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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 27 / 02 / 2017

Brussels, 27 February 2017

Trade agreements boost the EU agri-food sector

Commissioner Hogan presented today in a press conference a new study demonstrating the positive effects of three trade agreements in place – Mexico, South Korea and Switzerland – on the agriculture sector. As Commissioner Hogan said: "These three agreements alone have increased EU agri-food exports by more than €1 billion and have raised value-added in the agri-food sector by €600 million. Just as importantly, this increase in exports has supported thousands of jobs in total across the EU, most of which in the agri-food sector, including in primary agriculture. These figures are clear evidence that ambitious and balanced trade deals work for European food and farming." Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström also commented the recent findings: "Trade deals, done right, are a force for good for our farmers and food producers. This study also gives important input on how we can continue to cut unnecessary red tape and get rid of barriers in our trade negotiations going forward." The study underlines the importance of closely following the trade negotiations of the EU's main competitors to make sure that the EU does not fall behind in access conditions to important markets for agri-food products. The study also emphasises the importance of EU promotion and information campaigns in helping EU exporters access new markets and grow their businesses in existing markets. The EU remains the first exporter worldwide of agri-food products and the latest figures have shown that a surplus of €18.8 billion the agri-food sector contributes almost half of the overall surplus of the European Union in merchandise trade, which stood at €39.3 billion in 2016. A press release is online in all languages. A memo on the study is also available here. The full study can be read here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

 

Quel est le niveau de compétitivité de votre région? La Commission publie l'indice de compétitivité régionale 2016

La Commission a publié aujourd'hui la troisième édition de l'indice de compétitivité régionale pour 263 régions de l'UE, une étude qui apporte des informations utiles aux régions en vue de stimuler leurs performances économiques. La nouveauté de cette édition est l'outil en ligne interactif, qui permet d'effectuer une analyse et une comparaison plus détaillées de chaque région, soit par rapport aux régions ayant un PIB par habitant comparable, soit par rapport à l'ensemble des régions de l'UE. Les utilisateurs peuvent désormais plus facilement savoir à quel niveau se situe leur région en matière d'innovation, de gouvernance, detransport et d'infrastructure numérique, de santé ou de capital humain. L'outil vise aussi à aider les régions à déterminer leurs points forts, leurs faiblesses et les priorités d'investissement lors de l'élaboration de leurs stratégies de développement. "Cet indice est un outil précieux pour améliorer l'élaboration des politiques. Il vient renforcer les efforts déployés par la Commission pour soutenir les réformes structurelles et stimuler les capacités d'innovation des régions de l'UE par des investissements effectués au titre de la politique de cohésion," a déclaré la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu. Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Jakub Adamowicz - Tél.: +32 229 50595; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)

 

L'Union européenne renforce son soutien au Burkina-Faso avec 117 millions d'euros pour la sécurité alimentaire

La Commission européenne soutiendra le secteur de la sécurité alimentaire, de l'agriculture et de la résilience au Burkina Faso avec une Convention de financement de 117 millions d'euro signé aujourd'hui à Ouagadougou par le Directeur Général du développement Stefano Manservisi. Cet appui s'inscrit dans le cadre des 800 millions d'euros annoncés par le Commissaire européen pour la Coopération internationale et le Développement Neven Mimica le 7 décembre 2016 à Paris, lors de la Conférence internationale organisée par le Burkina Faso. Le Commissaire Mimica a fait la déclaration suivante: "Deux mois et demi après la conférence des donateurs de Paris, nous signons aujourd'hui un programme de 117 millions d'euros, en faveur de la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle. Ce nouvel appui budgétaire permettra au Gouvernement du Faso de poursuivre la mise en œuvre de son Plan National de Développement que l'Union européenne accompagne à hauteur de 800 millions d'euros. Tout doit être fait pour que la population bénéficie rapidement des dividendes de la démocratie. Je suis satisfait que l'Union européenne ait tenu sa promesse d'accélérer la mise en œuvre de nos projets, comme je  l'avais moi-même annoncé lors de ma visite au pays en février dernier." Ce soutien européen accompagnera la politique du Gouvernement en matière d'agriculture et d'élevage, avec un accent particulier sur la lutte contre la malnutrition chronique. Le communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229-65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Commissioner Malmström to address stakeholder conference on Multilateral Investment Court initiative

The Commission's work to establish a Multilateral Investment Court will reach another milestone today, when a live-streamed stakeholder event addressed by Commissioner Malmström kicks off in Brussels. Over 130 stakeholders are scheduled to attend, including representatives from trade unions, business organisations, consumer organisations, law firms, and academics. The event – which is part of the ongoing impact assessment and public consultation – will be an opportunity to exchange views with interested stakeholders, as well as to present in-depth the ongoing work on multilateral reform of investment dispute resolution. This work aims to replace the current system of ad-hoc investment tribunals – currently included in around 3200 bilateral investment treaties of countries around the world - with a permanent and multilateral court to handle state-investor disputes.  The setting up of such a court is a priority for the Commission, and the objective to engage with partners to build consensus for a fully-fledged permanent Multilateral Investment Court was already included in the Commission's 2015 Trade for All Communication. Today's meeting follows inter-governmental discussions at Ministerial level co-hosted by Commissioner Malmström and Canadian Minister Champagne in Davos in January, as well as technical discussions which took place in Geneva in December. The EU and Canada also agreed in CETA to "work expeditiously towards the creation of the Multilateral Investment Court". Today's event is scheduled to start at 14:30, and will be live-streamed here. More information on the stakeholder conference is available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin - Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Commission ensures a fair deal for researchers taking part in Horizon 2020

The European Commission has today, with retroactive effect, introduced changes to the EU research and innovation funding programme, Horizon 2020, to ensure that researchers working on EU-funded projects are paid at least as much as on national projects. The Commission pledged to address the issue as soon as it became aware that the different salary concept under Horizon 2020 and national legislation had some unintended side effects on researchers in some countries with a low basic salary. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "A solution to this serious issue has been found, facilitating the participation of all EU researchers in Horizon 2020 projects. It will contribute to the narrowing of the salary differences between researchers in EU-funded projects, and eventually help countries retain their best talents. This proves how much importance we give to spreading excellence and closing the innovation divide." The Commission has today adjusted the salary concept in the Horizon 2020 Model Grant Agreement, putting it in line with national practice. The new measures will apply retroactively to all on-going Horizon 2020 grants. More details here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 473 865656)

 

Capital Markets Union: European Commission issues report on tackling national barriers to spur cross-border investment [updated on 27/02/2017]

The European Commission has today adopted a report looking at how to tackle national barriers with a view to fostering the flow of cross-border investments in the EU. The report, which is based on the work of a group of national financial experts, identifies national hurdles, such as withholding tax procedures, residence requirements imposed on the management of financial institutions and a lack of financial literacy. The ECOFIN Council in 2015 supported the Commission in this exercise and called for a roadmap to tackle the most damaging national barriers. Today's report proposes such a roadmap and calls on the Member States to endorse it and take action. The report chimes with Commission efforts to create integrated financial markets in the EU as part of its Capital Markets Union. It will feed into work to create clear, predictable and stable environment that allows for more investment and a more efficient allocation of capital. (For more information: Vanessa Mock –Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini - Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of the Technology Solutions business of Avnet by Tech Data

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the Technology Solutions business of Avnet, Inc. ("Avnet TS"), by Tech Data Corporation ("Tech Data"), both of the US.  Avnet TS and Tech Data are both distributors of information technology ("IT") products. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, given the relatively limited overlaps between the parties' activities and the presence of several other players active in the distribution of IT products. 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.8248. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

STATEMENTS

 

Statement by Commissioner Avramopoulos on the adoption by the Council of the strengthened visa suspension mechanism

Today, the Council adopted the Commission's proposal to revise the visa suspension mechanism to allow the European Union to react much more quickly and in a more flexible manner to a situation of a strong migratory pressure or an increased risk to the internal security. Commenting on the adoption of the visa suspension mechanism Commissioner Avramopoulos said: "I strongly welcome today's endorsement by the Council of the Commission's proposal to reinforce the visa suspension mechanism and ensure stronger safeguards for our visa policy. The revised mechanism will significantly strengthen and increase the effectiveness of the EU's visa liberalisation policy by allowing us to react quickly if a situation arises which could lead to a substantial increase in irregular migration or an increased risk to the internal security of Member States. With today's final adoption, we have together succeeded in making the suspension mechanism a more effective instrument for our common visa policy thanks to a flexible approach and a proportionate reaction in cases where a temporary suspension of visa-free travel is justified. In parallel, the new procedure will also allow us to maintain a strong dialogue and cooperation with visa-free third countries, with the objective of safeguarding and strengthening visa-free travel to the EU for its citizens". The full statement by Commissioner Avramopoulos is available here and Questions and Answers on the revised suspension mechanism here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 299 63444)

 

Commissioner Avramopoulos in Tbilisi, Georgia to welcome the Council adoption of visa liberalisation for Georgia

Today, in Tbilisi Georgia, Commissioner Avramopouloshas welcomed the adoption by the Council of the Commission's proposal for visa liberalisation for Georgia. During his visit, Commissioner Avramopoulos has met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili. A joint press conference with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili took place at 13:30 (local time) and will be available on EbS. This morning, commenting on the adoption of the visa liberalisation for Georgia, Commissioner Avramopoulos said: "I am very pleased with today's final endorsement by the Council of the Commission proposal to grant visa liberalisation to Georgia. Today is a historic day for Georgia and its citizens, who will soon be able to enjoy visa free travel to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days. Today's adoption recognises the tremendous efforts undertaken by the Georgian authorities and the Georgian people to carry out far-reaching and difficult reforms in the area of the rule of law and the justice system. These reforms also bring Georgia closer to the EU standards, facilitating cooperation with the European Union and bringing the country a step forward on its European path". The full statement by Commissioner Avramopoulos is available here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 299 63444)

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Industrial competitiveness at the core of First European Industry Day

Industry is at the heart of the Commission's political priorities, and all its policies are geared to support industrial competitiveness. For Europe's industry to remain strong, it needs to successfully embrace and address major disrupting opportunities and challenges: digitisation, energy and resource efficient technologies, automation, artificial intelligence, a higher reliance on services. Tomorrow, the Commission will debate with more than 400 industrial players, global trend shapers and high-level policy makers how we can ensure a modern and clean industry that invests, innovates and prospers in Europe. The European Industry Day, held in Brussels, will start with a video message by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, followed by an opening speech by Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska (Internal Market, Industry, SMEs and Entrepreneurship) from 9am. Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen (Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness), and Commissioner Carlos Moedas (Research and Innovation) will also deliver keynote speeches at the event. You can follow live the highpoints of the day on EbS+ and find more information and programme here. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 473 865656)

 

Commissioner Stylianides in Copenhagen to discuss Denmark's strong role in EU humanitarian and civil protection response

On Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 February, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is visiting Copenhagen, Denmark. The Commissioner will visit the crisis centre of the Danish Emergency Management Agency to discuss the contribution of Denmark to the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism.Denmark recently provided assistance via the mechanism for the Hurricane in Haiti. During the visit, he will also meet withState Secretary for defense, Mr. Thomas Ahrenkiel to discuss the role of civil protection and disaster risk reduction strategies. He will also meet humanitarian NGOs. On Tuesday Commissioner Stylianides will address the Danish Parliament about the Commission's priorities in humanitarian aid and civil protection. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

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

MEX/17/366


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