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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 20 / 10 / 2015

Brussels, 20 October 2015

Financing Decision of the EU's Emergency Trust Fund for Africa adopted

Today, the European Commission adopted two decisions in relation to the EU's Emergency Trust Fund for Africa announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union speech last September. First, a decision on the establishment of the Trust Fund. Second, a financing decision which will contribute to making €1.8 billion available to the Trust Fund from the EU budget and the European Development Fund. This contribution will be combined with contributions from EU Member States and other donors. These two Commission decisions follow on from the formal endorsement of the Commission's proposal by the EU Member States at the European Development Fund (EDF) committee, which took place on 14 October 2015. It is the Commission’s objective to complete the necessary procedures in time for signing the "Constitutive Agreement" of the Trust Fund at the Valletta Summit in November, when the EU will meet with key African countries to discuss migration and the refugee crisis. This Trust Fund will reinforce stability to address the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa and will support activities such as economic development, migration management and basic services for local populations to improve food security, governance and security in the regions concerned. Three main regions will benefit, made up of fragile countries and those with main migration routes to Europe: the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa and Northern Africa. (For more information: Alexandre Polack - Tel.: +32 229 90677; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: + 32 229 92256)


Statement by Commissioners Andriukaitis, Malmström and Hogan

The Canadian Government has decided to re-open its market to the European producers of 19 Member States of beef and meat from other ruminants. The Canadian market has been closed to all EU beef since 1996, when Canada introduced import restrictions on meat from ruminants on the basis of BSE concerns. On the occasion of the re-opening of Canada's market, EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Andriukaitis, Trade Commissioner Malmström and Agriculture Commissioner Hogan stated: "We welcome the decision by the Canadian Government to re-open Canada's market for imports of European beef from 19 EU Member States. It will provide a welcome boost to Europe's beef producers and exporters, particularly as it comes at a time when farmers across the EU are going through a particularly difficult period." The full statement is available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172;  Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


Commission welcomes US move to recognise EU system to control animal diseases

The Commission welcomes the recent move by the US to recognise the EU regionalisation system put in place to contain the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), a disease affecting pigs and wild boar. This recognition will help to avoid trade disruptions in the event of an outbreak of the disease. Trade in pork products between the EU and the US was valued at approximately €335 million, in 2014 alone. Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner in charge of Health and Food Safety said: "This significant move reflects the confidence of the United States, one of our major trading partners, in our robust system to control animal diseases. It comes at a time when pig farmers across the EU face particular difficulties. It is of crucial importance that unjustified restrictions on imports of European pork are lifted". A full press release is available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola - Tel.: +32 229 87624)


Erasmus+ to offer €2.2 billion for education, training, youth and sport projects in 2016

The Commission has today announced that the Erasmus+ programme will provide €2.2 billion in 2016 alone to fund opportunities for nearly 600,000 young people to study, train, volunteer or participate in youth exchanges and projects abroad. Further opportunities will be available for 200,000 teachers, educators and youth representatives to continue their professional development. In 2016, the Commission is focusing funding from Erasmus+ on supporting projects designed to make education and training systems more inclusive, address the growing diversity of classrooms across Europe and help tackle the risks of youth radicalisation. Marking the third year of the Erasmus+ Programme, today's publication of the 2016 general call for proposals and the accompanying Programme Guide will enable institutions and individuals to start preparing to submit their project proposals, which will be selected according to competitive selection procedures. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: "Erasmus+ offers incredible opportunities for a broad range of people and projects - student and teacher exchanges, youth actions, work placements, sports activities or projects combining all these, and much more. I am proud that we will have €2.2 billion in 2016 to support thousands of great ideas that will help create more open classrooms, support young people's creativity and help us build more tolerant societies." Promoting social inclusion is also one of the topics discussed at the two day "Education, Training and Youth Forum" in Brussels, a yearly gathering of EU and national representatives to share policy experiences and exchange best practices in these fields. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay – Tel.: +32 229 64532)


Climate change: EU in the lead ahead of Paris with 23% emissions cut

The "Trends and projections in Europe 2015" report published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA)reveals that the EU is on track towards meeting and overachieving its 2020 target forreducing greenhouse gas emissions. EU’s gas emissions decreased by 23% between 1990 and 2014 and reached the lowest levels onrecord. Latest projections by Member States show that the EU is heading for a 24% reduction by 2020 and is already working towards its 2030 goal of an emissions reduction target of at least 40% — the EU's contribution towards the new global climate change agreement in Paris in December. EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "These results speak for themselves: Europe succeeded in cutting emissions by 23% between 1990 and 2014 while the European economy grew by 46% over the same period. We have shown consistently that climate protection and economic growth go hand in hand. This is a strong signal ahead of the Paris climate conference that Europe stands by its commitments and that our climate and energy policies work. And we have already taken the first steps towards implementing our Paris pledge with new proposals presented earlier this year." EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said: "Europe's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy have resulted in concrete gains. Our report shows that the EU is on track towards its 2020 climate targets. The report also shows that to achieve our longer-term goals for 2030 and 2050, a fundamental change is needed in the way we produce and use energy in Europe."  A full press release is available online. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Action plan for safer aviation following accident of Germanwings Flight 9525

Today the European Commission is taking another step towards safer aviation by releasing an Action Plan implementing the recommendations made in July by the Task-Force led by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525. Convened at the request of EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc, the Task-Force had primarily called for better checks on crew members. Today's Action Plan has been developed by EASA and outlines how the agency now intends to implement these recommendations, in close cooperation with the Commission. EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said "I am grateful for the comprehensive work carried out by EASA. The safety of European citizens is at the heart of the Commission's transport policy and today's Action Plan is another valuable contribution. By providing a clear roadmap for EU action, it will help preventing future accidents or incidents." More information is available here. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)


Kick-off meeting of the High Level Group on Simplification on easier access to the European Structural and Investment Funds

Today the High Level Group on Simplification, launched by the Commission in July, held its first meeting in Brussels. The chairman of the Group, former Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas and the newly-appointed members met with European Commission Vice-President in charge of the EU Budget Kristalina Georgieva and Commissioners Corina Crețu and Marianne Thyssen in charge of Regional Policy and Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, respectively. In line with the initiative "EU budget focused on results" and with the Commission's efforts in the field of Better Regulation, the Group's purpose is to reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries to access and use the five European Structural and Investment Funds. The High Level Group will also focus on the post-2020 framework and its final report will be one of the cornerstones of the Commission's reflection on the future of Cohesion Policy. A press release is available here. More information on how the Commission helps Member States improve their management of EU funds and on Regional Policy is available online. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


Agriculture: The Commission approves two new Protected Geographical Indications

The Commission has approved the addition of two new products to the register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs). These are, for Cyprus, 'Παφίτικο Λουκάνικο' (Pafitiko Loukaniko), a sausage made from chopped pigmeat which has been left to mature in dry red wine produced in the Paphos area; and for Italy, 'Cipolla bianca di Margherita', a white, sweet onion produced along the Adriatic Coast. These two denominations will be added to the list of over 1,300 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of a real estate asset in Milan by Grosvenor and PSPIB.

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over a commercial real estate property located in Milan (Italy) by Grosvenor and Public Sector Pension Investment Board ("PSPIB"). Grosvenor is a privately owned property group, which owns, develops and manages real estate and invests in property-related businesses. PSPIB is a Canadian pension investment manager that invests funds for the pension plans of Canadian public services. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of its limited impact on the market structure. 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.7809. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


EUROSTAT: EU Member States issued 2.3 million first residence permits in 2014

In 2014, 2.3 million first residence permits were issued in the European Union (EU) to non-EU citizens, a number slightly lower than in 2013 (-2.2%) and down by 9.0% compared with 2008. The decrease recorded from 2008 is mainly due to a fall in the number of first permits issued for employment reasons (from 0.8 million in 2008 to nearly 0.6 million last year). In 2014, almost a third (29.5%) of first residence permits were issued in the EU for family reasons, a quarter each for employment (24.8%) and other reasons (25.0%) and a fifth (20.7%) for education. A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


EUROSTAT: EU28 current account surplus €12.5 billion

The EU28 seasonally adjusted external current account recorded a surplus of €12.5 billion in August 2015, compared with a surplus of €14.8 billion in July 2015 and a surplus of €3.9 billion in August 2014, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)




Commissioner Mimica attends the European Court of Auditors Conference on Development

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will be in Luxembourg today to attend an international conference on European development aid policy. The Conference is organised by the European Court of Auditors in collaboration with the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union, as part of the European Year for Development. The conference will discuss the future of development aid, how to evaluate its effectiveness, good governance and coordination between the various stakeholders. Senior representatives from the European Institutions, United Nations, Word Bank, European Investment Bank, OECD, national development agencies, Audit Institutions, academia and partner countries will attend. Commissioner Mimica will deliver two speeches – during the opening session and during the roundtable discussion on the future prospects of EU development aid. They will be available here. Ahead of the conference, Commissioner said: “Last month world leaders adopted the Agenda 2030, which outlines a new framework for national and international action for global poverty eradication and sustainable development. The Agenda offers to us all – across the world – an opportunity to focus on what matters, reassess our current efforts, make important changes for the better and make progress towards the end of extreme poverty and to a sustainable future.  EU cooperation must help partner countries reach concrete and tangible results. The conference is very timely as it will provide a platform to exchange views.” (For more information: Alexandre Polack - Tel.: +32 2 299 06 77; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: + 32 2 29 92256)


Roadmap to give new push for the European ocean energy sector

EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella is in Dublin on 20 October to participate at a High-level meeting on Ocean Energy, which will discuss a 'strategic roadmap' to help the promising ocean energy sector develop. The meeting brings together business leaders and high-level government representatives, including Irish Minister for Energy Alex White. The aim is to present a final roadmap in early 2016 and look into unlocking funding opportunities. Commissioner Vella commented: ''Ocean energy could meet 10% of the EU's power demand by 2050. This is a huge opportunity for the EU which currently imports more than half of its energy needs, with an annual price tag of €400 billion. Making ocean energy a success will mean more business opportunities and more high-skilled jobs especially in coastal areas, and for companies that can use their existing knowledge in naval construction, offshore activities, or experience in hydro equipment manufacturing to move into ocean energy. With 45% of wave energy companies and 50% of tidal energy companies worldwide coming from the EU, we have a good chance to maintain leadership in a growing global market". Renewable energy from the sea can also help the EU meet its clean energy ambitions - a message Commissioner Vella will convey in the run up of the climate talks in Paris. Commissioner Vella's speech, as well as additional information, is available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)


Commissioners Oettinger and Moedas participate in the ICT 2015 conference in Portugal

Commissioner Oettinger, responsible for the Digital Economy and Society, and Commissioner Moedas, responsible for Research, Science and Innovation, take part today and tomorrow in the conference ICT 2015 - Innovate, Connect, Transform in Lisbon, Portugal.The event notably presents new funding opportunities in information and communication technologies (ICT) under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation framework programme (see last week's announcement: Commission invests €16 billion in funding for research and innovation over next two yearspress conference by Commissioner Moedas). Commissioner Oettinger opened the event this morning and participated in a workshop on standards and spectrum for the next generation of communication networks, 5G. Following the meeting, he said: "I am delighted that 5G industrial associations from various continents agreed today to promote a common approach towards 5G developments. This follows our efforts at political level, and most recently the partnership that I signed with Miao Wei, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology. We need a joint vision to deliver the networks of the future across the world as soon as possible." (More information here). Commissioner Moedas will speak at the event tomorrow and will highlight the importance of new technologies for open science. He will touch on how the Digital Single Market Strategy, presented by the Commission in May, will help Europe make the most of digital opportunities and create the right environment for researchers and innovators to bring their ideas to life. He will say: "Digital technologies are not only changing how we do business, but creating entirely new kinds of business. Whether improving services, making them more accessible or digitalising them entirely, we have one choice and that's to take advantage of this new way of thinking, working and innovating." Speeches will be available on the respective webpages of the Commissioners and will be broadcast on EbS. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Marie Frenay – Tel.: +32 229 64532)


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