Daily News of 2014-05-15
European Commission - MEX/14/0515 15/05/2014
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EXME 14 / 15.05
15 / 05 / 14
Today, the European Commission welcomes the Government of the Republic of Moldova, led by Prime Minister Leancă, in Brussels.
The meeting will take stock of the latest developments in the Republic of Moldova, address both sides’ preparations to ensure that the future EU-Moldova Association Agreement delivers growth and stability up to its full potential, and review the state of play with key reforms in Moldova’s justice sector, business environment and energy relations.
A press point with President Barroso and Prime Minister Leancă will take place after the meeting and will be live broadcast via EBS+ .
With most financial reform measures now adopted, the European Commission has today published a first comprehensive review of the financial regulation agenda as a whole. This economic review sets out how the reforms will deliver a safer and more responsible financial system by enhancing financial stability, deepening the single market for financial services and improving its efficiency whilst improving market integrity and confidence. Evidence suggests that the total expected benefits of the financial regulation agenda will outweigh the expected costs, both on a rule-by-rule basis and when considering the reforms as a whole. Many rules create considerable positive synergies, e.g. between the capital requirements package in banking and the reform of derivatives markets. The financial system is already changing and improving. This change will continue as the reforms take effect. See also MEMO/14/352 .
Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.2% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.3% in the EU28 during the first quarter of 2014, compared with the previous quarter, according to flash estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2013, GDP grew by 0.2% in the euro area and by 0.4% in the EU28. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.9% in the euro area and by 1.4% in the EU28 in the first quarter of 2014, after +0.5% and +1.0% respectively in the previous quarter.
Euro area annual inflation was 0.7% in April 2014, up from 0.5% in March. A year earlier the rate was 1.2%. Monthly inflation was 0.2% in April 2014. European Union annual inflation was 0.8% in April 2014, up from 0.6% in March. A year earlier the rate was 1.4%. Monthly inflation was 0.1% in April 2014. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
The European Commission wants to prohibit the use of any kind of driftnets for fishing in all EU waters as of 1 January 2015. Although rules are already in place to forbid using driftnets to catch certain migratory fishes, the practice continues to be a cause of concern due to the incidental catching of marine mammals, sea turtles and sea birds which are mostly protected under EU legislation. To fight circumvention, the Commission proposal includes a full ban of driftnets fishing in the EU as well as the prohibition of keeping driftnets on board of fishing vessels. Furthermore, to avoid ambiguity, the proposal refines the current definition of a driftnet. Banning driftnets responds to the new Common Fisheries Policy's goal to minimise the impact of fishing activities on the marine ecosystems and to reduce unwanted catches as much as possible. See IP/14/563 and MEMO/14/351
The European Commission has published today a report reviewing passenger rights' complaint handling and enforcement in the European air transport sector between 2010 and 2012. The report shows that complaints to national authorities for compensation and assistance have returned to lower levels since the exceptional year 2010 (ash cloud crisis, snow disruptions). The statistics are based on data provided by the National Enforcement Bodies (NEBs) of the 28 Member States and Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
New legislation simplifying the rules for assessing the potential effects of projects on the environment enters into force today. The newly amended Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive will offer better protection for the environment while reducing administrative burdens stemming from EU law, in line with the European Commission's drive for smarter regulation. The new approach focuses on risks and challenges that have emerged since the original rules came into force some 25 years ago. This means more attention to areas such as resource efficiency, climate change and disaster prevention, which are now better reflected in the assessment process.
EU's greenhouse gas emissions from installations participating in the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) have decreased at least by 3% last year, according to data from the Union Registry released yesterday. This means more emissions were cut last year than in each previous year and proves once again that emissions can be cut without sacrificing the economy. However, a surplus of emissions allowances persists in the system. This underlines the need to swiftly adopt and implement the Commission's proposal to create market stability reserve mechanism to improve the long-term functioning of the carbon market.
European films represent nearly two thirds of releases in the EU but account for only one third of ticket sales. While the number of films produced in Europe increased from around 1100 in 2008 to 1300 in 2012, most European films are shown only in the country where they were made and are rarely distributed across borders. A new EU strategy on 'European film in the digital era', launched by the European Commission today, seeks to address this challenge by highlighting the need to make the most of new methods of distribution to enhance cultural diversity and competitiveness.
Two important proposals of the European Commission will be signed into law by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union today at 14:00 in Strasburg. The European Account Preservation Order and the updated rules for a specialised European patent court will formally enter the EU's Statute book, making life simpler and cheaper for European businesses and entrepreneurs.
PIP breast implants and health – updated scientific opinion
The European Commission and its non-food Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) published the final opinion on the safety of Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) Silicone Breast Implants, updating its 2012 opinion on the same subject.
The data in the final opinion show that PIP silicone breast implants have higher rupture rates than breast implants by other manufacturers. However, to date, no increased health risk has been associated with exposure to silicone gel leaking from a ruptured PIP implant, as compared with a conventional implant from another manufacturer.
SCENIHR concludes that there is no convincing data to justify the routine removal of intact PIP breast implants. However, removal is advised in the case of implant rupture.
What Commissioners said
At today's Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Warsaw, Vice-President Siim Kallas recalled the role and achievements of the bank against the background of the economic climate. He said, "The EU considers the bank to be an important partner within its region and appreciates the many fields where very good cooperation has been established on both policy and operational levels" and added, "While the global and EU economy are showing a modest recovery, some countries in the wider region in which the EBRD operates are beginning to show a slowdown in growth, such as in Russia, parts of eastern Europe and of the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. On the Ukraine-Russia crisis, he said, "from the bank's perspective these events have the potential for a very serious impact on its business activities and on its net income, even in a positive scenario in terms of crisis resolution, not to speak of the impact of negative scenarios." Having said this, "we still hope that reason will prevail and a negative cycle can be avoided."
EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn outlined how regional development is central to Europe's growth strategy at the European Business Summit in Brussels yesterday . Delivering a key note speech at the gathering , Commissioner Hahn also stressed the crucial role of EU Cohesion Policy in mitigating the effects of the crisis:
"Cohesion policy has already shown its significance for regional economic growth, especially during the crisis when investments from national resources declined, " he said.
"In the EU as a whole, public investment declined by 20% in real terms between 2008 and 2013. In Greece, Spain and Ireland, the decline was around 60%. ….. Without EU Cohesion Policy, investments in the Member States most affected by the crisis would have collapsed by an additional 50%. In fact, Cohesion funding now represents more than 60% of their investment budget."
Today Commissioner Barnier delivered a speech at the European Business Summit. He shared his views on 6 key issues, which could contribute to consolidate EU social market economy. These include the right balance between austerity and growth, the industrial renaissance, energy challenges to be met, the completion of the Digital Single Market, and the need a global player. As there will be no sustainable growth without social cohesion, Comissioner Barnier suggests “to set up a European scoreboard on policies relating to social matters, mobility and solidarity. To that end, he recommends “to discuss issues like a common EU unemployment scheme, a common EU employment contract and a so-called "29th" regime for pension products.”
Vice President Almunia gave a speech this morning at the International Competition Law Forum in St. Gallen discussing key competition enforcement issues. On the European telecoms market, Vice President Almunia said that "[s]tarting from the reform of competition rules – as Merkel, Juncker and others seem to suggest – would be misguided and it would have as a consequence a transfer of costs towards the consumers. A different course of action is required. The first and most important step to take must be tearing down the barriers that still fragment the Single Market along national borders." In relation to the Google investigation Vice President Almunia said that Google has agreed to make significant concessions, which if rendered legally binding by the Commission would regulate part of the company’s operations: "One principle must be clearly understood: the role of competition policy is not to prevent Google from innovating and offering new services. This would not be in the best interest of users. Our role is to ensure that Google does not prevent competitors from doing the same."