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EXME 14 / 01.04


01 / 04 / 14

More flexible visa rules to boost growth and job creation

Many non-EU nationals wishing to travel to the EU are often faced with cumbersome, lengthy and costly visa procedures. The proposals presented today will seriously shorten and simplify the procedures for those wanting to come to the EU for short stays, and induce more cost savings and less bureaucracy, whilst maintaining the level of security. Commissioner Malmström said: "Europe needs a smarter visa policy. We need to attract more tourists, business people, researchers, students, artists and culture professionals to our shores." Vice-President Tajani added: "Our proposal will help European tourism industry at a time when international competition is becoming increasingly fierce with a growing number of countries relying on tourism as a factor for growth." See also: MEMO/14/247

Other news

New EU support to provide access to energy to one million people in Africa

More than 1 million people in poor rural areas of Africa will benefit from access to modern, affordable and sustainable energy services thanks to new EU support, announced by EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs. This initiative also shows that the EU has been a leader in the campaign to provide Sustainable Energy for All. Grants of €95 million have been awarded for 16 projects across nine African countries to provide access to energy in rural areas, an amount which will be translated into projects costing more than €155 million (through co-financing support by applicants). Commissioner Piebalgs said: “Energy is fundamental for every area of development; from creating jobs and boosting growth to improving healthcare and enabling people to cook safely. Yet too often, people in rural areas have been left behind - a shocking 84% of those without access to energy now live in the countryside. We need to make sure that our work supports everyone, no matter where they live."

President Barroso to welcome UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on 2 April

On Wednesday 2 April, President Barroso will meet Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon for breakfast. UN Secretary General Ban is in Brussels to attend the EU-Africa Summit (2-3 April) as guest of honour, where he will address Heads of State at the opening ceremony and as keynote speaker in the session on Peace and Security. The discussions will focus on the partnership between the EU and the UN, as well as Africa, and particularly on peace and security issues.

President Barroso and UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon will attend a press point at 8:45 am CET the same day which can be followed live via EBS .

February 2014: Euro area unemployment rate at 11.9%, EU28 at 10.6%

The euro area (EA18) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.9% in February 2014, stable since October 2013. It was 12.0% in February 2013. The EU28 unemployment rate was 10.6% in February 2014, down from 10.7% in January 2014. It was 10.9% in February 2013. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

New companies join the fight against illegal online sale of counterfeit goods

The European Commission has today hosted the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Sale of Counterfeit Goods via the Internet by three new stakeholders: the European Association of Pharmaceutical Full-line Wholesalers (GIRP), PierreRiu and Videdressing. On 7 January 2014, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) had also become a signatory. This MoU, which was concluded under the auspices of the Commission on 4 May 2011, brings together major internet platforms (such as eBay, Amazon, Allegro and Rakuten/PriceMinister) and right holders from the fast moving consumer goods, luxury goods, wines and spirits, toys, sporting goods, consumer electronics, film, software and video-game industries (such as Adidas, Nike, Lego, Mattel, LVMH, Burberry, Nokia, Unilever and Procter & Gamble), in a joint fight against the online sale of counterfeit goods.

See also:

Quality food products: "Miele Varesino" and "Requeijão da Beira Baixa" get EU protection

The European Commission has approved the addition of two new quality farm products to the register of protected designations of origin (PDOs) and protected geographical indications (PGIs). These are, for Italy, " Miele Varesino " (PDO), an acacia honey known for its delicate fragrance with a note of vanilla produced in the province of Varese, at the foot of the Alps, between Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano; for Portugal, " Requeijão da Beira Baixa " (PDO), a by-product obtained from the whey separated from the milk in the process of producing the PDO cheese " Queijos da Beira Baixa ". Potable water and raw sheep's or goat's milk from the same area are added to the whey to make this fresh, unfermented product with a truncated cone shape and a sweet, milky taste. The denominations will be added to the list of more than 1,200 products already protected. For more information: see webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products.

EU Consumer Summit 2014: Ensuring that consumers reap the benefits of the digital economy

Completing the digital single market would benefit EU consumers by on average €400 a year, some €200 billion Europe wide. The digital economy brings real benefits for consumers, but it also raises important questions about consumers’ rights online. This year’s Consumer Summit will focus on how we can ensure that consumers reap the full benefits from the digital sector. The Summit will bring together, some 400 participants representing the European Parliament, the Commission, national governments, consumer and business associations, enforcement and regulatory authorities, the European Consumer Centres and the European Data Protection Supervisor. The Summit will also focus on the urgent need for an integrated single digital and telecoms market, benefitting consumers and companies.

Call for applications for composition of new Agriculture & Rural Development Civil Dialogue Groups

The European Commission (DG AGRI) has today opened a call for applications for groups wanting to participate in the new Civil Dialogue Groups related to EU Agriculture and Rural Development issues. Replacing the current system of CAP Advisory Groups from July 2014, the new Civil Dialogue Groups will cover 14 different themes. The aim of these groups is to maintain a regular dialogue with the Commission and provide input, advice and feedback on policy issues relating to the Common Agricultural Policy, including its implementation and new measures the Commission may be called on to take. Applications are open (from April 1) until April 30 and are limited to EU-level NGOs that are registered in the Joint European Transparency Register. Membership will be for a period of 7 years. Please find the calls for applications published online .

Vice-President Kallas: Europe’s railways at a junction - the future for freight

The European Commission has great ambitions for rail, which still needs to achieve its full growth potential to become faster, more punctual, efficient and reliable.  Regarding rail freight, we know that capacity demand is growing and so there has to be sufficient capacity for freight in the railway system, Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, will say at the annual assembly of the European Rail Freight Association in Brussels. “This is also a market which is European, not national. It’s a market where customers and shippers expect borderless European transport services and logistics,” Kallas will say. “With the 4th Railway Package, we have the chance to create – finally – a single European Rail Area that will allow rail freight to compete with road freight. It’s time to act, because the rail sector now has to continue and accelerate the reform process that has been started,” he will say. “We remain committed to our proposals.”

The speech will be available on Rapid this evening.

European twenty-somethings want to end roaming and unrestricted internet access

Young Europeans have said in massive numbers that they want an end to "unbelievable" roaming prices and "unfair" restrictions on what they can and can't access online from their mobile devices, according to a survey of over a thousand 18-34 year olds. The survey carried out by Think Young, a Brussels-based think tank showed that only 37% of 18-34 year olds use mobile Internet when abroad, compared to 86% at home. European Commission Vice-President @NeelieKroesEU said: “Young people have sent us a message loud and clear: that they want to end roaming charges. They want unrestricted internet access. It’s our job in Brussels to take responsibility and deliver that.” On Thursday 3 April MEPs will vote on the Commission’s #ConnectedContinent proposed regulation which aims at eliminating roaming charges, introducing net neutrality, and taking other steps to build a telecoms single market in Europe.

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