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Top News from the European Commission 15 June – 12 July 2013

European Commission - AGENDA/13/21   14/06/2013

Other available languages: FR

European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 14 June 2013

Top News from the European Commission
15 June – 12 July 2013

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

Monday 17 June: Commission to propose network of Public Employment Services to boost job creation 2

Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 June: G8 summit in Lough Erne (UK): Promoting global fairness through trade, taxation and transparency 4

Tuesday 18 June: High level group presents report on improving quality in teaching and learning in Europe's universities 7

Wednesday 19 June: Commission adopts Communication on youth unemployment 9

Wednesday 19 June: The Commission adopts new Regional Aid Guidelines 11

Thursday 20 June: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 13

Monday 24 June to Friday 28 June: EU Sustainable Energy Week 2013 14

Tuesday 25 June: Education at a Glance 2013 presented by OECD and the Commission 15

Wednesday 26 June: Progress report on national Roma integration strategies 17

Wednesday 26 June: European Commission proposes new long term investment framework 19

Wednesday 26 June (date to be confirmed): Political agreement on reform of the CAP 20

Monday 17 June: Commission to propose network of Public Employment Services to boost job creation

The news:

On 17 June, the European Commission is due to propose a Decision to establish a network of Public Employment Services (PES). The proposed Decision, that would be presented to the EU's Council of Ministers and European Parliament for adoption, would formalise the existing PES network and more clearly define its role.

Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Public Employment Services, which have a key role to play in active labour market policies, is essential to address the economic crisis, particularly in countries most hit by high unemployment rates. Public Employment Services should connect people with particular skills with employers looking for those skills and advise people on the most appropriate training opportunities to improve their chances of finding a job.

In particular, Public Employment Services have a critical role to play in the practical implementation by Member States of the Youth Guarantee agreed by the EU's Council of Employment and Social Affairs Ministers, which calls on Member States to ensure that young people are offered a job, further education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving school (see IP/12/1311, MEMO/12/938, SPEECH/12/910, MEMO/13/152).

The Public Employment Services network would provide a platform for comparing PES performance at European level against relevant benchmarks, identify best practices and foster mutual learning, and so contribute to strengthening coordination at EU level of employment policies. The members of the PES network would also be invited to provide mutual assistance, either in the form of peer-to-peer or group activities, through cooperation and through exchanges of information, experience and staff. The Network would also facilitate the implementation of PES-related country-specific recommendations issued by the Council in the frame of the European Semester (see IP/13/463).

The background:

Co-operation between Public Employment Services at EU level dates back to 1997 when the Commission set up an informal advisory group to promote voluntary co-operation. The proposed Decision would make this cooperation more structured and more efficient.

An efficient PES Network would be able enable more jobseekers to find jobs and give early warning of where Public Employment Services could be improved.

Strengthening cooperation between PES is a crucial element to achieve the Europe 2020 employment target of 75% employment rate for the working-age population (20-64 years).

The event:

12h30: Press conference by Commissioner László Andor in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.

  1. Available on EbS

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

Commissioner Andor's website:

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

The contacts:

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

Cécile Dubois +32 2 295 18 83

Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 June: G8 summit in Lough Erne (UK): Promoting global fairness through trade, taxation and transparency

The news:

The G8 summit will take place from 17 to 18 June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland (UK) under UK presidency. The European Union will be represented by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.

The main topics on the agenda of this 39th edition of the G8, as set out by the UK presidency, are:

  • Advancing global trade as an engine for global growth and job creation facilitating trade in Africa;

  • Ensuring tax compliance, by pushing, amongst others, for a global standard for the automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation and improving the reporting of multinationals to tax authorities;

  • Promoting greater transparency regarding the revenues from extractive industries and forestry, land governance and government data.

Leaders will also discuss the global economy and will exchange views on foreign affairs and security issues. Food security, the transition in North Africa and climate change will also be important topics on the G8 agenda. All these themes will be of particular relevance also to the world's poorest countries.

The background:

The G8 summit continues to play an important role in shaping global responses to global challenges, complementing the global economic coordination carried out by the G20. The European Union is a full member of the G8, alongside with Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso participates for the 9th time in the G8. Last year's G8 summit was held in Camp David (United States) and the 2014 edition will be hosted by Russia.

The event:

Participation of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, in the G8 summit in Lough Erne (Northern Ireland, UK), on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 June 2013.

The summit will be preceded by a stakeholder event on 15 June 2013 in London to discuss tax, trade and transparency with business, civil society and governments. For the Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes will participate.

13:00 (12:00 Lough Erne time)-(time to be confirmed) Joint Press Conference by President Barroso and President Van Rompuy ahead of the G8 Summit.

G8 media accreditation has been closed. Please note that the G20 media accreditation deadline is 15 July. All media interested in covering the G20 Leaders’ Summit in St-Petersburg, Russia, on 5 and 6 September are invited to fill out the online press accreditation form at http://en.g20russia.ru/accred/.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Press material on the 2013 G8 summit (forthcoming)

G8/G20 section on President Barroso's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/g20/index_en.htm

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BarrosoEU

Website of the UK presidency of the G8 2013: http://www.gov.uk/g8

The contacts:

Koen Doens +32 2 298 15 66, +32 498 981 566, @ECspokesKoen

Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen +32 2 295 30 70, +32 498 953 070, @ECspokesPia

Jens Mester+32 2 296 39 73, +32 498 982 884, @ECspokesJens

Dirk Volckaerts +32 2 299 39 44, +32 460 793 944

Tuesday 18 June: High level group presents report on improving quality in teaching and learning in Europe's universities

The news:

On 18 June, the high level group on the modernisation of higher education, chaired by the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, will publish a report on improving the quality in teaching and learning in Europe's higher education institutions.

The group's report looks at whether university and college teachers are sufficiently trained and resourced, so that students graduate with the high level skills needed to spur productivity and job creation in Europe. It will include practical examples of how Member States, higher education institutions and the European Commission can support a better teaching and learning environment, taking into account the diversity of the European higher education landscape.

The background:

The high level group was launched last September as part of the Commission's strategy to modernise higher education in Member States. A lot of progress has already been made in this area. The Bologna Process has made it easier for students to study aboard and get their qualifications recognised throughout Europe. The European Agenda for the modernisation of higher education, endorsed by Education Ministers in November 2011, identifies areas where EU countries need to do more to achieve their shared objectives and sets out how the Commission can support their modernisation policies. Priorities include improving the quality and relevance of higher education, so curricula meet the needs of students, employers and the careers of the future, as well as increasing the number of graduates.

Erasmus for All, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, due for launch in January 2014, will support policy reform in Member States, with a focus on strengthening the evidence base for policy making and exchange of good practices. The programme is expected to have a budget of around €14.5 billion for 2014-2020 - 40% more than the current programmes.

The event:

Androulla Vassiliou, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Mary McAleese, chair of the high level group, will present the main findings of the report at 11:30 in the Commission's press room. A press release and copies of the report will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on the high level group:

http://ec.europa.eu/education/news/20120918b_en.htm

Information on Commissioner Vassiliou:

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

  1. I-070761 Modernisation of higher education

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67

Wednesday 19 June: Commission adopts Communication on youth unemployment

The news:

On Wednesday 19 June the Commission will adopt a Communication on youth unemployment. The Communication will form part of the Commission's contribution to the European Council on 27-28 June, where President Barroso will urge Member States to give a new impetus to solving two pressing problems: youth unemployment and the lack of finance for the economy, especially for SMEs.

The Communication will set out the steps that need to be taken urgently to help young people to get back to work, into further education or into training. These steps build on the practical and achievable solutions the Commission has already put on the table, such as the Youth Guarantee (see IP/12/1311). For example, the €6 billion Youth Employment Initiative could be frontloaded to help fund the EU's Youth Guarantee. The European Social Fund already provides important support for these policies in Member States, and a significant minimum share of the ESF in the overall structural funds in 2014-20 could be ensured. It is also important for Member States to speed up the selection of projects under both funds.

The background:

Unemployment is at record highs in the EU and the euro area, at 11% and 12.2% respectively (in April 2013). Young people under 25 are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as the rest of the working age population, and in some countries – including Greece and Spain – more than half of those under 25 and on the labour market are out of a job.

The Commission has already proposed a number of measures to help combat youth unemployment:

  • In January 2012 8 Youth Employment Action Teams were set up in Member States with youth unemployment rates above 30%, to help channel available EU funding to young people and SMEs.

  • In November 2012 the Commission proposed to develop the EURES network and pan-EU job mobility portal into a fully-fledged cross-border job placement and recruitment tool. This was after the first contracts were concluded through EURES to help young people find and take up new jobs in other EU Member States.

  • In December 2012, as part of our Youth Employment Package, the Commission proposed a Youth Guarantee, where all those under 25 would be offered a job, apprenticeship or a place in further education or training within four months of leaving school or work. This was agreed by EU Member States in February 2013.

  • As part of negotiations on the future seven-year budget, the Commission fought hard to secure a €6 billion Youth Employment Initiative, which should be used to help fund national youth guarantees.

  • The European Social Fund already represents a major source of funding for measures to support the employment of young people, paying out some €10 billion every year over the period 2007-13.

  • The Commission’s country-specific recommendations pinpoint the most critical reforms Member States should make to their education systems, labour markets and tax and benefit systems to help people back to work.

The sources:

President Barroso's website:

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

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde +32 2 295 30 70

Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

Wednesday 19 June: The Commission adopts new Regional Aid Guidelines

The news:

On 19 June, the European Commission is due to adopt new Guidelines on state aid aiming to promote the regional development of disadvantaged areas, replacing its current Guidelines of 2007 and Communication of 2009 (see IP/05/1653, and IP/09/993).

The Guidelines set out the criteria under which areas could qualify for regional aid due to their disadvantaged socio-economic situation compared to the EU and national average. In addition, the guidelines lay down the principles under which the Commission will assess the compatibility of notified regional aid (both for schemes and individual aid).

The modernised Guidelines aim to target the areas most in need at both EU and national level and to ensure that regional aid goes to investments that would not take place without the aid in disadvantaged regions, therefore bringing real value added for regional development. The new guidelines reflect the principles laid down in the state aid modernisation (SAM) strategy adopted by the Commission in May 2012, which aims to foster growth in the Single Market by encouraging an effective and efficient design of aid measures, focusing scrutiny by the Commission on cases with the biggest impact on the internal market, streamlining rules and allowing for faster decisions by the Commission.

The background:

The Commission needs to review the current regional aid Guidelines in due time and before the end of 2013 so as to allow Member States sufficient time to identify the regions most in need for the next programming period 2014-2020 and to prepare their regional development strategy after 2013. The revision process was launched in January 2011 with a workshop with Member States followed by two rounds of public consultations in January 2012 and January 2013. Based on the comments received and recommendations from a commissioned study and other available studies, the Commission services published a draft of the new Guidelines on 14 January 2013.

The event:

14.00 Technical briefing off-the-record in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.

A press release will be available on the day.

The sources:

Public consultation on the revision of the Regional aid Guidelines

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2013_regional_aid_guidelines/index_en.html

Information on State Aid Modernisation:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/modernisation/index_en.html

Information on Commissioner Almunia:

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

The contacts:

Antoine Colombani +32 2 297 45 13

Maria Madrid Pina +32 2 295 45 30

Thursday 20 June: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

On Thursday 20 June 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 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

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

Monday 24 June to Friday 28 June: EU Sustainable Energy Week 2013

The news:

Sustainable energy is at the heart of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. To underline the importance of moving towards more energy efficiency and renewables, the European Commission (DG Energy and EACI, Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation) organises the eighth edition of the EU Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels.

The background:

This year's main theme is 'Financing and Sustainable Energy'. At the centre of the discussions is the role the private sector can play as an important source of financing and how public funds available at national and European level can be used in the most efficient way. The agenda will include presentations of best financing practices and a debate on how to improve regulatory frameworks. Once more, the EU Sustainable Energy Week will be an excellent opportunity to raise awareness, engage in discussions, present and promote the latest and most innovative sustainable energy technologies.

The event:

At the core of the week is a high-level policy conference from 25 to 27 June, with more than 40 different sessions taking place in the European Commission’s Charlemagne building and in the Committee of the Regions.

On 24 June, EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger will open the Week at the prestigious Sustainable Energy Europe and ManagEnergy Awards Ceremony, which will take place at the Viage Theatre in Galerie Anspach. The Commissioner and Member of European Parliament Maria Da Graça Carvalho will award six prizes: five to the winners of the Sustainable Energy Europe Awards (categories: Communicating, Consuming, Learning, Living and Travelling) and one to the winner of the ManagEnergy Award, recognising the best practice in local and regional energy action.

In parallel and during the whole week, hundreds of events and activities related to sustainable energy will take place in around forty countries in Europe and beyond, not only in capitals but also in towns and villages. These will include interesting exhibitions and workshops and will show how small businesses and households can contribute to the collective energy efficiency effort.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more details on Energy Days, the Conference programme and how to register, visit the EUSEW website: http://www.eusew.eu/

  1. I-075959 EU: Sustainable Energy 2013

The contacts:

Marlene Holzner +32 2 296 01 96

Nicole Bockstaller +32 2 295 25 89

Tuesday 25 June: Education at a Glance 2013 presented by OECD and the Commission

The news:

On 25 June, the OECD and the European Commission will present the 2013 'Education at a Glance' report, which provides key information and data on education and training in OECD and partner countries, including 21 EU Member States. The report enables decision-makers to compare education and training systems, and to draw lessons for future policy.

Issued annually, the latest report includes data on how much is spent on education, new indicators on the link between education levels and employment, data on the economic crisis, showing that education is the best protection against unemployment, s well as trend data and analysis.

The background:

The report features data from the 34 OECD countries. These include 21 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), 4 other European countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey), and 9 non-European countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, United States). Furthermore, data is presented for Brazil, the Russian Federation, and – in some cases – Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

6 EU Member States are not covered in the report as they are non-OECD members: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Romania.

The report will be presented by Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Xavier Prats Monné, Deputy Director General at the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture.

The event:

11:00 – 12:30: On-the-record technical briefing in the Schuman room, Berlaymont Building, Brussels.

The event can be followed via webstreaming:

http://scic.ec.europa.eu/streaming/index.php?es=2&sessionno=84f74ce4511e0c9531af1182fb636f0f

  1. EbS will record and transmit later in the day

The sources:

European Commission: Education and training:

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

Commissioner Vassiliou's website:

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

OECD: Education:

http://www.oecd.org/edu/

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67

Wednesday 26 June: Progress report on national Roma integration strategies

The news:

The European Commission will present its latest progress report on Roma integration within the Member States. The report takes stock of how Member States are implementing their national plans to improve the lives of Roma communities in their country under the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.

At the same time, the Commission will give yet another push to Roma integration by presenting a Recommendation to Member States, to be adopted by the Council.

The background:

Roma integration is in the interest of Member States, especially for those with a large Roma minority. Roma represent a significant and growing proportion of the school age population and the future workforce. In countries like Bulgaria and Romania, one in every four to five new labour market entrants are Roma. Efficient labour activation policies and individualised and accessible support services for Roma job seekers are crucial to allow Roma people to live up to their potential and actively and equally participate in society.

In a report on 23 May 2012, the European Commission called on EU Member States to implement their national strategies to improve the economic and social integration of Europe's 10 to 12 million Roma. Member States developed these plans in response to the Commission's EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies adopted on 5 April 2011 (see IP/11/400, MEMO/11/216) which was endorsed by EU leaders soon afterwards (IP/11/789).

On 15 May 2013, the Commission met with key players from Roma civil society at the Roma Roundtable to help prepare the latest progress report (IP/13/437).

The event:

Vice-President Reding and Commissioner Andor will give a press conference.

  1. Available on EbS

IP will be published on the day.

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

Commissioner Andor's website:

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

  1. I-071075 European Territorial Cooperation – Roma employment

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

Cécile Dubois +32 2 295 18 83

Wednesday 26 June: European Commission proposes new long term investment framework

The news:

On 26 June, the European Commission will propose a new framework designed for investors who want to invest money in companies and projects with long-term prospects, such as infrastructure projects. European Long Term Investment Funds (ELTIFs) will place investors' money in businesses that need capital committed to them for long periods of time. They will be available to all types of investors across Europe – with no red tape - provided they meet a minimum set of rules. The objective is to unlock and increase funding for projects which can make a substantial difference to jobs and growth over the long run.

The background:

Increasing the amount of non-bank finance available to businesses across the Union is a key aim of the European Commission. ELTIFs represent an important element of this work as set out in the Single Market Act II communication in October 2012 (see IP/12/1054) and in the Green paper on Long-Term Financing of the European Economy (see IP/13/274). The fragmented nature of the investment fund market can make it hard for would-be investors to identify funds that have long-term investment objectives and thus restricts the capacity of funds to grow. The introduction of ELTIFs would improve this situation. The Commission has carried out extensive discussions with a wide range of organisations and also through a public consultation (see IP/12/853), and has undertaken an Impact Assessment assessing different policy options for increasing long-term investment options whilst ensuring adequate protections are in place for investors.

The event:

Press details to be announced.

Press release and memo will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Further information can be found here:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/financing-growth/long-term/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07

Wednesday 26 June (date to be confirmed): Political agreement on reform of the CAP

The news:

In the last week of June, it is hoped that the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament will reach a political agreement on the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). Political agreement signifies an end of the political negotiations, and formal adoption as a 1st Reading agreement only comes later once the texts have been translated into all languages, etc and approved both by EP and Council in what is the first reform of the CAP under co-decision.

The main elements of the reform are to move towards a "fairer and greener" CAP, as proposed by Commissioner Cioloș in October 2011 (see IP/11/1181, MEMO/11/685). In 2011, the Commissioner outlined 10 main aims for the reform – and all 10 of them are likely to be part of the final agreement.

One of the most important changes will be the Greening concept, whereby 30% of Direct Payments will be linked to certain sustainable agricultural practices. In other words, the CAP will be paying farmers for the provision of environmental public goods.

There are several different elements to achieving a "fairer" CAP. The key point is to address the question of who gets what in terms of Direct Payments. Here, the reform is expected to agree a fairer distribution of funds for Direct Payments among Member States ("external convergence"), such that the average payment in every Member State is at least 75% of the EU average. (At present, average payments vary from 40% of the EU average to more than 250%.) Then there is the question of a fairer distribution of funds within Member States – in particular in the EU-15, where allocations are usually based on historical production references going back to 2000-2002, moving towards a payment per hectare. On this sensitive question of "internal convergence", the talks are looking at various criteria for redistribution. Further aspects in this debate include moves to reduce the payments going to the largest farms ("capping and degressivity"); simpler system for the smallest farms ("small farmers scheme"); and a higher rate of payment for young farmers, in order to support generational renewal.

On market measures, the reform is likely to agree on the end of the sugar quota regime. Another significant change is to provide a clearer legal basis for a general market crisis instrument to respond to unforeseen situations (e.g. the e-coli /fresh vegetable crisis in 2011).

Under Rural Development – the 2nd pillar of the CAP – the rules will build on the success of recent years with extra flexibility to Member States. Changes include new, more objective definitions of Areas with Natural Constraints; there will be the new European Innovation Partnership, which aims to bring farmers and researchers closer together so that we can accelerate the technological transfer from the laboratory to the field; there are also moves to encourage farmers to work more closely together through producer organisations and interbranch organisations, or by establishing short supply chains; and means to establish risk assurance and other tools.

The event:

Wednesday June 26 (time tbc): Press Conference by Commissioner Dacian Cioloș, Council President Simon Coveney and EP Agriculture Committee Chair Paolo De Castro.

Thursday June 27 (12h30): Press conference by Commissioner Dacian Cioloș in the Berlaymont press room.

  1. Available on EbS

IP and MEMO will be available on the day that political agreement is reached.

The sources:

DG AGRI website:

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-post-2013/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Roger Waite +32 2 296 14 04

Fanny Dabertrand +32 2 299 06 25


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