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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 13 / 07 / 2016

Brussels, 13 July 2016

Commission completes reform of the Common European Asylum System and proposes EU Resettlement Framework

Today, the Commission is presenting proposals to complete the reform of the Common European Asylum System, in order to move towards a fully efficient, fair and humane asylum policy – one which can function effectively both in times of normal and in times of high migratory pressure. The proposals include the creation of a common procedure for international protection, uniform standards for protection and rights granted to beneficiaries of international protection and the further harmonisation of reception conditions in the EU. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "The EU needs an asylum system which is both effective and protective, based on common rules, solidarity and a fair sharing of responsibilities. The proposed reforms will make sure that persons in genuine need of international protection get it quickly, but also that those who do not have the right to receive protection in the EU can be returned swiftly. With today's proposals, all the elements for the reform of the Common European Asylum Policy are on the table of the European Parliament and the Council."The Commission is also today proposing an EU Resettlement Framework to establish a common European policy on resettlement to ensure orderly and safe pathways to Europe for persons in need of international protection. Today's proposal will provide for a permanent framework with a unified procedure for resettlement across the EU. While the Member States will remain the ones deciding on how many people will be resettled each year, collectively the EU will achieve a greater impact by coordinating national efforts and acting as a whole. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Today's proposal is a major step in our efforts to offer legal avenues to allow persons in need to enter the EU safely and receive protection. It is an integral part of the larger objective of ensuring that protection is offered to those who need it, reducing the incentives for irregular migration and protecting migrants from exploitation by smuggling networks and dangerous journeys to reach Europe. By establishing a permanent framework with harmonised practices we can ensure faster procedures, allowing us to gradually scale up our joint resettlement commitments. This is the EU opening a genuine legal window in our efforts to close the irregular backdoor." A press release and Q&A on the Common European Asylum System, a press release and Q&A on the Resettlement Framework proposal and factsheets on Asylum Procedures, the Qualification Regulation and the Reception Conditions Directive are available. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

 

Relocation and Resettlement: Positive trend continues, but more efforts needed

Today, the Commission adopted its latest progress report on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken over the past month. The positive trend observed in the last report has continued with Member States stepping up their efforts on both relocation and resettlement. Relocation has continued at the increased rate reached in the previous month with an additional 776 persons relocated since 14 June. Further important achievements have also been made as regards resettlement, with 8,268 people resettled so far of the agreed 22,504 under the July 2015 scheme and a total of 802 Syrian refugees resettled from Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "I welcome the increased efforts made by Member States over the past months on relocation and resettlement. This is a true expression of European solidarity in action, which comes in addition to the enormous efforts made by Member States to receive and host over 1,2 million asylum seekers in 2015 alone. With tens of thousands of refugees in Greece waiting to be relocated and arrivals remaining at a high level in Italy, this positive trend now needs to be continued and strengthened. The Commission will continue to support Member States by all available means to further accelerate the implementation of the relocation and resettlement schemes." A press release on the Resettlement and Relocation Report and a factsheet are available. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

 

Visa reciprocity with US and Canada: Commission takes stock of latest developments

The European Commission has today adopted a Communication regarding the visa reciprocity situation with Canada and the United States, evaluating the progress achieved in discussions with both countries and setting out the next steps. Today's stock-taking follows the Communication adopted on 12 April where the Commission noted that full visa waiver reciprocity with Canada and the United States had not been achieved for citizens of some EU Member States. Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: "Achieving full visa waiver reciprocity for citizens of all Member States is the objective for the European Commission and a fundamental principle of our common visa policy. In the past three months, we have intensified contacts with the US and Canada to push for full visa waiver reciprocity. However, despite the constructive engagement in particular of the Canadian government, citizens from some EU Member States still need visas to travel to the US and Canada. We will continue to work towards full visa reciprocity and we will coordinate our activities with the Member States concerned, the European Parliament and the Council to accelerate the delivery of results." In recent months, contacts with the US and Canada have been intensified, including at the highest political level, to achieve full visa waiver reciprocity. With the Communication adopted today, the Commission commits to continue to push for full visa reciprocity and will coordinate its activities with the relevant Member States to accelerate the delivery of results. A press release and Q&A are available. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

 

President Juncker speaks at the press conference with President Tusk, following the 18th EU-China Summit, and delivers speech at the EU-China Business Summit

This morning in the press conference following the 18th EU-China Summit, President Juncker said that with his Chinese counterparts he expressed the EU's serious concerns over the overcapacity in steel production. "This is a very serious problem for Europe and for the Europeans, that has led to extensive job losses in Europe in the past", he said, stressing that market rules must apply to address this current problem in China. As a concrete result of his discussions with his Chinese counterparts, President Juncker announced that the two sides agreed to create a bilateral working group on steel to monitor overcapacity and verify steps taken by China to address it – "a kind of steel platform between China and the European Union to keep alive the debates and the discussions we have and monitor decisions related to the steel overproduction" he said. On the issue of market economy status, President Juncker underlined that the EU will stick to its international obligations and is producing an impact assessment looking at the consequences for each EU Member State and only following this process, will the Commission take a decision. The College will have a debate on this on 20 July, President Juncker announced.  President Juncker also spoke at the EU-China Business Summit where he underlined the EU's commitment to protecting its steel industry and the use of trade defence measures it has at its disposal, warning against the spill over effect of overcapacity in the steel sector to other sectors. The President also stressed that the ongoing reforms in both China and Europe create mutual opportunities including with regards to investment. He concluded by calling for the deepening of the EU-China partnership - "it is on this condition," he said, "that it will become the engine of prosperity and stability for both sets but also for the world economy". High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, and the Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström,also participated in events held in the margins of the Summit. The EU-China Summit comes just a few weeks after the European Commission and the High Representative adopted a Joint Communication on elements for a new EU strategy on China. President Juncker's remarks at the press conference and at the EU-China Business Summit are available online. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

First European list adopted to stop the spread of invasive species threatening biodiversity and economic activities

Invasive alien species are plants or animals alien to their natural environment, crowding out indigenous species and thereby representing one of the most rapidly growing threats to biodiversity in the EU. Today the Commission took an important step which requires action across the EU to contain the spread of the 37 species identified as invasive in the first EU list adopted. Invasive alien species have major economic consequences in areas such as health care and agriculture, causing damage to crops, infrastructure and protected species. The list was built following consultations with Member States and stakeholders determining those species that cause environmental and economic damage, on a scale that justifies dedicated measures across the EU. Member States are asked to contain these species by preventing them from being intentionally kept, sold, transported, reproduced or released. Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said: “Some species of plants and animals can damage property, crops and livelihoods so they need to be kept out if possible and under control if not. This needs to be done at EU level as invasive species don’t stop at borders. We are acting on a problem that cannot be ignored as it costs us over €12 billion every year. This first list, generated with the help of Member States, will be kept under review and work is already ongoing currently to update the list to consider other strong cases." The restrictions will start applying 20 days after publication of the list in the Official Journal of the European Union. The list and more information on DG Environment website. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

EU lifts the 'red card' after Republic of Guinea steps up fight against illegal fishing

Today the Commission lifted the 'red card' and the associated trade measures for fisheries products from the Republic of Guinea, following significant improvements in its national fisheries governance to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The EU's IUU Regulation is a key instrument in the fight against illegal fishing that ensures only fisheries products that have been certified as legal can access the EU market. The EU is the world's biggest importer of fisheries products. The Republic of Guinea was warned by the Commission in November 2012 as being considered as non-cooperating and listed by the Council ('red card') for inadequate action against IUU in November 2013. Today's good news follows years of dialogue with Guinea, which has now successfully revised its legal framework, strengthened its sanctioning system, improved monitoring and control of its fleet and waters, and is now complying with international law. Guinea joins the growing list of countries (Sri Lanka, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Korea, the Philippines, Fiji, Belize, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu) that have reformed their fisheries governance systems, following a warning by the EU. EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “This is an important decision for the Republic of Guinea, and good news for sustainable fisheries around the globe. After a long dialogue process Guinea has shown real commitment to fighting illegal fishing. We encourage them to join us in our ongoing work to promote improved ocean governance, including legal and sustainable fisheries worldwide.” The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at approximately 10 billion euros per year. More information is on the DG MARE website. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.:+32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

New framework for cross-border cooperation on audit supervision

The newly created Committee of European Auditing Oversight Bodies (CEAOB) held its inaugural meeting yesterday, 12 July 2016, in Brussels. Established by the Audit Regulation, the CEAOB is the new framework for cooperation between national audit oversight bodies at EU level.  The CEAOB will help strengthen EU-wide audit oversight, a key objective of the new EU legislation on statutory audit that took effect on 17 June 2016. By facilitating supervisory convergence, the CEAOB will contribute to achieving the effective and consistent application of the new EU audit legislation throughout the EU. This will help promote high-quality audits and bolster investors’ confidence in the financial sector. Auditors and audit firms also have an essential role to deliver this important challenge. Members of the CEAOB include representatives of the national audit oversight bodies of the EU and of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). Representatives of the national audit authorities of the European Economic Area also participate. The European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) are observers. During its inaugural meeting, the Committee appointed Ralf Bose, Chief Executive Director of Germany's Auditor Oversight Body (AOB), as Chair of the CEAOB for a four-year mandate by consensus. Ralf Bose commented: 'I am delighted and thankful to have been entrusted with the mandate of Chair of the CEAOB. In the early days, I will focus my mandate on getting the CEAOB up and running, with the support and input of all the CEAOB members and observers and the European Commission. These are exciting and challenging times for statutory audit in Europe as the new EU audit legislation takes effect. I look forward to the CEAOB playing its full role in improving both audit quality and investor confidence in audits through effective communication'. On 11 July, the European Commission also appointed a representative as Vice-Chair of the CEAOB. The Director responsible for audit policy in the Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA) will fulfil this role. Further information on the CEAOB will soon be available here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)  

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of the payment card business of Banco Popular Portugal by Bancopopular-e

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the payment card business of Banco Popular Portugal by Bancopopular-e of Spain. Banco Popular Portugal is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Banco Popular of Spain. Bancopopular-e is a joint venture controlled by Banco Popular Español of Spain and private funds managed by VärdePartners of the United States. It provides services related to the issuing of payment cards 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 active 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 register under the case number M.8077. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of Norafin by Maxburg II and VR Equitypartner

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Norafin Verwaltungs GmbH by Maxburg Beteiligungen II GmbH & Co. KG and VR Equitypartner GmbH, all of Germany. Norafin develops, produces and distributes composites for special textiles, in particular special nonwovens. Maxburg II and VR Equitypartner are private equity firms investing primarily in medium-sized companies in German-speaking countries. Maxburg II belongs to the RAG-Stiftung group, which is essentially active in coal mining, chemistry and real estate businesses. VR Equitypartner belongs to the DZ BANK AG group which serves as a central bank for its shareholders (co-operative banks) but is also active as a corporate bank. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns given Noarafin's limited activities in the European Economic Area. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8080. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of a number of assets held by the National Bank of Greece by DAAM and GSAM

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of interests held by the National Bank of Greece S.A. ("NBG") in eleven UK and Guernsey private equity funds by DAAM (Deutsche Alternative Asset Management) of Germany and GSAM (Goldman Sachs Asset Management) of the US. The target funds hold controlling interests in various portfolio companies, primarily active in healthcare, food/beverages, industrials, services and real estate in Western, South Eastern and Central Europe as well as Turkey. Both DAAM and GSAM are, among other things, active in asset management. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns, given that the overlaps between the activities of the companies controlled by the acquirers on the one hand, and the companies controlled by the target funds on the other hand, are very limited. 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 numbers M.7971 and SA.34824. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l'acquisition de Saft par TOTAL

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition de l'entreprise Saft Groupe S.A. par l'entreprise TOTAL S.A., toutes les deux françaises. TOTAL est une entreprise pétrolière dont les activités couvrent l'ensemble de la chaîne de production, de l'extraction du pétrole brut et du gaz naturel à son exploitation commerciale. Saft est une entreprise spécialisée dans la conception et la fabrication d'accumulateurs électriques destinés à un usage industriel. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée n'était pas susceptible de poser de problème de concurrence car les entreprises ne sont pas présentes sur les mêmes marchés et leurs liens commerciaux ne sont pas significatifs. L'opération a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.8072. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint venture by KH and STRABAG for heavy maintenance works on public roads and motorways

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture named A2 Route Sp. z o.o, by Kulczyk Holding S.A. ("KH") of Poland, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kulczyk Investments S.A. (“KI”) of Luxembourg, and Strabag Sp. z o.o. of Poland, a company belonging to STRABAG SE Capital Group of Austria. KH is responsible for the operations of the group in Poland. KI invests in a broad range of sectors, including mining, energy, infrastructure, and chemicals. In particular, KI also holds investment participations in motorway infrastructure and concession projects in Poland. STRABAG is active in building constructions, civil engineering and tunnelling. The joint venture will be active in Poland in the field of heavy maintenance services on public roads and motorways, including repairs, modifications, renovation of used or damaged road infrastructure, renovation and replacement of road surface, modernisation of road infrastructure, as well as construction works necessary to upgrade the motorway and road infrastructure. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of its very limited impact on the market structure. 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.7860. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

EUROSTAT: La production industrielle en baisse de 1,2% dans la zone euro – En baisse de 1,1% dans l'UE28

En mai 2016 par rapport à avril 2016, la production industrielle corrigée des variations saisonnières a diminué de 1,2% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 1,1% dans l'UE28, selon les estimations d’Eurostat, l’office statistique de l'Union européenne. En avril 2016, la production industrielle avait augmenté de 1,4% dans la zone euro et de 1,5% dans l'UE28. En mai 2016 par rapport à mai 2015, la production industrielle a progressé de 0,5% dans la zone euro et de 1,1% 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)

 

European Commission appoints new Deputy Director-Generals for Human Resources & Security and for Mobility & Transport

Today, the European Commission appointed Mr Bernard Magenhann as Deputy Director-General in its department for Human Resources and Security and Mr Matthew Baldwin as Deputy Director-General in its department for Mobility and Transport. Mr Magenhann, a French national, is currently Director in the Commission's department for Informatics, a post he has held since 2013. Between 2007 and 2013, he served as Head of Unit, first in the Commission's Internal Audit Service and then in its Human Resources and Security department. Mr Magenhann joined the Commission from the private sector in 2002. He takes up his new role on 1 September. Mr Baldwin, a British national, is currently Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Jonathan Hill. He has worked in Brussels for nearly 20 years, first in the Permanent Representation of the United Kingdom to the EU and then, from 1999, in the European Commission. Mr Baldwin has held a variety of posts, including as Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Commissioner Pascal Lamy (1999-2004) and as Advisor in the Cabinet of President Barroso (2007-10). He has also held senior management positions in the Commission, first as Director for Market Access (Trade department) and between 2011 and 2014 as Director for Aviation and International Affairs (Transport department).  In 2014 he was appointed as Deputy Director-General (Trade). (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

 

Commission appoints new Directors to its departments for Climate, Education & Culture, and Regional & Urban Policy

Today, the Commission appointed three Directors: Ms Yvon Slingenberg in the department for Climate Action, Ms Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva in Education & Culture, and Mr Eric Von Breska in Regional & Urban Policy. Ms Slingenberg, a Dutch national, joined the Commission in 1993 and has worked on environment and climate issues throughout her career. In 2002 and 2003 she served in the Cabinet of Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallström. In 2005, she became Head of Unit. She is currently an expert in the Cabinet of Climate Action and Energy Commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete. She will take up her new role on 1 September. Ms Angelova-Krasteva, a Bulgarian national, joined the Commission from the Permanent Representation of Bulgaria to the EU in 2008. In 2011, she became Head of Unit. She is currently managing the unit in charge of stakeholder relations in the department for Telecommunications. Mr Von Breska, a German national, joined the Commission in 1999. Between 2004 and 2007, he worked in the Cabinet of Ms Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy. In 2007, he became deputy Head of Unit in the Commission's department for Regional Policy. He has been managed the department's economic analysis unit since 2010. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Vice-President Ansip in Rome to discuss the Digital Single Market strategy and digital progress in Italy

Travelling to Rome, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip will have bilateral meetings, tomorrow morning, with Carlo Calenda, Minister of Economic Development and Antonello Giacomelli, Italian Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Economy. Among other issues, they will discuss digitising manufacturing, Italy’s broadband strategy, the ongoing EU proposals on the 700 MHz band and on portability, the recent e-commerce package or the up-coming review of the EU telecoms rules expected in the autumn. Later tomorrow, the Vice-President will attend a joint parliamentary hearing with the Transport, Post and Telecommunications, Economic Activities, Trade and Tourism and European Affairs Committees of the Chamber of Deputies and the Italian Senate, where he will underline the key role of national parliaments in the Digital Single Market strategy (DSM). Vice-President Ansip will finally deliver a keynote speech in a conference entitled "Digital Single Market: Challenges and Opportunities" organised by AREL (Centre for Studies, Research & Legislation), upon the invitation of former Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

Commissioner Johannes Hahn visits Georgia

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will travel to Georgia on Thursday, 14 July to participate at the 13th Batumi International Conference "Georgia's European Way", where he will deliver a key note speech. In Batumi, Commissioner Hahn will meet key interlocutors of the country including President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister George Kvirikashvili, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikheil Janelidze, State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration David Bakradze, members of the opposition parties as well as representatives of civil society. Commissioner Hahn will also visit EU-funded projects aiming at modernising the agricultural sector. Ahead of the visit Commissioner Hahn said: "My visit to Georgia is very timely following the full entry into force of the Association Agreement (AA) between the European Union and Georgia on 1 July. The Agreement commits Georgia to an ambitious reform agenda in key areas such as security policy, trade, economic recovery and growth and governance". 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)

 

 

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

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