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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 19 / 01 / 2017

Brussels, 19 January 2017

EU stands in full solidarity with Italy following earthquakes

Following the earthquakes that tragically struck central Italy, President Juncker issued a statement recalling the EU's full solidarity to offer the Commission's full support at this difficult time. President Juncker said: "It is with great sadness that I learnt this morning of the many people who lost their lives following the latest earthquakes to strike Italy and the hardship caused by severe weather conditions in the affected areas. My heartfelt condolences go to all the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones. I want to commend the first responders working tirelessly on the scene. On behalf of the entire European Commission, let me reiterate our solidarity with the Italian people and with the authorities. We will do all we can to help at this difficult time. The EU will not leave Italy to face this tragedy alone. The European Union stands fully ready to mobilise all instruments at our disposal. I have asked the Commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides, to be in permanent contact with the national authorities to mobilise any support they should require. An earthquake in Italy is an earthquake at the heart of Europe. In questo momento siamo tutti vicini all'Italia." The statement is available here. Already following the earthquake of 24 August and of 26 October 2016, the European Commission immediately helped providing multiple damage assessment satellite maps to support relief efforts, at the request of the Italian authorities. This was done through the Copernicus Emergency Management Services. At the end of November 2016, the Commission announced a first disbursement of aid worth €30 million under the EU Solidarity Fund. It also proposed to fully fund reconstruction operations under Structural Funds programmes, with an amendment to the Cohesion Policy regulation introducing a 100% EU co-financing rate for reconstruction operations linked to natural disasters. The EU's main tools to help Member States affected by natural disasters are the Civil Protection Mechanism for the immediate response and the EU Solidarity Fund for compensation of damages. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Commissioner Avramopoulos on the humanitarian situation in the Greek islands  

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos was in Lesvos, Greece yesterday to discuss urgent measures to address the humanitarian situation in the islands. Commissioner Avramopoulos visited the refugee centres in Moria and Kara Tepe together with the Greek Minister for Migration Ioannis Mouzalas, the mayors of the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios and the EU coordinator for the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, Maarten Verwey. In a statement issued during his visit, Commissioner Avramopoulos said: "It simply cannot be that refugees are left out in the cold, to brave the worst of winter without a roof over their heads. Solutions must be found today, not tomorrow, not next week, but now. The European Union will continue to stand by Greece's side in providing those solutions, just as we have been doing till now." To follow up on the visit, Commissioner Avramopoulos will tomorrow meet with the mayors of the five islands of Lesvos (Spyros Galinos), Samos (Michalis Angelopoulos), Chios (Manolis Vournous), Leros (Michalis Kolias) and Kos (George Kyritsis), in Athens, where they will discuss the next steps. Images from the visit can be found here. The full statement is available in English here and in Greek here and in video format here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)


Better treatment of car rental customers thanks to EU-wide enforcement

European consumers will profit from more transparency and better protection when renting cars in the EU, as a result of a coordinated enforcement action. Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt, have now made changes to their commercial practices ensuring that consumers are treated fairly. Following a strong increase in the number of complaints linked to car rental issues in 2014, the European Commission and national consumer authorities engaged with the companies to improve the enforcement of EU consumer rules in this sector. Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Věra Jourová stated: "Today is a great day for European consumers. We worked hard with the car rental companies to guarantee that people across the EU can rent a car and are treated fairly – no matter where in the EU they rent a car. I thank the national consumer authorities for their excellent work and the car rental companies for their cooperation. Consumers across Europe can now enjoy their rights and be better protected." Changes will include more pricing transparency, with all unavoidable charges visible at the time of booking. Rental conditions, including the fuel or cancelation policy, will be described in plain language. In case of damage on return, consumers will be provided with reasons and evidence of any damage, before the payment is taken from their bank account, and will get the chance to challenge the assessment. The European Commission and national consumer authorities will continue to monitor the car rental market closely to ensure, that other market players, such as intermediaries and other car rental companies, also fully respect consumer rights. Consumers with complaints linked to cross border issues should contact the European Consumer Centres. Further information can be found in the press release. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


EU boosts emergency assistance in Africa's Lake Chad region

The European Commission has released €40 million in additional humanitarian aid to support the populations in the Lake Chad region in Africa. The funding brings the overall EU humanitarian aid package for the region to over €116 million since the beginning of 2016 until now. "The EU is making a strong humanitarian contribution for the most vulnerable for those in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad. The humanitarian situation in this fragile region is reaching extremely worrying proportions. The difficult security situation and lack of access to certain areas severely hamper the capacity of relief organisations to assist. Today I am announcing new EU support to urgently address the increasingly pressing needs. Everything must be done so that our humanitarian partners can deliver lifesaving assistance safely and rapidly to those in dire need," saidCommissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The funding help scale up operations and respond to most urgent humanitarian needs, notably in the areas of food, nutrition, water and sanitation, health and protection. A press release is available online. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


EU signs €65 million grant with Zambia to improve access to energy

This programme is expected to provide access to reliable, clean and affordable electricity services to at least 63,000 households, or about 300,000 people, to social and public infrastructure and to eligible Micro Small Enterprises (MSEs). It will be done through the rehabilitation and expansion of the low voltage distribution network in selected low income areas of Lusaka City with high population density. The financing agreement for a grant of €65 million was signed today in Brussels by Commissioner for International Development and Cooperation Neven Mimica and the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Zambia Felix Mutati, have signed a Financing Agreement. This took place in the framework of a meeting where Commissioner Mimica and Minister Mutati exchanged views on the very good bilateral relations between the European Union and Zambia. Speaking on this occasion, Commissioner Neven Mimica said: "This €65 million programme demonstrates the continued commitment of the European Union in collaboration with European Financial Institutions (EFIs) to provide the much needed capital investment for basic infrastructure development, in order to improve the livelihood and social status of poor communities in Zambia. The rehabilitation of the low voltage distribution network and the new connections will allow for the provision of reliable and affordable energy services and economic empowerment. The programme will support the implementation of the European External Investment Plan which prioritises socio-economic development through infrastructure and energy in particular." A press release is available online. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229-65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


Commissaire Malmström discutera d'un tribunal multilatéral d'investissements lors d'une réunion ministérielle à Davos

Demain, la Commissaire européenne au commerce, Mme Cecilia Malmström, coprésidera avec le Ministre canadien du commerce international, François-Philippe Champagne, une discussion au niveau ministériel sur la création éventuelle d'un mécanisme multilatéral pour résoudre les différends en matière d'investissement. Cette réunion sera la première occasion pour des ministres des pays du monde entier de discuter dr l'initiative de la Commission et du Gouvernement canadien pour la mise en place d'un tribunal multilatéral d'investissement. Cette initiative vise à créer un tribunal multilatéral permanent pour les litiges en matière d'investissement, qui remplacerait le système existant de règlement ad hoc des différends investisseur-État (ISDS) actuellement inclus dans environ 1400 traités d'investissement des États membres de l'UE et 3200 traités au niveau mondial. Un tel tribunal remplacerait également le système bilatéral des tribunaux d'investissement inclus dans les accords commerciaux au niveau de l'UE. La réunion ministérielle se tiendra en marge du Forum économique mondial de Davos, et a été précédé par des discussions exploratoires au niveau technique qui ont eu lieu en décembre. Une réunion des parties prenantes est prévue à Bruxelles en février et une consultation publique ainsi qu'une évaluation d'impact sont actuellement en cours. Pour plus d'informations, consultez le blog de la Commissaire Malmström publié aujourd'hui. (Pour plus d'informations: Daniel Rosario - Tél .: + 32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tél .: +32 229 57276)


Des routes meilleures et plus sûres dans le Nord-Ouest de la Roumanie grâce aux investissements de la politique de cohésion

La Commission a approuvé un "grand projet" visant à couvrir les coûts de la rénovation d'une section de la route nationale DN1C entre les villes de Dej et Baia Mare, dans le Nord-Ouest de la Roumanie. Le montant du projet s'élève à 57 millions d'euros venant du Fonds européen de développement régional (FEDER). "Les utilisateurs de cette route bénéficient maintenant de conditions de voyage plus sûres et plus confortables. À long terme, le projet bénéficiera au développement de l'économie locale - tout le monde sait qu'une meilleure connectivité est cruciale pour une région. Cela améliore la qualité des services publics et favorise l'emploi", a déclaré la commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu. Des informations sur les Fonds Structurels et d'Investissement  Européens (Fonds ESI) en Roumanie sont disponibles sur la plateforme Open Data et ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tél.: +32 229 56186; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tél.: +32 229 56169)


4.6 million Euro funding for micro-enterprises in Sweden

Micro-entrepreneurs in Sweden will profit from a new agreement between the European Investment Fund and the credit union KGF. Up to 4.6 million Euro (SEK 45 million) of guarantees and loans will be made available for entrepreneurs who would not have had access to financing otherwise. Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, stated: "Thanks to EU funding about 250 micro-entrepreneurs in Sweden will be able to benefit from loans on preferential terms. They will also receive individual business support such as mentoring and training. This is part of our commitment to fight against social exclusion in Europe and getting more people into jobs, particularly the most vulnerable.” The guarantee scheme is part of the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation and was launched in June 2015. It provides support to financial intermediaries that offer microloans to entrepreneurs or credit to social enterprises that could not gain mainstream financing due to standard risk assessment practices. The scheme is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. Its objective is to increase access to financing for vulnerable groups to develop their own businesses. Further information can be found on the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation website. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


New economic report shows positive economic trends for EU fishing fleet

The economic performance of the EU fleet improved significantly again in 2014, according to the latest Annual Economic Report, published today. Between 2008 and 2014, the EU fleet moved from a loss-making position in 2008 to registering record-high net profits of €770 million in 2014 – up from €500 million in 2013. The EU fleet's gross value added, i.e. the contribution of the fish catching sector to the economy through wages and gross profit, amounted to €3.7 billion in 2014. This represents an 11% increase on the previous year. Forecasts for 2016 remain positive. Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for fisheries and maritime affairs, said: "The positive trend of the last years has resulted in higher salaries for fishermen, bigger profits for the fishing sector, and more value added for the EU's fishing and coastal communities. And it shows that sustainable fishing pays off. As we have seen in last month's Council on fishing opportunities, many quotas can grow if we fish sustainably – motivation for the future." Average salaries in the EU fleet also increased during the period 2008-2014. The improved economic situation is evident as more and more fish stocks are being fished sustainably. That is, in line with Maximum Sustainable Yield, allowing the fishing industry to take the highest amount of fish from the sea while keeping fish stocks healthy. More information available here and infographics available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)


La Commission approuve une nouvelle indication géographique protégée de France

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d'inscription du «Brillat-Savarin» dans le registre des indications géographiques protégées (IGP). Il s'agit d'un fromage à pâte molle fabriqué avec du lait entier de vache et de la crème de lait de vache sur un territoire couvrant 5 départements dans le nord-est de la France (Aube, Côte-d'Or, Saône-et-Loire, Seine-et-Marne, Yonne). La réputation du «Brillat-Savarin» est consécutive de son succès commercial au début des années 1930. C'est Henry Androuët, fromager affineur parisien, qui lui a donné ce nom en hommage au célèbre magistrat, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, auteur de l'ouvrage «Physiologie du Goût» publiée en 1830. Les fromageries situées dans l'aire géographique, maîtrisant historiquement le savoir-faire de production de fromages enrichis en crème, commercialisent dès les années 1960 leurs fromages sous le nom de «Brillat-Savarin». Cette nouvelle appellation va rejoindre plus de 1380 produits déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données DOOR. Pour plus d'informations, voir aussi les pages sur la politique de qualité. (Pour plus d'information: Daniel Rosario – Tel: +32 2 29 56185;Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52 509)


Concentrations: la Commission autorise, sous conditions, l'acquisition de Morpho Detection par Smiths

La Commission européenne a autorisé, en vertu du règlement de l'UE sur les concentrations, le projet de rachat de Morpho Detection, filiale du français Safran dans le secteur des équipements de détection de la menace, par le britannique Smiths. Cette autorisation est subordonnée à la cession de l'activité «Détection de traces d'explosifs» de Morpho Detection. La Commission craignait que l'entité issue de la concentration ne se trouve pas confrontée à une pression concurrentielle suffisante de la part des acteurs restants sur le marché européen de la fourniture de détecteurs de traces d'explosifs aux aéroports et sur le marché mondial de la fourniture de détecteurs de traces d'explosifs à d'autres utilisateurs finals. Pour dissiper les craintes de la Commission en matière de concurrence, Smiths a proposé de céder l'activité mondiale de Morpho Detection dans le secteur de la détection de traces d'explosifs. Cette cession éliminera totalement le chevauchement des activités de détection de traces d'explosifs qui aurait pu résulter de l'opération de concentration telle qu'initialement notifiée. Ces engagements répondent à tous les problèmes de concurrence relevés par la Commission. La décision de la Commission d'autoriser l'opération est subordonnée à la pleine mise en œuvre des engagements souscrits. Un communiqué de presse est disponibles en ligne en FREN et DE(Pour plus d'information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Antitrust: Commission welcomes steps taken by Amazon/Audible and Apple to improve competition in audiobook distribution

The European Commission welcomes an agreement to end all exclusivity obligations concerning audiobook supply and distribution between Amazon's subsidiary Audible and Apple. The removal of these exclusivity obligations will allow for further competition in a fast growing and innovative market and allow European consumers broader access to downloadable audiobooks. The European Commission had been looking into the exclusivity arrangement since it received a complaint from the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels), which objects to various practices used by Audible, including its exclusive supply of audiobooks to Apple's iTunes Store. A substantially similar complaint was submitted by the same association to the German Federal Cartel Office, which opened an investigation against Audible and Apple on 16 November 2015 and also published a press release welcoming the agreement between Amazon and Apple. A full press release is available online in EN,FR and DE(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)


State aid: Commission clears Italian liquidity support guarantee for Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca

The European Commission has found Italian plans to support the access to liquidity of Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca with a state guarantee to be in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the state aid consists of the Italian state providing a guarantee for bonds that the two banks plan to issue. Both banks will pay a fee to the Italian State for the guarantee. The Commission's assessment showed that measure is targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that this liquidity support is in line with EU state aid rules, in particular its 2013 Banking Communication. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case numbers SA.47149 and 47150. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


EUROSTAT: Troisième trimestre 2016 comparé au troisième trimestre 2015 - Le prix des logements en hausse de 3,4% dans la zone euro - En hausse de 4,3% dans l'UE

Le prix des logements, tel que mesuré par l'indice des prix des logements, a augmenté de 3,4% dans la zone euro et de 4,3% dans l'UE au troisième trimestre 2016 par rapport au même trimestre de l'année précédente. Ces données proviennent d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne.Par rapport au deuxième trimestre 2016, les prix des logements ont progressé de 1,3% dans la zone euro et de 1,5% dans l'UE au troisième trimestre 2016. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)  


EUROSTAT: Excédent de 15,8 milliards d'euros des échanges courants de l'UE28 - Excédent de 11,8 milliards d'euros pour la balance des services

Le compte des opérations courantes de la balance des paiements de l'UE28, corrigé des variations saisonnières, a enregistré un excédent de 15,8 milliards d'euros en novembre 2016, contre des excédents de 15,0 mrds en octobre 2016 et de 10,1 mrds en novembre 2015, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. En novembre 2016 par rapport à octobre 2016, basé sur des données corrigées des variations saisonnières, l'excédent du compte des biens s'est accru (+10,3 mrds d'euros, contre +7,0 mrds), tandis que l'excédent du compte des services s'est réduit (+11,8 mrds d'euros, contre +13,6 mrds). L'excédent du compte des revenus primaires a diminué (+0,3 mrd d'euros, contre +0,9 mrd) et le déficit du compte des revenus secondaires s'est légèrement creusé (-6,5 mrds d'euros, contre -6,4 mrds). Sur une période de 12 mois cumulés se finissant en novembre 2016, le compte des opérations courantes a affiché un excédent de 193,0 mrds d'euros, contre +145,8 mrds pour la période de 12 mois jusqu'à novembre 2015. L'excédent du compte des biens s'est accru durant cette même période (+148,7 mrds d'euros, contre +103,1 mrds) et le déficit du compte des revenus primaires s'est réduit (-17,1 mrds d'euros, contre -25,7 mrds). L'excédent du compte des services a diminué (+139,8 mrds d'euros, contre +144,3 mrds) et le déficit du compte des revenus secondaires s'est légèrement creusé (-78,4 mrds, contre -76,0 mrds). Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)  




Towards a European Pillar of Social Rights –Conference brings together governments, civil society and social partners

Following Commissioner Thyssen's statement in the European Parliament plenary debate today on the European Pillar of Social Rights, a further step towards a European Pillar of Social Rights will be taken on Monday 23 January, when more than 500 participants from Member State authorities, EU institutions, social partners and civil society, including more than 20 national ministers and several College Members, will discuss the results of the public consultation on this crucial initiative. Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis stated: ”One thing that the Commission's proposal to set up a European Pillar of Social Rights has made abundantly clear is the broad support for an enhanced social dimension of European integration. The question is how best to guarantee the fairness and sustainability of our social model in a changing and challenging environment.” Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen added: "The consultation has been a ”reality check” to make sure that no-one is left behind by the rapid changes in our societies and the fast-moving world of work. Economic growth and social progress should go hand in hand." Since the announcement of the European Pillar of Social Rights by President Juncker in September 2015, there has been a wide debate with EU authorities, member states, social partners, civil society and citizens on the content and role of the Pillar and how to ensure fairness and social justice in Europe. The Pillar has been conceived as a reference framework to screen the employment and social performance of participating Member States, to drive reforms at national level and, more specifically, to serve as a compass for the renewed process of convergence across Europe. The public consultation discussed first ideas presented by the Commission in March 2016. This public consultation ended at the end of December. The conference is open to accredited journalists who can register at conference reception and by emailing to A press point with Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen is foreseen at 10:30h in the press corner on the ground floor of the Charlemagne building. The conference programme is available here and a live-stream is available on the event-website. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Commissioner Stylianides to visit Serbia on 21-22 January

On 21-22 January Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, will travel to Serbia. The Commissioner will meet Serbian Prime Minister Mr Vučić and Minister of Social Affairs, Government coordinator for Migration Issues Mr Vulin to discuss the humanitarian situation of refugees and migrants and how the EU's humanitarian aid can help. A visit to a reception centre for refugees in the Belgrade area is planned as well as meetings with EU humanitarian partners who are working to deliver aid this winter. "The EU is committed to support Serbia to improve conditions for refugees and migrants. I look forward to discussing in person with the Serbian authorities how we can maximise our humanitarian response at this critical time", said Commissioner Stylianides. The Commission has recently stepped up its humanitarian aid to help with the situation in Serbia, contributing to the provision of emergency assistance such as food, water, hygiene, essential items, health and protection at transit and reception points, including borders waiting areas. Since the beginning of the refugee crisis, both humanitarian aid and pre-accession assistance have been mobilised to help Serbia in this challenge, making the EU the largest donor in this respect. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Commissaire King vendredi à Paris

Julian King, commissaire chargé de l'union de la sécurité, sera à Paris vendredi;  il y rencontrera le Ministre de l'Intérieur, Bruno Le Roux, pour discuter des questions relatives aux défis actuels de la sécurité. Il visitera le centre de lutte contre les criminalités numériques (C3N) du Service Central du renseignement criminel (SCRC) de la gendarmerie nationale où il assistera à une présentation des capacités et outils de très haut niveau du centre. Le Commissaire rencontrera aussi Muriel Domenach, Secrétaire générale du Comité Interministériel de Prévention de la Délinquance et de la Radicalisation (CIPDR) ainsi que Philippe Léglise-Costa, Secrétaire général du Secrétariat général des affaires européennes (SGAE). (Pour plus d'informations: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)


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