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MEx 13 / 23.12
23 / 12 / 13
It's official! Commission receives first successful European Citizens' Initiative from organisers
The Commission has officially received the first ever successful European Citizens' Initiative, with properly validated support from at least one million European citizens in at least seven Member States. Support for the Right2Water ECI, whose organisers believe 'water is a public good, not a commodity', has been checked and validated by the national authorities of the Member States. Support for the initiative crossed the minimum threshold in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. Overall, the ECI received 1,659,543 validated statements of support, with figures from Croatia, Denmark and France still to come. The ball is now in the Commission's court. Within the next three months, it must invite the organisers to Brussels to explain their ideas in more depth, and a public hearing will be arranged in the European Parliament. Then the Commission must decide whether it will act by adopting legislation, act in some other way to achieve the goals of the ECI, or not act at all. Whichever route is taken, the Commission must explain its reasoning through a Communication adopted by the whole College of Commissioners.
Just as winter weather has hit Syria and the region, the European Commission has mobilised an additional €30 million aimed at providing urgently needed assistance to the conflict-affected population inside Syria, as well as to Syrian refugees and host communities in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon.
EASME - New Executive Agency for SMEs
The Commission adopted today the establishment act of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The Agency builds on the current Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI). As from January 2014 onwards, the Agency will manage on behalf of the European Commission most parts of the Programme for the Competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs ( COSME). It will also be in charge of the SME instrument, the new and innovative instrument for support to SMEs within the Horizon 2020 programme. Other programmes to be managed by the Agency are the Energy and Climate societal challenges within Horizon 2020 as well as the Programme for Environment and Climate action (LIFE). Later in 2014 the Agency will also be responsible for significant parts of the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF). With the new Agency, SMEs have a dedicated institution aiming to improve the competitiveness of enterprises.
CAP Reform basic regulations published
The 4 basic EU regulations of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have been published in the Official Journal. These legislative texts reflect the political agreement between the European Commission, EU Member States Agriculture Ministers (in the Council) and the European Parliament earlier this year. With these new rules, the vast majority of CAP legislation will be defined under 4 consecutive Regulations – a significant simplification - covering Rural Development ( Reg.1305/13), "Horizontal" issues such as funding & controls ( 1306/13), Direct Payments for farmers ( 1307/13), and market measures ( 1308/13). To ensure there can be a smooth transition next year there is also a transitional Regulation for 2014 ( 1310/13). These Regulations are published in all EU languages in the Official Journal (just go to top right of the page to choose your language).
The EU and US on Friday concluded the third round of week-long negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with the EU's Chief Negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero again stressing that any deal would uphold "the highest standards of consumer, environment, health and labour protection."
Commenting on the talks themselves, Mr Garcia Bercero added: "I think we can be very satisfied by the end of this third round. We remain on track to deliver an ambitious trade and investment deal. This should boost our economies and deliver growth and, more importantly, jobs for both Europeans and Americans at a time when they're most needed." The EU and US teams also spent one of their five days together absorbing guidance from over 50 stakeholders, before answering questions from them. The third round paves the way for EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman to hold a political stocktaking meeting early in 2014. This would allow them to give their respective teams guidance for the next stage of the talks.
Responding to questions following allegations in newspapers this afternoon of surveillance by US and UK intelligence services of Vice-President Almunia, the spokeswoman of the European Commission Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen stated the following:
"This piece of news follows a series of other revelations which, as we clearly stated in the past, if proven true, are unacceptable and deserve our strongest condemnation. This is not the type of behaviour that we expect from strategic partners, let alone from our own Member States.
These issues are already being dealt with through the working groups created with the United States. The Commission has also recently adopted a communication with a number of measures which are needed to restore trust and confidence in the transatlantic relationship. We equally welcome the internal review process that the United States' administration is conducting on its intelligence activities. We trust that this will lead to intelligence collection which is respectful of our democracies and the fundamental rights of our citizens. The Commission will raise these new allegations with US and UK authorities."