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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 08 / 12 / 2016

Brussels, 8 December 2016

Commission reports on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration

The Commission is today reporting on progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and on the EU's relocation and resettlement schemes. The Commission also adopted a fourth Recommendation today that takes stock of the progress achieved by Greece to put in place a fully functioning asylum system and sets out a process for the gradual resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece. European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Our comprehensive European approach on migration is showing positive results. We can see this in the continued implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and the dramatic decrease in the number of irregular migrants arriving in Greece. We also see it in the progress made by the Greek authorities in rectifying deficiencies in the country's asylum system, which has allowed us to recommend the gradual resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece as of 15 March 2017. This will provide further disincentives against irregular entry and secondary movements, and is an important step for the return to a normally functionally Dublin and Schengen system." Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Both Italy and Greece have made herculean efforts in recent months in managing the refugee crisis. The fact that today we close the infringement cases on the fingerprinting and registration of migrants is proof of that. This November was a record month for relocation with over 1,400 persons transferred, and Member States must build on this progress by further intensifying and sustaining their efforts. Our aim is to relocate all those in Italy and Greece who are eligible for relocation within the next year. These efforts, together with a lasting reduction in arrivals from Turkey thanks to the EU-Turkey Statement, are necessary building blocks for a gradual return to the Dublin system for Greece." For more information, see the press release, Q&A on the Dublin Recommendation, Q&A on the EU-Turkey Statement and factsheet on relocation and resettlement, which are all available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 22980423; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)


Security Union: Commission presents Action Plan to strengthen the European response to tackle travel document fraud

Today, the Commission has adopted an Action Plan setting out concrete measures to improve the security of travel documents, as announced in the Communication on "Enhancing security in a world of mobility" adopted on the occasion of President Juncker's 2016 State of the Union address. The Action Plan provides clear recommendations for Member States to tackle the phenomenon of travel document fraud and outlines a comprehensive set of actions for the Commission to take. Travel document security is an important factor in the fight against terrorism and organised crime and contributes to improving border protection and migration management, paving a way towards an effective and genuine Security Union. Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Ensuring the security of travel and identity documents is an important factor in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. Today's Action Plan proposes concrete operational measures which will allow Member States to combat travel document fraud more effectively, contributing to improving the protection of our borders, ensuring our internal security and better managing migration." Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: "We know that terrorists have used forged travel documents to travel undetected across the EU. Indeed, many of our security measures rely on secure travel and identity documents – such as the checks at the external border under the Schengen Border Code or behind the border against the Schengen Information System. That's why Member States and EU agencies must work together to improve the security of travel documents and detection of travel document fraud. Taken together, these measures will help close down existing security gaps." A press release on the Action Plan and a factsheet on the Security Union are available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 2 296 74 56; Tove Ernst – Tel.:+32 2 298 67 64; Markus Lammert – Tel.:+ 32 2 298 04 23; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.:+ 32 2 296 34 44)


End of roaming charges: Commission determined to make it work [Updated: 08/12/2016 at 13:50]

Yesterday the College of Commissioners discussed draft rules, reinforcing the approach adopted by the College in September, to end roaming charges in the EU as of 15 June 2017. Yesterday's discussion follows intensive exchanges with the European Parliament, Member States, stakeholders, consumer representatives, regulators and operators. The draft rules further clarify consumer rights and introduce safeguards to ensure the most competitive domestic offers remain attractive. Vice-President in charge of the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: "We are providing a balanced solution which is in the interest of everyone who uses mobile phones and devices. Every European will be able to roam without extra charges. Every European should also be able to benefit from the most competitive domestic offers. In close cooperation with European consumers, we have designed safeguards to ensure travellers benefit from "Roam like at Home", while avoiding negative effects on the most competitive domestic data packages. It is now up to EU Member States to support what we are proposing in order to make Europeans' lives easier, cut bills and keep prices down." Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger said: "Our proposal provides protection for consumers and also ensures sustainability for telecoms operators."  Following yesterday's College discussion, the draft legislation (an Implementing Act) has now been sent to Member States, who will meet on Monday 12 December to vote on the text. Re-watch today's press conference with Vice-President Ansip here. More information is available in the press release. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund - Tel.: +32 229 50698)


The December infringements' package: Commission acts for full, proper and timely implementation of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses

To help citizens and businesses benefit fully from the internal market, the European Commission continuously engages with and, if necessary, initiates infringement procedures against Member States which do not respect European law. The European Commission also closes pending cases where the Member State concerned, in cooperation with the Commission, has solved the problem and ensured compliance with EU law, thus rendering a referral to the Court of Justice of the EU unnecessary. This month, as part of its monthly package of infringement decisions, the Commission took a number of decisions (including 7 letters of formal notice, 77 reasoned opinions and 3 referrals to the Court of Justice of the EU). In particular, the Commission is today acting against the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom because they have failed to either set up penalties systems to deter car manufacturers from violating car emissions legislation, or to apply such sanctions where a breach of law has actually occurred. A summary of the key decisions as well as the contact details of the relevant Spokespersons and the corresponding press releases can be found in the MEMO. On the general EU infringement procedure, a memo is also available here. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Uldis Šalajevs – Tel.: +32 229 67560)


Commission welcomes agreement on measures to protect the Union's budget from fraud

Agreement was reached yesterday in trilogue bringing together representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, on the Commission's proposal to fight against fraud to the Union's financial interests by means of criminal law (the so-called "PIF Directive"). This Directive will establish minimum rules for offenses against the EU's financial interests [PIF], as well as minimum sanctions and prescription periods. Commissioner Jourovà said: "I welcome the political agreement on the PIF directive today. This is a huge success and it is an important pre-condition for the European Public Prosecutor's Office as it gives it a clear mandate to tackle big VAT fraud cases. This will help us better protect EU taxpayer's money." The Directive is closely linked to the European Public Prosecutor's Office as it defines the criminal offences which fall within the material competence of the EPPO (meaning the cases it will be able to deal with), including serious cross-border VAT fraud cases above a financial threshold of EUR 10 million.The political agreement also paves the way for the formal adoption of this file in the Council and by the European Parliament early 2017. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Commission welcomes agreement on rules improving corporate governance in EU companies

An agreement was reached yesterday in trilogue, bringing together representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, on the Commission's proposal to revise the Shareholder Rights Directive which improves shareholders' engagement in companies. The new rules will encourage more long-term engagement of shareholders and improve corporate governance of EU companies listed on a stock exchange.  Commissioner Jourová welcomed the agreement saying: "Sound corporate governance of companies and more transparency on remuneration is crucial in making the European economy more stable and European companies more sustainable." Shareholders will be able to hold management accountable for their decisions and ensure that they take into account the business' long-term interests. Key elements of the proposal include stronger transparency requirements for institutional investors and asset managers on their investment policies. For the first time, a European "say on pay" would be introduced to ensure a stronger link between management pay and performance. The proposal is in line with one of the new priorities under the Capital Markets Union, namely encouraging more sustainable investment. The agreement paves the way for formal adoption by the European Parliament and the Council. Following formal adoption, Member States will have 24 months for transposition. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Capital Markets Union: Commission welcomes agreement to give companies easier access to capital markets

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission have agreed on revamped prospectus regulation. The reform was proposed by the Commission on 30 November 2015 as part of its Capital Markets Union Action Plan in order to improve access to finance for companies and simplify information for investors. The prospectus is the gateway to capital markets for many companies, but can often be costly and burdensome for companies to produce, especially smaller ones, as it often requires hundreds of pages of detailed information. The new EU prospectus rules will exempt the smallest capital raisings from the burden of producing a lengthy and expensive prospectus. Start-ups and SMEs can now raise up to €1 million on local growth markets without a prospectus. Member States are able to set higher thresholds to support growth in their domestic markets. The EU growth prospectus will also help investors to make informed investment decisions based on the clearer information provided. The new prospectus rules will also help to strip away burdens, deliver shorter prospectuses, better and more concise information for investors and a fast track regime for companies that frequently tap capital markets. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: "We have completed another milestone of the Capital Markets Union, cutting unnecessary red-tape to make it easier and cheaper for companies, especially SMEs, to raise money in the capital markets. Investors will get clearer information to make their investment decisions. This will encourage more cross-border investment opportunities and help Europe to grow." Press release available here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini - Tel.: +32 229 51958)


Investment Plan for Europe: European support for Tallinn Airport expansion

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a EUR 30 million loan agreement with Tallinn Airport to finance expansion and modernisation works. The loan is guaranteed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. The loan will finance improving the runway, extending the passenger terminal and upgrading the lighting system. The project will improve the airport's environmental and safety performance while alleviating congestion at Estonia's busiest airport. EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, said: “Thanks to the Investment Plan for Europe, Tallinn Airport will be upgraded to reduce congestion and accommodate two million more passengers per year, while improving environmental and safety performance. This will facilitate economic development and create job opportunities, with long-term benefits for Estonia. It is very encouraging to see that Estonia is using the opportunities offered by the Investment Plan for Europe to develop its infrastructure and I hope to see more projects of this kind." (For more information see here: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)


Aviation Safety: Commission removes all Kazakh airlines from EU Air Safety List

Today the European Commission updated the EU Air Safety List, the list of airlines that do not meet international safety standards, and are therefore subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union. The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Aviation Strategy adopted in December 2015. Following today's update, all airlines certified in Kazakhstan are cleared from the list while Iran Aseman Airlines is added. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "The EU Air Safety list is one of our main instruments to continuously offer the highest level of air safety to Europeans. I am particularly glad that after years of work and European technical assistance, we are today able to clear all Kazakh air carriers. This also is a positive signal for all the countries that remain on the list. It shows that work and cooperation pay off. The Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency are ready to assist." More information is available in a press release in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)


Energy: Commission welcomes agreement to ensure compliance of Intergovernmental Agreements with EU law

The European Parliament and the Council found an agreement on having Intergovernmental Agreements in the field of gas and oil assessed by the Commission before they are signed. The proposal for a review of the Intergovernmental Agreement Decision is an important part of the sustainable energy security package proposed by the Commission in February 2016. Its key objective is to increase transparency on the gas market, make sure Intergovernmental Agreements are in line with EU law and strengthen the EU's resilience to gas supply disruptions. Securing an agreement today, in record time after the proposal was tabled by the Commission, is a major political achievement. Energy security is one of the cornerstones of the Energy Union strategy, a key political priority of this Juncker Commission. Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union, said: "One of the Energy Union's main objectives is to enhance energy security, solidarity and trust. Practice has shown that renegotiating Intergovernmental Agreements, once they have been concluded, is very difficult - to the detriment of the Member State concerned and the European Union. Today's Agreement ensures that rather than assessing whether international agreements comply with EU law after they are signed, Member States will now do so in advance. This is a big political and legislative achievement". Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said: “Today's agreement, only nine months after the Commission adopted this proposal, is a major achievement for the EU's energy security. This significant first deliverable of the Energy Union Strategy, achieved in record time, shows the Commission's commitment to ensuring compliance with EU law and transparency on the energy agreements between EU and non-EU countries. The new rules, agreed by the negotiators of the European Parliament and the Council, will allow the Commission to guarantee that no energy deal jeopardises the security of supply in an EU country, or hampers the functioning of the EU's energy market". Read entire press release. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Experts present recommendations to further enhance EIT's impact on innovation in Europe

Today, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, joined the Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) to discuss ways to take its work forward and make it even more effective. One point of discussion were the findings of the High Level Group of experts set up by the Commissioner to review the workings of the EIT. Commenting on the Group's report, Commissioner Navracsics said: "This report confirms the unique role that the EIT plays in promoting innovation, education and entrepreneurship. The EIT is an EU initiative unlike any other with its mission to tackle some of the most important challenges facing Europe today, like an ageing population, food security, clean energy and climate action. The High Level Group has delivered a set of far-reaching recommendations that, once implemented, will help the EIT play this role even more effectively." The High Level Group's recommendations address a range of issues: how the EIT's contribution to the future EU innovation landscape can be sharpened; how the EIT can create and grow innovations more effectively; how to involve business (including SMEs) more strongly in the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) the EIT has set up; how to ensure the EIT's educational programmes have a bigger impact and a stronger role for the EIT Governing Board in setting the future strategy for the EIT and its KICs. The EIT is an independent EU body. Its mission is to enhance Europe's ability to innovate by nurturing entrepreneurial talent and supporting new ideas. The report of the High-Level Group will be available here later today. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Czech Republic: the EU invests for faster, smoother connections on key transport networks

The Commission has approved three "major projects", together worth €161 million from the Cohesion Fund, for upgrading works along road and railway networks in the Czech Republic. First, €62.5 million are invested in modernisation works on the railway section between the cities of Rokycany and Pilsen in the Western Bohemian region. It will reduce commuting time for passengers and ensure a smoother connection between Prague and the German border. The project should be completed by the summer of 2017. Then, €56.8 million are invested in improvement works on the expressway D35 near the town of Opatovice, in the Padubice region, on an important road junction for both domestic and international traffic. Finally, €41.8 million are invested to upgrade the road section between Nebory and Bystřice, in the Moravian-Silesian region. It will increase traffic capacity and ensure better connection with Slovakia. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu, said: “When the EU invests on transport sections of pan-European relevance, these investments benefit not only regional economies, but boost the economy of the EU as a whole. By ensuring better connectivity in the Czech Republic, with smoother connections to Germany and Slovakia, these three projects are doing just that and are also improving the Czech citizens' quality of life." More information on the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds in Czech Republic is available on the Open Data Platform and here. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


Commission finds credit institutions and investment firms still should improve diversity on boards

Diversity in the management bodies of credit institutions and investment firms can still be improved, finds a European Commission report published today. Only around one third of the institutions in the sample had a diversity policy in place, and only around one fifth of their board members were women. This is the first reporting on diversity practices since the Capital Requirements Directive introduced a number of diversity requirements in 2014. Requirements include mandatory diversity policies and, for larger companies, setting a target for the underrepresented gender. The Commission looked at whether management bodies are diverse in terms of age, gender, geographical provenance, educational and professional background, and whether firms have put in place a policy promoting such diversity. Diverse management goes together with enhanced scrutiny and risk oversight and is a confirmed way to improve the way financial institutions are managed. The report was conducted by the European Banking Authority earlier this year. It included 873 institutions from 29 European Union and European Economic Area Member States. In order to observe the full effects of the Capital Requirements Directive measures the Commission recommends to repeat this report at least every three years. The full report is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


State aid: Commission authorises Belgian support for electricity generation from offshore renewable energy

The European Commission has concluded that Belgian plans to finance electricity generation from offshore renewable energy are in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission has also approved support to the Rentel and Norther windfarm projects. The Commission found that the support scheme and the two individual projects promote the integration of renewable electricity into the market, in line with the Commission's 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy. They will increase the proportion of green electricity and reduce pollution and help Belgium to meet its 2020 target of producing 13% of its energy needs from renewable sources, while limiting distortions of competition due to the state support. A full press release is available online in EN, DE, FR and NL. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


EUROSTAT: 1 salarié sur 6 dans l'Union européenne est un travailleur à bas salaire

La proportion de bas salaires parmi les salariés s'élevait à 17,2% dans l'Union européenne (UE) en 2014. Cela signifie qu'ils gagnaient deux-tiers ou moins du salaire horaire national brut médian. De grandes différences subsistent entre hommes et femmes ainsi qu'en fonction des tranches d'âges. Dans l'UE en 2014, 21,1% des femmes salariées percevaient un bas salaire, contre 13,5% des salariés hommes. En outre, près d'un tiers (30,1%) des salariés âgés de moins de 30 ans percevaient un bas salaire, contre 14% ou moins pour les tranches d'âges situées entre 30 et 59 ans. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)





Trilateral gas talks between the European Commission, Russia and Ukraine on Friday in Brussels

Tomorrow, Friday, in Brussels, the European Commission is hosting a trilateral meeting with Russia and Ukraine on gas deliveries and gas transit. The talks, which will be chaired by Vice-President in charge of the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, will be attended by Russia's and Ukraine's Ministers for Energy, Alexander Novak and Ihor Nasalyk, as well as top representatives of Naftogaz and Gazprom. The talks are scheduled to start at 1pm Brussels time. "I welcome the preparedness and commitment of both countries to meet here in Brussels for the gas trilaterals. Given the importance of energy relations between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine, continued dialogue is of great importance. I look forward to the trilateral talks, aiming to contribute at ensuring predictable and stable gas deliveries throughout the winter season", said Vice-President Šefčovič ahead of the talks. There will be a press release issued upon conclusion of the meeting. More information on Energy Union is available here(For more information contact: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595 - Nicole Bockstaller - Tel.: +32 229 52589)


Johannes Hahn visits Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, is in Montenegro today and will visit Bosnia and Herzegovina tomorrow. In Podgorica, Commissioner Hahn will meet the newly elected Prime Minister of Montenegro, Duško Marković, and leaders of all opposition parties represented in the new Parliament. On Friday, Commissioner Hahn will be in Sarajevo to meet Denis Zvizdić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers as well as Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak. Following the membership application by BiH earlier this year and the green light the Council gave to the Commission to prepare the opinion on it, Commissioner Hahn is due to reiterate the commitment of the European Union to support the country's EU perspective. Video and photos of the visits will be available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


Commissioner Thyssen attends Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Today, 8 December, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, is attending the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council. During the Council, Commissioner Thyssen will present the Commission's new package on "Investing in Europe's Youth" which includes the launch of the European Solidarity Corpsand other actionsin the field of employment, education and mobility. Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative, Roma integration and women and poverty. Furthermore, Ministers will exchange views on the 2017 European Semester and on the European Pillar of Social Rights. Finally, the Slovak Council Presidency will present a progress report on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive, as well as on the Accessibility Directive. More information on the Council meeting can be found here. A press conference is foreseen at 16:45 tonight. Commissioner Thyssen's speaking points will be made available here. (For more 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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