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EXME 14 / 05.09


05 / 09 / 14

Formation of Juncker Commission advances

President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker today sent the list of Commissioners-designate to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in his capacity as President of the Council of the European Union. This follows a series of interviews President-elect Juncker held with each of the candidates for Commissioner, over the past few days, and the proposal for appointment, on 30 August, of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Proposed list of Commissioners-designate for the next Commission, in alphabetical order: Vytenis ANDRIUKAITIS (Lithuania), Andrus ANSIP (Estonia), Miguel ARIAS CAÑETE (Spain), Dimitris AVRAMOPOULOS (Greece), Elżbieta BIEŃKOWSKA (Poland), Alenka BRATUŠEK (Slovenia), Corina CREŢU (Romania), Valdis DOMBROVSKIS (Latvia), Kristalina GEORGIEVA, (Bulgaria), Johannes HAHN (Austria), Jonathan HILL (United Kingdom), Phil HOGAN, (Ireland), Vĕra JOUROVÁ (Czech Republic) Jyrki KATAINEN (Finland),Cecilia MALMSTRÖM (Sweden), Neven MIMICA (Croatia), Carlos MOEDAS (Portugal), Pierre MOSCOVICI (France), Tibor NAVRACSICS (Hungary), Günther OETTINGER (Germany), Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ (Slovakia), Christos STYLIANIDES (Cyprus), Marianne THYSSEN (Belgium), Frans TIMMERMANS (Netherlands), Karmenu VELLA (Malta), Margrethe VESTAGER (Denmark).

Read more on the next steps: IP/14/965 .

EU announces €140m package in response to Ebola virus outbreak

The European Commission announces today €140 million of funding for the countries currently affected by the Ebola virus in West Africa: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

€38 million of the new package is specifically designed to help those governments bolster their health services (for example through reinforcing treatment centres or support for health workers), both during the crisis and in the recovery phase. It will also provide support in the areas of food security, water and sanitation, which are essential in terms of safeguarding the health of the population.  EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will make the announcement today during his official visit to Benin. The rest will be used to reinforce governments’ capacity to deliver public services, and macro-economic stability; as well as providing mobile laboratories for the detection of the virus and training health worker.

Other news

Employment: Commission proposes €911,934 from Globalisation Fund for former steel workers in Belgium

The European Commission has proposed to provide Belgium with €911,934 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 752 former workers of steel producer Carsid S.A. to find new jobs. The redundant workers are mostly in the area of Charleroi in the Walloon Region. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for approval.

EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor commented: "The European steel sector has suffered a serious decline in demand, in particular as a result of the EU's rapidly declining share of the global steel market. Many workers in the EU's steel industry are experiencing hardship and it is important that the EU demonstrates solidarity to help them to upgrade their skills and find new career opportunities. The €911,934 we have proposed would help the redundant Carsid workers to find a new job."

Investment for lasting growth and jobs: development and good governance in the spotlight at the Sixth Cohesion Forum

The key role of the EU's new Cohesion Policy in promoting growth and job creation in Europe's regions and cities is at the core of the high-level Sixth Cohesion Forum which is set to take place in Brussels on 8-9 September 2014. Cohesion Policy is now the main investment instrument of the EU aimed at reducing economic and social disparities across European regions, boosting their competiveness and achieving the wider Europe 2020 goals. With a total budget of around €352 billion for the 2014–2020 financial period, Cohesion Policy will play a vital role in key areas for sustainable, long-term growth such as innovation, support to SMEs, improving people's qualifications, social inclusion and energy. Organised every three years, the Cohesion Forum gathers top policy-makers and political players from the EU Member States to assess the success of Cohesion Policy in delivering on its aims. The Forum comes at a vital time: as the so called Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes are being agreed. This year's theme is "Investment for jobs and growth: promoting development and good governance in EU regions and cities'. Launching the event, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn will be joined by Laimdota Straujuma, Prime Minister of Latvia, and Sandro Gozi, Representative of the Presidency of the Council of the EU and Italian Secretary of State for European Affairs. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Michel Lebrun, President of the Committee of the Regions, Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary affairs and the Euro and A. Michael Spence, Nobel Laureate for Economic Sciences will also take part in the Forum.

State aid: Commission orders Bulgaria to recover incompatible State aid granted to certain parties to forest swap transactions

After an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has concluded that a Bulgarian law that allowed the swapping of privately-owned against publicly-owned forest land was incompatible with EU State aid rules. The law, which was in force at the time of Bulgaria's accession to the EU in January 2007 until January 2009, conferred a selective advantage on undertakings which benefitted from these forest swap transactions, distorting competition in the Single Market. Bulgaria must now either recover the incompatible State aid from the companies that received it or undo the swaps concerned.

Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between Versalis and Novamont

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by two Italian companies, Novamont, a bioplastics producer and Versalis, a petrochemical company belonging to the ENI group. The joint venture will produce bio chemicals using vegetable oil feedstock. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the very low combined market shares resulting from the transaction. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7291 .

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Bellsystem 24 Holdings by Bain Capital and Itochu Corporation

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Bellsystem 24 Holdings Inc. of Japan by Bain Capital Investors LLC of the US and Itochu Corporation of Japan. Bain Capital advices and manages investment funds. Itochu trades a wide variety of products, such as textiles, metals, minerals, food, machinery, energy, chemicals, and ICT services. Bellsystem provides services related to customer management and to contract research for the pharmaceutical and medical industry and internet applications. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns since Bellsystem has no activities and no assets in the European Economic Area (EEA). The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7374 .

Second estimate for the second quarter of 2014: GDP stable in the euro area and up by 0.2% in the EU28

Seasonally adjusted GDP remained stable in the euro area (EA18) and rose by 0.2% in the EU28 during the second quarter of 2014, compared with the previous quarter, according to second estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the first quarter of 2014, GDP grew by 0.2% in the euro area and by 0.3% in the EU28.
Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.7% in the euro area and by 1.2% in the EU28 in the second quarter of 2014, after +1.0% and +1.4% respectively in the previous quarter.

First estimate for the second quarter of 2014: EU28 current account surplus €12.0 bn, €47.6 bn surplus of trade in services

The EU28 seasonally adjusted external current account recorded a surplus of €12.0 billion (0.4% of GDP) in the second quarter of 2014, compared with a surplus of €25.2 bn (0.8% of GDP) in the first quarter of 2014 and with a surplus of €47.5 bn (1.5% of GDP) in the second quarter of 2013, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
In the second quarter of 2014, compared with the first quarter of 2014, based on seasonally adjusted data, the surplus of the goods account moved into deficit (-€1.5 bn compared with +€1.6 bn), while the surplus of the services account grew (+€47.6 bn compared with +€46.1 bn). The deficit of the income account increased (-€11.9 bn compared with -€1.7 bn), as did the deficit of the current transfers account (-€22.3 bn compared with -€20.8 bn), albeit slightly.

Joint statement by European Commission and Parliament following Internet Governance Forum 2014

Vice President Kroes and a delegation of MEPs present at the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul released this statement today, highlighting the importance of a free and open internet, and condemning any attempts to block freedom of expression. They said:

"Access to internet is critical for fundamental freedoms and economic development. In the wake of large-scale internet surveillance and reduced trust in the internet, governance of the internet must become more transparent, accountable and inclusive. Furthermore, in light of Turkish government actions to censor social media and jailing journalists, we restate our belief that restrictions on fundamental freedoms, of whatever kind and wherever they take place, are unacceptable."

20 million set to enjoy free access to sites during European Heritage Days

Millions of people will enjoy free access to thousands of historic and cultural sites, many of which are normally closed to the public, in 50 countries throughout September as part of the annual European Heritage Days. The European Heritage Days is a joint initiative of the European Commission and Council of Europe, supported by national and local organisers. Androulla Vassiliou , European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "The European Heritage Days is a hugely popular initiative, enjoyed by people of all ages. This year we expect more than 20 million adults and children across Europe to take advantage of free entrance to a host of heritage sites. People often don't realise how many undiscovered gems lie on their doorstep. I urge everyone to make the most of European Heritage Days and check what is happening in their region or further afield."

Public health: Strategies on rare diseases in place 16 EU countries, report shows

The number has been multiplied by 4, since only four had such a strategy in 2009. And seven more countries are well advanced in developing them. As the application of these strategies is just beginning, follow-up at EU level is necessary. This is according to a report published today on the implementation of the Commission Communication (2008) and the Council Recommendation (2009) on action in the field of rare diseases. Other advances include broad access to information about rare diseases via the Orphanet database, the authorisation of more than 90 orphan medicines – which benefit rare diseases patients, and close to 120 collaborative research projects funded by FP7 with a total budget of over €620 million. A disease is classified as ‘rare’ when it affects fewer than 5 in 10 000 people, yet taken together rare diseases affect between 27 and 36 million people in the EU. The European Commission is committed to maintaining its coordinative role in rare diseases, and its support for the development and implementation of high quality national rare diseases strategies in the EU. For more information on EU action on rare diseases:

Follow us on Twitter: @EU_Health

Commission reports on the implementation of EU law requiring the criminalisation of terrorism offences in Member States

In 2008, the Council adopted Framework Decision 2008/919/JHA (FD 2008) amending the Framework decision on combating terrorism of 2002 with a view to include three new offences: public provocation, recruitment and training for terrorism. The Commission report issued today shows that, while most Member States adopted measures designed to criminalise public provocation, recruitment and training in accordance with FD 2008, questions remain as to the full compliance of the implementing measures with the FD 2008 in some Member States and two Member States (Ireland and Greece) have not adopted any implementing measures yet. The Commission urges both countries to adopt the necessary legislative measures without further delay and will request further information from Member States to clarify remaining issues. The FD 2008 has contributed to a more coherent and comprehensive European framework to combat terrorism, strengthening the overall response to the evolving threats of radicalisation, recruitment and terrorism, enhancing law enforcement activities, and improving police and judicial cooperation. The Commission will continue to support Member States in the effective implementation of the criminal law provisions on terrorism and their efforts in countering radicalisation towards terrorism and violent extremism, in particular in addressing the threat of foreign fighters.

2019 European Capital of Culture in Bulgaria

This afternoon the independent selection panel responsible for assessing the Bulgarian cities competing to be European Capital of Culture in 2019 will announce which city should be awarded the title. Four cities were short-listed after the initial selection round in December 2013: Plovdiv, Sofia, Varna and Veliko Turnovo. The announcement is expected around 17:00 Brussels time.

EU and Mongolia celebrate 25th anniversary of cooperation

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will travel to Mongolia from 7 to 9 September and will have meetings with President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag, Minister for Education and Science Luvsannyam Gantumur and Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Tsedevdamba Oyungerel. The objective of these meetings is to take stock of relations between the EU and Mongolia, particularly in the areas under the Commissioner's responsibility, and to extend the scope of cooperation to cover people-to-people exchanges.

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