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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 05/02/2016

Brussels, 5 February 2016

Commission is due to adopt its opinion on the Draft Budgetary Plan on Portugal

Subject to adoption by the College of Commissioners, Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici will come to the press room directly after today's extraordinary College meeting, to present the Opinion of the European Commission on the Draft Budgetary Plan, which the Portuguese authorities submitted on 22 January. The legal basis of this assessment is EU Regulation No 473/2013, the so-called 'Two Pack', which sets out provisions to enhance coordination of budgetary policies of the Member States. To this end it ensures that national budgets are consistent with the economic policy issued in the context of the Stability and Growth Pact and of the European Semester. The event can be followed live on EbS. Press material will be available on RAPID shortly after the start of the press conference. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt - Tel.: +32 460 756153)


EU pledges more than €3 billion for Syrians in 2016 at the London conference

At the 'Supporting Syria and the Region' conference which took place in London on 4 February, the European Union and its Member States pledged more than €3 billion to assist the Syrian people inside Syria as well as refugees and the communities hosting them in neighbouring countries during 2016. The pledge triples the EU support offered at the last donor conference in Kuwait on 31 March 2015, and comes on top of the €5 billion that the EU has already committed in response to the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. From its budget alone, the EU will spend €2.4 billion in 2016/2017. At the conference High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini also confirmed that on top of the activation of the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan and the Refugee Facility, work is ongoing with Lebanon and Jordan on "compacts", plans that aim to improve the living conditions of refugees and support the economic and social resilience of both countries. In London, the Commission was also represented by Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis management Christos Stylianides. President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz also joined leaders of over 60 countries gathered at the conference. A press release and a factsheet are available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570, Nabila Massrali - Tel.: +32 229-69218, Alceo Smerilli – Tel: +32 229 64 887)


Remarkable results in EU-funded operation to fight against illicit trafficking of drugs

An international anti-drug trafficking operation funded by the European Commission, Operation COCAIR V, recently carried out, has succeeded in seizing substantial amounts of illicit drugs and capital. With some 30 countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean involved, the operation resulted in 78 seizures, including 411 kg of cocaine, 750 items of ammunition, several falsified documents and over 1,500,000 dollars. Trafficking in drugs is one of the greatest sources of revenue of organised criminal groups. It has a negative impact on development, democracy and good governance, and poses a threat to international security and stability. More details are available here. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Sharon Zarb - Tel.: +32 229 92256)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of SanDisk by Western Digital

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of data storage manufacturer SanDisk by rival Western Digital, both of the US, after concluding the takeover would not adversely affect competition in Europe. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, stated: "I am pleased that we have been able to ensure that this multi-billion dollar deal in a fast-developing industry can go ahead without delay. We have worked efficiently, in cooperation with our US counterparts, to scrutinise this takeover in the strategically important IT sector and concluded that there would be no adverse effects on either retail or commercial customers". Western Digital and SanDisk both provide computer storage solutions, such as hard disk drives or solid state drives based on flash memory, for the consumer electronics and enterprise markets. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns. A full press release is available in EN, FR and DE. 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.7772. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386) 


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Cameron by Schlumberger in oilfield industry

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Cameron by Schlumberger, both of the US. Cameron provides drilling and production systems, valves and measurement, and topside process systems used on oil, gas and process platforms above sea level. Schlumberger provides oilfield products and services supplying technology, information solutions and integrated project management for oil and gas customers. Cameron's stake in OneSubsea, currently a joint venture between Cameron and Schlumberger, is also part of the transaction. OneSubsea was formed in 2013 and is active in the development and supply of products and services for subsea oil and gas production. Cameron's and Schlumberger's activities present limited overlaps in the markets of produced water treatment (de-oiling and sand management), as well as on the market of drilling chokes. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the very limited overlaps between the companies' activities and the modest increment in market shares brought about by the transaction. 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.7799. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386) 


Commission appoints top scientists to the European Research Council's governing body

The Commission has today appointed two accomplished scientists to the governing body of the European Research Council (ERC), the Scientific Council, for a four-year term of office. The two new members are Sir Christopher Clark, Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, and Barbara Romanowicz, Professor and Chair in Physics of the Earth's interior at the Collège de France, and also Professor of Geophysics at the UC Berkeley, USA. The ERC Scientific Council is an independent body that decides the strategy and distribution of ERC funding. All of its members are selected by an independent Identification Committee. An ERC press release is available online. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Axel Fougner +32 229 13213)


Public consultation identifies priority areas for standards in the EU

The Commission published today the first results of its public consultation on standards in the Digital Single Market. Standards are important tools to make different systems work together – across countries and sectors. Common technical specifications forproducts and services ensure interoperability, increase safety and reduce costs. They boost innovation as well as the digital development and competitiveness of European industry. The respondents to the public consultation highlighted the importance of standards to adapt quickly and effectively to new technologies. They identified cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, the data economy, cloud and eHealth as top priority areas where standards should be developed. A full analysis of the public consultation will be published shortly. As part of its Single Market and Digital Single Market strategies, the Commission will issue a Communication setting priorities for ICT standardisation in April. It also works with relevant stakeholders with a view to adopting a Joint Initiative on Standardisation in June. More information can be found here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Heli Pietila – Tel.: +32 229 64950; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)




Joint Statement ahead of the International Day against Female Genital Mutilation

Tomorrow marks the International Day against Female Genital Mutilation. Over 200 million women are estimated to have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation worldwide, 500,000 of those in Europe. This practice is an unjustifiable violation of human rights and the rights of the child, and is a threat to our universal values. The European Union is committed to the elimination of this largely underestimated and hidden form of violence, comparable to torture. "Every human being, every girl, every woman has the right to live a life free from violence and pain, free in all its aspects", said High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini,Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Vĕra Jourová, and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica in a Joint Statement. They added: "We must continue to all work together - EU institutions, national governments, healthcare professionals, educators, child protection services, community leaders and families alike - to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation and all forms of gender-based violence. Our battle is still far from won." The full statement is available here and a factsheet is available here. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229-86570; Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229-90677; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229-6225)



President Juncker and Commissioner Bulc discuss road safety

President Jean-Claude Juncker today met with Jeannot Mersch, President of the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims and Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the EU Transport Safety Council to raise awareness about road safety. 70 people die on European roads every day and many other suffer serious injuries. At the same time EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc was opening a road-safety conference in Ljubljana. Days after one of the worst road accidents in Slovenian history, Commissioner Bulc reiterated the commitment of the European Commission to work with national authorities to improve safety on European roads. She stressed that the Commission will give the necessary impetus, to promote the exchange of best practices and add value to national efforts. Her full speech is accessible here. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)


Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva participates in Citizens’ Dialogue in Amsterdam on EU Budget

On Monday, 8 February, Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva will participate in a Citizens' Dialogue in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she will engage in an open discussion with an audience of interested citizens on the EU Budget and other topics. The Citizens' Dialogue will be chaired by radio host and DJ Eric Corton. While in the Netherlands, Vice-President Georgieva will also take part in the meeting with Chairpersons of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs (COSAC) in The Hague. During the COSAC meeting, Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva will present the Work programme of the European Commission for 2016 in front of representatives of Member States' national parliaments. The COSAC meeting is organised in the framework of the parliamentary dimension of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU. For more information on the EU Budget focused on results initiative see the press material, also in NL. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)


Commissioner Hogan in official visit to Colombia and Mexico with European agri-food producers

Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, will next week visit Colombia and Mexico accompanied by a business delegation of 34 companies and producers' organisations from 14 EU Member States. This is the first of a series of visits as part of the diplomatic offensive launched by Commissioner Hogan last year to open up new markets for EU agri-food products. "I expect this visit to be intense and valuable in terms of opportunities", said the Commissioner ahead of his journey. "The Colombian and Mexican markets are thriving and provide good potential for the dairy, pigmeat, fruits and vegetables, spirits and wine sectors. I look forward to building up on our existing trade agreements and showing that Europe is open to business, in particular for agri-food products. We are also committed to support the Colombia Peace Process and we are accompanying the Colombian authorities in developing rural areas and regain surfaces for farming." Being the first Commissioner of the Juncker Commission to visit Colombia, and the first ever Commissioner in charge of Agriculture to do so, Commissioner Hogan will meet with the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, on Monday 8 February as well as the Colombian Ministers for Trade and Agriculture. While in Colombia, he will also participate in high-level events on the promotion of European agri-food products, on sustainable development; and will visit in Cali the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. Arriving in Mexico on 10 February, Commissioner Hogan will meet the Mexican Minister of Agriculture and Economy. Several visits to local producers are also planned. In addition to the Commissioner's programme, the representatives in the business delegation will hold several business meetings on site. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56 185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)



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