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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 05 / 10 / 2016

Brussels, 5 October 2016

Brussels Conference on Afghanistan: International community confirms continued support for and engagement in Afghanistan's future

Day Two of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan (#AfghanConf) began this morning with over 70 countries and 20 international organisations and agencies coming together under the patronage of the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani (opening statements available here). The morning session was co-chaired by the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini on behalf of the European Union (read or watch her arrival doorsteps and read or watch her opening statement) and by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, Salahuddin Rabbani (watch here). In her opening statement, High Representative Mogherini highlighted that: "Change has been possible first and foremost thanks to the efforts of the Afghan people, but it also owes a lot to the unique and extraordinary support provided by the international community. Today we renew our commitment to stand on the side of the Afghan people, to counter the forces that oppose growth and reconciliation, and to keep sustaining progress. The main objective of today's conference is that we commit to supporting Afghanistan at or near the current levels until 2020." The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon (watch here) and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry (watch here), also addressed the Conference in the opening session. This afternoon, the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica and the Minister of Finance of Afghanistan, Eklil Ahmad Hakimi will co-chair the Conference, ahead of closing statements from the Chief Executive of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, the High Representative/Vice President, and the Commissioner. A press conference will take place at the end of the Conference, foreseen for 18:00. Live streaming of the entire Conference is available here and via EbS. Yesterday, the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini and the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica represented the European Union at two side events: on women empowerment and on regional economic integration. More about Day One of the BCA here or on EbS. Ahead of the two side events, Commissioner Mimica and Minister Hakimi, in the presence of President Ghani, signed a new State-building contract (press release here and the ceremony again here). A number of other bilateral meetings are also taking place in the margins of the Conference. For more information on the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, 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)


The European Union strengthens trade rules against goods used for capital punishment and torture

Yesterday, the European Union has taken an important step towards the further strengthening of the trade rules applicable to goods that could be used for capital punishment or torture. On the proposal of the European Commission, the European Parliament has approved yesterday new restrictions on certain services and revised rules on goods that could be used to apply the death penalty. This demonstrates the importance the European Union attaches to respect for fundamental rights, as well as its promotion of the global abolition of the death penalty and the eradication of torture. Following yesterday's vote in the Parliament, the changes should now be approved by the Council and then the text amending the original Regulation (1236/2005) will be published in the Official Journal of the EU and become Union law. A full press release is available here and a factsheet on the Regulation in question is available here. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic - Tel.: +32 229 86570; Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)


Investment Plan for Europe: EU agrees GBP 60 million backing for new East Anglia trains

Thanks to support from the Investment Plan for Europe, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to provide GBP 60 million for the purchase of new trains for use on passenger services in East Anglia that will improve passenger services on key London intercity, airport and local services. The EIB loan is guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The 378 new train carriages will be used by franchise operator Abellio and replace outdated existing electric and diesel trains currently used on the routes. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The Investment Plan for Europe continues to make a real difference to our daily lives. Thanks to this fresh financing from the EIB, rail passenger services in East Anglia improve, making the commuter's experience more comfortable. I am proud that we can support the upgrading of transport infrastructure in this way." (For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


€10 million of EaSI microfinance to support Slovak businesses

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and OTP Banka Slovensko, have signed a guarantee agreement aimed at supporting micro-enterprises in Slovakia under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). This new EaSI guarantee agreement with OTP Banka Slovensko, will cover a loan portfolio of €10 million for around 600 Slovak micro-borrowers. Slovak micro-entrepreneurs can benefit from attractive conditions including no collateral requirements for the micro-loans.The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: ”Thanks to our EaSI programme, around 600 micro-entrepreneurs in Slovakia will be able to access loans under better financial conditions, worth €10 million. They will benefit from tailored mentoring and training. We are convinced that EaSI microfinance support has a strong role to play in our fight against exclusion through the creation of jobs, in particular for the most vulnerable people on the labour market." (Pour plus d'information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Education: new European report confirms further increases in teachers' pay, but also wide differences in salary conditions 

Teachers’ salaries are generally continuing to rise in Europe. This is the result of a report drawn up by the European Commission’s Eurydice network and published today to mark World Teachers’ Day. The report, which is published every year, shows that salaries have increased in 24 countries over the past year, sometimes as the result of salary adjustments for all public employees, in other cases due to salary increases aimed specifically at teachers Compared to significant increases in 2016 for instance in Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Austria and Romania, salaries remained at about the same level in France and Belgium and are still frozen in Italy, Cyprus and Liechtenstein. The report shows that pay and conditions vary considerably between European countries: this concerns not only the level of basic salaries but also for example the difference between minimum and maximum basic salaries and the number of years’ service necessary to achieve the maximum. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: "Good teachers and school leaders are crucial for the educational success of our children. We therefore need to ensure that these professions are attractive and well respected in countries across Europe. Working conditions and pay are key factors in getting the best candidates to join and for keeping excellent teachers and leaders in the profession." The report is a comparative analysis, which covers all EU Member States as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Turkey. It also includes detailed country information. More information on the distribution of teaching staff by gender at primary and secondary level was published by Eurostat on 4 October. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)


L'UE investit pour améliorer l'infrastructure routière dans le centre de la Pologne

La Commission a approuvé un grand projet avec une contribution de €66 millions venant du Fonds Européen de Développement Régional (FEDER), pour améliorer les connexions routières entre zones rurales et centres urbains dans la région de Łódż. Le projet inclut la construction de rocades autour des villes de Wieluń et Bełchatów, le long de la route nationale S74, et a pour objectif de désengorger les routes aux abords de ces deux villes. "Cet investissement sera bénéfique à l'économie locale et à la cohésion territoriale; c'est toute la région de Łódż qui en profitera," a commenté la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu. Les Fonds Structurels et d'Investissement Européens (Fonds ESI) investissent €86 milliards en Pologne en 2014-2020. Plus d'informations sur ces investissements sont disponibles sur la Plateforme Open Data et ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


State aid: Commission approves Croatian bank resolution scheme

The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules a resolution scheme in Croatia that could be used for small banks with total assets below €1.5 billion. This is a measure that would be available for such small banks, only if they were to be found to be in distress by the competent national authorities. The approval of the scheme is to facilitate the work of the Croatian resolution authorities, should a concrete case and need arise for it. The Commission found the scheme to be compatible with the state aid rules on banking applicable since 2013 and related EU law. In cases where a very small bank is in serious difficulties, this type of scheme allows the prior authorisation of aid, enabling the national authorities to carry out an orderly resolution of that bank. The resolution scheme would use the tools available within the framework of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), as implemented in Croatian law. In particular, as required by the state aid rules, any aid would be limited to the minimum necessary, with the provisions of the BRRD applicable, to facilitate an orderly exit of a failing bank from the market. The authorisation of aid under the scheme is granted for six months from today and can be prolonged following a report by the Member State and an assessment by the Commission. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.46066 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)


Concentrations: la Commission autorise, sous conditions, le rachat de Faiveley par Wabtec

Au terme d'une enquête approfondie menée en application du règlement de l'UE sur les concentrations, la Commission européenne a donné son feu vert au projet de rachat de Faiveley Transport (France) par Wabtec (États-Unis). L'autorisation est subordonnée à la mise en œuvre d'engagements. Les deux sociétés sont d'importants fournisseurs de matériel ferroviaire. La Commission craignait qu'en éliminant un fournisseur de matériaux de frottement frittés pour freins de train - alors que ce marché ne compte que trois grands opérateurs, l'opération telle que notifiée à l'origine entraîne une diminution de la concurrence et des hausses du prix de ces produits. Pour dissiper cette crainte, les parties vendront Faiveley Transport Gennevilliers, la branche «matériaux de friction» de Faiveley. La cession supprimera tout chevauchement entre Faiveley et Wabtec sur le marché des matériaux de frottement frittés pour freins de train. Margrethe Vestager, commissaire chargée de la politique de concurrence, a déclaré à ce propos: «Les trains transportent chaque jour beaucoup de gens et un grand nombre de marchandises en Europe. Grâce à la décision adoptée aujourd'hui, les compagnies ferroviaires pourront continuer à disposer d'équipements de base à des prix compétitifs et l'innovation ne sera pas entravée, ce qui est tout bénéfice pour les utilisateurs de services ferroviaires.» Un communiqué de presse complet est disponible en ligne en FR, EN et DE. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)


Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a water treatment joint venture in Indonesia

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a water treatment joint venture, Gapura Liqua Solutions, in Indonesia. The joint venture is created by Gapura Liqua Mandiri of Indonesia, Multico Infracore Holdings of Singapore, Toray Industries of Japan and Toyota Tsusho Corporation of Japan. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns because the joint venture will have no activities within the EEA in the foreseeable future and the parents do not supply water treatment services in the EEA. 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.8209. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)


Agriculture: The Commission approves two new Protected Designations of Origin from Croatia

The Commission has approved today the addition of two new product names to the list of Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) both from Croatia. ‘Korčulansko maslinovo ulje’ is an extra-virgin olive oil produced on the island of Korčula. Around 1,000 agricultural holdings and 10 olive mills are engaged in olive cultivation and olive oil production on the island of Korčula today which makes it an important economic activity for the inhabitants. ‘Paška janjetina’ is fresh meat from lambs born and bred on the island of Pag who are fed exclusively sheep's milk. The first written records of Pag lambs and their meat date far back in history with a mention in a historical account of the island as early as 1554. These two new denominations will be added to the list of over 1,360 products already protected, among which 14 Croatian products.  More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products.(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)


EUROSTAT: Le volume des ventes du commerce de détail en baisse de 0,1% dans la zone euro et dans l'UE28

En août 2016 par rapport à juillet 2016, le volume des ventes du commerce de détail corrigé des variations saisonnières a diminué de 0,1% tant dans la zone euro (ZE19) que dans l’UE28, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l’office statistique de l'Union européenne. En juillet, le commerce de détail avait progressé de 0,3% dans la zone euro et de 0,5% dans l'UE28. En août 2016 par rapport à août 2015, l’indice des ventes de détail s’est accru de 0,6% dans la zone euro et de 2,1% dans l'UE28. Un communiqué de presse EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)  


European Commission appoints Principal Adviser in its Taxation and Customs Union's department

The European Commission has appointed Mr Paulo José Santos as Principal Adviser in the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) as of 16 October 2016. In his role, he will be overseeing the IT governance, developments and operations of DG TAXUD. Mr Santos, a Portuguese national, joined the Commission in 2003. He first became Head of Unit in 2012, in the Commission's department for Informatics (DG DIGIT), and is since then dealing with User Services and Relationship Management. Between 2014 and 2016, Mr Santos was acting as a Director in charge of Digital Workplace Solutions. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)




Discours du Président Juncker au Parlement européen sur le Conseil européen d'octobre

S'adressant aujourd'hui à la session plénière du Parlement européen à Strasbourg, le Président Juncker a souligné que la feuille de route adoptée par les chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement à Bratislava "constitue une bonne plateforme pour nous permettre d'avancer." Le Président Juncker voudrait notamment que le Conseil et le Parlement puissent adopter avant le début de l'été toutes les propositions législatives que la Commission a mises sur la table pour faire l'Union numérique. Il attend donc que le Conseil européen d'octobre "puisse se mettre d'accord sur des résultats concrets". Il a rappelé qu'en matière de migration, comme convenu, dans la déclaration de Bratislava les décisions prises doivent être appliquées, ajoutant que: "comme le peuple hongrois s'est prononcé dans le bon sens je ne vois pas de difficultés insurmontables" pour appliquer les décisions prises. Pour ce qui est de la réforme du système de Dublin, il a espéré qu'il sera possible de "trouver un accord qui se distingue par sa dimension de solidarité", soulignant qu'il ne fait pas sienne l'expression de "solidarité flexible". Déclarant, par ailleurs, qu'"il est plus sage, de permettre aux gens de rester chez eux grâce à des investissements commerciaux importants", il a appelé à ce que le Plan d'investissement extérieur puisse être "déployé le plus vite possible" et que "les Etats membres y apportent aussi leur écot". En matière de relations commerciales, prenant l'exemple de l'accord conclu avec la Corée du Sud qui a permis de créer 210 000 nouveaux emplois, il a souligné que le commerce est essentiel et qu'il faudra "veiller à ce que l'accord avec le Canada entre en vigueur dans quelques mois". Il a par ailleurs souligné qu'il faudra que les Etats membres trouvent un accord sur la question du renforcement de nos instruments de protection commerciale notant qu'il est "inexplicable à l'opinion publique que nous ouvrons la voie à des accords commerciaux avec d'autres nations sans pour autant renforcer les instruments dont nous disposons pour défendre notre propre industrie, en particulier notre industrie métallurgique." Le discours est disponible en ligne. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)




First Vice-President Timmermans in Malta for Citizens' Dialogue and meetings with the Maltese Government as the incoming EU Presidency and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO)

From Thursday 6 - Friday 7 October, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will travel to Malta, the incoming EU Presidency, for a series of engagements. The First Vice-President will start his visit with a meeting and tour at the European Asylum Office (EASO) hosted by its Executive Director Mr José Carreira. At 18:30, First Vice-President Timmermans takes part in a Citizens' Dialogue in Valletta, which can be watched online here. Later that evening, the First Vice-President will meet with Mr Louis Grech, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of European Affairs. On Friday, he will meet with Mr Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, Mr Carmelo Abela, Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Mr Owen Bonnici, Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Councils, Mr Censu Galea, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Mr Simon Busuttil, Leader of the Opposition. On Friday, the First Vice-President will also meet the Parliamentary Committee for European and Foreign Affairs. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)


Vice-President Dombrovskis in New York to meet US financial institutions

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, is in New York City today. He is delivering the keynote speech to Board Members of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and visiting the New York Stock Exchange. The Vice-President will meet Jeffrey Sprecher, Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and William C. Dudley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Vice-President Dombrovskis will then travel from New York to Washington where he will participate in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group Annual Meetings. He will also hold a series of bilateral meetings and give a keynote speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. For more details, please see our weekly calendar. (Annika Breidthardt Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky LampTel.: +32 229 56151)


Commissioner Stylianides in Dublin, Ireland to discuss the role of humanitarian aid in the refugee crisis and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism

Tomorrow, on Thursday 6 October, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is visiting Ireland to discuss humanitarian aid priorities and the importance of civil protection. He is scheduled to meet Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to speak about the various humanitarian crises around the globe including the refugee crisis. During the visit, he will also meet Simon Coveney, Minister for Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government for an exchange about the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism that can be activated by a Member State or a country outside the EU if it feels overwhelmed by a crisis. Commissioner Stylianides will also deliver two speeches: to the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade on the Commission's work and in particular its humanitarian aid priorities and an address about the role of education in emergencies in the refugee crisis at the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA). (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Commissioner Thyssen visits Portugal

Tonight, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will travel to Portugal. Upon arrival, she will attend a working dinner in the presence of the Portuguese Minister of Employment, Solidarity and Social Security, José António Vieira da Silva. It will be an opportunity to discuss the Pillar of Social Rights, the posting of workers directive and the European Semester country-specific recommendations. On Thursday, 6 October, the Commissioner will first meet with the Minister of Finance of Portugal, Mario Centeno, to discuss statistics and Eurostat-related issues. Following this meeting, she will participate in a hearing at the Portuguese Parliament with members of the European Affairs and Labour Committees. Afterwards, she will visit a project financed by the European Social Fund called 'Programa Escolhas'. Finally, in the afternoon, Commissioner Thyssen will participate in a High-Level Conference on the European Pillar of Social Rights. (Pour plus d'information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)



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


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