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Daily News of 2014-07-08

European Commission - MEX/14/0708   08/07/2014

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EXME 14 / 08.07


08 / 07 / 14

Statement by President Barroso as a witness in the case brought to the General Court by Mr John Dalli

The President of the European Commission made a statement as a witness yesterday in the case brought to the General Court by Mr John Dalli.

A €2 billion boost for low-carbon energy projects in Europe

Today, the European Commission is awarding a total of 1 billion EUR to 19 innovative low-carbon energy projects selected under the second call of the NER300 funding programme. This funding, together with private investments it will help leverage, will ensure almost 2 billion EUR in new investments for climate-friendly technologies that will help reduce Europe's energy bill and lower our dependence on imported fossil fuels. And to make all this possible, we're using the revenues of the polluters from the EU's Emission Trading System. This means we're making the polluters pay and putting them behind the driving wheel of clean energy developments in Europe.

Youth Employment Initiative: accelerated implementation of €6bn euro dedicated fund

Experts from the European Commission and Member States are meeting in Brussels on 11th July to accelerate the programming arrangements and practical implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative at a special seminar organised by the Commission.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor commented "Many Member States are actively implementing measures to make the Youth Guarantee a reality with the support of the 6 billion euros available from the Youth Employment Initiative and of the European Social Fund, worth over 10 billion euros every year. The YEI funding has a crucial role to play since it shall directly support young people by providing a first job experience, a traineeship, an apprenticeship or training courses. This seminar aims to assist Member States to accelerate the programming of measures to support young people financed by the Youth Employment Initiative and to put this money to the best use". See also MEMO/14/466 .

High level meeting to coordinate international support for Ukraine

Today, the EU institutions and member states, Ukrainian government and international donors gathered for a High Level Meeting in Brussels to discuss the key priorities and support for Ukraine going forward.

The meeting is organised by the European Commission services in cooperation with the European External Action Service. Chairing the meeting Štefan Füle Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy said in the opening: ‘It is my hope that this meeting will be a platform for a frank and constructive discussion of the key short and medium-term priorities for our closer collaboration with Ukraine. It should work towards the establishment of a coordination platform for international assistance. The meeting should also provide us with the opportunity to discuss donors’ intentions regarding the provision of additional funds and it should allow us to discuss the next steps towards a possible donor conference by the end of the year.’ ( SPEECH/14/532)

Other news

EU takes the lead on nuclear safety with the amendment to the Nuclear Safety Directive

The European Commission welcomes today's adoption by the Council of the amendment to the existing Nuclear Safety Directive. Vice-President Günther Oettinger responsible for energy said: "This Directive is a major contribution to enhancing the safety of nuclear installations and promoting a strong safety culture in Europe. In a region where over a quarter of electricity and over half of the low-carbon electricity produced comes from nuclear energy, it is crucial to ensure safe operation of nuclear power plants. With the revised directive, the EU shows its leadership in nuclear safety". It provides more power and independence for national regulatory authorities, a high-level EU-wide safety objective, and a European system of peer reviews. It will also introduce periodic national safety assessments and on-site emergency preparedness and response arrangements. In addition, it increases transparency and improve education and training. The 2014 directive amends the one in force since 2009. It provides a stronger framework for EU nuclear safety, as called for by the EU Heads of State or Government following the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima. For more information see IP/14/777 and MEMO/14/464.

Commission's passenger rights app upgraded before summer holidays

The Commission's free smartphone application for passenger rights has been upgraded just before the summer holidays. The app now contains some new features for visually impaired people and is available in three more languages: Croatian, Serbian and Albanian, in addition to the original 22 EU languages already available. The app provides information for all types of transportation: planes, trains, boats and buses, when and how the passenger rights apply.

Maritime surveillance: Joining forces with Member States for safer seas and oceans

The European Commission today issues a report as a further step towards more effective and cost-efficient surveillance of European seas. By bringing together surveillance data from civil and military authorities like coast guards, navies, traffic monitoring, environmental and pollution monitoring, fisheries and border control, duplication of work can be avoided and savings of up to €400 million per year can be made. Increased cooperation and sharing of data would help cope more efficiently with real time events at sea such as accidents, pollution incidents, crime or security threats. CISE, the Common Information Sharing Environment for the maritime domain, aims at making all the relevant actors come together and share data. It is one of the building blocks of the recently adopted European Maritime Security Strategy . See also: MEMO/14/467

Kroes calls on Renzi to show digital leadership

Vice President Neelie Kroes will today call on Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to seize the opportunity of boosting the digital economy in Europe and to complete the telecoms single market under the Italian Presidency. She will highlight the benefits of big data, the importance of eSkills in this digital age, she will emphasise the work being done by the Commission to help local, regional and national leaders bring high speed broadband to their communities, and she will stress the need for secure networks in Europe. Speaking at a roundtable which she will co-host with PM Renzi, Kroes is expected to say: "The single market is our crown jewel. Use it well, and it can support and stimulate the greatest digital ecosystem in the world: connected, open and secure... The Italian Presidency is a powerful opportunity – it makes a bridge to the next Commission. Lots of people are talking about digital – now we need to turn our rhetoric into reality; our ambition into action and achievement. There's a tremendous transformation on offer. And I know Prime Minister Renzi has the courage and commitment to lead this charge."

What Commissioners said

Vice-President Kallas: Gas – a power source to drive European transport into the future

Clean fuels are now firmly in place at the heart of EU transport policy. Gas is a very important element in the initiative; it will play a major part in both road and maritime transport as the most attractive option to replace oil-based fuels such as diesel, still used by most trucks in the EU today. The gradual replacement of oil sources by low-carbon fuels such as natural gas and biogas is more needed than ever, Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport, will say at the Natural and Bio Gas Vehicle Association international show in Brussels. “One reason for Europe’s almost total dependence on oil as a transport energy source is customers’ hesitation to buy alternative fuel vehicles because of missing infrastructure for recharging and refuelling. Today, Europe’s network to supply electricity, hydrogen and natural gas for transport is just not enough for these fuels to take off in the market,” Kallas will say. “If we are to secure an uninterrupted and affordable supply of energy, we need to make significant investments in new and intelligent infrastructure. That will be important for jobs, for sustainable growth and will enhance EU competitiveness,” he will say. “European industry should be a strong leader in the transition from conventional to alternative fuels.” The speech will be available on RAPID this evening.

Vice-President Kallas says reducing the high tax burden on labour is a major priority for structural reform

Clearly, reducing the high tax burden, or ‘tax wedge’, on labour is one of the major structural reform priorities for European countries. It features prominently in this year’s country-specific recommendations, which the Council is expected to formally adopt tomorrow. In the euro area specifically, there are recommendations to 11 Member States to address this issue. Reducing excessive tax wedges in a budget-neutral way could bring big gains in employment, and boost competitiveness and growth in the euro area. In fact, our simulations indicate that a joint tax shift from labour to consumption by euro area countries could add €65 billion to output and create around 1.4 million jobs over the next decade. Of course, each country faces its own specific challenges in terms of the size and composition of the tax wedge on labour. So reforms must be tailored accordingly. The Commission will support Member States’ efforts in this area by setting out some broad principles based on best practices for follow-up discussion in September. These principles could facilitate our assessment of the 2015 Draft Budgetary Plans in the autumn, which should be the vehicle for enacting these essential reforms for growth and especially job creation in Europe.

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