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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 03 / 06 / 2015

Brussels, 03 June 2015

Commission replies to "Stop Vivisection" European Citizens' Initiative 

The European Commission today set out the actions it intends to take in response to the 'Stop Vivisection' European Citizens' Initiative (ECI). Whilst the Commission shares the conviction that animal testing should be phased out in Europe, its approach for achieving that objective differs from the one proposed in this Citizens' Initiative. It points out that this is the main aim of the EU's rules on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (Directive 2010/63/EU), which the Initiative seeks to repeal. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The 'Stop Vivisection' Citizens' Initiative comes at a time of transition – thanks to major technological advances, Europe is reducing the use of animal testing. However, a complete ban on animal research in the EU would be premature and it would risk chasing out biomedical research from Europe." The Commission will organise a conference engaging the scientific community and relevant stakeholdersin 2016 and on that occasion present a progress report on the actions taken.A press release is available here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

Commission management report stresses accountability, best use of taxpayers’ money

The European Commission today presents its ‘Synthesis report’ on the policy and financial management achievements of 2014. The report shows a greater emphasis on performance culture, via initiatives like an EU budget focused on results. The report finds improved reporting on the policy achievements of the Commission and on the impact of the EU budget, including examples of the added value of the EU funding and key performance indicators towards achieving policy targets. The report brings together annual reporting and declarations from the 49 services of the Commission, as well as the work done by the Internal Audit Service (IAS) for the past year. It allows the Commission to take the overall political responsibility for the management of the EU budget and is an important element of the accountability system. The report is available here. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

Brussels Green Week 2015: Tackling declining biodiversity as new data reveals birds and marine life threatened with extinction

Nearly 15% of birds in the EU are threatened with extinction, as well as 7.5% of all marine fish species in European waters, according to new reports published today by the European Commission. Opening today, Green Week 2015, Europe’s biggest conference dedicated to environment policy, will look at the reasons behind these trends and ways to tackle declining biodiversity. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said: “We need to maintain Europe's biodiversity – it underpins both our quality of life and our economy - 'our health and our wealth'. It is under threat and we need to make sure it's properly protected. Green Week will provide valuable input to our on-going Fitness Check into the nature directives. That means looking for ways to improve the way they work and make them easier to enforce, without compromising the goals that are so important to our citizens.” Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, commented on the new data: “These reports contain some worrying statistics – but they also show the value of well-targeted actions to protect the biodiversity we depend on." The three-day conference is open to all and sessions are web-streamed. A press release is available here. (For more information:Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

Aides d'Etat: La Commission autorise une modification de la carte des aides à finalité régionale 2014-2020 pour la France

La Commission européenne a conclu que la modification de la carte des aides à finalité régionale 2014-2020 pour la France était conforme aux règles de l’UE en matière d’aides d’État. En complément des régions déjà approuvées par la Commission en mai 2014, les municipalités de Châlons-en-Champagne, Crimolois, Chevigny Saint Sauveur, Fénay, Neuilly-lès-Dijon et Sennecey-lès-Dijon deviennent éligibles aux aides à finalité régionale sur la base de la dérogation prévue à l’article 107, paragraphe 3, point c), du Traité sur le Fonctionnement de l'Union Européenne. La France sera en mesure d'octroyer des aides aux investissements dans ces zones à partir de ce jour et jusqu'au 31 décembre 2020. Comme la France n'avait pas utilisé toute sa couverture de population dans la carte des aides à finalité régionale 2014-2020 approuvée initialement, une réserve était encore disponible pour une future attribution. Avec cette modification, 26% de cette réserve de population de 233 757 habitants est maintenant utilisée, ce qui laisse une réserve de 74% pour une utilisation future. Plus d'information sera disponible sur le site web concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des cas sous le numéro de cas SA.41618. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

EUROSTAT: Euro area unemployment rate at 11.1%

The euro area (EA19) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.1% in April 2015, down from 11.2% in March 2015, and down from 11.7% in April 2014. The EU28 unemployment rate was 9.7% in April 2015, stable compared with March 2015 and down from 10.3% in April 2014. Eurostat estimates that 23.504 million men and women in the EU28, of whom 17.846 million in the euro area, were unemployed in April 2015. Compared with March 2015, the number of persons unemployed decreased by 126 000 in the EU28 and by 130 000 in the euro area. Compared with April 2014, unemployment fell by 1.545 million in the EU28 and by 849 000 in the euro area. Commenting on the Eurostat figures, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility said: "Lasting economic growth and job creation must be built on structural reforms, investment and fiscal responsibility. There is no silver bullet for growth. It implies determined action at national and EU level. The launch of the Investment Plan for Europe and the new boost given to the Youth Employment Initiative by paying out 1 billion euro just a few days ago are exemplary of this new approach. Through our Youth Guarantee, Member States are engaging in bold structural reforms, reaching out to those furthest from the labour market. We need to maintain this momentum and maintain this encouraging decline in unemployment." The Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)

EUROSTAT: Volume of retail trade up by 0.7% in euro area

In April 2015 compared with March 2015, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail traderose by 0.7% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.6% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In March retail trade fell by 0.6% and 0.4% respectively. In April 2015 compared with April 2014 the retail sales index increased by 2.2% in the euro area and by 2.6% in the EU28. The Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Statement following yesterday's mission of Commissioner Hahn to former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, met yesterday in Skopje with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and SDSM leader Zoran Zaev, DUI leader Ali Ahmeti and DPA leader Menduh Thaci to continue talks to find a solution to the ongoing political crisis. Discussions were constructive, building on the talks that were held in Strasbourg in the European Parliament (together with 3 MEPs) two weeks ago. All parties committed to putting the interests of the citizens and all communities of the country first. They confirmed their commitment to the Euro-Atlantic process and democratic principles, to strengthening inter-ethnic relations and improving good neighbourly relations. A number of concrete measures were discussed and agreed, to address the critical challenges facing the country. A number of points will need to be further elaborated and agreed over the coming days, and in this respect, the Commissioner has asked to finalise talks with the leaders shortly. It is essential that commitments made by the parties today and in the future are implemented in good faith. For more please see remarks by Commissioner Hahn following his meeting with political leaders in Skopje. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 66430)

Statement of Commissioner Navracsics following the resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter

Commenting on the resignation of FIFI President Sepp Blatter yesterday evening, Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport said: "I have taken note of the latest developments at FIFA. They represent one step in a long process that now has to follow to restore trust and establish a solid system of good governance at FIFA. We respect sports federations’ right to run themselves, but after so many missed opportunities and the complete loss of trust in FIFA, I believe we should support fundamental change and ensure that solid solutions are put in place. I am now beginning to reflect on how the European Commission, and action at EU level more broadly, can play a role in this. We owe it to the millions of fans in Europe and beyond, who love sport – and who deserve so much better. We will develop the close cooperation we have built with a broad range of sport organisations and Member States to strengthen sport’s place in society and fight the big threat to its integrity. We have built up sound expertise and created a number of tools which we can use to support those who will now push for change." (For more information: Natalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229-67083; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)


First Vice-President Timmermans in Bulgaria and Romania for Cross-Border Citizens' Dialogue

On 4-5 June 2015, the European Commission's First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will visit Bulgaria and Romania. On 4 June 2015 he will exchange views with 750 Bulgarian and Romanian citizens in a cross-border citizens' dialogue in the Danube town of Ruse, Bulgaria. First Vice-President Timmermans said ahead of the Citizens' Dialogue: "It is no secret that many people in our Member States don't understand what happens in Brussels and don't feel their views are heard. Dialogues like this provide a great opportunity for people to give their opinion for us to understand better what needs to be done to improve their daily lives. I am looking forward to hearing from the people of Bulgaria and Romania and discussing their ideas for making the Union work better together." A press release is available here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

EU launches new partnership to combat Undernutrition with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The European Commission today unveiled a major partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and also announced new funding to tackle the global challenge of undernutrition. Speaking at the European Development Days (EDDs) forum, which kicks off today in Brussels, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, confirmed the EU's commitment in supporting partner countries to reduce the number of children who are chronically undernourished by at least seven million by 2025. The EU is advancing towards delivering on this commitment by today announcing €23.5 million funding for an innovative new initiative: the National Information Platforms on Nutrition (NIPN). “We have made huge progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015,” said Commissioner Mimica. “But until every child is properly nourished we cannot reduce our efforts. That's why the EU has committed to provide €3.5 billion in actions towards improving nutrition by 2020.” A press release is available online. (For more information: Alexandre Polack Tel.: +32 229 90677; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

Commissioner Hill presents the Capital Markets Union's project in the Netherlands (3-4 June)

Jonathan Hill, Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union is visiting the Netherlands on 3 and 4 June. He is meeting Dutch Finance Minister, Jeroen Dijsselbloem as well as Klaas Knot, President of the Dutch Central Bank on 4 June. On the same day, he will meet the Board of the Dutch Financial Markets Supervisory Authority (AFM) and attend the International Capital Markets Association's Annual General Meeting and Conference in Amsterdam where he will deliver a keynote speech on the Commission's plans to restore jobs and growth in Europe and the role of banks and capital markets in financing the economy. During his visit, he will meet the Federation of Dutch Pension Funds. He will also have a working dinner with representatives of the Dutch Bankers' Association and will meet CEOs of the Dutch crowdfunding industry. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 2 295 61 94; Maud Scelo – Tel.: +32 2 298 15 21)

Vice-President Šefčovič's Energy Union tour to Slovakia (4-5 June)

On Thursday 4 June, Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, is traveling to Slovakia as part of the Energy Union Tour. Vice-President Šefčovič will open a conference "Global challenges for the EU" in Bratislava. He will also meet the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics, Miroslav Obert, and participate in a workshop on energy efficiency in Slovakia organised by the European Information Centre. On 5 June, Vice-President Šefčovič will meet the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Peter Kažimír. During a public event organised by the Slovak Foreign Policy Association at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs they will have the opportunity to discuss the Energy Union and its strategic priorities for 2015. Vice-President Šefčovič said before the upcoming visit: "I introduced the main aspects of the Energy Union Strategy during my previous visit of Slovakia in April this year. During this visit I will focus on the specific and tangible benefits that the Energy Union will bring for Slovakia. I would also like to discuss some of the challenges that we will have to overcome at EU or national level during the implementation of the Energy Union". Follow the Tour in detail on the Energy Union webpage, and on the Vice-President´s Twitter and Facebook accounts. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Social issues in transport to be discussed tomorrow in Brussels

A High-Level Conference – 'A Social Agenda for Transport' will take place tomorrow at Autoworld, Brussels from 9:00 to 17:30. The conference will bring together social partners and decision makers for a day of intensive discussions and workshops on social related aspects of transport policies. The conference will be opened by Ms Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport. Conclusions will be drawn by Ms Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs. The chairs of the Transport and Employment committees of the European Parliament, members of the European Economic and Social Committee as well as a number of transport ministers from EU Member States will also speak at the event. Speaking ahead of the event, Commissioner Bulc said: "We are really looking forward to what we hope will be a fruitful day and a good opportunity to examine how to make transport a more attractive work place, how to improve employment and working conditions and how to give a new impetus to the dialogue between social partners. It will help us build a social agenda for EU transport policy." Commissioner Thyssen added: "We believe today's conference is an important step to developing a social dimension in transport policy so that the internal transport market can boost growth and jobs across the European Union." The full programme can be downloaded here. The opening and closing remarks by both Commissioners can be followed on EbS.(For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50 595; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253)


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