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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 03 / 03 / 2017

Brussels, 3 March 2017

How digital is your country? Europe improves but still needs to close digital gap

The European Commission presents today the results of the 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), a tool summarising the performance of the 28 Member States in a wide range of areas, from connectivity and digital skills to the digitisation of businesses and public services. The 2017 DESI shows that the EU is making progress but the gap between top digital players and lower-performing countries is still too wide. More efforts and investments are needed to make the most of the Digital Single Market. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "Europe is gradually becoming more digital but many countries need to step up their efforts. All Member States should invest more to fully benefit from the Digital Single Market. We do not want a two-speed digital Europe. We should work together to make the EU a digital world leader." Overall Europeans are getting more digital but the picture varies across Member States. Improvements can be seen across the EU in all areas: connectivity is advancing, the EU has more digital specialists than before, Europeans use more public services online and businesses are more digital. However, in all dimensions there is room for improvement, as the progress made is insufficient to address future needs. In terms of ranking, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands lead the DESI this year followed by Luxembourg, Belgium, the UK, Ireland, Estonia, and Austria. Slovakia and Slovenia are the EU countries which have progressed the most. Despite some improvements, several Member States including Poland, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, are still lagging behind in their digital development compared to the EU average. More information is available in our press release and MEMO. Specific country profiles can be checked here. The main results of this year's DESI will be presented by Vice-President Ansip at around 12.30 CET, livestream on EbS. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund - Tel.: +32 229 50698)


Plan d'investissement pour l'Europe : nouveau financement du Plan Juncker dans le secteur du Très Haut Débit Fixe

La Banque européenne d'investissement (BEI) et le Groupe Iliad ont annoncé la mise en place d'un financement de 200 millions d'euros pour le déploiement des réseaux Très Haut Débit Fixe (FTTH) en France. Cette opération a bénéficié du soutien du Fonds européen pour les investissements stratégiques (EFSI), qui constitue l'élément central du plan d'investissement pour l'Europe, appelé plus communément Plan Juncker. D'un montant de 200 millions d'euros, le financement de la BEI a pour objectif  de soutenir  le déploiement du réseau de fibres optiques reposant sur la technologie d'accès FTTH (Fiber To The Home ou fibre jusqu'à l'abonné) sur l'ensemble du territoire français jusqu'en 2018. A l'issue du projet à la fin 2018, ce sont près de 9 millions de foyers supplémentaires qui pourront bénéficier du FTTH. En plus de la qualité de l'offre, le projet aura des répercussions économiques très positives sur les territoires, notamment  en termes de productivité et de création d'emploi. Le vice-président de la Commission européenne pour l'emploi, la croissance, l'investissement et la compétitivité, M. Jyrki Katainen, a déclaré: «Le Plan d'Investissement contribue à poser les bases d'une augmentation de la productivité et de la croissance en France et en Europe. Notre stratégie numérique reconnaît que l'Europe a besoin d'accès internet ultra-rapide disponible partout à des prix compétitifs. Cet accord démontre à quel point l'EFSI participe à réaliser nos objectifs stratégiques plus vastes en octroyant à sept millions de ménages le bénéfice d'un accès internet amélioré.» (Plus d'informations ici: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)


EU support helps 2,500 refugee and migrant children attend Greek schools

The European Commission has funded a special education programmethat has helped 2,500 refugee and migrant children get back to school in Greece. The project is carried out by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which receives funding from the EU's Emergency Support Instrument. “Giving refugee children an education is one of our priorities with our EU support in Greece. Thousands of children are being given a chance for a better future. The European Commission is committed to working in close collaboration with the Greek authorities and humanitarian organisations to continue to improve the conditions of refugees and migrants in the country,” said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. Following the adoption of a new legal framework by the Greek Parliament in August 2016, access to education for refugee children of school-going age has improved significantly. Through the IOM project, the Commission is helping the Greek authorities by co-financing the transport of children to schools and the distribution of school kits with a total of €2.8 million in EU Emergency Support. This comes on top of other support to informal education activities to over 9,000 refugee children in Greece. The total amount of overall EU support for managing migration in Greece currently stands at over €1 billion. A factsheet is available with an overview of EU funded projects for refugees in Greece. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Commission launches public consultation on whistleblower protection

The European Commission launches today a public consultation on whistleblower protection. Vera Jourová: “Whistleblowers can play a crucial role when it comes to fighting money laundering, fraud or corruption. We have to weigh carefully what is the best way forward and on which level we should act to better protect them. This public consultation will be valuable for the Commission to make well-informed choices. This is an important issue and we have to get it right.” The protection of whistleblowers can contribute to safeguarding the public interest, promoting good governance and strengthening the rule of law, as well as our core democratic right to freedom of expression. There are already strong protection mechanisms built into EU law in certain key areas, ranging from audit and money laundering rules to trade secrets, market abuse, capital requirements and other instruments regulating financial services. The public consultation seeks to collect views from a broad range of stakeholders, as well as the general public, on the issue of whistleblower protection at national and EU level. As announced in the 2017 Commission work programme, the Commission is currently assessing the scope for horizontal or further sectorial action at EU level to strengthen whistleblower protection, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity. The results of the public consultation will feed into this work. The consultation is available here and will be open until 29 May 2017. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Commission adopts updated EU-US agreement on mutual recognition of inspections of medicine manufacturers

The European Commission and the United States Food and Drug Administration have adopted an agreement to mutually recognise inspections of premises where medicines are produced. With this update of the 1998 Agreement on good manufacturing practices, EU and US regulatory authorities will be able to rely on each other's information as regards facilities in the EU or US that manufacture medicines and active pharmaceutical ingredients for the European and American markets. The agreement will not affect the process of approving medicines, as it focuses only on inspections of manufacturing sites. The enhanced cooperation with US regulatory authorities will improve the EU's ability to identify and address problems at factories before they become a public health risk. It will also reduce the administrative burdens and costs facing pharmaceutical manufacturers, including smaller producers. The updated agreement is a result of successful cooperation between the European Commission, the European Medicines Agency and the US Food and Drug Administration. It now enters into force following the signature by both Parties, while the recognition of inspections can apply as early as November of this year. The full text of the agreement is available here (also available in DE and FR).(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of OFFICEFIRST by Blackstone

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control by The Blackstone Group, L.P. ("Blackstone") of the USA over OFFICEFIRST Immobilien AG ("OFFICEFIRST") of Germany. OFFICEFIRST is the owner of a commercial real estate portfolio in Germany. This comprises mainly office spaces, while some properties are related to other types of use such as hotels, parking spaces or storage. Blackstone is a global asset manager with offices in Europe and Asia. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because of its limited impact on the market structure. 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.8221. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Eurostat: Janvier 2017 comparé à décembre 2016 - le volume des ventes du commerce de détail en baisse de 0,1% dans la zone euro - en hausse de 0,1% dans l'UE28

En janvier 2017 par rapport à décembre 2016, le volume des ventes du commerce de détail corrigé des variations saisonnières a diminué de 0,1% dans la zone euro (ZE19), tandis qu'il a augmenté de 0,1% dans l'UE28, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. En décembre, le commerce de détail avait reculé de 0,5% dans la zone euro et de 1,0% dans l'UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)





Vice-President Dombrovskis visits Lithuania

Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis is in Vilnius, Lithuania today, where he is holding a number of meetings to discuss economic and social developments in the country as part of his regular visits to Member States in the context of the European Semester. He is meeting with the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė; Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis; Speaker of the Seimas, Viktoras Pranckietis; Minister for Economy, Mindaugas Sinkevičius; and Minister for Finance, Vilius Šapoka. He will also deliver a keynote address at the conference “Destination – successful Lithuania: how to encourage investments, sustainable growth and social welfare.” His visit to Vilnius comes in the context of his regular dialogue with Member States, national parliaments, social partners and other stakeholders involved in shaping economic, social and financial policies. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)



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