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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 11 January 2013

Top News from the European Commission
12 January – 8 February 2013

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

Saturday 12 January: Commission President José Manuel Barroso attends the opening ceremony of "Marseille-Provence 2013 - European Capital of Culture" 2

Sunday 20 January: Commissioner Vassiliou attends the opening ceremony of Košice - 2013 European Capital of Culture 4

Wednesday 24 January: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 6

Tuesday 5 February (date to be confirmed): Commission will propose changes to Anti-money laundering and fund transfer legislation 7

Saturday 12 January: Commission President José Manuel Barroso attends the opening ceremony of "Marseille-Provence 2013 - European Capital of Culture"

The news:

On 12 January Commission President José Manuel Barroso will participate in the opening ceremony of "Marseille-Provence 2013 – European Capital of Culture" at the Musée des Civilisations d'Europe et de Méditerranée" (MUCEM).

The opening events will take place on 12 and 13 January and will kick-off a year-long cultural programme, which is expected to attract visitors from across Europe and beyond to experience the city and its surrounding region. The launch will include four main highlights: the opening of a contemporary art exhibition in Aix-en-Provence, a public celebration in Marseille, a treasure hunt in Marseille-Provence and a fireworks display in Arles to close the opening week-end.

The background:

The European Capitals of Culture is the one of the EU's best known cultural initiatives. Its aim is to promote and celebrate Europe's rich cultural diversity and heritage, as well as to promote mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue. The European Capitals of Culture are also an opportunity for cities to boost tourism, jobs and growth, and to transform their image.

A successful Capital which embeds culture as part of a long-term development strategy can bring significant long-term cultural, economic and social benefits. On average it leads to a 12% increase in tourism and millions of visits to cultural events, with strong benefits for the retail, hotel and catering sectors. The initiative can also be a catalyst for regeneration and new cultural infrastructure, as well as promoting new skills for cultural operators and strengthening a city's cultural vibrancy and international outlook.

Since 2010, each European Capital of Culture meeting the commitments it made at the selection stage receives the Melina Mercouri Prize, worth €1.5 million. In addition, many Capitals benefit from additional funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

Lille was the last French city to host the title in 2004. Lille 2004 created a very positive legacy for the city, the region and local culture. Other previous French European Capitals of Culture include Paris in 1989 and Avignon in 2000. Košice in Slovakia will also share the title of European Capital of Culture in 2013.

The event:

Commission President José Manuel Barroso will give a speech at the opening ceremony of "Marseille-Provence 2013 – European Capital of Culture" at the Musée des Civilisations d'Europe et de Méditerranée (MUCEM).

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Culture:

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

Information on Marseille-Provence 2013 – European capital of culture:

http://www.mp2013.fr/

Information on Commission President José Manuel Barroso:

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

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58 dennis.abbott@ec.europa.eu

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67 dina.avraam@ec.europa.eu

Sunday 20 January: Commissioner Vassiliou attends the opening ceremony of Košice - 2013 European Capital of Culture

The news:

On 20 January European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will participate in the opening ceremony of "Košice 2013 – European Capital of Culture" at the historic State Theatre.

The opening events will take place on 19 and 20 January and will kick off a year-long cultural programme which will profile Košice as the crossing of old routes between East and West. The launch events will take place at various locations in the city, including the State Theatre, the Steel Arena, the Podium as well various clubs, restaurants and cultural venues.

The background:

The European Capitals of Culture is the one of the EU's best known cultural initiatives. Its aim is to promote and celebrate Europe's rich cultural diversity and heritage, as well as to promote mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue. The European Capitals of Culture are also an opportunity for cities to boost tourism, jobs and growth, and to transform their image.

A successful Capital which embeds culture as part of a long-term development strategy can bring significant long-term cultural, economic and social benefits. On average it leads to a 12% increase in tourism and millions of visits to cultural events, with strong benefits for the retail, hotel and catering sectors. The initiative can also be a catalyst for regeneration and new cultural infrastructure, as well as promoting new skills for cultural operators and strengthening a city's cultural vibrancy and international outlook.

Since 2010, each European Capital of Culture meeting the commitments it made at the selection stage receives the Melina Mercouri Prize, worth €1.5 million. In addition, many Capitals benefit from additional funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

This is the first time that a Slovak city has held the title. It is an opportunity for Košice, its region and Slovakia as a whole to be in the international limelight for what promises to be the largest cultural project in the history of the country.

Since 1985, more than 40 cities have been designated European Capitals of Culture.

The event:

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will give a speech at the opening ceremony at the State Theatre of Košice together with Richard Raši, Mayor of Košice, Marek Maďarič, Slovakia's Minister of Culture and Zdenko Trebuľa, President of the Košice Region.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Culture:

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

Information on Košice 2013 – European capital of culture:

http://www.kosice2013.sk/en/

Information on Commissioner Vassiliou:

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

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58 dennis.abbott@ec.europa.eu

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67 dina.avraam@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 24 January: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

On Wednesday 24 January 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 contacts:

Overall coordination:

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

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

Tuesday 5 February (date to be confirmed): Commission will propose changes to Anti-money laundering and fund transfer legislation

The news:

The Commission will present two proposals for legislation to further strengthen the EU’s defences against money laundering and terrorist financing, helping to ensure the soundness, integrity and stability of the financial system. The proposals will update and improve the EU’s existing Third Anti-Money Laundering Directive and the Fund Transfers Regulation, and will be sent to the European Parliament and the Council for adoption.

The background:

The existing EU Anti-money laundering Directive dates back to 2005. In light of the changes to international standards adopted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – the world anti-money laundering body - in February 2012 (see MEMO/12/113), existing EU rules need to be updated and strengthened. The Commission conducted its own assessment of the existing rules and published an application report in April 2012 (see IP/12/357).

The Fund Transfer regulation dates back to 2006, and implements into EU law the FATF's Special Recommendation VII (SRVII) – aimed at ensuring full traceability of transfers of funds with the objective of combating money laundering and terrorist financing. In February 2012, FATF updated its standards – including SRVII. At the end of 2011, the Commission conducted a review of the Fund Transfer Regulation, the results of which have been taken into account in preparing the legislative proposal.

The event:

Press details to be announced.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more information on financial crime:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/company/financial-crime/index_en.htm

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

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

The contacts:

Stefaan De Rynck +32 2 296 34 21 Stefaan.De-Rynck@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


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