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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 01 / 06 / 2016

Brussels, 1 June 2016

Investment Plan for Europe: European Fund for Strategic Investments to be extended following successful first year

One year after the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) came into force, the Commission looks at what has worked well in the Investment Plan, what can be improved, and how to advance. The Communication published today makes concrete proposals for the future of the EFSI, building on its positive results so far. These proposals include extending the EFSI beyond its initial three year period; scaling up the resources for SME financing, one of the EFSI's major success stories; making the Advisory Hub services more local; and exploring the possibility to use an EFSI-type model for investments in developing third countries. The European Investment Project Portal goes live today, giving investors a transparent pipeline of projects they can invest in. The Commission also publishes a Communication on the Single Market Agenda today which outlines the many strands of work that have been or will be carried out at EU level to create a business-friendly environment to encourage innovation and invest in people. More details on both Communications can be found in the press release and the accompanying Q&A Memo, both of which will be available in all languages. Factsheets on the results of the EFSI and the Investment Plan so far can be found on our website. You can watch the new video about EFSI projects here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt - Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


Commission takes steps to modernise EU's standardisation policy

The European Commission today presents a Communication setting out its vision on how European standard setting should evolve in the light of technological developments, political priorities and global trends. It also announces next steps on the Joint Initiative on Standardisation (JIS), which aims to reinforce the partnership between the European institutions and the standardisation community. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "If we wantthe European market to have the first-mover advantage, we need to speed up and better prioritisestandard setting across the board. With today’s standardisation package, we are helping raisecompetitiveness, power innovation and create a predictable and stable investment framework in the EU."Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs,added: "The Joint Initiative on Standardisation brings together public and private organisations in a collaborative, transparent and agile dialogue process to ensure the timely development of state-of-the-art standards in support of fast changing market needs and public policies." Often seen as a merely technical issue, standards are important economic drivers, which is why they are at the heart of the Single Market Strategy. From A4 paper size to GSM technology, standards reduce costs, promote innovation, ensure interoperability, and help companies to access markets. Largely voluntary and industry-driven, European standards need to keep pace with the changing economy, the increasing importance of services, and the digital revolution. A press release and a factsheet with questions and answers are available online. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182, Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 229 64950)


Glyphosate: Commission proposes the way forward - Statement by Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis

Today the Commission called for the EU Plants Animals Food and Feed Committee to meet on June 6 to discuss a limited extension of the current authorisation of glyphosate, an active substance used for the production of pesticides, until the European Chemical Agency gives its scientific assessment on the substance. Commissioner Andriukaitis debriefed his colleagues Commissioners on the state of the discussions that the Commission is having with the Member States on the Glyphosate file. "[…] The EU's authorisation procedure as regards pesticides is the strictest in the world. It takes years of scientific assessment before an active substance is authorised – or renewed at EU level. Our scientific process is very stringent and relies on pooling of expertise between the European Food Safety Authority and all 28 Member States. […] We have been aiming at a solution that commands the widest possible support of the Member States. So far, even though a majority of Member States is in favour of the renewal, no qualified majority has been reached, in spite of the Commission's efforts to accommodate requests and concerns from a number of national governments, as well as from the European Parliament (which expressed itself in favour of a 7-year renewal). Some Member States have been reluctant to take a position. […] The EU approval of an active substance only means that the Member States can authorise plant protection products on their territory, but they are not obliged to do that. The Member States who wish not to use glyphosate based products have the possibility to restrict their use. They do not need to hide behind the Commission's decision. […] However, if there is no EU approval, Member States have no choice anymore: the authorisation expires on the 1st of July. Should there be no extension, Member States would have to withdraw the authorisations for plant protection products containing glyphosate from their market. We have now called for the Expert Committee to meet on the 6th of June to discuss the file once again and take the vote on the basis of a limited extension of the current approval, until ECHA opinion dispels the remaining doubts. Next Monday, Member States will therefore be asked to vote on such a measure. Once again, this is a collective decision.  Going beyond these immediate measures, the Commission is preparing a second decision, reviewing the conditions of use of glyphosate. […] In conclusion, I want to reiterate that the ball is now in the Member States' court. […] As a Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, I reiterate that for me high level of protection of human health and the environment, as provided for by the EU legislation, is paramount. At the same time, I remained deeply convinced that our decisions should remain based on science, not on political convenience. I look forward to a response from the Member States." Full statement and details on the proposal are available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola - Tel.: +32 229 87624)


EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement: Provisions for Third Country Nationals Enter into Force

Additional provisions enter into force today under the Readmission Agreement signed by the EU and Turkey on 16 December 2013. As of today, all Member States (excepting Denmark and Ireland, which decided not to join the Agreement) can also request that Turkey readmits irregular third country nationals who entered the EU directly from Turkey. This is in addition to the provisions for readmission of Turkish citizens which have been in force since 1 October 2014. The entry into force of the provisions related to the readmission of third country nationals was initially scheduled for 1 October 2017. At the Summit of 29 November 2015 the EU and Turkey agreed to advance its application to 1 June 2016 in order to accelerate the visa liberalisation process. A full and effective implementation of the Readmission Agreement is one of the requirements included in the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap for Turkey. Today's entry into force of the provisions related to third-country nationals under the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement enables Turkey to make another step forward towards completing the fulfilment of the requirements under the visa liberalisation process. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423; Tim McPhie +32 229 58602)


Taking the EU-Myanmar partnership to the next level: an EU strategy in support of Myanmar's reforms

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission have today adopted a Joint Communication that sets out a vision for ambitious and forward-looking EU engagement with Myanmar as the country's transition enters its next phase. Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, said: "Myanmar is at a turning point. The newly elected government has expressed its willingness to bring peace and development to its people, through a democratic path. As the European Union, we have constantly accompanied this path, and we are committed to cooperate even more with Myanmar to support the reform efforts of the government: to strengthen democracy, good governance, the rule of law, peace, national reconciliation and human rights, to tackle poverty and to boost trade and investment. With this Joint Communication, the EU renews its strong commitment to work with Myanmar’s authorities and civil society to reinforce our bilateral relations, to the benefit of our people.” The Joint Communication, entitled "Elements for an EU strategy vis-à-vis Myanmar/Burma: A Special Partnership for Democracy, Peace and Prosperity" details concrete proposals and commitments aiming to work with all stakeholders towards consolidating democracy, creating lasting peace, bringing equitable development and social justice in alignment with the priorities of the government of Myanmar and the aspirations of the people. A full press release is available in EN, FR and DE. A Memo on the Joint Communication and a Factsheet on EU-Myanmar relations are also available. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of OSM Aviation by Norwegian and Shiphold

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over OSM Aviation by Norwegian of Norway and Shiphold of Cyprus. OSM Aviation provides crew management services to airlines. OSM Aviation is currently a subsidiary of Shiphold, a shipping company and ship owner. Norwegian provides passenger air transport services. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because there are no overlaps between the companies' activities. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the transaction would result in shutting out competing airlines from access to services provided by OSM Aviation, as numerous rival service providers remain active on the market. 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.7949.  (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)


Commission appoints director in its Transport department and proposes to extend term of EU-OSHA Director

The European Commission today appointed Mr Per Haugaard as Director for Policy Coordination and Security in its department for Mobility and Transport. The Commission also proposed to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) to extend the term of Ms Christa Sedlatschek, Director, by five years, starting on 15 September 2016. Mr Haugaard, Danish, joined the Commission in 1993. During his more than 20 years in the Commission, he has held a variety of posts, including Spokesperson for Enterprise and Information Society, and served as a member of the private offices of former Commissioners Erkki Liikanen, Peter Mandelson and Catherine Ashton. He first became Head of Unit in 2011 and is currently Head of Unit 'Planning, Communication and Inter-institutional Relations' as well as Acting Director 'Policy Coordination and Security' in the Transport department. The starting date for his new role has yet to be decided. Ms Sedlatschek, Austrian, joined the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in 1993, following 15 years as a medical doctor and as an official in the Austrian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. She served as manager in the field of occupational safety and health with the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and as Director of the German Initiative for a New Quality of Work. She returned to EU-OSHA as Director in 2011. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)




Le Président Juncker s'adresse au Congrès des maires de France

Le Président Juncker était à Paris le 31 mai à l'invitation de l'Association des maires de France qui tient son 99ème Salon. Dans son discours, il a évoqué les défis auxquels l'Europe doit faire face, soulignant que "dans cette Europe à vrai dire en polycrise, dans ce monde des plus instables, la solidarité européenne n'a jamais été aussi nécessaire à chacun de nos pays et à chacun de nos peuples." Il a indiqué que les élus locaux ont "une responsabilité primaire – de parler de l'Europe sur tous ces sujets. Parce que (…) l'Europe, ce ne sont pas les institutions. L'Europe, c'est vous, et c'est nous tous ensemble." Il a rappelé la nécessité de la consolidation budgétaire, précisant que "la grande majorité des Etats membres de la zone euro ont su le faire sans réduire leur croissance." Et il a ajouté ne pas croire "en l'exclusivité de cette méthode qui consiste d'appliquer partout et sans nuance une austérité stupide. Raison pour laquelle nous avons lancé le Plan d'investissement." Un plan pour lequel la France s'est mobilisée avec à ce jour 14,5 milliards d'euros de projets sélectionnés couvrant 15 projets dans le domaine des infrastructures et de l'innovation; et 20 accords de financement profitant à 38 000 PME. Il a aussi précisé que la France bénéficie en 2014-2020, d'environ 27 milliards d'euros de Fonds structurels européens, soit près de 5% de l'investissement public en moyenne annuelle. Il a par ailleurs évoqué le soutien financier apporté à la France pour faire face à la situation des migrants à Calais, et tout en comprenant que c'est une situation difficile pour les communes, il a rappelé que "les réfugiés méritent notre solidarité." (Pour plus d'informations: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)




Investing for a greener future: EU Green Week looks at how to finance transition to a circular, low-carbon economy

Today, as part of #EUGreenWeek, Europe's biggest annual occasion to discuss environment policy, a high-level conference will take place in Brussels with Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner Vella on how the European Fund for Strategic Investments can mobilise finance for green projects. "New generations are asking for innovative and more sustainable growth models. It is our responsibility to make it happen", said the Vice-President. A Eurobarometer survey also published today shows that over the past three years almost three quartersof European SMEs (73 %) undertook some circular economy related activity with the most common being minimising waste by recycling or reusing.Yet, more than a quarter (27%) of SMEs said they had encountered difficulties in accessing financing for their projects. Commissioner Vella added: "It is becoming more and more clear that a sound investment strategy means combining economic opportunity with sustainable environmental practice. Green Week sends a powerful signal to European companies, investors and the financial sector that a change of culture is both possible and profitable." Green Week will also see commitments by Europe's retailerson circular economy who will pledge to take more than 100 new actions to transform the retail sector, including steps on sustainable sourcing, increased energy efficiency and food waste. Today's event will be webstreamed. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


Commissioner Johannes Hahn visits Jordan

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will travel to Jordantoday for an official visit. On Thursday 2 June the Commissioner will co-chair the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Ministerial Meeting on Regional Cooperation and Planning, with the Jordanian co-Presidency of the UfM. The meeting will focus on facilitating the implementation of the priorities agreed by the representatives of the UfM including in transport, gender equality, energy, economic cooperation, environment, and establishing the appropriate mechanisms to carry these priorities through. Commissioner Hahn will outline the new orientation which resulted from the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy in particular on sustainable economic development, with focus on youth, education and employment, as well as migration and security. Ahead of the visit Commissioner Hahn said: "The Union for the Mediterranean is the regional expression for the South of the European Neighbourhood Policy. We must boost regional cooperation in this region which is the least integrated part of the world. The EU is willing to step up its already considerable efforts in this regard, but the countries of the region must themselves take steps to realise this objective". 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)


Launch of the 2017 edition of the European Award for Accessible Cities

The European Commission is today launching the competition for the 2017 Access City Award - the European award for cities that are accessible to disabled and older people. EU cities with over 50,000 inhabitants are invited to submit their applications by 8 September 2016 (midnight Brussels time). This year, awards will be granted to five EU cities at a ceremony taking place during the annual European Day of People with Disabilities Conference in Brussels, on 29 November 2016. The winning cities will be rewarded for their efforts to make it easier for disabled and older people to gain access to public and private areas such as housing, children’s play areas, work environments, public transport, and communication technologies. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "One in six Europeans live with a disability. Last year the Commission put forward the European Accessibility Act to step up social inclusion and independent living of people with disabilities. Many innovative practices developed by European cities to achieve accessible living and working environments are also important drivers to improve accessibility. To showcase these best practices and to inspire urban development in Europe, I encourage as many cities as possible to apply for the 2017 Access City Award." The Access City Award is organised by the European Commission together with the European Disability Forum. More information can be found here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Commissioner Hogan in China for official visit and G20 meeting

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan is arriving today in China for an official visit and to participate in the G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting that will evolve around the theme of "Agricultural Innovation and Sustainable Development". On the sidelines of the G20 meeting, Commissioner Hogan will hold a series of bilateral meetings with Ministers from across the globe. Commissioner Hogan first meets today in Beijing Mr Bi Jingquan, Minister of China Food & Drug Administration (CFDA). Continuing his visit in Xi'An on Thursday, he will then meet the Agriculture Ministers of Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan and Mexico. On the same day, Commissioner Hoganwill also deliver a speech at the G20 Agricultural Entrepreneurs Forum on the topic of innovation, cooperation and sustainable agriculture development. About 200 participants from renowned agricultural enterprises of G20 Member States, international organisations (such as FAO, UNCTAD, World Bank, OECD) and relevant international financial, investment and consulting agencies participate in the Forum. The G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting will take place in Xi'An on Friday 3 June. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56 185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)


Commissioner Malmström to steer trade negotiations at OECD Ministerial Conference

Commissioner Malmström will today be travelling to Paris to attend the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting today and tomorrow, which will focus specifically on measures to increase productivity in order to bring about inclusive growth. The Commissioner will notably take part in a session on the contribution of trade and investment to this important goal. In the margins of the OECD Ministerial, Commissioner Malmström will attend an informal ministerial gathering of a group of WTO members. Building on the successful ministerial in Nairobi last year, the goal is to reinvigorate the WTO negotiating agenda through new approaches and proposals across a range of issues that pose challenges for global trade. Commissioner Malmström will also chair a ministerial meeting on the negotiations for an agreement on trade in Services (TiSA), which takes place in parallel with the ongoing 18th round of negotiations in Geneva. At this meeting, the Commissioner will focus on bringing about a common understanding on the steps needed to bring this deal to a successful conclusion, following the Davos Ministerial earlier this year which called for a swift conclusion of the negotiations. In line with its commitment to transparency, the Commission published last week its revised TiSA offer. In addition, Commissioner Malmström will attend a ministerial meeting on negotiations for an Environmental Goods Agreement, as well as a series of bilateral meetings with important commercial partners. Today, before leaving to Paris, Commissioner Malmström will take part in a panel discussion at the European Business Summit on the topic of an EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), together with the Canadian Minister for International Trade Chrystia Freeland. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)



Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)


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