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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 13 / 05 / 2016

Brussels, 13 May 2016

Commission proposes better workers' protection against cancer-causing chemicals

Cancer is the first cause of work-related deaths in the EU, accounting for 53% of the total and therefore the single biggest health risk to workers in the European Union. To improve protection for workers from cancer-causing chemicals, the Commission today proposes changes to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (2004/37/EC) to limit exposure to 13 cancer-causing chemicals at the workplace. The Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: 'Cancer has an enormous impact on workers, their families, industry and society. With this proposal we will save 100,000 lives in the next 50 years. Protection of workers is at the core of the Commission's commitment to a strong social Europe." Concretely, the Commission proposes to address exposure to 13 cancer-causing chemicals by including new or amended limit values in the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. These limit values set a maximum concentration for the presence of a chemical carcinogen in the workplace air. The proposal is based on scientific evidence and follows broad discussions with scientists, employers, workers, Member States' representatives and labour inspectors. More information can be found in the press release and the memo online. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Commission launches new anti-subsidy investigation on Chinese steel products

The European Commission has launched today an anti-subsidy investigation on imports of Chinese hot-rolled flat steel, on which an anti-dumping investigation is already ongoing since February. In both cases, the Commission decided to act early, motivated by the threat that continuation of imports under current conditions might cause economic damage to the EU industry, which presented the complaint triggering the investigation. This is the so-called "threat of injury" mechanism, an exceptional procedural approach that allows to take action without having to wait for the proof of actual injury. The new procedure is part of the Commission's commitment to make full use of the available trade defence instruments to restore fair trading conditions for the European steel sector, affected by the global production overcapacity. The Commission now has up to nine months to establish whether conditions to impose provisional countervailing duties are met. With today's decision there are now 10 ongoing trade defence investigations on steel products, in addition to the 37 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures already in place. Seven of these investigations and 15 of these measures concern steel products originating from China. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56 185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)


Investing in creativity: 25 years of MEDIA programme celebrated at Cannes Film Festival [Updated: 13/05/2016 17:00]

Since it was launched in 1991, the EU MEDIA programme has invested over €2.4 billion in European creativity and cultural diversity. It has supported the development of thousands of films in Europe and their international distribution. This year's Cannes Film Festival is a great occasion to celebrate the 25th anniversary of MEDIA. MEDIA-funded films once again feature very strongly in the selection: 9 of the 21 films in competition for the Palme d'Or this year have been supported by MEDIA. Both European Commission Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Oettinger will be at the Cannes Film Festival this year to discuss the achievements of MEDIA and how the EU can further strengthen the audiovisual sector, which employs over 1.3 million people in the EU, under its strategy to create a Digital Single Market. Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, said: "The MEDIA programme has played an essential role to help European films reach new audiences across borders. We need to build on this success and foster the circulation of content in Europe with the right EU framework. Digital developments bring opportunities and challenges for the audiovisual sector. We need to find solutions together to boost the legal offer online and fight piracy. I am really looking forward to discussions with filmmakers in Cannes." Commissioner Oettinger, responsible for the Digital Economy and Society, said: "The MEDIA programme has become a quality label for European films. I am proud to see that almost half of the films in competition for the Palme d'Or this year have been supported by MEDIA. The MEDIA programme is also constantly adapting to the needs of the sector. In June, we will launch a €121 million guarantee facility for the cultural and creative sectors that will be open to audiovisual projects. It is expected to generate more than €600 million worth of bank loans." A press release in all EU languages is available here. Questions and answers, video clip and testimonials, factsheets and country sheets have also been published online. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)


Making reforms deliver results: EU provides €125 million incentive funding for Afghanistan

Yesterday, the European Commission announced €125 million funding being made available for Afghanistan to support the government's reform agenda towards sustainable economic development and state building.  This financing agreement will safeguard and increase the Afghan Government's capacity for public service delivery linked to specific development reforms. This support is in line with EU's current bilateral development programme for Afghanistan for the period 2014 – 2020 and the commitments given by the international community at the 2012 Tokyo Conference to provide the Afghan Government with more flexible funding linked with progress on specific achievements as enshrined in the 'Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF)'. European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica said: "Afghanistan is at a critical juncture for the success of its state-building process. Our programme is linked to the achievement of jointly identified reform priorities. It will contribute to improving service delivery to citizens, better management of public finances, strengthened accountability and respect for human rights, in particular the rights of women and children." At yesterday's Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Minister Hakimi has presented the draft Afghanistan National Development Policy Framework (ANDF), which is set to guide the Afghan Government over the coming years.  Commissioner Mimica welcomed the Afghan Government's openness to engage in a frank dialogue with its international partners leading up to the finalization of a credible, realistic and at the same time ambitious development strategy ahead of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan scheduled for 5 October 2016. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Sharon Zarb– Tel.: +32 229 92256)


European Commission announces €55 million to support the people of Burundi

Today, the European Commission announced two new actions to support the people of Burundi: access to healthcare, worth €40 million and a rural development and nutrition programme, worth €15 million. Both programmes will be implemented by non-governmental organisations and/or international agencies, following the EU Council Decision earlier this year which suspended direct EU financial support to the Burundian administration.   EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: "Burundians themselves are the principal victims of the current crisis – which has aggravated a situation that was already very fragile. This new €55 million package will help strengthening access to health services and improving food and nutrition. It shows the clear commitment of the EU to continue supporting the people of Burundi, despite the current political impasse". Today's announcement comes less than two months after the Council concluded consultations with Burundi under article 96 of the EU-ACP Partnership Agreement (Cotonou Agreement). A press release is available online. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Sharon Zarb – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


Investment Plan for Europe: EIB signs first deal with a national promotional bank to boost investments in infrastructure in Spain

The European Investment Bank (EIB) signed the first deal with a national promotional bank under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. The EIB will lend the Spanish national promotional bank Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO) €50 million to finance infrastructure projects in Spain. The support from the EIB and the EFSI will allow the ICO to invest €250 million in priority sectors such as transport, energy and social infrastructure. Commissioner Arias Cañete, responsible for Climate Action and Energy, said: "The deal signed today between EIB and ICO with the support of the Investment Plan for Europe will stimulate investments in infrastructure in Spain. I am pleased that the fund will prioritise investments in strategic sectors for Europe such as energy transition, transport and social infrastructure which are fundamental for growth and employment." (For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt - Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


Draft study on impact of TTIP open for public consultation [updated on 13 May 2016 at 12:45 with correct date of civil society dialogue]
The independent consultant carrying out a Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) for the European Commission on the trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and the United States published today its draft interim report. The technical report highlights the opportunities that a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could create for people and businesses across Europe, and is now available for public consultation. This work is being conducted by Ecorys, in a process involving wide consultation with stakeholders. The 400-page report indicates that all Member States’ economies would grow as a result of the new trade agreement. The study also predicts that EU exports to the US would rise by 27% and a mix of social indicators shows a combined benefit both for European and US citizens. The report goes beyond the numbers to also look in detail at the social and environmental impact that TTIP could have. Commenting in a blog post, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "This is a snapshot based on assumptions about a future TTIP deal. Needless to say, being a draft version to now be scrutinised by stakeholders and others, this assessment should be taken with a pinch of salt. The economic analysis is based on modelling, with many assumptions and caveats. We should thus be cautious when analysing numbers, especially when it comes to things like market data that may depend on many other factors. That being said, the report does highlight the many opportunities TTIP presents for the EU. I believe one particular thing cannot be scientifically captured in any study, however – the impact of TTIP on Europe's ability to shape globalisation according to our own standards. Modern trade agreements are one of the tools at our disposal to shape globalisation, making it more responsible. With this in mind, both TTIP as well as our trade agreement with Canada (CETA) aim to include progressive chapters on sustainable development, including on labour rights and the environment." All interested stakeholders will now have the opportunity to review the draft and offer feedback, before Ecorys moves on to work on the final interim report and recommendations for the end of 2016. The Commission will also organise a civil society dialogue with the authors of the report, which will take place on 30 May. The Commission has been carrying out sustainability impact assessments on all negotiated trade agreements since 1999. These assessments take place during the negotiations and feed into the work of the negotiators as the negotiations evolve. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56 185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)


State aid: Commission widens scope of ongoing in-depth investigation into Italian support for steel producer Ilva

The European Commission has extended the scope of its ongoing in-depth inquiry to assess whether an additional €300 million loan granted by Italy to steel producer Ilva was in line with EU State aid rules. After the opening of the in-depth investigation into several measures in favour of Ilva in January 2016, the Commission has learnt that this loan was granted to Ilva in December 2015. In addition to its ongoing assessment of the previous measures, the Commission will also examine whether this additional loan gave Ilva an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU state aid rules. In parallel, Italy has launched a sale process for the assets of Ilva, which is ongoing. Neither the Commission's January decision nor today's decision prevent Italy from implementing measures urgently needed to clean up and contain existing pollution at the Ilva site and surrounding areas as well as to improve public health in the Taranto area, as long as the money is subsequently recovered from the polluter. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889) 


Concentrations: la Commission ouvre une enquête approfondie sur le rachat de Faiveley par Wabtec

La Commission européenne a ouvert une enquête approfondie afin de déterminer si le projet de rachat de l'entreprise française Faiveley Transport par l'entreprise américaine Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation («Wabtec») est conforme au règlement de l’UE en matière de concentrations. Wabtec et Faiveley sont deux entreprisesprésente dans le monde entier dans la production et la fourniture de divers équipements ferroviaires, tels que les pantographes et les systèmes complets de freinage avec leurs sous-systèmes. La Commission a exprimé, à titre préliminaire, des préoccupations concernant une série de marchés de systèmes et sous-systèmes d’équipements ferroviaires, liées en particulier à la fourniture de systèmes complets de freinage et de différents composants de freinage, tels que les matériaux de friction, et les pantographes.Ces marchés se caractérisent par d’importantes barrières à l’entrée dues au niveau élevé des exigences techniques et réglementaires applicables aux équipements des trains critiques pour la sécurité, tels que les systèmes de freinage. Des investissements importants dans la recherche et la réception par type des nouveaux produits sont donc nécessaires pour pouvoir y entrer ou s'y développer rapidement. À ce stade, la Commission craint que les autres fabricants ne soient pas en mesure d'exercer une concurrence et une pression suffisantes sur l’entreprise issue de la concentration pour la contraindre à maintenir des programmes d’innovation et pour empêcher une hausse de prix pour les consommateurs. L'ouverture d'une enquête approfondie ne préjuge pas de l'issue de la procédure. La Commission dispose à présent d’un délai de 90 jours ouvrables (jusqu’au 20 septembre 2016) pour arrêter une décision. Des informations plus détaillées seront disponibles sur le site web de la DG concurrence dans le registre public des affaires de concurrence de la Commission, sous le numéro M.7801. Le communiqué de presse complet est disponible en ligne en FR, EN, DE. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)


Eurostat: La moitié des enfants de moins de trois ans étaient gardés uniquement par leurs parents dans l'UE en 2014

En 2014, l’Union européenne (UE) comptait près de 15,5 millions d’enfants âgés de moins de trois ans. La moitié (50%) d’entre eux étaient gardés uniquement par leurs parents, tandis que 28% fréquentaient au moins partiellement des systèmes formels d'accueil, ce qui signifie que l’objectif de Barcelone d'une prise en charge de 33% des moins de trois ans dans des structures formelles d'accueil n’était toujours pas atteint. De grandes différences prévalaient toutefois d'un État membre à l'autre. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Eurostat: GDP up by 0.5% in both the euro area and the EU28

Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.5% in both the euro area (EA19) and the EU28 during the first quarter of 2016, compared with the previous quarter, according to a flash estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2015, GDP grew by 0.3% and 0.4% respectively. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 1.5% in the euro area and by 1.7% in the EU28 in the first quarter of 2016, after +1.6% and +1.8% respectively in the previous quarter. During the first quarter of 2016, GDP in the United States increased by 0.1% compared with the previous quarter (after +0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2015). Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, GDP grew by 1.9% (after +2.0% in the previous quarter). A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)




HR/VP Mogherini to attend the Regional Security Summit in Abuja, Nigeria

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the Commission Federica Mogherini will attend the Regional Security Summit taking place in Abuja, Nigeria, on 12 - 14 May 2016. This regional summit builds on the work of the first summit focused on the security issues hosted by France, two years ago. As part of her work to boost cooperation with the African countries, the High Representative will also have a number of bilateral meetings with Heads of State from the G5 Sahel countries and from the Western and Central Africa. The topics of discussion will cover various themes of common interests: migration; fight against terrorism, regional and international security issues, in particular in the area of the Lake Chad basin. The European Union remains committed to building capacities of the African partner countries in support of security and development in order to enable them to prevent and manage crisis by themselves. (For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69 921)


Vice-President Ansip to discuss progress on the Digital Single Market strategy in Poland

Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, is in Warsaw, Poland, today to discuss the benefits that a Digital Single Market can bring to the country and to the EU as a whole. He met this morning Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Mateusz Morawiecki as well as Polish Minister of Digitalisation Anna Streżyńska. They discussed the upcoming legislative proposals aimed at tackling unjustified geo-blocking, making parcel delivery prices more transparent and reinforcing consumer protection across the EU. These initiatives can boost e-commerce in Poland. They also discussed the measures that the Commission has recently adopted to digitise European industry and how Poland could play an important role in the development of a European Cloud. Progress made towards the digitalisation of Poland thanks to EU European Structural and Investment Funds was part of the discussions as well. This afternoon, Vice-President Ansip will meet with the Committees of Digitalisation and EU Affairs of the Lower Parliament Chamber (the Sejm). He will also discuss with representatives of the Business Confederation Lewiatan. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)


Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Vella at G7 Environment Ministers meeting in Toyama, Japan

EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and FisheriesKarmenu Vella is travelling to Toyama to participate in the meeting of G7 Environment Ministers on 15-16 May. G7 representatives from France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the US, Japan and Canada are also attending. The main items on the menu are the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, resource efficiency, biodiversity and action to tackle climate change. This is the first G7 Environment Ministers meeting since 2009 and the first following the signature of the Paris Agreement on climate action and the commitments at the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the margins of the G7 ministerial meeting, Commissioner Vella will meet with Japan's Environment Minister Ms Tamayo Marukawa and the State Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Mr Ken Saito. He will also meet with the State Minister in charge of the Ocean Policy, Ms Aiko Shimajiri and visit the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation, an institution engaged in innovative projects on ocean energy. For more information, visit the website of the Japanese G7 Presidency. (For more information: Enrico Brivio - Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)


Commissioner Carlos Moedas to participate in G7 Science and Technology Ministers meeting in Tsukuba, Japan

EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas will join ministers of science, technology and innovation from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA at the G7 Science and Technology Ministerial Meeting in Tsukuba, Japan on 15-17 May. Ahead of his trip, Commissioner Moedas said: "The G7 Science and Technology meeting is a great opportunity to align our approaches on issues where countries can achieve more by working together. I am delighted that this year there is a focus on open science, which a leading priority of the European Commission in the research field." The meeting will have a particular focus on inclusive innovation and open science. The main items on the agenda are the importance of science, technology and innovation in addressing global challenges such as ageing populations and the spread of disease. Also for discussion is the future of the world's oceans and seas and the importance of clean energy, as well as expanding women's participation in areas of science, technology and innovation and how to adequately prepare the next generation of global science leaders. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229-80100; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.:  +32 229-56184)


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