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Brussels, Thursday 31 October 2013
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Monday 4 November: Commission will propose new measures to reduce use of plastic bags 2
Tuesday 5 November: Autumn European Economic Forecast 4
Tuesday 5 November: Commission tackles government interventions in electricity markets 5
Wednesday 13 November: Commission adopts a new Communication on state aid for cinema 6
Wednesday 20 November : The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 7
November: European Semester 2014 - Commission publishes annual economic priorities for the EU and views on euro area draft budgets 8
Monday 4 November: Commission will propose new measures to reduce use of plastic bags
The European Commission will put forward on 4 November a proposal that aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags. Through an amendment of Directive 94/62/EC on packaging or packaging waste, Member States will have the flexibility to choose between a number of measures, including charges, national reduction targets and a ban.
In 2010, an estimated 98.6 billion plastic carrier bags were placed on the EU market, which amounts to every EU citizen using 198 plastic carrier bags per year. Out of these almost 100 billion bags, the vast majority are lightweight bags, which are less frequently re-used than thicker ones. Consumption figures vary greatly between Member States, with annual use per capita of lightweight plastic carrier bags ranging between an estimated 4 bags in Denmark and Finland and 466 bags in Poland, Portugal and Slovakia. The low weight and small size of plastic bags means they often escape waste management and end up in the marine environment, where their eventual decay can take hundreds of years.
Some Member States have already taken action to reduce the use of plastic carrier bags through pricing measures, agreements with the retail sector and bans on certain types of bags, but no specific measures exist at the EU level. In March 2011 EU environment ministers discussed the environmental impact of plastic carrier bags and the concerns they raised indicated that effective EU action is needed.
The proposal builds on feedback from stakeholders gathered during a public consultation in summer 2011.
The longevity of plastic bags means that there are now some 250 billion plastic particles with a combined weight of 500 tonnes floating in the Mediterranean Sea alone. These particles can cause suffocation in sea creatures that ingest them accidentally or mistake them for food. Plastics break into tiny particles, and have a high potential for contaminating soil and waterways as they may contain additives such as persistent organic pollutants.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik will give a press conference on 4 November at 12:30 and there will be a press release and a MEMO, as well as a Video News Release (VNR).
More details about Directive 94/62/EC on packaging or packaging waste:
Commissioner Potočnik's website:
Joseph Hennon +32 2 295 35 93 firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Westerén +32 2 299 18 30 email@example.com
Tuesday 5 November: Autumn European Economic Forecast
On 5 November, the European Commission will publish its annual autumn economic forecast covering the period 2013-2015. The forecast will include data on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, employment and public budget deficits and debt, amongst others. These forecasts focus on all 28 EU Member States, plus the candidate countries Turkey, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as other non-EU countries such as USA, Japan, China and Russia.
The European Commission produces macroeconomic forecasts three times year: in the spring, autumn and winter. They serve as a basis for various fiscal and macroeconomic surveillance procedures, such as in the context of the European Semester.
The autumn forecast will provide a clearer picture of Member States' compliance with the Council of Ministers' Recommendations both under the Stability and Growth Pact and the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure. In this context, the forecasts will feed into the Commission's fiscal, budgetary and macroeconomic assessments due mid-November.
Press Conference at 10:30 with Vice-President Rehn in the Berlaymont Press Room in Brussels. Press release with a link to the report will be available on the day.
Spring European Economic Forecast (published 3 May 2013): IP/13/396
European Commission websites:
Simon O'Connor + 32 2 296 7359 firstname.lastname@example.org
Vandna Kalia + 32 2 299 5824 email@example.com
Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 1607 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 5 November: Commission tackles government interventions in electricity markets
The European Commission plans to adopt a Communication on public interventions in the electricity market. The Communication provides guidance to Member States on how to make the most of public interventions, how to effectively design new and how to reform existing ones, especially support schemes for renewable energy and how to guard against the risk of unnecessary market distortions.
The EU has set itself ambitious climate and energy targets. By 2020 it should achieve a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% share of renewables and a 20% saving in primary energy use. Furthermore, by 2050 the EU's greenhouse gas emissions should be cut by 80-95%. This will be achieved by higher shares of renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements and better and smarter energy infrastructure.
As the internal energy market is a precondition to materialise all these goals the Heads of State or Governments have set a clear deadline to establish a genuine European internal energy market by 2014.
Tuesday 5 November 2013 in the BERL press room:
9:30 Technical Briefing off the record
15:00 Press Conference with EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger
An IP and a MEMO will be available.
For more information on the internal energy market:
Marlene Holzner: +32 2 296 01 96 Marlene.Holzner@ec.europa.eu
Nicole Bockstaller: +32 2 295 25 89 Nicole.Bockstaller@ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 13 November: Commission adopts a new Communication on state aid for cinema
On 13 November, the European Commission will adopt a new Communication on state aid for films and other audiovisual works.
The Communication contains detailed criteria which define how Member States may financially support the production and distribution of films in line with EU state aid rules. It replaces the criteria which have been applied since 2001 and amends them.
The aim of the Communication is to encourage creation and cultural diversity everywhere in the European Union and to set the conditions for a successful European audiovisual sector, where cross-border productions can be set up easily.
EU Member States provide an estimated €3 billion per year in film support: €2 billion in grants and soft loans, as well as €1 billion in tax incentives. Around 80% of this is for film production.
Financial support is important to ensure a continued and meaningful European film production. In 2001, the Commission published for the first time rules on the application of the state aid rules to aid for film production (the "Cinema Communication"). These rules expired at the end of 2012.
Therefore, the Commission started a review process in 2011, which led to three public consultations of Member States and stakeholders.
Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission in charge of competition policy, will present the new Cinema Communication at 12:30 CET in the Commission's press room.
A press release and Memo will be available on the day.
Vice-President Almunia's website:
Maria Madrid Pina +32 2 295 45 30
Wednesday 20 November : The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package
On Wednesday 20 November 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.
November: European Semester 2014 - Commission publishes annual economic priorities for the EU and views on euro area draft budgets
In mid-November (date to be confirmed), the European Commission will publish a number of important documents to kick off the fourth European Semester, the EU's economic policy-making calendar:
The European Semester was introduced in 2010 to help member states work towards the same goals, as set out in the EU's long-term growth strategy, Europe 2020. The Semester sets out a clear timetable for budgetary and economic policy-making, ensuring that member states talk to each other before adopting reforms that could have impacts on their neighbours.
Europe 2020 website
Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70 Pia.Ahrenkilde-Hansen@ec.europa.eu
Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76 Sarah.Collins@ec.europa.eu