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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 8 November 2013

Top News from the European Commission
9 November – 6 December 2013

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

Monday 11 November: 4th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region launches review of governance 2

13-15 November 2013: First EU-Myanmar Task Force meeting in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw 4

Thursday 14 November: Commission adopts a new Communication on state aid for cinema 5

Wednesday 20 November: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 6

Tuesday to Wednesday 26 – 27 November: European Development Days - Building a new vision on development post-2015 7

European Semester 2014 - Commission publishes annual economic priorities for the EU and views on euro area draft budgets 9

Monday 11 November: 4th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region launches review of governance

The news:

Representatives of the eight countries making up the Baltic Sea Region, which is the first EU "macro region", will gather in Vilnius on 11 November to hold their 4th Annual Forum. Co-hosted by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, the participants will discuss how the environmental challenges faced by Baltic Sea Region, one of the world's environmentally most sensitive maritime regions, can be turned into opportunities for economic growth. This year's Annual Forum comes after the recent endorsement by Member States of the European Commission's evaluation report which stresses the added value of macro-regional strategies. The forum will also launch a review on governance and cooperation in the Baltic Sea Strategy in view of the forthcoming EU programming period.

The background:

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, approved by the European Council in 2009, provides an integrated framework to find common solutions for the specific challenges of the region. Eight countries (Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland) have joined forces to work together to tackle the challenges.

The debate also comes at a crucial stage of the negotiations for the future programmes 2014-2020. "The Baltic Strategy is the first of Europe's macro-regional strategies. It has pioneered a unique kind of co-operation to tackle common challenges that cannot be effectively dealt with at national and local level alone. By taking more leadership to steer the strategy, the countries and regions involved will ensure even more results in the future to the benefit of the citizens in the region".

The fourth Annual Forum is hosted jointly by the European Commission, the Lithuanian Presidency in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and INTERACT Point Turku. It brings together over 600 people from all the countries around the Baltic Sea, covering the governmental sector, business, civil society and regional organisations.

The event:

Monday 11 November

9.00 – 13.30 am: Fourth Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

12.30 p.m.: Key Note Speeches (Commissioner Johannes Hahn, President Dalia Grybauskaite, Danuta Hübner, Chair of EP Committee on Regional Development)

Workshops at the event cover such themes as: green and blue growth in the Baltic Sea region, increased use of renewables, sustainable agriculture and clean and safe shipping.

13.30 p.m.: Press Conference

A press release (IP) will be published on Monday, 11 November, via RAPID

The sources:

European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region:

4th Annual Forum of the EUSBSR – programme & webstreaming:

Evaluation Report concerning the added value of macro-regional strategies:

Twitter: @EU_Regional @JHahnEU #EUSDR #Danube

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65 mobile: +32460766565

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10 mobile: +32460793310

13-15 November 2013: First EU-Myanmar Task Force meeting in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw

The news:

The first EU-Myanmar Task Force will take place in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, 13-15 November 2013. Its purpose is to provide comprehensive support to the transition in Myanmar/Burma by bringing together all of the tools and mechanisms – both political and economic (development aid, peace process support, investments) – available to the EU.

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton will co-chair the Task Force alongside U Soe Thane, Minister in the President of Myanmar’s Office.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani (Industry and Entrepreneurship) and European Commissioners Andris Piebalgs (Development and Cooperation) and Dacian Cioloş (Agriculture and Rural Development) will also participate in the Task Force. The Commission will be accompanied by a delegation of 100 enterprises and businesses associations to boost business cooperation EU-Myanmar.

The background:

The Task Force was announced in a joint statement by President Van Rompuy, President Barroso and President U Thein Sein, during the visit of President U Thein Sein to Brussels in March, 2013. Since then, the EU has lifted its all its sanctions with the exception of the arms embargo, re-opened trade benefits under the General System of Preferences and adopted a Comprehensive Framework on EU policies and support to Myanmar/Burma.

The event:

The meeting takes place over two days. A press conference with the Co-Chairs will follow the end of the Task Force 15 November in Nay Pyi Taw.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

EU-Myanmar relations:

Press materials will be available via RAPID next week.

The contacts:

(HRVP Ashton) +32 498 984 425 +32 460 753 293

(VP Tajani) +32 498 992 862

(Commissioner Cioloş) +32 498 961 404

(Commissioner Piebalgs) +32460790 677

Thursday 14 November: Commission adopts a new Communication on state aid for cinema

The news:

On 14 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.

The background:

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.

The event:

Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission in charge of competition policy, will present the new Cinema Communication at 11:30 CET in the Commission's press room.

  1. Available on EbS

A press release and Memo will be available on the day.

The sources:

Competition website:

Vice-President Almunia's website:

The contacts:

Antoine Colombani +32 2 297 45 13, Twitter: @ECspokesAntoine

Maria Madrid Pina +32 2 295 45 30

Wednesday 20 November: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

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.

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.

Tuesday to Wednesday 26 – 27 November: European Development Days - Building a new vision on development post-2015

The news:

This year's European Development Days (EDD13) will focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and on the global framework which will succeed them by 2015. High level speakers, representatives from civil society, private sector and academia from all continents will come together to debate the content of the next agenda which should address global poverty and sustainable development. The topic is very timely as 2015 (the MDGs target date) is fast approaching. Remarkable progress has been achieved in the fight against poverty thanks to the MDGs, but a lot remains to be done. Discussions on the post-2015 development agenda have started and negotiations will take place next year at the United Nations level. EDD13 will provide a unique opportunity to come together to contribute to the EU vision for development until and beyond 2015. During the event, new survey on EU citizens' view on Development aid will also be announced.

The background:

The European Development Days, organised by the European Commission, will bring together many of the relevant actors in the field. This year's high-level event will host among others, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of Liberia; Joyce Banda, President of Malawi; or Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. The European Commission will be represented by President Barroso, President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, Vice President Catherine Ashton, Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs as well as other EU Commissioners. Updated list of VIP confirmations available here.

The event:

EDD13 will take place in Brussels (Tour & Taxi) on 26 – 27 November

Full programme with many panels, side events and special addresses:

Press conference – 26 November (exact time TBC) – with participation of Commissioner Piebalgs

Registration for journalists only – please send an email with your contact details to

Webstreaming will be available on European Development Days' website

The sources:

Website of the European Development Days:

During the event, a wide range of facilities and services will be available to journalists. You can find out more at:

The contacts:

Alexandre Polack +32 (0) 2 299 06 77

Maria Sanchez Aponte+32 (0) 2 298 10 35

European Semester 2014 - Commission publishes annual economic priorities for the EU and views on euro area draft budgets

The news:

Next week, 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 Annual Growth Survey will set out general economic and social priorities for the EU for the coming year. The AGS is a roadmap for member states to follow when drawing up future budgets and reform plans, and sets the scene for the specific recommendations the Commission makes to member states each spring.

  • The Alert Mechanism Report will screen all 28 EU economies for potential economic risks, providing an early warning on imbalances such as housing booms or banking crises. It indicates which countries warrant an in-depth review of their economies.

  • This year marks the first time the Commission will publish its opinions on euro area countries' draft budget plans for 2014. This is a feature of new economic governance rules (known as the Two Pack), which came into force in May 2013 and which allow for closer coordination of euro area budgets and economic policies.

  • There will also be reports on action taken by certain member states under the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP), as well as Commission opinions on the "economic partnership programmes" submitted by euro area member states under the EDP. Also a novelty of the new economic governance system, the programmes set out structural reforms to be undertaken to correct the deficit in a lasting way.

  • Finally, the Commission will release its annual draft Joint Employment Report, which will provide an overview of labour market and social trends and reforms, and a report on the functioning of the Single Market.

The events

  • 13 November (2pm TBC): Press conference with President Barroso, Vice-President Rehn and Commissioner Andor on the Annual Growth Survey, Alert Mechanism Report and the employment and single market reports

  • 15 November (11am TBC): Press conference with Vice-President Rehn on budgetary surveillance announcements (opinions on draft budget plans, assessments of effective action to correct excessive deficits and economic partnership programmes)

  • Press conferences will take place in the Berlaymont press room. Press releases and other documents will be available outside the press room and online.

The background:

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.

The sources:

Europe 2020 website

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70

Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76

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

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

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