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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 5 July 2013

Top News from the European Commission
6 July – 2 August 2013

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

Monday 8 July: Commission publishes annual Erasmus statistics 3

Monday 8 July: The European Commission sets out plans to ease customs formalities for shipping 4

Wednesday 10 July: Innovation Investment Package 5

Wednesday 10 July: The European Commission modernises travel rules for consumers and businesses 6

Wednesday 10 July: Proposal for a Single Resolution Mechanism for the Banking Union 8

Wednesday 10 July: Plans for radical reform to EU Cohesion Policy face decisive vote at EP Regional Development Committee 10

Thursday 11 July: The Commission adopts Communication on European higher education in the world 11

Thursday 11 July: Improving governance of the marine space: an opportunity for Blue Growth in the Mediterranean 12

Wednesday 17 July: European Commission proposes improving investigations and prosecutions against crimes to the EU budget 13

Wednesday 24 July: Commission adopts communication on shadow banking and proposes draft regulation on money market funds 14

Wednesday 24 July: The Commission presents the communication "Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector" 16

Monday 8 July: Commission publishes annual Erasmus statistics

The news:

The latest figures for Erasmus student mobility will be presented by the Commission on 8 July.

The background:

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.

The event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Erasmus:

http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-programme/erasmus_en.htm

Information on Commissioner Vassiliou:

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

  1. I-069517 Education: Erasmus for All (2011)

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67

Monday 8 July: The European Commission sets out plans to ease customs formalities for shipping

The news:

The European Commission will put forward a communication setting out proposals to create a Blue Belt – an area where ships can operate freely from and within the EU internal market while facing a minimum of administrative burden. It will set out two key measures to ease customs formalities for shipping and further extend the benefits of the Single Market to maritime transport.

The background:

Free movement of goods is a basic freedom under EU law, however it is not yet a reality for the maritime sector. Today a ship moving between Antwerp and Rotterdam is still treated as though it came from China from a customs perspective. Once ships leave the Member States' territorial waters (beyond 12 miles from shore), they are considered to pass the EU's external borders. So ships travelling between ports in two different Member States are deemed to have left the EU Customs Territory and therefore face time and again customs formalities at the port of departure and at the port of destination, even if both are EU ports. The Blue Belt package aims to reduce these administrative hurdles so that maritime transport can be used to its full potential.

The Blue Belt proposals follow on from the Ports Policy Review adopted on May 23 2013, which aims to promote the competitiveness of Europe's sea ports and unleash their growth potential (see MEMO/13/448). The Communication is also a deliverable under the Single Market Act II in October 2012 (see IP/12/1054) which sets out to improve the single market for maritime transport.

The event:

Vice-President Siim Kallas and Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta will hold a press conference on Monday 8 July at 12:30 CET in the Berlaymont press room. Press materials will also be made available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Vice-President Kallas:

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

Information on Commissioner Šemeta:

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

The contacts:

Helen Kearns +32 2 298 76 38

Dale Kidd +32 2 295 74 61

Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48

Natasja Bohez-Rubiano +32 2 296 64 70

Wednesday 10 July: Innovation Investment Package

The news:

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 background:

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.

The event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

A press release, a MEMO, Communication and factsheets on each of the partnerships will be available on the day.

The sources:

Horizon 2020:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm

  1. I-075812 EU - Horizon 2020 - 2013

The contacts:

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 news:

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.

The background:

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.

The event:

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

Enterprise Newsroom:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/news/index_en.htm

Vice-President Reding's website:

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

Vice-President Tajani's website:

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

The contacts:

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: Proposal for a Single Resolution Mechanism for the Banking Union

The news:

On 10 July the European Commission is due to present a proposal for a Single Resolution Mechanism to deal with failing banks. This mechanism will complement the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) (IP/12/953).

The Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) will ensure that – not withstanding stronger supervision - if a bank subject to the Single Supervisory Mechanism faces serious difficulties, its resolution can be managed efficiently. In case of cross-border failures, it would be more efficient than a network of national resolution authorities and avoid risks of contagion.

The Single Resolution Mechanism would apply the substantive rules of bank recovery and resolution (IP/12/570) – due to be adopted shortly - in the banking union.

The background:

The Single Resolution Mechanism was announced by the Commission in the Communication on A Roadmap Towards a Banking Union (September 2012) and in the Blueprint for A Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union(November 2012).

The European Council in December 2012 recognised the need to set up a Single Resolution Mechanism to accompany the Single Supervisory Mechanism in the Banking Union. In March 2013, the European Council committed to complete the Banking Union via a series of steps and confirmed that the Commission’s proposal for a Single Resolution Mechanism should be examined as a matter of priority with the intention of adopting it during the current parliamentary cycle.

The European Parliament has consistently called for greater integration in the arrangements for resolving banks, and in a Resolution adopted on 13 June 2013 urged the Commission to adopt as quickly as possible the proposal establishing the Single Resolution Mechanism.

The event:

Technical briefing and press conference (details to be announced).

Press release and MEMO available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/bank/crisis_management/

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07

Wednesday 10 July: Plans for radical reform to EU Cohesion Policy face decisive vote at EP Regional Development Committee

The news:

On 10 July, the main elements of a European Commission proposal to reform how Structural Funds are invested and managed will be put to the vote. Members of the European Parliament's Regional Development Committee will be deciding on new rules that include the requirement to focus investments on the key growth areas of support for small and medium sized businesses, research and innovation as well as the low carbon economy. If the vote goes through, the European Commission is urging member states and regions to step up their planning for the 2014-20 period so the EU co-funded projects can start on time to tackle challenges like unemployment and lack of competitiveness

MEPs from the Regional Development Committee will vote on 5 reports in the overall Cohesion Legislative Package. This should provide the Member States and regions with the clarity they need to prepare the new EU co-funded programmes. The new rules will provide much better tools to tackle some of the main challenges facing the EU like unemployment, lack of competitiveness and climate change.

The background:

The REGI Committee vote will cover four separate regulations: for the Cohesion Fund, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) and the European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). In addition, it will cover most of the so-called Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) which sets out common rules for all the European Structural and Investment Funds. The Committee vote follows negotiations between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament but it will still need to be confirmed by a vote of the whole Parliament in the autumn.

The event:

Wednesday, 10 July, 10:30 – 12.30 a.m. – European Parliament/Brussels/Meeting Room Paul-Henri Spaak (3C050) - Vote of the Regional Development Committee on the Cohesion Legislative Package.

  1. Available on EbS

A press release (IP) will be published via RAPID.

The sources:

Website of Commissioner Hahn:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/hahn/index_en.cfm

Cooperation between regions and countries :

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/cooperate/index_en.cfm

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10

Thursday 11 July: The Commission adopts Communication on European higher education in the world

The news:

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.

The background:

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.

The event:

12.30 Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will present the Communication after the midday briefing in the Commission's press room. A press release and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission website on education and training.

Information on Commissioner Vassiliou.

  1. I-070761 Modernisation of higher education

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67

Thursday 11 July: Improving governance of the marine space: an opportunity for Blue Growth in the Mediterranean

The news:

A new study by the European Commission finds that the establishment of maritime zones, including Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), in the Mediterranean would benefit the EU's Blue Growth and sustainability agendas.

The background:

The study focuses on the opportunities which Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and other such zones would bring in terms of economic costs and benefits, sustainability and governance of marine space and should be viewed in the context of the European Commission's Blue Growth agenda.

The EU Blue Growth Strategy aims at creating sustainable economic growth and employment in the marine and maritime economy to help Europe's economic recovery. These economic sectors provide jobs for 5.4 million people and contribute a total gross value added of around 500 billion euros. By 2020, these should increase to 7 million and nearly 600 billion euros respectively.

The event:

12.00 Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will present the conclusions of the study (BERL press room). A press release will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Maritime Affairs website:

http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/documentation/studies/study-maritime-zones-in-mediterranean-sea_en.htm

Website of Commissioner Maria Damanaki:

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

The contacts:

Oliver Drewes +32 2 299 24 21

Lone Mikkelsen +32 2 296 05 67

Wednesday 17 July: European Commission proposes improving investigations and prosecutions against crimes to the EU budget

The news:

On Wednesday 17 July the European Commission will put forward proposals to set up the European Public Prosecutor's Office and strengthen Eurojust (the European Union's agency dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters). The setting up of the European Public Prosecutor's Office is called for by the Lisbon Treaty (article 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) as is the strengthening of Eurojust (article 85). The European Prosecutor will be competent only for the investigation, prosecution and bringing to justice of offences affecting the EU's budget. It will be set up using existing resources at European level, building on the experience of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and working in close cooperation with Eurojust.

The background:

In May 2011, the Commission adopted a Communication foreseeing several areas where criminal law could be further improved to protect the EU's financial interests, including setting up a specialised European Public Prosecutor's Office (see IP/11/644). President Barroso in his last State of the Union speech reiterated the importance of setting up the European Public Prosecutor's Office to better protect the financial interests of the EU (see SPEECH/12/296).

The event:

Vice-President Viviane Reding and Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta will hold a press conference on Wednesday 17 July at 12:30 CET in the Berlaymont press room, followed by a technical briefing off-the record with Commission experts. Press materials will also be made available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Vice-President Reding:

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

Information on Commissioner Šemeta:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/semeta/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 13 82

Natasha Bertaud +32 2 296 74 56

Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48

Natasja Bohez-Rubiano +32 2 296 64 70

Wednesday 24 July: Commission adopts communication on shadow banking and proposes draft regulation on money market funds

The news:

On Wednesday 24 July, the Commission will adopt a communication on shadow banking. On the same day, the Commission will also present its proposal for a Regulation on Money Market Funds (MFF) – one of the areas for action outlined in the communication.

The background:

Shadow banking is the system of credit intermediation that involves entities and activities that are outside the regular banking system. Shadow banks are not regulated like banks; they operate outside the regular banking system and yet engage in bank-like activities. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has roughly estimated the size of the global shadow banking system at around €51 trillion in 2011, up from €21 trillion in 2002. This represents 25-30% of the total financial system and half the size of bank assets. Shadow banking is therefore of systemic importance for Europe's financial system.

Learning all the lessons from the financial crisis, the EU has been implementing regulatory reforms in the financial sector in general and in the banking sector in particular. However, the entire shadow bank sector is not yet properly regulated. We must ensure that risks are not accumulating in the unregulated shadow banking sector, in part because new banking rules could be pushing certain banking activities towards this non-regulated shadow banking sector. The Commission's communication is a follow-up to last year's Green Paper on Shadow Banking (see IP/12/253 and MEMO/12/191). It summarises the work undertaken so far and sets out possible further actions in this important area.

Money Market Funds (MMFs) are an important source of short-term financing for financial institutions, businesses and government. In Europe, around 22% of short-term debt securities issued by governments or by the corporate sector are held by MMFs. MMFs hold 38% of short-term debt issued by the banking sector. Because of the systemic interconnectedness of MMFs with the banking sector, and with corporate and government finance, the operation of MMFs has been at the core of the international work on shadow banking. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) and other institutions such as the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) have analysed the financial sector and concluded that MMFs, while of systemic importance, had not been addressed to a sufficient degree. The draft regulation will respond to the various recommendations that have been made.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Michel Barnier preceded by a technical briefing (details to be announced).

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Shadow banking:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/shadow-banking/index_en.htm

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

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07

Wednesday 24 July: The Commission presents the communication "Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector"

The news:

On 24 July the European Commission will adopt a communication announcing a set of measures to enhance the efficiency of Europe's defence and security sector. It will focus on a range of policy areas concerned by the sector including industrial policy, the single market (defence procurement) and research, as well as other areas such as space and energy. It will explore ways the EU can support Member States in strengthening the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and outline proposals for fostering innovation, growth and jobs, through the promotion of civilian / military synergies and measures to support defence-related SMEs.

The Communication will be the Commission's contribution to the upcoming European Council debate on defence in December 2013, in line with the Council Conclusions of 14 December 2012.

The background:

In October 2012 the Commission announced that it would prepare a Strategy for Europe's defence sector. The Commission's Defence Task Force, established in 2011, is playing a key role in this process and the European Defence Agency (EDA) and European External Action Service (EEAS) are closely associated with the Task Force's work.

The EU’s defence industry employs around 400,000 people and had a turnover of around €90bn in 2010. It drives innovation and develops the capabilities which are needed for the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). At the same time, the sector suffers from budget constraints and market fragmentation. Action is therefore needed to maintain industrial and technological capabilities which are of strategic importance for the EU.

The event:

Press conference with Vice-President Tajani and Commissioner Barnier preceded by a technical briefing – times to be confirmed.

A press release and the Communication will be available on the day.

The sources:

Information on Europe’s Defence Industry:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/defence/index_en.htm

Defence procurement:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/rules/defence_procurement/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52

Sara Tironi +32 2 299 04 03

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07


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