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Brussels, Friday 1 March 2013
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th March: Commission launches Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs 2
Thursday 7 March: Green Paper on plastic waste – film projection 3
Tuesday 12 March: Making the conduct of the next European Parliament elections more democratic 4
Wednesday 13 March: Commission proposes new measures to help air passengers obtain their rights 5
Thursday 21 March: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 6
March (date to be confirmed): Top 10 most burdensome EU laws affecting SMEs 7
March (date to be confirmed): Innovation Union Scoreboard reveals Member States' innovation performance in a global context 9
Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th March: Commission launches Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs
The Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs will be officially launched at a two-day conference in Brussels when companies and other stakeholders will meet to announce pledges for joint action to train the additional 900 000 professionals in Information and Communication technologies (ICT) that Europe will need by 2015 and help our youth and unemployed to take up much needed work. A detailed roadmap for further action will also be agreed. President José Manuel Barroso will deliver the keynote speech at the conference jointly hosted by Vice Presidents Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) and Antonio Tajani (Enterprise and Industry), and Commissioners László Andor (Employment) and Androulla Vassiliou (Education and Youth)
Europe faces up to 900.000 unfilled ICT jobs and declining competitiveness. The number of digital jobs is growing – by 3% each year during the crisis – but the number of new ICT graduates and other skilled ICT workers is shrinking. Companies operating in Europe need the right people or they will move operations elsewhere. The European Commission is issuing a call to action to companies, governments, educators, social partners, employment service providers and civil society to join in an effort to reverse this trend.
"Filling the gaps: e-Skills & Education for Digital Jobs" Conference at the Marriott Hotel, Brussels
Press release will be issued on Monday 4th March.
Conference website: http://www.filling-the-gaps.eu/Home.html
Follow the Grand Coalition on Twitter @eSkillsGrowthEU
Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70 Pia.Ahrenkilde-Hansen@ec.europa.eu
Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76 Sarah.Collins@ec.europa.eu
Ryan Heath +32 2 296 17 16 Ryan.Heath@ec.europa.eu
Dennis Abbott +32 2 295 92 58 Dennis.Abbott@ec.europa.eu
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 Jonathan.Todd@ec.europa.eu
Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52 Carlo.Corazza@ec.europa.eu
Thursday 7 March: Green Paper on plastic waste – film projection
The European Commission is publishing a Green Paper on plastic waste to launch a structured discussion about how to make plastic products more sustainable throughout their life cycle and reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment. The current EU environmental legislation doesn't specifically address the particular challenges posed by plastic waste. The Green Paper aims to collect facts and stakeholders' views on the impacts of plastic waste and a way of mitigating them through a European strategy. The consultation consists of 26 questions and will last until end of May 2013. The result will feed into further policy action in 2014 as part of a broader waste policy review, which will look in particular at the existing targets for waste recovery and landfill as well as an ex-post evaluation of five directives covering various waste streams.
Once in the environment, particularly in the marine environment, plastic waste can persist for hundreds of years. Up to 10 million tons of litter, mostly plastic, end up in the world's oceans and seas annually, turning them into the world's biggest plastic dump. The presence of plastic residues, even in the most remote areas of world seas and shores shows that there is a price to pay for unhampered proliferation of plastic waste. Conventional plastic also contains a large number, and sometimes a large proportion of chemical additives which can be carcinogenic, provoke other toxic reactions or act as endocrine disruptors.
What: 12.30 Joint press conference by European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik and Jeremy Irons, Narrator and Executive Producer the documentary film 'Trashed'. The launch will be followed by the projection of the film "Trashed" in the European Parliament.
When: Thursday 07/03/2013
Where: Berlaymont Press Room, in Brussels
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
The consultation website:
The Commission website on waste:
Joe Hennon +32 2 295 35 93 Joseph.Hennon@ec.europa.eu
Monica Westeren +32 2 299 18 30 Monica.Westeren@ec.europa.eu
Tuesday 12 March: Making the conduct of the next European Parliament elections more democratic
The Commission will present a Recommendation calling upon European political parties to nominate their candidate for the function of President of the European Commission. In addition, Member States and national political parties should ensure that citizens are informed of the links between national and European political parties.
The 2014 European elections will be all the more important as the European Union is taking major steps towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union of which democratic legitimacy is a cornerstone. However, voter participation in the European elections has steadily decreased. In 2009 general turnout was 43%. Recent surveys confirm that 84% of citizens agree that turnout would be higher if more information was provided about the European Parliament elections, the impact of the EU on their daily life and on the programmes and objectives of candidates and parties in the European Parliament. 73% think that if political parties displayed in all campaign materials to which European party they were affiliated, voter turnout would be higher.
Vice-President Viviane Reding will give a press conference in Strasbourg (to be confirmed).
IP will be available on the day.
Vice-President Reding's website:
Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 13 82 Mina.Andreeva@ec.europa.eu
Natasha Bertaud +32 2 296 74 56 Natasha.Bertaud@ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 13 March: Commission proposes new measures to help air passengers obtain their rights
The European Commission will present a comprehensive package of measures to ensure that air passengers can actually obtain the rights to which they are entitled in cases of denied boarding, long delays cancellation or mishandled baggage.
The proposals focus on the areas of enforcement, extraordinary circumstances, time limits and re-routing. As well clarifying issues such are scheduling and enforcement of lost luggage rules.
Europe's success in securing and upholding passenger rights is one of the resounding achievements of EU transport policy.
The EU began work in this area in the early 1990s with rules for air passengers on denied boarding on aircraft caused by overbooking (EC Regulation 261). Since then, the Commission has worked to extend passenger rights across all types of transport.
Since aviation was the first sector to benefit from passenger rights rules, this is where we have the most and best experience. Many lessons have been learnt since air passenger rights first they entered force in 2005, which is why some changes are now needed.
On Wednesday 13 March, Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for transport, will present the new rules in the Berlaymont press room (details to be confirmed).
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
Air passenger rights in the EU
Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for mobility and transport
Website DG Mobility and Transport:
Helen Kearns +32 22 98 76 38 Helen.Kearns@ec.europa.eu
Dale Kidd +32 22 95 74 61 Dale.Kidd@ec.europa.eu
Thursday 21 March: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package
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.
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:
For more information on infringements:
On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12
Olivier Bailly +32 2 296 87 17 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07 email@example.com
On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.
March (date to be confirmed): Top 10 most burdensome EU laws affecting SMEs
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.
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.
Press events to be determined.
A press release and press memo will be available on the day.
Information on the "Top 10" consultation process:
Information on smart regulation:
Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52 Carlo.Corazza@ec.europa.eu
Sara Tironi +32 2 299 04 03 Sara.Tironi@ec.europa.eu
March (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 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 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