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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 17 January 2014

Top News from the European Commission
18 January – 14 February 2014

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

Monday 20 January: Commission to help push forward the potential of ocean energy 2

Wednesday 22 January: The Commission presents a Communication for a European Industrial Renaissance 4

Wednesday 22 January: A vision for the internal market for industrial products 5

Wednesday 22 January: The Commission presents the 2030 framework for climate and energy 6

End of January (tbc): European Commission to propose Structural reform measures on the EU banking sector 8

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

Wednesday 22 January: The Commission presents the 2030 framework for climate and energy

The news:

On 22 January 2014, the European Commission will launch the 2030 framework for EU climate change and energy policies.

The new package will set new climate and energy objectives for 2030 in order to ensure the EU economy and energy system becomes more competitive, secure and sustainable. It is aimed at giving certainty to Member States and investors, and supporting progress towards a more competitive, low-carbon and energy-secure European economy.

Key elements of the framework will cover: greenhouse gas emissions reductions, renewable energy, and energy efficiency as well as a new governance system to obtain these goals. The package will also include a proposal on the strengthening of EU emissions trading system.

The Communication setting out the 2030 framework is accompanied by a Report on energy prices and costs, assessing the drivers behind them, and compares EU prices with those of our main trading partners.

The background:

Much has changed since the 2020 climate and energy targets were set, in 2008: impact of the economic and financial crisis, new developments in technology leading to production of new types of energy, developments in terms of prices and developments in research.

By setting new 2030 targets while meeting the 2020 ones, the EU provides a longer term perspective which will ensure clarity to investors, increased innovation and demand for low-carbon technologies, reduced dependency on imported fossil, development of new economic sectors and jobs, reduced air pollution with related health benefits. Moreover, the EU will also be able to contribute constructively to the negotiations on a new international climate agreement, in 2015.

The new 2030 framework relies on the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050, the Energy Roadmap 2050 and the Transport White Paper as well as on the Commission's Green Paper on the Framework from March 2013.

The 2030 Framework proposal will be addressed by the European Council on 20-21 March 2014, as well as by the European Parliament.

The event:

Press conference by President José Manuel Barroso, Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger and Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, at 12:00 on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Green Paper on 2030 policy framework and consultation page here:

MEMO/13/275 Questions and Answers: Green Paper on a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies:

Carbon capture and storage communication and consultation page here:

MEMO/13/276 Consultative Communication on the future of Carbon Capture and Storage in Europe:

Renewable energy report here:

MEMO/13/277 Renewable energy progress report:

The contacts:

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen +32 2 295 30 70

Alejandro Ulzurrun +32 2 295 48 67

Sabine Berger +32 2 299 27 92

Nicole Bockstaller +32 2 295 25 89

Isaac Valero Ladron +32 2 296 49 71

Mirna Bratoz +32 2 298 72 78

End of January (tbc): European Commission to propose Structural reform measures on the EU banking sector

The news:

Over the last 5 years, we have put in place in Europe a large number of financial reforms to learn all the lessons from the financial crisis. The objective of these reforms has been to make the financial sector as a whole more robust and resilient, to reduce the impact of potential bank failures, and ensure the financial sector is at the service of the real economy. We have made enormous progress, including in the last few weeks on banking union. New capital rules for banks apply as of 1 January this year.

As things stand, most banks in the new set up will be resolvable without taxpayers having to step in when things go wrong. However, a few very big, complex and interconnected banks might not be.

That is why; the European Commission will make a proposal in coming weeks which will be the final piece of the puzzle to address "too big to fail" banks. It will include measures on the structure of the EU banking sector, which aim at:

  • Ensuring that banks do not remain or become too-big, too-complex or too-interconnected to fail;

  • Reducing excessive intra-group complexity and conflicts of interest, thus facilitating management, regulation, supervision, and resolution of banks;

  • Guaranteeing that the banks can be resolvable and do not require taxpayer bailout when facing difficulties;

  • Ensuring that banks will no longer be allowed to use public safety nets to artificially expand in risky activities that are not linked to core banking activities.

The background:

Since the start of the financial crisis, the European Union and its Member States have engaged in a fundamental overhaul of bank regulation and supervision.

In the area of banking, the EU has initiated a number of reforms to reduce the impact of potential bank failures with the objectives of creating a safer, sounder, more transparent and responsible financial system that works for the economy and for society as a whole.

However, the EU banking sector remains large in absolute (EUR42.9 trillion) and relative terms (nearly 350% of EU GDP). The largest banks are also more active in complex cross-border trading activities through a large number of legal entities.

Within the context of national initiatives and an increasing global debate on the merits of bank structural reform, Commissioner Barnier announced in November 2011 the setting up of a High-level Expert Group with a mandate to assess the need for structural reform of the EU banking sector, chaired by Erkki Liikanen, Governor of the Bank of Finland. The Group delivered its report in October 2012 (IP/12/1048) and provided a good basis to draft the proposal.

Several EU Member States (UK, FR, DE, BE, etc.) and international partner countries (US) have already embarked on structural reforms.

The EU proposal aims at providing a common framework to maintain a level-playing field and consistency in the banking union and in the single market. This is important for the overall systemic stability of financial system.

The event:

Press conference with Commissioner Michel Barnier preceded by a technical briefing – details to be confirmed.

Press release and MEMO will be available on the day.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

The EU Single Market:

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07

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