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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 15/02/2016

Brussels, 15 February 2016

EU launches new European Medical Corps to respond faster to emergencies

The European Union today launches the European Medical Corps to help mobilise medical and public health teams and equipment for emergencies inside and outside the EU. Through the European Medical Corps, EU Member States and other European countries participating in the system can make medical teams and assets available for rapid deployment before an emergency. The medical corps could include emergency medical teams, public health and medical coordination experts, mobile biosafety laboratories, medical evacuation planes and logistical support teams. "The aim of the European Medical Corps is to create a much faster and more efficient EU response to health crises when they occur. We need to learn the lessons from the Ebola response; a key difficulty was mobilising medical teams. I thank all the Member States that have already contributed so far, and encourage others to join so the EU's response will be able to meet increasing needs and will allow for better planning and preparation before any disaster." said European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides. Commissioner Andriukaitis added "Globalisation, intensive travelling, global warming, and billions of people living in poverty without healthcare, sanitation or hygiene: all this fosters conditions for viruses to spread and develop into pandemics. To fight such health crisis we need multi-sectorial teams, with the right skills, on the spot, working together. This is why we are launching the European Medical Corps." The framework for the European Medical Corps is part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism's new European Emergency Response Capacity (otherwise known as the 'voluntary pool'). So far Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands have already committed teams and equipment to the voluntary pool. A press release is available in all official EU languages, as well as a factsheet. An inauguration event will take place today in the Commission's Berlaymont building in Brussels. Keynote addresses are due to be made from 16:45 and will be made available on Ebs. Keynote speakers include Commissioner Stylianides, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs for Germany, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, France and Dr Margaret Chan, Director General, World Health Organisation. The event will conclude with final remarks by the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis. A press release and Factsheet are available online. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


President Juncker at the Interparliamentary meeting on European Semester

Tomorrow, President Jean-Claude Juncker takes part in the opening of the Interparliamentary meeting on the European Semester Cycles 2015/2016, organised by the European Parliament. Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici will also participate in the event. The meeting will provide an opportunity to debate the recently proposed changes to the European Semester process, exchange information on best practises in implementing the Semester cycles, and to strengthen cooperation in order to scrutinise the actions of the executive at national and European levels. The event takes place in the framework of the European Parliamentary Week,bringing together parliamentarians from all over the European Union to discuss economic, budgetary and social matters. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)


Commission awards €12.7 million in  emergency funding to Greece for reception facilities for migrants and refugees

The European Commission has awarded €12.7 million in emergency funding to Greece to support the establishment of reception facilities on the Greek mainland. The money comes from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and will be used to set up at least 8,000 new reception places. Commissioner Avramopoulos said "The award of €12,7 million to set up new reception facilities is another sign of the EU's solidarity and strong support to Greece in its efforts to manage the unprecedented migratory flows into the country. It will help Greece to reach the objective of increasing its reception capacity to 50,000 places, as agreed at the Western Balkans Leaders' Meeting of 25 October 2015." The emergency funding will be used to finance the procurement and installation of portable prefabricated houses to offer temporary accommodation for third-country nationals in the Attica and Central Macedonia regions. This award will complement funding provided under Greece's National Programme for AMIF, which covers the construction costs for the preparation of the sites and the facilities' operating costs. In 2015, the Commission awarded €146 million in emergency assistance to Greece, either directly to the Greek authorities or through international organisations such as the IOM and the UNHCR. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud - Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst - Tel.: +32 229 86764; Tim McPhie - Tel.: +32 229 58602; Markus Lammert - Tel.: +32 229 80423)

Joint statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the occasion of Bosnia and Herzegovina submitting membership application

Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina submitted its application for membership in the European Union. This decision follows months of hard work by Bosnia’s leadership and, we believe, addresses the aspirations of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a day of celebration for all of us: only twenty years ago, it was in the Balkans where one of the most awful pages of the European history was written. Today we celebrate another step towards a united and peaceful continent. And we need unity in challenging times. As some forces across our continent are questioning the very existence of our Union, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application shows that the need of a united European continent is still strong among our peoples. The decision to apply belongs to the citizens and government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to them only. But as the European Union – together with our international partners and the international financial institutions – we have strongly invested in strengthening Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European perspective. The full statement is available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic– Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


EU approves additional €10 million to help the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia deal with the refugee crisis

Today, an additional €10 million programme in EU assistance was adopted by the European Commission to help the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia improve its border and migration management systems in the context of the refugee crisis. Migration is by its very nature a regional issue and the EU is ready to extend the assistance to other Western Balkan countries facing similar challenges. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: "The refugee crisis has put a particularly high pressure on the countries along the route and Europe must stand united in tackling this situation. This new funding will help the authorities of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to improve border and migration management, and support their costs relating to the guest officers sent by EU Member States and Serbia to the country's southern border. This support is complementary to the actions taken to support Greece, including through FRONTEX". The full press release is available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic– Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


12th round of EU-US trade talks to focus on regulatory cooperation

From 22 to 26 February, the 12th round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the EU and the US will take place in Brussels. This round marks the beginning of an intensified period in these talks. The negotiators will discuss all three pillars of TTIP: market access for EU and US firms, regulatory cooperation, and rules of trade. Regulatory cooperation will be at forefront of the discussions as both sides are preparing to exchange new textual proposals and intensify talks on the nine industry sectors which were identified before the start of TTIP. The European Commission invited all the interested stakeholders ranging from NGOs, employers, trade unions, environmental and consumer groups for public consultations at the Management Centre Europe (MCE) on Wednesday 24 February, to ensure that a plurality of interests is taken into account. Accredited journalists have the possibility to attend the presentations of participants. The EU and US chief negotiators will hold a closing press conference on Friday 26 February at 14:30 in the European Commission's press room which can be followed live via EbS. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185, Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)  

Commission welcomes the Council adoption of the Recommendation on long-term unemployment

Today, the Council adopted the Commission's proposal of 17 September 2015 for a Recommendation on integrating the long-term unemployed into the labour market. This initiative seeks to strengthen the support services offered to people who have been out of a job for more than a year in order to facilitate and speed-up their return to work. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Labour Mobility and Skills, Marianne Thyssen, commented: "Long-term unemployment is one of the most acute challenges we currently face on our labour markets. We cannot afford jobseekers to become discouraged and entirely abandon the labour market. I am very pleased that the Council has swiftly agreed to the Commission's initiative and I hope this political commitment will now quickly be translated in implementation on the ground. I am confident that this initiative offers the right support to help more than 10 million long-term unemployed people in the EU find a job again." The Recommendation includes three key steps: firstly, encouraging their registration with an employment service; secondly, providing them with an individual in-depth assessment of their abilities and needs, and finally, offering them a job integration agreement, at the very latest within18 months. These agreements will provide jobseekers with a tailored-made plan to help them return to work. It should be delivered through a single point of contact to ensure that the support provided is continuous and consistent. More information on the Recommendation can be found in the memo. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Commission launches new platform for alternative dispute resolution between consumers and online traders

The European Commission opens today its new online dispute resolution (ODR) platform to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) bodies. The platform will allow consumers and traders to settle their online disputes at the click of a mouse, both for domestic and cross-border purchases, without the need to go through lengthy and costly court proceedings. This online platform will strengthen trust in online purchases and thereby make an important contribution to the EU's Digital Single Market strategy. When consumers and traders lodge a complaint, the dispute resolution bodies will act as a referee between the two parties to resolve the issue. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: "Most consumers experiencing problems when buying online don't complain, as they believe the procedure is too long and that it won't be solved. The Online Dispute Resolution platform is an innovative tool saving time and money for consumers and traders." Not all Member States have transposed and fully implemented this EU legislation. Therefore ADR entities are not yet available in all Member States and for all sectors. The Commission is in close contact with Member States with the objective to achieve a full coverage in the coming months. More information about ADR and ODR is available in the press release. The online platform will be accessible here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin - Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Agriculture: The Commission approves new Protected Geographical Indication from Croatia

The Commission has today approved the addition of a new Croatian product to the register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs). ‘Dalmatinski pršut’ is a preserved dry-cured meat product with a mild smoky aroma, made of a pig’s leg, with the bone, skin and fat. ‘Dalmatinski pršut’ does not contain any additives, except sea salt. All stages in the production of ‘Dalmatinski pršut’, from the salting of fresh legs to their pressing, smoking, drying and maturing, must take place within the geographical area of Dalmatia. Thanks to the readily available sea salt and the favourable Mediterranean climate, the people of Dalmatia were very quick to adopt the skill of preserving pigmeat through salting and drying from the ancient Romans. The smoking is carried out using cold smoke obtained by burning hornbeam, oak or beech hardwood or shavings, which have traditionally been used as fuel wood by the local households. This denomination will be added to the list of over 1,300 products already protected. For more information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 229 56 185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)


State aid: Commission approves the prolongation of the Austrian short term export credit scheme

The European Commission has found that the Austrian short-term export-credit scheme continues to be in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission's assessment showed that private insurers are supplying exporters with various insurance products to cover the risk of non-payment by foreign buyers. However, there is a lack of insurance coverage for risks of non-payment by foreign buyers due to natural and man-made catastrophes. The Austrian scheme allows the State to provide reinsurance to insurance companies active in Austria that covers these risks incurred by exporters. As such coverage is currently not provided sufficiently by the market, there is no risk that the State intervention will crowd out existing suppliers. The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme was in line with its 2012 short-term export credit communication.  The scheme is authorised until 31 December 2020. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the references SA.43470. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of King by Activision Blizzard

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of King Digital Entertainment plc of Ireland by Activision Blizzard Inc. of the United States. Activision Blizzard is traded on NASDAQ. It develops and publishes online games in most countries around the world, mainly for personal computers ("PCs") and consoles and, to a limited extent, mobile devices. King is a mobile game developer, principally for tablets and smartphones. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, notably because of the moderate overlap between the companies' activities and the presence of a number of alternative players, including potential new entrants. Moreover, customers can switch suppliers easily and the barriers for new competitors to enter the market are low. 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.7866. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Eurostat: Euro area international trade in goods surplus €246.0 billion

The first estimate for euro area (EA19) exports of goods to the rest of the world in December 2015 was €167.5 billion, an increase of 3% compared with December 2014 (€162.1 billion). Imports from the rest of the world stood at €143.2 billion, also a rise of 3% compared with December 2014 (€138.5 billion). As a result, the euro area recorded a €24.3 billion surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in December 2015, compared with +€23.6 billion in December 2014. Intra-euro area trade rose to €130.3 billion in December 2015, up by 2% compared with December 2014.A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185, Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)




Le Commissaire Pierre Moscovici est en déplacement à Toulouse

C’est dans une région qui abrite l’avionneur Airbus, symbole de la réussite industrielle européenne, que le Commissaire a souhaité rencontrer des acteurs locaux et des citoyens européens. Après une visite du site de production d’Airbus, Pierre Moscovici s’entretiendra avec des dirigeants d’entreprises et de PME innovantes autour du thème : « que fait l’Union européenne pour soutenir l’innovation et le dynamisme économique dans les territoires ? ». Enfin, une conférence-débat à la Toulouse School Economics clôturera cette visite, autour des sujets-clés de la politique européenne économique de demain. Dans la perspective de cette visite, le Commissaire Moscovici a déclaré: « La compétitivité et l’innovation, dont l’Europe a tant besoin, revêtent, en terre toulousaine, des visages différents : celui de champions industriels bien connus comme Airbus, mais également de PMEs innovantes. Cette diversité est moteur de croissance économique pour nos territoires, pour l’Europe. Echanger sur leurs projets, c’est échanger sur l’économie européenne de demain. C'est aussi rapprocher l'Europe de ses acteurs économiques et de ses citoyens » (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)


Commissioner Oettinger at the Berlin International Film Festival to highlight EU support to films and creativity

Today and tomorrow Commissioner Oettinger, in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, is at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). He will discuss with representatives of the film industry EU support to creativity as well as initiatives to promote the circulation of films across Europe and to fight piracy. This afternoon he will give a speech on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the MEDIA programme that will be celebrated throughout 2016. He will say: "During these 25 years, film has remained one of the most powerful ways we can entertain ourselves and also express our European identities. This is why the MEDIA programme continues to play a fundamental role not only as a way to support an industry but as an essential reflection of our cultural identities and diversity, within and outside our borders".  Since 1991 €2.4 billion has been invested in audiovisual works under the MEDIA programme. At the Berlinale this year, 20 films supported by the EU are screened. Five of them are shortlisted for the Golden and Silver Bears: Alone in Berlin by Vincent Perez; Soy Nero by Rafi Pitts; Quand on a 17 ans (Being 17) by André Téchiné; Zjednoczone Stany Miłosci (United States of Love) by Tomasz Wasilewski and Kollectivet (The Commune) by Thomas Vinterberg. More information can be found here.(For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay – Tel.: +32 229 64532)


Commissioner Creţu in Finland

Today and tomorrow Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu is in Finland. This morning, she participated in a Citizens' Dialogue in Rovaniemi. She will later visit an EU-funded project in the field of tourism, "Lapland - North of Finland image marketing". Tomorrow she will address the Finnish Parliament and meet the Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs, Mr. Olli Rehn. "The territorial diversity of Finland is both a challenge and an asset; between urban and forest landscapes, densely and sparsely-populated areas, Finnish regions each have specific needs, which Cohesion Policy addresses in a tailored way. I want to emphasise the importance of Smart Specialisation, which helps regions build on their competitive strengths, such as sustainable tourism for Lapland," the Commissioner said.The swift and effective implementation of the 2014-2020 period and the reflection on Cohesion Policy after 2020 will also be at the heart of the Commissioner's exchanges with national stakeholders. Finland benefits from €3.7 billion from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) in 2014-2020; more information on the priorities for ESI Funds investments in Finland is available here. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


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