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Brussels, Friday 18 January 2013
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Sunday 20 January: Commissioner Vassiliou attends the opening ceremony of Košice - 2013 European Capital of Culture 2
Thursday 24 January: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 4
Tuesday 5 February (date to be confirmed): Commission will propose changes to Anti-money laundering and fund transfer legislation 5
Date to be confirmed: Adoption of a joint Communication by the High Representative and the European Commission on Cyber Security Strategy 6
Sunday 20 January: Commissioner Vassiliou attends the opening ceremony of Košice - 2013 European Capital of Culture
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 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.
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.
Information on Culture:
Information on Košice 2013 – European capital of culture:
Information on Commissioner Vassiliou:
Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58 email@example.com
Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 24 January: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package
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.
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.
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:
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 email@example.com
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 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 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.
Press details to be announced.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
For more information on financial crime:
Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:
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
Date to be confirmed: Adoption of a joint Communication by the High Representative and the European Commission on Cyber Security Strategy
The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will adopt a Communication on Cyber Security and a complementary proposal for a Directive on measures to ensure a high common level of cyber security across the EU. As network and information systems are globally interconnected, cyber security does not stop at borders. Lack of intervention at EU level would lead to a situation where each Member State would act alone disregarding the interdependences amongst network and information systems. Action at EU level will aim to ensure that an appropriate degree of coordination takes place among the Member States so that governments' measures are consistent with each other, and risks are well managed in the cross-border context in which they arise.
The Communication will outline the EU's vision of how security can be enhanced in cyberspace from a wide perspective and set out the actions required, including that of drastically reducing cybercrime through a strong legal framework, improving the capability of Member States and coordination at EU level to fight it. It will also outline major principles of the EU international cyberspace policy, which seeks to promote freedom and openness of the Internet, to protect fundamental rights online worldwide as well as to increase engagement with EU international partners in strengthening cyber security.
The magnitude and frequency of deliberate or accidental incidents on networks and information systems is increasing and can impede the pursuit of economic activities, generate substantial financial losses, undermine user confidence and cause major damage to the economy of the EU. The Commission’s 2012 online public consultation found that 57% of respondents had experienced cyber security incidents in 2011 that had a serious impact on their activities. The opportunities for cybercrime increase as our lives assume more and more a digital dimension. There is evidence that cybercrime is growing, cybercriminal networks are becoming increasingly sophisticated while law enforcement lacks the right operational tools and capabilities to tackle them. A coordinated approach to respond to this threat is therefore indispensable.
Joint press conference in the Berlaymont pressroom with High Representative Catherine Ashton, Vice-President Neelie Kroes and Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, timing tbc
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
Cyber Security: an Open, Free and Secure Internet:
Ryan Heath: +32 2 296 17 16 Ryan.Heath@ec.europa.eu
Linda Cain: +32 2 299 90 19 Linda.Cain@ec.europa.eu
Sebastien Brabant: +32 2 298 64 33 Sebastien.Brabant@ec.europa.eu
Eamonn Prendergast:+32 2 299 88 51 Eamonn.Prendergast@ec.europa.eu
Michele Cercone +32 2 298 09 63 Michele.Cercone@ec.europa.eu
Tove Ernst +32 2 298 67 64 Tove.Ernst@ec.europa.eu