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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 29/11/2016

Brussels, 29 November 2016

Investment Plan for Europe: evaluations give evidence to support its reinforcement

The Commission has today adopted a Communication which summarises the findings of three evaluations on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core of the Investment Plan for Europe. Given the concrete results achieved since the Commission unveiled the Investment Plan two years ago, President Jean-Claude Juncker announced in his State of the Union address of 14 September that the EFSI would be reinforced to boost investment even further. A legislative proposal to that end was presented the same day. Three evaluations followed that proposal, including an independent evaluation that was foreseen when the EFSI was set up. All three find that the EFSI has already proven useful in encouraging a sustainable increase in investment across Member States through improving access to financing and mobilising private capital. It also identified areas in which the Investment Plan could be enhanced, for example as regards geographical coverage and technical assistance via the European Investment Advisory Hub. This Communication will feed into the legislative debate on the Commission's proposal with the European Parliament and Member States. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The Investment Plan is our flagship policy. It has already shown it works to improve Europe's investment environment. We have listened and learnt from the early experiences. The feedback we have received is in line with our proposal to fine-tune, expand and strengthen the Plan." A press release and memo are available online. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhan Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57361)


Commission hosts meeting to prepare Joint Declaration on objectives and priorities for 2017

Today, the European Commission will host a meeting with representatives of the European Parliament and the Council Presidency (the current Slovak Presidency and the incoming Maltese and Estonian Presidencies of the EU) with a view to finalising the Joint Declarationon objectives and priorities for 2017. On the basis of the 2017 Work Programme presented by the Commission on 25 October, the Parliament, the Council and the Commission, are working together to identify proposals that require swift advancement in order to deliver concrete results to EU citizens in 2017. This joint effort is part of a new shared commitment and is explicitly foreseen in the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law Making, enabling the Union to turn proposals into action and produce results where they are most needed. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382 + Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)


Commission proposes €1.8 million from Globalisation Fund to help 800 Dutch former retail workers

Today the European Commission made a proposal to allocate €1.8 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to the Dutch regions of Drenthe and Overijssel. This would support 800 former retail workers in finding new jobs. Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: "In the whole of Europe, the retail sector has been hit hard by the financial crisis. As a consequence, thousands of people are left without a job, especially in Drenthe and Overijssel, where the retail sector is a major source of employment. Today's decision will help to prepare the former workers of six Dutch retail trade companies for new job opportunities. The Globalisation Fund is Europe's main instrument to show solidarity with those harmed by the crisis and it has proven its worth over the years. "The Netherlands applied for support from the EGF after the dismissal of 1,096 workers in 6 retail trade companies in the two regions, which went bankrupt recently. The total estimated cost of the package is €3 million, of which the EGF would provide € 1.8 million. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for approval. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Major win for the EU in the WTO dispute on Boeing

The United States' massive support for production of the Boeing 777X is in breach of international trade rules, according to a WTO panel report. The WTO confirmed that the US 2013 decision to extend tax breaks for Boeing until the year 2040 goes against previous WTO rulings. By making these tax breaks depend on the use of domestically produced wings, the US also discriminated against foreign suppliers. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "Today's WTO ruling is an important victory for the EU and its aircraft industry. The panel has found that the additional massive subsidies of USD 5.7 billion provided by Washington State to Boeing are strictly illegal. We expect the US to respect the rules, uphold fair competition, and withdraw these subsidies without any delay". This is the second ruling concerning the US subsidies to Boeing. The American measures considered under this case alone amount to USD 5.7 billion, and have now been recognised by the WTO panel as subsidies that are illegal.This is the first time in the history of Airbus/Boeing litigation that a WTO panel finds that one of the disputing parties has granted such outright prohibited subsidies that discriminate against foreign producers.In the spring of 2017, the WTO is expected to issue a report on another long-standing case, which will confirm the extent of the US WTO-incompatible subsidies to Boeing. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)


EU report shows Georgia making headway in the implementation of its Association Agenda

A joint report released today by the European External Action Service and the European Commission assesses Georgia's progress since 1 January 2015 in the implementation of a number of reforms undertaken in the framework of its Association Agenda. The report comes ahead of the EU-Georgia Association Council, to be held in Brussels and chaired by the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, on 2 December. Reforms to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and the Georgian economy are already being implemented, and Georgia has successfully met all benchmarks under the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan. The High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “"The European Union and Georgia already have a strong relationship: we are like-minded partners, we share values and common commitments to our populations and on the international scene alike. It's been only 5 months since our Association Agreement fully entered into force last July and today's report recognises the sustained work of the Georgian authorities. Still some important legislation needs to be passed, and some additional measures taken. Implementing reforms is not always easy, requires determination and leadership, but it is bringing countless new opportunities to our peoples.”."We are already seeing the first results of the implementation of the Association Agreement”, said the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn. “Georgian exports to the EU have been increasing and additional opportunities have been created for our populations, for example students and scientists through Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020. The implementation of the Association Agenda needs to be continued, in particular in reforming the judiciary, including of the prosecution service. We will continue supporting the authorities in their efforts to bring our populations still closer.” A full press release is available online. For more information on EU-Georgia relations, see the factsheet and the website of the EU Delegation. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


10th European Forum on the rights of the child focuses on the protection of children in migration [updated at 14:14]

Today and tomorrow, 300 experts will discuss how to best protect migrant children at the European Commission's 10th European Forum on the rights of the child, hosted by Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová. In 2015, one in four asylum applicants in the EU were minors (see figures online) and 96,000 of them arrived without parents or other carers. To better tackle this challenge, the Forum will focus on the following issues: identification and protection of children migrants, asylum procedures and procedural safeguards, and long term integration. The Forum will bring together child-protection, asylum and migration professionals, as well as NGOs, to create stronger connections between all actors involved at all levels to improve the way minors are dealt with during the migration procedures. Conclusions and best practices for the protection of children in migration will be available after the event. Commissioners Věra Jourová and Dimitris Avramopoulos will deliver the opening speeches, while First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will close the Forum. Prior to the Forum, experts have discussed the guardianship of unaccompanied and separated children at a side event. You'll find the full programme and speeches online. Discussions will be streamed online. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


SME initiative: better access to funding for Spanish small businesses

The European Commission welcomes the new agreement signed under the Spanish SME initiative programme. The European Investment Fund (EIF) joined forces with Liberbank in order to grant easier access to up to €300 million of loans for 2,500 small businesses. "I had the opportunity to congratulate the Spanish authorities recently as the SME initiative has already reached 21 700 small businesses in the country. This programme is a success, and this new agreement proves it once again," said Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu. The SME Initiative is a financial instrument jointly developed by the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group, as part of a broader initiative to encourage Member States to double the amount of Cohesion policy funds invested through financial instruments, in line with the objectives of the Investment Plan for Europe. (for more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


Road safety: New EU cross-border exchange of information helps police pursue traffic offences committed abroad

A report adopted today by the European Commission shows that EU intervention has a positive impact on the tackling of serious road traffic offences in Europe. New European legislation enables Member States to identify EU drivers who commit traffic offences abroad through an electronic information system. As a result, investigated offences committed by non-residents have increased by four times - to approximately 2 million - between 2013 and 2015. This includes offences such as speeding, running red lights, failure to use seatbelts and drink driving, which put together accounts for 75% of road fatalities. EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "Our evaluation shows that, thanks to the new automatic exchange of information, offenders are less likely to get away with dangerous behaviour. This is very good news for the safety of our roads, and I call on Member States to make full use of the possibilities of the system." Today, the Commission also published a video presenting the positive results of the first European Day Without A Road Death (Project EDWARD) organised in September. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)


Commission launches call worth €1.5m to promote coastal and maritime tourism

The Commission is making available €1.5 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to create nautical routes linking up maritime sites across Europe. The announcement was made today by Commissioners Karmenu Vella, Elżbieta Bieńkowskaand Tibor Navracsics at the European Tourism Day conference in Brussels. "With today's call for proposals we are shining a light on Europe's rich maritime heritage, from museums to monuments. By encouraging tourist authorities to team up with the cultural and creative industries, this call will create new tourist offers, making Europe's coastal regions an even more attractive holiday destination", Commissioner Vella said. Coastal tourism is the most popular type of tourism in Europe. Together with cruise tourism, yachting and marinas, coastal tourism in the EU provides almost 3 million jobs and generates revenue of €400 billion. The Commission is supporting maritime and coastal tourism by funding new ideas, fostering dialogue, and promoting Europe as a maritime destination, in line with its Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism. A Guide was also developed by the Commission in 2016, on funding for coastal and maritime tourism, to support all stakeholders. More information available here and call for proposals here.(For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)


Concentrations: La Commission autorise l'acquisition conjointe d'Exotic Systems par Michelin et Limagrain

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition du contrôle en commun de l'entreprise Exotic Systems par les sociétés Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin, par l'intermédiaire de sa filiale Spika, et Limagrain, par l'intermédiaire de sa filiale Vilmorin & Cie. Toutes ces sociétés sont établies en France. Exotic Systems est une société de consultants spécialisée dans la conception et la fabrication d'objets connectés. La Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin est la société holding du groupe Michelin, le fabricant de pneumatiques. Limagrain est un groupe agro-industriel, spécialisé dans la production de semences pour champs, légumes et céréalières. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée n'était pas susceptible de poser de problèmes de concurrence puisque Exotic Systems n'est pas active sur les mêmes marchés que Michelin et Limagrain, ni sur des marchés voisins.  L'opération a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.8264. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100;Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)


Mergers: Commission approves the acquisition of Van Dijk by TowerBrook

The European Commission has approved the acquisition of Van Dijk of the Netherlands, by TowerBrook of the USA under the EU Merger Regulation. Van Dijk is a distributor of textbooks and other educational resources as well as a provider of subscription agency services to government agencies and private undertakings. TowerBrook is a private equity firm investing in healthcare products and services, financial services, consumer goods, telecommunications, media, chemicals, knowledge services and selected industrial segments. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because there is no overlap between the activities of TowerBrook and Van Dijk and their market shares on related markets are moderate. 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.8226. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Nordnet by Nordic Capital and a group of individual investors

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Nordnet of Sweden by Nordic Capital of Jersey and a group of individual investors. Nordnet provides banking services in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Nordic Capital is active in private equity investment in a variety of economic sectors mainly in Northern Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there are no overlaps between the companies' activities. 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.8241. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella - Tel.: +32 229 86801)


EUROSTAT: Un quart des dépenses des ménages alloué au logement

En 2015, les ménages de l'Union européenne (UE) ont consacré près d'un quart de leurs dépenses totales de consommation au logement et à l'approvisionnement en eau, électricité, gaz et autres combustibles. Cette dépense totale de près de 2 000 milliards d'euros (soit 13,4% du PIB de l'UE) est de loin le principal poste de dépenses des ménages de l'UE. Il s'agit également du poste de dépenses dont la part a connu la plus forte augmentation ces dix dernières années, passant de 22,5% des dépenses totales des ménages en 2005 à 24,4% en 2015 (soit +1,9 point de pourcentage). Une très grande majorité d'États membres de l'UE présentent des tendances analogues, quoique dans des mesures variables. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)




Joint Statement on the New Safe Confinement at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant

On the occasion of the installation of the New Safe Confinement above Unit 4 of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, the Vice-President for Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica and the Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete issued the following statement: "Today marks a major milestone on the long road of efforts undertaken by Ukraine and the international community to make the Chornobyl site environmentally safe again. It also reminds us - 30 years after the nuclear accident the consequences of which are still affecting the people of Ukraine, Belarus and neighbouring countries – that nuclear safety was and remains a very serious matter that deserves our continuous international attention and action to prevent any further disasters. This new confinement is an unprecedented work of engineering funded by the Chornobyl Shelter Fund, which is managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on behalf of the international donors. The European Union is the largest donor to this fund and has committed so far around €750 million to Chornobyl-related projects. Our work has also focused on socio-economic actions to improve the living conditions of the first victims of the 1986 catastrophe, who are still affected by the consequences of their significant exposure to radioactivity. The European Union is committed to further improve nuclear safety worldwide and will continue to work with Ukraine, the EBRD, G7 countries and other international donors to ensure that projects in Chornobyl and in the areas affected by the accident are brought to a successful conclusion." This statement is available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)




European Commission hosts technical seminar on Article 50 negotiations

The European Commission is today hosting a half-day technical seminar on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. Mr. Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the UK, will chair the meeting, which includes senior officials from Member States, the European Parliament and the Secretariat of the Council of the EU. The aim of this seminar is to outline the issues at stake for the EU27. It should contribute to building a common understanding of the process to come. President Juncker and Michel Barnier are working hand-in-hand with the President of the European Council in forging a united position among the EU27. As this is a technical seminar only, there will be no press point afterwards. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524, Daniel Ferrie – Tel.: +32 229 86500)


High Level Group on Simplification sets its sights on Cohesion Policy after 2020

Today the High Level Group on Simplification and Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu receive representatives of the Council, the Committee of the Regions, the European Parliament, the Court of Auditors and the European Economic and Social Committee, to reflect on the future of Cohesion Policy after 2020. The High Level Group will establish a roadmap for 2017, with the objective of having a set of recommendations by the summer. "We have entered a new phase in our reflection on the policy, where we are now defining and testing options for the future. Our joint task for the months to come is to think, thoroughly, on how we can make post-2020 Cohesion Policy simpler, more efficient and more flexible," said Commissioner Crețu. This morning the members of the High Level Group discussed ways for a simpler yet solid audit system. The five reports of the High Level Group - on e-governance, on simpler ways to reimburse expenditure, on better access to EU funding for SMEs, on financial instruments and, more recently, on tackling "gold-plating" - are available online. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz - Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tel.: +32 229 56169)


Commission sets-up High-Level Group led by Pascal Lamy to formulate vision for future EU research and innovation

Today, the European Commission has announced the 12 members of the new High-Level Group that will formulate a vision for future EU research and innovation and make recommendations on maximising the impact of EU investments in this area. The group will be chaired by Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "We face economic uncertainty and societal challenges but also promising opportunities in Europe. So it is vital to get even greater impact from EU funding for research and innovation, for everyone's benefit. With a wide range of expertise and experience, I am confident that the new High Level Group will provide us with a bold vision for EU research and innovation in the future." Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation and former Commissioner for Trade, said: "I am honoured to lead the Group's work on maximising the impact of EU investments in research and innovation. I believe that these are crucial for our future prosperity and to solving our biggest challenges, and areas where the EU can demonstrate that we do better together than on our own and that we can exert global leadership." The High-Level Group brings together leading personalities from across Europe with a wide range of expertise in both the private and public sector. The members were selected by a public call for expression of interest, with the aim of ensuring high-level professional experience and a good balance in terms of skills, experience, knowledge, geographical diversity, gender and age.  More information is available online. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Johannes Hahn visits Tunisia for the International Investment Conference, Tunisia 2020

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, is in Tunis today representing the European Commission at the international investment conference Tunisia 2020. Tunisia faces socio-economic and security challenges and the European Union stands ready to support its strategic partner with concrete measures. The Joint Communication 'Strengthening EU support for Tunisia' of 29 September, foresees concrete measures to support the country, especially providing opportunities for young people, and it is important to ensure its follow-up. The conference 'Tunisia 2020' is a determined effort of Tunisia to relaunch its economy and promote the country's socio-economic development. At the Conference, Commissioner Hahn will meet key interlocutors of the country including President Essebsi, Prime Minister Chahed and members of his Government as well as representatives of international financial institutions. Videos and photos of the visit will be available on EbS. For more information on the EU relations with Tunisia a factsheet is available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


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


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