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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 25 / 09 / 2015

Brussels, 25 September 2015

EU welcomes adoption of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development by the United Nations

Today, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be adopted by the United Nations at a special summit. The EU has been a leader in contributing to this process from the start. It is now committed to take this agenda forward, both inside the EU and through the EU's external policies by supporting implementation efforts in other countries, in particular those most in need. Ahead of the Summit, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development and leading the Commission delegation on behalf of President Juncker, said: "This Agreement is a historic event, and a significant step forward for global action on sustainable development. I am proud to say that from the start, the EU has been strongly committed to reaching an ambitious outcome, with a universal agenda for all countries, rich and poor alike, fully integrating the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability. The result is a landmark achievement uniting the whole world around common goals for a more sustainable future. We are determined to implement the 2030 Agenda which will shape our internal and external policies, ensuring the EU plays its full part". The 2030 Agenda sets out a global framework to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030, building on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in 2000. As the first ever global agreement setting a universal, comprehensive agenda for action, the 2030 Agenda includes an ambitious set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets, mobilising all countries and stakeholders towards their achievement and affecting domestic policies. A press release, a factsheet on the MDGs and another one on the SDGs are available. (For more information: Alexandre Polack - Tel.: +32 229 90677; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

European Commission statement on air pollutant car emissions

In the wake of revelations that car manufacturer Volkswagen used a "defeat device" software to circumvent emissions standards for certain air pollutants, the  Commission calls on national authorities to look into the implications for vehicles sold in Europe and ensure that EU pollutant emission standards are scrupulously respected. Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: "Our message is clear: zero tolerance on fraud and rigorous compliance with EU rules. We need full disclosure and robust pollutant emissions tests in place." The Commission invites all Member States to carry out the necessary investigations at national level and report back. The Commission is offering to facilitate the exchange of information between Member States. We need to have a full picture of how many vehicles certified in the EU were fitted with defeat devices, which are banned by the Euro 5/6 Regulation 715/2007/EC. We will discuss this matter in detail with the national Type Approval Authorities in the coming days. Looking ahead, we count on Member States to swiftly agree on the final measures needed so that measurements of air pollutant emissions used for the delivery of a vehicle's type approval reflect emissions in real driving conditions and cannot be fooled by deceitful applications. A new Real Driving Emission (RDE) test procedure will be phased in from early 2016, complementing the current laboratory based testing. But we still need to find agreement on the type approval treatment in case of major divergence between the results of the laboratory and real driving pollutant emissions tests. The agreement on this package, in addition to the already adopted RDE test procedures, will allow the EU to have ambitious and robust real driving emissions testing scheme in place. In addition, Commissioner Bieńkowska has invited the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council to put the issue on the agenda of the 1 October Competitiveness Council. FAQs on EU rules on air pollution car emissions are available here. (For more information:Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 229 64950)

EU-Russia-Ukraine trilateral gas talks scheduled on 25 September in Brussels

Vice-President Šefčovič has convened the next trilateral meeting between the European Commission, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, at political level, for today Friday 25 September at 17:00 in the premises of the European Commission with the firm objective to finalise the so called 'Winter Package' for the winter period 2015/16. The Russian Federation will be represented by the Minister for Energy, Mr Alexander Novak, and Ukraine by the Minister for Energy and Coal Industries, Mr Vladimir Demchyshyn. Representatives of Gazprom and Naftogaz will also participate. The meeting will be followed by a press conference. Accreditation requirement: For security reasons, media without accreditation to the EU Institutions have to register with in order to get access to the Berlaymont press room. The timing of the press conference will be confirmed in the course of this afternoon. (For more information:Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

New EU rules for heaters leading up to possible 20% savings on energy bills

New ecodesign and energy labelling measures concerning boilers, heat pumps and water heaters will apply as of Saturday 26 September. A new energy label will inform consumers about energy efficiency of heating products while minimum efficiency standards will be required by ecodesign. The measures will apply only to new products being offered for sale whilst not affecting their functionality; on the contrary, changing an old boiler for a new condensing one could bring up to €275 savings per household every year. The initiative is in line with the Energy Union goal of empowering consumers while increasing energy efficiency and it is the strongest single action for energy efficient products proposed by the European Commission, reducing European energy bills by more than 20%. The measures will also contribute to cut energy consumption (equivalent to the annual consumption of Portugal and Austria combined), reduce CO2 emissions (equivalent to CO2 emissions of Belgium) and reduce energy imports (to the tune of 418 million barrels of imported fuel every year). Savings can even be higher if more efficient, renewable solutions are used, such as heat pumps or solar collectors. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Modernising VAT for cross-border e-commerce: Commission launches public consultation

The European Commission has launched a public consultation to help identify ways to simplify VAT payments on cross-border e-commerce transactions in the EU. The Commission is seeking to receive a wide range of views from business owners and other interested parties before it drafts its legislative proposals on the topic in 2016, as part of the Digital Single Market strategy. This consultation is also part of the ongoing assessment of the new rules for VAT payments on cross-border telecommunications, broadcasting and electronic services which came into force last January. Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "We promised to support companies, and especially smaller ones, to reduce burdens arising from different VAT regimes. Today we ask businesses and other stakeholders to help find the most effective and meaningful ways of delivering on this promise." Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs said: "This consultation presents a real opportunity to ensure that future VAT revenues from the digital economy are distributed fairly and effectively. We also have an interest in ensuring that future legislation reflects the reality for businesses across the EU." The consultation will run for 12 weeks and ends on 18 December 2015. A press release is available here. (For more information:Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Staples' proposed takeover of Office Depot

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the acquisition of office supplies distributor Office Depot by its competitor Staples, both of the US. The Commission has concerns that the takeover could lead to price increases and less choice in the market for the supply of office products to business customers through international contracts in the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as in the market for the supply of office products to business customers through national contracts in the Netherlands and Sweden. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, commented: "All companies and organisations, big or small, need office supplies for their daily work. We are opening this in-depth investigation to make sure that the merger of two of the main suppliers of office products will not have a negative effect on competition". A full press release is available in EN, FR and DE. More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission's public case register under the case number M.7555. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of OM Group by Apollo

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of OM Group, Inc. by investment funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Management, L.P., both of the United States. OM Group manufactures specialty chemicals, batteries, accumulators and magnetic and optical data. Affiliates of Apollo invest in various sectors, including in companies in the chemical business. Apollo's portfolio company Hexion and OM Group are active on related markets. Indeed, Hexion produces neodecanoic acid, which is used by OM Group for the production of tire adhesives, lubricants, fuel additives, catalysts and paint driers. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because sources of supply for neodecanoic acid would remain in the market after the merger, and OM Group has moderate market shares on the downstream markets. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7691. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Casual Dining Group by Apollo Management

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Casual Dining Group ("CDG") of the United Kingdom by funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Capital Management L.P. of the US. CDG owns and operates a number of informal dining restaurants in the United Kingdom and Apollo Management invests through funds in companies and debt issued by companies in various businesses around the world, including chemicals, real estate and insurance. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because Apollo Management has no other investments in restaurants or related markets. 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.7740. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of controlling stake in Fluor Spain by Sacyr

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Fluor Spain by Sacyr Industrial, both of Spain, and Fluor Corporation of the US. Sacyr Industrial is active in the construction, maintenance and operation of public infrastructure concessions in over 20 countries. Fluor Corporation provides engineering, procurement, construction, maintenance and project management services at the global level, both independently and on a fully integrated basis. Fluor Corporation currently solely controls Fluor Spain. Fluor Spain offers engineering, procurement, construction and construction management services in the oil and gas sector, mainly Spain. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because the companies' combined market position would remain highly limited on all markets involved and they would continue to face significant competitive pressure from various strong, multinational players. 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.7753. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

EUROSTAT: US and Russia account for a third of all non-EU tourism nights in the EU

In the European Union, tourism is above all an internal affair. Nearly 90% of tourism nights in the EU are spent by EU residents, meaning that tourists from outside the EU account for only around 10% of the total. And when travelling, EU residents spent almost 85% of their tourism nights within the EU, with only just over 15% in extra-EU destinations. Nevertheless, more than 300 million nights were spent in the EU by non-EU visitors in tourist accommodation in 2014. With 17.8% and 14.9% respectively of all nights spent by non-EU tourists in the EU in 2014, tourists from the United States and Russia were the main visitors from outside the EU, while those from China, Japan and Brazil each represented less than 5% of nights spent by non-EU tourists. Over the past decade, the EU has grown as a tourist destination. Compared with 2005, extra-EU tourism in the EU increased by 75% in 2014, particularly driven by a boom in the number of nights spent by tourists from China, Russia and Brazil, while the growth has been more moderate for tourists from the United States and a decrease was registered for those from Japan. In the opposite direction, the United States, Turkey and Switzerland were the top 3 extra-EU tourism destinations of EU residents in 2014. At Member State level, tourism patterns, both for incoming and outgoing tourists, are clearly shaped by geographical, historical, cultural and linguistic factors. On the occasion of the World Tourism Day, celebrated each year on 27 September, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, publishes a selection of data on tourism between the EU and the rest of the world. A Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information:Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 22964950)


Commissioner Thyssen calls for the use of EU funds and measures to support the integration of asylum seekers and refugees.

Speaking at an extraordinary meeting with the managing authorities of the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said: "Already this year, more than 500,000 people seeking refuge have made their way to Europe - and many more are expected. The vast majority are fleeing war in Syria, the terror of the Islamic State in Libya or dictatorship in Eritrea. Many EU Member States are under a lot of pressure at the moment and are struggling to cope with these large numbers of arrivals. The pressure is also financial - many of our Member States are under tight budgetary constraints. Money is an issue and this is why we need to make sure that EU Funds are responsibly, effectively and efficiently spent. We must provide protection to the people who are in clear need of it; the ones fleeing from war and persecution. For these people we need to act here and now, to help them integrate into our societies and labour markets. In this respect, EU funds can have an important impact in supporting the integration of disadvantaged communities - including migrants and refugees." Commissioner Thyssen's full speech, as well as a factsheet, are available online. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)



Vice-President Katainen takes the Investment Plan roadshow to Singapore

Today, Vice-President Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, is in Singapore to promote and explain the Investment Plan for Europe. The trip marks his first Investment Plan roadshow to a non-EU country, following visits to 27 of the 28 EU Member States since the start of the year. Vice-President Katainen will meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Tharman Shanmugaratnam. He will also meet business leaders and several investment companies. He is delivering a speech at Singapore Management University which you can read here. The Vice-President will then travel on Beijing to lead the Commission delegation at the High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue on Monday. (For more information contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhan Bright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

European Day of Languages highlights importance of linguistic skills

Learning foreign languages at an early school age is becoming the norm around Europe and gives people better chances in securing a job later on. These are some of the findings from two new reports published on the occasion of the European Day of Languages, which Europe is marking tomorrow, 26 September. In addition to these reports on language learning, compiled by Eurydice and Eurostat, respectively, two new studies published today also provide insight into the different national language testing systems and the potential for their comparability.Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: "Languages enrich our lives and our cultures. In Europe, we need to strengthen the teaching of foreign languages to improve opportunities for our young people, both in the job market and in our societies." Ahead of the day, a conference to mark the European Day of Languages is taking place in Brussels, which will highlight the success of the new Erasmus+ language learning support tool. The conference starts at 12:15 and will be web-streamed here. More information about the four reports on language is available here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)

Conference celebrates 50 years of medicine safety in the EU

On Monday, 28 September, Commissioner Andriukaitis opens a conference in Brussels to mark the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the first EU pharmaceutical law. As well as reviewing past achievements that have ensured medicines safety and efficacy for 50 years, the aim is to discuss the present and future role of EU pharmaceutical legislation in protecting the health of citizens in the EU and in the world, and in promoting advances in science, innovation and public health. The event will gather a wide range of stakeholders including representatives from national governments, national competent authorities, industry, healthcare professionals, academia, researchers and patient groups. Participants will exchange on topics such as the appropriate level of risk regulation or the relationship between regulators and industry, with the objective of working towards a shared vision for the future. The conference will include a live Twitter debate, and will be web streamed. For more information see here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola - Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Commissioner Vella visits Washington

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella is visiting Washington, United States on 28 and 29 September. The visit is an opportunity to reaffirm the EU's leadership in ocean governance and international fisheries management, especially in the area of combatting illegal fishing. Commissioner Vella will meet with Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and NOAA Administrator Ms Sullivan and co-chair of the Senate Ocean Caucus Senator Whitehouse to discuss ways to improve the sustainable management of ocean resources. In his meetings with Ms McCarthy, Head of the US Environmental Protection Agency and Ms Goldfuss, Managing Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Commissioner Vella will reiterate the EU’s commitment in co-operating with the US on environment policy. The Commissioner will also deliver a keynote speech on “The role of key international players in encouraging the shift to a more resource efficient world” at an event on the State of the Environment organised by the EU, the EPA and the World Resources Institute. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)


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