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Brussels, Friday 8 February 2013
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Wednesday 13 February: Strengthening market surveillance for safer products and growth 2
Thursday 14 February: Directive implementing enhanced cooperation on the Financial Transactions Tax 3
Wednesday 20 February: The Commission proposes a Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion 4
Thursday 21 February: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 6
Friday 22 February: European Economic Forecast 7
February (date to be confirmed): Innovation Union Scoreboard reveals Member States' innovation performance in a global context 8
Wednesday 13 February: Strengthening market surveillance for safer products and growth
On 13 February 2013 the European Commission will present the Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package, which aims at the improvement of the Market Surveillance systems in the EU Member States. The package will be composed of new enforcement rules for the internal market for goods, which will enable national market surveillance authorities to enforce the law and to provide better and more means to ensure consumer protection. In particular, authorities will be able to better track down unsafe products while at the same time the new rules on consumer product safety will simplify the safety rules for consumer products, and merge them into one single piece of legislation.
The three most important parts of the package will be:
1) A proposal for a new Regulation on Consumer Product Safety (CPSR).
2) A proposal for a single Regulation on Market Surveillance for Products - unifying and simplifying existing fragmented legislation.
3) A multi-annual plan for market surveillance of 20 individual actions that the Commission will undertake over the next three years.
The EU's single market for goods ensures it is possible to buy and sell products in 27 EU Member States with a total population of more than 490 million. Safe products move freely. So, product safety rules and the market surveillance that underpins them are key for the function of the single market for goods. This proposal addresses fragmented EU legislation on product safety and market surveillance.
What: Press Conference of European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani and Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg
When: Wednesday 13/02/2013, after the Midday Briefing
Where: Berlaymont Press Room, in Brussels
IP and MEMO will be available on the day
Commissioner Tonio Borg's website:
Carlo Corazza +32 (0)2 295 17 52 Carlo.Corazza@ec.europa.eu
Sara Tironi +32 (0)2 299 04 03 Sara.Tironi@ec.europa.eu
Frédéric Vincent +32 (0)2 298 71 66 Frederic.Vincent@ec.europa.eu
Aikaterini Apostola +32 (0) 2 298 76 24 Aikaterini.Apostola@ec.europa.eu
Thursday 14 February: Directive implementing enhanced cooperation on the Financial Transactions Tax
On 14 February, the European Commission will adopt the substantive proposal for a Directive on the Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) to be implemented under enhanced cooperation.
In September 2011, the Commission tabled a proposal for a common system of financial transactions tax (IP/11/1085). The objectives were to deliver important new revenues, ensure a fair contribution from the financial sector to public finances, contribute to more responsible trading and enable a coherent approach to taxing this sector in the Single Market. Despite intense discussions on this proposal, there was no unanimity amongst the 27 Member States. However, eleven Member States (Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain) sent letters to the Commission requesting enhanced cooperation on an FTT, based on the Commission's original proposal. The Commission presented a Decision to this effect, after carefully analysing the requests to ensure this would be compliant with the Treaties. This Decision to allow a FTT based on enhanced cooperation between the 11 Member States was adopted by the EU's Council of Finance Ministers in January 2013.
Commissioner Algirdas Semeta will present the proposal at the beginning of the Midday briefing in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels. Technical briefing off the record – after the Midday briefing.
A press release will be available on the day.
Commissioner Algirdas Semeta's website:
DG Taxation and Customs Union website:
Emer Traynor +32 2 292 15 48 Emer.Traynor@ec.europa.eu
Natasha Bohez +32 2 296 64 70 Natasja.Bohez-Rubiano@ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 20 February: The Commission proposes a Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion
On 20 February, the European Commission is due to present a Communication on a Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion. The initiative will aim to help Member States to use their social budgets more efficiently and more effectively, by promoting best practices and providing guidance on social investment. Social investment involves strengthening people’s current and future capacities. In particular, social investment helps to 'prepare' people to confront life's risks, rather than simply 'repairing' the consequences. This means that Member States need to put a greater focus on policies which yield high returns throughout people's lifetimes such as childcare, education, training, active labour market policies, housing support, rehabilitation and health services. For example making pre-schooling more widely accessible to children has been shown to have a sizeable and persistent positive effect on a child’s ability to succeed in school and, in the long term, obtain higher wages in the labour market.
To ensure implementation of the package the Commission would review Member States' performance on the basis of the employment and poverty targets of the Europe2020 strategy and social protection reform. This would be based partly on a number of specific criteria that Member States have agreed should be included in a Social Protection Performance Monitor. The Commission would give further policy guidance, inter alia on the basis of strengthened input from relevant stakeholders, in the Country Specific Recommendations in the framework of the European Semester.
Focussed EU financial support would be available to help to meet the defined targets, notably from the European Social Fund over the period 2014-20.
The Communication will include a proposal for a Recommendation on the fight against child poverty and announce proposals for legislation on access to basic payment services and support to social innovation, microfinance and social enterprises.
As a result of the prolonged economic and financial crisis, EU Member States are facing the contradictory challenges of a "social emergency" – increasing poverty and inequalities and record unemployment - combined with cuts in public spending. In addition, Member States continue to face the challenges of an ageing population. Under-investment in social policies now will result in greater costs in the future. Targeted social spending to improve the individual's chances throughout his/her life of integrating better into the labour market and society benefits the individual's prosperity, boosts the economy and helps to reduce higher social spending in the future stages of life.
12.30 Press conference by László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion in the press room, followed by a technical briefing off the record.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
Social Protection and Social Inclusion Policy:
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 21 February: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package
On Thursday 21 February 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:
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.
Friday 22 February: European Economic Forecast
On 22nd February, the Commission will publish its winter economic forecast for 2013-2014 covering Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, employment and public budget deficits and debt, amongst others. These forecasts focus on all 27 EU Member States, plus the candidate countries as well as some non-EU countries.
The European Commission's Directorate-General for Economic and Monetary Affairs produces short-term macroeconomic forecasts three times year: in the spring, autumn and in the winter. They serve as a basis for various economic surveillance procedures, such as in the context of the European Semester.
Each forecast has at least a two-year time horizon (with an additional year added each autumn) covering the current year and the next.
11.00 Press Conference by Vice-President Rehn in the Berlaymont Press Room in Brussels. Press release with a link to the report will be available on the day.
IP/12/1178 – Autumn EU Economic Forecast (7 November 2012)
European Commission websites:
Simon O'Connor + 32 2 296 7359 email@example.com
Vandna Kalia + 32 2 299 5824 firstname.lastname@example.org
Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 1607 email@example.com
February (date to be confirmed): Innovation Union Scoreboard reveals Member States' innovation performance in a global context
The European Commission will present the latest Innovation Union Scoreboard report (IUS) that benchmarks EU Member States' innovation performance and potential. The IUS 2012 will rank the EU Member States according to their innovation performance – indicating who the leaders, followers, moderate and modest innovators are. It will give the growth rate of EU's innovation performance as well as those of the individual Member States, over a period of five years and also since the launch of the EU2020 Innovation Union flagship strategy in 2010. The report will also look at the impact of the economic crisis on the EU's research and innovation landscape.
The Innovation Union Scoreboard contributes to the better implementation of the Europe 2020 flagship "Innovation Union" action. For more than 10 years this tool has examined the EU's and the Member States' innovation policy performance, using statistical analysis to track progress towards a more innovative European economy - a vital element of Europe 2020's smart growth objective.
It monitors innovation progress and performance based on twenty five indicators grouped in eight key dimensions relevant to European and national research and innovation systems, such as: human resources, open, excellent and attractive research systems, finance and support, investment by companies, linkages and entrepreneurship, intellectual assets, innovating enterprises and economic effects. The report covers the EU Member States, candidate and associated countries, and to a limited extent the EU's key economic global partners such as the US, Japan, South Korea and the BRICS countries.
A press conference by European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani and European Commissioner Máire Geoghan Quinn is foreseen. IP and Memo will be available on the day.
For more information:
Carlo Corazza +32 (0)2 295 17 52 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Tironi +32 (0)2 299 04 03 email@example.com
Michael Jennings +32 (0)2 296 33 88 firstname.lastname@example.org
Monika Wcislo +32 (0)2 295 56 04 email@example.com