Daily News of 2014-01-28
European Commission - MEX/14/0128 28/01/2014
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EXME 14 / 28.01
28 / 01 / 14
The 32nd EU-Russia summit is taking place today in Brussels. The EU is represented by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, is also taking part. Russia is represented by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The summit consists of a meeting among principals and key advisors in a format conducive to in-depth political discussion, followed by a working lunch in the same format. A press conference will be held at the end of the lunch. The President's statement to the press will be available later on RAPID.
HRVP Ashton travels to Ukraine
Commissioner Füle has been in Kyiv engaged in talks since yesterday, underlining the EU's continued efforts to help Ukraine find a peaceful negotiated solution to the current crisis.
High Representative/Vice-President Ashton will travel to Ukraine today immediately after the EU-Russia summit. She will meet with President Yanukovych and representatives of the government, opposition and civil society. The EU has expressed its deep concern over the situation in Ukraine and will remain fully engaged in seeking a way out of the crisis. What is urgently needed is a genuine dialogue to build a new consensus on the way forward. See statement: http://eeas.europa.eu/statements/docs/2014/140127_05_en.pdf
The European Commission has proposed to provide Spain with €840,000 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 300 workers made redundant in the textile sector in Comunidad Valenciana (Spain) to find new jobs. The funds, requested by the Spanish authorities, would help former workers from 198 small and medium-sized businesses. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for approval. EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor commented: "Workers in the Spanish textile industry have been hard hit by rising global competition and the economic crisis. The Spanish labour market is particularly challenging, but I am convinced that the proposed support from Europe's Globalisation Adjustment Fund would help the workers who lost their jobs to find new opportunities".
The European Commission welcomes the adoption by the EU's Council of Ministers of a Decision authorising Member States to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention concerning fair and decent work for domestic workers ( Convention No. 189). The Decision was proposed by the Commission in March 2013 (IP/13/264) , and endorsed by the European Parliament. The 2011 ILO Domestic Workers Convention requires signatory countries to take measures to ensure fair and decent working conditions and to prevent abuse, violence and child labour in domestic employment. "Improving working conditions in personal services is a key objective for the Commission" said Commissioner Andor. "I therefore welcome this Decision, which paves the way for ratification of the ILO Convention by EU Member States and contributes to fighting trafficking in human beings. I urge Member States to implement this Convention as soon as possible". IP/14/82
EU-US Trade Talks: EU and US announce 4th round of TTIP negotiations in March; Stocktaking meeting in Washington D.C. to precede next set of talks
The EU and the US today announced that the fourth round of negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will take place in Brussels from Monday 10th March until Friday 14th March. Prior to that round, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman will meet in Washington D.C. on Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th February to take stock of the negotiations to date. The aim of this meeting will be for both Commissioner De Gucht and Ambassador Froman to assess progress made after the first three rounds of talks and thereby provide their political guidance to the chief negotiators from both sides on how best to take forward the negotiations. Further details for the media on logistical arrangements will follow closer to the date of each event. Further information: TTIP website
Animal Health: EU confirms African Swine Fever in wild boar in Lithuania
Following 2 cases of African Swine Fever virus (ASF) in wild boar in Lithuania, the European Commission has adopted yesterday a safeguard decision confirming the demarcation of the infected area where emergency restrictions apply. These safeguard measures are coupled with the deployment of a team of experts from the Commission, the Community Veterinary Emergency Team and the EU Reference Laboratory for ASF who will support lithuanian veterinary authorities to apply control measures and restrictions in that infected area. To limit the spread of the ASF virus following the cases, the Lithuanian authorities immediately applied restrictions, as required by EU legislation. These restrictions include: intensified surveillance of wild boars and pigs, sending samples to the EU Reference laboratory in Spain for more detailed analysis, and keeping pigs isolated in their holding, unless authorised by the competent authority. The dispatch of live pigs, pig semen, ova and embryos is banned and pig meat from the infected area covering six districts (Trakai, Šalčininkai, Lazdijai, Varėna, Alytus and Druskininkai) cannot be dispatched out of the country. The measures will be reviewed at a Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 6/7 February. Lithuania's national reference laboratory confirmed on 24 January 2014 the infection on two wild boars in the south east of Lithuania close to the Belarussian border. A possible cause is the movement of infected wild boars coming from Belarus. Guidelines for EU Member States on controlling ASF in wild boar and pigs were recently published by the Commission. For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/diseases/controlmeasures/asf_en.htm
Galileo, the EU satellite navigation programme (the European "GPS") and Copernicus, the EU Earth monitoring programme, are in decisive phases this year. With the launch of six additional Galileo satellites, Europeans will soon be able to enjoy their own satellite navigation system. The first Copernicus satellite launch in March will also enable considerable progress in improving maritime security, climate change monitoring and providing support in emergency and crisis situations. The progress in both European space programmes - Galileo and Copernicus - was announced by Vice President Antonio Tajani following a meeting with Jean Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the CEOs of five main companies involved: Arianespace, Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space, OHB and Airbus Space and Defence. As a result of the meeting, all five companies and the ESA expressed their strong commitment to the launch of additional satellites for the two space programmes in 2014, as communicated to Vice President Antonio Tajani by the Director General of the European Space Agency. This could allow initial Galileo services to be available, subject to finalising all technical issues, at the end of 2014/beginning of 2015.
Almost six out of ten Europeans think that space activities contribute to job creation in the EU, that investing in human space exploration can lead to medical progress or that space technologies have a role to play in avoiding threats such as asteroids, comets, and space debris collisions. These are among the main conclusions of a new Eurobarometer survey presented in Brussels today. The results show that Europeans increasingly recognise the importance of space for the EU and are generally positive about the current and future role of space technologies and space-derived services. The space sector is expected by survey responders to help with employment, medical advances, efficient agriculture and the management of environment and climate related concerns to name but a few sectors. Europeans also predict that the energy sector and the environment are the areas where space activities will be most likely be playing an important role in 20 years’ time.
In the third quarter of 2013, the household saving rate in the euro area was 13.0%, compared with 12.9% in the second quarter of 2013. In the EU28, the household saving rate was 10.7%, compared with 10.8% in the previous quarter.
In the third quarter of 2013, the business investment rate was 19.0% in the euro area, compared with 19.3% in the second quarter of 2013. This fall was the result of a decrease in investment (-0.9%) and an increase in gross value added (+0.4%). Total stocks (materials, supplies and finished goods) rose. In the EU28 the investment rate was 18.9% in the third quarter of 2013, stable compared with the previous quarter.
Two years after the European Commission proposed a major reform of the EU’s data protection rules to make them fit for the 21st century, considerable progress has been made ( MEMO/14/60). Today, on European Data Protection Day, Vice-President Reding called for a "Data Protection Compact for Europe" - eight principles that should govern the way data is processed by the public and the private sector. Read the full speech here: SPEECH/14/62 . European Commission experts will also be answering questions about data protection in a live Twitter chat today from 12.00 to 13.30 CET. Join the chat using the #EUdataP and #EUchat hashtags.
An open and safe Europe – what next?
What are the future challenges and priorities to be addressed in the area of Home Affairs? How can Europe's work on migration, asylum and security-related issues further contribute to make the EU an open and safe place to live and work for all? On 29 and 30 January 2014 the Commission is organising a conference in Brussels (" An open and safe Europe – what next? ") to discuss the shape of future Home Affairs policies. The event will be hosted by Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and will bring together representatives from Member States, the European Parliament and national Parliaments, other EU Institutions, international organisations, civil society organisations, academics and researchers, etc. The high level conference is part of a series of events and debate on the future of Home Affairs policies , where stakeholders and civil society are able to share their views and ideas on issues related to the Home Affairs portfolio. You can watch the conference LIVE from 15:00 CET on http://futureagenda-homeaffairs.eu/ and tweet with #euhome.
Member States must shift from a box-ticking approach and upgrade their quality systems if they want to improve the performance of universities and vocational colleges, according to two reports published by the European Commission today on quality assurance in higher education and vocational training . The reports highlight that, although progress has been achieved, further reforms are needed to ensure a 'quality culture' so that teaching is more closely aligned with labour market realities and societal needs. They also call for more emphasis to be given to international cooperation and for students to have a greater say in decision-making.
The European Commission is consulting the public on a draft communication on how Member States can support the execution of Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs). The draft communication is part of the State Aid Modernisation (SAM) agenda (see IP/12/458), which aims to modernise state aid control in order to foster smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The draft communication provides guidance to Member States on how they can support, in line with EU state aid rules, transnational projects which are of strategic dimension for the EU and for the realisation of the objectives of Europe 2020, the EU's growth strategy.
What Commissioners said
Europe’s railways still need more advances in policy and technical innovation if they are to become more attractive and competitive, to generate more traffic, more employment opportunities and better conditions. “Travelling by train should be as quick and easy as getting the car out of the garage. Until things improve, rail will continue to find it difficult to challenge the dominance of road transport,” Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, will say this evening at the CER/UNIFE rail industry’s annual awards event. “But I think we are now in the end-game as far as the much-needed reform of Europe’s railways is concerned.” With the Commission’s proposals for the Fourth Railway Package and the new public–private partnership Shift2Rail —tripling funding for research and innovation in rail — Europe could move closer to these goals, Kallas will say. “The Fourth Package goes hand in hand with our work to revitalise Europe’s railways by making more use of research and innovation”. “This will help rail to provide better and more efficient services so that customers have an attractive choice. That benefits everyone,” he will say. The speech will be available on RAPID at 19:00 this evening.