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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 27 / 01 / 2016

Brussels, 27 January 2016

Message by President Jean-Claude Juncker to the Jewish community on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, President Jean-Claude Juncker conveyed the following message to the Jewish community: "Our entire society has a duty to prevent Anti-Semitism and we must fight it on every corner – whether on the extreme right or the extreme left or when it is instigated by extreme Islamists. The European Commission is doing everything in its powers. I want Europe to be a home for all communities. We are determined: Never again. Because a Europe of hate is one that we refuse. Because a Europe without Jews would be no longer Europe." On the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Commission will organise a training for EU officials from all EU institutions on this topic and on fundamental rights, where Commissioner Jourová will deliver the closing remarks. Together with the European Parliament a screening of the film "Son of Saul" will take place across the EU (Brussels, Bratislava, Zagreb, Warsaw and Ljubljana). Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos and Věra Jourová will officially open an exhibition today on "The Roma Genocide during WWII" in the Commission's Berlaymont Headquarters. Read the President's full statement here. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.:+32 2 299 13 82; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


European Commission tightens rules for safer and cleaner cars

The Commission has today proposed a major overhaul of the so-called 'EU type approval framework' to ensure car manufacturers comply strictly with all EU safety, environmental and production requirements. Under current rules, national authorities are solely responsible for certifying that a vehicle meets all requirements to be placed on the market and for policing manufacturers' compliance with EU law. Today's proposals will make vehicle testing more independent and increase surveillance of cars already in circulation. Greater European oversight will strengthen the system as a whole. The proposal for a Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles complements efforts to introduce more robust emissions testing (Real Driving Emissions testing). Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "In a Single Market where goods circulate freely, everyone must play by the rules. The Volkswagen revelations have highlighted that the system which allows cars to be placed on the market needs further improvement. To regain customers' trust in this important industry, we need to tighten the rules but also ensure they are effectively observed. It is essential to restore a level playing field and fair competition in the market." Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: "The Single Market requires rigorous enforcement across sectors, including the car industry. With our proposals today we will raise the quality and independence of vehicle testing and improve the oversight of cars already in circulation. This complements our efforts to introduce the most robust emissions testing procedures in the world, which we will keep refining and reviewing to ensure the strictest emissions limits are really met." A press release and factsheet are available online. The press conference by Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Bieńkowska can be followed live on EbS (follow schedule for details). (For more information: Lucia Caudet - Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietilä – Tel.: +32 229 64950)


College of Commissioners holds a first orientation debate on the European Pillar of Social Rights

Following up on President Juncker's 2015 State of the Union address on 9 September 2015 and in line with the 2016 Commission Work Programme, today the College of Commissioners held a first orientation debate on establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights. The Pillar should be a self-standing document, which would serve as a framework to screen employment and social performance in the light of changing work patterns and societies and, more generally, as a compass for the renewed process of convergence within the euro area. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, commented: "The European Pillar of Social Rights is the cornerstone of the Commission's ambition to power convergence; to bring our economies and social priorities more aligned, closer to the best performers. The time has come to establish a consolidated and clear set of social rights that properly reflect the changing realities of 21st century Europe. We will launch a wider consultation to ensure that the European Pillar of Social Rights captures the views of all stakeholders." Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "We know that the world of work is rapidly changing. This entails new opportunities, but also new challenges. We need to ensure that workers can be offered decent protection today and tomorrow. I am determined to deliver on the promise of giving Europe a "Social Triple A" rating. The European Pillar of Social Rights will deliver the framework to do so." The Commission will launch a broad consultation in a few weeks. Social partners, national, regional and local authorities as well as civil society will be invited to contribute. More information can be found in the memo. Commissioner Thyssen's speaking points will be available online after the press conference. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)


Commission adopts 2016 CVM Reports on Bulgaria and Romania

The Commission issued today its latest Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) Reports on steps taken by Bulgaria and Romania on judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria on organised crime. When these two Member States joined the EU, the Commission undertook to assist them in remedying shortcomings in these areas and to regularly verify progress against specific benchmarks. The reports set out where progress has been made in the past twelve months, and where further steps are needed. First Vice-President Timmermans said, "Last year Bulgaria took some important steps to put reform back onto the agenda. Now it is time to move to the next stage by turning the strategies on judicial reform and the fight against corruption into action on the ground and delivering concrete results. The adopted amendment of the national Constitution to reform the judicial system, confirming political determination to carry forward the judicial reform strategy, should be quickly followed up through the adoption of the remaining legislative initiatives.  The Commission welcomes Bulgaria's wish to draw on further technical assistance and expertise to support the reform process, and the Commission has put in place the necessary means. 2016 must be the year when Bulgarians feel progress on the ground. Seeing real results in tackling high level corruption and organized crime cases remains Bulgaria's biggest challenge and must be the highest priority." The First Vice-President also stated, "Over the last year Romania and Romanians have shown their willingness to fight corruption and to protect the independence of the judiciary. The mass demonstrations against corruption have shown how these issues matter to Romanian citizens. Over the last year we have seen the professionalism, commitment and good track record of the judiciary and the anti-corruption prosecution and reforms being internalised. I am encouraged to see that Romania continues to make reforms and the positive trend continued in 2015. These efforts must be stepped up in 2016, in particular to prevent corruption and ensure that judges can continue to do their job properly." More information on the Reports can be found in separate press releases on Bulgaria and Romania, and a Memo explaining the CVM Mechanism is also available. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Christian, Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


Commissioners and EU Ministers discuss collaborative economy, unjustified geo-blocking, single market for services and research in Amsterdam

Today and tomorrow, Vice-Presidents Ansip and Katainen, as well as Commissioners Oettinger, Bieńkowska and Moedas participate in an informal Competitiveness Council in Amsterdam (programme). Discussions with EU Ministers cover how to create the right environment to boost research and innovation, strengthen the single market for services, tackle unjustified geo-blocking and harness the potential of the collaborative economy. The first results of the public consultations published today show more than 90% of consumer respondents agreeing that consumers and businesses should be able to purchase and access services anywhere in the EUand that restrictions create significant obstacles to the single market (see preliminary trends of the public consultation on geo-blocking). A large majority of both businesses and consumers believe that uncertainty over the rights and obligations of users and providers could form a major obstacle to the growth of the collaborative economy (see preliminary trends of the public consultation on platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy). As part of its Single Market and Digital Single Market strategies, the Commission will prepare a legislative proposal to tackle unjustified geo-blocking and provide guidance on how existing EU law applies to collaborative economy business models in mid-2016. Other steps will also be taken to improve the single market for services by the end of 2017. These initiatives are priorities for the Netherlands EU Presidency. A press conference will take place with Henk Kamp, Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Vice-Presidents Ansip and Katainen tomorrow at 14:45 (it will be broadcast live on EbS). (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Lucia Caudet - Tel.: +32 229 56182)


Antitrust: Commission fines car parts producers € 137 789 000 in cartel settlement

The European Commission has imposed fines of € 137 789 000 on Melco (Mitsubishi Electric) and Hitachi for participating in a cartel for alternators and starters with another firm, Denso, in breach of EU antitrust rules. Denso was not fined as it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission. All companies acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case. For more than five years, the three Japanese car parts manufacturers coordinated prices and allocated customers or projects with regards to alternators and starters, two important components of car engines. Although contacts associated with forming and running the cartel took place outside the European Economic Area (EEA), the cartel affected European customers as alternators and starters were also sold directly to car manufacturers in the EEA. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: "Breaking cartels remains a top priority for the Commission, in particular when they affect important consumer goods, such as cars. Today's decision sanctions three car part producers whose collusion affected component costs for a number of car manufacturers selling cars in Europe, and ultimately European consumers buying them. If European consumers are affected by a cartel, the Commission will investigate it even if the cartel meetings took place outside Europe." A full press release is available in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between Acek Group and Sumitomo Group

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of Dongguan Gonvarri Summit Automotive Steel Processing Center Co. Ltd, a joint venture between Dongguan Summit Metal Products Co., Ltd of China, controlled by the Sumitomo Group of Japan, and Gonvarri Corporación Financiera S.L., part of the Acek Group, both of Spain. The joint venture will be active in the production and distribution of metal products in China. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns as the joint venture will have no activities in the EEA. The case 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.7844. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of GFI Informatique by Apax, B&G and Mannai

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of GFI Informatique by Apax, B&G, both of France, and Mannai of Qatar. GFI Informatique provides value-added services and software mainly to large corporations, public bodies and local authorities in France, Southern and Northern Europe and Morocco. Apax is an investment company specialised in financing products for small and medium-sized enterprises in France and abroad. B&G is an independent investment group based in London and Paris. Mannai, listed on the Qatar stock exchange, is a conglomerate of companies operating in various business sectors in Qatar including information and communication technology, automotive distribution and engineering services to the oil and gas sector. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the companies' low combined market shares and the presence of other strong competitors in the relevant 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.7888. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


EUROSTAT - What is the extent of contingent liabilities and non-performing loans in the EU Member States?

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, publishes today information on contingent liabilities and non-performing loans of government in 2014. This data has been provided by EU Member States in the context of the Enhanced Economic Governance package (the “six pack”). A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)




Commissioner Johannes Hahn visits Jordan and Lebanon

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will visit Jordan on Thursday 28 January and Lebanon on 29 January. The aim of the mission is to reiterate the EU support to Jordan and Lebanon which are undertaking outstanding efforts in hosting refugees since the onset of the Syria crisis. In this context, the Commissioner will discuss with political representatives in Jordan and Lebanon the preparations in the run-up to the London conference (4 February). The London conference is dedicated to secure additional financial support for the major host countries Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and to support initiatives such as the "Global Education" initiative of UN Special Envoy Gordon Brown. The visit to Jordan and Lebanon is aimed also at intensifying cooperation between the EU and the two key-partners fostering economic development. Commissioner Hahn will visit EU-funded projects for the education of the Syrian students in both Jordan and Lebanon. Ahead of the visit commissioner Hahn said: "Education is a priority in the EU's response to the Syrian crisis. We need to undertake every effort to offer Syrian youth, who are running the risk of becoming a "lost generation", a perspective which will help them to pay a valuable contribution to the reconstruction of their home-country once this terrible war has ended." Videos and photos of the visit will be available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


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