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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 24 January 2014

Top News from the European Commission
25 January – 21 February 2014

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

Wednesday 29 January: European Commission to propose Structural reform measures on the EU banking sector 2

Thursday 30 January: New Commission proposal for a new food distribution school scheme 4

Date tbc: The European Commission presents its first ever Anti-Corruption Report 6

Wednesday 29 January: 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:

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

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

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

  4. 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

Thursday 30 January: New Commission proposal for a new food distribution school scheme

The news:

On 30 January, the European Commission is expected to present a proposal for a new European school scheme for the distribution of food (fresh fruits and vegetables, including bananas, and drinking milk) to school children.

The new proposal aims at addressing the current decline in children's consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables and milk, and poor nutrition, as well as to combat persistent obesity.

Under the slogan "Eat well - Feel good", the new From Farm to School scheme will put greater focus on educational measures to improve children's awareness of sustainable healthy eating habits, environmental issues, farming and the variety of farm produce available. It will strengthen the link between the farming community and wider school environment while promoting healthy eating habits.

The background:

The proposal brings together two currently separate school distribution schemes (respectively on fruit and vegetable and milk) schemes with a strengthened educational component.

The event:

On Thursday 30 January, Dacian Cioloş, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, will present the proposal in a press point at the beginning of the midday briefing in the Commission's press room and will be available for a few related questions immediately afterwards.

A press release and a memo will be available on the day. Commissioner Cioloş is also expected to attend a fruit and milk distribution in a school in the surroundings of Brussels during the week (to be confirmed). TV images and photos of Commissioner Cioloş' school visit will also be available on the EbS website in the course of the afternoon.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on the School Fruit scheme:

Information on the School Milk scheme

Information on Commissioner Cioloş:

The contacts:

Roger Waite +32 2 296 14 04

Fanny Dabertrand +32 2 299 06 25

Date tbc: The European Commission presents its first ever Anti-Corruption Report

The news:

Corruption continues to be one of the biggest challenges in the European Union - a phenomenon that costs the EU economy around 120 billion euros per year.

Despite the legal and policy initiatives undertaken so far by the Member States, the results of anti-corruption efforts across the EU remain rather unsatisfactory overall.

That is why, today, the European Commission is publishing its first EU Anti-Corruption report, which provides a clear state of play in each Member State: what is in place, what are the outstanding issues, what policies are working, what could be improved and how.

The background:

The Anti-corruption Report shows that the nature and scope of corruption varies from one Member State to another and that the effectiveness of anti-corruption policies can be quite different.

The EU Anti-Corruption Report covers all 28 EU Member States and includes:

  1. A horizontal chapter summarising the main findings and describing corruption-related trends across the EU.

  2. A thematic chapter focusing on public procurement and covering corruption and anti-corruption measures within national systems of public procurement.

  3. Country chapters providing a snapshot of the general situation regarding corruption, identifying issues that require further attention, and highlighting good practices which might be inspiring for others.

The Report also includes the results of two Eurobarometer surveys on the perception of corruption amongst European citizens on the one hand and companies on the other hand.

The event:

IP and MEMO will be available on the day

Press conference with Commissioner Cecilia Malmström

Technical Briefing with experts from DG HOME (off the record)

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

The contacts:

Michele Cercone: +32 229-80963

Tove Ernst: +32 229-86764

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