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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 17 / 05 / 2017

Brussels, 17 May 2017

State aid: Commission simplifies rules for public investment in ports and airports, culture and the outermost regions

The European Commission has approved today new state aid rules that exempt certain public support measures for ports, airports, culture and the outermost regions from prior Commission scrutiny. The objective is to facilitate public investment for job creation and growth whilst preserving competition. The 2014 'General Block Exemption Regulation' enabled Member States to implement a wide range of State aid measures without prior Commission approval because they are unlikely to distort competition. The Commission has now extended the scope of this Regulation to ports and airports, following two public consultations. As regards airports, Member States can now make public investments in regional airports handling up to 3 million passengers per year with full legal certainty and without prior control by the Commission. With regard to ports, Member States can now make public investments of up to €150 million in sea ports and up to €50 million in inland ports with full legal certainty and without prior control by the Commission. In addition, the Regulation includes a number of new simplifications in other areas, namely culture, multi-purpose sports arenas and EU's outermost regions. The initiative aims to reduce administrative burdens for public authorities and other stakeholders in the context of the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance of EU Legislation (REFIT) agenda. The objective of these initiatives is to further facilitate public investment in support of our common goals on jobs and growth, climate, innovation and social cohesion. The updated Regulation is an additional milestone in the consistent work of the Juncker Commission to make sure that EU state aid rules are applied as effectively and efficiently as possible. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "We want to ensure that companies can compete on equal terms in the Single Market – and we want to do so in the most efficient way. EU state aid rules are the same for all Member States. Today's changes will save them time and trouble when investing in ports and airports, culture and the EU's outermost regions, whilst preserving competition. They also allow the Commission to focus attention on state aid measures that have the biggest impact on competition in the Single Market, to be "big on big things and small on small things" to the benefit of all European citizens." For more information please see the full press release in all languages and the factsheet in EN, FR, DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni  Tel.: +32 229 90526; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


President Juncker addressed the plenary of the European Parliament on the conclusions of the European Council (article 50)

This morning at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, President Juncker recalled the European Council Conclusions from 29 April 2017 and the draft negotiation mandate proposed by the Commission on 3 May. He underlined that "The process shows how united and prepared the European Union will be. It underlines how deep our commitment to transparency already is. The unity which we have demonstrated at the European Council will be our guiding principle throughout the Brexit negotiations". The President also emphasised three important agreements that were concluded on the margins of the special European Council, namely the signature of the cooperation agreement between Europol and Denmark, the agreement reached between Spain and Portugal concerning the Almaraz case and the agreement on the management of flows of persons at the borders between Slovenia and Croatia. "During all three negotiations, the Commission built bridges between sometimes very different positions by encouraging further dialogue until it bore fruit. Without the Commission, these three agreements would not have been possible," President Juncker said. Speaking of the achievements at the half-stage of the Juncker mandate, the President reiterated that "We must use the second half of the mandate of this Commission, (…) to deliver results by focusing on our positive agenda". The full speech is available online. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)


Procédures d'infraction du mois de mai: la Commission prend des mesures en vue d'une mise en œuvre complète, correcte et en temps utile du droit de l'Union dans l'intérêt des citoyens et des entreprises

Pour aider les citoyens et les entreprises à tirer pleinement profit du marché intérieur, la Commission européenne noue un dialogue permanent avec les États membres qui ne respectent pas le droit européen et, au besoin, ouvre des procédures d'infraction à leur égard. Les décisions prises aujourd'hui, dans le cadre des décisions régulières d'infraction, comprennent 24 lettres de mise en demeure, 31 avis motivés et 2 renvois à la Cour de justice de l'UE. Elle clôt également 65 dossiers en cours lorsque l'État membre concerné, en coopération avec la Commission, a résolu le problème et assuré le respect du droit de l'Union et que, dès lors, une saisine de la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne n'est pas nécessaire. Un résumé des principales décisions et les références des communiqués de presse correspondants figurent ici, tant dis que les autres lettres de mise en demeure sont résumées ici. Finalement, les aspects essentiels des procédures d'infraction de l'UE sont énoncés ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Alexander Winterstein  Tel.: +32 229 93265; Uldis Šalajevs – Tel.: +32 229 67560)


SME initiative: thousands of Romanian small businesses to benefit from €246 million of investments under three new agreements

The Commission welcomes the signature of the first three agreements under the Romanian SME Initiative between the European Investment Bank Group and three commercial banks, Raiffeisen Bank, Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR) and ProCredit Bank. With a contribution of €100 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the SME initiative aims to boost the development of Romanian small businesses via new and innovative ways to invest Cohesion Policy funds. Over 4,300 Romanian SMEs, micro companies and start-ups will benefit from improved access to finance under these agreements. They should generate a total of €246 million of funding for small businesses in the country, covering close to half of the target €540 million of total financing available under the Romanian SME initiative programme. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: "I am glad to see the SME initiative delivering for Romanian small businesses. SMEs play a crucial role in the country's and in Europe's economy: they provide jobs to the local community and bring innovative products to the market. By choosing to invest €100 million of its Cohesion Policy envelope in this pioneering programme, Romania has made a smart choice that will boost the competitiveness of its economy and get its businesses the funding they need." A press release is available on the European Investment Fund's website. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


New European Union support for education in Syria

The European Union has again this week renewed its commitment to the right of every human to education, even in the most challenging of circumstances. Under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, the European Union will provide €10 million to support Education Directorates in opposition-held areas in Syria. The European Union's priority is to maintain basic services such as access and quality of education for the Syrian population in the midst of the conflict, especially in areas where sufficient funding is lacking, in order to be ready to assist further once a genuine political transition in the country is underway. European Union funds will help the Education Directorates to meet the basic living needs of the teachers and staff as well as to address issues of access and quality to schooling for up to 450,000 students across up to 2,000 schools. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)


EU grants Sri Lanka improved access to its market as incentive for reform

The EU will remove a significant part of the remaining import duties on Sri Lankan products. This will be in exchange for the country's commitment to effectively implement 27 international conventions that it has ratified on human rights, labour conditions, protection of the environment and good governance. The removal of customs duties will become effective as of Friday, 19 May, and will come under a special arrangement of the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences, known as GSP+. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "Granting GSP+ to Sri Lanka aims to provide the opportunity to develop further economically in a manner that is sustainable. It is also a vote of confidence from the European Union that the Sri Lankan government will maintain the progress it has made in implementing the international conventions. At the same time, no one is pretending that the situation is perfect. The EU will work closely with the government and NGOs to rigorously monitor progress". Sri Lanka had benefited from GSP+ until 2010, when the EU decided to stop the preferences because of human rights violations in the country. The current decision follows the major reforms initiated in the country in 2015. The EU is Sri Lanka's biggest export market, accounting for nearly one-third of Sri Lanka's global exports. Other GSP+ beneficiaries are Armenia, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines. A press release is available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska  Tel.: +32 229 51383)


La Commission approuve trois nouvelles appellations d'origine protégées

La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d'inscription de deux nouveaux vins d'Allemagne et de France et d'un nouveau produit du Royaume-Uni dans le registre des appellations d'origine protégées. Il s'agit premièrement des vins rouges, blancs et rosés "Bürgstadter Berg". Ils proviennent de vignes cultivées dans la zone viticole du même nom située au sud-ouest de la Franconie (Franken), au centre-sud de l'Allemagne. Ensuite, les vins "Terrasses du Larzac", secs et rouges, sont des vins qui présentent des arômes de fruits et d'épices. La récolte des raisins, la vinification, l'élaboration et l'élevage des vins sont assurées dans plusieurs communes du département de l'Hérault dans le sud de la France sur des vignobles protégés des vents du nord par le plateau du Larzac. Enfin, troisième appellation protégée aujourd'hui, le "Welsh Laverbread" est le nom donné à un mets traditionnel gallois élaboré à partir de l'algue nori (appelé laver en anglais), qui est cuite après avoir été récoltée ou «cueillie» sur le littoral gallois. Ces deux nouvelles appellations vont rejoindre plus de 1750 vins déjà protégés dont la liste est disponible dans la base de données e-bacchus. Le "Welsh laverbread", quant à lui, vient s'ah-jouter aux plus de 1390 produits déjà protégés disponibles 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)


State aid: Commission approves fifth prolongation of Irish credit union restructuring scheme

The European Commission has found the prolongation until 31 October 2017 of an Irish scheme aimed at restructuring credit unions to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular the 2013 Banking Communication. The objective of the scheme is to underpin the stability and long-term viability of credit unions and the credit union sector in Ireland at large. Restructuring involves merging weaker and stronger credit unions, providing, if necessary, a capital injection to make up any shortfall in the capital reserve requirements of the merged credit union. Stabilisation involves assisting fundamentally viable credit unions that have temporarily slipped below the regulatory reserve requirements. The Commission found that the measure ensures that the beneficiaries become viable in the long-term through restructuring or merging with sound credit unions, and that they contribute to the cost of restructuring. Moreover, the impact on competition is limited because credit unions are small and only do business with members. The Commission first authorised the scheme in October 2014, and it was subsequently prolonged four times, last in October 2017.  Until now, the Irish authorities have managed to restructure credit unions without granting any aid under this scheme. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.48099. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni  Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control of Amaggi & LDC Holding S.A.

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Amaggi & LDC Holding S.A. (the "joint venture") of Brazil, by Zen-Noh of Japan, Louis Dreyfus Company B.V. of the Netherlands and the Amaggi group of Brazil. The joint venture is currently jointly controlled by Louis Dreyfus Company B.V. and Amaggi, each holding 50% of the voting rights. The joint venture originates and commercialises soybeans and corn produced in Brazil, as well as renders services of storage, elevation, and the loading of agricultural commodities. In the European Economic Area (EEA), the joint venture is only active in the wholesale of soybeans. Zen-Noh markets agricultural and livestock products produced by its members, and supplies them with necessary materials such as feed and fertilizers. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the joint venture has negligible activities in the EEA and the transaction will not change the current structure of the soybean market segment. 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.8410. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni  Tel.: +32 229 90526)


EUROSTAT: Le taux d'inflation annuel de la zone euro en hausse à 1,9%

Le taux d'inflation annuel de la zone euro s'est établi à 1,9% en avril 2017, contre 1,5% en mars. Un an auparavant, il était de -0,2%. Le taux d'inflation annuel de l'Union européenne s'est établi à 2,0% en avril 2017, contre 1,6% en mars. Un an auparavant, il était de -0,2%. Ces chiffres sont publiés par Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. Les taux annuels les plus faibles ont été observés en Roumanie (0,6%), en Irlande (0,7%) ainsi qu'en Slovaquie (0,8%). Les taux annuels les plus élevés ont été enregistrés en Estonie (3,6%), en Lituanie (3,5%) et en Lettonie (3,3%). Par rapport à mars 2017, l'inflation annuelle a baissé dans six États membres, est restée stable dans trois et a augmenté dans dix-neuf autres. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Juliana Dahl – Tel.: +32 229 59914)


EUROSTAT: La production dans le secteur de la construction en baisse de 1,1% dans la zone euro

En mars 2017 par rapport à février 2017, la production dans le secteur de la construction, corrigée des variations saisonnières, a reculé de 1,1% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,8% dans l'UE28, selon les premières estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. En février 2017, la production dans le secteur de la construction avait progressé de 5,5% dans la zone euro et de 3,9% dans l'UE28. En mars 2017 par rapport à mars 2016, la production dans le secteur de la construction a augmenté de 3,6% dans la zone euro et de 3,7% dans l'UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)





20 films soutenus par MEDIA seront présentés au Festival de Cannes 2017 qui fête ses 70 ans

La 70ème édition du Festival international de cinéma de Cannes ouvre ses portes aujourd'hui avec le film du réalisateur français Arnaud Desplechin Les Fantômes d'Ismaël, soutenu par le programme Europe Créative - MEDIA. Sept autres films soutenus par MEDIA pour une enveloppe totale de 1,15 million d'euros seront en compétition cette année pour remporter la Palme d'Or: Rodin de Jacques Doillon (une coproduction franco-belge), Happy End de Michael Haneke (une coproduction française, autrichienne et allemande), Le Redoutable du réalisateur français Michel Hazanavicius, Une femme douce (Krotkaya) de Sergeï Loznitsa (une coproduction française, allemande et lituanienne), La lune de Jupiter (Jupiter holdja) de Kornel Mandruczo (une coproduction hungaro-allemande), The Square de Ruben Östlund, (une coproduction suédoise, allemande, française et danoise) et Mise à mort du cerf sacré (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) de Yorgos Lanthimos (une coproduction irlando-britannique). Douze autres films soutenus par MEDIA seront présentés dans d'autres sélections du festival. Le vice-président Andrus Ansip, chargé du marché unique du numérique, a déclaré: « Le nombre de films nominés en ce 70ème anniversaire du Festival de Cannes illustre encore une fois la richesse et la diversité du cinéma européen ainsi que le rôle joué par le programme MEDIA dans le développement et la diffusion des films. Alors que MEDIA est appelé à se moderniser pour s'adapter aux développements de l'ère numérique, la Stratégie pour un marché unique du numérique vise notamment à marier la culture avec de nouveaux modes d'accès, à l'image de la portabilité des contenus qui permettra bientôt aux abonnés de voyager dans l'UE avec leurs films, leur musique, leurs jeux vidéo ou encore leurs livres électroniques préférés ». Comme chaque année, le Forum Européen du Film organise à Cannes l'une des principales séances de rencontres avec les cinéastes. Point clé de l'agenda 2017: un débat sur les priorités du programme MEDIA après 2020. Par ailleurs, cette année, les gagnants du concours sur les films européens sont attendus les 23 et 24 mai sur la Croisette, où ils pourront visiter le Marché du film, rencontrer des professionnels ou encore assister à la projection d'un film sélectionné à la Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. (Pour plus d'informations : Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083 ; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)


Commissioner Thyssen participates in G20 Ministerial meeting of Labour and Employment Ministers

On Thursday and Friday, 18 and 19 May, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will participate in the G20 Ministerial meeting of Labour and Employment Ministers, taking place in Bad Neuenahr, Germany. This year's edition is entitled "Towards an Inclusive Future – Shaping the World of Work" and will address several topics such as the future of work, the quality of female employment, labour-market integration of migrants and refugees and sustainable global supply chains. The G20 Ministerial presents an excellent opportunity for Labour and Employment Ministers of G20 countries to exchange views. Commissioner Thyssen will use the occasion to present the European Pillar of Social Rights and its accompanying initiatives such as the Work-Life Balance initiative, as well as touch upon issues such as skills, digitalisation and labour market integration. She will also visit an on-site programme on Youth and Quality Apprenticeships at ThyssenKrupp Rasselstein, at the invitation of German Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Andrea Nahles. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Commissioner Navracsics on visit to Romania

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, travels to Romania today where he will hold a Citizens' Dialogue on youth and the future of Europe alongside Romania's former Chief-Negotiator with the EU, Vasile Pușcaș, professor at the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj. The Citizen's Dialogue can be followed live at 17:30 CET on Facebook and Twitter. Tomorrow, the Commissioner will deliver a keynote speech at the 62nd Congress of the Federal Union of European Nationalities in Cluj-Napoca on the contribution of the autochthonous minorities to European cultural heritage. During his visit to Romania, Commissioner Navracsics will also visit Bonchida Castle – a project supported by Creative Europe. He will also hand over an EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra award for dedicated service to Zoltán Kallós for his work on compiling collections of music, dance, storytelling and crafts of the Hungarian, Romanian, Saxon and Roma communities of Transylvania in Romania for over 70 years. Mr Kallós also received Europa Nostra's this year's Public Choice Award. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)


EuropeanCommission appoints four Directors and a Principal Adviser

The European Commission has appointed Mr Stefaan Hermans as Director for Policy Strategy and Evaluation, and Ms Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot as Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+, both in its department for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC). The Commission also decided to appoint Mr Dominik Schnichels as Director for Investigations in the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Mr John Watson as Director for Smart Regulation and Work Programme in the Secretariat-General (SG), and Mr Fabrizio Donatella as Principal Adviser for Development of Fisheries Law in its department for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE). Mr Stefaan Hermans, a Belgian national, joined the Commission in 1994 and first became Head of Unit in 2008. Since November 2014, he was Head of the office of Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen. Ms Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot, a Swedish national, joined the Commission in 1996 and first became Head of Unit in 2013. In 2012, she worked in the office of the former Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou. Currently, she is serving as Acting Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+ in DG EAC. Mr Dominik Schnichels, a German national, joined the Commission in 1995 and first became Head of Unit in 2008. He is currently Head of unit for Pharmaceuticals, Health technology assessments and substances of human origin in the department of Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE). Mr John Watson, an Irish national, joined the Commission in 1995. In 2008, he became Head of Unit for Better Regulation and subsequently for Policy Co-ordination at the SG. Since 2014 he has been the Commission Representative in the meetings of the Permanent Representatives of the Member States Governments to the European Union (COREPER I). Mr Fabrizio Donatella, an Italian national, joined the Commission in 1992. In 2006, he became a Head of Unit and has since then been dealing with various matters related to EU maritime affairs and fisheries policy. Currently, Mr Donatella is leading the team in charge of Fisheries Control and Inspections at DG MARE. The appointments of Mr Stefaan Hermans, Ms Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot and Mr Fabrizio Donatella will take effect immediately, while Mr Dominik Schnichels and Mr John Watson will be appointed as of 16 June and 1 July 2017, respectively. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)


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


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