Daily News of 2013-11-21
European Commission - MEX/13/1121 21/11/2013
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EXME 13 / 21.11
21 / 11 / 13
Today President Barroso met Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in Beijing for the 16th EU-China Summit. It was the first Summit with the new Chinese leadership. The EU and China are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the Summit set the basis and the strategic objectives for the next decade. Yesterday President Barroso also met President Xi Jinping. Read the President's statement at the press conference . The President's speeches at the EU-China Business Summit and the China Urbanisation Forum will be available soon.
Vers une nouvelle politique européenne de promotion des produits agricoles et agroalimentaires
La Commission européenne a présenté aujourd'hui, un projet de réforme de la politique d'information et de promotion des produits agricoles et alimentaires européens. Cette nouvelle politique de promotion – dotée d'un budget renforcé et, à terme, de l'appui d'une agence exécutive européenne – a vocation à être un véritable outil de conquête des marchés. Sous le slogan "Enjoy, it's from Europe", elle vise à aider les professionnels du secteur à franchir le cap de l'international et à mieux sensibiliser les consommateurs sur les efforts en matière de qualité des produits, sur la base d'une véritable stratégie définie au niveau européen. Voir: IP/13/1139 et MEMO/13/1032 .
On 22-23 November 2013, President Barroso visits Hong Kong and Macao. In Hong Kong the President will meet Hon. Chun-ying. Leung, the Chief Executive, and Hon. Jasper Tsang, the President of the Legislative Council. He will deliver a speech to the Hong Kong business community hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce and attend a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the EU Office's establishment. In Macao the President will meet Hon. Chui Sai-on, the Chief Executive, and attend a public event to mark the 20th anniversary of the EU-Macao Trade and Cooperation Agreement. He will witness the signature of EU-Macao Horizontal Air Service Agreement, deliver a speech at the inauguration ceremony for the Macao-EU Chamber of Commerce and meet with representatives of Macao, EU and Portuguese communities. During his visit to both places, President Barroso will convey the EU's attachment to the relationship between the People's Republic of China and the two Special Administrative Regions based on the "One country, two systems" principle. He will review the EU's growing bilateral trade and FDI flows with both S.A.R.'s and discuss their roles as two-way platforms for trade and investment between the EU and mainland China.
Countdown to the European Development Days 2013 - Only 5 days until it starts!
The European Development Days (EDDs) are Europe’s premier forum on global cooperation and development. This year's edition will take place on 26 – 27 November in Brussels and will focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and on the global framework which will succeed them by 2015. High level speakers include José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission; Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, President of the African Union Commission; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger and many others, who will come together with representatives from civil society, private sector and academia from all continents to debate the content of the next agenda which should address global poverty and sustainable development. EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will present the results of a European-wide survey on what citizens think of Development Aid. Find out about all the media opportunities here: MEMO/13/1022 . Latest news, announcements and information on European Development Days 2013 will also be available here .
Countries of the Southern neighbourhood will receive almost half a billion euro from the European Commission in support of their transition and reform efforts. The European Commission has adopted today an assistance package of €476 million to foster development and cooperation with a number of Southern neighbours. This assistance is provided through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and represents nearly one third of the total €1.5 billion of funding foreseen this year for the region.
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle stated: "The new support for the countries in our Southern Neighbourhood will make a difference in key areas like education, for small and medium enterprises development and agriculture. This important funding constitutes a clear proof of our commitment to support partner countries’ efforts to stimulate sustainable economic development and improve the living standards of citizens. It is also a testimony of our continuing support to regional cooperation in the context of the Union for the Mediterranean, for which the Secretariat in Barcelona has a key role to play'.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Stredoslovenska Energetika by EPH
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Stredoslovenská energetika, a.s. ("SSE") of Slovakia by Energetický a Průmyslový Holding a.s ("EPH") of the Czech Republic. EPH is mainly active in the generation and supply of electricity and the provision of district heating in the Czech Republic, and in the retail supply of gas in the Slovak Republic. EPH further has some minor activities in the gas sector in the Czech Republic and is marginally active in the electricity sector in Slovakiac. SSE is mainly active in Slovakia in the distribution and retail supply of electricity with some further minor activities in the gas and electricity sectors in Slovakia and in the Czech Republic respectively. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties' activities overlap only to a limited extent along the value chains of electricity and gas and the merged entity will face competitive pressure. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.6984 .
Three higher education institutions which receive funding through the Erasmus programme are named today as winners of the 2013 European Erasmus Awards. The gold prize winner is JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä, Finland, where 70% of the staff take part in Erasmus training abroad each year. The university regards staff exchanges as key to its efforts to improve teaching and learning quality. The Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Greece, and the Universitat Politècnica in Valencia, Spain, also receive awards (see below). The Erasmus Awards will be presented at the Tour & Taxis exhibition centre in Brussels this evening.
The European Commission welcomed yesterday's approval by the European Parliament of the financing and governance of two European satellite navigation programmes: Galileo and EGNOS, for the period 2014-2020. Their total budget of € 7 billion will be used for the completion of the satellite navigation infrastructure, operations, necessary replenishment and replacement activities, development of fundamental elements such as Galileo-enabled chipsets or receivers and, most importantly, the provision of services. The responsibility for the progress of the programmes and their overall supervision will stay with the Commission. The European GNSS Agency will gradually assume responsibility for the operational management of the programmes while the European Space Agency will remain responsible for the deployment of Galileo, and the design and development of new generation of systems.
What will EU justice policy look like in 2020? This is the theme of a major conference starting today – the 'Assises de la Justice' hosted by the European Commission on 21-22 November in Brussels. The starting point for this reflection is a package of five discussion papers presented by the Commission covering European civil, criminal and administrative law, as well as the rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU. These papers present ideas and questions for possible actions in EU justice policy in the years to come. More than 700 participants have registered for the event, which will be streamed on the internet and live-tweeted using the #EUJustice hashtag. In her opening speech Vice-President Reding said: "Under the Maastricht Treaty there was an EU justice policy, but it was shackled. A prisoner of mistrust. Today, we have laid the building blocks of a true European Justice area. Now we need to build a solid structure." See also SPEECH/13/960 .
After a rise between 2008 and 2009, social protection expenditure in the EU28 fell slightly from 29.7% of GDP in 2009 to 29.4% in 2010 and 29.1% in 2011, according to data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The increase observed in the ratio between 2008 and 2009 was mainly a result of the economic crisis, as total social protection expenditure in nominal terms2 in the EU28 grew (particularly due to the strong growth of unemployment benefits), while GDP fell. The fall between 2009 and 2011 was due to social protection expenditure growing more slowly than GDP. This fall masks different trends at Member State level. In 2011, the two main sources of funding of social protection at EU28 level were general government contributions from taxes, making up 40% of total receipts, and social contributions at 56%.
What Commissioners said
Building cities for the 21st century: EU - China dialogue
Commission Vice President Siim Kallas (Transport), Johannes Hahn (Regional Policy) and Günther Öttinger (Energy) are attending the Urbanisation Forum on 21 November in Bejing in the margins of the EU-China summit. Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, stated: "Both for Europe and China, the major challenges of this century will be to design our cities for sustainable growth. The EU and China share an interest in finding integrated solutions and in reinforcing dialogue on sustainable urban development because both the EU and China want to spread the benefits of economic progress." SPEECH/13/950 . EU-Energy Commission Oettinger said: “Looking ahead, transfers of technology will be important to ensure genuine sustainable urbanisation. European companies remain willing to transfer it as long as this is under fair conditions, voluntarily and with full respect of IPR. China would also benefit from opening up its services sectors to optimise its access to foreign experience in greening cities. Finally, openness, transparency and fairness is in China’s own interest when public institutions are trying to procure the best urban solutions.” SPEECH/13/956 . Vice-President Siim Kallas, EU transport commissioner, said: "The challenge of urban mobility is to maximize the exchange of ideas and goods – while still ensuring the attractiveness of city life. Let's work together to find policy and technology that will address urban congestion and air quality." SPEECH/13/961 .
“I welcome the vote by the European Parliament on the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy. This is an important day for European farmers, but also for all EU citizens concerned about the quality of their food and the sustainability of agricultural production methods. The reformed CAP will be better balanced between farmers, regions and Member States, with a special focus on young farmers. It will promote a competitive agricultural sector in Europe enhancing farmer's organisations, innovation and investments. It will be better targeted helping farmers in implementing concrete actions to fight against climate change, biodiversity loss and to increase water and soil quality. Now I look forward to the Council’s formal adoption of the legislative package. In the coming weeks, the European Commission will continue working on delegated acts working closely with experts from the Member States and the European Parliament to insure an efficient and smooth implementation of the political agreement.”
Commenting yesterday's vote Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn said: "These reforms are fundamental. They are aimed at ensuring a maximum impact for every euro spent – for the benefit of the citizens. They do this by concentrating investments on a few key priorities for growth. For example, it is our aim to double the support for small and medium sized businesses from around € 70 billion to 140 billion.” Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, László Andor, stated: "The European Social Fund together with the Youth Employment Initiative, will be a key instrument to support Member States' investment in employment, human capital and effective administration. More than €74 billion will be invested to help millions of people to get a job and to improve their skills."
In her speech to the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, has welcomed the work undertaken by ICCAT and its members towards the recovery of fish stocks under its jurisdiction such as Bluefin tuna and swordfish. She also highlighted the need for ICCAT to keep the momentum and continue its path towards the best science, to keep better compliance and enforcement high on the agenda and to ensure that this year's management decisions are fully in line with scientific advice. In particular this relates to those stocks for which new assessments have been undertaken, namely Atlantic albacore and Atlantic swordfish. The Commissioner also believes that the precautionary approach should guide ICCAT in discussions on stocks, such as Eastern and Mediterranean Bluefin tuna, until new advice is available.