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Brussels, Friday 2 May 2014
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
On 5 May, the European Commission will publish its Spring European Economic Forecast. It will cover 2013, 2014 and 2015 and will include data on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, employment and public budget deficits and debt, amongst others. These forecasts focus on all 28 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.
Vice-President Kallas will present the forecast at a press conference at 11:00 in the Commission's press room. A press release will be published at the same time, with a link to the report.
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With land and freshwater resources under pressure, and oceans covering more than two thirds of our planet, we will have to rely more and more on the oceans and seas to provide sources for food, medicine and energy. The Commission will therefore present an Action Plan for innovation in the 'Blue Economy' to help use ocean resources sustainably and drive growth and jobs in Europe. For example, the Action Plan proposes a series of actions to improve knowledge of the ocean, better skills to apply new technologies in the marine environment and better coordination of marine research.
The maritime sector already employs 5.4 million people across Europe, working in professions as diverse as shipbuilding, tourism or offshore wind energy. But it could employ 7 million by 2020.
Major EU Research funding exists to help stimulate innovation. Between 2007 and 2013, the European Commission contributed an average of €350 million a year towards marine and maritime research through its seventh Framework Programme. Blue growth is a "focus area" in the new Horizon 2020 programme, with a specific €145 million budget for 2014-2015 alone, and further opportunities across the programme.
Commissioners Maria Damanaki and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will present the Action Plan at a press conference in the Commission's press room (Berlaymont). A press release, Memo and the Action plan itself will be available on the day.
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On 13th May, the European Commission will adopt a Communication on the role of the private sector in development in which it will define the future direction of EU policy and support to private sector development in its partner countries. The Communication will outline a new framework to ensure the highest development dividend from private sector operations in developing countries, for the benefit all members of society – particularly women and young people. It will include actions and tools to improve regulatory business environments, to accelerate the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises that are essential to create decent jobs, and will advocate a ‘differentiated’ approach to the private sector – providing different incentives for businesses to contribute to development. It will also define principles for working in partnership with the private sector for boosting development; for example in sectors like agriculture, energy, and infrastructure, where inclusive and sustainable growth could be stimulated through blending.
This communication comes in response to the European Commission’s 2011’s Agenda for Change (its blueprint to refocus its development policy to prioritise those countries and sectors most in need and where it can have the biggest impact), which recognised the private sector as a main partner in EU development cooperation. It follows extensive consultations with the EU and partner country stakeholders, including European and local private sector representatives. The private sector accounts for some 90 percent of jobs in developing countries, making it an essential partner in the fight against poverty. The European Commission has been a very active partner in supporting the creation of an enabling business environment and local enterprise development in partner countries and with the creation of regional blending facilities has been a leader in developing new tools for implementing private sector development.
Alexandre Polack +32 (0) 2 299 06 77 Alexandre.Polack@ec.europa.eu
Maria Sanchez Aponte +32 (0) 2 298 10 35 Maria.Sanchez-Aponte@ec.europa.eu