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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 18 October 2013

Top News from the European Commission
19 October – 15 November 2013

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

Monday 21 October: Time for stronger EU action against gun violence 2

Tuesday 22 October: The Commission work programme 2014 4

Tuesday 22 October: The Taskforce for Greece 5th Activity Report 5

Wednesday 23 October: Commission proposes standard VAT declaration for 20 million European companies 6

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 make a statement at the start of the Midday Briefing.

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

Tuesday 22 October: The Taskforce for Greece 5th Activity Report

The news:

On 22 October, the Commission's Task Force for Greece (TFGR) will present its fifth Activity Report on technical assistance for Greece. The report describes the assistance provided by the Task Force, Member States, international organisations and other specialist bodies in a spirit of solidarity to support Greece in implementing a comprehensive programme of reforms. The assistance provided by the Taskforce builds on the commitment of the Greek authorities to implement the reforms necessary to support growth and job creation, as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding.

Since the last report six months ago, the Greek authorities have made greater use of technical assistance to support a wider range of reforms covering the following areas: (1) acceleration of cohesion policy projects; (2) access to finance/financial sector; (3) reform of the public administration; (4) budget and taxation; (5) anti-money laundering and anti-corruption; (6) business environment; (7) public health; (8) reform of the judicial system; (9) labour market and social security; (10) migration, asylum and borders; (11) enhancing the regulatory framework for transport and utilities and completion of the land registry to facilitate privatisation; (12) energy, transport and environment.

The background:

The Task Force for Greece was launched in July 2011 with the mandate to identify and coordinate the technical assistance that Greece has requested in order to deliver commitments undertaken in its economic adjustment programme. It also works to accelerate the absorption of EU funds in order to sustain economic growth, competitiveness and employment.

This initiative was supported by the European Council on 21 July 2011, which stated that "…Member States and the Commission will immediately mobilise all resources necessary in order to provide exceptional technical assistance to help Greece implement its reforms…"

The Task Force consists of around 60 staff and is based jointly in Brussels and Athens.

It reports to President Barroso and works under the political guidance of Vice-President Olli Rehn. The Head of the Task Force, Horst Reichenbach, reports regularly on progress to the Greek authorities and to the Commission.

The event:

Mr Horst Reichenbach, the Head of the Task Force for Greece, will present the main findings of the report at an off-the-record technical briefing taking place in the Commission's Representation in Athens and will be transmitted via videolink in the Berlaymont press room on 22 October, 10.30hrs (Brussels time).

A press release and memo will be available on the day, as well as the report itself.

The sources:

The contacts:

Simon O´Connor +32 2 296 73 59 simon.o'

Pia Seppälä +32 2 299 24 88

Vandna Kalia +32 2 299 58 24

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 1607

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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