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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 27 September 2013

Top News from the European Commission
28 September – 25 October 2013

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

Wednesday 2 October: Making EU law fit for purpose: results and next steps in smart regulation 2

Wednesday 2 October: European Commission to adopt communication on evaluating national regulations on access to professions 4

Wednesday 2 October: Commission puts forward initiatives to strengthen the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union 5

Tuesday 8 October: The Commission presents together with the OECD results of the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) 6

Thursday 17 October: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 8

Wednesday 23 October: Commission proposes standard VAT declaration for 20 million European companies 9

Wednesday 2 October: Making EU law fit for purpose: results and next steps in smart regulation

The news:

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.

The background:

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.

The event:

An off-the-record technical briefing will be held on 2 October.

The sources:

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

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

Jens Mester +32 2 296 39 73 jens.mester@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 2 October: European Commission to adopt communication on evaluating national regulations on access to professions

The news:

On Wednesday 2 October, the European Commission will adopt a Communication on evaluating national regulations on access to professions. The aims of this initiative are to underline the potential for further integration of professional services in the single market; to highlight the opportunities for mobility of professionals; and to provide a full picture of the remaining barriers affecting the access to and exercise of regulated professions.

The Communication will set out an action plan for carrying out a mapping and mutual evaluation exercise of regulated professions. Member States supported such a review under the revised Professional Qualifications Directive which is due to be formally adopted before the end of the year (see MEMO/13/552). The mutual evaluation will cover the restrictions linked to the access to regulated professions (qualifications requirements and the activities reserved to the holders of the required qualifications).

In order to provide a complete picture of the remaining barriers, a report on the findings of a peer review of the legal form, shareholding and tariff requirements which Member States impose on professional services, conducted under the Services Directive, will be published in parallel.

The background:

Professional services represent about 9% of the Union’s GDP but the competitiveness of the sector appears to be restricted by significant barriers imposed on the access to and exercise of professional activities. High and outdated entry requirements may for instance limit employment in the economic sectors concerned, while restrictions on legal forms and shareholding may hamper the setting up of subsidiaries or the creation of multi-disciplinary practices.

The event:

An off-the-record technical briefing will be held on October 2.

Press release and memo will be available on the day.

The sources:

Workshop - “Regulating access to professions: national perspectives”: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/conferences/2013/0617-access-professions/index_en.htm

Services package (June 2012) – Implementation report : http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/services-dir/implementation/implementation_report/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 2 64 450 chantal.hughes@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

Wednesday 2 October: Commission puts forward initiatives to strengthen the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union

The news:

On 2 October, the European Commission is due to adopt a Communication on the social dimension of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The Communication will be a further contribution from the Commission to the debate on deeper integration within the EMU, and will suggest ways to reinforce existing rules on economic governance to better anticipate and address employment and social policy challenges. This could include, for example:

• reinforced surveillance of employment and social challenges and strengthened policy coordination;

• enhanced solidarity and reinforced action for employment and labour mobility;

• stronger social dialogue

The background:

The Communication follows the Commission's November 2012 Blueprint for a deep and genuine economic and monetary union (see IP/12/1272) and responds to the request of the 13/14 December 2012 European Council to present possible measures on the social dimension of the EMU, including social dialogue.

The rationale for the Communication is that it is in the collective interests of a monetary union to ensure that reforms to boost jobs, improve competitiveness and address social challenges are properly implemented in all Member States. While the overall social agenda remains at the EU level, there is scope to strengthen the social dimension within the euro area by better coordinating and monitoring employment and social policies, mobilising and prioritising measures and funds to combat social distress, removing barriers to job mobility and strengthening the role of the social partners.

The sources:

President Barroso's website:

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

Commissioner Andor's website:

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

Commissioner Rehn's website:

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

Press details will be announced at a later date. Press material will be available on 2 October.

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 25 30 70 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76 sarah.collins@ec.europa.eu

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 jonathan.todd@ec.europa.eu

Simon O'Connor +32 2 296 73 59 simon.o'connor@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 8 October: The Commission presents together with the OECD results of the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC)

The news:

On 8 October the Commission will release jointly with the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the results of the Survey of Adult Skills.

The Survey will for the first time provide comparable data on literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills for the adult population in 24 countries. The results highlight striking differences in skills levels between countries.

The findings confirm that a high proportion of the European workforce has a low level of skills, which is likely to present major challenges for European countries as the labour market demand for skills increases in the future. Furthermore the results suggest that many European adults cannot use ICT effectively.

The survey results are expected to become a landmark for assessing adult skills, just as the well-known PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) for 15 years old pupils.

The background:

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), administrated by the OECD, assesses literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills of the participating countries' population in the age group 16-65. The first survey (2008-2013) covered 24 countries, including 17 EU countries.

The Survey of Adult Skills is the result of a close cooperation between the OECD, the European Commission and participating countries.

The event:

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, together with Angel Gurría, the Secretary-General of the OECD, will present the main findings of the Survey and elaborate on their importance for education and training policies in Europe. Press releases, country notes, reports and executive summaries will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on the Survey of Adult Skills:

http://www.oecd.org/site/piaac/surveyofadultskills.htm

The European Commission’s website on education and training:

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

Commissioner Vassiliou’s webpage:

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

Information on Secretary-General Gurría:

http://www.oecd.org/about/secretary-general/

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58 dennis.abbott@ec.europa.eu

Dina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67 dina.avraam@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 17 October: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

On Thursday 17 October 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 olivier.bailly@ec.europa.eu

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 jonathan.todd@ec.europa.eu

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

Wednesday 23 October: Commission proposes standard VAT declaration for 20 million European companies

The news:

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.

The background:

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).

The event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Commissioner Šemeta:

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

The contacts:

Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48 emer.traynor@ec.europa.eu

Natasja Bohez-Rubiano +32 2 296 64 70 natasja.bohez-Rubiano@ec.europa.eu


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