Daily News of 2013-11-22
European Commission - MEX/13/1122 22/11/2013
Other available languages: none
MEx/ 13/ 2211
22 / 11 / 13
After learning about the terrible tragedy, which resulted in the loss of lives, following the collapse of the roof of a supermarket in Riga, European Commission President Barroso said: "I am deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy which resulted in the loss of lives of at least 32 people, following the collapse of the roof of a supermarket in Riga. On behalf of the European Commission and on my own, I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to you Mr President and the people of Latvia. Please convey my expression of deepest sympathy and solidarity to the families of the victims and those who lost their lives in rescuing people as well as to all those affected by this tragic accident." President's message in Latvian .
The European Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings against several container liner shipping companies to investigate whether they engaged in concerted practices, in breach of EU antitrust rules. Container liner shipping is the transport of containers by ship at a fixed time schedule on a specific route between a range of ports at one end (e.g. Shanghai - Hong Kong - Singapore) and another range of ports at the other end (e.g., Rotterdam – Hamburg - Southampton). Opening of proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
The European Commission is inviting comments on a guidance paper aimed at helping Member States to better evaluate to what extent public support schemes have achieved their purpose and what was their impact on markets and competition. The evaluation of aid schemes is an important element of the Commission's state aid modernisation agenda towards more efficient and effective public spending: On the one hand, the state aid reform will enable Member States to grant more aid measures without prior clearance by the Commission. On the other hand, those aid measures which are significant will be assessed more thoroughly than in the past. The guidance paper sets out best practices and key principles, while giving Member States the necessary flexibility to adapt to the specific situations of each evaluation exercise. The Commission's Competition service will then publish the guidance paper on its website and use it as a basis for the evaluations to be carried in the coming years.
The European Commission welcomed yesterday's adoption of the programme COSME by the European Parliament. COSME aims to ease the access to credit problems that small businesses currently face. With a € 2.3 billion-budget over the period 2014-2020 the Programme for the Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) will for instance provide a guarantee facility for loans to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) of up to € 150 000. From now until 2020, 330 000 EU firms are expected to benefit from this facility. In addition, COSME will assist businesses and citizens in the following ways: 1) entrepreneurs will benefit from easier access to markets in the EU and beyond, 2) citizens who wish to become self-employed but currently face difficulties in setting up or developing their own business will receive tailored services and assistance, and 3) Member States' authorities will be better assisted in their efforts to elaborate and implement effective SME related policy reform.
Vice President of the European Commission, Joaquín Almunia, and Chairman of the Competition Commission of India, Ashok Chawla, signed today in New Delhi a Memorandum of Understanding to increase cooperation between the European Commission's competition department and the Competition Commission of India.
Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy said: “The Memorandum of Understanding is an important step and a sign of our commitment to further deepen our already excellent relations with the Competition Commission of India. It will give new impetus to our cooperation with India in the enforcement of our respective competition laws".
In Rome today the European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani presented Sentinel-1A, the first satellite of the EU Copernicus Programme that will fly in outer space. The satellite has been assembled in Rome and will soon be transported to Cannes for pre-launch testing. The launch will likely take place in April or May of 2014 on a SOYUZ rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. Once it is operational, Sentinel 1A will circle the Earth in Low Earth Orbit (at an altitude of around 700 km) and will provide continuous, systematic, highly reliable radar imaging of the Earth. It will operate day and night, sweeping the whole globe, imaging landmasses, coastal zones and shipping routes at high resolution. Seeing through darkness, rain and clouds, it will monitor sea ice and the Arctic environment; survey marine oil-spills; and detect ships in coastal zones for maritime security, helping prevent tragic boat accidents like the one off the island of Lampedusa. It will also spur the growth of the observation service industry, contribute to climate monitoring, as well as provide support in emergency and crisis situations.
The European Commission today welcomed the European Parliament's adoption of Horizon 2020, the next EU research and innovation programme. With a budget of nearly EUR 80 billion euro over seven years, Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research programme yet, and one of the biggest publicly funded worldwide. It is also one of only very few programmes in the next EU budget to see a strong increase in funding – a nearly 30 per cent jump in real terms over the current Seventh Framework Programme. EU Member States must now give their final seal of approval ahead of the first calls for proposals under Horizon 2020, currently set for 11th December. See also MEMO/13/1021 and MEMO/13/1034 .
Horizon 2020: Experts wanted for biggest EU research programme yet
Ahead of the start of Horizon 2020, the new EU research and innovation programme, the European Commission has today launched a new call for independent experts. Experts are needed to evaluate proposals for EU funding and for other activities such as monitoring, programme evaluation and policy development. Interested candidates are invited to file their application online as soon as possible in preparation for the first project proposal evaluations, which will start in 2014. European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "We need the very best experts from research, industry and elsewhere to make sure that only the very best and most innovative projects are funded. This call is part of the Commission's commitment to draw on the widest possible pool of talent and experience for Horizon 2020."
The 'EU-Russia Year of Science 2014' will be officially launched at an event in Moscow on November 25. Its purpose is to celebrate and promote the vibrant and multifaceted scientific and technological cooperation between the two partners. In the course of twelve months, a rich programme of events and initiatives across Russia and the EU will highlight joint achievements, successes, and the strong potential for future cooperation in research, innovation and higher education. Involving scientists, research organisations, innovators, enterprises and the wider public, the EU-Russia Year of Science will build on the longstanding and fruitful cooperation between the EU and Russia in this area.
Commissioner Piebalgs takes part in the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Addis Ababa
Today, the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs will address the Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States, in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). This consultative body for parliamentary debates was established by the so-called Cotonou Agreement, which defines the framework for the EU's relations with the 79 ACP countries. The assembly comprises equal numbers of parliamentarians from both sides (79 each) and meets twice a year. A central topic of debate during the Commissioner’s participation in the plenary session will be a global development agenda for the time after 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals will expire, and how the EU and ACP Group of States can work together to shape this new agenda.
Transport infrastructure: TEN-T priority projects results to be released
The nine European coordinators — appointed in 2010 for 9 of the 30 TEN-T priority projects and for ERTMS and Motorways of the Sea — will present their final activity reports at the European Parliament on 25 and 26 November. Each report will contain the concrete results obtained so far, as well as the lessons learned. It is expected to focus on cross-border cooperation, clear communication and binding commitments, all essential elements for any project to succeed and deliver the long expected benefits. The presentations by the coordinators in the Parliament will mark the end of the mandate for the nine coordinators. It happens at a crucial moment, right at the end of the current TEN-T Guidelines, and the beginning of the new, ambitious, EU infrastructure policy , which will also strengthen the coordinators.
Energy Commissioner Oettinger in Oslo for a meeting with the new Norwegian government
On the occasion of the annual meeting of the EU-Norway Energy Dialogue today in Oslo, Energy Commissioner Oettinger met with Mr Vidar Helgesen and Mr Tord Lien, the Ministers responsible for EU relations and energy within the new Norwegian government. The meeting took place at a crucial moment in EU energy policy development with discussions on the future energy and climate framework for 2030 in full swing and the Commission's approach to public intervention in EU's electricity markets recently published. Among the EU's Projects of Common Interest, a list of around 250 infrastructure projects that was recently adopted, are also two projects that would further link Norway to the European continent and could play a crucial role in the future for balancing of intermittent wind and solar power in the EU. "Norway is a key energy partner for the EU, both in gas and electricity, and is, through the EEA Agreement, part of the EU internal market. It is therefore only logical that I take todays' occasion to exchange views on the best possible framework for integration of Norway in the EU energy market", EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger said. "Our already strong mutual ties will be boosted by further regulatory alignment of key legislation such as the third internal energy market package and additional interconnections. I am encouraged by the first positive signs from the new government in this respect ." More information about the EU-Norway energy relations here: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/international/bilateral_cooperation/norway_en.htm
Produits agricoles de qualité: la Commission approuve quatre nouvelles demandes d'enregistrement de dénominations protégées
La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d'enregistrement dans le registre des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP) et des indications géographiques protégées (IGP) de quatre nouvelles dénominations. Il s'agit, pour la France, des " Prés-salés du Mont-Saint-Michel " (AOP), viande provenant d'agneaux alimentés principalement dans des prairies régulièrement recouvertes par la mer de la baie du Mont-Saint-Michel et des estuaires de l'ouest du Cotentin ; du " Pâté de Campagne Breton " (IGP), charcuterie élaborée selon le savoir-faire traditionnel dans les Côtes-d’Armor, le Finistère, l’Ille-et-Vilaine, la Loire-Atlantique et le Morbihan ; pour la Slovénie, du " Slovenski med " (IGP), miel produit sur le territoire de la République de Slovénie et dont le goût reflète la diversité de la flore slovène ; pour le Royaume-Uni, de l'" Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar " (IGP), fromage élaboré selon une recette et une méthode traditionnelles, à partir de lait produit dans l'archipel des Orcades, au nord de l'Ecosse, et selon la technique du brassage à sec. Ces noms rejoindront alors la base de données de plus de 1200 produits déjà protégés en vertu de la législation sur la protection des indications géographiques, des appellations d'origine et des spécialités traditionnelles. Pour plus d'information, consulter les pages internet sur les produits de qualité et la base de données DOOR reprenant les dénominations protégées.
Today the European Commission published its latest Eurobarometer on Cybercrime. The survey was carried out between May and June 2013, covering more than 27 000 people in all Member States and shows that internet users in the EU remain very concerned about cyber-security with 76% of respondents agreeing that the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime has increased in the past year. Encouragingly, more EU citizens do feel well informed about the risks of cybercrime compared to 2012. "Cyber threats evolve on a daily basis, undermining trust in the online world - there are new vulnerabilities, new criminal methods, new environments for offending and new victims. We are determined to continue developing new tools, new cooperation and new measures to follow suit", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs."
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead
What Commissioners said
Commissioner Dacian Cioloș welcomes the launching of the UN's International Year of Family Farming 2014
"Family farms are the foundations on which Europe's Common agricultural policy was built. They continue to stay at the heart of European agriculture as robust generators of competitiveness, growth and jobs, of dynamic and sustainable rural economies. Over 95% of the farm holdings in the EU are family farms. With their diversity, they produce at the same time private and public goods: they ensure viable food production and also create employment; they preserve rural lifestyle and communities but also natural resources and biodiversity. The EU, through its new Common Agricultural Policy will contribute to the promotion, development and strengthening of sustainable and competitive agriculture. I warmly welcome the launching of the UN's International Year of Family Farming 2014 and its aim to promote and strengthen this socially valuable, economically viable and environmentally sustainable model.", said Commissioner Dacian Cioloș to welcome the launching of the UN's International Year of Family Farming 2014. The European Commission kicks-off its contribution to the global initiative with a conference on "Family farming: A dialogue towards more sustainable and resilient farming in Europe and in the world", to be held in Brussels on the 29 November 2013.
On the second day of the 'Assises de la Justice' conference, Vice-President Reding delivered the closing remarks, where she took stock of the debate and also shared her ideas on the future of justice policy in the EU, including a European area of Justice at the service of both citizens and growth, built on mutual trust. "The future of justice should not only be determined by national and European officials behind closed doors. What we do in the coming years in this policy area and how we do it needs to be discussed in the open, in a healthy debate involving people, institutions and groups that can be held accountable," Vice-President Reding said. The aim of this conference was to reflect and discuss ideas for possible actions in the EU justice policy in the years to come. The Commission will publish a Communication presenting an overview of the discussion on future EU justice policy to the European Parliament and the Council in spring next year. See also: SPEECH/13/963 (this link will be active at 13:30 CET)
A "first pillar girl" in a former "third pillar world" – European Justice Policy in the making
To conclude the first day of the 'Assises de la Justice' conference, Vice-President Reding delivered a keynote address on Monday evening speaking about her experience as the first EU Justice Commissioner under the Lisbon Treaty. "I was a first pillar girl. In the very special world of Justice and Home Affairs Councils I met the former third pillar guys. The combination of the first pillar girl and the third pillar guys was bound to first produce conflict, then creativity and finally new and unexpected results," said Vice-President Reding giving three concrete examples of her experience as EU Justice Commissioner in the Council. See also: SPEECH/13/964 .