Daily News of 2013-11-07
European Commission - MEX/13/1107 07/11/2013
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EXME 13 / 07.11
07 / 11 / 13
Speaking after the vote by the European Parliament's Regional Affairs Committee on reform of Cohesion Policy and setting up common rules for the European Structural and Investment Funds, Commissioner Hahn said: "Today we have seen a major step forward in equipping the EU to support Europe's real economy – to create jobs by supporting its SMEs, kick-starting innovation and fostering its low carbon economy. The deal confirmed just now by the REGI Committee which is the European Parliament's lead committee in this, turns EU Cohesion Policy into vital tool to deliver Europe's Growth Agenda." More: MEMO/13/878 .
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the planned acquisition of Telefónica Ireland by Hutchison 3G UK (H3G) is in line with the EU Merger Regulation. Both companies provide mobile telephony services in Ireland. The Commission has concerns that the transaction may reduce competition in the markets for retail mobile telephony and for wholesale access and call origination in Ireland. The opening of an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 24 March 2014, to take a decision.
Energy: EU peer review of Taiwanese nuclear stress tests concluded
The EU peer review of the Taiwanese nuclear stress tests concludes that the safety standards applied in Taiwanese nuclear power plants are generally high and in conformity with international state-of-the-art practices. The comprehensive safety assessments conducted by the Taiwanese nuclear operator and the regulator did not indicate any safety shortcomings which would require the immediate shutdown of any of the power plants. However, the EU peer review performed by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators' Group (ENSREG) with the participation of staff from the European Commission points out that further improvements are strongly recommended as, due to Taiwan's geophysical location, the risk of being hit by extreme natural hazards such as earthquakes, flooding, tsunamis and volcanos is higher than in many other regions of the world.
In parallel to the stress tests and peer reviews conducted on all EU nuclear power plants in 2011 and 2012 comprehensive nuclear risk and safety assessments, on the basis of the EU stress tests' model, were also performed in many other countries and territories of the world, such as in Switzerland and Ukraine (both of which fully participated in the EU stress tests), Armenia, Turkey, Russia, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, South Africa and Brazil. Currently, the European Commission is holding discussions with some of these countries, e.g. Armenia and Turkey, regarding possible peer reviews of their stress tests. The summary of the EU peer review can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/nuclear/safety/stress_tests_en.htm
Protected farm products: Commission approves four new requests
The European Commission has approved the addition of four new farm products to the register of protected agricultural denominations. These are: the Portuguese " Travia da Beira Baixa " (Protected Denomination of Origin, "PDO") a by-product of the production of the PDO cheese "Queijos da Beira Baixa", with added water and raw sheep's or goat's milk ; the German " Westfälischer Knochenschinken " (Protected Geographical Indication, "PGI") a fresh ham made out of a whole hind pig leg with bone produced in the region of Westphalia ; the Spanish " Plátano de Canarias " (PGI), bananas grown in the Canary Islands famous for the brown flecks on their skin ; and the Dutch " Basterdsuiker "(Traditional Specialty Guaranteed, "TSG"), a by-product derived from sugar production frequently used as an aromatic, sweet substance on bread, in hot porridge and in pancakes. The denominations will be added to the list of close to 1,200 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products.
The European Commission has approved 22 programmes to promote agricultural products in the European Union and in third countries. The total budget of the programmes, the grand majority of which will run for a period of three years, is € 70 million, of which the EU contributes € 35 million. Commissioner Dacian Cioloş stated: "I see the promotion of EU agricultural products on EU and non-EU markets as an important element of policy, especially for quality products. This is why we are preparing a new policy initiative on promotion, for publication in the coming weeks. It is clear to me that the growth in European exports of quality products can play a major role in aiding economic recovery in the EU."
Which Member States are the biggest producers of wheat, maize or barley? How much cow’s milk is collected by dairies in the EU? Which Member States produce the most drinking milk, cheese, butter or cream? And which produce the most meat from cattle, pigs or poultry? Answers to these questions and many more can be found in the 2013 edition of the Pocketbook on agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. This pocketbook, which is aimed at both generalists and specialists, presents tables and graphs providing an overview of the agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors in the European Union.
The Commission released yesterday a study on the regulatory costs in the aluminium sector. In line with the Commission's determination to maintain the momentum behind its Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme, as recently endorsed by the European Council, the study looks at the situation in a specific sector and how this can best be tackled.
The study indicates that the high cost of energy is the main driver of costs, which in turn are mainly influenced by national rather than EU policies and regulation. The study looks at the costs associated with EU regulation, and estimates that these are approximately 8% of total costs over a ten year period. The Commission is committed to look at how these costs can best be reduced.
The study also looks beyond the issue of regulatory burden and makes the case that, under certain conditions, it is possible to produce aluminium competitively in Europe. It is important to bear in mind, that while the study looks more narrowly at costs, it does not set out in detail the benefits of targeted EU regulation, which are required to respond to technological change, recycling or access to the EU internal market. The Commission will examine the report in more detail and assess the possible policy implications.
Vice-President Neelie Kroes welcomed the commitment of the Lithuania's government educational, library and digital and ICT sectors to boost digital skills and jobs in Lithuania. Today, 11 partner organisations and associations signed a Memorandum of Understanding officially launching the Lithuanian National Digital Coalition in Vilnius at ICT 2013 , Europe's largest digital innovation event. The Lithuanian Coalition aims to reduce the shortage of IT professionals, to encourage training programmes via a life-long learning approach, and to augment awareness about the importance of digital literacy and ICT skills.
Europe's outstanding women, girls and organisations making an impact in the digital world were announced today at ICT 2013 in Vilnius, Lithuania. Winners of Europe’s first-ever Digital Woman Awards, Sasha Bezuhanova, Lune Victoria van Eewijk, Amy Mather and HTW–Berlin, are recognized for their leadership, entrepreneurship and creativity in digital areas of study and work, and for their demonstrated commitment to increasing the number of girls and women in ICT studies and careers in Europe. The awards are under the patronage of Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes and organised by Zen Digital as part of their support of the EU Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs (see IP/138/182)
L'UE annonce un nouveau soutien pour le développement du Burkina Faso et du Tchad
M. Andris Piebalgs, Commissaire européen chargé du développement, annoncera aujourd'hui l'attribution, pour la période 2014-2020, d'une aide bilatérale au Burkina Faso pouvant aller jusqu'à 623 millions d'euros. Ensuite, le Commissaire visitera le Tchad, où il annoncera un appui de 442 millions d'euros pour les mêmes années. Ces annonces seront faites dans le cadre d'une visite conjointe dans la région du Sahel qui finit aujourd'hui, avec le Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies, Ban Ki-Moon, et d'autres bailleurs. Le commissaire expliquera lors de la visite que l'UE partage avec les etats de la région du Sahel des intérêts communs et alors on restera engagé à leurs côtés. Voici le communiqué de presse sur le Burkina Faso: IP/13/1031 ; et le communiqué de presse sur le Tchad: IP/13/1033 .
What Commissioners said
The College of Commissioners received yesterday the Portuguese government, led by Prime Minister Passos Coelho. Discussions focused on the Portuguese adjustment programme and the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. The EU's industrial policy and the competitiveness agenda, as well as the next EU budget, were also on the table. President Barroso assured Prime Minister Passos Coelho of the European Commission's continuous support to Portugal during the crisis. He said that measures such as extension of deadlines, lower interest rates and a better use of structural funds, have already eased the impact of the country's adjustment programme. For the first time in two years, the Portuguese economy has grown, reaching +1,1% of growth in the second trimester of the 2013. In its autumn forecast the Commission confirmed that Portugal's GDP in 2013 has fallen less than expected. Portugal is also gaining market share in exports for the third consecutive year. "We can’t put at risk everything we have achieved", the President said. Read more on the President's website .
Logistics is one of the most dynamic sectors of the European economy and lies at the heart of the single market. As an industry, it accounts for at least 10% of Europe's GDP. While Europe is still very competitive in global logistics, it is being held back by too many barriers and bottlenecks, both technical and administrative. “If we do not manage to remove the barriers, European logistics and freight transport companies risk losing their market shares. Our transport infrastructure is increasingly congested. More attractive and flexible alternatives are appearing elsewhere,” Vice-President Siim Kallas, EU transport commissioner, will say this afternoon at the European Logistics Conference in Brussels. Europe needs an integrated policy approach that combines all forms of transport in the most efficient, reliable and cleanest way possible. “There is now an urgent need to move forward with a longer-term European logistics policy, to identify and tackle cross-border and cross-sector problem areas. We need to set specific priorities for the future,” according to Kallas. Speech will be available on Rapid at 15:00.
Autre matériel diffusé :
The Commission adopted its proposal for a Directive on Antitrust Damages Actions on 11 June 2013. Speaking at the College of Europe's Global Competition Law Centre today, Vice President Joaquín Almunia, commissioner for competition policy, stressed that "Only 25% of the Commission's decisions finding a cartel or other antitrust infringements over the period 2008-2012 were followed by damages actions. (…) Clearly, access to compensation is insufficient and unevenly spread in Europe. (…) The proposal we approved last June aims to overcome the legal and practical hurdles that still exist in the vast majority of EU countries". He added: "Everyone living in the EU and every company operating in the EU should have the same rights and obligations when it comes to compliance with EU competition law – not only on paper, but also in practice". (…)The Commission's proposal is now going through the EU legislative procedure, which involves the Council and – for the first time as regards draft legislation in the field of EU competition policy – the European Parliament under the ordinary legislative procedure. In this respect Vice President Almunia said: "I am happy to report that good progress is being made in Council under the Lithuanian Presidency. As to the Parliament, let me recall that it has repeatedly asked to be fully involved by means of the ordinary legislative procedure. I did not spare any efforts to achieve this objective. (…) As things stand now, I have the impression that most political groups would be willing to advance quickly towards adoption – which is not surprising, since the text submitted by the Commission stays close to the requests the Parliament itself advanced in its resolutions. However, the debate seems to be stalled in procedural disputes which may artificially delay adoption beyond the term of this Parliament. Now, this would be unfortunate. I do not believe that this is what the victims of illegal antitrust practices expect of their elected MEPs".