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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 11 October 2013

Top News from the European Commission
12 October – 8 November 2013

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

Monday 14 October: Commission adopts list of "projects of common interest" in energy infrastructure 2

Monday 14 October: Technical briefing - Cohesion Policy Reform talks move close to deal that is vital for EU Budget approval 4

Wednesday 16 October: The European Commission adopts the 2013 Enlargement Package 6

Thursday 17 October: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 7

Monday 21 October: Time for stronger EU action against gun violence 8

Tuesday 22 October: The Commission work programme 2014 10

Wednesday 23 October: Commission proposes standard VAT declaration for 20 million European companies 11

Monday 14 October: Commission adopts list of "projects of common interest" in energy infrastructure

The news:

The European Commission will adopt the final EU-wide list of energy infrastructure priority projects till 2020. These projects will carry the label of "common interest", have a strong cross-border component and benefit from accelerated planning and permit granting of maximum 4 years by a single national competent authority.

In addition, they will be eligible for EU funding, be it grants, project bonds or guarantees. Under the "Connecting Europe Facility" (CEF) a €5.8 billion has been earmarked for energy infrastructure in the period 2014-2020. All this will make these projects attractive to investors.

Apart from numerous projects in the fields of electricity, the adopted list will also contain projects in the fields of transmission, storage and liquefying of natural gas, smart grid projects and oil projects.

The background:

If we want to meet our energy targets, it is of vital importance to develop a modern and integrated energy infrastructure. To mobilise the necessary investment for this improved energy infrastructure, the Regulation on the Guidelines for a trans-European energy infrastructure network (TEN-E Guidelines), introduced the idea of projects of common interest.

These projects are aimed at increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy mix, decreasing our energy consumption, diversifying our sources and securing our energy supply. Further, they will help establish a competitive internal market and ensure fair and competitive energy prices across the EU.

After transmission system operators and project promoters had submitted information on their proposed projects, these were examined by stakeholders, national regulatory authorities and the Agency of Energy Regulators (ACER) and finally approved and added to the list by the European Commission's ad-hoc working groups.

The event:

Monday 14 October 2013 in the BERL press room:

10:00-11:00 Technical briefing off the record

12:30-13:30 Press Conference EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger

An IP and a MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

For more information on the list of projects of common interest:

  1. I-072796 EU Energy (part 1) – 2012

  2. I-074166 EU Energy (part 2) – 2012

  3. I-074167 EU Energy (part 3) - 2012

The contacts:

Marlene Holzner +32 2 296 01 96

Nicole Bockstaller +32 2 295 25 89

Monday 14 October: Technical briefing - Cohesion Policy Reform talks move close to deal that is vital for EU Budget approval

The news:

Monday evening will see another set of "trilogue" talks on the final details of reform to the EU's Cohesion Policy. With most elements now in place, the end of the negotiations is in sight. Agreement is vital. The reforms transform the policy into an investment tool for the EU to carry out many of its key aims - creating jobs and growth, tackling climate change and breaking energy dependence. The package also includes common rules for all the EU investment funds and without a deal, approval of the EU budget 2014-20 cannot go ahead.

The background:

The reforms proposed by the European Commission are now being negotiated by Members of the European Parliament and Member State representatives with the Lithuanian Presidency in the chair. They are radical reform in setting down new rules to focus what will be nearly 400 million euros of investments in 2014-20 on key growth areas of the economy: research and innovation, SMES, low carbon economy and the digital agenda. The reforms also shift investments away from areas like road infrastructure and instead towards economic activities that create lasting jobs and sustainable growth. As trilogue talks resume on Monday evening the hope is still for a plenary vote in Strasbourg to seal a deal.

The event:

A technical briefing on the Cohesion Policy Reform talks: 15.00 to 15.45 Monday 14 October, BERL Pressroom.

This is for accredited journalists on the state of play of the talks, the key elements of reform on the table, the sticking points and the link to the EU budget approval process. The briefing will be given by members of Commissioner Hahn's cabinet and DG Regio.

The sources:

EU Cohesion Policy Reform: in 10 points:


Q&A on the legislative package for EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 (July 2013):

Cohesion Policy 2014-2020:

Commissioner Hahn's website:

Twitter @EU_Regional @JHahnEU

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10

Wednesday 16 October: The European Commission adopts the 2013 Enlargement Package

The news:

On 16 October, the 2013 Enlargement Package will be on the agenda of the Commission meeting. It will comprise a Strategy Paper and eight Progress Reports on the candidate countries and potential candidates.

The background:

Every autumn the Commission adopts an annual strategy document explaining its policy on EU enlargement. The document includes also a summary of the progress made over the last twelve months by each candidate and potential candidate.

The current enlargement agenda covers the Western Balkans and Turkey, with negotiations with Iceland put on hold by the Icelandic government.

The event:

14:30 Press Conference by Commissioner Füle

  1. Available on EbS

IP, 8 MEMOs, 8 Reports, a Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: ''Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2013-2014''.

The sources:

Website of DG:

Website of Commissioner Füle:

The contacts:

Peter Stano +32 2 295 74 84

Anca Paduraru +32 2 296 64 30

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:

The sources:

For more information on infringements:

On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12

The contacts:

Overall coordination:

Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

Monday 21 October: Time for stronger EU action against gun violence

The news:

On 21 October 2013, the European Commission will present a communication containing suggestions on how to reduce gun violence in Europe. It will identify actions at EU level, through legislation, operational activities, training and EU funding, to address the threats posed by the illegal use of firearms.

The Commission has identified four priorities under which several concrete actions are considered:

Increasing pressure on criminal markets;

Safeguarding the licit market for civilian firearms;

Reducing diversion of firearms into criminal hands;

Building better intelligence.

The actions put forward in the communication will facilitate both legal trade in the internal market and law enforcement cooperation in identifying and disrupting organised criminal groups.

The background:

Over the last decade, the EU has taken a number of steps to address the security threat that firearms pose to the internal security of the EU. However, considerable divergences still remain in the national application of rules on firearms, making it easier for organised crime groups and those involved in terrorist activity to exploit legal gaps.

This communication responds to the call by the European Parliament for more action to identify and address vulnerabilities in the lifecycle of firearms, to safeguard lawful production, sale and possession of firearms, to disrupt criminal supply chains and to deter illicit use. It complements the EU’s actions in other key security areas, including the fight against organised crime and terrorism, and the EU’s 2005 strategy on illicit accumulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition.

The event:

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

Commissioner Malmström will give a press conference on the day.

Experts from DG HOME will give a technical briefing off the record.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

The contacts:

Michele Cercone +32 229-80963

Tove Ernst +32 229-86764

Tuesday 22 October: The Commission work programme 2014

The news:

On 22 October, the European Commission will adopt its work programme for 2014. The Work Programme for 2014 will set out the key new initiatives for 2014 and will also highlight the priority items for adoption by the legislator before the European Parliament elections in May 2014.

The background:

The process was initiated on 11 September with President Barroso’s State of the Union address and the letter he sent to the President of the European Parliament. This has been followed by exchanges of views between the European Commission and the European Parliament on the priorities of the Union and how these should translate into concrete action, including through a meeting with the Conference of Presidents.

The event:

President Barroso will present the European Commission Work Programme 2014 during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

IP and Work programme will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Commission adopts 2013 Work Programme:

Commission adopts 2012 Work Programme for European Renewal:

Commission adopts strategic priorities for 2011:

Commission adopts strategic priorities for 2010:

European Commission's website:

Website of President Barroso:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 3070

Mark Gray +32 2 298 8644

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:

The contacts:

Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48

Franck Arrii: +32 2 297 22 21

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