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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 08 / 07 / 2016

Brussels, 8 July 2016

Press conference by President Juncker, President Tusk and President of the United States, Barack Obama

Following the EU-US leaders' meeting which took place this morning in Warsaw ahead of the NATO Summit, President Juncker underlined the centrality of the US, NATO and the EU to the global order. "We complement each other and together we provide security to Europe, our neighbourhood and beyond" President Juncker said, adding that we can still work more closely together – "that's why we're here today", he added. On the morning's meetings, which included discussions on the consequences entailed by British vote to leave the European Union , President Juncker repeated that there is no negotiation until the British authorities have notified under Article 50 (TEU) their intention to leave the European Union, but added "I do think that even after the referendum the European Union and the United Kingdom share a community of interest, not only in the defence and the military sector, but in all the relevant sectors of the international life mainly as far as trade is concerned", reiterating the commitment to keep Britain as a strong ally in NATO and as a strong partner. Finally, President Juncker confirmed that TTIP had been discussed, and added that "we want to conclude these negotiations before the end of this year" for which the European Commission has received a mandate from EU Heads of State or Government. President Juncker's remarks are available online. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)


President Juncker to interview candidate for Commissioner from the United Kingdom

Following the nomination by British Prime Minister David Cameron of Sir Julian King as the candidate to replace outgoing Commissioner Lord Hill, President Jean-Claude Juncker will receive him on Monday, 11 July at 11:00 (CET) for an interview. The purpose of the interview will be to determine the candidate's ability to serve as a European Commissioner, particularly in light of Article 17(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which states that: "The members of the Commission shall be chosen on the ground of their general competence and European commitment from persons whose independence is beyond doubt." Procedurally, the appointment of a new Commissioner of UK nationality requires common accord between the President of the Commission and the Council after the consultation of the European Parliament (Article 246, subparagraph 2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). In addition, the Interinstitutional Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission requires the President of the Commission to “seriously consider” the results of the consultation of the European Parliament – which will audition the candidate – before giving his accord to the decision of the Council to appoint the new Commissioner (para 6 of the Framework Agreement). Following the decision of Commissioner Lord Hill to resign from the European Commission and on the transfer of the Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union portfolio to Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, which will take effect on 16 July, Prime Minister Cameron informed President Juncker on 7 July of his wish to nominate Sir Julian King as the member of the European Commission of UK nationality. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)


Statement by Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Jourová on the occasion of the adoption by Member States of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield

"Today Member States have given their strong support to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, the renewed safe framework for transatlantic data flows. This paves the way for the formal adoption of the legal texts and for getting the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield up and running. The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield will ensure a high level of protection for individuals and legal certainty for business. It is fundamentally different from the old 'Safe Harbour'. It imposes clear and strong obligationson companies handling the data and makes sure that these rules are followed and enforced in practice. For the first time, the U.S. has given the EU written assurance that the access of public authorities for law enforcement and national security will be subject to clear limitations, safeguards and oversight mechanisms and has ruled out indiscriminate mass surveillance of European citizens' data. And last but not least the Privacy Shield protects Europeans' rights and provides for several accessible and affordable redress mechanisms. During the formal adoption process, the Commission has consulted as broadly as possible taking on board the input of key stakeholders, notably the independent data protection authorities and the European Parliament. Both consumers and companies can now have full confidence in the new arrangement, which reflects the requirements of the European Court of Justice. Today's vote by the Member States is a strong sign of confidence." The statement is available online and more information on the Privacy Shield is availablehere . (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Melanie Voin - Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Commission gets go-ahead for €6.7 billion investment in transport projects

The EU Member States today formally approved the list of 195 transport projects that will receive €6.7 billion of EU funding under the 2015 calls for proposals of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). This list had been put forward by the Commission on 17 June (see Press release, MEMO and press conference). Along with the Commission's Investment Plan, the CEF is instrumental in bridging the investment gap in Europe and stimulating the EU economy. The investment confirmed today by the Member States will unlock additional public and private co-financing for a combined amount of €9.6 billion, and is expected to create up to 100,000 jobs by 2030. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "I am glad we have the support of the Member States for our multi-billion investment in 195 priority transport projects. The bulk of this funding has been allocated to central and eastern Europe, which will help bridge the deployment gap between EU regions. In doing so, the Connecting Europe Facility contributes to better, greener and safer transport all across Europe." Individual project grant agreements will now be prepared by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) and signed with the project beneficiaries by the end of the year. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)


Climate Action: EU launches €3.5 million emissions trading cooperation project with Korea

Today, the EU launched a cooperation project with the Republic of Korea to support the implementation of East Asia's first national emissions trading system.  The project, which is valued at €3.5 million and expected to run for three years, marks a new chapter in climate change cooperation, which plays an important part in the Strategic Partnership between the EU and Korea. The Korean Emissions Trading System (KETS) established in 2015, is the main policy measure for achieving Korea's greenhouse gas reduction targets under the Paris Agreement – the new global climate change agreement agreed by world leaders last December. With more than a decade of experience with the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), the EU is providing technical assistance during the early years of operation of the KETS. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "We are living up to the promises made in Paris. With our cooperation project with China and now Korea, we are sharing more than a decade of pioneering EU experience in emissions trading and demonstrating our support for domestic carbon market initiatives. I hope that China's and now Korea's experience can be a trigger to expand emissions trading systems across the region. We need resolute action by all countries to keep climate change in check as we agreed in Paris." Recently, the Commission also announced it was stepping up its collaboration with China on emissions trading, with a new € 10 million (more than 70 million yuan) project, also funded under the EU's Foreign Partnership Instrument. Emissions trading is playing an increasingly important role in China, where a nationwide carbon market will be launched in 2017. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Commission launches new anti-dumping investigations on hot-rolled steel products

The European Commission has launched an investigation to determine whether imports of hot-rolled steel products originating in Brazil, Iran, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine have been dumped on the EU market. These products are used as an input into other steel products as well as directly in a variety of industrial applications, including for construction, shipbuilding, gas containers, pressure vessels and energy pipelines. This investigation follows the ongoing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into similar products from China, launched in February and May respectively. In total, the EU has 37 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures already in place. The Commission now has up to nine months to establish whether conditions to impose provisional countervailing duties are met, and a further six months to decide whether to impose definitive measures.Anti-dumping investigations follow a strict procedure in line with EU and WTO rules, during which all interested parties can make comments and attend hearings. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56 185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)


Agriculture: Commission publishes Short-Term Outlook report

The Commission today published the Short-Term Outlook for EU arable crops, dairy and meat markets in 2016 and 2017. Thanks to the boost in exports to China, EU pigmeat exports are expected to reach a record level in 2016 at 2.4 million tonnes (+18% on annual basis). Current negotiations for access to other markets could even further improve the export situation. EU beef gross production is expected to further increase by 2.4% due to a higher number of slaughterings and very dynamic live exports. As for dairy, EU prices have since the first week of May started increasing for butter, whole milk powder and whey powder and to a lesser extent for skimmed milk powder, cheddar and gouda. As was the case in 2009, these developments are not reflected in milk prices paid to farmers as the EU dairy market remains oversupplied. Despite the maintenance of the Russian ban, EU dairy exports are overall expected to increase by 5% in 2016, which means 900,000 tonnes of milk more than last year. The EU cereal production for the marketing year 2015/2016 is expected to be high, only 5.4% below the record 2014/2015 harvest, at 310 million tonnes of usable production. The full report can be found here.(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)


RegioStars Awards 2016: jury selects 23 finalists as Europe's most notable regional projects

Today the Commission announced the finalists for the 2016 RegioStars Awards, which honour Europe's most notable and innovative projects supported by Cohesion Policy Funds. An independent jury led by MEP Lambert Van Nistelrooij selected 23 finalists from 14 Member States on the basis of four criteria: innovation, impact, sustainability and partnership. The jury will later select one winning project in each of the following five categories: 1) "Smart Growth", for innovative projects creating new opportunities in the global economy, 2) "Sustainable Growth" for exemplary projects in the field of Circular Economy, 3) "Inclusive Growth", for projects promoting social inclusion, 4) "CityStars", rewarding solutions for sustainable urban development, and for the first time, in this 9th edition of the RegioStars Awards, 5) "Effective Management", for outstanding innovation in the fields of simplification and efficient management of the funds. The winners will be announced during the 2016 RegioStars Award ceremony, which will take place on 11 October, during the 2016 European Week of Regions and Cities. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


Aides d’État: La Commission ouvre des enquêtes approfondies sur des exemptions fiscales pour les ports belges et français

La Commission européenne a ouvert deux enquêtes approfondies afin de vérifier si les exonérations de l’impôt sur les sociétés octroyées aux activités économiques portuaires en vertu du droit belge et français sont conformes aux règles de l’UE en matière d’aides d’État et si elles confèrent aux entreprises d'un secteur donné un avantage par rapport à leurs concurrents dans d’autres États membres. Mme Margrethe Vestager, commissaire chargée de la politique de concurrence, a déclaré à ce propos: «Les ports jouent un rôle essentiel dans l'économie de l'UE.  Les règles de concurrence en vigueur dans l'UE en tiennent compte et permettent aux États membres de soutenir la construction ou la modernisation des infrastructures portuaires au moyen d’aides à l’investissement.  En revanche, il ne saurait être admis que les exonérations fiscales faussent la concurrence en conférant un avantage déloyal à certains ports en Europe au détriment d'autres». En janvier 2016, à la suite de son enquête sur le fonctionnement et l'imposition des ports dans les États membres de l’UE, la Commission a demandé à la Belgique et à la France de mettre leur législation relative à l'impôt sur les sociétés en conformité avec les règles de l'UE en matière d'aides d'État en supprimant l’exonération fiscale en faveur des ports.  Étant donné que la Belgique et la France n’ont pas accepté d’aligner leurs législations fiscales comme la Commission l’a proposé, celle-ci a maintenant ouvert des enquêtes approfondies afin de déterminer si ses craintes initiales sont fondées ou non.  Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne en EN, FR, DE and NL. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)


Mergers: Commission approves joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Airbus for the supply of maintenance, repair and overhaul services

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by the Singapore Airlines group and the Airbus group. Singapore Airlines is active worldwide in the provision of air passenger and cargo transportation services as well as engineering services such as airframe maintenance and overhaul services. Airbus is active in aeronautics, space and defence-related services. The joint venture would provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services to commercial airlines that have their principal place of business in the Asia-Pacific region and are operating Airbus A350 XWB, A380 or A330 aircraft. The joint venture's activity would focus on heavy and line maintenance and would be based in Singapore. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because the companies' combined market shares are low and several alternative suppliers would remain active after the merger in the markets for heavy and line maintenance. 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.8011. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of BANIF by Banco Santander Totta

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the takeover of certain assets and liabilities of BANIF by Banco Santander Totta (BST), part of the Santander Group of Spain. Both BANIF and BST are active in retail banking, corporate banking and card payment services in Portugal. BANIF has a strong presence in Madeira and the Azores. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns given that the overlaps between BANIF and BST's activities are limited at national level. For Madeira and the Azores, no concerns arise either, given that BANIF and BST are not close competitors and that most Portuguese banks are also present in Madeira and the Azores and have a uniform pricing policy for entire Portugal. The proposed transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7947. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)


EUROSTAT: La population de l'UE en hausse à un peu plus de 510 millions d'habitants au 1er janvier 2016

Au 1er janvier 2016, la population de l'Union européenne (UE) était estimée à 510,1 millions de résidents, contre 508,3 millions au 1er janvier 2015. Au cours de l'année 2015, 5,1 millions de naissances ont eu lieu dans l’UE, tandis que 5,2 millions de personnes sont décédées; ce qui signifie que l'UE a connu pour la première fois une variation naturelle négative de sa population. La variation démographique restante (positive) correspond essentiellement à l'apport du solde migratoire. Un communiqué EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)




Seventh Eastern Partnership Informal Partnership Dialogue takes place in Kyiv

On Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 July, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, and the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Helga Schmid, on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, will travel to Kyiv to participate in the seventh Eastern Partnership (EaP) Informal Partnership Dialogue.  The meeting is hosted by Ukraine and brings together EU representatives as well as the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Economy of the six EaP partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine) for informal, high-level discussions on the further development of the Eastern Partnership and on international issues. The meeting will be an opportunity for the participants to reflect on the implementation of the renewed European Neighbourhood Policy and to discuss ways of enhancing the effectiveness of the EaP in preparation for the next EaP summit, foreseen for 2017.  Ministers of Economy will engage in a discussion on economic reforms to unleash the potential of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  The Informal Partnership Dialogues are held twice a year and hosted in turn by the EaP partner countries.  (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)


Commissioner Thyssen meets national parliaments on the yellow card procedure for posted workers

On Monday 11 July, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will travel to Bratislava to meet representatives of the national parliaments of the Member States.  The Commissioner will speak at the meeting of National Parliament Committees dealing with EU affairs (COSAC), chaired by the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union, on the social dimension of the EU. In this context the Commissioner will underline the priority President Juncker has given to the social agenda for Europe, the proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights and address the yellow card procedure triggered by national parliaments in 11 Member States on the Commission’sproposal to revise the 1996 Posted Workers Directive. Ahead of the meeting Commissioner Thyssen said: "The core objective of our European social market economy model is to ensure that competitiveness, growth and social progress go hand in hand. The Internal Market is our single biggest achievement of that model but it is not, and has never been, a market without rules. How to ensure free movement whilst combining it with a fair level playing field and adequate social protection merits a thorough democratic debate in which national parliaments have their role, alongside the EU institutions." Commissioner Thyssen's speech will be made available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253)


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