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Top News from the European Commission 18 May – 14 June 2013

European Commission - AGENDA/13/17   17/05/2013

Other available languages: FR

European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 17 May 2013

Top News from the European Commission
18 May – 14 June 2013

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

Wednesday 23 May: Commission proposes upgrade for 300 key European seaports 2

Thursday 23 May: Commission adopts European Strategy for micro and nanoelectronic components and systems 3

Wednesday 29 May: Commission presents the 2013 Country-Specific Recommendations 4

Thursday 30 May: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 6

In June: Action Plan to galvanise the EU’s steel industry 7

Wednesday 23 May: Commission proposes upgrade for 300 key European seaports

The news:

The European Commission will unveil an initiative to improve port operations and onward transport connections at key seaports along Europe’s coastline. The guidelines and legal changes being proposed will help port operators upgrade their services and facilities, and give them more financial autonomy.

The background:

Europe has one of the world's densest port networks. Ports are crucial for European business, for Europe's competitiveness, and they have a huge potential for job creation and investment. 74% of extra-EU goods are shipped through ports. They are equally important for intra-European trade: 37% of the intra-EU freight traffic and 385 million passengers pass through ports every year. But EU ports face some specific challenges:

  • cargo volumes are expected to rise 50% by 2030 — even more for the fast growing container traffic;

  • there exists a "performance gap" between ports that have adapted to new logistic and economic requirements and ports that have not kept up;

  • shipping fleets are increasing in size and complexity, and the ports need to adapt.

The event:

12:00 Vice-President Siim Kallas, statement at beginning of Commission midday briefing (Berlaymont pressroom, Brussels).

  1. Available on EbS

12:30 Technical briefing, off-the-record (Berlaymont pressroom, Brussels).

Press release and backgrounder will be available on the day.

The sources:

Website of Vice-President Siim Kallas:

Mobility and Transport DG | Ports Policy:

The contacts:

Helen Kearns +32 2 298 76 38

Dale Kidd +32 2 295 74 61

Thursday 23 May: Commission adopts European Strategy for micro and nanoelectronic components and systems

The news:

On 23 May the European Commission will adopt a Communication outlining a strategy to strengthen the competitiveness and growth capacity of the micro and nanoelectronics industry in Europe. Today's cars, planes, and trains are safer, more energy-efficient and comfortable thanks to their electronic parts. The same applies to medical and health equipment, home appliances, energy networks and security systems. This is why the area of micro and nanoelectronics is a Key Enabling Technology (KET) and is essential for growth and jobs in the EU. The strategy will aim to attract higher public and private investment and will span policy instruments at regional, national and EU level, including financial support for research, development and innovation (R&D&I), access to capital investment and the improvement and better use of existing legislation. The strategy will cover the whole value chain from material and equipment manufacturing to design and volume production of components and systems.

The background:

Micro and nanoelectronics underpin a significant part of the worldwide economy. Their role will continue to grow as future products and services become more digital. The global turnover of the sector alone was around €230 billion in 2012. Despite the current economic climate, the worldwide market for micro and nanoelectronics has grown by 5% per year since 2000. Further growth of at least the same magnitude is predicted for the remaining part of the current decade. In Europe, more than 240.000 people are directly employed in micro and nanoelectronics.

The event:

Press conference with Vice President Neelie Kroes on Thursday 23 May at 11.30 and technical briefing off-the-record at 13.00, both in the Berlaymont press room. A press release and background MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

European Strategy:

Components and Systems:

The contacts:

Ryan Heath +32 2 296 17 16 Twitter: @RyanHeathEU

Linda Cain +32 2 299 90 19

Wednesday 29 May: Commission presents the 2013 Country-Specific Recommendations

The news:

On 29 May, the European Commission will adopt its annual set of policy recommendations to EU Member States. The recommendations are based on a detailed assessment of the economic, employment and budgetary situation in each country and on the policy plans they have submitted. Where required, the Commission will recommend further budgetary, structural and growth-enhancing measures which Member States should adopt over the following 12 months. Recommendations will be made to Member States that are not in a macroeconomic adjustment programme, and a separate recommendation will be made to the euro area as a whole. The recommendations will be endorsed by the European Council in June and formally adopted by the Council in July. On this occasion, the European Commission will also present recommendations for certain Member States in Excessive Deficit Procedure and for those which underwent in-depth reviews in the context of the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure.

The background:

The presentation of the Country-Specific Recommendations is a key moment in the European Semester, the EU's calendar for economic policy coordination. It begins each year with the Annual Growth Survey, which sets out general economic policy guidelines for the EU as a whole. The priorities in the 2013 Annual Growth Survey were endorsed by the European Council in March this year. Taking those priorities into account, Member States have over the past two months submitted their medium-term budgetary plans and annual structural reform plans to the Commission. The Country-Specific Recommendations are the Commission's response to these.

The Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) is the corrective arm of the strengthened Stability and Growth Pact. Its purpose is to ensure that Member States can reduce excessive deficits and debt levels in a timely and lasting way. Member States currently in the EDP must comply with the recommendations and deadlines decided by the EU Council to correct their excessive deficit.

The event:

At its meeting on 29 May, the Commission will adopt 24 sets of proposed country-specific recommendations (for the 27 Member States plus the euro area - excluding the programme countries). In parallel, new recommendations for certain Member States in Excessive Deficit Procedure will be presented, for subsequent consideration by the ECOFIN Council in June. The Commission will also adopt a general Communication setting out the key messages contained in the recommendations, and will answer questions on the decisions at a press conference the same day.

Press releases will be available on the day, along with the text of the Communication adopted by the Commission, the 24 sets of recommendations and 29 Commission staff working documents containing an economic analysis of the 27 Member States, Croatia and the euro area as a whole. These will be accompanied by the appropriate proposals for Recommendations under the Excessive Deficit Procedure.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Europe 2020 website:

2012 country-specific recommendations and staff working documents:

2013 National Reform Programmes and Stability or Convergence Programmes:

The contacts:

Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17

Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76

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

Vandna Kalia +32 2 299 58 24

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07

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:

The sources:

For more information on infringements:

On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12

The contacts:

Overall coordination:

Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

In June: Action Plan to galvanise the EU’s steel industry

The news:

The European Commission will issue the Action plan for the European Steel Industry, aiming to help the steel sector confront its current challenges and foster innovation, growth and employment. The Commission’s Steel Action Plan would imply reinforcing of the sector-specific component of relevant policy areas such as better regulation, climate change, energy, trade, resource efficiency, raw materials and competition.

The background:

With employment of 360,000 people, turnover of around €170 bn and a presence in the manufacturing value chain of many downstream sectors, the steel industry has a strategic place in the EU economy. But developments over the past few years – fierce global competition, the economic crisis, the evolution of prices of raw materials and energy, and some excessive legislation - have presented new challenges for EU steel producers. Since 2011, several steelmakers in the EU therefore took decisions to reduce output and temporary or permanent steel plant closures affected several EU countries.

In 2012 and early 2013, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, and Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Laszlo Andor, held four High-level Roundtable meetings on the future of the European Steel Industry with the aim of offering a platform for dialogue between industry, the trade unions and the Commission. The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the steel industry in December 2012, in which it welcomed the Commission's initiative of quickly developing a European action plan to preserve and enhance the competitiveness of the steel sector. The Competitiveness Council of February 2013 also supported the action plan’s presentation.

The event:

A press conference and a technical briefing will be held on the day of adoption. A press release, a press MEMO and the Communication itself will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on the EU’s steel industry and policies:

The contacts:

Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52

Sara Tironi +32 2 299 04 03

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