Top News from the European Commission 21 September – 18 October 2013
European Commission - AGENDA/13/32 20/09/2013
Other available languages: FR
Brussels, Friday 20 September 2013
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Thursday 19 September – Saturday 21 September: European Cooperation Day 2013 2
Wednesday 25 September: The Commission presents Opening up Education, an initiative to promote innovative teaching and learning through new technologies and open educational resources 4
Wednesday 25 September (tbc): State of competitiveness of industry in Europe and in the Member states 6
Thursday 26 September: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 7
Wednesday 2 October: Making EU law fit for purpose: results and next steps in smart regulation 8
Wednesday 16 October: Commission proposes standard VAT declaration for 20 million European companies 10
Thursday 19 September – Saturday 21 September: European Cooperation Day 2013
"European Territorial Cooperation programmes will have more focus, more strategy and more support from 2014-2020", said Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, in the lead up to the second annual European Cooperation Day on 21st September.
This year’s campaign comes at a crucial time as the European Parliament and Member States near a final agreement on the package of regulations for the next round of Regional Policy funding, along with the Union’s seven-year budget. As the proposed legislation stands, European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) is set to get €8.9 billion for the next period.
Commissioner Hahn will be discussing the future of ETC and other models of cooperation, such as EU Macro-Regional Strategies during a live Twitter chat on 19 September.
European Territorial Cooperation is a core objective of EU Regional Policy. Regions and cities from different EU Member States are encouraged to work together and learn from each other through joint programmes, projects and networks. From 2007-13, there are three types of cooperation programme:
• cross-border co-operation programmes along internal EU borders. ERDF contribution: €5.6 billion.
• transnational co-operation programmes cover larger areas of co-operation such as the Baltic Sea, Alpine and Mediterranean regions. ERDF contribution: €1.8 billion.
• interregional co-operation programme (INTERREG IVC) and 3 networking programmes (Urbact II, INTERACT II and ESPON) cover all 28 Member States of the EU. They provide a framework for exchanging experience between regional and local bodies in different countries. ERDF contribution: €445 million.
Future ETC programmes are required to embody the same focus as all other Regional Policy programmes, ensuring that investment is channelled into areas of real growth potential. However, unlike other programmes which must focus a certain amount of funding on research, information technologies, SMEs and the low-carbon economy, cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes can choose to focus 80% of their allocations on any four investment areas out of the 11 priorities laid out in the draft regulations.
Celebrating Territorial Cooperation — 'Sharing borders, growing closer', numerous EU programmes will join forces to showcase the results and benefits of cooperation between regions across borders, with more than 100 events taking place in 30 countries in the following days and weeks.
Join Commissioner Hahn on Twitter to debate the issues from 14:00-15:00 on 19 September - #ECday and #EUChat
IP will be available on 18 September.
Shirin Wheeler Shirin.firstname.lastname@example.org +32 2 296 65 65
Annemarie Huber Annemarie.Huber@ec.europa.eu +32 2 299 33 10
Wednesday 25 September: The Commission presents Opening up Education, an initiative to promote innovative teaching and learning through new technologies and open educational resources
The European Commission will publish a Communication on Opening up Education which aims to stimulate high-quality, innovative ways of learning and teaching through digital technologies and content. By making learning environments more open and delivering quality education more efficiently, the EU will create a better skilled workforce which will boost jobs, competitiveness and growth.
Opening up Education proposes measures at EU and national levels, including helping learning institutions, teachers and students of all ages to acquire digital skills and new learning methods. The initiative also seeks to support the development and availability of open educational resources.
Digital technologies are radically changing the landscape of education and training. Open educational resources (OER), such as 'Massive Open Online Courses' (MOOCs), are challenging traditional models and practices. These global changes are having an increasing impact on education and training institutions, teachers, learners and publishers, among others. But as well as challenges, the ICT revolution brings new opportunities – for new audiences, new providers and new business models. Despite the efforts that Member States and the EU have made so far in the area of digitisation, European education and training systems are losing the lead in this process of change.
Neelie Kroes, Vice-President responsible for the Digital Agenda, and Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will jointly present Opening up Education at the midday briefing in the Commission's press room. A press release and a staff working document will be available on the day.
European Commission website on education and training:
European Commission website on communication networks, content and technology:
Information on Commissioner Vassiliou:
Information on Commissioner Kroes:
Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58 email@example.com
Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Heath +32 2 29 57361 email@example.com
Siobhan Bright +32 2 29 57361 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 25 September (tbc): State of competitiveness of industry in Europe and in the Member states
On 25 September, the European Commission will publish the annual report on the competitiveness of EU industry as well as the annual report on Member States' competitiveness performance and policies, which includes the updated industrial performance scoreboard. The purpose of these reports is to provide an overview of the performance of EU manufacturing industries so as to provide evidence-based indicators for the evaluation of EU industrial policy targets.
With recent trends showing a recovery in industrial production, the competitiveness report assesses the drivers of competitiveness that determine both price competitiveness and non-price competitiveness. In addition, factors such as labour productivity growth, unit labour costs (ULC), patenting and innovation activities are analysed.
To facilitate reform and policy learning, the report on Member States' competitiveness performance compares the industrial performance in the EU and of individual Member States in five key areas: innovation and sustainability; export performance; business environment and infrastructure; finance and investment; and productivity and skills.
EU Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, will present the communication and the main findings of the Competitiveness reports in a press conference in the Commission's press room. A press release, two press memos, reports and executive summaries will be available on the day. Press conference will start at 12.45 with an off the record technical briefing at 11am.
Mission growth - Europe at the Lead of the New Industrial Revolution
Globalisation brings opportunities for EU industries – Competitiveness report 2012
Information on EU Vice-President Tajani
Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52 email@example.com
Sara Tironi +32 2 299 04 03 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 26 September: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package
On Thursday 26 September 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:
For more information on infringements:
On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12
Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17 email@example.com
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 firstname.lastname@example.org
On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.
Wednesday 2 October: Making EU law fit for purpose: results and next steps in smart regulation
On 2 October, the Commission will take a further important step in ensuring that EU legislation is fit for purpose by setting out where it will take further action to simplify or withdraw EU laws. It will publish the results of a screening of the entire stock of EU legislation and set out the next steps.
The Commission will also list a wide range of further regulatory fitness actions which are being implemented or which are proposed to the Council and the European Parliament.
This exercise is part of the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT). It is about taking away unnecessary administrative burdens and keeping national implementation as light as possible. This will benefit citizens and businesses alike, provided that also the other institutions and Member States show a similar level of ambition.
REFIT, launched in December 2012, is essential to put Europe back on track to more growth and jobs. It is the Commission's commitment to a simple, clear, stable and predictable regulatory framework for businesses, workers and citizens.
Regulating at EU level adds value in areas such as competition, trade and the internal market to build a level playing field that creates opportunities for business and consumers. It also protects the health and safety of citizens, consumers and workers. EU legislation creates a common framework by replacing twenty eight different national laws by one EU law. It allows the EU Member States to work together to deal with problems that do not respect national borders. At the same time, EU regulation is often accused of applying too many requirements stifling businesses, especially the smallest ones. In response to that concern, the Commission has made a concerted effort over the past years to streamline legislation and reduce regulatory burdens.
Recent press material on smart regulation:
President Barroso and Edmund Stoiber call on Member States to step up efforts to cut red tape for SMEs and improve the efficiency of their public administrations: IP/13/836
Commission initiatives to cut red tape and reduce regulatory burdens – Questions and Answers: MEMO/13/786
Smart regulation website: http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation
Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70 email@example.com
Jens Mester +32 2 296 39 73 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 16 October: Commission proposes standard VAT declaration for 20 million European companies
In October, the European Commission will propose a standard VAT return form for businesses. Every year 150 million VAT returns are submitted to EU tax administrations. However, the reporting obligations vary in all 28 Member States making it very difficult for companies that do business in more than one Member State to comply with so many different rules. The Commission's proposal to standardize VAT reporting obligations across all 28 EU Member States will lift one of the biggest obstacles for companies to expand their business opportunities in the single market, especially small European businesses.
On 6 December 2011, the European Commission set out a strategy for the future of VAT in Europe (see IP/11/1508). It sets out a number of actions to create a simpler, more efficient and more robust VAT system in the EU tailored to the single market, including a standard VAT reform. Today's proposal also responds to SME's indications that VAT rules are one of the top ten difficulties and costs they face when setting up business and expanding across borders within Europe (see IP/13/388).
Algirdas Šemeta, Commission for Taxation, will present this proposal at the midday briefing in the Commission's press room (to be confirmed). Press materials will be available on the day.
Information on Commissioner Šemeta:
Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48 email@example.com
Natasja Bohez-Rubiano +32 2 296 64 70 natasja.bohez-Rubiano@ec.europa.eu