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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 24 / 11 / 2017

Brussels, 24 November 2017

5th Eastern Partnership Summit set to consolidate strong ties

The 5th Eastern Partnership Summit kicked off this morning in Brussels with leaders focussing on the way in which the initiative - which brings together the EU institutions, the 28 EU Member States, and the six Eastern partner countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine – can continue to be a Partnership of added value for citizens across the continent. "I expect that the relationship between our neighbours and the European Union will be consolidated", said the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker upon arrival to the Summit. Ahead of the Summit, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn said: "It is in the EU's interest for its neighbours to have peace, stability and prosperity. The way to do this is through strong partnerships, to support our neighbours in their reform efforts, and to focus on bringing real and concrete results that are positively felt by ordinary people. Results so far show that we are doing this, and today will be a time to make sure this trend continues." Leaders will discuss a forward-looking agenda, the 20 deliverables for 2020, which span the four focus areas of the Eastern Partnership: stronger economies; stronger governance; stronger connectivity; and stronger societies. They will also look back on a number of significant achievements since the last Summit in Riga (May 2015) and take forward a number of agreements with the individual partner countries. President Juncker will, together with President Tusk and the Prime Minister of Estonia, Jüri Ratas, hold a joint press conference at 15:30, which will be live on EbS. A number of factsheets are available on the Summit website. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Maja Kocijančič – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski - Tel.: +32 229 89359; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


Energy Union - the year of engagement

The Third Report on the State of the Energy Union shows that Europe's transition to a low-carbon society is becoming the new reality on EU's ground. The Third State of the Energy Union Report published today tracks the progress made over the past year after the publication of the Second State of the Energy Union in February 2017 and looks forward to the year ahead. The Third Report on State of the Energy Union also confirms that energy transition is not possible without adapting the infrastructure to the needs of the future energy system. To address this, the Commission today adopted a Communication on the 2030 electricity interconnection target of 15%. It also adopted the third list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI). Commenting on the report Maroš Šefčovič, the Vice-President responsible for the Energy Union, said: "The Energy Union will only succeed if we all pull in the same direction. The aim is to deliver on our commitment to complete the Energy Union by the end of the Commission's current mandate. By 2019, the Energy Union must no longer be a policy but a daily reality benefitting every European citizen. This will require increased ownership by all parts of society. Therefore, I see the next year as the year of engagement". Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said: "Europe's energy transition is well underway, with record levels of renewable energy and rapidly falling costs. But Europe's energy infrastructure must develop in the same direction and with the same speed to fully support this energy transition. That's why we are proposing to focus the new list of projects on key electricity interconnections and smart grids. Today's steps to boost clean energy infrastructure are another important move towards making our energy system more sustainable, more competitive and more secure – providing genuine European added value". The full press release is available online in all languages. The MEMO on PCIs is available online in EN, FR, DE.(For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


La Commissaire Bulc à Varsovie pour le lancement de projets de transport d'une valeur de 800 million d'euros

La Commissaire en charge des Transports Violeta Bulc est aujourd'hui à Varsovie où elle a ouvert une conférence sur le thème des investissements de transport. Durant cette conférence, la Commission a officiellement lancé 10 nouveaux projets pour la Pologne qui recevront un total de 800 millions d'euros du budget européen, dans le cadre du Mécanisme pour l'Interconnexion en Europe (MIE). Ces projets amélioreront les infrastructures, ferroviaires en particulier, et encourageront la transition vers une mobilité à faible émission. Ils stimuleront en outre l'investissement à des fins de création d'emplois, ce qui est une priorité de la Commission Juncker. La Pologne est le principal bénéficiaire du MIE pour la période 2014-2020, avec un total de 4.2 milliards d'euros soutenant 41 projets. La Commissaire Bulc a déclaré à ce sujet, "Avec les 10 projets lancés aujourd'hui, le MIE offre à nouveaux des résultats concrets pour la Pologne. C'est une excellente nouvelle pour les Polonais qui bénéficieront d'un transport plus rapide et respectueux de l'environnement. Je suis également ravie que l'Union Européenne joue un tel rôle dans les progrès effectués par la Pologne en matière d'infrastructure. Nous devons maintenant construire sur ces succès pour préparer les défis de mobilité et d'investissement de demain". Plus d'information est disponible ici. Aujourd'hui, la Commissaire s'est également entretenue avec un certain nombre de membres du gouvernement polonais. Ensemble, ils ont discuté des dossiers actuels, et plus particulièrement des paquets mobilité présentés par la Commission en Mai et Novembre de cette année. (Pour plus de renseignements: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

EU protecting the rights and safety of women migrant workers in South East Asia with €25 million

The Commission launched a new regional programme to make labour migration safe and fair for all women migrants in South East Asia. This programme is part of the new EU-UN "Spotlight Initiative" to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls worth €500 million. With a financial support of over €25 million, the new programme "Safe and Fair" will contribute to improving the labour migration conditions for women in the ASEAN region. Together with UN Women and the International Labour Organization, the EU will work with governments, community-based organisations, civil society and service providers to improve labour laws, access to information and services, and ultimately prevent and put an end to violence and trafficking of women and girls. The programme will also aim at improving data and knowledge on the rights and contributions of women migrant workers. Through targeted awareness raising campaigns, the EU will actively promote the change in attitudes of relevant stakeholders to ensure safety, well-being and fair treatment of women migrant workers in the region. "Our Spotlight Initiative is a movement without precedent in the global fight to end violence against women and girls", Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica commented. "With Safe and Fair programme we want to empower female migrant workers in the ASEAN region so that they become less vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking, violence and abuse. Through our €25 million contribution, and in cooperation with our international and local partners, we are investing in a brighter future that fully respects and protects all women and girls." The programme was officially launched at the occasion of the ASEAN-EU Dialogue on Sustainable Development in Bangkok, Thailand, on 17 November 2017, ahead of the International Day on the elimination of violence against women on 25 November. Read the full press release here. (for more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


REFIT Platform continues its work to make EU law more effective and efficient

Meeting today for its annual Plenary meeting, the Commission's REFIT Platform has adopted a further 11 Opinions, with concrete suggestions on how to make existing EU law more effective and efficient in delivering our ambitious policy objectives for European citizens. Cohesion Policy was one of the main areas of focus, and the meeting, chaired by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, also benefitted from the contribution of former Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, who now chairs the High-Level Group on Simplification for beneficiaries of EU structural and investment funds. Other issues featured in the recommendations from the REFIT Platform today include the clarification of divergent national rules on copyright levies, the SME test, the Consumer Rights Directive, and, the Citizenship Directive. Today's REFIT Platform Opinions bring the total number of recommendations made to the Commission to 69. The Commission analyses all the REFIT Platform's recommendations and explains how it intends to follow them up, including through its annual Work Programme. All the Opinions can be found on the REFIT Platform website, and a video on the Platform's role is available here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel. +32 229 58602)


Migration and border management: Commission awards additional €40 million in emergency funding to support Italy

The European Commission has today awarded €39.92 million in emergency assistance to support Italy in better managing the migratory flows from the Central Mediterranean Route. With the additional support, the Commission is delivering on the commitment made on 4 July 2017 in its Action Plan to support Italy, reduce migratory pressure and increase solidarity. Commenting on funding decision, EU Migration Commissioner Avramopoulos said: "With this decision, the European Commission once again delivers on its commitment to support Italy in its efforts to provide humanitarian support to migrants and refugees rescued in the Central Mediterranean.  Italy is one of the countries most affected by migration flows due to its geographical position, but the problem is not Italian, it is global. The European Union is founded on the principles of solidarity and sharing of responsibility which is why Italy can count on our support in its response to migration."  Channelled through 11 projects, the funding will contribute to improving services provided to migrants and asylum seekers including medical assistance, interpretation and inter-cultural mediation in the hotspots and other arrival areas. Financial support will also be provided for human resources and equipment in existing and future reception centres as well as additional support for the authorities responsible for sea border surveillance and search and rescue. The assistance will also fund the provision of specialised equipment for security checks and equipment to address smuggling and trafficking in human beings. Additionally, the Commission is currently evaluating an additional project proposal submitted by the Italian authorities for assistance for vulnerable migrants, such as victims of trafficking and unaccompanied minors. The €39.92 million awarded today brings the total emergency assistance made available by the Commission to Italy under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security Fund (ISF) to €189 million. This comes on top of the €634.25 million already allocated to Italy under the 2014-2020 national programmes under the home affairs funds (€381.49 million from AMIF and €252.76 million from ISF). A factsheet on EU financial support to Italy to manage migration is available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 2 296 74 56, Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Thomas Kramer – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


State aid: Commission approves joint capacity mechanism for Ireland and Northern Ireland

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules the new capacity mechanism for the jointly operated Irish and Northern Irish electricity market. Under the capacity mechanism, power plants and othercapacity providers will obtain a payment for being available to generate electricity or, in the case of demand response operators, for being ready to reduce their electricity consumption to help balance demand with supply. It helps to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet electricity demand at all times in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "The joint Irish and Northern Irish capacity mechanism will help ensure security of electricity supply in the years to come. I think it is a good thing that this mechanism is operated across national borders and fosters competition among all potential capacity providers, to the benefit of consumers." The Commission assessed the measure under the 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy. It concluded that the capacity mechanism complies with EU State aid rules, in particular because it is open to all potential types of capacity providers, including demand response. Furthermore, the measure will keep costs for consumers in check thanks to the regular, competitive auctions to allocate capacity contracts. The press release is available online in EN, FR, DE, GA. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


State aid: Commission approves Greece's plan to exchange its Eurobank preference shares with Tier 2 bonds

The European Commission has endorsed, under EU State aid rules, a plan notified by Greece to exchange the State's existing preference shares in Eurobank for Tier 2 bonds. The Greek authorities considered that this exchange does not involve State aid but notified the measure to the Commission for legal certainty. In May 2009, Eurobank received a capital injection of €950 million in the form of preference shares under the recapitalisation measure of the Greek Banks Support scheme. The Commission found that, compared to these preference shares, the terms of the new Tier 2 Bonds imply an improvement for the Greek State. In particular, while the preference shares have a high nominal coupon, its payment is subject to conditions and in practice the coupon has not been paid since 2011 and is not expected to be paid in the future. In contrast, the coupon payment of the new Tier 2 Bonds can be waived only in very limited circumstances. The Commission concluded that a private investor would accept the exchange at the envisioned terms and therefore the exchange does not result in additional State aid to Eurobank. On this basis, the Commission has approved the exchange under EU State aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.49459. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of a real estate portfolio in Poland by Oaktree and PIMCO

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of a real estate portfolio consisting of 28 commercial properties located in Poland by Oaktree Capital Group LLC and Pacific Investment Management Company LLC (PIMCO), both of the US. Oaktree is a global investment manager specialising in alternative investments in distressed debt, corporate debt (including high yield debt and senior loans), convertible securities, real estate and listed equities. PIMCO is a global investment manager providing its services, among others, to governments, insurance companies, high-net-worth investors, financial institutions, retail investors and investment vehicles. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no 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.8661. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)


European Union and Moldova agree on €100 million assistance programme

Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has signed, on behalf of the EU, a Memorandum of Understanding for a second Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) programme with the Republic of Moldova worth €100 million. MFA is an exceptional EU crisis-response instrument available to the EU's neighbouring partner countries experiencing severe balance of payments problems. As laid out in the agreement reached by the co-legislators in September 2017 and the Memorandum of Understanding, disbursements under the programme are tied to respecting of democratic mechanisms, the rule of law and human rights. Disbursements are also dependent on the implementation of specific policy measures in areas such as public governance, financial sector governance, energy sector reforms and tackling corruption. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)




En finir avec la violence à l'égard des femmes: Déclaration de la Commission européenne concernant la Journée internationale pour l'élimination de la violence à l'égard des femmes

À la veille de la Journée internationale pour l'élimination de la violence à l'égard des femmes, la Commission a publié la déclaration suivante: "Nous le réaffirmons une nouvelle fois: la violence doit cesser maintenant. Des femmes et des jeunes filles souffrent encore tous les jours de violences, tant à l'intérieur qu'à l'extérieur de l'Union européenne.(…) Pour éliminer ces violences à caractère sexiste une fois pour toutes, nous devons améliorer l'éducation et la législation et modifier les normes sociales. Nous avons consacré l'année 2017 à l'action européenne pour l'élimination de toutes les formes de violence exercées contre les femmes et les jeunes filles, tant dans la sphère publique que privée. Des praticiens du droit, des médecins, des enseignants et des policiers, notamment, sont formés pour soutenir les victimes et prévenir les violences à caractère sexuel, grâce au concours financier fourni par l'UE à diverses ONG. Agissant au-delà de nos frontières, nous avons lancé avec les Nations unies l'initiative Spotlight, qui bénéficie d'un investissement de départ inégalé de 500 millions d'euros. Cette initiative s'attaque à l'échelle mondiale aux causes profondes des violences faites aux femmes et aux jeunes filles, vient en aide aux victimes et leur offre les moyens de contribuer à des sociétés plus sûres, plus résilientes, plus riches et plus libres. L'élimination des violences à l'égard des femmes et des jeunes filles est une première étape vers la paix et la sécurité dans le monde et est au cœur du programme de développement durable à l'horizon 2030. (…) L'Union européenne continuera d'œuvrer sans relâche, avec toute la panoplie d'instruments dont elle dispose, à l'élimination de la violence à l'égard des femmes et des jeunes filles et à faire en sorte que celle-ci appartienne au passé." Enfin, ce soir et demain soir, le bâtiment de la Commission européenne, le Berlaymont, et le bâtiment du Service européen pour l'action extérieure seront éclairés en orange pour soutenir la campagne de l'Organisation des Nations Unies contre la violence à l'égard des femmes. La déclaration et un Q&A sont disponibles en ligne. Plus d'informations se trouvent sur un site dédié aux actions de 2017. (Pour plus d'informations: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Maja Kocijancic– Tel.: +32 229 86570; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 5865)




Vice President Šefčovič and Commissioner Crețu at the 3rd Cities Forum in Rotterdam

During this major two-day event (27-28 November) dedicated to urban policy and hosted by the Commission, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the Energy Union, and Regional policy Commissioner Corina Crețu will meet ministers and mayors from many EU countries in order to feel the pulse of Europe's cities. Exchanges will focus on the progress achieved under the Urban Agenda for the EU in light of the recent Commission report, on how to best support cities in planning their own investment strategies and on the future Cohesion policy after 2020, especially as regards the access and management of EU funds by cities. Participants will also discuss the concrete role of cities in the implementation the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. "Cities and local governments are essential to turn our pledges under the Paris agreement into concrete action. They are vulnerable to impacts of climate change, but they are also hubs for innovation and will benefit from the transition – through new jobs, improved air quality, less traffic congestion, and improved attractiveness of cities and regions for people and investors alike," said Vice President Šefčovič. "Cities should be smart, cities should be clean, safe, but they should also be inclusive," added Commissioner Crețu, "Strengthening the integration of our most vulnerable communities in cities, including migrants, is high on our agenda. This is a challenge the future Cohesion Policy will have to continue addressing." One of the highlights of the Forum will be the launch of a new advisory service designed to help cities maximise the investment potential at their disposal. More information on the programme of the forum, including speakers and workshops, is available here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


L'innovation au service d'une Europe plus sociale

Les 27 et 28 novembre prochains, la Commission européenne accueillera à Lisbonne, avec le gouvernement portugais et la Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, la Conférence sur l'innovation sociale. La conférence rassemblera des entrepreneurs sociaux, des représentants de la société civile, des décideurs politiques, des innovateurs et des investisseurs. Ils discuteront des opportunités pour stimuler l'innovation sociale en Europe et pour promouvoir des politiques publiques inclusives et créatrices de ressources. Marianne Thyssen, la commissaire en charge de l'emploi, des affaires sociales, des compétences et de la mobilité des travailleurs, et Carlos Moedas, le commissaire en charge de la recherche, de la science et de l'innovation, prononceront les discours d'ouverture et de clôture de cette conférence. Réaliser une Europe plus sociale et plus juste est une des priorités majeures de la Commission Juncker, ainsi définie dans le document de réflexion sur la dimension sociale de l'Europe. Lundi, la Commission lancera un prix Horizon 2020 pour l'innovation sociale, doté de deux millions d'euros. Le concours vise à encourager la création de solutions de mobilité innovantes pour les seniors. La Commission offre déjà un financement direct pour soutenir l'innovation sociale grâce au Programme pour l'emploi et l'innovation sociale, du programme de recherche et d'innovation Horizon 2020, des Plates-formes de sensibilisation collective ou des fonds structurels et d'investissement européens. Toutes les sessions du programme de la conférence peuvent être suivies en direct. Mme Thyssen visitera également sur place un projet financé par l'UE dans le cadre du Programme pour l'emploi et l'innovation sociale, qui facilite l'accès aux structures d'accueil pour les enfants issus de familles défavorisées. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucía Caudet - Tél.: +32 229 56182, Christian Wigand Tél.: +32 229 62253, Victoria von Hammerstein - Tél.: +32 229 55040, Sara Soumillion Tél.: +32 229 67094, Maud Noyon - Tél.: +32 229-80379)


Commissioner Thyssen attends closing and award ceremony of Vocational Skills

Today, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will give a keynote speech at the closing event of the second European Vocational Skills Week. The Commissioner will also hand out awards to people, institutions and projects that can be considered as outstanding examples of what Europe has to offer in the field of vocational education and training. The aim of the awards is to showcase the excellence, quality and benefits of vocational education and training. On the occasion of the Award ceremony, Commissioner Thyssen said: "Over the past week, more than 1,300 events have taken place across Europe, reaching out to almost 1 million people. I would like to thank you all for putting vocational education and training in the spotlight that it deserves. Students, business and society all need these skills. VET is a great first choice for a first-rate career." In the context of this year's Vocational Skills Week, over 1,300 events took place in 45 countries (including all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, the Balkans, Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan) under the banner 'Discover Your Talent'. In addition to the national events, two Pan-European and 15 national Ambassadors are raising awareness of the Week and excellence in vocational education and training. More information on the Skills week can be found here. The list of award-winners is available here. The closing and award ceremony will be broadcast here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Le commissaire Navracsics se rendra en Croatie pour les célébrations du 30ème anniversaire d'Erasmus

Le Commissaire à l'éducation, la culture, la jeunesse et au sport, Tibor Navracsics, se rendra lundi à Zagreb, en Croatie, où il prononcera le discours d'ouverture d'un événement célébrant les 30 ans du programme Erasmus+ et de ses prédécesseurs. Avant sa visite, le Commissaire Navracsics a déclaré: "Les célébrations se déroulent non seulement au niveau européen, mais aussi au niveau national et local, et je suis ravi d'avoir l'occasion de visiter la Croatie en cette année du 30ème anniversaire du programme Erasmus. Depuis que la Croatie a rejoint l'UE en 2013, plus de 50 000 Croates ont bénéficié directement du programme et nous devons nous assurer que beaucoup d'autres en auront l'opportunité à l'avenir". Au cours de sa visite, le Commissaire aura des entretiens bilatéraux avec le ministre des Sciences et de l'Education, Blaženka Divjak, la ministre de la Culture, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, et la ministre de la Démographie, de la Famille, de la Jeunesse et des Politiques sociales, Nada Murganić, afin de discuter des développements actuels dans les domaines de l'éducation, la culture et la jeunesse. (Pour plus d'informations: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tél .: +32 229 67083, Joseph Waldstein - Tél .: +32 229 56184)



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