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Brussels, Friday 28 June 2013
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Monday 1 July: Croatia becomes the 28th Member State of the European Union 2
Monday 1 July: Commissioner Hahn presents first evaluation of the EU's Macro-Regional Strategies 4
Wednesday 3 July: Commission consults on new state aid guidelines for airports and airlines 5
Monday 8 July: Commission publishes annual Erasmus statistics 7
Wednesday 10 July: Innovation Investment Package 9
Wednesday 10 July: The European Commission modernises travel rules for consumers and businesses 10
Wednesday 10 July (date to be confirmed): The Commission adopts Communication on European higher education in the world 12
Monday 1 July: Croatia becomes the 28th Member State of the European Union
On Monday 1 July Croatia will become the 28th Member State of the European Union. Croatia's accession marks another milestone in the construction of a united Europe. It also provides fresh evidence of the transformative power of the European Union: torn by conflict only two decades ago, Croatia is now a stable democracy, capable of taking on the obligations of EU membership and of adhering to EU standards.
Croatia's accession shows that the European perspective is real for those countries firmly committed to the EU agenda. It is a clear signal for the region: the EU keeps its commitments if the necessary reforms are delivered and conditions are met.
Croatia's accession will be celebrated in Zagreb on Sunday 30 June and Monday 1 July. The European Commission will be represented by President Barroso, Vice-President Reding, Commissioner Füle and Commissioner Mimica. On 30 June the EU Delegation in Zagreb will close its doors and the following day the European Commission Representation will open.
Programme of events in Zagreb:
Sunday 30 June 23:00 - Official ceremony
Monday 1 July - Opening of the European Commission Representation
Institutional and administrative aspects of Croatia's EU accession:
Appointment of the new Head of Representation:
Pia Ahrenkilde +32 2 295 30 70
Peter Stano +32 2 295 74 84
Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 13 82
Monday 1 July: Commissioner Hahn presents first evaluation of the EU's Macro-Regional Strategies
On 1 July, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will present the first evaluation report of the EU's Macro-Regional Strategies. The report assesses the added value of this new approach to solve common challenges by means of regional co-operation.
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) brings together eight Member States (Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland), who have joined forces to tackle specific challenges in the area, in particular environmental problems resulting from the high pollution levels in the Sea.
The EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) covers parts of 9 EU countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and 5 non-EU countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova). Together they face the environmental, climatic, socio-economic, innovation and security challenges of the region.
At the request of Member States, plans for an EU Strategy for the Adriatic/Ionian Region is expected to be presented by the European Commission at the end of 2014. It will include 8 countries: 4 EU Member States (Greece, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia), and 4 non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia).
In the last two years, different projects have been initiated to look into the possibility and feasibility of a macro-regional strategy in the Alps. A recent resolution from the European Parliament supported this idea.
Monday, 1 July, 11:00 a.m. – BERLAYMONT/9th floor: Room S9
Press Round Table with EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn on "The added value of the Macro-Regional Strategies – Presentation of the first evaluation report".
Please contact if you would like to attend.
A press release will be published on RAPID.
Commissioner Hahn's website:
Cooperation between regions and countries:
Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65
Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10
Wednesday 3 July: Commission consults on new state aid guidelines for airports and airlines
On 3 July, the European Commission will launch a public consultation on its new draft guidelines for state aid to the aviation sector in the EU. The next guidelines will set out how Member States can support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules.
The stakeholders will have 12 weeks to provide comments on the draft guidelines. In light of the submissions received, the Commission will adopt revised guidelines in the beginning of 2014.
Member States' public funding of airports and airlines is currently assessed by the Commission under the 2005 Aviation Guidelines. These Guidelines contain provisions for assessing public support measures to airports and for the start-up of airline services from regional airports.
In view of the significant market changes that have taken place over the last decade, the Commission initiated a review, with a first public consultation in 2011 (see IP/11/445). The consultation confirmed the need to review the existing rules.
At the same time the Commission is working on around 60 state aid investigations in the aviation sector.
The new draft Guidelines will reflect the objectives and principles of State Aid Modernisation (see IP/12/458).
It will aim at ensuring that taxpayers' money is well-spent and that a level playing field is preserved in the Single Market between airports and airlines, regardless of their business models (from large hubs to regional airports and from flag carriers to low-cost airlines).
11.30 Vice-President Almunia will give a press conference at the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.
Press release and memo will be available on the day.
Vice-President Almunia's website:
Maria Madrid Pina +32 2 295 45 30
Monday 8 July: Commission publishes annual Erasmus statistics
The latest figures for Erasmus student mobility will be presented by the Commission on 8 July.
The first Erasmus students - just over 3 000 young people from 11 countries - left to study abroad in 1987. Today more than 250 000 students a year benefit from the hugely popular exchange programme, which covers all EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey.
Erasmus is open to students and staff – most report that their Erasmus experience enriched both their personal and professional life. Well-known Erasmus alumni include Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Jyrki Katainen, the Finnish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Danish Prime Minister and Jakub Chrenowicz, the first conductor of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonia in Poland.
At institutional level, Erasmus funds also support joint projects, summer schools and networks. Along with individual staff mobility, these are instrumental in improving the quality of education of today's students and opening up universities and colleges to cooperation with the world.
The new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, due for launch in January 2014, will build on the legacy of Erasmus by offering opportunities for 4 million people (most under the age of 25) to study, train, teach or carry out voluntary work abroad by 2020. The international experience and skills they gain increases their employability and career prospects. The new programme is expected to have a budget of around €14.5 billion for 2014-2020 - 40% more than the current programmes.
12.00 Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will present the main Erasmus statistics for the academic year 2011/12. A press release will be available on the day.
Information on Erasmus:
Information on Commissioner Vassiliou:
Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58
Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67
Wednesday 10 July: Innovation Investment Package
The Commission will present a multi-billion euro investment package to boost research and innovation in sectors that are crucial to Europe's economy and society. The package will be anchored by public-private partnerships (PPPs) in areas such as innovative medicines and aeronautics.
Funding from the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, will leverage additional money from industry and EU Member States. The goal of the partnerships is to provide solutions to major challenges such as reducing carbon emissions or providing the next generation of antibiotics. They will also help increase the competitiveness of EU industry, including SMEs, and create new jobs in fast growing and emerging sectors.
Also included are proposals to pool resources with EU Member States to develop new treatments against poverty related diseases; to development measurement technologies for industrial competitiveness; to support high tech SMEs; and to provide solutions for the elderly and disabled to live safely in their homes. The package also proposes to extend an initiative to pool research investments in air traffic management, in support of the Single European Sky.
The importance of PPPs has been clearly identified in the Innovation Union and Industry Policy flagship initiatives, and the legislative proposals for Horizon 2020. Some of the public-private partnerships, called Joint Technology Initiatives (JTI), were introduced under the current 7th research Framework Programme. New legislative proposals were needed for these to be established under the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The proposals will now be submitted to EU Member States and the European Parliament in the context of the overall proposals for the Horizon 2020 programme.
A press conference and a technical briefing will be held on day of adoption. There will also be dedicated roundtable sessions for the public-private partnerships, including CEOs from companies participating in the initiatives. These will be open to the media.
A press release, a MEMO, Communication and factsheets on each of the partnerships will be available on the day.
Michael Jennings +32 2 296 33 88
Inma Martinez Garcia +32 2 298 73 03
Wednesday 10 July: The European Commission modernises travel rules for consumers and businesses
The European Commission will put forward a proposal that aims to modernise the current Package Travel Directive (Directive 90/314/EEC), taking into account recent developments in the travel market. This proposal will also be accompanied by a Communication explaining the wider legal and economic context.
In 1990 the EU adopted the Package Travel Directive, which grants travellers important rights across the EU when purchasing package tours and holidays. These rights relate, for instance, to information, liability for inadequate performance of the services and insolvency protection/repatriation.
Since the adoption of the Directive, the travel market has been transformed, notably by the internet. The Directive thus needs be modified and adapted to these developments. This modernisation is one of the actions listed in the European Consumer Agenda (May 2012) and in the second Citizenship Report (May 2013).
This proposal responds to calls from stakeholders, the European Parliament and Member States to modernise the Package Travel Directive to take into account recent developments in the travel market.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
Vice-President Reding's website:
Vice-President Tajani's website:
Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 13 82
Natasha Bertaud +32 2 296 74 56
Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52
Sara Tironi +32 2 299 04 03
Wednesday 10 July (date to be confirmed): The Commission adopts Communication on European higher education in the world
Strategic partnerships with higher education institutions outside Europe enhance the quality of European higher education and contribute to innovation and job creation by equipping European graduates with broader skills and by attracting international students, researchers and academics to the EU. European universities have excellent links inside Europe but many lack a clear strategy for strengthening their ties with non-European partners. Therefore, on 10 July, the European Commission will adopt a Communication on 'European higher education in the world' which will provide recommendations on how Europe's 4 000 higher education institutions can work strategically to promote themselves in the rest of the world. More than €400 million per year will be made available for European universities to collaborate with partners worldwide under the EU's new programme for education, training, youth and sport.
Higher education is at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy and universities have a key role in ensuring that Europe becomes a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. Europe's universities have worked and cooperated together for decades, but it is clear that they need to build partnerships beyond the EU's borders so that they continue to attract the most talented students and remain competitive in an increasingly globalised higher education landscape.
Europe currently hosts 45% of the 4 million students who study outside their home countries each year. They are attracted by world-class curricula, teaching excellence and cultural diversity. But if Europe is to maintain this lead against mounting competition from Asia and Latin America, the Member States and the Commission must work together to create the right conditions for international cooperation to flourish.
Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will present the Communication at the midday briefing in the Commission's press room. A press release and MEMO will be available on the day.
European Commission website on education and training.
Information on Commissioner Vassiliou.
Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58
Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67