Midday Express of 2013-05-23
European Commission - MEX/13/0523 23/05/2013
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EXME 13 / 23.05
23 / 05 / 13
The EU has today taken the next step towards an investment agreement with China: The European Commission adopted a draft negotiating mandate which will now be sent to the Member States for their green light to open negotiations. The main objectives of an investment agreement at EU level are to improve the protection of European investments in China as well as Chinese investments in Europe. It should also, crucially, cover improved access to the Chinese market, addressing important issues like mandatory joint ventures.
Today the Commission unveils an initiative to improve port operations and onward transport connections at key seaports along Europe’s coastline. The proposal will help port operators upgrade their services and facilities, and give them more financial autonomy. Ports are vital gateways to the rest of the world; they are crucial for European business, for Europe's competitiveness, and they have a huge potential for job creation and investment. 74% of extra-EU goods are shipped through ports . They are equally important for intra-European trade: 37% of the intra-EU freight traffic and 385 million passengers pass through ports every year. But EU ports face some specific challenges : cargo volumes are expected to rise 50% by 2030 — even more for the fast growing container traffic; there exists a "performance gap" between ports that have adapted to new logistic and economic requirements and ports that have not kept up; shipping fleets are increasing in size and complexity, and the ports need to adapt. For more information see also MEMO/13/448 .
Without electronics, there is no manufacturing in Europe's future (it supports everything from cars to appliances to health to phones). Without more critical mass in electronics, Europe's industrial competitiveness slides and there is also no manufacturing in Europe. So this strategy - agreed with researchers and industry - is a fundamental building block for future growth. There are vision elements (overtaking the United States in terms of domestic production). And process elements (a new role for Member States and a public-private partnership). And money elements: €1.5 billion a year from the Commission, €100 billion private investment up to 2020. And geographic elements: money is focussed on seven geographic / tech clusters. For more information see also Vice-President's Kroes' speech and MEMO/13/451.
The European Commission has today adopted a proposal on financing operations in support of investment projects outside the EU by the European Investment Bank (EIB), on the basis of an EU budgetary guarantee. The proposal streamlines the objectives of EIB financing and provides for more focused resources to tackle climate change and to support the pre-accession states and the EU’s southern and eastern neighbours. The new legislation covers the period 2014-2020 and is expected to be adopted in the coming year.
Food: Commission reviews pig meat inspection rules
New rules aimed at modernising pig meat inspection, carried out by national authorities, were endorsed by experts meeting in the Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health. The new rules are based on an opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and introduce a more risk-based approach to pig meat inspection; enhance controls on diseases such as Salmonella and Trichinella and amends classical post-mortem inspection procedures. The rules reflect the new risks identified in the EFSA opinion and re-orientate meat inspection to address these risks in order to maintain the highest level of consumer protection, without compromising animal health and welfare objectives and without increasing costs associated with these inspections. For more information: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2351.htm and http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/meatinspection.htm?wtrl=01
At a High-level event on Education and Development in Brussels, the European Commission will confirm today its commitment to making education more equal and of a higher quality in the Development agenda beyond 2015. It will direct at least 20% of the 2014-2020 aid budget to human development and social inclusion, education being a main component of it. As much as €2.5 billion will be mobilised for education, confirming it as a priority for EU development post-2015. At least €1.5 billion will go to the future Erasmus for All programme (an academic exchange programme between EU and overseas universities, which has helped pupils improve their education by gaining experience of studying abroad). Commissioner Piebalgs will also make a commitment to ensuring that by 2030, every child will be able to complete basic education, regardless of their circumstances, and have basic literacy and numeracy skills. Commissioner Vassiliou will also highlight a range of successful European best practices promoting literacy at the conference. Her examples are expected to draw on recommendations made by an EU high level group on literacy. Today’s event will also hear from other speakers such as Catherine Ashton, EU High representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response; as well as Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, and Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development.
The European Commission has accepted commitments offered by Air Canada, United and Lufthansa to address the Commission's concerns that the parties' cooperation under a revenue-sharing joint venture may be in breach of EU antitrust rules and harm premium passengers on the Frankfurt-New York route. Premium passengers are passengers travelling in the first, business and flexible economy classes. In order to address these concerns, the parties offered to make slots available at Frankfurt and New York airports and to enter into agreements with competitors, allowing them to offer more attractive services. As a result, competition on the Frankfurt-New York route will improve. After having consulted interested parties through a market test, the Commission has now made these commitments legally binding on the three airlines for a period of ten years.
What Commissioners said
President Barroso welcomed the commitment at yesterday's European Council to make progress on energy policy and tax evasion and fraud. On energy policy, the President welcomed the fact that there was support for the Commission's approach for what he called a no regrets scenario, with action in five areas: completing the internal energy market; investing in innovation and infrastructure; committing to greater energy efficiency; exploiting renewable sources more cheaply and diversifying supplies." Tackling on tax evasion and fraud, he stressed that "it is also about fairness, because we estimate €1 trillion lost each year to tax evasion and avoidance, the equivalent of a year’s health spending across all member states." Read the full statement and watch the video of the press conference.
At this morning's Global conference on sustainability and reporting which took place in Amsterdam, Commissioner Barnier delivered a speech entitled "Sustainability and reporting: Europe at the forefront" where he highlighted the measures taken by the Commission to promote long-termism in the corporate sector. The recent Commission proposal on non-financial reporting is particularly relevant ( IP/13/330): transparent companies are more successful in the long-term. In line with yesterday's European Council Conclusions, Commissioner Barnier also announced that the Commission will expand the reporting obligations that banks must comply with to disclose their profits, taxes and subsidies in each country to all large companies and groups.