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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 15 February 2013

Top News from the European Commission
16 February – 15 March 2013

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

Wednesday 20 February: The Commission proposes a Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion 2

Thursday 21 February: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 4

Friday 22 February: European Economic Forecast 5

Wednesday 27 February: EU 'Smart Borders': enhancing mobility and security 6

Wednesday 27 February: “A decent life for all by 2030”- Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future 7

February (date to be confirmed): Innovation Union Scoreboard reveals Member States' innovation performance in a global context 9

Wednesday 20 February: The Commission proposes a Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion

The news:

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.

The background:

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.

The event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Employment and Social Developments: growing divergence and higher risks of long-term exclusion - IP/13/5, MEMO/13/1, SPEECH/13/3

Social Protection and Social Inclusion Policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=750&langId=en

  1. I-076105 Social Investment Package

The contacts:

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 jonathan.todd@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 21 February: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

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.

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:

http://europa.eu/rapid/

The contacts:

Overall coordination:

Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17 olivier.bailly@ec.europa.eu

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 jonathan.todd@ec.europa.eu

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

Friday 22 February: European Economic Forecast

The news:

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 background:

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.

The event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

IP/12/1178 – Autumn EU Economic Forecast (7 November 2012)

European Commission websites:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/eu/forecasts/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/2012/ee1upd_en.htm

The contacts:

Simon O'Connor + 32 2 296 7359 simon.o'connor@ec.europa.eu

Vandna Kalia + 32 2 299 5824 vandna.kalia@ec.europa.eu

Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 1607 audrey.augier@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 27 February: EU 'Smart Borders': enhancing mobility and security

The news:

On 27 February 2013, the European Commission is due to present a 'smart border package' aimed at using new technology to speed-up, facilitate and reinforce border check procedures for foreigners travelling to the EU. The package consists of a Registered Traveller Programme (RTP), which will allow certain groups of frequent travellers from third countries (such as business travellers, workers on short term contracts, researchers and students, third country nationals with close family ties to EU citizens or living in regions bordering the EU) to enter the EU using simplified border checks,.. It will also include an Entry/Exit System (EES), which will record the time and place of entry and exit of third country nationals travelling to the EU. The system will calculate the length of the authorised short stay in an electronic way, replacing the current manual system. The aim of the 'smart border package' is to simplify life for frequent third country travellers at the EU's external borders, enhance EU security and contribute to better monitoring of border-crossings.

The background:

This proposal follows a 2011 Communication (IP/11/1234), in which a discussion was launched between EU institutions and authorities about the implementation of new systems, in light of their added value, their technological and data protection implications, and their costs.

The proposals are part of the initiative to strengthen the overall governance of the Schengen area, as announced in the Communication on Migration adopted on 4 May 2011 (IP/11/532 and MEMO/11/273).

The event:

IP, MEMO and audio-visual material will be available on the day.

There will be a press conference with Commissioner Malmström, followed by a technical briefing with experts.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Commissioner Malmström:

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

Information on DG Home Affairs:

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

The contacts:

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

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

Wednesday 27 February: “A decent life for all by 2030”- Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future

The news:

The European Commission will present on 27 February its position on the post 2015 development agenda. The Communication will bring together a review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which come to an end in 2015 and actions based on the outcomes of the Rio+20 conference, including the sustainable development goals. The MDGs have been a powerful tool to mobilise the world around the fight against poverty. Today, tackling poverty remains a top priority as well as other global challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity, environmental degradation and social inequalities. The two challenges of eradicating poverty and ensuring a sustainable development are interlinked and the next global framework should address both issues. There is clearly a need to go further and bring together a comprehensive framework required to fight against poverty, promoting sustainable development and social equality, whilst ensuring global progress stays within planetary boundaries. The "Decent Life for All" Communication will offer a joint and comprehensive vision for how to end extreme poverty and give the world a sustainable future, in response to the above global challenges.

The background:

In September 2013, a UN special event will take stock of the efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), discuss ways to accelerate progress until 2015 and start exchanges on what could follow after the MDG target year of 2015. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked the UN High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda to which European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs is a member, to prepare a special report, to be presented by the end of May. A number of commitments made at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012 also need to be implemented within the EU. In addition, a report on Sustainable Development Goals is due to be presented to the UN General Assembly by September 2014. The "Decent Life for All" Communication would present an initial common approach to all these issues, with a view to achieve an EU common position to feed the debate at the UN and worldwide.

The event:

What: Joint Statement at the Midday briefing by European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, and European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs. Technical briefing off-the-record (11.30am TBC)

When: Wednesday 27/02/2013

Where: Berlaymont Press Room, in Brussels

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Commissioner Andris Piebalgs' website:

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

Commissioner Janez Potočnik's website:

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

Press Release: Commissioner Piebalgs participates in the UN panel on post-2015 development agenda:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-67_en.htm

DG Environment's website on Rio +20:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/international_issues/rio20_en.htm

The European Union and the Millennium Development Goals:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/what/millenium-development-goals/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Alexandre Polack +32 (0) 2 299 06 77 Alexandre.Polack@ec.europa.eu

Wojtek Talko +32 (0) 2 297 85 51 Wojtek.Talko@ec.europa.eu

Joe Hennon +32 (0) 2 295 35 93 Joseph.Hennon@ec.europa.eu

Monica Westeren +32 (0) 2 299 18 30 Monica.Westeren@ec.europa.eu

February (date to be confirmed): Innovation Union Scoreboard reveals Member States' innovation performance in a global context

The news:

The European Commission will present the latest Innovation Union Scoreboard report (IUS) that benchmarks EU Member States' innovation performance and potential. The IUS 2013 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 background:

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.

The event:

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.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/innovation/facts-figures-analysis/innovation-scoreboard/index_en.htm

The contacts:

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

Michael Jennings +32 (0)2 296 33 88 michael.jennings@ec.europa.eu

Monika Wcislo +32 (0)2 295 56 04 monika.wcislo@ec.europa.eu


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