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EXME 14 / 28.03


28 / 03 / 14

Visit of Chinese President Xi

Commission President Barroso and European Council President Van Rompuy will receive President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China on 31 March.

President Xi Jinping's first official visit to the European Union is also the first visit ever by a Chinese President to EU institutions.

President Van Rompuy and President Barroso will meet President Xi at the European Council and the European Commission respectively, and these meetings will be followed by a joint working lunch. President Xi will also visit President Schulz at the European Parliament.

On Tuesday 1 April, President Xi is also set to deliver a speech on EU-China relations at the College of Europe in Bruges.

Fact sheet on EU-China relations:

Infringements decisions: Commission acts for full and proper implementation of European legislation

The Commission has decided today to refer to the EU Court of Justice 3 Member States to the EU Court of Justice: Austria (1 case), Greece (1 case) and Italy (1 case).

The Commission will also send 12 reasoned opinions to 10 countries: AT, CZ, FI, FR, HU, IE, IT, LT, PT, SV. With a total of 139 decisions, the Commission aims at ensuring proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.

A summary of the main decisions can be found in the MEMO/14/241 . On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12 .

Other news

Banking union: where we stand after last week’s breakthrough on the Single Resolution Mechanism

Great progress has been made in recent days on banking union. Commissioner Barnier said [… ] the compromise allows us to complete the architecture of the banking union for the eurozone. Together with the reforms to the financial sector for all 28 countries, the completed banking union will put an end to the era of massive bailouts. It will further contribute to the return to financial stability thus creating the right conditions for the financial sector to once again lend to the real economy which is essential to consolidate the economic recovery and to create jobs.” All texts on which the banking union is being constructed are now in force or in good shape to be formally adopted. Europe is living up to its commitments. An updated version of a comprehensive memo presenting the reinforced regulatory framework for all EU banks and the architecture of the banking union in the Eurozone is being published today. This memo is meant as an information tool and as an illustration of today’s technical briefing.

The 5th EU-Africa Business Forum

The 5th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF) will take place on March 31st and April 1st, 2014 on the eve of the 4th EU-Africa Summit in Brussels. It is organised as one of the official accompanying events of the Summit and will bring together about 500 participants including private sector representatives, business leaders from across Europe and Africa and government officials from both continents. President Barroso and African Union Commission’s Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma will give the opening speeches on Monday at 9am.

Africa recently registered an impressive economic growth. The continent is also diversifying its external partners and attracts growing interest notably from emerging economies. In that context European economic interest are also to be promoted. The EU is one of Africa's main trading partners. In 2013, EU28 exports to Africa amounted to 8.8% (€ 153 billion) of EU28 total exports, while 10% (€ 168 billion) of EU28 total imports came from Africa.

The EABF provides a unique opportunity for African and European companies to network and exchange views on EU-Africa business and investment relations. Both European and African private sector organizations have been instrumental in inviting business leaders and setting the agenda for the forum. Its recommendations will be presented to the Heads of State and Government during the Summit. The EABF is the continuation of a series of Business Fora in the context of the cooperation between the EU and Africa, the last one was held at the margins of the Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli.

President Barroso’s speech will be made available after delivery.

The 4th EU-Africa summit will take place in Brussels on 2-3 April under the theme "Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace", where the European Union will be represented by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso.

Further information: MEMO/14/246 and STAT/14/50 .

EU-Japan High Level Meeting on Financial Issues

The annual EU-Japan High Level Meeting on Financial Issues was held in Brussels on 28 March 2014. This year's meeting provided an important opportunity for senior officials from both sides to exchange views on the recent regulatory developments in the financial sector. Both parties agreed to enhance their regulatory cooperation framework to ensure that international standards are consistently implemented. The Japan-EU High Level Meeting on Financial Issues was co-chaired by Mr Jonathan Faull, Director General, Directorate General for Internal Market and Services of the European Commission and by Mr Masamichi Kono, Vice Commissioner for International Affairs of the Financial Services Agency of Japan (JFSA). Officials from the Commission, European Supervisory Authorities and JFSA discussed the recent reforms of the financial sector in the EU and in Japan, including on banks, insurance, benchmarks, derivatives, accounting and investment funds. JFSA welcomed the imminent realisation of the European Banking Union, while EU officials praised the Japanese government’s commitment to re-launch economic growth. Both parties reiterated their pledge to implement G-20 commitments, and agreed to jointly enhance regulatory cooperation, recognising the importance of consistently implemented international standards and close supervisory cooperation which would enable the EU and Japan to rely on each other’s rules.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Rubik's Cube

Professor Ernő Rubik, inventor of the famous cube, meets President Barroso today over lunch to discuss the importance of science outreach and education in order to attract young people to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

President Barroso said: "Today we are celebrating the 40th birthday of a timeless toy that has become an iconic symbol of European ingenuity worldwide. The Rubik's Cube is the ultimate metaphor for bewildering complexity and triumphant intelligence, creativity and innovation. At a time when we need to mobilise all our capacities in innovation, research and development and promote more than ever our skills in science and engineering, the Rubik's Cube is an encouragement and a reminder to all Europeans that we have the talents and skills boost the European economy and build sustainable growth and jobs. Let's make use of them!"

The lunch will be attended by Commissioners Vassiliou, Geoghegan-Quinn, Andor and Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Anne Glover, as well as other participants from the science, business and policy communities. There will be a photo opportunity with Professor Rubik and President Barroso to mark the occasion at the end of the lunch. Interested photo/film journalists can attend this photo opportunity upon registration with Mariana Correa: , +32(0)2 298 69 80 or +32 (0)498 98 69 80.

New rules on public procurement and concession contracts published

New EU rules on public procurement and concessions were published today in the Official Journal of the EU . The legislation will enter into force on 17 April 2014. Member States will then have 24 months to implement the provisions into national law (except for electronic procurement, where they will have an additional 30 months). The directives modernise the existing tools and instruments by making them simpler, more flexible and easier for companies, particularly SMEs, to bid for public procurement. The rules on concessions establish a clear legal framework to give public authorities the necessary legal certainty performing their duties. They also aim to guarantee effective access to the concessions market for all European businesses, including SMEs, and provide them with possibilities for investment in major public services in the future. These reforms will allow public authorities to optimise their use of public procurement. Public contracts that are covered by the European directives are valued at around €420 billion, making it a key driver of our economy. See also MEMO/14/19 on concessions and MEMO/14/20 on public procurement directives.

Vice-President Siim Kallas announces first €12 billion for projects in the transport sector

On 26 March 2014 the Commission adopted a decision to make available €12 billion for projects of the trans-European transport network. The budget will finance key projects of the nine core network corridors. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) foresees an allocation of €26 billion for transport infrastructure. Funding will be concentrated on priorities which have been set out in the Union Guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network.

March 2014: Economic Sentiment up in the euro area and broadly flat in the EU

In March the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) increased by 1.2 points in the euro area (to 102.4), while remaining broadly flat in the EU (a marginal increase by 0.3 points to 105.3).

Business Climate Indicator broadly unchanged in March

In March 2014 the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area remained broadly unchanged (at +0.39). Managers' production expectations and their appraisal of past production improved, while the level of overall and export order books, as well as the stocks of finished products, were viewed more negatively.

How to ensure fair, humane and effective return procedures?

An effective and humane return policy with full respect for fundamental rights is a key part of the EU migration policy. In a Communication on the EU's Return Policy adopted today, the Commission presents the progress made in this field and points to future developments and actions needed. Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs, said: "The Return Directive has positively influenced national law and practice. It has been a driver for change regarding voluntary departure and monitoring of forced return (...) Still, the detention situation in a number of Member States gives rise to serious concerns. We therefore must continue our effort to enforce a credible and humane policy through practices that ensure the fundamental rights and the dignity of each individual - whatever their migratory status may be". For more information see also: MEMO/14/243

Roma integration: EU Roma Summit to evaluate progress

Local, national and EU politicians and leaders will gather with civil society in Brussels on 4 April to discuss progress on Roma integration across Europe. This will be the first EU Roma Summit since the Commission setup the EU framework for national Roma integration strategies in 2011, which also coincides with the Commission’s 2014 assessment of progress in implementing the National Roma Integration Strategies. Speakers will include European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the President of Romania Traian Băsescu, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria Zinaida Zlatanova and Ministers and State secretaries from nine other EU Member States. Non-government speakers include George Soros, Chairman of the Open Society Foundations and Zoni Weisz, survivor from the Roma holocaust. The event is open to journalists, who can register to attend by emailing .

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