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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 20 June 2014

Top News from the European Commission
21 June – 20 July 2014

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

Thursday-Friday, 26-27 June: Commissioner Hahn joins Annual Danube Strategy Forum in Vienna to discuss key initiatives to boost green and inclusive growth

The news:

EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will be joining high-level politicians and representatives from the 14 member countries of Europe's Danube "Macro-Region" for their 3rd Annual Forum in Vienna on 26-27 June. Jointly organised by the European Commission, the Republic of Austria and the City of Vienna, the Forum will be opened by Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sebastian Kurz and Mayor and Governor of the capital region, Michael Häupl.

Following recommendations in the Commission's recent report of governance of the EU's existing and future Macro-Regions, the Danube countries' Foreign Affairs Ministers will meet alongside the Forum to propose concrete arrangements for more strategic leadership to drive forward growth in the Region.

The background:

The EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) was launched in April 2011 and brings together 9 EU countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and 5 non-EU countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova). The Strategy sees challenges common to the countries, whether environmental, economic or security related – being tackled collectively with shared solutions.

By involving EU neighbouring countries at an equal level, the Danube Strategy also brings the Western Balkans, Moldova and the regions of the Ukraine closer to the Union.

The event:

A special focus of this year's Forum and side meetings will be on regional competitiveness and social inclusion according to the slogan 'We Grow Together – Together We Grow'.

'Greening the River" and renewing its fleet will also be high on the agenda. Several meetings will have a special focus on cleaner navigation, including the roundtable "Policy meets industry". This will bring together high-level business representatives and political decision-makers in order to formulate concrete measures to improve the current infrastructure and navigability situation along the Danube.

This year's Forum also comes as 'Partnership Agreements' for the European Structural and Investment Funds for 2014-2020 are being adopted. The EU Member States involved must now ensure that the Danube Strategy is firmly embedded in these investment plans, and that the future programmes translate Danube Region priorities into concrete goals.

The sources:

An IP will be available on Thursday, 26 June

European Union Strategy for the Danube Region

3rd Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, Vienna

Report on the Governance of Macro-Regional Strategies (May 2014)

Twitter: @EU_Regional @JHahnEU #EUSDR #Danube

  1. Footage of the Commissioner's participation in the Forum will be available on EbS

  2. EU Strategy for the Danube Region Type: Documentary   Reference: I-067095   Date: 20/09/2010   Duration: 06:09

  3. Don’t lose Europe’s unique biodiversity backbone (long version) Type: VNR   Reference: I-069891   Date: 23/05/2011   Duration: 12:17

  4. Don’t lose Europe’s unique biodiversity backbone (b-roll) Type: VNR   Reference: I-069917   Date: 24/05/2011   Duration: 28:34

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 229 66565 Mob +32 4607 66565

Annemarie Huber +32 229 93310 Mob +32 4607 66565

Tuesday, 1 July: Commission to adopt two communications on better enforcement of intellectual property rights in the EU and in third countries

The news:

On Tuesday 1 July the European Commission is set to adopt a package comprising two communications:

  • the first, an EU Action Plan to address infringements of intellectual property rights;

  • the second, a Strategy for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in third countries.

The EU Action Plan will set out ten specific actions providing for new enforcement policy tools to address in particular commercial scale IP-infringing activity. These actitivies are considered as the most harmful and represent a key challenge for the EU as they undermine investment in innovation and sustainable job creation. These new (non-legislative) tools include the so-called “follow the money” approach seeking to deprive commercial scale infringers of their revenue flows.

The Strategy for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in third countries will review the Commission's approach on IPRs towards third countries in the light of current challenges in the international IP environment. Its aim will be to enhance cooperation between authorities, including customs authorities, in the EU and third countries in the fight against the trade of IP-infringing goods, and goes hand-in-hand with the EU Customs Action Plan.

Their common objective is to (i) use all means to efficiently dissuade and impede the entry and diffusion of IP-infringing products into the EU and externally; and (ii) stimulate investment, growth and employment in IP-reliant sectors that are key to our respective economies. Making consumers and producers more aware of the wider consequences of IPR infringements through debates and awareness-raising is also an important part of the strategy.

The background:

Europe has a competitive edge in its capacity to innovate. Today’s globalised economy relies increasingly on knowledge-based industries, which have grown strongly and survived the crisis better than other sectors. But, the increasing numbers of commercial-scale infringing activities are likely to harm this positive trend. The OECD estimates that the annual loss from IPR infringements to the world economy is around €200 billion. Furthermore, given that 90% of EU exports are accounted for by IPR-intensive industries, it is important to ensure that third countries provide sufficient protection for innovative products.

The event:

Press material will be available on the day.

The sources:

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

John Clancy +32 2 295 37 73

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Maria Lyra Traversa +32 2 295 63 68

Tuesday 1 July: Towards a Circular Economy: A zero waste programme for Europe

The news:

The package to be adopted on 1 July will include non-legislative policy communications on circular economy, sustainable food and buildings. It will also review the existing waste legislation and propose new targets for various waste streams.

The package will have at its core a push for higher recycling targets, and a push for elimination of landfill in waste legislation. Some regions in Member States are already achieving 70% recycling rates and virtually zero landfill, the objective is to get all EU countries up to the level of the best performers by 2030.

Special attention will be devoted to sustainable buildings and sustainable food; The Commission's communication will in both cases directly address the waste phase as part of the whole life cycle.

In the EU, that means as much as 100 million tonnes of food is wasted every year. The Commission will make a proposal on how to reduce food waste and to make sure food waste is systematically and properly measured by all Member States so we can track progress.

The building sector generates a third of our total waste. A large majority of construction and demolition waste is recyclable, but the average recovery in EU is below 50%. The objective of Commission's proposal is to have more transparent and compatible information on the environmental performance of buildings which can be taken into account when designing, building, buying or investing in buildings.

The background:

The best way to improve our resource efficiency and make Europe competitive for the future is via a circular economy where products are re-used, repaired and recycled. Europe is heavily import dependent and good waste management can create permanent local jobs, increase revenue and reduce the use of scarce virgin resources.

With this new proposal waste legislation will be simplified, and cooperation between the Commission and Member States will be stepped up to ensure better implementation. A common and coherent EU framework for promoting the circular economy will be established with a key role for product policy, research and innovation, financing and investment, as well as business and consumer action.

The event:

Press material will be available on the day.

The sources:

Information on circular economy:

Information on waste:

Information on Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik:

The contacts:

Joe Hennon +32 2 295 35 93

Andreja Skerl +32 2 295 14 45

Tuesday 1 July: Commission to propose Green Employment Initiative to support job creation in the green economy

The news:

On 1 July the Commission is due to present a Communication on a Green Employment Initiative: tapping into the job creation potential of the green economy. This initiative is presented in conjunction with a Communication on circular economy and a Green Action Plan for SMEs (see above/below).

The transition towards a green and resource-efficient economy is needed to increase European global competitiveness and is at the core of the Europe 2020 Strategy. It is an opportunity for creating high quality environmentally-friendly jobs, while securing the sustainable well-being of future generations and contributing to recovery from the economic crisis. It is also a challenge for the European labour market and skills policies, as this transition will bring about fundamental transformations across all sectors: additional employment will be created, some jobs will be replaced and others redefined.

To create the necessary conditions for employment in the green and resource efficient economy to fulfil its potential, better targeting and closer coordination of labour market policies and tools are therefore essential. This Initiative will call for an integrated approach towards supporting employment in the economy by setting out policy actions to be taken at European and national levels, including:

  • Bridging skills and knowledge gaps

  • Anticipating sectoral changes, securing transitions in employment and promoting mobility

  • Supporting job creation through shifting taxation away from labour and promoting, entrepreneurship

  • Increasing transparency and data quality to improve monitoring

  • Promoting social dialogue and engagement of employer representatives and trade unions

  • Strengthening international cooperation.

The background:

The Europe 2020 Strategy identifies the transition towards a green, low carbon and resource efficient economy as one of the key ongoing structural transformations to achieve smart, inclusive and sustainable growth. The model for green growth – leading to a low carbon, climate resilient and resource efficient economy - depicts a structural economic change which is mainly driven by scarcity of resources (resource constraints and prices), and supported by public policies, technological change and innovation, new markets and changes in industrial and consumer demand patterns. This structural shift is both a challenge and an opportunity for the labour market and considerable job creation is already taking place in the environmental goods and service sector. There was an increase from 3 to 4.2 million jobs between 2002 and 2011, including by 20% during the recession years (2007-2011).

The 2014 Annual Growth Survey stressed the job creation potential of the green economy and the need to develop strategic frameworks in which labour market and skills policies play an active role in supporting job creation. Nevertheless, integrated policy frameworks linking green growth and employment exist in only a small number of Member States, with the majority showing a disjointed and fragmented approach.

The event:

Press material will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

For more information on Green Jobs:

  1. Creating Green Jobs (Reference: I-061713)

The contacts:

Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 41 07

Cécile Dubois +32 2 295 18 83

Joe Hennon +32 2 295 35 93

Isaac Valero Ladron +32 2 296 49 71

Wednesday 9 July: Horizon 2020: Public-private innovation partnerships launch calls

The news:

Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), public-private partnerships set up under EU's new research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, will launch the first calls for research projects on 9 July 2014. The partnerships work in strategic areas such as medicines, fuel cells, air and rail transport and electronics. They represent an essential investment into Europe's economy and in a better quality of life.

The background:

Through partnerships with industry and Member States, Horizon 2020 pools Europe’s resources to tackle the biggest challenges and to support competitiveness of sectors that deliver high quality jobs.

Eleven partnerships with the industry and Member States are being launched under Horizon 2020. The overall investment over the next seven years is worth more than €23 billion, where the EU's contribution of €9 billion will unlock a €10 billion investment from the private sector and €4 billion from Member States.

Most of the funding will go to Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs). These are run as Joint Undertakings that organise their own research agenda and award funding for projects on the basis of open calls. The first round of these calls will be now launched by most of the seven public-private partnerships.

The event:

Stakeholder conference with addresses by President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso (to be confirmed), Vice-Presidents Neelie Kroes and Siim Kallas, and Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn on 9 July.

IP and Memo will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Horizon 2020 website

Horizon magazine

Participant Portal

  1. U : Research - Horizon 2020 - 2013 (Part 1) (Reference: I-075812)

  1. EU: Research - Horizon 2020, 2013 (Part 2) (Reference: I-077412)

The contacts:

Michael Jennings +32 2 296 33 88

Monika Wcislo +32 2 298 65 95

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