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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 26 / 02 / 2015

Brussels, 26 February 2015

European Semester 2015: College decisions

Yesterday, the European Commission sent a strong signal to Member States to carry out structural reforms and to continue consolidating their public finances. This followed the approach that the new College of Commissioners outlined in November and is at the heart of the Annual Growth Survey 2015: a fresh focus on investment, structural reforms, and fiscal responsibility. A full press release, fact sheet, country reports and communication, Vice-President Dombrovskis's statement and Commissioner Moscovici's remarks are available online. The press conference by Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici, which took place on Wednesday 25 February at 16:30 CET, can be viewed on EBS. A technical briefing off-the-record (for accredited journalists only) will follow at 11:00 CET today. (for more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)

Infringements decisions: Commission acts for full and proper implementation of European legislation

The Commission has decided today to refer 8 Members States to the EU Court of Justice: Austria, Denmark, Greece, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovenia. The Commission will also send 44 reasoned opinions to 23 countries: AT, BE, BG, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FI, FR, GR, IE, IT, LT, LU, LV, PL, PT, RO, SI, SK and UK. With a total of 276 decisions, the Commission aims at ensuring proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses. A summary of the main decisions can be found in the MEMO/15/4489. On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12. (contact details of relevant spokespersons included in MEMO/15/2130)




Fighting poverty: Commission commits €3.8 billion to help the most vulnerable in Europe

The European Commission has adopted the last remaining national Operational Programmes for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived for 2014-2020. In total this is worth €3.8 billion in assistance to 4 million of the people most in need in the EU. The Fund supports Member States in their efforts to help Europe's most vulnerable people: those who have been worst affected by the on-going economic and social crisis. The Fund focuses on material assistance to those suffering the worst forms of poverty - including food deprivation, homelessness, and material deprivation of children. Commenting on the adoption of the final programmes, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: "The Fund supports people in taking their first steps out of poverty and social exclusion. Around 4 million of the most materially deprived people in Europe will benefit from the immediate assistance of the Fund. This is a strong symbol of EU solidarity." A press release is available online. (for more information: Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)

Investment Plan for Europe: Vice-President Katainen holds citizens' dialogue in Spain

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, travels to Spain today. In Bilbao, Vice-President Katainen will participate in a Citizens' Dialogue on the Investment Plan for Europe and the EU's role in Spain's economic recovery, together with the Spanish Secretary of State for European Affairs, Iñigo Mendez de Vigo and the President of the Basque Government, Iñigo Urkullu. In Madrid, Vice-President Katainen will meet the Prime Minister of the Spanish Government, Mariano Rajoy, and the Economy Minister, Luis de Guindos. Vice-President Katainensaid: "There is a huge opportunity for Spain to get investments flowing again. But to be successful, Spain must also drive through the national reforms necessary to improve the investment climate and avoid repeating its past mistakes regarding infrastructure." (for more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153, Siobhan Bright - Tel.:+32 229 57361)

State aid: Commission approves Danish support for offshore wind farm –

The Commission has found Danish plans to support a 400 MW wind farm at Horns Rev, off the Danish west coast, to be in line with EU state aid rules. The wind farm is expected to make an important contribution to the decarbonisation of the economy. The Commission assessed the measure under its Guidelines for Environmental and Energy aid. Under the measure, the Danish State will grant the operator of the wind farm a set premium on top of the market price for electricity. This will be financed through the Danish Public Service Obligation (PSO) tariff, a charge levied upon all electricity consumed in Denmark for the support of renewable energy. To ensure that the state support is limited to the minimum necessary, the premium will be determined in a competitive bidding process, awarding the contract to the operator that offers the lowest premium level. Moreover, no state subsidies will be paid for periods in which wholesale price is negative. The Commission therefore considers that the measure supports renewable energy in a market based way, as required by the Guidelines. It concluded that the measure would further common energy and environmental objectives without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.40305 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once confidentiality issues have been resolved. (for more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren - Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Eurostat: National minimum wages in the EU – Monthly minimum wages in euro varied by 1 to 10 across the EU in January 2015; Variation reduced to 1 to 4 when expressed in PPS

As of 1st January 2015, 221 out of the 28 Member States of the European Union (EU) had national minimum wages. They ranged from €184 per month in Bulgaria to €1,923 in Luxembourg. However, when adjusted for differences in purchasing power, the disparities between Member States are reduced from a ratio of 1 to 10 in euro to a ratio of 1 to 4 in purchasing power standards (PPS). A Eurostat press release available here. (for more information: Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)

Antimicrobial Resistance: Commission launches a €1 million prize and publishes a progress report of its Action Plan

A prize of €1 million will be awarded to the person or team that develops a rapid test to tell whether a patient needs to be treated with antibiotics or not, the European Commission announced today. The aim is to stop overuse of antibiotics and halt the growing antimicrobial resistance that every year causes 25 000 deaths and over €1.5 billion in healthcare expenses and productivity losses in Europe alone. More information about the rules of the contest and application deadlines is available online. The Commission is also publishing today a progress report on its five year Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, summarising the progress made under each of the 12 actions. For example, to promote the appropriate use of antibiotics in human medicine, the EU is financing ARNA, a study to identify the drivers behind the attainment of antibiotics without a prescription; and the ARPEC project aiming to improve the quality of antibiotic prescribing for children. To strengthen the prudent use of antimicrobials, the Commission adopted in September 2014, new legislative proposals on veterinary medicines and on medicated feed that will address the threat of AMR in both areas. Amongst the report’s conclusions is that AMR will remain a priority in the EU beyond 2016. For a state-of-play on all the actions, read the full report and see the roadmap. Regular reports by the Commission’s agencies, EMA, EFSA and ECDC can be found under latest updates. (for more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Bratoz – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.:+32 2 29 87624)

Commission approves one new Protected Geographical Indication and one new Protected Designation of Origin

The Commission has approved the addition of two new products to the register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDOs). These are, for Germany, 'Weißlacker/Allgäuer Weißlacker' (PDO), a rindless, semi-soft cheese produced in both the region of Swabia and the rural districts of Ravensburg and Bodenseekreis located in Baden-Württemberg; and for Lithuania, 'Liliputas' (PGI), a cylindrical semi-hard cheese handmade in the village of Belvederis. These two denominations will be added to the list of over 1,200 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products. (for more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56 185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)




Energy Union: EU Commissioner Arias Cañete opens "Conference on heating and cooling in the European energy transition" in Brussels

On 26 February, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete will provide the opening speech at a two days conference on Heating and Cooling in Brussels. The conference is a timely follow-up to the Commission’s Energy Union Strategy, which includes an action plan on heating and cooling. It gathers for the first time all relevant stakeholders of the heating and cooling sector to explore how it could help deliver Europe's policy objectives on energy efficiency, renewable energy and decarbonisation as well as contribute to Europe's energy security, competitiveness and technology leadership. At the conference, the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG) will present its Final Report that provides an analysis of the key drivers of energy efficiency investments in Buildings, Industry and SMEs and concludes with a set of practical recommendations for policy makers and market actors. The report is a landmark analysis for future policy and market actions in the area of energy efficiency financing. The program and more information can be found on the conference websiteor follow on twitter #EnergyHeatingCooling15. (for more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186, Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Commissioner Creţu in Poland to launch the new programming period

On 26 February, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu will be in Poland to present the new Operational Programmes for 2014-2020 and exchange with Polish stakeholders in charge of the implementation of EU funds. Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz will attend the ceremony of the launch of the new Partnership Agreement. Ahead of her visit, Corina Creţu said: "The cooperation with the Polish authorities was exemplary; all 22 Operational Programmes for 2014-2020 are now adopted. This is a great achievement, as the implementation of these programmes will have a tangible impact on growth, job creation and everyday life in Poland in the coming years." Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market and Industry, will also participate in the panel discussion as she is exploring the role that EU industrial policy can play in boosting the impact of regional smart specialisation strategies. Poland is the biggest beneficiary of Cohesion Policy, with an allocation of 77.6 billion euro for 2014-2020. More information on Cohesion Policy and Poland can be found here. (for more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Commissioner Vĕra Jourová travels to Budapest

Commissioner for Justice, Consumer and Gender Equality Vera Jourová will visit Budapest on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 February, where she will be meeting representatives of the Hungarian government, Parliament and civil society. On Thursday, she will discuss priorities in her portfolio with Mr Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Capacities of Hungary, Dr Richárd Hörcsik, chairman of the Hungarian National Assembly's Committee on European Affairs, as well as with Hungarian NGOs. On Friday she will meet Dr Péter Polt, Chief Prosecutor of Hungary and Dr László Trócsányi, Minister of Justice of Hungary. Also on Friday, Commissioner Jourová will visit a Roma community and EU co-funded projects on Roma integration. (for more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)



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