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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 22 February 2013

Top News from the European Commission

23 February – 22 March 2013

Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists

The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Monday 25 February: 16th EU-Ukraine summit, Brussels 2

Wednesday 27 February: “A decent life for all by 2030”- Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future 3

Thursday 28 February: EU 'Smart Borders': enhancing mobility and security 5

Thursday 28 February: Commissioner Hahn calls on the Mayors of EU Capital Cities to help pull Europe out of crisis by driving growth and recovery 6

Thursday 21 March: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 8

March (date to be confirmed): Top 10 most burdensome EU laws affecting SMEs 9

March (date to be confirmed): Innovation Union Scoreboard reveals Member States' innovation performance in a global context 11

Monday 25 February: 16th EU-Ukraine summit, Brussels

The news:

The 16th EU-Ukraine summit will take place in Brussels on 25 February. The summit will be hosted by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, who will be accompanied by the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, and Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger. Ukraine will be represented by President Viktor Yanukovych. The main focus of discussions at this summit is expected to be Ukraine’s reform agenda, linked to the possible signature of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which will also provide for the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Themes for discussions will be: political association; economic integration; mobility and regional/international issues.

The event:

A press conference will take place at 13.30.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Press and audio-visual material will be available on the Europa and EEAS websites as well as via EbS.

Press release:


Eurostat press release:

The contacts:

Dirk De Backer +32 (0)2 281 97 68

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 (0)2 295 30 70

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 press conference (time TBC) by European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, and European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs. Technical briefing off-the-record (time 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:

Commissioner Janez Potočnik's website:

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

DG Environment's website on Rio +20:

The European Union and the Millennium Development Goals:

The contacts:

Alexandre Polack +32 (0) 2 299 06 77

Wojtek Talko +32 (0) 2 297 85 51

Joe Hennon +32 (0) 2 295 35 93

Monica Westeren +32 (0) 2 299 18 30

Thursday 28 February: EU 'Smart Borders': enhancing mobility and security

The news:

On 28 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:

Information on DG Home Affairs:

  1. I-074616 EU: Smart Borders - 2013

The contacts:

Michele Cercone +32 2 298 09 63

Tove Ernst +32 2 298 67 64)

Thursday 28 February: Commissioner Hahn calls on the Mayors of EU Capital Cities to help pull Europe out of crisis by driving growth and recovery

The news:

On 28 February, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will host the first direct talks between the European Commission and the EU's capital cities.

The meeting brings together 20 mayors from capital cities. It aims to promote a regular dialogue between the capitals and the European Commission and to mobilise them as key European actors in fulfilling the goals of the Europe2020 Agenda for Growth.

Commissioners Neelie Kroes for Digital Agenda and Janez Potocnik for Environment will also participate in the event. The mayors of Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Bratislava, Brussels, Bucharest, Lisbon, Ljubljana, Luxembourg, Madrid, Nicosia, Rome, Sofia, Stockholm, Tallinn, La Valetta, Vienna, Vilnius, Warsaw and Zagreb will present a common declaration on the central role of cities as motors for sustainable, smart and inclusive growth.

The background:

In the light of current discussions for the next EU 7-year budget, reforms to EU Regional Policy and other EU programmes, there is a need to address urban challenges in an integrated, more effective way. The reformed Regional Policy makes the case for this kind of integrated approach. This is why the recently renamed Directorate for Regional and Urban Policy has been given a new role by Commission President Barroso to co-ordinate the urban policy initiatives of the EU. How future EU policies, investments and actions will incorporate the urban dimension will be a key element of the Mayors' round table discussion.

Capital cities are often where Europe's economic and social problems are most concentrated and most visible. But they are also where solutions are often found: to competitiveness, employment, education, transport and innovation. This makes them crucial in pulling Europe out of the crisis.

The event:

The meeting will be opened by Commissioner Hahn at 14.00 at the Berlaymont building in Brussels/Walter Hallstein Conference Room. It will be followed by a Press Point and family photo at 16.00.

At 16.30 there will be exchanges of opinion with the EU Commissioners Neelie Kroes and Janez Potocnik followed by brief conclusions by Commissioner Hahn.

  1. Video and photo coverage will be available on EbS

The sources:

Sustainable Urban Development through EU Regional Policy

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 296 65 65

Annemarie Huber +32 2 299 33 10

Thursday 21 March: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

On Thursday 21 March 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.

March (date to be confirmed): Top 10 most burdensome EU laws affecting SMEs

The news:

The European Commission will publish the results of its consultation on the top 10 most burdensome pieces of EU legislation for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). The European Commission called upon businesses: “Let us know what could be done better - we would like your ideas for reducing red tape!” More than 1000 contributions have been received. The results of this consultation process form part of a Commission Communication on improving SME related legislation in the EU: Smart Regulation – How to respond better to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises which will be presented on the same date. It will report on progress which has been made under smart regulation principles, such as advances in implementing the micro-enterprise exemption, introducing lighter regulatory regimes for SMEs, and ensuring regulatory fitness.

The consultation's results indicate the main issues of concern to some 1000 enterprises and business organisations. The Commission will analyse the results and consider how the situation for SMEs could be improved.

The background:

Acknowledging SMEs' strong contribution to European economic growth, the Commission pays special attention to them throughout the policy cycle – from policy design to implementation.

This consultation process for SMEs and their representative organisations aimed to help identify the top ten EU legislative acts considered most burdensome by micro-companies and SMEs. It was held at the end of 2012. The identification of the most burdensome pieces of EU legislation was carried out in two steps: first, a consultation was run through the European Enterprise Network (EEN). Its results were then used as a basis for the second open consultation.

"If Europe is to grow, create jobs and compete internationally, EU legislation must be fit for purpose. This is why we have put smart regulation at the heart of our policy-making", said President Barroso on 12 December 2012 when the Commission stepped up its efforts for smart regulation by taking stock of the considerable progress so far and launching a new and comprehensive Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme. In the context of this REFIT programme, the Commission is carrying out a mapping and screening of the entire acquis for its "fitness for purpose", excessive burdens and costs.

The Commission will provide a thorough follow-up to all complaints of excessive regulatory burdens and costs raised by the Top 10 consultation in the context of its REFIT programme.

The Top 10 exercise is the Commission's contribution to the Spring European Council alongside with a Communication in which the Commission will provide examples of exemptions and lighter regimes for SMEs proposed by the Commission and adopted by the EU legislator. A scoreboard will be included, too, to show how proposals by the Commission to simplify or reduce burden are followed up by the other institutions and by Member States.

The event:

Press events to be determined.

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

The sources:


Information on the "Top 10" consultation process:

Information on smart regulation:

The contacts:

Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52

Sara Tironi +32 2 299 04 03

March (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:

The contacts:

Carlo Corazza +32 (0)2 295 17 52

Sara Tironi +32 (0)2 299 04 03

Michael Jennings +32 (0)2 296 33 88

Monika Wcislo +32 (0)2 295 56 04

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