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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 01 / 03 / 2016

Brussels, 1 March 2016

Commission launches consultation on Transparency Register, inviting stakeholder views on a future mandatory system for all EU institutions

On 1 March, the Commission is launching a 12-week public consultation to gather input on the current regime for registration of interest representatives who seek to influence the work of the EU institutions and on its development into a mandatory lobby register covering the European Parliament and Council of the European Union as well as the Commission. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "This Commission is changing the way we work by consulting stakeholders more and by being open about who we meet and why. We need to go further by establishing a mandatory register covering all three institutions, ensuring full transparency on the lobbyists that seek to influence EU policy making. To help us get this proposal right, we hope to receive as much feedback as possible from citizens and stakeholders from across Europe on how the current system works and how it should evolve. A European Union that is more transparent and accountable is a Union that will deliver better results for citizens." A press release is available here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

EU renews its support to Palestinian Authority and Palestinian refugees with a first 2016 assistance package totalling €252.5 million

Today the European Commission has approved a €252.5 million assistance package for Palestine. It is the first part of the EU’s 2016 annual support package for Palestine, confirming the EU's long-standing commitment to the Palestinians. High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherini, said: "The European Union renews its concrete commitment to the Palestinians. Through this package, the EU supports the daily lives of Palestinians in the fields of education and health, protecting the poorest families and also providing the Palestinian refugees across the country with access to essential services. These are tangible steps on the ground that can improve the lives of Palestinian people. But these steps are not enough; Palestinian institutions must continue to grow stronger, become more transparent, more accountable and more democratic. Viable and inclusive institutions, based on respect for the rule of law and human rights, are crucial in view of the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State. Because what we want to achieve is the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State living side by side, in peace and security, with the State of Israel and other neighbours." Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said: "The EU remains firm in its commitment to Palestinians and actively supports a two-state solution. Our assistance to ensure the functioning of the Palestinian Authority and to support vulnerable Palestinian groups, including Palestinian refugees is a concrete example of this commitment. Let me also thank all EU Member States for their continued backing of EU programmes for this troubled region, which have proved effective.'' The press release is available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel: +32 229 86570; Nabila Massrali – Tel.: +32 229 69218; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

The Commission confirms and welcomes the further participation of Ireland in the EU relocation scheme

The Commission has today confirmed the full participation of Ireland in the EU relocation scheme. In line with its 'opt in' under the Lisbon Treaty, Ireland notified the Commission on 6 October of its wish to participate in both Council Decisions on relocation and to relocate applicants for international protection from Italy and Greece. In accordance with the Treaty provisions, the Commission on 16 December 2015 confirmed Ireland's participation in the Council Decision of 14 September to relocate 40 000 applicants for international protection. Today it confirmed that the Council Decision of 22 September 2015 on the relocation of another 120 000 applicants now also applies to Ireland. The Relocation Scheme is accessible to persons who arrive on the territory of Italy and Greece from 15 August 2015 until 16 September 2017, from nationalities whose average asylum acceptance rate is over 75%. For more information on relocation and the state of play of on-going relocations, see here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)


Investment Plan for Europe: new €60m fund for Estonian SMEs

The European Investment Fund (EIF), KredEx, and the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (MoE) have today launched EstFund, a €60 million risk capital fund-of-funds investing in several risk capital funds which will then invest in Estonian SMEs. This new fund-of-funds is made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. EstFund will target smaller and earlier stage investments, operating in a complementary way to the successful Baltic Innovation Fund initiative that targets larger and later stage deals. It is also the first time that European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds and the EFSI are combined, just a week after the Commission and the EIB published new guidelines on how to do this. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "This agreement is innovative for two reasons: it is the first time the EFSI is being combined with ESI funds; and because EstFund is a so-called "fund of funds". But what is important for Estonian SMEs to know is that more risk-financing is available to them for early-stage investment in their business ideas." (For more information see here or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)


Financial stability: New EU rules on central clearing for certain credit derivative contracts

The European Commission has adopted a new set of rules that requires certain over-the-counter (OTC) credit derivative contracts to be cleared through central counterparties (CCPs). Mandatory central clearing is a vital part of the response to the financial crisis and follows commitments made by world leaders at the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit in 2009 to improve transparency and mitigate risks. Jonathan Hill, EU Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: "Today’s decision marks another step towards making good on our G20 commitments to bolster financial stability, reduce risks and boost market confidence." Today's decision takes the form of a Delegated Regulation and implements part of the clearing obligations set out in the European Market Infrastructure Regulation ('EMIR').  A press release is available here (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel: +32 229 56 194; Letizia Lupini – Tel: +32 229 51 958)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of EMC by Dell

The European Commission has approved the acquisition of data storage and software provider EMC by computer technology company Dell, both of the US, under the EU Merger Regulation. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, stated: "Given the strategic importance of the data storage sector, I am pleased that we have been able to approve Dell's multi-billion dollar takeover of EMC within a short space of time while making sure that there would be no adverse effects on customers. I appreciate the close cooperation we have enjoyed with our US counterparts at the Federal Trade Commission." Dell and EMC both provide data storage systems, and in particular external enterprise storage systems. Dell is also active in servers based on x86 architecture. VMware, a company controlled by EMC, is a supplier of virtualization software that can be used in conjunction with these types of servers and storage products. The Commission assessed the effects of the transaction on the market for external enterprise storage systems. The Commission also investigated the risk that the merged entity could attempt to restrict or degrade access to VMware's software for competing hardware vendors. The Commission concluded that the acquisition would raise no concerns. A full press release is available in EN, FR and DE. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7861. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


Eurostat: Euro area unemployment rate at 10.3%

The euro area (EA19) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.3% in January 2016, down from 10.4% in December 2015, and from 11.3% in January 2015. This is the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since August 2011. The EU28 unemployment rate was 8.9% in January 2016, down from 9.0% in December 2015, and from 9.8% in January 2015. This is the lowest rate recorded in the EU28 since May 2009. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Eurostat estimates that 21.789 million men and women in the EU28, of whom 16.647 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in January 2016. Compared with December 2015, the number of persons unemployed decreased by 163 000 in the EU28 and by 105 000 in the euro area. Compared with January 2015, unemployment fell by 2.034 million in the EU28 and by 1.445 million in the euro area. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "Getting more people into jobs remains the first priority of this Commission. Last week, the European Parliament approved the Commission's proposal to reform EURES, the online EU job portal, aiming to fight unemployment by better matching offer and demand on the EU labour market." A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)




Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc addresses the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation

Addressing the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc invited all parties to work together to curb aviation emissions. Commissioner Bulc said: "COP 21 has provided a great momentum and I hope we can continue to build on this. The expansion of the aviation sector has brought people and families together, created jobs for entire communities and delivered prosperity to many remote and underdeveloped regions. However, these gains cannot be realised if we do not, in parallel, find solutions for significant emission reductions. (…) The eyes of world are upon us - the time for talk is over. The time for action is now. My message today is as clear as it is stark – it is only by continuing to build relationships, pooling knowledge resources and working together on common standards and goals that we can hope to overcome the challenges we face. The EU is a ready and willing partner." Her full address is available here. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)


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