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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 03 / 10 / 2016

Brussels, 3 October 2016

Climate Action: Ministers approve EU ratification of Paris Agreement

In a historic move, EU ministers on 30 September approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the European Union. The decision was reached at an extraordinary meeting of the Environment Council in Brussels. This decision brings the Paris Agreement very close to entering into force. Once approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday 4 October, the EU will be able to deposit its ratification instrument before national ratification processes are completed in each Member State. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Today's decision shows that the European Union delivers on promises made. It demonstrates that the Member States can find common ground when it is clear that acting together, as part of the European Union, their impact is bigger than the mere sum of its parts. I am happy to see that today the Member States decided to make history together and bring closer the entry into force of the first ever universally binding climate change agreement. We must and we can hand over to future generations a world that is more stable, a healthier planet, fairer societies and more prosperous economies. This is not a dream. This is a reality and it is within our reach. Today we are closer to it." Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "They said Europe is too complicated to agree quickly. They said we had too many hoops to jump through. They said we were all talk.  Today's decision shows what Europe is all about: unity and solidarity as Member States take a European approach, just as we did in Paris. We are reaching a critical period for decisive climate action. And when the going gets tough, Europe gets going." So far, 61 countries, accounting for almost 48% of global emissions have ratified the deal.  The Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, representing at least 55% of global emissions have ratified. The EU, which played a decisive role in the adoption of the Paris Agreement last December, is a global leader on climate action. The European Commission has already brought forward the main legislative proposals to deliver on the EU's commitment to reduce emissions in the European Union by at least 40% by 2030. Read full Statement. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Investment Plan for Europe: €160 million for agricultural SMEs in Hungary

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Agrár-Vállalkozási Hitelgarancia Alapítvány (AVHGA) have signed a COSME agreement to enhance access to finance to up to 2,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) primarily in the agricultural sectors in Hungary. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe and is expected to facilitate access to HUF 50 billion (ca. €160 million) in several forms of finance for SMEs, such as investment loans, working capitals, overdraft credits and bank guarantees. European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “I am delighted to see that thanks to the Investment Plan launched by this Commission, small businesses in Hungary will now be able to obtain loans they would otherwise not have had access to. The Investment Plan has proven to be a success which is why we have proposed to increase both its financial capacity and duration. I encourage Hungarian businesses to make the most of this opportunity and use these loans to boost economic growth and job creation.” (For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


EU support of €21 million for microenterprises in Slovenia

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Slovene Enterprise Fund (SEF)have signed the first microfinance guarantee agreement aimed at supporting micro enterprises in Slovenia under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). The microfinance agreement enables SEF to provide a total of €21 million in loans for a period of 2.5 years to micro-entrepreneurs, many of whom face difficulties in accessing finance. The microfinance guarantee transaction will support the promotion of entrepreneurship in the country, especially in rural areas, for young people and women, as well as focusing on the development of certain sectors such as creative industries or enterprises which maximise on Slovenian natural resources. It will have a dedicated focus on deprived areas characterised by high unemployment rates. Microenterprises will have easier access to affordable sources of funding through lower interest rates, grace periods for loan repayment and a simplified credit approval procedure. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "Thanks to EU funding, 1000 micro entrepreneurs in Slovenia, including in rural areas, will be able to access preferential loans worth 21 million euro. The unemployed people and those at risk of poverty will be able to create their own jobs with this support. Through our EaSI programme, we confirm our commitment to help local economies, give a boost to jobs and growth and help the most vulnerable people in the labour market." (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


The European Union and Afghanistan reach an arrangement to tackle migration issues

Yesterday, the European Union and Afghanistan reached an important political arrangement, "The EU-Afghanistan Joint Way Forward on Migration issues", to effectively tackle the challenges in both the European Union and Afghanistan linked to irregular migration. This is the result of a constructive dialogue based on partnership and a willingness to enhance dialogue and bilateral cooperation in this area. A dialogue at the level of senior officials is foreseen to take place on 4 October to begin the implementation process. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: + 32 229 86570; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)


Première rencontre officielle de la task force conjointe Caterpillar

Aujourd'hui, la Commission européenne et les autorités belges se sont réunies pour la première fois au sein de la task force conjointe chargée d'accompagner le processus lié à l'annonce par Caterpillar de son intention de fermer son usine à Gosselies. Marianne Thyssen, Commissaire européenne pour l'emploi, les affaires sociales, les compétences et la mobilité des travailleurs, et Paul Magnette,  Ministre-Président de la Wallonie, ont démarré les travaux, en présence des Vice-Présidents du gouvernement wallon Prévot, Marcourt et Tillieux. La Commissaire Thyssen a souligné: "La présence de services compétents de la Commission et de toutes les parties prenantes témoigne de notre volonté commune de mobilisation. La main d'œuvre affectée est très qualifiée et motivée. Son potentiel ne peut pas être gaspillé. Nous avons donc le devoir de collaborer, à tous niveaux, pour trouver des solutions et pour offrir des perspectives concrètes aux personnes touchées." Le but de cette première réunion était de faire le point sur les actions en cours et les démarches entreprises par les différents acteurs, ainsi que sur les perspectives qui sont envisagées pour l'usine, ses sous-traitants et pour la région. Les participants ont aussi convenu de se réunir à nouveau au cours du mois de novembre. Vous trouverez plus d'informations ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Vietnam

On Saturday 1 October, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and Vietnam entered into force, following its ratification.The PCA, which was signed on 27 June 2012, replaces a Cooperation Agreement dating back from 1995. The new Agreement strengthens the existing relationship between the European Union and Vietnam, consolidating existing areas of cooperation and engagement, and deepening and diversifying their relations further in areas of mutual interest. With the overall aims of promoting economic and social progress for the citizens of both the European Union and Vietnam, as well as the pursuit of stable, prosperous and free societies, the PCA builds on the shared commitment towards good governance, human rights and sustainable development, underlining the importance of trade and rule of law. Moreover, the Agreement will broaden cooperation in a wide range of areas, such as sustainable development, climate change, justice and security, science and technology, good governance, as well as facilitate trade and investment. The PCA brings on board the EU and all of its Member States, therefore providing opportunities to increase coherence and synergies between EU policies and between EU and individual Member States’ policies. For more information on EU-Vietnam relations, visit the website. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic- Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)




EU proposes an emergency humanitarian initiative for Aleppo

Yesterday High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides outlined an emergency humanitarian initiative for Aleppo aimed at allowing humanitarian organisations to do their work and civilians to be rescued and protected. The initiative, taken in cooperation with the UN, consists of two main elements: First, it aims at facilitating the urgent delivery of basic life-saving assistance to civilians in East Aleppo covering medical, water and food needs. An inter-aid agency convoy stands ready to move from West to East Aleppo drawing on prepositioned stocks made possible also through EU first line response funding. This convoy can deliver aid to a maximum of 130,000 people. Second, in parallel and simultaneously, it aims at ensuring the medical evacuations of wounded and sick from Eastern Aleppo in urgent need of medical care, with a focus on women, children and the elderly. The EU calls on all its partners and all the parties, to unite on this humanitarian initiative for Aleppo for the sake of humanity and the political future of Syria. The EU is also mobilising a €25 million emergency aid package to support and scale up the first line response of its humanitarian partners to cover urgent medical, water and sanitation, and food assistance in Aleppo and in other priority areas across the country. The full statement is available here For more information (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela - Tel.: +32 229 65332; Nabila Massrali - Tel.: +32 229 69218; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)



Brussels Conference on Afghanistan kicks off tomorrow

Tomorrow, on Tuesday 4 October, the two-day Brussels Conference on Afghanistan (BCA; #AfghanConf), co-hosted by the European Union and the Government of Afghanistan begins. Bringing together more than 70 countries and 20 international organisations and agencies, under the patronage of the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, the BCA aims to endorse a realistic programme of reforms to bring about the Afghan government's vision for the country and to ensure continued international political and financial support for political and economic stability, state-building and development in the country over the coming four years. Ahead of the main conference event on Wednesday, on Tuesday, two BCA events will take place in the Charlemagne building of the European Commission. The High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, will deliver the welcome address at the high-level event entitled "Empowered women, prosperous Afghanistan", which will provide a platform for the Afghan government to outline policy progress and plans on the protection and empowerment of women. This event will be streamed live here, and available on EbS. Interaction with the panellists via Twitter is possible through using #AskAfghanConf. Later in the afternoon, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will deliver one of the opening statements at the "Regional Integration and Prosperity" event, which is expected to set the next steps for regional economic cooperation projects involving Afghanistan, regional partners and the wider international community. The opening statements will be available after the event on EbS. Commissioner Mimica will also sign a State-Building Contract, alongside the Minister of Finance of Afghanistan, Eklil Ahmad Hakimi. The State-Building Contract will provide €200 million in budget support to the Government of Afghanistan, providing the authorities to finance their own strategic development priorities and policies. For more information on the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, including the indicative programme, media advisories, and background information, visit the website. For more information on EU-Afghanistan relations, see this factsheet. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic - Tel.: +32 229 86570; Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


Vice-President Šefčovič promotes investment dynamics between the Juncker-Plan and Cohesion Policy

To further promote the mutually reinforcing investment dynamics of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and of the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) both in Slovakia -  the EU Member State currently exercising the rotating EU Council Presidency – and in all other Member States, Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič today holds a number of meetings in Bratislava, notably with Peter Kažimír, Minister of Finance of Slovakia, Peter Pellegrini, Slovakia's Deputy Prime Minister for Investments and Ivo Nesrovnal, Mayor of Bratislava. Moreover, Vice-President Šefčovič delivers a speech at the European Nuclear Energy Forum conference today. "To make the most of investment opportunities offered by both the Juncker-Plan and by ESI Funds, having cities on board is key. Over 70% of the EU's population lives in urban areas – it is here that the transition to tomorrow's smart networks is being decided. That's why we have the EU Urban Agenda", said Vice-President Šefčovič. Further information on the EU's Urban Agenda is available here. More information on ESI Funds investments in Slovakia is available on the Open Data Platform and here. (For more information contact Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595)


Commissioner Oettinger in Lisbon, Portugal, to discuss progress on the Digital Single Market 

Today Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger is in Lisbon to discuss Portugal's performance in digital areas, from broadband coverage to e-government, and the initiatives presented by the Commission to create a Digital Single Market. This morning, he participated in a "going local" event on the Digital Single Market. He strongly supported Portugal’s initiative Industria 4.0 to be launched soon, which will contribute to the Commission's efforts to help digitise European industry (see press release). He said: "The Portuguese government and the Portuguese industry are taking precisely the right attitude and the right action to make digitisation a success for all enterprises big and small, for job creation, economic growth and social welfare". He also spoke about the upcoming initiatives under the Digital Single Market strategy: "Our forthcoming initiative on the free flow of data and on building the European data economy will address some crucial questions on issues such as the ownership of machine-generated data; the question on access rights to such data; questions about interoperability and portability in this field. We need to establish clarity about the re-use of all those data that are going to be generated by intelligent autonomous systems, such as robots". This morning Commissioner Oettinger participated in a hearing at the Portuguese Parliament with Members of the Committees for European Affairs, for Economy, Innovation and Public Works and for Culture, Communication, Youth and Sports. This afternoon, he will meet with Mr Manuel Caldeira Cabral, Portuguese Minister of Economy, Mr João Vasconcelos, Portuguese Secretary of State of Industry, Members of the Portuguese Industrial Strategic Committee and Representatives of Portuguese enterprises. They will discuss how the Digital Single Market can boost Europe and Portugal's competitiveness and help industries and SMEs grow across national borders.(For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)




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