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Top News from the European Commission 4 May – 31 May 2013

European Commission - AGENDA/13/16   03/05/2013

Other available languages: FR

European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 3 May 2013

Top News from the European Commission
4 May – 31 May 2013

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

Monday 6 May: Commission proposes a modernised legal framework package on healthier animals and plants, and a safer food chain in Europe 2

Tuesday 7 May: High-level conference, 'The Blueprint for a deep and genuine EMU: Debating the future economic, monetary, banking and political union' 4

Wednesday 8 May: European Commission adopts a proposal for a Directive on bank accounts 5

Wednesday 8 May: "EU Citizenship Report 2013 – EU Citizens: your rights, your future" – 12 actions to make life easier! 7

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

Wednesday 15 May: Inauguration of the Emergency Response Centre 12

Wednesday 15 May: Mobilisation of the international community at the donors’ conference for the development of Mali 13

Thursday 16 May: The Commission presents the key findings of the 2012 RAPEX annual report 15

Thursday 30 May: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 16

Monday 6 May: Commission proposes a modernised legal framework package on healthier animals and plants, and a safer food chain in Europe

The news:

On Monday 6th May, the Commission will table a proposal concerning a legislative package of reforms modernising the legal framework governing official controls and animal and plant health and plant reproductive material for a safer food chain.

On one hand, the proposal provides a single, more coherent and transparent legal framework protecting against communicable animal health risks - including disease prevention, disease control and eradication. Intra-EU movement of animals, their import into the EU, as well as that of animal products are also covered.

On the other hand, the proposal updates the regulatory framework governing plant health in order to strengthen the protection of the Union's crops, and natural environment against new pests originating outside Europe. The package will also provide more simplified and flexible rules for the cultivation of both traditional and niche market seeds and new improved varieties which aim to ensure food production, protect the biodiversity of Europe's crop production and to facilitate their trading. Moreover, with the new rules food production in Europe will be supported by a well-designed control system to ensure that consumers have access to safe food and that producers can operate under uniform and high safety requirements. Micro businesses will be exempted from paying any related fees but not from the controls themselves.

The background:

EU food law covers all aspects of the food chain from animal feed and food production to processing, storage, transport, import and export, as well as retail sales, food information and animal and plant health. This integrated approach means that all food produced and sold in the EU can be traced from "farm to fork". EU food policy safeguards food safety and food quality by preventing food contamination and promoting food hygiene, food information, plant health, quality of plant reproductive material and animal health and welfare.

The Community Animal Health Policy (CAHP) Evaluation and subsequent consultations1 assessed the fitness of the existing legislation and broadly agreed that the current system functioned well, however identified a number of issues that need improvement. The main problems identified were: the high complexity of the current CAHP; the lack of an overall animal health strategy; and an insufficient focus on disease prevention (with particular emphasis on the need for improved biosecurity); and the need to decrease administrative burden for low-risk intra-EU trade in live animals.

Moreover, the existing regulatory framework in relation to plant health [the plant health Directive is of 2000,] needs to be updated to be able to address the increased influx and establishment of new pests due to the globalisation of trade and climate change.

The event:

What:

- Statement by Commissioner Tonio Borg at the beginning of the Midday Briefing

- Technical Briefing off the record, at 11h30

When: Monday 06/05/2013

Where: Berlaymont Press Room, in Brussels

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

More information can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/index_en.htm

Commissioner Tonio Borg's website:

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

Twitter:

@EU_Consumer

The contacts:

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

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

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, Vítor 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:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/news/archives/2012/11/20121128_2_en.htm

Next steps towards a deep and genuine EMU:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/articles/governance/2013-03-20-convergence_competitiveness_instrument_ex_ante_coordination_en.htm

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76 sarah.collins@ec.europa.eu

Simon O'Connor + 32 2 296 73 59 simon.o'connor@ec.europa.eu

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:

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

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:

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

Vice-President Reding's website:

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

DG Justice website on EU Citizenship:

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

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

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: http://schuman.pl/polskie-spotkania-europejskie .

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: http://www.eeas.europa.eu/eu-and-citizens/europeday/intro_en.htm (operational on 1 May).

  1. Footage from various events will be available on EbS

The sources:

President Barroso's website:

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

State of the Union conference:

http://stateoftheunion.eui.eu/

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

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

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 11.45 the President of the European Commission, José 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:

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

Homepage of the European Commission's Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

The contacts:

David Sharrock +32 2 296 89 09 David.Sharrock@ec.europa.eu

Irina Novakova +32 2 295 75 17 Irina.Novakova@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 15 May: Mobilisation of the international community at the donors’ conference for the development of Mali

The news:

On 15 May, the European Union, France and Mali are jointly organising an international conference for donors for the development of Mali, which will take place in the premises of the Committee of Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels.

The aim of this conference is to mobilise and coordinate support from the whole international community for Mali’s development; several Heads of State and Government from the region will attend, together with representatives at ministerial level. Once the Malian Government has set out its development priorities for 2013-14, the Conference will express its support for Mali's recovery strategy, and the financial commitments of the international community (states and international institutions) will be recorded.

The background:

Mali is at the heart of the security and development crisis affecting the Sahel region. The instability in the country following the coup d’état in March 2012 has dramatically reduced development aid since then. Progressive stabilisation of the country and the Malian authorities’ adoption at the end of January 2013 of a transition road-map, designed to restore democracy and stability, has opened the door to a gradual resumption of development aid. To respond to the urgent needs of the Malian people, ambitious development programmes are required, closely coordinated between all the donors and the Malian authorities. Only an integrated approach, such as that offered by the EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel, will enable a full return to constitutional order, political reconstruction and long-term stability in Mali.

The event:

The event will take place in the premises of the Committee of Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee. The conference will begin at 09:00 and will end with a signing ceremony for the financing agreements by Commissioner Piebalgs with Minister Coulibaly, and a press conference scheduled for 17:00 with Presidents François Hollande, José Manuel Barroso and Dioncounda Traoré. Minister Laurent Fabius, President Herman Van Rompuy, Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva and the Deputy Minister Pascal Canfin will also attend the event to give a public address.

Press material available on the day:

- Press release, available at the press conference

  1. Available on EbS:

- Arrivals (doorstep)

- Opening speech, concluding remarks, closing speech

- Signing ceremony for the financing agreements

- Press conference.

The sources:

The entire conference will be streamed online via a web page which will be available soon.

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70 Pia.Ahrenkilde-Hansen@ec.europa.eu

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

Raquel Patrício Gomes +32 2 297 48 14 Raquel-Maria.Patricio-Gomes@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 16 May: The Commission presents the key findings of the 2012 RAPEX annual report

The news:

On 16 May, Commissioner Tonio Borg will present the key findings of the 2012 annual report published on that day concerning RAPEX, the EU-wide rapid alert system for dangerous products. The findings of the report will include the trends in the number of products notified thanks to the system, the top product categories, the most active member states notifying unsafe products, and the countries of origin.

The background:

RAPEX is a Community rapid alert system for dangerous products. It ensures that information about dangerous products withdrawn from the EU market and/or recalled from consumers is quickly circulated between Member States and the European Commission, with the aim of preventing or restricting the selling of these products on the market. 30 countries currently participate in the system. The participating countries are all the European Union countries and the EFTA/EEA countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The event:

What: Press Conference with Tonio Borg, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy

Directly following the press conference, the Commissioner will visit the exhibition on product safety outside the press room, and will be able to answer further questions. Commission experts as well as representatives of national authorities will be present to show products.

When: 16 May, at 12.30

Where: Berlaymont Press Room, in Brussels

IP and MEMO will be available on the day

The sources:

More information on the Rapex website

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/safety/rapex/index_en.htm

The contacts:

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

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

Thursday 30 May: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

On Thursday 30 May, 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.

1 :

In 2005-2006 an independent evaluation assessed the performance of the Community Animal Health Policy (CAHP) over the previous decade. The EU Animal Health Strategy 2007-2013 was developed as the outcome of this exercise and the proposal for the EU Animal Health Law is a key delivery of that Strategy.


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