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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 10 / 03 / 2016

Brussels, 10 March 2016

Commission increases emergency assistance for asylum and migration with €275.5 million in 2016

The European Commission has adopted modifications to the work programmes for 2016, increasing the financing for emergency assistance of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security Fund (ISF) with an additional  €275.5 million. To finance the additional emergency funding, AMIF and ISF funds foreseen in the EU's budget for 2016, which had not yet been allocated, will be used. The increase of the emergency funding follows the conclusions of the European Council of 18-19 February 2016, calling for urgent action to address the humanitarian situation in Greece and along the Western Balkans, using all available EU and national means to alleviate it. The original budget of €188.98 million for emergency assistance under AMIF and ISF for 2016 has now been reinforced with an additional €193.5 million for AMIF and € 82 million for ISF to a total of €464 million for 2016 to address the most urgent funding needs of Member States in the context of the refugee crisis. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud - Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst - Tel.: +32 229 86764; Tim McPhie - Tel.: +32 229 58602; Markus Lammert - Tel.: +32 229 80423)


Refugee crisis: Commission welcomes Member States' agreement on Emergency Assistance instrument for faster crisis response within the EU

The European Commission welcomed yesterday the fast agreement Member States reached on its proposal for an Emergency Assistance instrument to provide faster means of support to EU countries facing major humanitarian crises, such as dealing with large numbers of refugees. The positive support came just one week after the Commission put forward the proposal to provide €700 million over the next three years to Member States whose own response capacities are overwhelmed by urgent and exceptional circumstances. A press release and a fact sheet are available online, as well as the Proposal for a Council Regulation on the provision of emergency support within the Union, the Communication of the Commission and a Visual factsheet. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


European Commission proposes to lift visa obligations for citizens of Georgia

Yesterday the European Commission proposed to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament to lift visa requirements for the citizens of Georgia by transferring Georgia to the list of countries whose citizens can travel without a visa to the Schengen area. The proposal comes after the Commission gave a positive assessment last December, confirming that Georgia successfully met all benchmarks under the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan. Commissioner Avramopoulos presented the proposal in a press point, which can be viewed on EbS. A full press release is available online. (For further information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)


State aid: Commission authorises support for Metsä Fibre bio-product pulp mill in Finland

The Commission has concluded that Finnish investment aid for the Metsä Fibre bio-product pulp mill in Äänekoski, Finland is compatible with EU state aid rules. In particular, Finland plans to grant €32.1 million to the mill to partially cover an investment in state-of-the-art renewable energy and energy efficiency measures at the Äänekoski mill.  The project also benefits from a loan by the European Investment Bank of up to €275 million, of which €75 million is guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments and was approved in June 2015. The mill will manufacture softwood pulp for the paper industry, and also use by-products, largely left over from the pulping process, to generate and sell renewable electricity. The combined measures will allow the mill to operate without burning the heavy fuel oil usually used by pulp mills and to use less energy per unit of output compared to similar plants. Furthermore, the project is expected to create 6000 jobs during the construction phase and sustain another estimated 2500 jobs in the forestry sector in the longer term. The full press release is available online. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)




Vice-President Ansip in the United States: "Data is the foundation of our digital future"

Today and tomorrow Vice-President Ansip is in Boston, United States, to discuss how to make the most of data to boost economies on both sides of the Atlantic. He will notably meet Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce. They will discuss the recently announced EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework, which will provide a set of robust and enforceable data protection safeguards for transatlantic flows of personal data. Vice-President Ansip and Secretary Pritzker will chair the first digital economy dialogue together with senior industry representatives of U.S. and European companies to discuss how to stimulate innovation and investment in digital ecosystems. They will also highlight the opportunities and challenges facing the transatlantic digital economy in a public discussion taking place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During his visit, Vice-President Ansip will meet researchers of the MIT and of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society of Harvard University. They will have exchanges on the latest technology in fields such as computer science, artificial intelligence and the 'Internet of Things', and on how to create the right environment to support innovation. The full agenda of the visit can be found here. You can follow the Twitter account, the blog and the announcements of Vice-President Ansip for updates. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay - Tel.: +32 229 64532)


Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrӧm in Washington, D.C. on 10 and 11 March

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrӧm is in Washington for two days for a series of meetings including with US Trade Representative, Michael Froman. Today, Commissioner Malmstrӧm will meet, among others, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, the President of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At 19:00 CET, the Commissioner will deliver a speech on EU Trade priorities at the Peterson Institute. The speech will be livestreamedand will later be available online. On Friday, 11 March, Commissioner Malmstrӧm will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs and will attend a Roundtable Discussion on TTIP at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The full programme can be found in Commissioner Malmström's online agenda. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)


Commissioner Moscovici is in Lisbon

Today, Commissioner Moscovici is visiting Lisbon to take forward discussions on Portugal's economic and budgetary policies in view of the next steps under the European Semester. Such visits are taking place to a number of Member States ahead of the submission in April of theirNational Reform Programmes and Stability Programmes (for euro area countries) or Convergence Programmes (for non-euro area countries), covering public finances. Commissioner Moscovici will meet Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Finance Minister Mario Centeno and the Vice-Governor of the Bank of Portugal, Pedro Neves. Ahead of this visit, Commissioner Moscovici said “I am very pleased to start this new phase of the European Semester with a visit to Lisbon. The Commission aims to maintain a close and constructive dialogue with the Portuguese authorities and to support their efforts to address the economic and budgetary challenges facing Portugal.”(For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel: +32 229 56 153; Audrey Augier – Tel: +32 229 71 607)


Commissioner Vella in Slovenia for an official visit, 10 – 11 March

EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella, will participate at a Citizens' Dialogue with EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc in Ljubljana and attend the city's opening ceremony for European Green Capital 2016. The visit will also serve as an opportunity to visit with Slovenian Minister for Environment and Spatial Planning, Ms Irena Majcen, the municipality of Vhrnika and see from first-hand efforts made to become a "Zero Waste" municipality. Commissioner Vella will also meet representatives of the fisheries sector in Piran, with Slovenian Minister responsible for fisheries, Dejan Židan, in the context of inaugurating the newly renovated fisheries landing facilities at Strunjan. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)


Commissioner Hogan in official visit to Poland on 10-12 March

Mr Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, is today and tomorrow in Poland. Today in Warsaw, the Commissioner will meet Mr. Krzysztof Jurgiel, Polish Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. In addition, Commissioner Hogan will also holds a series of meetings with representatives of the Committees of Agriculture and the Committees of for EU Affaires of the lower chamber, the Sejm, and of the upper chamber, the Senat, of the Polish Parliament. On Friday 11 March, Commissioner Hogan will travel to Jasionka to participate in the conference “Current problems of agriculture and rural areas in Europe and assessment of opportunities and threats for this sector within the time horizon 2016-2020”. Finally, Commissioner Hogan will visit the Auschwitz Memorial on Saturday. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)


Commissioner Carlos Moedas awards the 2016 EU Prize for Women Innovators

Commissioner Moedas, responsible for Research, Science and Innovation will this evening award the 2016 EU Prize for Women Innovators. The award ceremony will take place following a Citizens' Dialogue event in Brussels on the importance of more women in business and research. The three winners, who will receive cash prizes of up to €100,000, have been selected from a pool of nine finalists consisting of scientists turned successful entrepreneurs, all having benefited from EU research and innovation funding at some point in their careers. Commissioner Moedas said: "Europe needs to support more successful women innovators like these: people who combine scientific excellence with a head for business; people who turn their research into employment opportunities and their ideas into positive impacts for our society and our economy." The innovations pioneered by the finalists span the whole range from mathematical algorithms used for medical predictions to software used to manage emergency situations on the International Space Station, while also including city-wide networks of connected vehicles used for wifi-hotspots and big data collection. The event will take place in Brussels at 17:30. It will be streamed live and can be followed on twitter via the hashtag #EUWIN2016. For more information, please see the invitation to the award ceremony. (For more information: Lucía Caudet - Tel.: +32 229 56182, Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)


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