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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 10 January 2014

Top News from the European Commission
11 January – 7 February 2014

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

Wednesday 15 January: Strengthening the EU's response to radicalisation and violent extremism 2

Wednesday 15 January: The Commission adopts the Risk Finance Guidelines 4

Monday 20 January: Commission to help push forward the potential of ocean energy 6

Wednesday 22 January: The Commission presents a Communication for a European Industrial Renaissance 8

Wednesday 22 January: A vision for the internal market for industrial products 9

January (date to be confirmed): Commission to propose a Regulation to strengthen EURES, the network of European employment services 11

Wednesday 15 January: Strengthening the EU's response to radicalisation and violent extremism

The news:

Traditional law enforcement techniques are insufficient to deal with the evolving trends in radicalisation and a broader approach is required to combat this phenomenon. On 15 January 2014, the European Commission will present a Communication encompassing a wide spectrum of measures in order to prevent and counter radicalisation to terrorism and violent extremism within the EU.

The Commission has identified ten areas in which Member States and the EU could focus their efforts to tackle radicalisation at home and abroad. Proposed measures include the creation of a European knowledge hub on violent extremism, the development of trainings for frontline practitioners, supporting a conference on foreign fighters in Syria to share practices and exchanges ideas, providing financial support for projects making use of modern communication tools and social media to counter terrorist propaganda and programmes facilitating abandoning violence and the underlying ideology.

The background:

Since 2005, efforts against radicalisation have been guided by the EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment (last revised in 2008). While recognising EU Member States' authority as security-providers, the strategy contains joint standards and measures that aim at preventing terrorist radicalisation and recruitment, grouped under three key headings:

  1. disrupt the activities of individuals and networks that draw people into terrorism

  2. ensure that voices of mainstream opinion prevail over those of extremism

  3. promote security, justice, democracy and opportunities for all more vigorously.

Today's Communication is following up on Council conclusions from June 2013 and will contribute to reviewing the EU Strategy in the course of 2014.

The event:

IP will be available on the day. Midday statement by Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

European Commission Radicalisation Awareness website:

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

The contacts:

Michele Cercone: +32 229-80963

Tove Ernst: +32 229-86764

Wednesday 15 January: The Commission adopts the Risk Finance Guidelines

The news:

On 15 January 2014, the European Commission will adopt the new Risk Finance Guidelines that will replace the Risk Capital Guidelines.

The new risk finance State aid rules will allow for a more rapid and generous disbursement of risk finance aid to SMEs and midcaps. This is an important contribution to the European Union’s efforts to re-launch economic growth during difficult times for many SMEs

The background:

The new rules for risk finance aid follow extensive consultations with Member states and stakeholders and are aimed at enhancing incentives to the private sector to increase their funding activities in SME financing.

While risk capital is potentially an important source of finance, the diversity of SMEs’ development strategies and finance needs calls for different forms of finance. By and large, SMEs are still heavily dependent on the traditional bank lending, which is limited by the banks’ refinancing capacity, risk appetite and capital adequacy. The consequences of such over-reliance on the traditional bank channel have been worsened by the financial crisis, with approximately one third of SMEs having been unable to get the finance required in recent years. Such a failure in finance markets translates into a "funding gap", which affects undertakings from their seed/start-up stage to their later expansion and growth development stages, and which is wider and deeper than what was generally assumed under the current State aid rules.

The existing risk capital rules (2006-2013) relate to the equity financing of companies with perceived high-growth potential during their early growth stages. The current framework proved however to be too restrictive in terms of eligible SMEs, forms of financing, aid instruments and funding structures.

The Commission is reacting boldly to changing market realities. Recognising that the market failure in access to finance is much wider than previously expected, the Commission will set up a simple, flexible and generous state aid framework for the provision of risk finance to SMEs and midcaps.

The event:

Press conference by Vice President Almunia at 12:30.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Public consultation on the draft Risk Finance Guidelines:

Information on State Aid Modernisation:

Information on the Vice-President of the European Commission Joaquín Almunia:

The contacts:

Antoine Colombani +32 2 297 45 13

Marisa González Iglesias +32 2 295 19 25

Monday 20 January: Commission to help push forward the potential of ocean energy

The news:

In a push to facilitate the development of renewable ocean energy in Europe, such as wave and tidal technologies, the Commission will present a new action plan. As part of the plan, the Commission proposes to establish an 'Ocean Energy Forum' to act as a knowledge hub on ocean energy. It will be a forum for stakeholders to come together to discuss the challenges that the ocean energy sector is facing and to work out a joint strategy to speed up the further development of this promising new 'blue energy' field. Ocean energy could help reduce the EU's carbon footprint and provide a source of clean, reliable and secure energy to the EU.

The background:

Seas and oceans have the potential to become important sources of clean energy. The ocean energy sector is highlighted in the EU Blue Growth Strategy as one of five developing areas in the blue economy that could help drive innovation and job creation in coastal areas.

Even though the global potential of ocean energy exceeds mankind's present and projected future energy needs, a number of these promising new technologies face hurdles on the road to commercialisation. The action plan aims to address and overcome these challenges.

The EU Blue Growth Strategy aims at creating sustainable economic growth and employment in the marine and maritime economy to help Europe's economic recovery. These economic sectors today provide jobs for 5.4 million people and contribute a total gross added value of around 500 billion euros. By 2020, these should increase to 7 million and nearly 600 billion euros respectively.

The event:

11:30 Joint press conference by Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy (BERL press room). A press release and Memo will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Maritime Affairs website:

DG ENER website:

Website of Commissioner Maria Damanaki:

Website of Commissioner Günther Oettinger:

The contacts:

Oliver Drewes +32 2 299 24 21

Lone Mikkelsen +32 2 296 05 67

Sabine Berger +32 2 299 27 92

Nicole Bockstaller +32 2 295 25 89

Wednesday 22 January: The Commission presents a Communication for a European Industrial Renaissance

The news:

The Commission will adopt the Communication “For a European industrial renaissance”, which puts the real economy and industry at the heart of our growth strategy.

The aim is to revert the industrial decline and reach the 20% target of GDP related to manufacture activities by 2020. To attract new investments and create a better business environment Europe needs more coherent policies in the field of internal market, quality of public administration, trade, research, energy or raw materials.

In addition, the new EU budget could be an essential driver for industrial innovation, competitiveness and access to finance, through the combined use of structural funds, Horizon 2020 and COSME.

The background:

The Communication is the European Commission's contribution to the European Council of February, which for the first time will be dedicated to industry.

While industrial performance has stabilised thanks to improvement in exports, industry’s share in Europe’s GDP in 2013 has further declined from 15.5% of GDP to 15.1% getting Europe far from the 20% target. This decline could seriously hamper EU growth potential, as 80% of innovation, ¾ of exports and several jobs directly depend on industry.

The industrial Competitiveness reports recently published by the European Commission highlight that one of the root of the crisis is the growing competitiveness gap between European economies. In several member States obstacles still remain, such as high energy prices, administrative burden, late payments, access to finance, innovation capacity, and lack of skills. Moreover, access to the EU and international markets should be improved. Only by overcoming these hurdles can the EU achieve the sort of industrial competitiveness it needs in the 21st century.

The event:

EU Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, will present the communication in a press conference in the Commission's press room. A press release and a press memo will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more information: without a strong industrial base, Europe's economy cannot prosper:

  1. I-078985 EU:Industrial Policy - 2013

The contacts:

Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52

Sara Tironi +32 2 299 04 03

Wednesday 22 January: A vision for the internal market for industrial products

The news:

The European Commission will issue a Communication on “A vision for the internal market for industrial products”. The objective is to improve the legislative framework on the internal market and set out a broader vision for the next decade.

The Communication will highlight the achievements of this Commission and identify recommendations concerning EU harmonisation, effectiveness and implementation of the existing EU rules and set out intentions for the future.

The background:

This Communication is a response to the March 2013 European Council’s request to report on the review of the internal market for industrial products. It will be part of the Industrial policy package, which the Commission will present on 22 January 2014.

The internal market for products has been a frontrunner in EU economic integration. Intra EU-trade in goods represented around 17% of EU GDP in 1999 and close to 22% in 2011. Strengthening the effectiveness of the internal market for industrial products was identified as a priority in the October 2012 update on an integrated Industry Policy.

The purpose of the legislation for industrial products is to facilitate access to market through harmonised rules which are meant to protect consumers, public health, the environment or other public interests. These rules preclude the adoption of possibly divergent national rules ensuring the free circulation within the EU's internal market and a level playing field for businesses.

The Communication builds on the results of a public consultation of stakeholders as well as an evaluation of EU law for industrial products. This evaluation assessed the coherence of the regulatory framework’s and whether it is fit from an industry perspective. The Communication's main elements will be presented in the form of a Commission staff working document and attached to the Communication.

The event:

Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for enterprise and industry, will present the Communication on the vision for the internal market for industrial products, together with the Industrial policy package, in a press conference in the Commission's press room (Available on EbS). A press release, memo, reports and executive summaries will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Internal market for products

The contacts:

Carlo Corazza + 32 2 29 51 752

Sara Tironi +32 2 29 90 403

January (date to be confirmed): Commission to propose a Regulation to strengthen EURES, the network of European employment services

The news:

In January (date to be confirmed) the Commission is due to present a proposal for a Regulation to modernise EURES, the pan-European job search network, in order to strengthen its service to job seekers and employers. The revamped EURES would:

  1. provide every EU jobseeker with better online access to more employment opportunities across Europe

  2. offer automated matching between CVs and suitable job vacancies across Europe

  3. provide personalised support to mobile jobseekers

  4. provide specialised services to employers willing to recruit people from all over Europe

  5. deliver better information on living and working conditions in the Member States.

In particular, the Regulation would open up the network to a variety of new actors including social partners and private employment services. It would also spell out the minimum level of services to be available for all job seekers willing to work in another Member State. The new Regulation will also open up EURES to apprenticeships and traineeships. 

The background:

Labour mobility can help to reduce the wide differences in youth unemployment rates across Europe and fill labour shortages that exist in some sectors. The Commission is working to help those who are willing to move to another country to find a job abroad. The proposed new EURES Regulation is one of the measures that would facilitate free movement of workers, together with the Commission's April 2013 proposal to improve the application of workers' rights to free movement (IP/13/372, MEMO/13/384), and the recent Communication on free movement of people (IP/13/1151, MEMO/13/1041).

The EURES network of European employment services was first established in 1993. On 3 December 2013 EURES featured 2 185 278 job vacancies, 1 234 922 CVs and 32 335 employers registered in 32 European countries.

The event:

Press materials will be available on the day.

The sources:

More information on EURES.

  1. I-081748 EURES, YOUR JOB IN EUROPE: What we can do for you

The contacts:

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

Cécile Dubois +32 2 295 18 83

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