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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 05 / 07 / 2016

Brussels, 5 July 2016

European Commission proposes signature and conclusion of EU-Canada trade deal

The European Commission today formally proposed to the Council of the EU the signature and conclusion of a free trade agreement between the EU and Canada, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. The deal is set to benefit people and businesses – big and small – across Europe as of the first day of its implementation. To allow for a swift signature and provisional application, so that the expected benefits are reaped without unnecessary delay, the Commission has decided to propose CETA as 'mixed' agreement. With this step, the Commission makes its contribution for the deal to be signed during the next EU-Canada Summit, in October. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The trade agreement between the EU and Canada is our best and most progressive trade agreement and I want it to enter into force as soon as possible. It provides new opportunities for European companies, while promoting our high standards for the benefit of our citizens. I have looked at the legal arguments and I have listened to Heads of State or Government and to national Parliaments. Now it is time to deliver. The credibility of Europe's trade policy is at stake." EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström added: "The agreement reached with Canada is a milestone in European trade policy. It will help to generate much-needed growth and jobs while fully upholding Europe's high standards in areas like food safety, environmental protection and people's rights at work." Following a decision by the Council, it will be possible to provisionally apply CETA. Its full entry into force will be subject to the conclusion by the EU, through a Council decision with the consent of the European Parliament, and by all Member States through the relevant national ratification procedures. More information can be found in today's press release and MEMO. Follow the press conference with Commissioner Malmström on EbS. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

Commission strengthens transparency rules to tackle terrorism financing, tax avoidance and money laundering

The Juncker Commission is today taking the next steps in its battle against tax avoidance, money laundering and terrorism financing. The Commission has today adopted a proposal to further reinforce EU rules on anti-money laundering to counter terrorist financing and increase transparency about who really owns companies and trusts. The changes proposed will tackle new means of terrorist financing, such as prepaid cards and virtual currencies, and they will improve cooperation between Financial Intelligence Units. The proposal will increase transparency to combat money laundering and help strengthen the fight against tax avoidance by giving full public access to beneficial ownership registers and connecting them between Member States. In parallel, the Commission is presenting a Communication which sets out the priorities for further work towards fairer, more transparent and more effective taxation. Key issues covered include the way forward on increasing cross-border transparency on beneficial ownership, improving oversight of tax advisors' activities and strengthening protection for whistle-blowers. We also provide an update on our work to promote tax good governance worldwide and in dealing with non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "The recent leaks exposed loopholes that still allow tax evaders to hide funds offshore. These loopholes must be closed and our measures to stamp out tax abuse must be intensified. The Commission is determined to inject more openness and more trust into taxation. We have already come a long way and now is the time to go further. The EU's tax transparency campaign continues." Věra Jourová, the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: "Today, we are putting forward stricter transparency rules to cut terrorist financing and step up our fight against money laundering and tax avoidance. The update of the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive will prevent any loopholes in Europe for terrorists, criminals or anyone trying to play with taxation rules to finance their activities. Better cooperation to fight these issues will make the difference."  Commissioners Moscovici and Jourová will give a joint press conference in Strasbourg at around 16:30, which will be streamed live on EbS. A press release and a Q&A on the Anti-Money Laundering amendments will be available online, as well as a press release and Q&A on the Communication when the press conference starts. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Patrick Mc Cullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

European Commission and High Representative propose measures in support of security and development in partner countries

Today the Commission and the High Representative Federica Mogherini adopted a Joint Communication on security sector reform and a legislative proposal to extend the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, to foster security and sustainable development in partner countries by providing more effective assistance to all security sector actors. "We must empower our partners to tackle their own security, governance and stability. Today's proposal will also allow us to improve our contribution to peace and stability, democracy and human rights, and inclusive development." said High Representative Mogherini. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Mimica added: "Development and security go hand in hand. Sustainable development and poverty eradication require peace and security, and without sustainable development there will be no sustainable peace. This is why it is crucial for the EU to support partner countries and their people efficiently, in order to build stable, safe and resilient societies in which people can lead productive lives in peace and dignity." More information is available in the press release and memo. (For more information:  Catherine Ray- Tel.: +32 229 69921; Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Esther Osorio – Tel.: +32 229 62076)

 

President Juncker addresses Members of the European Parliament on the Dutch Presidency and on the conclusions of the European Council and informal leaders meeting of 27 and 28 June

Today in Strasbourg, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, addressed the European Parliament plenary on the outcome of last week's European Council summit, and reviewed the achievements of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU. "I am particularly grateful to the Dutch Presidency for having been an active supporter of one of the leitmotifs of this Commission: to be big on big, modest and timid on smaller issues," President Juncker said. He also thanked the Dutch Presidency for having greatly contributed to pushing for long-term solutions to the refugee crisis, notably through the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal and the brokering of a swift agreement on the European Border and Coast Guard proposal. Finally, President Juncker reaffirmed the Commission's intention to forge ahead with its economic strategy: "I agree with the European Council when it says that the priority now must be jobs and growth. This is precisely the first priority of the Commission I have the honour of leading." On the UK referendum, the President repeated: "We are waiting for the notification – no negotiation before notification. And those who want to have free access to the internal market have to respect the four freedoms including the one of freedom of movement." (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

Western Balkans Summit in Paris reaffirms European perspective for the region

The Western Balkans Summit in Paris yesterday reaffirmed the European perspective for the region. At the summit, the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn stressed the European Union's willingness to proceed with the European integration of the Western Balkan countries, highlighting the importance of integration for peace and stability, not only in the region but also for the security of European citizens. Read or watch the press point of the HR/VP. Hosted by French President, François Hollande, and attended by the High Representative, the Summit meeting provided a platform for leaders to discuss issues such as migration, youth radicalisation, security, employment and economic growth. In the margins of the Summit, the signing ceremony of the 'Agreement on the establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans' took place as well as a number of other side events with high-level EU participation. Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, joined the Foreign Ministers meeting to affirm the continuous commitment to the European perspective of the region, and to discuss the connectivity and youth agenda, economic development and common challenges for the EU and the Western Balkan region. In the morning, Commissioner Hahn had addressed participants at the Business Forum, emphasising the importance of implementing economic reforms as part of the accession process. He also addressed Economic Ministers alongside Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, to outline this year's connectivity funding decisions, including €96 million for 3 railway infrastructure projects in Serbia, Albania and in Kosovo, and €50 million for greening measures such as energy efficiency in residential buildings and small scale Hydro projects. Commissioner Bulc also reiterated the commitment of the Commmission to the establishment of a Transport Community between the EU and the Western Balkans, which would support the delivery of the Connectivity Agenda. Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, gave a keynote speech at the opening of the Western Balkans Youth Conference "Connecting Youth", in which he highlighted, among others, his plans to support young people by strengthening financial support to the European Voluntary Service and cross-border volunteering beyond the EU to foster the recognition of skills and help remove barriers such as visas or the loss of social security benefits. Comprehensive footage and highlights is available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic –Tel.:+32 229 86570; Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.:+32 229 56186; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083).

 

Commission signs agreement with industry on cybersecurity and steps up efforts to tackle cyber-threats

Today the Commission launched a new public-private partnership on cybersecurity that is expected to trigger €1.8 billion of investment by 2020. This is part of a series of new initiatives to better equip Europe against cyber-attacks and to strengthen the competitiveness of its cybersecurity sector. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "Without trust and security, there can be no Digital Single Market. Europe has to be ready to tackle cyber-threats that are increasingly sophisticated and do not recognise borders. Today, we are proposing concrete measures to strengthen Europe's resilience against such attacks and secure the capacity needed for building and expanding our digital economy."Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: "Europe needs high quality, affordable and interoperable cybersecurity products and services. There is a major opportunity for our cybersecurity industry to compete in a fast-growing global market. We call on Member States and all cybersecurity bodies to strengthen cooperation and pool their knowledge, information and expertise to increase Europe's cyber resilience. The milestone partnership on cybersecurity signed today with the industry is a major step."Commissioner Oettinger signed the partnership this morning with the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) in Strasbourg (photos and videos to be available soon). A press release in all EU languages is available here as well as a set of questions and answers (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)

 

State aid: Commission approves public compensation for Brussels IRIS hospitals

The European Commission has concluded after an in-depth investigation that public financing granted to compensate five public IRIS hospitals for deficits incurred for the provision of health and social services of general economic interest since 1996 is in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission was obliged to look into the matter initially as a result of complaints received from two associations of Brussels private hospitals, alleging that unlawful state aid had been granted to the five public IRIS hospitals. In its investigation the Commission has found that the public IRIS hospitals have been entrusted with a number of additional obligations, including the duty to treat all patients in all circumstances, regardless of patients' ability to pay. The Commission also verified that the IRIS hospitals received no overcompensation as the payments by the municipalities never exceeded the actual deficits incurred due to their public service obligations. A full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and NL. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

State aid: Commission clears public financing for Italian ground handler Airport Handling; finds no economic continuity with SEA Handling

Following an in-depth investigation opened in July 2014 the European Commission has concluded that a €25 million capital injection into the Italian company Airport Handling from its state-owned parent company, S.E.A., was carried out on terms acceptable to a market investor and thus involved no state aid within the meaning of EU rules. Airport Handling is a ground handling operator at Milan's Malpensa and Linate airports. It had taken over part of the assets, clients and workforce of SEA Handling, another ground handling company controlled by S.E.A which used to operate at the Milan airports, and in relation to which the Commission in December 2012 had concluded that it had received around €359 million of unlawful state aid. In its investigation the Commission also needed to assess whether any advantage from the unlawful aid received by SEA Handling had been passed on to Airport Handling (so-called "economic continuity"). In this regard, the Commission concluded that there was no economic continuity between SEA Handling and Airport Handling, in essence because their operating conditions differed materially. As a result, Airport Handling was not liable to pay back unlawful aid granted by Italy to SEA Handling, and the obligation to repay the aid remains with SEA Handling. More information on today's decision will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.21420. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control of Awesomeness TV by Verizon

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Awesomeness TV by Verizon Media, both of the United States. Awesomeness TVproduces video content and is a joint venture currently held by Hearst and DreamWorks, both of the United States. Hearst is a provider of media and information, and DreamWorks is a company creating animated feature films, original TV series, and interactive media. Verizon is a provider of communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because there are only minimal overlaps between the companies' activities in relation to the production and licensing of audio-video content in the European Economic Area. 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.8034. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of Complex Media by Verizon and Hearst

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the joint acquisition of Complex Media by Hearst and Verizon, all of the United States. Complex Media is a provider of digital media contentfocused on American popular culture. Hearst is a provider of media and information and Verizon is a provider of communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because there are only minimal overlaps between the companies' activities in relation to the production and licensing of audio-video content in the European Economic Area. 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.8065. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of the payment card business of Barclays Bank by Bancopopular-e

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the payment card business of Barclays Bank in Spain and Portugal by Bancopopular-e, a joint venture controlled by Banco Popular of Spain and private funds managed by Värde Partners of the United States. Besides the payment card business, Barclays Bank has a very small presence in the market for the distribution of insurance services in Spain and Portugal. Bancopopular-e provides services related to the issuing of payment cards, and, to a lesser extent, to insurance distribution within the Spanish market. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns given the companies' moderate combined market positions resulting from the transaction and the presence of a number of strong players that will remain in the market. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case registerunder the case number M. 8070. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

EUROSTAT: Mai 2016 comparé à avril 2016 - Le volume des ventes du commerce de détail en hausse de 0,4% dans la zone euro et dans l'UE28

En mai 2016 par rapport à avril 2016, le volume des ventes du commerce de détail corrigé des variations saisonnières a augmenté de 0,4% tant dans la zone euro (ZE19) que dans l’UE28, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l’office statistique de l'Union européenne. En avril, le commerce de détail avait progressé de 0,2% dans la zone euro et de 0,6% dans l'UE28. Un communiqué EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commission boosts energy innovation with €3.25 million in cash prizes

The European Commission today launched three Horizon Prizes to encourage innovation and find solutions to challenges in the area of energy. These prizes are worth a total of €3.25 million and are funded under Horizon 2020, the EU's €77 billion research and innovation programme. They will reward innovative approaches to integrating solar energy into historical buildings, using renewable energy in hospitals, and developing products that help cut emissions by reusing carbon dioxide (CO2). Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Protecting our rich cultural heritage and providing state-of-the-art hospitals need not be at odds with our goal for a sustainable, affordable and low-carbon energy future. These prizes will help mobilise the talent needed to find new ways to deploy existing technologies to achieve these goals, and the innovative reuse of CO2 will help to tackle climate change, one of the major societal challenges for Europe." The Commission is introducing a set of challenge prizes under Horizon 2020. The three cash prizes in the area of energy contribute to the objectives of both the Energy Union and the  Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan. (For more information: Lucía Caudet –Tel.: +32 229 56182; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

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

MEX/16/2415


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