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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 02 / 12 / 2015

Brussels, 2 December 2015

European Agenda on Security: Commission takes action in the fight against terrorism and illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives

The European Commission adopted today a package of measures to step up the fight against terrorism and the illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives. The package includes two main elements: a proposal for a Directive on Terrorism, which will strengthen the EU's arsenal in preventing terrorist attacks by criminalising preparatory acts such as training and travel abroad for terrorist purposes as well as aiding or abetting, inciting and attempting terrorist acts, and an Action Plan to step up the fight against criminals and terrorists from accessing and using weapons and explosives through a reinforced control of illicit detention and import to the EU.European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "The Commission is determined to do everything it can to help Member States address and defeat the terrorist threat. The increase in the number of EU citizens travelling abroad to become 'foreign fighters' means that an update of the EU framework on terrorist offences is needed to ensure a common criminal justice response. Cooperation at EU level and with third countries is also necessary to crack down on the black market for firearms and explosives. Our proposals will facilitate the efforts of national authorities to disrupt terrorist networks." European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Today we deliver on our promise to be firm on terrorism. Our proposal targets not only those who commit terrorist atrocities, but also those who help with travelling, financing or supporting terrorism. This is how we reinforce our criminal response to tackle the serious threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters. We also bring to the table an EU Action Plan on firearms and explosives in order to cut the access of terrorists to the traffickers within the EU and on our periphery. Europe needs to act together, decisively and swiftly, to crack down on terrorism and improve our security." For additional information, a press release in all languages is available here. A detailed factsheet is also available here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)


Commission adopts ambitious new Circular Economy Package to boost competitiveness, create jobs and generate sustainable growth

Today the European Commission adopted an ambitious new Circular Economy Package to help European businesses and consumers to make the transition to a stronger and more circular economy where resources are used in a more sustainable way. The proposed actions will contribute to "closing the loop" of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, and bring benefits for both the environment and the economy. The plans will extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, fostering energy savings and reducing Green House Gas emissions. The proposals cover the full lifecycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. The Package has broken down silos in the Commission and contributes to broad political priorities by tackling climate change and the environment while boosting job creation, economic growth, investment and social fairness. It has been prepared by a core project team co-chaired by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen with the close involvement of Commissioners Karmenu Vella and Elżbieta Bieńkowska. Many other Commissioners were also involved in its preparation. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Our planet and our economy cannot survive if we continue with the 'take, make, use and throw away' approach. The circular economy is about reducing waste and protecting the environment, but it is also about a profound transformation of the way our entire economy works." Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: "These proposals give a positive signal to those waiting to invest in the circular economy. Today we are saying that Europe is the best place to grow a sustainable and environmentally-friendly business." More details are available in a press release and a memo online. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


Commission proposes to make products and services more accessible to disabled persons

The European Commission today proposed a European Accessibility Act, which will set common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services to help people with disabilities in the EU. The products and services covered have been carefully selected in consultation with citizens and civil society organisations as well as businesses. They include cash machines and banking services, personal computers, telephones, television and audiovisual services, transport, e-books and e-commerce. The initiative will stimulate innovation and increase the offer of accessible products and services for around 80 million persons with disabilities in the EU. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen said: "Disability should not be a barrier to full participation in society, nor should the lack of EU common rules be a barrier to cross-border trade in accessible products and services. With this Act, we want to deepen the internal market and use its potential for the benefit of both companies and citizens with disabilities. In fact, we all may benefit from it". A recording of Commissioner Thyssen's press conference with sign language interpretation is available on EbS and the full speech of the Commissioner is available here. A press release is available in all EU languages and in an accessible version in English here. For additional information, a memo and factsheet are available online and in accessible versions in English. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Justyna Milanowska – Tel.: +32 229 94246)


Schengen Visa Information System now fully operational worldwide

The worldwide roll out of the Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) has today been completed, contributing to a more efficient management of the EU's external borders. Starting in North Africa in October 2011, it has been progressively rolled out around the world over the past four years. The VIS database now contains all data related to visa applications by third country nationals who require a visa to enter the Schengen area, including biometric data (fingerprints and a digital facial image). Each time a visa holder enters the Schengen area, their fingerprints will be checked against the database. The system preventsirregular border crossings and forgery of Schengen visas, and also allows for visa applications to be processed faster thanks to the use of biometrics. The database is accessed by national visa authorities when examining Schengen visa applications, by border authorities upon entry into the Schengen area, and by migration and asylum authorities within the Schengen area to verify the identity of a visa holder or to identify a person. Law enforcement authorities and Europol also have access to the database for the purpose of preventing, detecting and investigating terrorist offences and other serious crimes. Since October 2014, the identity of the visa holder and the authenticity of the visa have to be systematically checked upon entry into the Schengen area. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

COP21: EU mobilises €125 million for countries affected by ‘El Niño’

The European Union has today announced a contribution of €125 million to finance emergency actions in countries affected by the extreme weather phenomenon ‘El Niño’ in Africa, Caribbean, Central and South America. The current El Niño is expected to be the strongest on record, surpassing the 1997/1998 El Niño. The support, €119 million of which comes from the European Development Fund reserves, and a further €6 million from the humanitarian budget, will contribute to the joint effort of bringing life-saving emergency assistance and increasing resilience in the affected countries. Making the announcement at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said: "EU aid will help meet the urgent needs of the affected populations, but it will also support resilience efforts, making them better equipped to face natural disasters in the future. At present, El Niño is already affecting millions of people in many vulnerable regions especially in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and is expected to continue to do so in the next months". European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: "We need to react now so El Niño does not undermine the efforts in poverty alleviation in many countries in the world that we have fought so hard to achieve. Today the EU is boosting its efforts to prevent a crisis that could cause instability in the longer term". A press release is available here. (For more information: Alexandre Polack Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


EU signs visa waiver agreement with Colombia

Today Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and the Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn, representing the Council Presidency, signed, together with the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Maria Angela Holguin and in the presence of the High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini and the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, a reciprocal short-stay visa waiver agreement with Colombia. High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini said:"As from tomorrow Colombian citizens will be able to travel to the European Union without a visa. This is a symbol of how much EU-Colombia relations have developed over these two years. It represents a first step towards an everyday closer cooperation, partnership and friendship between our countries and our peoples. I also discussed the follow up to the process of the Schengen visa waiver negotiations with President of Peru, Mr Humala Tasso yesterday in Paris. The integration between our two regions can only improve in the near future. And our integration is making a real difference in our peoples’ lives."Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Today is a very important day for the citizens of Colombia and I am very pleased to sign the agreement establishing a visa-free regime with the EU. Visa-free travel to the EU will now become a reality for the citizens of Colombia which I know have been waiting for this moment. Visa free travel will foster contacts between the peoples of two parts of the world which have very close historic and cultural links and promote tourism, trade and business contacts.” The agreement will allow visa-free travel for Colombian nationals to the EU for short stays of up to 90 days as well as for EU citizens travelling to Colombia as of the 3 December. The visa waiver will not apply to the United Kingdom and Ireland. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)


Caraïbes: l'UE investit près de €65 millions pour intensifier la coopération transnationale

La Commission européenne a approuvé hier le programme Interreg 2014-2020 pour les Caraïbes, dont le budget s'élève à €86 millions, avec €64.2 millions venant du Fonds Européen de Développement Régional. Le programme concerne les régions ultrapériphériques de Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique et Saint Martin avec près de quarante pays tiers et pays ou territoires d'outre-mer du bassin caribéen, en particulier les pays de l'Association des Etats de la Caraïbe, du CARICOM (la Communauté caribéenne) et de l'OECO (Organisation Economique de la Caraïbe Orientale). Le programme a pour objectif de renforcer la compétitivité économique du bassin, de répondre aux problématiques communes environnementales et de promouvoir le capital culturel de la région. La description des programmes est disponible sur le site de la Commissaire Creţu et sur Inforegio. (Pour plus d'information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


Nine historical sites up for the European Heritage Label

The European Commission is today announcing the nine sites that will receive this year's European Heritage Label. The award recognises sites for their cultural and historic value for the EU as well as the ability of their educational programmes to bring Europe closer to its citizens. The awarded sites include: The Neanderthal Prehistoric site and Krapina Museum (Croatia), the Olomouc Premyslid Castle and Archdiocesan Museum (Czech Republic), the Sagres Promontory (Portugal), the Imperial Palace (Austria), the Historic Ensemble of the University of Tartu (Estonia), Franz Liszt Academy of Music (Hungary), Mundaneum (Belgium), World War I Eastern Front Cemetery N°123 (Poland) and the European District of Strasbourg (France). Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: "These sites showcase Europe's road to unity, the struggle for peace and the building of our historical legacy. They hold a special place for freedom, democracy and openness in Europe and remind us of the values which we must cherish and promote - today more than ever. I warmly invite everyone to discover and enjoy them." The sites have been selected by an independent panel set up by the Commission from eighteen applications preselected by participating Member States. The Commission will formally designate the sites in February 2016 and hold an award ceremony in April 2016 in Brussels. Since 2013, twenty sites have received the Label. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)


Antitrust: Commission publishes sixth report on patent settlements in the pharma sector

The European Commission published today its sixth monitoring report on patent settlements. The report relates to the 76 patent settlements concluded between originator and generic companies in the pharmaceutical sector in 2014. The total of 76 is far below the high numbers of the two previous years (183 in 2012 and 146 in 2013), and is closer to the levels at the beginning of the monitoring period (2009-2010). However, it is still much higher than the annual average of 24 during the period between 2000 and 2008. At the same time, the number of settlements that might attract competition law scrutiny remains at a low level. This shows the industry's continued ability to effectively settle patent disputes in ways that raise no antitrust concerns. The full report is available on the DG Competition website. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


Eurostat: Euro area annual inflation stable at 0.1%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 0.1% in November 2015, stable compared with October 2015, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, food, alcohol & tobacco is expected to have the highest annual rate in November (1.5%, compared with 1.6% in October), followed by services (1.1%, compared with 1.3% in October), non-energy industrial goods (0.5%, compared with 0.6% in October) and energy (-7.3%, compared with -8.5% in October). A press release is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)


Eurostat: Industrial producer prices down by 0.3% in euro area

In October 2015, compared with September 2015, industrial producer prices fell by 0.3% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.2% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In September 2015 prices decreased by 0.4% in the euro area and by 0.3% in the EU28. In October 2015, compared with October 2014, industrial producer prices fell by 3.1% in the euro area and by 3.5% in the EU28. A press release is available here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 229 64950)



Joint statement of Commissioners Corina Crețu and Elżbieta Bieńkowska on their first regular meeting on public procurement

"Public procurement rules are there to ensure that all economic operators throughout the EU have a fair chance to win a public contract. Robust and swift procedures are also essential to support investment and avoid delays. Almost half of the European Structural and Investment Funds are channelled through public procurement. Since the beginning of the Juncker Commission, we have been working closely together so that EU funds are used efficiently by correctly and consistently applying public procurement rules across Europe, thereby contributing to the EU jobs and growth agenda. With the active support of the Commission, a number of Member States have been preparing and implementing national action plans to address structural weaknesses. In October we published guidelines to help public officials across the EU identify and avoid the most frequent errors in public procurement of projects co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds. Now it's time to step up a gear. We have just published an Action Plan in support of more robust procurement in the cohesion context. We also presented and discussed yesterday a series of actions and recommendations to further improve public procurement in the same context with Mr Phil Wynn Owen, Member of the European Court of Auditors. In the field of Cohesion and beyond, ensuring best value for money must be our constant concern. We want to develop active partnerships with Member States to make sure this is the case and, in parallel to a strict monitoring, to assist them in the enforcement of our rules." More information is available on the Inforegio website. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595 ; Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182)




Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič on Energy Union Tour to Italy

Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, visits Italy from 3 to 4 December as part of his Energy Union Tour. The visit will include a series of ministerial meetings and meetings with CEOs of multinational energy companies. On Thursday, 3 December, Vice-President Šefčovič will meet the Minister for Economic Development, Federica Guidi, and CEOs of ENI and TERNA. Vice-President Šefčovič will also participate in a parliamentary hearing with Industrial, Environment and European Committees of the Chamber of Deputies and Italian Senate. He will deliver a keynote speech at the Confindustria eventand together with Gian Luca Galletti from the Ministry of the Environment, will participate in a Citizens' dialogue. On Friday, 4 December, Vice-President Šefčovič will meet the Foreign Affairs Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, President of the Italian Regulatory Authority for Electricity Gas and Wateras well as industry representatives. The Vice-President will also deliver a keynote speech at a conference organised by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI). Vice-President Šefčovič said: “Secure, sustainable and affordable energy contributes to the overall stability and prosperity across the Euromed region, where Italy plays crucial role.  I am therefore looking forward to discuss the benefits of the Energy Union with the Italian government, parliament, stakeholders, business partners and citizens". Follow the Energy Union Tour on the Vice-President's blog, as well as on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Find more information on the Commission’s website of the Energy Union. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Commission appoints Director for Security in DG Human Resources and Security

The European Commission has today appointed Mr Ilkka Tapani Salmi to the position of Director "Security" in the Directorate-General for Human Resources and Security (DG HR). Mr Salmi, a Finnish national, comes from the European External Action Service (EEAS), where he was Director EU INTCEN (EU Intelligence and Situation Centre). He joined the EEAS from the Finnish Security Intelligence Service in 2011, which he had headed since 2007. Mr Salmi started his career in 1994, when he started working in the Finnish public service. Mr Salmi has worked in the Finnish Security Intelligence Service since 2002.  (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)


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