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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 16 May 2014

Top News from the European Commission
17 May – 13 June 2014

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

Monday 19 May: Celebrating European Territorial Cooperation - Four borders, four problems, four solutions

The news:

At the Annual Meeting of the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) Programmes on 19-20 May, individuals who have benefited from four EU flagship cross-border regional projects will share their experiences how those projects have helped to tackle challenges from brain drain, security, health, unemployment and lack of educational qualifications. Travelling from different parts of the EU, these doctors, police, craftspeople and students will join representatives of border regions, including the Association of European Border Regions.

"Territorial cooperation is at the very heart of the European ideal. It is about building trust, sometimes between neighbours that were once enemies, bringing people together in their daily lives and ensuring that shared problems are solved together. These sorts of projects show Europe in action, not just between governments but cooperating at the most local level. We should bear this in mind as we prepare to vote in the European elections" said EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn in the lead up to the event.

The background:

European Territorial Cooperation is a core objective of EU Regional Policy. Regions and cities from different EU Member States are encouraged to work together and learn from each other through joint programmes, projects and networks. The main types of cooperation programmes are:

  1. cross-border co-operation programmes along internal EU borders.

  2. transnational co-operation programmes covering larger areas of co-operation such as the Danube and Baltic Sea regional strategies

  3. interregional co-operation programmes providing a framework for exchanging experience between regional and local bodies in different countries.

For 2014-2020, almost €10 billion is allocated to European Territorial Cooperation of which around €6.6 billion will go to cross-border regions. Though Interreg programmes have created significant results over the years, the new period will require each of the 91 programmes to be more focused in terms of results and priorities, in line with the new reformed EU Cohesion Policy. This should ensure maximum impact and even more effective use of the investments.

The event:

Monday, 19 May, CHARLEMAGNE GASPERI. Session from 14:00 to 16:00 open to journalists followed by the possibility for interviews.

14:00-14:30: Opening remarks by Mr José PALMA ANDRES, Director, DG REGIO and key note speech by Mr Walter DEFFAA, Director-General, DG REGIO

14:30-16:00: 2007-2013 Story Telling: "4 borders, 4 problems, 4 solutions" showcasing achievements of 4 flagship cross-border projects.

16:00-17:00 Possibility of interviews with project beneficiaries, Managing Authorities, and DG REGIO experts.

The sources:

A press release (IP) will be published via RAPID on Friday 16 May http://europa.eu/rapid/search.htm

  1. Video and photo coverage will be available on Ebs

http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/schedule.cfm

For further information:

Programme of the event

More information on the 4 EU flagship projects presented

#interreg #crossborder

Webstreaming: CHAR GASP 14.00-18.30 - Languages: DE EN FR ES BG RO SL

Stockshots:

  1. Building bridges between people (Ref. I-071089)

  2. University of the Greater Region (Ref. I-071081)

  3. Roma employment (Ref. I-071075)

  4. Flood Risk Management in the Elbe river basin (Ref. I-071071)

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler (+32 2 296 65 65), mobile: +32460766565

Annemarie Huber (+32 2 299 33 10), mobile: +32460793310

Karen Vandeweghe (+32 2 295 54 27), mobile: +32495374179

Wednesday 21 May: State Aid Modernisation reform package

The news:

On 21 May 2014, the European Commission adopts four important building blocks if its State Aid Modernisation (SAM) reform package:

  1. modernised rules for State aid for research, development and innovation (R&D&I),

  2. a revised General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER)

  3. a communication on transparency.

The overall objective is to support growth and competitiveness in Europe by directing public support to where it matters and is most needed to overcome market failures, in line with the "Europe 2020" strategy. The reform also cuts red tape for public authorities by extending considerably the number of aid measures that do not need to be notified to the Commission for prior authorisation.

The revised R&D&I framework will facilitate the granting of state aid for innovative projects by simplifying and clarifying the assessment criteria and facilitating the granting of aid that is in the common interest and does not harm competition.

The revised GBER simplifies aid granting procedures for Member States by exempting from the notification obligation a range of measures fulfilling horizontal common interest objectives. This is balanced by safeguards set out in the new communication on transparency that introduces simple and clear reporting requirements.

The background:

The package is part of the Commission's SAM initiative (see IP/12/458), setting an ambitious modernisation program fostering sustainable, smart and inclusive growth by encouraging more effective aid measures and focusing the Commission’s scrutiny on cases with the biggest impact on competition. As part of this package, the Commission has already reformed its state aid procedures (see IP/13/728) and adopted new guidelines on state aid for broadband (see IP/12/1424), regional development (see IP/13/569), cinema (see IP/13/1074), airports and airlines (see IP/14/172), risk finance (see IP/14/21), as well as energy and environment (see IP/14/400).

The GBER simplifies the treatment of state aid measures clearly favoring job creation and boosting competitiveness, in line with common EU objectives. It exempts certain categories of state aid from the requirement of prior notification to the Commission. Member States may then immediately implement state aid measures that fulfil the conditions of the Regulation. Measures which are not covered by the GBER remain subject to the standard obligation of prior notification to the Commission, who will then assess their objectives and effects on competition (where appropriate under the relevant state aid guidelines).

In order to ensure that the rules are properly complied with and that distortions of competition remain limited, the increase of scope of the GBER and simplification for Member States have to be complemented with greater transparency and more ex-post controls. In particular, Member States, economic operators, and the public will have easier access to all pertinent information about aid awarded under the GBER. This will contribute to better accountability of public spending in times of scarce resources.

The event:

Vice-president Joaquin Almunia, the European Commissioner for Competition, will present the main elements of the proposals in a press conference in the Commission's press room. A press release and other documents will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

SAM: IP/12/458

R&D&I: MEMO/06/441, MEX/11/1221, IP/13/1300

GBER: IP/12/627, MEX/13/0508, IP/13/736, IP/13/1281

Transparency and evaluation: MEMO/13/1175

The contacts:

Antoine Colombani +32 (0)2 297 45 13 antoine.colombani@ec.europa.eu

Yizhou Ren +32 (0)2 299 48 89 yizhou.ren@ext.ec.europa.eu

Monday 2 June: Commission presents 2014 Country-Specific Recommendations

The news:

On 2 June, the European Commission will recommend budgetary, employment and other structural reforms that each Member State should carry out over the next 12-18 months to help them boost growth.

The annual country-specific recommendations form part of the European Semester, the EU's calendar for economic policy coordination, which is designed to prevent future crises by catching and remedying problems before they spread. The recommendations also encourage Member States to meet their long-term targets on employment, education, research, climate change and poverty reduction under the Europe 2020 strategy.

Together with the country-specific recommendations, the European Commission will also table several recommendations under the Stability and Growth Pact, the EU's budgetary surveillance mechanism.

The background:

The country-specific recommendations are the culmination of months of careful analysis by the Commission and debate with the other EU institutions. The cycle begins each November with the Annual Growth Survey, which proposes economic priorities for the EU as a whole. EU leaders endorsed these priorities in March 2014 and Member States integrated them in their medium-term budgetary and structural reform plans, which they submitted to the Commission in April.

The Commission's recommendations are based on a detailed assessment of these plans, and of the economic, employment and budgetary situation in each country. The recommendations will be discussed and endorsed by EU leaders in June and formally adopted by finance ministers in July. Member States are expected to take account of them in their 2015 budget and reform plans.

The Commission will also take a number of steps under the Stability and Growth Pact. The Pact, which has a preventive arm and a corrective arm (the Excessive Deficit Procedure), commits Member States to reduce deficits and debt in a timely and lasting way, through recommendations and deadlines proposed by the Commission. The Commission's proposals will be discussed and agreed by EU finance ministers in June.

The event:

A press conference will take place following the Commission's meeting on 2 June to present:

  1. 27 sets of country-specific recommendations, one for every Member State (except Greece and Cyprus, which are implementing economic adjustment programmes) and one for the euro area;

  2. 29 staff working documents, analysing the economic situation, outlook, reforms and challenges in every EU Member State, including Greece and Cyprus;

  3. A communication summarising the key political messages emerging from these recommendations;

  4. A number of recommendations under the Stability and Growth Pact.

Press material will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Member States' budgetary and reform plans, submitted April 2014:

http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/making-it-happen/country-specific-recommendations/index_en.htm

Overview of ongoing excessive deficit procedures:

http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/making-it-happen/country-specific-recommendations/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Sarah Collins +32 2 296 80 76 sarah.collins@ec.europa.eu

Simon O'Connor +32 2 296 73 59 simon.o'connor@ec.europa.eu

Vandna Kalia +32 2 299 58 24 vandna.kalia@ec.europa.eu

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07 audrey.augier@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 4 June: Commission reports on countries' readiness to adopt the euro

The news:

On 4 June, the European Commission will publish its 2014 Convergence Report, which will examine whether any Member State with a derogation from adopting the euro satisfies the conditions for switching to the single currency.

The 2014 Convergence Report will cover eight Member States: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden. In particular, the report will indicate whether Lithuania, which aims to adopt the euro in 2015, fulfils the criteria.

The background:

Convergence reports are issued by the European Commission and the European Central Bank every two years, or more often if a country intending to join the euro requests it. These reports assess whether Member States with a derogation have achieved a high degree of sustainable economic convergence and whether their relevant legal provisions are fully compatible with the Treaty. The reports form the basis for the Council decision on whether a Member State may join the euro area.

All EU Member States, except the UK and Denmark, are committed by the Treaty to adopt the euro once they fulfil the necessary conditions. Eighteen countries already share the single currency. This leaves eight EU members which still remain outside the euro area (i.e. ‘Member States with a derogation’).

The latest Commission and European Central Bank (ECB) Convergence Reports relating to all Member States with a derogation were adopted in May 2012.

The 2014 Convergence Report will contain the Report from the Commission and the accompanying Staff Working Document with a more detailed analysis of the fulfilment of the conditions.

The event:

Olli Rehn, European Commission Vice President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, is due to present the main findings of the Convergence Report at the midday briefing in the Commission's press room (to be confirmed). A press release, a memo and the report itself will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/convergence_reports_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/euro/adoption/index_en.htm

  1. Euro 2011 (stockshots - ref. I-069117)

The contacts:

Simon O'Connor +32 2 296 73 59 simon.o'connor@ec.europa.eu

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07 audrey.augier@ec.europa.eu

Vandna Kalia +32 2 299 58 24 vandna.kalia@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 4 June – Thursday 5 June: G7 summit in Brussels

The news:

On 4-5 June 2014, a G7 summit will take place in Brussels, co-hosted by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

On the agenda will be the situation in Ukraine and the relations with Russia as well as other foreign policy topics, the global economy, trade, energy security, climate change and development.

The two-day meeting will begin at 8 p.m. on Wednesday 4 June and end on Thursday 5 June around 3 p.m.

It is the first time that a G7 summit takes place in Brussels.

The background:

Originally a G8 summit was scheduled to take place in Sochi (Russia) in early June under Russian presidency. At their meeting 24 March in The Hague (Netherlands) the G7 leaders (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission) decided to meet in Brussels on 4-5 June 2014 in the G7 format instead.

The European Union is a full member of the G8 (and the G20) and is jointly represented by the European Commission President and the European Council President.

The event:

A pre-summit press conference by Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy in the afternoon of 4 May (time to be confirmed).

A closing press conference by Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy in the early afternoon of 5 May (time to be confirmed).

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Deadline for media accreditation: Tuesday 27 May, 10 p.m. (CEST)

G7 website including further practical information: http://www.european-council.europa.eu/g7brussels

The contacts:

European Council

Dirk De Backer +32 (0)2 281 97 68 dirk.debacker@european-council.europa.eu

Preben Aamann +32 (0)2 281 20 60 preben.aamann@european-council.europa.eu

Jüri Laas +32 (0)2 281 55 23 juri.laas@consilium.europa.eu

European Commission

Pia Ahrenkilde +32 (0)2 295 30 70 pia.ahrenkilde-hansen@ec.europa.eu

Jens Mester +32 (0)2 296 39 73 jens.mester@ec.europa.eu

Dirk Volckaerts +32 (0)2 299 39 44 dirk.volckaerts@ec.europa.eu


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