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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 26 April 2013

Top News from the European Commission
27 April – 24 May 2013

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

Monday 29 April: Commission presents annual Taxation Trends report 2

Monday 29 April: The Task Force for Greece fourth quarterly report 3

Friday 3 May: Spring European Economic Forecast 5

Tuesday 7 May: High-level conference, 'The Blueprint for a deep and genuine EMU: Debating the future economic, monetary, banking and political union' 6

Wednesday 8 May: European Commission adopts a proposal for a Directive on bank accounts 8

Wednesday 8 May: "EU Citizenship Report 2013 – EU Citizens: your rights, your future" – 12 actions to make life easier! 10

Thursday 9 May: Europe Day 2013 – 63rd anniversary of the Schuman Declaration 12

Wednesday 15 May: Inauguration of the Emergency Response Centre 15

Monday 29 April: Commission presents annual Taxation Trends report

The news:

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 background:

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.

The event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Taxation trends in the European Union:

The contacts:

Emer Traynor: +32 2 292 15 48

Monday 29 April: The Task Force for Greece fourth quarterly report

The news:

The Commission's Task Force for Greece (TFGR) presents its fourth quarterly report on technical assistance for Greece. The report describes the assistance provided by the Task Force, the Member States, international organisations and other specialist bodies to support Greece in the implementation of comprehensive programme of reforms.

Over the past quarter, the Greek authorities have made greater use of technical assistance to support a wider range of reforms. The report will give a comprehensive review on the 93 work-streams in 12 principal policy fields the TFGR is presently working on.

The background:

On 20 July 2011, following consultation with the Greek Prime Minister, President Barroso established the Task Force to provide technical assistance to Greece. This initiative has been strongly was supported by the European Council, which, on 21 July 2011, declared that "…Member States and the Commission will immediately mobilise all resources necessary in order to provide exceptional technical assistance to help Greece implement its reforms…"

The Task Force for Greece (TFGR) started operating in September 2011 and its mandate is to identify and coordinate the technical assistance that Greece needs in order to deliver commitments it has undertaken in its economic adjustment programme. It also seeks to accelerate the absorption of EU funds in order to sustain economic growth, competitiveness and employment.

It reports to President Barroso and works under the political guidance of Vice President Olli Rehn. The Head of the Task Force, Horst Reichenbach, submits quarterly progress reports to the Greek authorities and to the Commission.

The Task Force consists of around 50 people and is based jointly in Brussels and Athens.

The Task Force was created to help Greece to implement its challenging reform agenda, and lay solid foundations for a return to growth and job-creation.

The event:

Mr Horst Reichenbach, the Head of the Task Force for Greece, will present the main findings of the technical assistance at an off-the-record technical briefing in the Commission's press room on 29 April at 12h30. The report, press release and a memo will be available on the day.

The sources:

The Task Force for Greece:

  1. I-074972 European Commission Task Force for Greece

The contacts:

Simon O'Connor +32 2 296 73 59 simon.o'

Pia Seppälä +32 2 299 24 88

Vandna Kalia +32 2 299 58 24

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07

Friday 3 May: Spring European Economic Forecast

The news:

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 background:

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.

The event:

11.00 Press Conference with Vice-President Rehn in the Berlaymont Press Room in Brussels. Press release with a link to the report will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Winter EU Economic Forecast (22 February 2013):

European Commission websites:

The contacts:

Simon O'Connor + 32 2 296 73 59 simon.o'

Vandna Kalia + 32 2 299 58 24

Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 16 07

Tuesday 7 May: High-level conference, 'The Blueprint for a deep and genuine EMU: Debating the future economic, monetary, banking and political union'

The news:

On 7 May President Barroso and Vice-President Rehn will participate in a conference on the Blueprint for a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union. The conference aims to further the debate on the Blueprint's principles and vision. It will focus on economic governance, banking union and the question of democratic legitimacy and accountability, and what these ideas mean for the citizens and governments of Europe (see IP/12/1272 and MEMO/12/909).

The background:

In November 2012, the Commission presented a Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union, setting out a vision for a strong and stable architecture for the future in the financial, fiscal, economic and political domains. The Blueprint sets out the path to a deep and genuine EMU, which involves incremental measures taken over the short, medium and longer term to underpin the stability of the euro and the EU as a whole. Since publishing the Blueprint, the Commission has delivered on a number of its elements, including by publishing Communications on the ex-ante coordination of major reform plans and on a Convergence and Competitiveness Instrument (see IP/13/248 and MEMO/13/259).

The event:

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, will deliver the keynote opening speech at the event, which will be held in the Charlemagne building. This will be followed by a roundtable discussion with the Vice-President of the European Commission, Olli Rehn, the Chairman of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, and the Finance Minister of Portugal, Vitor Gaspar. Other guest speakers include Sharon Bowles MEP, Chair of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Andrea Enria, Chairperson of the European Banking Authority, Yves Mersch, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, other Members of the European Parliament, representatives of national parliaments, the media and the academic community.

The event will be broadcast live, and the speeches of President Barroso and Vice-President Rehn will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Blueprint on a deep and genuine EMU:

Next steps towards a deep and genuine EMU:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70

Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76

Simon O'Connor + 32 2 296 73 59 simon.o'

Wednesday 8 May: 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:

12.30 Commissioners Michel Barnier and Tonio Borg will present the proposal at a press conference (Berlaymont press room in Brussels).

11.00 Technical briefing off-the-record (Berlaymont press room in Brussels).

  1. Available on EbS

Press release and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

Commissioner Tonio Borg’s website:

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Frédéric Vincent +32 2 298 71 66

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Aikaterini Apostola + 32 2 298 76 24

Wednesday 8 May: "EU Citizenship Report 2013 – EU Citizens: your rights, your future" – 12 actions to make life easier!

The news:

On 8 May, the European Commission will present the EU Citizenship Report 2013, the political flagship initiative of the European Year of Citizens. In this report the Commission takes stock of recent achievements: what has been done to help EU citizens exercise their right? And what remains to be done? The EU Citizenship Report 2013 will identify remaining obstacles which still prevent EU citizens from making full use of their rights - from looking for a job in other EU countries, via getting better legal protection whenever in another EU country, to ensuring stronger participation in the democratic life of the Union.

The background:

EU Citizens are at the heart of European integration and their support and participation is key to increasing the legitimacy of the European Union. This is of particular importance now, as the EU takes unprecedented and often painful decisions to stabilise Europe's economy.

In this context, the Commission is looking at what EU rights mean for citizens and how these can be further strengthened so that the benefits are felt in citizens' everyday lives.

The Citizenship Report 2013 directly addresses concerns raised by citizens: it builds on a large online public consultation which was carried out in 2012 and on citizens’ feedback in the first Citizens Dialogues in which members of the Commission, national and local politicians and members of the European Parliament have participated in the context of the 2013 European Year of Citizens. It also reflects findings of the Eurobarometer surveys. Finally, it looks at the track record of the 25 actions announced in the first Citizenship Report in 2010 announcing 12 new actions to help citizens make better use of their rights within the EU.

The event:

11.30 Vice-President Reding will hold a press conference (Berlaymont press room in Brussels).

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Justice Newsroom:

Vice-President Reding's website:

DG Justice website on EU Citizenship:

The contacts:

Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 13 82

Natasha Bertaud +32 2 296 74 56

Thursday 9 May: Europe Day 2013 – 63rd anniversary of the Schuman Declaration

The news:

On 9 May, Europe will celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the Schuman Declaration.

The background:

Sixty-three years ago, on 9 May 1950, the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman made the first move towards the creation of what we now know as the European Union. He read a declaration to the international press in Paris, calling on France, Germany and other European countries to pool their coal and steel production as "the first concrete foundation of a European federation". It is remarkable that only five years after the end of the most dreadful conflict in Europe, the Second World War, he proposed the creation of a supranational European institution, to take charge of the coal and steel industry, the very sector which had made the war possible. The countries which he called upon had almost destroyed each other, and reconciliation was a brave thing to imagine at that time.

9 May became Europe Day in 1985, with many public manifestations in Member States to celebrate European achievements.

The events:

As every year, the Commission, along with the other EU institutions, will open its doors to citizens, on Saturday 4 May. For the first time, the European Commission is working with the Brussels 'Iris Festival' which will see the streets of Europe's Capital come alive with concerts and street entertainment on Sunday 5 May.

Members of the Commission will take part in events across Europe:

On 9 May, President Barroso and Commissioner Malmström will speak at the State of the Union conference of the European University Institute in Florence, an annual event for high-level reflection on the current state and future perspectives of the European Union.

On 4 May, Vice-President Reding and Vice-President Šefčovič will inaugurate the improved European Commission visitor's centre which has been relocated to be closer to the seat of the institutions. On 4 May, Vice-President Reding will also participate in a debate with citizens on the future of Europe (La Tentation, Brussels).

On 9 May, Commissioner Almunia will attend the XIX edition of the Salvador de Madariaga European Journalist Award in Spain (Tenerife), in collaboration with the Association of European Journalists and Representation of the European Commission and the European Parliament in Madrid.

On 7 May, Commissioner Kroes will deliver a speech at a Europe Day event in The Hague. On 8 May, she will attend the festival "Celebrating Europe" in Maastricht.

On 9th May Commissioner Tajani will attend an event on the "Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs" programme (Bocconi University, Milan). He will congratulate some entrepreneurs who took part to the programme for the success of their exchange. Commissioner Tajani will also give a speech on the importance of young and creative entrepreneurs to create new jobs and growth in Europe.

Vice-President Šefčovič will be in Bratislava on 8-9 May to deliver the introductory speech at a concert organised by the information office of the European Parliament and European Commission Representation. He will also participate in the National Convention plenary session on the Future of Europe.

Commissioner Potočnik will participate in the Citizen’s dialogue on 9 May in Ljubljana. The topics of the discussion will be the future of the EU, economic and financial crisis and environmental challenges such as growth of population, increased consumption, increasing pressures on natural resources, how to ensure future economic competitiveness and growth – with sustainability and resource efficiency being part of the solution.

On 9 May, Commissioner Piebalgs will open the official reception given by the European Union representation in Riga for Europe day and meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Rinkevics.

On 9 May, Commissioner Vassiliou will be meeting with youth (about 100 persons expected) to talk about "Europe & Youth". In her introduction, she will highlight the opportunities that Europe offers to youth today.

On 9 May, Commissioner Šemeta will attend the official award ceremony of the International Charlemagne Prize in Aachen which will be awarded to Dr Dalia Grybauskaite.

On 9 May, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will launch the ‘Taste of Europe’ Open Door Event, at the European Commission Representation Office in Dublin.

On 11 May, Commissioner Lewandowski will be a guest of honour of the Schuman Parade in Warsaw. He will also participate in the Citizen's Dialogue in Warsaw organised at the occasion of the Europe's Day. More information: .

On 9 May Commissioner Füle will attend the Conference ‘’Croatia: Welcome to the European Union!’’ in Prague and will deliver a speech as part of its Seminar entitled ’What Croatia brings to the EU and what the EU brings to Croatia’’.

In the context of his visit to Turkey on 8-10 May, Commissioner Andor will attend the Europe Day reception organised by the EU Delegation in Ankara.

EU Delegations around the world will celebrate Europe Day by organising events such as European Film Festivals, discussion panels and youth competitions. For more information: (operational on 1 May).

  1. Footage from various events will be available on EbS

The sources:

President Barroso's website:

State of the Union conference:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70

Leonor Ribeiro da Silva +32 2 298 81 55

Wednesday 15 May: Inauguration of the Emergency Response Centre

The news:

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.

The background:

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 event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

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:

The contacts:

David Sharrock +32 2 296 89 09

Irina Novakova +32 2 295 75 17

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