Audiovisual World 4
Thursday 25 April: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 5
Thursday 25 – Friday 26 April: The European Commission holds executive talks with the African Union 6
Friday 26 April: Commission to propose measures to facilitate workers' mobility 7
Monday 29 April: Commission presents annual Taxation Trends report 9
Early May: Spring European Economic Forecast 10
Wednesday 8 May: European Commission adopts a proposal for a Directive on bank accounts 11
Wednesday 15 May: Inauguration of the Emergency Response Centre 13
Tuesday 23 April: Tax evasion - Commission sets up a good governance platform
On 23 April, the European Commission will set up a platform for tax good governance made up of a group of experts from Member State authorities, businesses, tax professionals and civil society. Their role is to discuss, exchange expertise and assist the Commission in the selection and preparation of appropriate measures to progress in the field of tax havens, aggressive tax planning and double (non)-taxation. They will contribute to implementing the Commission's recommendations on tax havens and aggressive tax planning to the widest extent possible, the Commission's report on measures in the recommendations encouraging third countries to apply minimum standards of good governance in tax issues and measures to tackle current double (non) taxation problems.
In December 2012, the European Commission presented an action plan of over 30 measures to fight tax evasion and tax avoidance, including two recommendations on tax havens and aggressive tax planning. The action plan also announced the creation of a platform for tax good governance as one of the measures to better help the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance.
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, will make a statement at the beginning of the midday briefing in the Commission's press room on Tuesday 23 April.
Press materials available on the day.
Press materials on tax evasion and tax avoidance package:
Information on Taxation and Customs:
Information on Commissioner Šemeta:
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 24 April: Commission wants to remove bureaucratic hurdles for EU citizens when getting documents accepted in another Member State
The European Commission will adopt a proposal for a Regulation on simplifying administrative formalities of certain public documents in the EU. This proposal aims to do away with certain administrative requirements currently needed to authenticate public documents, so that they can be presented to national authorities everywhere in the EU without having to waste any time and money.
Today, around 12 million EU citizens live in a Member State other than their own. In some countries, citizens have to go through specific additional administrative procedures and have to pay a fee to get their documents certified as authentic. Businesses operating across EU borders in the EU’s Single Market are also affected.
The European Commission is working hard to remove obstacles frustrating citizens. The EU Citizenship Report 2010 outlined 25 concrete actions to tear down remaining barriers EU citizens face when exercising their right to free movement in the EU. This proposal is one of the key initiatives of the European Year of Citizens 2013 and provides concrete contribution to the policy of Justice for Growth.
Vice-President Reding will make a statement at the beginning of the Midday briefing, Berlaymont press room in Brussels.
An IP and a MEMO will be available on the day.
Vice-President Reding's website:
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 24 April: Commission adopts Green Paper on Converging Audiovisual World
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.
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.
Midday statement by Vice-President Kroes.
IP and MEMO available on the day.
Digital Agenda for Europe – Convergence:
Linda Cain +32 2 299 90 19 Linda.Cain@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 email@example.com
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 firstname.lastname@example.org
On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.
Thursday 25 – Friday 26 April: The European Commission holds executive talks with the African Union
On 25 and 26 April, President Barroso and six European commissioners will meet their African Union (AU) counterparts in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This college-to-college meeting will launch the preparations of the EU-Africa Summit to take place in April 2014 and will be an opportunity to take a fresh look at the EU-African Union strategic relationship.
The EU and AU are working jointly on a broad range of areas to be discussed during this meeting such as peace and security, education, health, agriculture, trade, climate change and science and technology.
The topics for the plenary meeting will also include an exchange on the post-2015 development framework.
The Commission College meets at regular intervals with its African Union counterpart. The EU-AU relationship is very close and is guided by the joint strategy between the two organisations. This Joint Strategy, which was adopted by Heads of State and Government from Africa and Europe at the Lisbon Summit in December 2007 puts EU-Africa relations on a new footing, based on the pursuit of shared values, common interests and strategic objectives.
On 26 April, Commissioners Piebalgs (Development), De Gucht (Trade), Georgieva (International cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response), Hedegaard (Climate action), Cioloş (Agricultural and rural development) and Šemeta (Taxation and customs Union, audit and anti-fraud)) will have meetings with their counterparts. These cluster meetings are preceded by a plenary meeting. President Barroso will have a bilateral meeting with Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma. In the margins, President Barroso will also meet with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
On 23 April at 11.00: Technical briefing off-the-record at the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.
President Barroso's website:
Leonor Ribeiro Da Silva +32 2 298 81 55 email@example.com
Raquel Patricio Gomes +32 2 297 48 14 firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 26 April: Commission to propose measures to facilitate workers' mobility
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.
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.
12.30 Press conference by Commissioner Andor, followed by a technical briefing off-the-record.
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
Monday 29 April: Commission presents annual Taxation Trends report
On 29 April, the European Commission will present the 2013 edition of its Taxation trends report. This report takes stock of the tax systems in the Member States, including extensive and comparable data on their tax structures and rates.
The Taxation trends report compiles tax indicators that allow comparison of the tax systems and tax policies between EU Member States. It offers a breakdown of tax revenues raised either from consumption, labour or capital. It also contains data on energy taxation and on the top rates for personal and corporate income taxes. Its country chapters give an overview of each of the 27 EU countries covered, their revenue trends and recent tax policy changes. The data published in the Taxation trends report will also feed into the Country Specific Recommendations which will be published by the Commission at the end of May.
A technical briefing on the main results of the Report will be organised on Monday 29 April in the press room of the Berlaymont building at 11.00 by experts from the European Commission.
Taxation trends in the European Union:
Emer Traynor: +32 2 292 15 48 Emer.Traynor@ec.europa.eu
Early May: Spring European Economic Forecast
The European Commission will publish its spring economic forecast for 2012-2014 covering Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, employment and public budget deficits and debt, amongst others. These forecasts focus on all 27 EU Member States, plus Croatia as an accession country and the candidate countries Turkey, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as other non-EU countries such as USA, Japan, China and Russia.
The European Commission produces short-term macroeconomic forecasts three times year: in the spring, autumn and in the winter. They serve as a basis for various economic surveillance procedures, such as in the context of the European Semester.
In this context, the forecasts will feed into the Commission's economic analysis ahead of the country-specific recommendations, which are due to be presented by the Commission at the end of May. It will also provide a clearer picture of Member States' compliance with the Council of Ministers' Recommendations both on the Excessive Deficit Procedure and the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure.
Press Conference with Vice-President Rehn in the Berlaymont Press Room in Brussels (details to be confirmed).
Press release with a link to the report will be available on the day.
Winter EU Economic Forecast (22 February 2013):
European Commission websites:
Simon O'Connor + 32 2 296 73 59 email@example.com
Vandna Kalia + 32 2 299 58 24 firstname.lastname@example.org
Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 16 07 email@example.com
Wednesday 8 May: European Commission adopts a proposal for a Directive on bank accounts
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 proposed directive on bank accounts will concern three areas:
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.
Commissioners Michel Barnier and Tonio Borg will present the proposal at a press conference preceded by a technical briefing – details to be confirmed.
Press release and MEMO will be available on the day.
Commissioner Tonio Borg’s website:
Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:
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
Wednesday 15 May: Inauguration of the Emergency Response Centre
On Wednesday 15 May 2013, the European Commission's Emergency Response Centre (ERC) will officially open. The Centre will allow for a better coordinated, faster and more efficient response to natural and man-made disasters in Europe and beyond.
Equipped with full 24/7 service, the ERC will monitor the situation and analyse humanitarian and civil protection issues around the globe and will enable immediate response in needed.
EU's disaster response coordination has evolved throughout the years, following a continuous increase in requests for assistance from all over the world. The ERC has been established on the basis of over 10 years of experience of coordinating European disaster response.
The ERC gives countries access to a one-stop-shop of civil protection means available amongst the all the participating states. It acts as a communication hub at headquarters level between participating states, the affected country and dispatched field experts. Any country inside or outside the EU affected by a major disaster can make an appeal for assistance through the ERC. In response, the ERC matches offers of assistance to the needs of the disaster-stricken country.
The inauguration of the ERC will take place at its premises, Rue de la Loi 84-86, in Brussels. On 15 May at 13.30 the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, will jointly open the ERC.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
Homepage of Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian aid and Crisis Response:
Homepage of the European Commission's Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection:
David Sharrock +32 2 296 89 09 David.Sharrock@ec.europa.eu
Irina Novakova +32 2 295 75 17 Irina.Novakova@ec.europa.eu