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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 02 / 02 / 2016

Brussels, 2 February 2016

College to discuss Action Plan to strengthen the fight against terrorist financing

The European Commission is today presenting an Action Plan to strengthen the fight against the financing of terrorism. The recent terrorist attacks in the European Union and beyond demonstrate the need for a strong coordinated European response to combatting terrorism. Today's comprehensive Action Plan will deliver a strong and swift response to the current challenges, building on existing EU rules and complementing them where necessary. Through concrete measures, it will adapt or propose additional rules to deal with new threats. The Action Plan lists a number of measures that will be put into practice by the Commission immediately. Others will follow in the months to come. All the actions presented today should be carried out by the end of 2017. A read-out of the College meeting by Vice-President Dombrovskis will take place at 15:30 in the European Parliament's press room in Strasbourg and can be followed live here. A press release, a Q&Aand a factsheet will be published online, following the College meeting. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659; Letizia Lupini – Tel.:+32 229 51958)


Commission will discuss Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and a proposal for recommendations to address deficiencies in external border management

Following a positive opinion by the Schengen evaluation committee on Friday, the College of Commissioners will discuss today the Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and a proposal for a Council Recommendation on addressing the serious deficiencies identified in the evaluation report on the application of Schengen rules in the field of management of the external borders by Greece. The Schengen evaluation mechanism, established in October 2013, provides for the verification of the application of the Schengen rules through monitoring visits to a given Member State by Commission-led teams with experts from Member States and Frontex. A press conference will take place today at 15.30h in Strasbourg. A press release will be available here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)


Commission to boost mobile internet services with high-quality radio frequencies

As part of its strategy to create a Digital Single Market, the European Commission is expected to adopt today a proposal to better coordinate the use of the 700 MHz band at the EU level for mobile services, while securing frequencies for the audiovisual sector. This would improve internet access for all Europeans, including in remote areas, and help develop cross-border applications. The proposal would help address different challenges, such as the growing demand for wireless broadband. By 2020 there will be nearly eight times as much mobile internet traffic as today. As radio frequencies know no borders, spectrum needs to be better coordinated within the EU to avoid interferences and to allow innovative services, such as connected cars or remote health care, to work across the continent. A press release in all EU languages, a set of questions and answers as well as a blog post by Vice-President Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, will be available online following today's College meeting. Tomorrow morning, accredited journalists are invited to a technical briefing off-the-record at 11:15 CET in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels. In the afternoon, a conference on spectrum will take place in Brussels with Commissioner Oettinger, in charge of the Digital Economy and Society (it will be webstreamed here). (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)


Investment Plan for Europe: second agreement for SMEs in Bulgaria

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria) EAD, a subsidiary of Raiffeisen Bank International AG, have signed a guarantee agreement to increase lending to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps in Bulgaria. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. The agreement will allow Raiffeisenbank to provide €35 million of loans to innovative SMEs in Bulgaria over the next 2 years. The loan comes under the Horizon 2020 programme's InnovFin initiative. European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva, responsible for Budget and Human Resources, said: "For the second time in less than half a year, Bulgaria taps into the guarantee provided under the Investment Plan, this time for €35 million. This agreement is again for what matters the most – support for SMEs which create most of the new jobs in Europe. I commend this pro-activity and wish all the success to the companies that will take advantage of this opportunity." (For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


EU to ratify international Minamata Convention protecting citizens from mercury pollution

Today, the Commission adopted proposals setting in motion the ratification by the EU of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.This is a key step in better protecting EU citizens from mercury pollution. Mercury can travel long distances in the air, thus international action is necessary to protecting people. 40 to 80 % of mercury encountered in the EU derives from global pollution. When released to the environment mercury enters the food chain where it accumulates mainly in fish. The package proposed today covers a limited number of changes to EU mercury legislation, including a prohibition of any new use of mercury in products and industry in the EU, unless such use is needed for the protection of health and the environment. EU Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Karmenu Vellacommented: "We are boosting international efforts to protect the people from exposure to mercury and showing the way to eliminating the use of this toxic heavy metal globally." Pending the approval by European Parliament and Council, the ratification of the Convention by the EU and its Member States will help the international Convention to enter into force rendering it legally binding. The Minamata Convention will enter into force three months after the 50th ratification, which is expected in the course of 2017. It will also help to create a level playing field as regards mercury use and emission controls, as all major economies will follow the EU in applying similar requirements. The new regulation also contributes to the better regulation agenda and reduction of administrative burden. More information available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)


Commission seeks views on research partnership in the Mediterranean

The European Commission has opened a public consultation on the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA). Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Research cooperation in the Mediterranean region exemplifies the EU commitment to being open to the world, and to our immediate neighbourhood in particular. We are consulting and gathering views on how to work together on global challenges and ensure the sustainable provision of vital resources – water and food – in the Mediterranean basin." The public-public partnership under the EU research funding programme Horizon 2020 was proposed in December 2014 by a group of EU Member States. The participating countries have already committed a total of €200 million to this proposed initiative over a 10-year period starting in 2018. On the EU side, this includes contributions by Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain. Seven non-EU countries are taking part in PRIMA: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. Germany, Israel and Romania have also shown interest in joining the initiative. The consultation runs until 24 April. A full news article is available online. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182 ; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 13213)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Ruhr Oel by BP

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Ruhr Oel GmbH (ROG) of Germany by BP p.l.c. of the United Kingdom. BP is a global energy player active across the entire crude oil and natural gas value chain. ROG is active in the refining and ex-refinery sales of refined oil products. The companies' activities overlap for ex-refinery sales of industrial solvents. Furthermore, a vertical relationship arises from BP's wholesale supply of crude oil that can be used as an input for ROG's refining and ex-refinery sales of refined oil products.The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the companies' moderate positions and the number of strong competitors active on these 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.7885. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


EUROSTAT: Euro area unemployment rate at 10.4%

The euro area (EA19) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.4% in December 2015, down from 10.5% in November 2015, and from 11.4% in December 2014. This is the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since September 2011. The EU28 unemployment rate was 9.0% in December 2015, stable compared to November 2015, and down from 9.9% in December 2014. This is the lowest rate recorded in the EU28 since June 2009. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: "The European Commission remains fully mobilised in support of jobs and growth. In this context, we will come forward with a European Skills Agenda in the first half of 2016 which will support more people to develop and upgrade their skills.Increased skills levels in Europe are a clear means to better lives and jobs, as well as being a driver for competitiveness and fair and balanced growth." A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


EUROSTAT: Industrial producer prices down by 0.8% in both euro area and EU28

In December 2015, compared with November 2015, industrial producer prices fell by 0.8% in both the euro area (EA19) and the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In November 2015 prices decreased by 0.2% in both zones. In December 2015, compared with December 2014, industrial producer prices fell by 3.0% in the euro area and by 3.2% in the EU28. The average industrial producer price for the year 2015, compared with 2014, decreased by 2.7% in the euro area and by 3.2% in the EU28. A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 22964950)


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