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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 09 / 12 / 2015

Brussels, 9 December 2015

Creating a Digital Single Market: Commission wants to give new rights to Europeans when they travel and buy online and help businesses grow across borders

Delivering on its Digital Single Market strategy, the Commission today presents a set of proposals to ensure better access for consumers and businesses to online content, goods and services across Europe. The new rules on digital contracts aim to better protect consumers who buy digital content or goods online across the EU and help businesses expand their online sales (see press release in all EU languages). The other proposal will ensure that Europeans who have purchased films, series, sports broadcasts, games or e-books online while at home can access them when they travel across the EU. Together with this proposal, the Commission outlines an action plan to modernise EU copyright rules (see press release in all EU languages). Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "Seven months ago, we promised fast delivery of the Digital Single Market. Today we present our first proposals. When people download a movie or a song, it must play. If this is not the case, they should be able to end the contract and get their money back. People who legally buy content must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe. This is a real change, similar to what we did to end roaming charges. Today, we also set out our vision for a modern copyright regime in the EU – and the gradual steps to achieve it".Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: "I count on the European Parliament and Member States in the Council to make sure that portability of online content becomes a reality for European consumers by 2017 so that they can enjoy their favourite content also when they travel in the EU. Our action plan gives the direction for further reform in spring next year: we want a copyright environment that is stimulating, fair, rewards investment in creativity and makes it easier for Europeans to access and use content legally”. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: "Today's proposals will give confidence to consumers to buy across borders and offer simplification for businesses, especially SMEs, selling online across Europe. The internet has lifted technological barriers to a Digital Single Market; with the digital contracts proposals we want to lift legal barriers. Consumers and businesses must buy and sell online easily and confidently anywhere in the EU". A press conference takes place at 12:00 CET and is live streamed on EbS. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Marie Frenay – Tel.: +32 229 64532; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


UN Climate Conference: EU28 and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries join forces for ambitious global climate deal

The European Union and the group of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states have stressed their shared commitment for an ambitious and binding global climate deal to be agreed in Paris.They particularly agreed that the Paris Agreement must be legally binding, inclusive, fair, ambitious, durable and dynamic and that it must set out a clear and operational long-term goal. Furthermore, they agreed it must establish a review mechanism for countries to come together every five years to consider progress made and to enhance collective and individual efforts as appropriate. Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said: These negotiations are not about “them” and “us”. These negotiations are about all of us, both developed and developing countries, finding common ground and solutions together. This is why the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries have agreed to join forces for an ambitious outcome here in Paris. We urge other countries to join us. Together we can do it. The EU stands shoulder to shoulder with its long term partners in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions.” The Commissioner also welcomed the signing of the 11th European Development Fund Intra-ACP Strategy by the ACP Group and the European Commission, which allocates €475 million to support climate action, resilience building and the environment in ACP countries up to 2020. The Paris climate conference, scheduled to run from 30 November to 11 December, is due to conclude a new international agreement to limit global average temperature rise and avoid the most dangerous consequences of climate change. Read full press release here. A recording of the press point with Commissioner Arias Cañete is available here. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Commission discusses registration of two new European Citizens' Initiatives

The College of Commissioners today agreed on the registration of two new European Citizens' Initiatives (ECI) as it considered that both initiatives fall within the conditions set out in the ECI Regulation – which requires that the proposed action does not manifestly fall outside the framework of the Commission's powers to submit a proposal for a legal act, that it is not manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious and that it is not manifestly contrary to the values of the Union. At this stage, the College has only discussed the legal admissibility of the ECIs, not their substance. The first ECI, 'Mum, Dad & Kids', calls for a horizontally applicable EU Regulation that defines the meaning of marriage, for the purpose of the application of EU legislation. It will be officially registered by 15 December 2015. The second ECI, 'European Asylum Initiative', calls for a reform of the European Asylum system including a permanent, transparent and fair scheme allocating asylum seekers among Member States, increased resettlement quotas, allowing asylum seekers to apply from outside the EU, and strengthening of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). It will be officially registered by 4 January 2016. From the date of registration, the organisers have 12 months to seek statements of support from citizens for their ECIs. If – and only if – an ECI reaches one million statements of support from citizens from at least 7 Member States within one year, it will be referred to the College for a discussion on substance. In this case, the Commission can then decide either to follow the request or not follow the request and in both instances would be required to explain its reasoning. Today's decisions bring the total number of ECIs submitted to the Commission to 57, of which 37 have met the legal criteria for registration. For more information on ECIs, you can consult the ECI website. (For more information:Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


EU launches new mechanism to help human rights defenders

On the eve of Human Rights Day (on December 10) EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, announced the first ever EU comprehensive Human Rights Defenders Mechanism. The initiative is set to become one of the European Union's key tools to assist human rights defenders at high risk, including in remote areas. Commissioner Mimica said: "Human rights are at the core of EU's values. Therefore, it is only logical that those who risk their lives to defend them must be able to count on us for support. Thanks to this first-of-its-kind mechanism, we will provide them with essential help, from urgent relocation to legal advice". The mechanism will have a budget of €15 million from EU funds until 2018. This funding is in addition to the continuous support to Human Rights Defenders already provided by the EU, including under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human rights (EIDHR). Since 2007, the EIDHR has allocated €200 million to Human Rights Defenders worldwide. The announcement comes during the month dedicated to Human Rights and Governance within the European Year for Development. Read more in the press release here. (For more information:Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


International Anti-Corruption Day – Companies say that corruption is a barrier to economic growth and trust in institutions

Today is the 13th International Anti-Corruption Day. On this occasion Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The fight against corruption is an important part of the EU agenda and a priority for our citizens. Effective anti-corruption measures are central to our policies because corruption erodes the trust of Europe's citizens in our common European project. If corruption is proven or even suspected, it can undermine the foundations of our democratic institutions and be a major barrier to economic growth. The Commission will continue to use all means available to fight corruption and push Member States to take further action." According to a Eurobarometersurvey released today to mark International Anti-Corruption Day, 40% of companies in the EU state that corruption is a problem for them when doing business in their country. A first Commission report on the fight against corruption was published in 2014. A second report will follow in the course of 2016. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control of GASAG by Vattenfall and ENGIE

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over GASAG of Germany by Vattenfall of Sweden and ENGIE of France. GASAG is mainly active in the sale and distribution of natural gas in Berlin and some parts of Eastern Germany. Vattenfall is an international energy company which supplies electricity and district heating in Berlin. ENGIE supplies natural gas, electricity and energy services internationally and offers district heating in several cities in Germany. The investigation focused on the effects of the transaction on the district heating market in Berlin. The Commission found that customers are unlikely to consider district heating and contract heating solutions (e.g. gas based) as close alternatives. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns. Additionally, the Commission concluded that the transaction would have a limited impact on the market structure given the small overlaps between the companies' activities. 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.7778. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of UK consultancy firm ERM by OMERS and AIMCo

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of ERM Worldwide Group Limited of the United Kingdom by OMERS Group and Alberta Investment Management Corporation ("AIMCo"), both of Canada. ERM provides environmental, health, safety, risk and social consulting services globally. OMERS is the administrator of the Ontario municipal employees pension plan and manages an investment portfolio in various sectors. AIMCo is one of Canada's largest institutional investment fund managers. 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.7759. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Top-Toy by EQT Services

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Top-Toy A/S of Denmark by EQT Services Limited of the UK. EQT Services is a member of the EQT group, which comprises several investment funds and their portfolio companies, including retail stores. Top-Toy is a toy retailer, with a store network across the Nordic countries and Germany. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as the companies have very limited overlapping activities. The operation was examined under the simplified merger procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7847. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


EUROSTAT: Nearly 1 in 5 enterprises sold online in 2014

In 2014, enterprises located in the European Union (EU) made 17% of their total turnover from electronic sales to other businesses or consumers, compared with 12% in 2008. As in previous years, EU enterprises engaged more in e-purchases than in e-sales in 2014, with 40% having purchased online, while 19% made electronic sales during the same period. E-commerce can offer businesses the opportunity to improve the efficiency of their production processes as well as the means for expanding beyond national borders and reaching customers (businesses or consumers) regardless of their geographical location. The European Commission aims at creating a Digital Single Market where e-commerce among Member States is as smooth as the sales of a traditional brick and mortar outlet within any country. In 2014, while 18% of EU enterprises sold electronically on their domestic market, e-sales abroad (so called "cross-border e-commerce") were more limited: 8% sold online to customers in another EU Member State, and 5% to customers in non-EU countries. These data come from a report issued byEurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, and form part of the results of a survey conducted at the beginning of 2015 on ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) usage and e-commerce in enterprises. A Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


EUROSTAT: Amounts sent abroad by EU residents at €29.3 billion in 2014

In 2014, flows of money sent by residents of the European Union (EU) to a non-EU country, referred to as personal transfers, amounted to €29.3 billion, compared with €28.7 billion in 2013. As inflows to the EU totalled €11.0 billion in 2014, this resulted in a negative balance (-€18.3 billion) for the EU with the rest of the world. The majority of personal transfers consist of flows of money sent by migrants to their country of origin. A Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Patrick Mc Cullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)




Vice-President Dombrovskis in Argentina

Vice-President Dombrovskis is in Argentina today and tomorrow on behalf of the Commission, to participate in the official inauguration programme for the President-elect Mauricio Macri. The Vice-President will also meet Francisco Cabrera, Minister of Production, and other representatives of the Argentinian Government, to discuss EU-Argentina relations and global economic developments. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)


Commissioner Hahn visits Serbia

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will visit Serbiaon 10 December. On the eve of opening the first negotiation chapters, Commissioner Hahn will reiterate the support from the European Union to the reform efforts that Serbia is undertaking on its EU path. Commissioner Hahn will address to the plenary of the Serbian Parliament and he will meet the Speaker of the Parliament and the leaders of the parliamentary caucuses. He will also meet Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić as well as media and civil society representatives. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Hahn said: "The opening of the first two negotiations chapters shows our joint commitment. It is also an acknowledgement of Serbia's concrete achievements: important preparatory work has been done on the rule of law and on normalisation of the relations with Pristina. The ambitious economic and structural reform agenda of the government is very encouraging. I would also like to highlight the efficient way the Serbian government and citizens handled the unprecedented numbers of refugees and migrants arriving in the country. All this has required courage and effort and shows Serbia's ability and willingness to deliver. Opening of the first two chapters is only the beginning but it signals the intensifying of the efforts to implement the reform agenda". Commissioner Hahn's key note speech at the Parliament will be published via RAPID. Video and photos of the visit will be made available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


European Year for Development 2015 closing ceremony and Informal Meeting of Ministers for Development and Cooperation

Today an official ceremony will be held in Luxembourg to mark the end of the European Year for Development 2015. A Joint Declaration by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council on the European Year for Development 2015 will be endorsed to acknowledge its legacy. This has been the first ever European Year dedicated to external relations. The closing ceremony marks the culmination of a successful campaign, which has seen partners from across the EU and worldwide come together in a wide range of events and debates on international development. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will represent the Commission at the ceremony. In parallel, an Informal Meeting of Development Cooperation Ministers will take place and is expected to focus on migration and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A factsheet on the European Year of Development Campaign is available here. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Commission appoints two Deputy Directors-General and a Director

The European Commission appointed today Ms Marjeta Jager to the position of Deputy Director-General responsible for the coordination of Directorates C, G and H and the Task Force "Knowledge, Performance and Results" in the Directorate-General for "International Cooperation and Development" (DG DEVCO); and Mr John Berrigan to the position of Deputy Director-General in charge of Directorates B, C, D, and E in the Directorate-General for "Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union" (DG FISMA). The Commission also appointed Mr Klaus Meyer-Koeken to the position of Director“Translation” (DGT.A) in the Directorate-General for Translation (DGT). Ms Jager, a Slovenian national, joined the European Commission as a Director in 2005 and is currently in charge of General Policy at the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE). Mr John Berrigan, an Irish national, joined the Commission in 1986, working mainly in DG ECFIN. Since 2014, he has been holding the position of Director for Financial System Surveillance and Crisis Management in DG FISMA. Mr Klaus Meyer-Koeken, a German national, joined the Commission as a Translator in DG Translation in 1991 and has been heading the English Language department since 2007. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)


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