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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 25 January 2013

Top News from the European Commission
26 January – 22 February 2013

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

Tuesday 29 January: EU Commission sharpens tools to counter violent extremism 2

Wednesday 30 January: European Retail Action Plan and Green Paper on unfair trading practices in the retail supply chain 4

Wednesday 30 January: Progress report under the cooperation and verification mechanism for Romania 5

Thursday 31 January: EU drug market - new strategic analysis of ‘one of the most complex and invasive criminal phenomena of our times’ 6

Thursday 31 January: RegioStars Awards 8

Thursday 31 January: EU Peace Event 9

Thursday 31 January: Recommendations on private copying levies 11

Tuesday 5 February (date to be confirmed): Commission will propose changes to Anti-money laundering and fund transfer legislation 12

Tuesday 5 February (date to be confirmed): Adoption of a joint Communication by the High Representative and the European Commission on Cyber Security Strategy 13

Tuesday 5 February (date to be confirmed): Commission to propose Directive reinforcing the protection of the euro and other currencies against counterfeiting by criminal law 15

Tuesday 29 January: EU Commission sharpens tools to counter violent extremism

The news:

On 29 January a High Level Conference attended by Ministers and experts will discuss the findings and policy recommendations presented by the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN). The RAN gathers field workers, researchers, teachers, community leaders, religious and youth leaders who are working all over Europe to try to identify and help individuals who risk becoming radicalized and committing violent acts. Policy proposals include training local police to detect signs of radicalisation towards violent extremism; arrange de-radicalisation or exit programs for convicted extremists; help victims of terrorism sharing their stories as a power tool for prevention; engage former extremists to deconstruct violent extremist narrative and use resources from public-relations companies and film industry to support local actors in developing counter-narratives and help promote effective alternative messages online.

The working papers and the discussion papers for the High Level Conference are already available.

The High Level Conference will take place in Palais d'Egmont, Brussels. Media attendance is possible but strictly conditioned to registration. Attendance has been confirmed by Ministers from Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Norway and Sweden.

The background:

Recognizing that radicalisation can be best contained at a level closest to the vulnerable individuals in the most affected communities, the Commission launched in September 2011 the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network – RAN (IP/11/1011). The RAN supports first-line local practitioners involved in countering violent extremism across the EU and facilitates the exchange of experiences and best practices amongst them. Preventing and addressing radicalisation are amongst the key objectives set in the Communication on the Internal Security Strategy adopted in 2010 (IP/10/1535 and MEMO/10/598).

The event:

On 28 January Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs, will illustrate the issue in the press room at 12.00.

IP and MEMO will be available on 28 January.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/welcome/default_en.htm

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Michele Cercone +32 229-80963 Michele.Cercone@ec.europa.eu

Tove Ernst +32 229-86764 Tove.Ernst@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 30 January: European Retail Action Plan and Green Paper on unfair trading practices in the retail supply chain

The news:

On 30 January the European Commission will adopt a European Retail Action Plan, setting out a strategy to improve the competitiveness of the retail sector and enhance the sector's economic, environmental and social performance.

One of the initiatives in the Action Plan is a Green Paper on unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food and non-food supply chain to be presented on the same day.

The background:

Retailers play an important role in bringing the Single Market to EU consumers and in stimulating growth and job creation. However barriers remain that hamper the creation of an efficient and competitive Single Market in Retail. These were identified in the Commission's Retail Market Monitoring Report (see IP/10/885) and the European Parliament's Report "Towards a more efficient and fair retail sector" and in workshops organised by the Commission with representatives of the main stakeholders in the retail supply chain during the preparation of the Action Plan.

The Green Paper on unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food and non-food supply chain will help the Commission to assess the extent of the problems, the efficiency of national legal or self-regulatory systems and the impact of diverging national rules on the functioning of the Single Market. It will acknowledge the progress made by the B2B (Business-to-business) Platform of the High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain and consult on a number of principles of good practice aimed at combating unfair trading practices. On the basis of the replies to the consultation, the Commission will decide on the next steps to be taken.

The event:

Technical briefing (details to be announced).

Press release and MEMO available on the day.

The sources:

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/retail/index_en.htm

Commissioner Barnier's website:

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

The contacts:

Stefaan De Rynck +32 2 296 34 21 Stefaan.De-Rynck@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 30 January: Progress report under the cooperation and verification mechanism for Romania

The news:

The Commission is to make recommendations to Romania for further action to guarantee the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.

The background:

In July 2012, the Commission reported on Romania's progress since 2007 under the co-operation and verification mechanism (CVM). At the time the Commission made 10 specific recommendations to help resolve the controversies in the country on the rule of law and independence of the judiciary. The Commission will review the progress made over the last six months and make further recommendations.

The event:

IP and Report will be available on the day.

Technical briefing on-the-record in the Berlaymont press room (time to be confirmed).

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission's website on the cooperation and verification mechanism for Romania:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/secretariat_general/cvm/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde +32 2 295 3070 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

Mark Gray +32 2 298 8644 mark-stephen.gray@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 31 January: EU drug market - new strategic analysis of ‘one of the most complex and invasive criminal phenomena of our times’

The news:

Presentation of first joint EU drug markets report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Europol. The analysis offered by the report is unique, combining insights from the EMCDDA’s monitoring and data analysis of Europe’s drug phenomenon in the global context with Europol’s operational understanding of trends in organised crime.

In the report, they describe a market which is increasingly dynamic, innovative and quick to react to challenges and one which requires an equally dynamic, innovative and agile response across Europe. The report unveils the ‘changing face of organised crime in Europe’: while, historically, the EU drug market has focused on specific drugs trafficked by specialised operators along well-defined routes, the contemporary market is more ‘fluid’, with new routes and multi-substance consignments becoming more common.

Also detailed in the report is Europe’s role as a key global source of the precursor chemical used to manufacture heroin and as an important player in the packaging, marketing and promotion of products containing new psychoactive substances. According to its findings, globalisation is an important driver of developments, with more countries now used as transit, storage or production points. Furthermore, the Internet is having a profound impact, both as communication tool and online marketplace.

The background:

The EU dug market report is the result of cooperation between Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). For the first time, it provides to the law enforcement community, policymakers, the academic sphere and public at large a comprehensive picture of all illegal drug markets at EU level.

The event:

Joint press conference in the Berlaymont pressroom with EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, Europol Director Rob Wainwright and Wolfgang Götz, Director of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (time to be confirmed).

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/welcome/default_en.htm

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/index_en.htm

The report will be available at:

www.emcdda.europa.eu/events/2013/drug-markets

EMCDDA: www.emcdda.europa.eu

Europol: www.europol.europa.eu

The contacts:

Michele Cercone +32 229-80963 Michele.Cercone@ec.europa.eu

Tove Ernst +32 229-86764 Tove.Ernst@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 31 January: RegioStars Awards

The news:

On 31 January the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will present the 2013 RegioStars Awards to Europe's flagship forward- looking projects. The annual Awards - running for 6 consecutive years now, recognizes best practice in regional development and the best use being made of EU co-investment to boost innovation and create economic growth. The finalists chosen are original, pioneering projects, supported by EU Structural Funds.

The background:

In the current round of Awards, the European Commission received a record 149 applications. 27 were chosen as finalists and given the chance to present their projects in Brussels at OPEN DAYS – the European Week of Regions and Cities in October 2012. The independent Jury is set to announce the 2013 winners on 31st January. The awards will be presented by Commissioner Hahn.

The 2013 Award categories, reflecting the objectives of the Europe2020 Strategy are:

1. SMART GROWTH: Connecting universities to regional growth

2. SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: Supporting resource efficiency in SMEs

3. INCLUSIVE GROWTH: Social innovation: creative responses to societal challenges

4. CITYSTAR CATEGORY: Integrated approaches to sustainable urban development

5. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION CATEGORY: Promoting EU Regional policy using short videos

The event:

Commissioner Hahn will be accompanied by the President of the RegioStars Jury, Luc van den Brande (former President of the Committee of the Regions) to present the awards at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels on 31 January at 19.00.

Before the award ceremony there is the opportunity to meet the winners and hear their stories at a briefing, hosted by Regional Policy Spokesperson, Shirin Wheeler at 18.00 at the same venue.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more details, visit www.ec.europa.eu/regiostars

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65 shirin.wheeler@ec.europa.eu

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10 annemarie.huber@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 31 January: EU Peace Event

The news:

"Bringing Divided Communities Together - Sharing the experience of the EU PEACE Programme", will be held in Brussels, Charlemagne Building, on Thursday 31 January 2013. 9.00-13.00.

How is EU Regional Policy helping to reconcile divided communities? The answer may not seem obvious. But in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland the EU-funded Peace Programme has been doing just that since 1995.

This gathering will take stock of these achievements. It will also explore how other parts of Europe and beyond- where building trust between communities is a challenge - might adapt the peace-building techniques developed under the Peace Programme.

The event:

It is hosted by EU Commissioner for Regional Development, Johannes Hahn. Joining him will be First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness and Brendan Howlin Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform from the Republic of Ireland.

Three projects from Northern Ireland will showcase their experience in bringing communities together. A discussion will follow on whether these kinds of projects can be transposed into other European and international settings. The following regions will have participants at the event: Cyprus, the Balkans, the Basque region, and Libya.

  1. Available on EbS

The background:

The PEACE III Programme for Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland is part-funded by the European Union (€225 million from the EU with further national contributions of €108 million) through its Regional Policy funds. The main aims of the PEACE III Programme are to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society and to promote reconciliation by assisting operations and projects which help to bring communities together and contribute towards a shared society for everyone.

The launch of the PEACE Programme in 1995 was the direct result of the European Union’s desire to respond positively to new opportunities in the Northern Ireland peace process during the paramilitary ceasefire announcements. Since then the EU has provided additional financial assistance through the PEACE II Programme as well as the current PEACE III (2007-2013), with a total of €1.3 billion. The programme's strong emphasis on bottom-up involvement brings communities together on a local level to create a shared vision of society, to work together on shared community infrastructure and to acknowledge and deal with the past.

The sources:

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/peace/index_en.cfm

  1. I075772 EU: Peace Initiative Projects, Belfast, Northern Ireland 2013

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65 shirin.wheeler@ec.europa.eu

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10 annemarie.huber@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 31 January: Recommendations on private copying levies

The news:

On 31 January, António Vitorino will present his recommendations on private copying levies to the European Commission.

The background:

In November 2011, António Vitorino, former Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Portugal as well as a former European Commissioner responsible for Justice and Home Affairs, was appointed to head a mediation process on private copying and reprography levies. This mediation was announced in the Commission's May 2011 Communication on A Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights (see IP/11/630).

Mr Vitorino was asked to identify the best manner to achieve coherence, effectiveness and legitimacy in the implementation and application of the principles and legal framework underpinning private copying and reprography levies.

The event:

The recommendations will be presented by Mr Vitorino to Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier. A press event will be held in the VIP Corner of the Berlaymont at 11.30.

Press release will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Commissioner Barnier appoints Mr António Vitorino as a mediator in the dialogue on private copying levies:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/barnier/headlines/speeches/2011/11/20111123_en.htm

Mediation process begins on private copying and reprography levies:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/barnier/headlines/speeches/2012/04/20120402_en.htm

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

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

The contacts:

Stefaan De Rynck +32 2 296 34 21 Stefaan.De-Rynck@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

Tuesday 5 February (date to be confirmed): Commission will propose changes to Anti-money laundering and fund transfer legislation

The news:

The Commission will present two proposals for legislation to further strengthen the EU’s defences against money laundering and terrorist financing, helping to ensure the soundness, integrity and stability of the financial system. The proposals will update and improve the EU’s existing Third Anti-Money Laundering Directive and the Fund Transfers Regulation, and will be sent to the European Parliament and the Council for adoption.

The background:

The existing EU Anti-money laundering Directive dates back to 2005. In light of the changes to international standards adopted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – the world anti-money laundering body - in February 2012 (see MEMO/12/113), existing EU rules need to be updated and strengthened. The Commission conducted its own assessment of the existing rules and published an application report in April 2012 (see IP/12/357).

The Fund Transfer regulation dates back to 2006, and implements into EU law the FATF's Special Recommendation VII (SRVII) – aimed at ensuring full traceability of transfers of funds with the objective of combating money laundering and terrorist financing. In February 2012, FATF updated its standards – including SRVII. At the end of 2011, the Commission conducted a review of the Fund Transfer Regulation, the results of which have been taken into account in preparing the legislative proposal.

The event:

Press details to be announced.

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more information on financial crime:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/company/financial-crime/index_en.htm

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

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

The contacts:

Stefaan De Rynck +32 2 296 34 21 Stefaan.De-Rynck@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

Tuesday 5 February (date to be confirmed): Adoption of a joint Communication by the High Representative and the European Commission on Cyber Security Strategy

The news:

The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will adopt a Communication on Cyber Security and a complementary proposal for a Directive on measures to ensure a high common level of cyber security across the EU. As network and information systems are globally interconnected, cyber security does not stop at borders. Lack of intervention at EU level would lead to a situation where each Member State would act alone disregarding the interdependences amongst network and information systems. Action at EU level will aim to ensure that an appropriate degree of coordination takes place among the Member States so that governments' measures are consistent with each other, and risks are well managed in the cross-border context in which they arise.

The Communication will outline the EU's vision of how security can be enhanced in cyberspace from a wide perspective and set out the actions required, including that of drastically reducing cybercrime through a strong legal framework, improving the capability of Member States and coordination at EU level to fight it. It will also outline major principles of the EU international cyberspace policy, which seeks to promote freedom and openness of the Internet, to protect fundamental rights online worldwide as well as to increase engagement with EU international partners in strengthening cyber security.

The background:

The magnitude and frequency of deliberate or accidental incidents on networks and information systems is increasing and can impede the pursuit of economic activities, generate substantial financial losses, undermine user confidence and cause major damage to the economy of the EU. The Commission’s 2012 online public consultation found that 57% of respondents had experienced cyber security incidents in 2011 that had a serious impact on their activities. The opportunities for cybercrime increase as our lives assume more and more a digital dimension. There is evidence that cybercrime is growing, cybercriminal networks are becoming increasingly sophisticated while law enforcement lacks the right operational tools and capabilities to tackle them. A coordinated approach to respond to this threat is therefore indispensable.

The event:

Joint press conference in the Berlaymont pressroom with High Representative Catherine Ashton, Vice-President Neelie Kroes and Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, timing tbc

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Cyber-security:

http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/telecoms-internet/cyber-security

Cybercrime:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/cybercrime/index_en.htm

Cyber Security: an Open, Free and Secure Internet:

http://www.eeas.europa.eu/top_stories/2012/081012_cyberspace_en.htm

  1. I-075479 EU : European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) 2012

The contacts:

Ryan Heath: +32 2 296 17 16 Ryan.Heath@ec.europa.eu

Linda Cain: +32 2 299 90 19 Linda.Cain@ec.europa.eu

Sebastien Brabant: +32 2 298 64 33 Sebastien.Brabant@ec.europa.eu

Eamonn Prendergast:+32 2 299 88 51 Eamonn.Prendergast@ec.europa.eu

Michele Cercone +32 2 298 09 63 Michele.Cercone@ec.europa.eu

Tove Ernst +32 2 298 67 64 Tove.Ernst@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 5 February (date to be confirmed): Commission to propose Directive reinforcing the protection of the euro and other currencies against counterfeiting by criminal law

The news:

The European Commission will present a proposal for a Directive on the protection of the euro against counterfeiting through criminal law. The aim of the proposed Directive will be to increase the protection of the euro and other currencies against counterfeiting by requiring Member states to put in place stronger, more harmonised investigative, judicial and research measures to this end.

The background:

Data from the European Central Bank, Europol and others show that euro counterfeiting remains a matter of concern. In 2012 alone 531,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation. The €20 and €50 denominations are the most counterfeited.

The event:

Press release will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Vice President Reding's website:

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

Commissioner Algirdas Semeta's website:

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

OLAF’s website:

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

The contacts:

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

Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 13 82 Mina.Andreeva@ec.europa.eu


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