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European Commission

Top News

Brussels, Friday 7 February 2014

Top News from the European Commission
8 February – 7 March 2014

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

Monday 10 February: European Cybercrime Centre – one year on 2

Monday 10 February: Paving the way for the EU Strategy for the Alpine region 3

Tuesday 11 February: Safer Internet Day - Let's create Better Internet together 5

Wednesday, 19 February 2014: Commission adopts new state aid guidelines for airports and airlines 6

Thursday 20 February: Commission to launch coastal tourism strategy 7

Monday 10 February: European Cybercrime Centre – one year on

The news:

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the launch of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), the first EC3 report will be presented to media by the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström and the Head of the Centre, Troels Oerting. It will evaluate how the EC3 has contributed to protect European citizens and businesses and what the main future online threats and challenges to be addressed are.

The background:

The main task of the European Cybercrime Centre is to disrupt the operations of organised crime networks that commit a large share of the serious and organised cybercrimes.

Concretely, the EC3 supports operations and investigations conducted by Member States' authorities in several areas.

Recent examples include:

  • Dismantling high-tech crimes networks (cyber-attacks, malware)

  • Disrupting a network of paedophiles involved in online child sexual exploitation

  • Dismantling international networks of organised crime in the area of payment fraud

The event:

Cecilia Malmstrom and the Head of the Centre, Troels Oerting will present the EC3 report during a press conference in the Commission's press room. A press release will be available on 10 February.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Information on Commissioner Malmström:

Information on DG Home Affairs:

The contacts:

Michele Cercone +32 2 298 09 63

Tove Ernst +32 2 298 67 64

Monday 10 February: Paving the way for the EU Strategy for the Alpine region

The news:

On 10 February Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will meet foreign and Europe ministers in Brussels to plot the way ahead towards the implementation of a new macro regional strategy for the Alpine region. The meeting will be dedicated to outline key requirements for making the Strategy a success and to establish a detailed timetable. The high level meeting will be attended by the foreign ministers of Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Lichtenstein, the Europe ministers of Germany and France and the ambassadors of Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

The background:

In December 2013, the European Council invited the Commission formally to develop an EU Macro-Regional Strategy for the Alpine Region. The deadline for presenting a proposal for the strategy is mid 2015.

The Strategy for the Alpine Region will build on the experiences of the already existing macro-regional strategies (European Strategy for the Danube Region and European Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region). According to the political resolution adopted by the representatives of States and Regions of the Alpine region in Grenoble in May 2013, the new strategy will focus mainly on the following thematic priorities:

- Ensuring sustainable growth and promoting employment, competitiveness and innovation

- Promoting a territorial development that is focused on an environmentally friendly mobility

- Promoting sustainable management of energy and natural and cultural resources

As for the implementation, the Strategy will be based on the key principles applied for the existing macro-regional strategies: no new EU funds, no additional EU formal structures and no EU legislation, while relying on a coordinated approach, synergy effects and a more effective use of EU funds and other financial instruments. The aim is to produce a clear added value based on jointly identified objectives.

The event:

10 February, Brussels, Berlaymont/S9: Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, meets foreign and Europe ministers to pave the way for the EU Strategy of the Alpine Region.

A press release (espresso) will be available on 10 February. There will be a photo- and film opportunity at the beginning of the meeting. Commissioner Hahn will be available for short interviews after the meeting, i.e. at about 19.00 p.m.(upon request, contact via press team)

The sources:

Twitter: @EU_Regional @JHahnEU #EUSAIR

The contacts:

Shirin Wheeler +32 2 29 665 65

Annemarie Huber +32 2 29 933 10

Tuesday 11 February: Safer Internet Day - Let's create Better Internet together

The news:

The European Commission's vice president Neelie Kroes will launch a Youth Manifesto on how to make a better Internet and will award the creators of the best online content for kids. This year the Safer Internet Day for the first time is celebrated not only in Europe but around the world, including US, in over 100 countries under the theme - Let's create Better Internet together. There will be games and competitions, radio and television shows, conferences, events in thousands of schools organised by the network of Safer Internet Centres.

In Brussels, vice president Kroes will award 12 creators of the best online content for kids. The winners include adults and children from Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia and The United Kingdom.

The background:

Safer Internet Day aims at promoting a safer and better use of the internet, online technologies and mobile phones, and the fight against illegal or harmful content and conduct.

The INSAFE network that coordinates the participation of EU and third countries in Safer Internet Day 2014 has been established by the Commission's EU Safer Internet Programme to raise awareness of online uses and risks while addressing children, parents, schools, and media.

The event:

IP will be available on the day. #betterinternet, #SID2014

Tuesday 11 February: Conference, award ceremony and launch of youth manifesto on better internet in Belaymont, Brussels.

  1. Available on EbS

The sources:

Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day 2014 video

Best content for kids award

Better internet for kids in the EU

Vice President Neelie Kroes' website

The contacts:, tel: +32 229 57361, Twitter: @RyanHeathEU

Wednesday, 19 February 2014: Commission adopts new state aid guidelines for airports and airlines

The news:

On 19 February 2014, the European Commission will adopt the new guidelines for state aid to the aviation sector in the EU, which will replace the 1994 and 2005 Aviation guidelines.

The new state aid guidelines for airports and airlines will set out how Member States can support airports and airlines in line with EU state aid rules. During a transitional period the new rules will in particular provide compatibility criteria for operating aid to airports, which is not allowed under the current guidelines.

The background:

Member States' public funding of airports and airlines is currently assessed by the Commission under the 2005 Aviation Guidelines. These Guidelines contain provisions for assessing public support measures to airports and for the start-up of airline services from regional airports.

In view of the significant market changes that have taken place over the last decade, the Commission initiated a review, with a first public consultation in 2011 (see IP/11/445). In light of the submissions received, the Commission reviewed the existing rules and consulted the public on revised draft guidelines in July 2013 (see IP/13/644).

At the same time the Commission is working on about 50 state aid cases (including 32 formal investigations) in the aviation sector.

The Commission is reacting boldly to changing market realities. The new guidelines will aim at ensuring that taxpayers' money is well-spent and that a level playing field is preserved in the Single Market between airports and airlines, regardless of their business models (from large hubs to regional airports and from flag carriers to low-cost airlines).

The event:

Vice-President Almunia will give a press conference.

  1. Available on EbS

Press details to be announced.

Press release and memo will be available on the day.

The sources:

Competition website:

Vice-President Almunia's website:

The contacts:

Antoine Colombani (+32 2 297 45 13, Twitter: @ECspokesAntoine)

Thursday 20 February: Commission to launch coastal tourism strategy

The news:

The European Commission's will launch a new strategy for coastal and maritime tourism which will strengthen Europe’s position as the world’s number 1 tourist destination. The strategy focuses on promoting innovation in the sector and bringing stakeholders together to help maximise the potential of Europe's coastal areas.

The strategy recognises that coastal and maritime tourism makes up the economic backbone of many coastal regions and has the potential to be a major driver for growth and job creation across Europe, especially amongst the young.

The background:

Coastal and maritime tourism is the largest maritime activity in Europe. It employs almost 3.2 million people, generating a total of € 183 billion in gross value added, which is more than one third of the maritime economy. Almost half of the nights spent in accommodation establishments in the EU are spent in coastal areas. Coastal and maritime tourism could be a major source for further growth and jobs, particularly for the young, since 45% of tourism workers are between 16 and 35 years old.

But the sector is also faced with many challenges: competition from destinations worldwide is increasing, the environmental footprint needs to be tackled, and there are data gaps and skills shortages. The proposed strategy aims to address and overcome these challenges through specific initiatives to be taken at EU, Member states, regional and stakeholder level to boost the sector’s performance and competitiveness.

Coastal and Maritime Tourism is one of the five focus areas of the EU's Blue Growth Strategy, which aims at creating sustainable economic growth and employment in the marine and maritime economy to help Europe's economic recovery. These 'blue' 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:

There will be a joint press conference by Vice-president Antonio Tajani, European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry and Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in the press room of the Berlaymont. A press release and Memo will be available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Maritime Affairs website:

DG ENTR website:

Website of Commissioner Maria Damanaki:

Website of Vice-president Commissioner Antonio Tajani:

The contacts:

Oliver Drewes +32 2 299 24 21

Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52

Lone Mikkelsen +32 2 296 05 67

Sara Tironi +32 2 299 04 03

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