Daily News of 2014-05-12
European Commission - MEX/14/0512 12/05/2014
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EXME 14 / 12.05
12 / 05 / 14
Meeting between the European Commission and the Ukrainian Government tomorrow
The European Commission will meet the Ukrainian Government, led by Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, tomorrow, Wednesday 13 May, in Brussels.
The European Commission is determined to help Ukraine, and to make sure that Ukraine has all the support it needs, in the short- and long- term, to undertake the political and economic reforms that are necessary for the country, with the common objective of a democratic, independent and prosperous Ukraine. This will be the main subject of the meeting, which will be followed by a press conference by President Barroso and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk at 15:00 CET. The press conference will be live broadcast via EBS .
The first call for proposals under the Connecting Europe Facility to help finance key trans-European energy infrastructure projects is open. A total of €750 million will be made available for first priority projects mainly in the gas and electricity sectors. These projects will address security of supply issues and help bring an end to the energy isolation of some Member States. They will also contribute to the completion of the EU-wide internal energy market and to the integration of renewables to the energy grid. The EU funding will accelerate investment in missing cross-border links by leveraging the necessary private and public funding. EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said: "The current Ukraine crisis underlines the importance of upgrading energy infrastructure and building missing interconnections between Member States in order to enhance the energy security in the EU. In general Member States can only help each other with energy supplies, if they are well connected. Moreover, improving the energy infrastructure is a prerequisite for completing the internal energy market for the benefit of consumers and businesses in the EU." Under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) a total of €5.85 billion has been allocated to trans-European energy infrastructure for the period of 2014-2020.
The European Commission is hosting an event, on May 20 in Brussels, in support of the GAVI Alliance, a non-profit organisation focused on saving children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries. At the event, the GAVI Alliance will set out the impact that can be achieved by supporting immunisation programmes in the world’s poorest countries and the funding required for this. EC President José Manuel Barroso will open the day with a key note address. Other participants include the President of Ethiopia, Mulatu Teshome, Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, and the Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs. Media are invited to attend the morning programme.
New alert mechanism makes it easier than ever for citizens to help shape European policy
In an effort to increase transparency and public engagement even further, the Commission is today launching a new alert mechanism for members of the public. The e-mail alert service provides information on newly-launched public consultations and newly-published roadmaps - documents which outline action the Commission is thinking of taking. Any citizen can opt to receive all alerts or only those related to policy areas which particularly interest them. The move opens up new possibilities for citizens and stakeholders to follow the Commission's policy-making process ahead of the adoption of its legislative proposals or initiatives, and to provide meaningful input at a very early stage. It marks an important step forward for transparency, and an additional instrument to encourage citizens and stakeholders to participate in the shaping of EU policies. For further information please visit the Alert mechanism website .
According to a Special Eurobarometer survey "Europeans 2014" published today, a majority of Europeans say that they have a positive image of the EU (34% which is +3 percentage points [pp] compared to the Standard Autumn Eurobarometer released in November 2013 - compared to 26% who say they have a negative image of the EU. There is also growing optimism with regards to (1) the economic outlook in Europe and (2) towards Europe's future. Europeans in 20 out of 28 Member States say they expect the economic situation in their home country to improve in the coming twelve months.
More than 20 films directed by some of the biggest names in European cinema and supported by the EU's Creative Europe MEDIA programme will be screened at the 67th Cannes International Film Festival (14-25 May), including seven films in competition for the top prize, the Palme d'Or. Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for culture, will be at the festival to present the third annual European Union 'Prix MEDIA' to the director and producer of the best new film project supported by Creative Europe. The winners will be unveiled at a ceremony in the Palais des Festivals on 17 May. The Commissioner will also hold meetings with young film-makers and industry figures to discuss the new Creative Europe programme, launched in January with a budget of nearly €1.5 billion over the next seven years – 9% higher than previous levels. In addition, she will address a debate organised by the Commission on expanding the audience for European films and the Commissioner will be a special guest at the opening of the 'Directors' Fortnight' selection on 15 May. Among the 21 MEDIA-supported films selected is the movie chosen to open the festival, Grace de Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman as the Hollywood heroine who married a prince. The others feature new releases by leading European directors such as Michel Hazanavicius (winner of five Oscars in 2012 for The Artist), Mike Leigh (winner of the 1996 Palme d'Or for Secrets & Lies), Ken Loach (2006 Palme d'Or for The Wind That Shakes The Barley), Jean-Luc Godard and Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (winners of the 1999 Palme d'Or for Rosetta and 2011 Grand Prix for Le Gamin au Vélo).
This is eHealth Forum week, a time to discuss how technology can bring positive changes into healthcare systems and turn today's health and ageing challenges into economic growth. This year's Forum takes place in Greece, where the successful use of eHealth tools, developed as a result of EU research and innovation funding or support- can inspire other EU countries. Vice President Kroes and Commissioner Borg will both speak at the event.
Commission reviews maximum levels of cadmium in food
New measures to reduce European consumers' maximum levels of exposure to cadmium in chocolate and infant formula were today adopted by the European Commission. This measure follows a European Food Safety Authority opinion which concluded that the current exposure at population level should be reduced. Cadmium is a heavy metal found both through natural occurrence and from industrial and agricultural sources. Food is the main source of exposure for the non-smoking public and its accumulation in the human body may over time lead to harmful effects such as kidney failure. Maximum levels for cadmium in food have existed in EU legislation since 2001. However, the new levels for chocolate and infant formula aim at protecting the most vulnerable groups like infants and young children. Three maximum levels have been set for chocolate, where the strictest maximum levels apply to chocolate varieties most eaten by children. A maximum level is also set for cocoa powder destined for direct consumption. A transitional period has been foreseen to allow cocoa producing countries and the chocolate industry to adapt to these new levels which will apply from 1 January 2019. New maximum levels have also been set for several categories of infant formula, applying from 1 January 2015 onwards. A Commission Recommendation on reducing the existing maximum levels for other important contributors to dietary exposure such as cereals, potatoes and other vegetables was also adopted allowing a progressive implementation by farmers and food business operators.
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the proposed acquisition of Dutch cable operator Ziggo by the telecommunications group Liberty Global, headquartered in London, is in line with the EU Merger Regulation. Liberty Global – through its subsidiary UPC – and Ziggo both own a cable network in the Netherlands through which they provide various retail pay TV and telecommunications services. Both companies also operate a premium pay TV film channel in the Netherlands. The Commission has concerns that the transaction may reduce competition in a number of pay TV and telecommunications markets in the Netherlands. The opening of an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The Commission now has 90 working days, until 19 September 2014, to take a decision.
What Commissioners said
On 9th and 10th of May the President was in Poland. He delivered a speech in Warsaw, at the Natolin Campus of the College of Europe on the occasion of its 20th anniversary and to mark Europe Day. He also met Polish Prime Minister Mr Tusk.
The next day, he also met the President of Poland Mr Komorowski, in Cracow. Both meetings focused on current EU affairs, in particular on the situation in Ukraine. The President was awarded the "Plus Ratio Quam Vis" gold medal at the 650th jubilee celebrations of the Jagiellonian University.
"European Patients’ Rights day is an important occasion for patients and patient organisations, to ensure that their voices are heard. It also serves as a reminder to health policy makers such as myself that patients should remain at the heart of our decisions and policies. As health Commissioner, I am committed to upholding the patient-centred principles enshrined in the EU Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights: a high level of health protection for all, the right to benefit from medical treatment, and access to healthcare regardless of financial means. Beyond this, I fully support patient empowerment, and believe that improving the lives of patients goes hand-in-hand with efficient healthcare systems. Empowering patients means ensuring they are fully informed and in control of their own health care. This is a key principle of the EU Directive on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare which Member States were required to have transposed into national law by last October. It foresees a contact point in each Member State to provide patients with all relevant information, not only on practical issues for seeking planned healthcare in another EU country and being reimbursed for it, but also on quality and safety of care. Quality of care - so important to patients and their loved-ones, is also being stepped up via this Directive, with new decisions outlining steps for the operation of European Reference Networks (ERNs). ERNs will bring together highly qualified health professionals from across the EU, advancing extremely specialised healthcare and providing a concentration of knowledge and resources for the benefit of patients. This is particularly valuable in areas where resources are scarce, such as complex, low prevalence or rare conditions.” Follow me on Twitter: @borgton. See also: 10 benefits the EU brings to patients .