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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 18 / 11 / 2015

Brussels, 18 November 2015

European Agenda on Security - European Commission strengthens control of firearms across the EU

Today the European Commission adopted a package of measures to make it more difficult to acquire firearms in the European Union, to better track legally held firearms, to strengthen cooperation between Member States, and to ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered inoperable. The package of measures on firearms adopted by the College of Commissioners today includes a revision of the Firearms Directive, to tighten controls on the acquisition and possession of firearms; and an implementing Regulation on common minimum standards for deactivation of firearms. The Commission also announced that it will prepare an action plan against the illegal trafficking of weapons and explosives. The proposals presented today were foreseen in the European Security Agenda adopted in April 2015, but have been significantly accelerated in light of recent events. The Commission is hereby supporting Member States in their efforts to protect Europe's citizens and prevent criminals and terrorists from accessing weapons. President Juncker said: "The recent terrorist attacks on Europe's people and values were coordinated across borders, showing that we must work together to resist these threats. Today's proposal, prepared jointly by Commissioners Bieńkowska and Avramopoulos, will help us tackle the threat of weapons falling into the hands of terrorists". Internal Market and Industry Commissioner Bieńkowska and Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Avramopoulos added: "The adoption of the firearms package today is proof of the Commission's determination to address the new reality we are confronted with". For more detail, a press release and memo are available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


The Commission adopts first State of the Energy Union Report

The first State of the Energy Union Report shows that much progress has already been made since the adoption of the Energy Union Framework Strategy nine months ago. Still much remains to be done, and 2016 will be an important year of delivery. The Energy Union Framework Strategy created a new momentum to bring about the transition to a low-carbon, secure and competitive economy. The Commission has also committed to report annually on the state of the Energy Union in order to address the key issues and steer the policy debate. The State of the Energy Union Report, published today for the first time, looks at progress made over the last nine months and identifies key action areas for 2016 and provides policy conclusions at Member State, regional and European level. This is a central element to monitor the implementation of this key priority of the Juncker Commission. The full press release on the State of Energy Union is available online. The Commission today also adopted the second list of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs). It is a list of 195 key energy infrastructure projects which will help deliver Europe’s energy and climate objectives. The press release on Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) is available online. Full list of projects of common interest by Priority Corridor is available here. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP): stronger partnerships for a stronger neighbourhood

In a joint Communication published today, the European Commission and the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have unveiled the main lines of the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), spelling out the Union's renewed approach to its Eastern and Southern neighbours. The review follows broad consultations with Member States, partner countries, international organisations, social partners, civil society and academia, and will lead to an ENP which is more flexible and more effective. In addition to mobilising efforts to support inclusive economic and social development and create job opportunities for young people, there will be a new focus on stepping up work with partners countries in the security sector, mainly in the areas of conflict-prevention, counter-terrorism and anti-radicalisation policies. High Representative / Vice President Federica Mogherini said: "A stronger partnership with our neighbours is key for the European Union, while we face many challenges within our borders and beyond. The terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, but also recent attacks in Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq, show once more that we are confronted with threats that are global and have to be tackled by the international community united. We have to build together a safer environment, try to solve the many crises of our common region, support the development and the growth of the poorest areas, and address the root causes of migration". Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn said: "Our most pressing challenge is the stabilisation of our neighbourhood. Conflicts, terrorism and radicalisation threaten us all. But poverty, corruption and poor governance are also sources of insecurity. That is why we will refocus relations with our partners where necessary on our genuinely shared common interests". More detail is available on the websites of the EEAS and Commission's Neighbourhood policy and in both the press release and memo. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921)


Transnational cooperation: €140 million of EU funds for sustainable growth in the Atlantic Area

The Commission adopted yesterday the 2014-2020 Atlantic Area transnational cooperation programme, worth €185.3 million, with €140 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund. Fostering innovation, promoting a resource-efficient economy, protecting the Atlantic territory against risks of natural and human origin and promoting the region's natural and cultural assets are the key focuses of the programme. It covers 38 regions from 5 EU Member States: France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom, including the outermost regions of the Canary Islands (Spain) and the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira (Portugal). The descriptions of the 2014-2020 programmes are available on Commissioner Crețu's webpage and on Inforegio. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


The EU and other OECD partners agree on trade measures supporting cleaner energy

The European Commission welcomes the agreement reached late yesterday by members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - including the EU - to substantially limit the export-related support for coal-fired power plants and to encourage the use of the most advanced technology in energy production. The outcome of two years of intense discussions represents a first important step forwards in aligning export credits policies with the global push for cleaner energy generation. EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström said: “The agreement reached today demonstrates that our trade policy can make a meaningful contribution towards production of cleaner energy and climate change mitigation. I am glad that the EU could play an instrumental role in the process that led to this agreement and I now hope that other countries, not yet involved, will follow this lead in the wake of COP21 meeting in Paris." According to the new OECD rules, the export credit agencies of the involved OECD countries will only be able to support export of coal-fired plants when it is clear that no less polluting power generation technology is available. If this would be the case, only the most efficient coal plant technologies would be supported. More information on this announcement is available on the OECD website. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)


EU grants easier access for services exports from Least-Developed Countries

The European Union notified today  the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that it will start granting easier access to services exported from the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs), through preferential treatment. On this occasion, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "The EU attaches great importance to helping the least developed countries better integrate into the world trading system. I hope that this will encourage all developed and developing WTO Members, who have not yet given preferential treatment to these countries, to do so without delay. This waiver is an important deliverable of the Doha Development Agenda." The EU joins other WTO members who have responded to the commitments made at the 2013 WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali to the so-called LDCs services waiver. This means, for example, that in some 30 important sectors or subsectors, preferential treatment will enable the least developed countries to transfer management trainees to affiliated companies in the EU, and allow them to get up to one year of experience there. More information on this announcement is available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56 185; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Work-Life Balance for parents and caregivers: Commission launches public consultation

The European Commission has launched today a public consultation on how to improve work-life balance for parents and caregivers and reduce obstacles to their participation in the labour market. The Commission's new initiative aims to improvethe current EU legal and policy framework to ensure a better balance between caring and professional responsibilities for parents with children or those with dependent relatives, allow for a greater sharing of caring responsibilities between women and men, and strengthen gender equality in the labour market. The consultation document gives an overview of the main challenges arising from work-life balance for parents and people with caring responsibilities. It takes stock of the current EU-level measures already existing in the area of work-life balance and invites the public to provide feedback on the possible range of new EU-level measures. The consultation will run until 17 February 2016. In parallel, a consultation with the EU social partners on the same topic was launched on 11 November and will run until 4 January 2016. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659; Justyna Milanowska – Tel.: +32 229 94246)


The Commission approves one new Protected Geographical Indication from Germany

The Commission has approved the addition of a new product from Germany to the register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs). ‘Oberlausitzer Biokarpfen’ is a carp originating from the ponds in the rural districts of Bautzen and Görlitz in the Land of Sachsen. At least 50% of the feed must originate from natural sources, the remaining feed has to be organically produced cereals and legumes from the geographical area. This gives the carp a characteristically aromatic taste. This denomination 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 Swissport by HNA Group

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the Swissport group of companies by HNA Group Co., Ltd., a Chinese conglomerate. Swissport is a major provider of airport ground handling, cargo handling, and related ground handling services, to airlines in Europe and abroad and HNA Group manages several airlines active in the European Economic Area (EEA) and other aviation related enterprises. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies' activities do not overlap. Moreover, the merged entity would not be able to shut out suppliers of ground handling, cargo handling or offline cargo handling services competing with Swissport, given that HNA Group has a limited share in the demand for such services. 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.7766. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386) 

EUROSTAT: Production in construction down by 0.4% in euro area

In September 2015 compared with August 2015, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector fell by 0.4% in the euro area (EA19) and remained stable in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In August 2015, production in construction grew by 0.5% in the euro area and fell by 0.5% in the EU28. A press release is available here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 229 64950)




Vice-President Dombrovskis in Sweden

Vice-President Dombrovskis, responsible for Euro and Social Dialogue, will be in Stockholm on Thursday and Friday to discuss economic developments in the country. The Vice-President will meet Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Minister for Finance, Magdalena Andersson, as well as national parliamentary committees. He will discuss economic, fiscal and labour market policies with the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, social partners, senior economists and the Swedish Bankers' Association, Svenska Bankföreningen. The Vice-President will also deliver a speech at the Stockholm School of Economics about the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union. The visit is related to the European Semester process of economic policy coordination across the EU. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 (0)460 756 151)


Energy diplomacy: Commissioner Arias Cañete attends the 2015 Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit in Istanbul

EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete, will participate tomorrow, 19 November, in the Seventh Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit in Istanbul. The Summit will address the economic, political and technical challenges that the world faces to secure the energy supply while advancing in the transition towards low-carbon and sustainable energy models. Mr Arias Cañete will be a keynote speaker at the Summit's plenary session on COP21 negotiations and at the special session on European Climate and Energy Security Priorities. On the side-lines of the summit, Commissioner Arias Cañete will meet with Mr Ali Rɩza Alabouyun, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Amos Hochstein, US Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Mr Vladimir Demchyshyn, Minister for Energy and Coal Industries of Ukraine, as well as various energy business leaders and stakeholders. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


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