Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
The European Commission reserves the right to make changes
Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission and Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, will lead the European Union's delegation to the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, taking place in Sendai, Japan. The conference in Sendai will review the Hyogo Framework for Action and aims to conclude the international negotiations on a new framework for disaster risk reduction.
Disaster risk has increased significantly and cost the EU alone around €100 billion during the last decade. On average, natural disasters cause the death of more than 100,000 people every year worldwide. Risk reduction, prevention and management policies are essential to reduce the impact of disasters thereby saving lives and underpinning economic development.
The Hyogo Framework for Action ‘Building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters’ is a 10-year plan adopted by 168 United Nations Member States that committed to make the world safer from natural hazards and building disaster resilience.
Adopted in 2005, the Hyogo Framework for Action is due to expire in 2015 and a wide negotiation process has taken place on shaping the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction that is foreseen to be finalised at the upcoming World Conference.
The EU has taken a leading role in building a robust and ambitious post-2015 framework, which is to place disaster risk reduction as a key element of sustainable development efforts, to define further steps to reduce risks and foster resilience. In April 2014, the European Commission adopted a Communication on The Post 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action: Managing Risks to achieve Resilience. This document has served as basis for discussions between the Member States, the European Parliament and other stakeholders for the common EU position for the global negotiations in Sendai.
The third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in Sendai, Japan from 14 to 18 March 2015. EbS will cover the event.
Memo on 'Boosting global efforts to reduce the impact of disasters: Commission charts the course for EU action': http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-268_en.htm
World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/en/partnerships/european-and-international-cooperation/third-world-conference-disaster-risk-reduction
Catherine Ray, +32 229 69921, Catherine.Ray@ec.europa.eu
Jakub Adamowicz, +32 229 50595, Jakub.Adamowicz@ec.europa.eu
Irina Novakova, +32 229 57517, Irina.Novakova@ec.europa.eu
Andreana Stankova, +32 229 57857, Andreana.Stankova@ec.europa.eu
On 18 March, the Commission is due to adopt a first set of tax transparency measures, as part of its ambitious agenda to tackle corporate tax avoidance and harmful tax competition in the EU.
A key element of this Tax Transparency Package is a proposal to introduce the automatic exchange of information between Member States on their tax rulings. It will enable Member States to detect certain abusive tax practices by companies and take the necessary action in response.
An overarching communication will outline the different elements of the package, which will also include some other initiatives to advance the tax transparency agenda in the EU.
On 18 February, the College of Commissioners held a first orientation debate on possible key actions to ensure a fairer and more transparent approach to taxation in the EU and announced that legislation to extend the automatic exchange of information on tax rulings would be proposed shortly.
The Commission is rapidly making good on the pledges it made in its Work Programme to clamp down on tax avoidance and to ensure that taxes are paid in the country where profits are generated.
In his Political Guidelines presented to the European Parliament on 15 July 2014, President Juncker stated: "We need more fairness in our internal market. While recognising the competence of Member States for their taxation systems, we should step up our efforts to combat tax evasion and tax fraud, so that all contribute their fair share."
The Tax Transparency package will be presented at a press conference on 18 March. An off-the-record technical briefing will be held ahead of the press conference. The exact timing of both briefings will be confirmed in due course.
Press material will be available on that day.
Vanessa Mock, +32 229 56194, email@example.com
Audrey Augier, +32 229 71607, firstname.lastname@example.org
Johannes Bahrke, +32 2958615, email@example.com
On 23 March, the European Commission will release the 2014 annual report for the European rapid alert system for dangerous products. Vĕra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality will present the report and will demonstrate how this system has helped better protect consumers from dangerous products in the past year.
In 2014, the number of alerts and follow-up actions (e.g. recalls) increased, which shows the commitment of Member States and the Commission to ensure that goods on the market are safe for consumers.
Also, new search tools have been incorporated into the webpage of the rapid alert system. This feature complements the weekly update of alerts and allows consumers and businesses to better inform themselves about the detection of dangerous products and product recalls.
The rapid alert system ensures that information about dangerous non-food products withdrawn from the market and/or recalled anywhere in Europe is quickly circulated between Member States and the European Commission. In this way, appropriate follow up action (ban/stop of sales, withdrawal, recall or import rejection by import authorities) is taken everywhere in the EU and consumers are informed. Thirty-one countries (EU together with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) currently participate in the system.
Since the establishment of the rapid alert system in 2003, there has been a steady increase in the number of alerts registered and follow-up actions undertaken to remove dangerous products on the market. Back in 2003 there were less than 200 notifications, while in 2014 more than 2 400 notifications to the rapid alert system were made.
Commissioner Jourová will present the 2014 report on the European rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products on 23 March at 11:00 in the press room.
An exhibition of the products recalled by Member States' authorities will also be held outside the press room.
A factsheet will be available.
- Available on EbS
Christian Wigand, + 32 229 62253, firstname.lastname@example.org
Melanie Voin, + 32 229 58659, email@example.com
The European Commission will publish the EU road safety statistics for 2014. The road fatality figures for 2014 differ widely between Member States, with some countries decreasing the number of deaths and others reporting an increase this year. The small overall improvement since last year means that more efforts will be needed in order to reach the EU strategic target of halving the number of road deaths from 2010 to 2020.
To reach the EU strategic target of halving the number of road deaths from 2010 to 2020, additional efforts are now needed. Most every-day road safety actions are done on local and Member State level, for example enforcement of road traffic rules, education campaigns and infrastructure development and maintenance. The EU contributes with legislation and recommendations on issues of common concern, for example the minimum requirements for technical vehicle inspections and harmonisation of technical standards.
More information about the Commission's road safety work and EU road safety statistics is available here.
Commissioner Bulc will present the road safety statistics for 2014, on Tuesday 24 March 2015 at 12:00 in the press room.
- Available on EbS.
Press release, a Q&A and a fact sheet will be available.
Jakub Adamowicz, +32 229 50595, Jakub.firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Salsby, +32 229 72459, Joshua.email@example.com
There are still many barriers preventing citizens and business to fully benefit from digital opportunities. It is a top priority for the Juncker Commission to remove these obstacles and create a Digital Single Market that will boost growth and jobs on our continent. The Commission will officially kick-off work and exchange first concrete ideas on 25 March when the College of Commissioners will hold an orientation debate on how to make the EU's single market freedoms "go digital".
Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, will present the main obstacles he has identified with his project team and the key areas the Commission will focus on in its Digital Single Market Strategy to trigger a real change for consumers and businesses.
The outcome of the debate will prepare the Digital Single Market strategy to be unveiled in May.
Digital technologies know no borders: in the 21st century, when "digital" is part of our daily lives (when using a mobile phone or tablet abroad, shopping online or paying bills online), it simply does not make sense to have a patchwork of 28 different rules for telecommunications services, copyright, data protection, or the management of radio spectrum.
Citizens should be able to access services, music, movies and sports events on their electronic devices wherever they are in Europe and especially more so when they are paying for these services. Companies should be able to offer their activities across the entire EU without facing different hurdles in the area of data protection or consumer rules depending on where their server is based.
By breaking down barriers and creating a Digital Single Market, Europe can generate up to €250 billion in additional growth, and hundreds of thousands of news jobs, in the next five years.
On College orientation debates: they are initiated by the Commission President to prepare initiatives in strategic policy areas. Orientation debates can take place during the weekly College meetings, seminars or specific working meetings.
On 25 March, the College of Commissioners will hold an orientation debate on the Digital Single Market strategy. Vice-President Ansip will be at the Midday briefing to present the outcome of the discussions to the press.
Mina Andreeva, +32 229 91382, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie Frenay, +32 229 64532, email@example.com
An International conference in support of Guinea-Bissau will take place in Brussels on 25 March. The event will be co-hosted by the government of Guinea-Bissau, the EU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Brussels conference will bring together the international community and Guinea-Bissau to endorse the government's vision and long-term development strategy 2015-2025 and to pledge support to enable its implementation.
2015 is the European Year for Development. Against this background, the conference comes at a crucial juncture for Guinea-Bissau. After years of extreme fragility and political instability, the country turned a corner in 2014 with elections in May and the restoration of the constitutional order. The objective will be to sustain the positive momentum and ensure that the country moves away from fragility and towards sustainable development.
The one-day conference will be held in the Conference centre Borchette in Brussels. A press conference is foreseen. Journalists interested in covering the event are invited to register at the following e-mail, indicating their media profession: firstname.lastname@example.org
The European Year for Development website: https://europa.eu/eyd2015/en
Catherine Ray, +32 229 69921, Catherine.Ray@ec.europa.eu
Irina Novakova, +32 229 57517, Irina.Novakova@ec.europa.eu
Sharon Zarb, +32 229 92256, Sharon.Zarb@ec.europa.eu
On Thursday 26 March, the European Commission will adopt its monthly infringements package. These decisions cover all Member States and most of EU policies and seek to enforce EU law across Europe in the interest of both citizens and businesses.
Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) gives the Commission the power to take legal action against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations under EU law.
There are three successive stages: Letter of formal notice, reasoned opinion and referral to the Court of Justice.
If, despite the ruling, a Member State still fails to act, the Commission may open a further infringement case under Article 260 of the TFEU. After only one written warning, Commission may refer a Member State back to the Court and it can propose that the Court imposes financial penalties based on the duration and severity on the infringement and the size of the Member State.
A comprehensive Memo on all referrals and reasoned opinions, specific press release on each referral and a Memo on the procedure will be available on the day on Rapid:
For more information on infringements:
On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12
Ricardo Cardoso, +32 229 80100, email@example.com
Justyna Milanowska, +32 229 94246, firstname.lastname@example.org
On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.