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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 19 / 09 / 2016

Brussels, 19 September 2016

Bratislava Declaration and Roadmap

On Friday, 16 September, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, took part in the informal meeting of the EU 27 Heads of State or Government. The meeting agreed the Bratislava Declaration and Road Map, which set out clear priorities for action over the next 12 months. Speaking alongside Slovak Prime Minister, Robert Fico, and European Council President, Donald Tusk, following the meeting, President Juncker welcomed the firm backing that EU leaders have given to the new initiatives he announced in this week's State of the Union speech. In particular, President Juncker highlighted the unanimous support for the new package of measures promoting the EU's Digital Single Market, which the Commission adopted on the same day as the State of the Union. These measures would contribute to Europe's "modernisation, economic growth and creation of new jobs", said the President. EU leaders also endorsed the Commission's proposals to expand the Investment Plan for Europe, which has already mobilised €116 billion of new investment in its first year. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

Commission awards €108 million in support to Bulgaria for border and migration management

Following the announcement made by President Juncker at the press conference after the Informal Meeting of the EU 27 Heads of State or Government in Bratislava on 16 September as well as on-going contacts with the Bulgarian authorities over the past months, the European Commission fast-tracked requests for funding received from the Bulgarian authorities on Thursday evening and on Friday decided to award €108 million in emergency funding. The funding will be used to strengthen the management of migration flows and strengthen border surveillance and border control activities.  Welcoming this decision, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "From the very beginning already, the Commission has been supporting all Member States to manage the refugee crisis - and Bulgaria is no exception. Bulgaria's efforts and commitments to ensure an efficient management of its external EU border are essential. The fast tracking of the requests received last night from the Bulgarian authorities shows that we are fully committed to providing additional assistance when justified and that Bulgaria, as a frontline Member State guarding our external borders, receives our full support in doing so. This once again proves that the external border of one Member State is the external border of all Member States." The funding will be used to strengthen the management of migration flows, increase reception capacities and the capacities of the asylum service as well as strengthen border surveillance and border control activities. A press release is available here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)

 

Investment Plan for Europe: Investment Plan for Europe: EUR 100 million to support Research, Development and Innovation

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing a EUR 100 million loan to Bonnier AB, a Swedish media and publishing company. The loan isdesigned to support the company's RDI efforts. This is the third transaction in Sweden benefitting from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President responsible for the Digital Single Market, commented: "European companies should be able to fully grasp digital opportunities. We help them very concretely with the Investment Plan and also with our Digital Single Market strategy. In particular we have just presented new copyright rules which support European creators and offer broader access to content for Europeans." (For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

 

EU boosts socio-economic development, regional cooperation and stronger institutions in the Neighbourhood

The European Union announces today a new assistance package of almost €210 million for the EU neighbourhood. €129 million will address bilateral assistance to Egypt and Palestine as well as regional cooperation. The programmes will support socio-economic development, promotion of women rights, improved water resource management and youth empowerment. It will also tackle major common regional challenges faced by the partner countries, including job creation, security, and socio-economic inclusion. A package of €79.8 million will boost socio-economic development and SMEs, youth employability and connectivity in the Eastern Partnership countries. This includes bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan and Belarus as well as actions for all the Eastern Partnership countries. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: "This new funding will support the European Neighbourhood to boost socio-economic development and job creation, which are our absolute priorities. We aim to improve living conditions in the Southern Mediterranean by tackling security, youth empowerment and women rights. We want to support also our Eastern Partners in strengthening resilience, assisting them in the reform process. Good reforms can have positive impact on the economy and rule of law, creating growth and jobs and eventually giving a perspective for the people". The full press releases are available online for the EU support provided to both Southern Mediterranean and Eastern Partnership regions. Furthermore, the factsheets on the bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt and Palestine and on the boost of economic development to both Southern Neighbourhood and Eastern Paternship regions are also online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

 

Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) modernize waste water management infrastructure in Slovakia

The Commission has allocated €47 million from the Cohesion Fund to upgrade three waste water treatment plants and build new sewerage networks in the regions of Trenčín and Nitra, in Slovakia. The project, started in the 2007-2013 funding period, aims to provide state-of-the-art collection and treatment systems for seven agglomerations: Topoľčany, Bošany, Solčany, Kovarce, Partizánske, Veľké Uherce and Bánovce nad Bebravou. "This is Cohesion Policy in action, and you see concretely how it improves the everyday life of EU citizens" said Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu. The project finances 96.5 km of newly-built sewerage networks and 49 pumping stations. By 2022, over 10 000 inhabitants are due to be connected to the new networks. More information about ESI Funds investments in Slovakia is available on the Open Data Platform and in here. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Luxembourg's tax treatment of GDF Suez (now Engie)

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into Luxembourg's tax treatment of the GDF Suez group (now Engie). The Commission has concerns that several tax rulings issued by Luxembourg may have given GDF Suez an unfair advantage over other companies, in breach of EU state aid rules. The Commission will assess in particular whether Luxembourg tax authorities selectively derogated from provisions of national tax law in tax rulings issued to GDF Suez. They appear to treat the same financial transaction between companies of GDF Suez in an inconsistent way, both as debt and as equity. The Commission considers at this stage that the treatment endorsed in the tax rulings resulted in tax benefits in favour of GDF Suez, which are not available to other companies subject to the same national taxation rules in Luxembourg. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of Competition Policy, said: "Financial transactions can be taxed differently depending on the type of transaction, equity or debt - but a single company cannot have the best of two worlds for one and the same transaction. Therefore, we will look carefully at tax rulings issued by Luxembourg to GDF Suez. They seem to contradict national taxation rules and allow GDF Suez to pay less tax than other companies." The Commission's preliminary assessment is that GDF Suez is able to avoid paying taxes on such transactions as a result of the tax rulings. It appears to be obtaining a considerable economic advantage not available to other companies subject to the same national tax rules. If confirmed, this would amount to illegal state aid. The investigation does not call into question the general tax regime of Luxembourg. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties and the Member States concerned an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Poland's tax on the retail sector

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into a Polish tax on the retail sector. The Commission has concerns that the progressive rates based on turnover give companies with a low turnover a selective advantage over their competitors in breach of EU state aid rules. The Commission has also today issued an injunction, requiring Poland to suspend the application of the tax until the Commission has concluded its assessment. At this stage the Commission has concerns that the application of progressive rates based on turnover confers a selective advantage on companies with low turnover and therefore involves state aid within the meaning of the EU rules. This progressive rate structure has the effect that companies with low turnover either pay no retail tax or pay substantially lower average rates than companies with high turnover. The Commission will now investigate further to determine whether its initial concerns are confirmed. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties the opportunity to comment on the measures under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. Today's opening decision follows a decision the Commission took in July 2016 on a progressive turnover-based tax on the retail sector in Hungary, which the Commission found to be in breach of EU state aid rules because it granted a selective advantage to companies with low turnover over their competitors. The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and PL. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

State aid: Commission authorises support for a highly efficient cogeneration power plant in Lithuania

The European Commission has approved support for a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in Vilnius, Lithuania, under EU state aid rules. The project will be financed by the European Investment Bank through the European Fund for Strategic Investments, EFSI, along with state aid granted by Lithuania. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of Competition Policy, said: "The Lithuanian project to build a combined heat and power plant in Vilnius is a good example of the Juncker Investment Plan mobilising investment. It is in line with our state aid rules and it benefits Lithuanian citizens - and the environment." Lithuania notified plans to the Commission to grant €150 million in state aid to build a new highly efficient CHP plant in Vilnius. The CHP plant will generate electricity for the Lithuanian power grid and heat for the district heating system of Vilnius. The plant consists of two units, one fuelled by non-recyclable municipal waste and the other by biomass. The municipal waste incineration unit will be able to produce 18 MW of electrical power and 53 MW of thermal power. The biomass unit will have a capacity of 70 MW of electrical power and 174 MW of thermal power. The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and LT. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into alleged State aid to MMD Shipping Services Ltd.

Following a complaint by a UK competitor, the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess several financing measures by Portsmouth City Council (PCC) for the benefit of MMD Shipping Service Ltd. (MMD).  MMD is a cargo-handling company operating at Portsmouth International Port and as of 2008 fully owned by PCC. The measures under investigation include (i) annual revenue grants to cover trading losses of MMD provided by PCC as of 2009, (ii) a long-term financing facility by PCC, (iii) an acquisition of two cranes by PCC and their subsequent long-term lease to MMD, and (iv) a security for a bank overdraft facility by PCC. The in-depth investigation aims at establishing whether these measures provided MMD with an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU state aid rules. At the same time, the Commission concluded that the terms of the original acquisition of MMD by PCC in 2008 were in line with market conditions and as such did not involve state aid. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889) 

 

EUROSTAT: La production dans le secteur de la construction en hausse de 1,8% dans la zone euro

En juillet 2016 par rapport à juin 2016, la production dans le secteur de la construction, corrigée des variations saisonnières, a augmenté de 1,8% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 1,1% dans l’UE28, selon les premières estimations d’Eurostat, l’office statistique de l'Union européenne. En juin 2016, la production dans le secteur de la construction avait augmenté de 0,3% dans la zone euro et était restée stable dans l'UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182)

 

EUROSTAT: Excédent de 8,4 milliards d’euros des échanges courants de l’UE28

Le compte des opérations courantes de la balance des paiements de l’UE28, corrigé des variations saisonnières, a enregistré un excédent de 8,4 milliards d’euros en juillet 2016, contre des excédents de 15,2 mrds en juin 2016 et de 10,3 mrds en juillet 2015, selon les estimations d’Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182)

 

EU tops up commitment to end AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis

On the occasion of the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund in Montreal (17-19 September), Commissioner for Development and Cooperation, Neven Mimica, announced an additional € 5 million to the pledge already announced in March. This brings the overall commitment to the fund to € 475 million for the period 2017-19, and is a substantial increase compared to the previous period (2014-16), when the European Commission contributed € 370 million. The European Commission called for the international community to join efforts and accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, with a special attention to the most disadvantaged population groups. Attending the conference on behalf of the European Commission, Commissioner Mimica commented: "Together we can tip the balance in the right direction and support the Global Fund in their ambition to put an end to HIV, TB and malaria epidemics for good." Collectively, the EU and its Member States have been the largest donors to the Fund since its creation, and have made an important contribution to its results. Since 2002, the number of people dying from the three diseases has fallen by a third. The number of people dying from AIDS-related causes has almost halved in the countries in which the Global Fund invests.  An exhaustive infographics can be found here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

STATEMENTS

 

Joint Statement on CETA by Commissioner Malmström and Canada's Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland

Ahead of this week's meeting of EU Trade Ministers in Bratislava, Commissioner Malmström and her Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland have underlined the progressive and forward-looking nature of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA), which will set a new standard for international trade. In a joint statement, the two stressed that “Now is the time to build bridges, not walls”, adding: “We look forward to meeting this week in Bratislava, Slovakia with colleagues from all the 28 EU Member States to discuss CETA’s benefits.  We understand that some concerns remain that need to be clarified.  Where formal clarifications are needed to allay concerns we are committed to providing these, including confirming our shared views on the delivery of public services, labour rights and environmental protection.  We also have a strong, shared commitment to monitor carefully the improved investment dispute settlement mechanism included in CETA to ensure it operates in a truly independent manner.” Read the full statement here. Also, today in Brussels, Commissioner Malmström will participate in a Civil Society Dialogue on the benefits for citizens of CETA, where over 160 representatives of civil society organisations have registered to participate. At the event, which will be livestreamed here, the Commissioner will deliver a speech, which will be available here at around 15:00 CET today. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

EU at the United Nations' General Assembly – Day 1 [Updated: 19/09/2016 at 13:28]

Ahead of today's UN Summit on large movements of refugees and migrants as well as a busy Ministerial Week of the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York City, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans met on Sunday, together with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In their discussions they underlined the need to enhance global responsibility sharing to better manage the migration challenge. They also discussed the need to combat climate change and the strong commitment of the EU to the Paris Agreement. Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva participated in the event co-hosted by Estonia, the Council of Europe and UNICEF "Carry a light for every child on the move - a right to be safe, a right to a home". The work in New York City will continue today when the high-level European Union delegation will participate in the High Level Meeting on large movements of refugees and migrants – including First Vice-President Timmermans, High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini, as well as Commissioners Hahn and Avramopoulos. The EU is also hosting a side event Investing in partnership: the new investment plan to address root causes of migration and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, where High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Vice-President Georgieva will speak. Audio-visual coverage of all events on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic - Tel.: +32 229 86570; Esther Osorio - Tel.: +32 229 62076)

 

Vice-President Katainen travels to Japan and South Korea

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, is in Japan and South Korea this week to promote closer trade and investment links with key partners. In Tokyo he will meet with senior political and business leaders to take stock of progress in the EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement negotiations, which are at an advanced stage. He will then travel to Seoul where he will speak at a business forum to mark five years of the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement and promote the Investment Plan for Europe. (For more information contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhan Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

 

Commissaire Moscovici se rendra demain à l'aéroport Roissy - Charles de Gaulle sur le thème des douanes de l'Union européenne

Pierre Moscovici, Commissaire des affaires économiques et financières, fiscalité et douanes, se rendra ce mardi 20 septembre à l'Aéroport Roissy – Charles de Gaulle pour une visite avec les Douanes françaises sur les thèmes de la facilitation et de la sécurisation des échanges, de la lutte contre les trafics de biens culturels, du commerce électronique et du fret, et de la lutte contre la fraude via les flux passagers. Il effectuera ce déplacement avec M. Christian Eckert, secrétaire d'Etat français chargé du Budget. Cette visite intervient dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre des dispositions du nouveau code des douanes de l’Union, qui a pour objectif de fluidifier les échanges internationaux, tout en les sécurisant. Le Commissaire Moscovici a déclaré en amont de ce déplacement : "Au-delà de leur fonction historique de collecteur d'impôt, les Douanes ont la double mission de faciliter les flux commerciaux avec le reste du monde et de protéger les citoyens, les consommateurs et les entreprises européennes. C'est ce rôle central que je viens saluer à l'aéroport Roissy - Charles de Gaulle, rôle qui est encore renforcé grâce au nouveau Code des douanes de l'Union, pour une Union douanière plus simple, plus rapide et plus sûre". (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)

 

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-3112_en.htm

MEX/16/3110


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