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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 08 / 03 / 2017

Brussels, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day 2017: Gender Equality – a European export

To mark International Women's Day, the Commission is making a renewed call to ensure equality for women at home and around the world. A new report on equality between men and women published today shows that EU legislation, guidelines, actions and funding possibilities are supporting noticeable but uneven progress in EU Member States. Since the fundamental value of equality between men and women was enshrined in the Rome Treaty 60 years ago, women's employment rate has reached an all-time high level. However, the gender pay gap remains stubborn with women still earning 16.3% less than men across Europe; and while the Commission is well on track to meet its own target of 40% female representation in senior and middle management positions by 2019, women continue to face a glass ceiling in reaching management and leadership positions. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Europe is a pioneer of gender equality and that is something we should be proud of. Be it in employment and occupation, vocational training, social security or access to goods and services: women and men have to be treated equally. That is the law. Unfortunately the road to effective equality still has some bumps ahead. That is why we cannot let up. I made equality a cornerstone of the administration I lead and I am proud that two years on we have made enormous strides in reaching the 40% female management target. But if intolerance and chauvinism start to proliferate inside or outside our borders we have to push back twice as hard with a simple and thoroughly European message: gender equality is not an aspirational goal, it is a fundamental right." For more information on what the EU is doing for women's rights and gender equality, see the press release and a Q&A. See here the joint statement on the occasion of International Women's Day 2017. A list of events taking place for International Women's Day in which the Commissioners are participating, including the 2017 EU Prize for Women Innovators, which will be announced by Commissioner Moedas this evening, can be found here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


President Juncker participates in Tripartite Social Summit

This afternoon, President Juncker will participate in the Tripartite Social Summit taking place in Brussels. He will be accompanied by Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen. The Tripartite Social Summit is a biannual opportunity for a constructive exchange of views between representatives from European employee and employer organisations, the European Commission, the European Council, the EU Heads of State or Government and Employment and Social Affairs Ministers from the countries holding the current and upcoming Council of the EU Presidencies. This edition is entitled "The future of Europe: charting the course towards growth, employment and fairness". Following the presentation of the Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe, and ahead of the European Council on 9 and 10 March where topics such as jobs, growth and competitiveness will be discussed, participants at the Social Summit will exchange views on new forms of work and the future of industry, the European Pillar of Social Rightsand the role of the social partnersin the EU decision-making processand reflections on the future of Europe. In addition, at 13:30, in the margins of the Summit, President Juncker will attend the signature ceremony of the EU social partners' autonomous framework agreement on active ageing and an inter-generational approach, in the presence of President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat. A press conference will take place around 17:15 and can be followed here. More information on the Summit can be found here. A joint statement will be made available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)


Antitrust: Commission fines six car air conditioning and engine cooling suppliers €155 million in cartel settlement

The European Commission has fined Behr, Calsonic, Denso, Panasonic, Sanden and Valeo a total of € 155 million for taking part in one or more of four cartels concerning supplies of air conditioning and engine cooling components to car manufacturers in the European Economic Area. All six suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case. Denso was not fined for three of the cartels as it revealed their existence to the Commission. Panasonic was not fined for one of the cartels as it revealed its existence to the Commission. Behr, Calsonic, Denso, Sanden and Valeo benefited from reductions of their fines for their cooperation with the Commission investigation. In addition, under the Commission's 2008 Settlement Notice, the Commission applied a reduction of 10% to the fines imposed on the companies in view of their acknowledgment of the participation in the cartel and of the liability in this respect. The coordination took place at meetings, notably through trilateral meetings in Europe in one of the cartels, and through other collusive contacts in Europe and Japan through bilateral meetings, by email or phone. The Commission's investigation revealed the existence of four separate infringements. During the investigation the Commission cooperated with antitrust authorities in Japan and the US. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “Even though air conditioning and cooling components are not something you see as products, they are very much something you feel. In this case you might also have felt it in your wallet even though temperatures would still be regulated in your car. Today's decision underlines that we do not accept cartels that affect the European market, wherever and however they may be organised." A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni +32 229 90526)


Plan d'investissement pour l'Europe : nouveau financement du Plan Juncker dans le secteur du transport

La Banque européenne d'investissement (BEI) a signé un contrat de financement de 110 millions d'euros pour mettre en œuvre un projet de transport innovant et durable. La cérémonie de signature s'est déroulée hier après-midi à Oignies en région Hauts-de-France, en présence de Carlos Moedas, Commissaire européen en charge de la recherche, la science et l'innovation et du Premier ministre français Bernard Cazeneuve. Ce financement bénéficie du soutien du Fonds européen pour les investissements stratégiques (EFSI) - élément central du Plan d'investissement pour l'Europe, appelé plus communément le Plan Juncker. L'initiative aura un impact positif pour plus de 650 000 habitants de la région Hauts-de-France. Ce projet de mobilité vise à créer 6 lignes de Bus à Haut Niveau de Service (BHNS) et à compléter la trame existante (train, réseau de bus) par un moyen de transport plus fiable, rapide et fréquent. Le projet financé entrainera de surcroît la création de plus de 820 emplois personnes-année pendant toute la durée d'implémentation. Une attention toute particulière sera portée à l'insertion et à l'emploi des personnes en difficulté. Carlos Moedas, Commissaire pour la recherche, la science et l'innovation, a déclaré: «L'accord conclu aujourd'hui est une illustration idéale de ce pourquoi l'EFSI a été créé: la mobilisation des investissements afin de générer des emplois, de la croissance et l'amélioration réelle de la qualité de vie des populations. Le Plan Juncker facilite ainsi la modernisation de réseaux de transports publics afin d'assurer leur efficacité, leur fiabilité et leur propreté pour tous les habitants.» Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)


EU Solidarity Fund: Aid for Germany after the floods in Bavaria now approved

In May and June 2016, the region of Niederbayern (Lower Bavaria) in Germany was affected by heavy spells of rainfall triggering rivers to burst their banks and flooding in several villages. The disaster caused damage to public infrastructure and buildings, private homes, businesses and farmland. On 14 October 2016, following an application by German authorities, the Commission proposed aid from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) of €31.5 million which was intended to help restore essential infrastructure, reimburse the cost of emergency measures and cover the costs of some of the clean-up operations. Following the approval by the European Parliament and by the Council, the Commission has yesterday adopted the corresponding decision to disburse €31.5 million from the EU Solidarity Fund to Germany. "Where disaster strikes, the Commission is there to help, as in the case of the floods in Lower Bavaria in May and June 2016. This is EU solidarity in action", said Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Crețu following yesterday's decision. The EU Solidarity Fund was set up to support EU Member States by offering financial support after natural disasters, either at national or regional level. The Fund was created in the wake of the severe floods in Central Europe in the summer of 2002. It supplements Member States' public expenditure to finance essential emergency operations undertaken by the authorities. Since the creation of the Fund in 2002, over €1 billion has been granted to Germany in EUSF assistance. More information on the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) and on ESI Funds in Germany is available here. (For more information contact Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595 – Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)


Cohesion Policy invests in better connectivity in Slovakia

€147.6 million from the Cohesion Fund will be invested in the construction of a section of the D3 motorway in Slovakia, in the mountainous region of Žilina, between Žilina/Strážov and Žilina/Brodno. The project includes the construction of the Považský Chlmec tunnel and two motorway bridges on this strategic section between the D1 and D3 motorway, on the Bratislava – Trenčín – Žilina – Skalité road, which connects Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria. The project aims to improve road connections to the Polish border and to the Czech Republic, while reducing traffic congestion near the city of Žilina, thereby improving road safety and quality of life in the region. "Seamless connectivity throughout the EU keeps our local economies competitive and brings concrete, positive changes into the citizens' everyday lives. The construction of this D3 section will have a significant impact on the development of the city of Žilina as well as the whole region," said Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Creţu. Slovakia receives more than €15 billion from the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds for the period 2014-2020. More information on the investments of the ESI Funds in Slovakia is available on the Open Data platform and in this factsheet. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz  Tel .: +32 229 50595, Alexis Perier  Tel.: +32 229 69143)


Short-term outlook for agricultural markets shows recovery in EU milk prices

The Commission publishes today its short-term outlook for arable crops, olive oil, meat and dairy markets in the EU for 2017-2018, confirming that the reduction in the EU milk supply at the end of 2016 contributed to a significant recovery in EU milk prices. Exports and domestic demand led to record high prices for butter and a significant price recovery for cheese. By contrast, the skimmed milk powder (SMP) price is expected to remain around current levels given the high stock levels and that the seasonal peak of milk collection is still to come. Low cereal prices were driven by abundant world supply and stocks. By contrast, EU cereal production declined by 5.5% in 2016/2017, following smaller-than-average soft wheat and maize harvests. This should result in a slowdown in EU cereal exports. EU rapeseed harvest was also below average but, given the large world oilseed supply, this only resulted in a small price surge. EU sugar prices are catching up with high world prices. As for olive oil, low 2016/2017 production (13% below average) together with low stock levels resulted in higher prices. EU meat production reached a record level in 2016 but is showing signs of downward adjustments. Sustained pig meat exports to China facilitated a recovery in the EU price. Continued good beef exports held EU price decreases in check. The production of sheep meat is growing at a slower rate, on the back of lower prices. The full report is available online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Concardis by Advent and Bain Capital

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Concardis GmbH of Germany by Advent International Corporation and Bain Capital Investors L.L.C., both of the US. Concardis provides merchant acquiring services, primarily to customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Advent and Bain Capital are private equity investors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies' combined market shares remain very limited on the markets concerned. 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.8386. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni  Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Mergers: Commission clears the acquisition of joint control of GlobalLogic by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the transaction through which Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ("CPPIB") of Canada, acquires joint control of GlobalLogic Holdings Limited of Jersey, currently solely controlled by Apax Partners LLP of the UK. GlobalLogic offers software development services and related consulting to a variety of sectors. CPPIB is active in professional investment management, investing the assets of the Canada Pension Plan. Apax provides investment advisory services to private equity funds investing in a range of industry sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because there are no overlaps between the activities of CPPIB (and its controlled companies) and those of GlobalLogic. 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.8380. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni  Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Eurostat: Plus de 5,1 millions de bébés sont nés dans l'UE en 2015

En 2015, 5,103 millions de bébés sont nés au sein de l'Union européenne (UE), contre 5,063 millions en 2001 (première année pour laquelle des statistiques comparables sont disponibles). Parmi les États membres, la France enregistrait toujours le nombre le plus élevé de naissances (799 700 en 2015), devant le Royaume-Uni (776 700), l'Allemagne (737 600), l'Italie (485 800), l'Espagne (418 400) et la Pologne (369 300). Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)





Vice-President Ansip travelling to Washington, D.C. to discuss digital aspects of transatlantic cooperation

Transatlantic cooperation will be in focus during Vice-President Andrus Ansip's visit in the United States over the next three days. The Vice-President for the Digital Single Market is headed for Washington, D.C. to meet representatives of the new U.S. Administration and Members of the U.S. Congress. On Friday, he will also participate in a roundtable of the EuroGrowth Initiative organised by the Atlantic Council – his speech will be available at around 17:50 CET here. He will meet new U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to discuss EU-U.S. cooperation on a number of ICT issues, such as the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and cyber security. The Vice-President will additionally hold a meeting with Senator Brian Schatz, Representative Marsha Blackburn, and Representative Michael McCaul. The topics covered over the course of the visit vary from digital globalisation, data economy and innovation to cybersecurity and internet governance. The Vice-President will also visit the Symantec Security Operations Centre (SOC) for Americas region on Friday morning to get better acquainted with SOC functions on remote protection for critical systems and near-real-time reporting on cyberattacks. The EU's Digital Single Market will additionally be discussed in Texas this week. The European Union Delegation to the United States will for the first time be present at South by Southwest (SXSW) with its EU@SXSW venue, which showcases the EUs commitment to entrepreneurs, creative industries, and the global innovation economy at SXSW this weekend. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: + 32 229 67083; Inga Höglund  Tel.: +32 229 50698)


Commissioner Malmström travelling to Asia to discuss EU-Singapore and EU-ASEAN trade agreements

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström is in Singapore to reiterate the EU's commitment to a swift entry into force of the EU-Singapore trade agreement. This would allow businesses, producers and consumers to reap the benefits of this landmark deal – the first between the EU and a Southeast Asian country - as soon as possible. During this two-day visit, the Commissioner is meeting with Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, and she is speaking to students and faculty at the Singapore Management University on strengthening ties between the EU and Singapore. She is also visiting the vast port of Singapore, the world's busiest transit port, which attracts 140,000 vessel calls annually. Singapore is by far the EU's largest commercial partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), representing 25% of the EU's trade in goods with the region, and over 50% of trade in services. On Thursday, the Commissioner will travel to Manila, Philippines to meet with the economic ministers from the 10 countries of ASEANand to address the ASEAN-EU Business Summit. At the ministerial meeting, Commissioner Malmström will reaffirm the strong ties between the EU and ASEAN, discuss how to advance plans for a trade agreement between the two regions, and reiterate the EU's support for the region's economic integration. While a region-to-region trade agreement is the long-term goal, the EU has already concluded bilateral trade deals with ASEAN members such as Singapore and Vietnam, and negotiations are underway with Indonesia and Philippines, and with Myanmar for an investment-only agreement. Overall, trade and investment relations between the EU and ASEAN are strong and growing. The region as a whole represents the EU's 3rd largest trading partner outside Europe (after the US and China) with more than €280 billion of trade in goods and services in 2015.More information on the visit to Singapore (including Commissioner Malmström's speech) is available on the website of DG Trade. Downloadable pictures and video from the port visit, university speech and meetings will be available. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)


Official launch of European Reference Networks, Vilnius, 9-10 March

Tomorrow, in Vilnius, the European Commission, represented by Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and the Maltese Presidency of the Council, represented by Chris Fearne, Minister for Health, will officially launch the first 24 European Reference Networks (ERN) for rare or low prevalence complex diseases. The event will welcome more than 600 participants to a two-day conference, hosted by the Ministry of Health of Lithuania. Gathering over 900 highly specialised healthcare units from 26 countries, the 24 thematic ERNs will begin working together for the benefit of around 30 million people in the EU that suffer from a rare disease. Marking the occasion, President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "It is often too easy to talk about the cost of not working together in millions or billions of euros – European politicians have many examples how Europe pays off for every citizen. But when it comes to health, Europe is more than just numbers and figures. European cooperation improves and saves lives. And the European Reference Networks which we just launched do exactly that. Every year these new networks will help thousands of Europeans with rare diseases to gain access to the highly specialised healthcare they need." Conference programme and web streaming link available here. For more information on ERNs see a press release in all languages and a MEMO. (For more information: Enrico Brivio Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola Tel.: +32 229 87624)


Commission hosts Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference

The Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee are organising a Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference in Brussels on 9-10 March 2017. One year after the adoption of the Circular Economy Package, the Commission will present to businesses, civil society, stakeholders and local authorities the progress made so far and debate on future opportunities. The Commission will be represented by First Vice-President Timmermans, who will open the conference, Vice-President Katainen, who will look at the financial opportunities of the circular economy and Commissioner Vella, who will look at what has been implemented one year on. The Commission has delivered more than half of the measures presented in its Action Plan and is counting on the support of the citizens, stakeholders, the European Parliament and the Council to take this further towards a sustainable and profitable economy. The conference will culminate with the launch of the process of establishing the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform. The conference can be followed live here and the programme is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Tim McPhie Tel.: +32 229-58602; Iris Petsa Tel.: + 32 229 93321)


Commissioner Navracsics promotes grassroots sport at EU Sport Forum in Malta

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, travels to Malta today where he will participate in the 8th edition of the EU Sport Forum in St. Julian's. Tomorrow, the Commissioner will take part in a high level panel debate on grassroots sport, to discuss the follow-up to last year's recommendations by a High Level Group on grassroots sport.Commissioner Navracsics said: "Grassroots sport has a major role to play in building better societies and promoting European values such as tolerance, integration and intercultural dialogue; and I will work with the Maltese Presidency and the Member States to place it at the centre of the next EU Work Plan on Sport." The annual Forum is the main event in the Commission's structured dialogue with the European sport family. It brings together some 300 participants from European sport federations and organisations, EU and international institutions, and beneficiaries of Erasmus+ sport projects. During his visit to Malta, Commissioner Navracsics will also deliver an address at the Maltese Presidency's Conference on "Cultural Diplomacy: Fostering International Cultural Dialogue, Diversity and Sustainability" taking place in Valletta. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Commission appoints a Director to its department for Taxation and Customs Union

The Commission decided today to appoint Ms Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandez to the position of Director for Indirect Taxation and Tax Administration in its department for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD). Ms Fabregas Fernandez, a Spanish national, joined the Commission in 1997. Her career at the Commission focused on financial services and capital markets whilst also covering a variety of other topics, including industrial goods and services, better regulation, enterprise policy and inter-institutional relations as well as trade facilitation. In 2012, Ms Fabregas Fernandez became Head of Unit for the Securities Markets in its department for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA). Since 2015, she is Head of Unit for Financial Markets in this department. The appointment will take effect on 16 March 2017. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein Tel.: +32 229 93265)


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


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