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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 07 / 12 / 2017

Brussels, 7 December 2017

Future-proof migration management: European Commission sets out way forward 

Ahead of the EU leaders' thematic debate on migration to be held on 14 December, the Commission is today proposing a political roadmap to reach a comprehensive agreement by June 2018 on how to pursue a sustainable migration policy. As Europe is moving away from crisis management, an agreement on a stable and future-proof EU migration and asylum policy for the long term is needed in order to maintain the momentum an all fronts – internal and external. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Even if we are now moving away from crisis mode, it is evident that migration will remain a challenge for a generation of Europeans. Europe urgently needs to equip itself with future-proof means of managing migration responsibly and fairly. We have made solid progress in the past three years but now is the time to turn proposals into law, and law into practice." The full press release and factsheets are available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Thomas Kramer – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


Procédures d'infraction du mois de décembre: 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 25 lettres de mise en demeure, 18 avis motivés et 27 renvois à la Cour de justice de l'UE. Elle clôt également 130 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. 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)


EU funding for migration management: Commission supports asylum process in Greece with an extra €7.25 million

The European Commission has today awarded an additional €7.25 million in emergency assistance to Greece under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund to support the Asylum Service in Greece. This will include support to the Greek Asylum Service for the reinforcement of their IT equipment and pool of interpreters, as well as professional training for staff in the regional asylum offices at the hotspots. The funding will also support the continuation of the deployment of police officers for security checks in the context of the asylum process on the islands. The €7.25 million awarded today complements the EU emergency funding allocated to Greek authorities and international organisations operating in Greece since 2015 under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security Fund (ISF) to €378 million. This comes on top of the €561 million EU contribution already allocated to Greece under the national programmes 2014-2020 from these funds (€322.8 million for AMIF and €238 million for ISF) and over €400 million from the Emergency Support Instrument. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Thomas Kramer – Tel.: +32 229 58602)


Yemen crisis: EU announces additional €25 million in humanitarian aid as situation deteriorates

The European Commission has announced new humanitarian aid of €25 million to support civilians in desperate need in Yemen. This brings the total EU funding to €196.7 million since the start of the conflict in 2015. The current measures restricting humanitarian and commercial access together with the intense armed clashes and air strikes reported from Sana'a over recent days are threatening to deprive people even further from food, water and basic services. "Children, women and men urgently need access to food, water and medical services in Yemen. All parties to the conflict must give priority to protecting civilians and allow humanitarian aid to get to the people. Unless all restrictions on imports of food, fuel and medical supplies are lifted immediately, Yemen will suffer the largest famine in the world in decades. The EU is committed to supporting the Yemeni people. Our new funding will support key UN agencies working on the ground,"said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. The new aid will support the distribution of food by the World Food Programme as well as humanitarian logistical and transport capacity by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). The EU has also provided humanitarian assistance to Yemen during this year for the Cholera outbreak that affected several parts of the country.  The EU has long reiterated that there cannot be a military solution to the conflict and called on all the parties to respect International Humanitarian Law, to urgently agree on a cessation of hostilities, and engage in a negotiation process.The full press release is available online.(For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Civil protection: EU helps mobilise emergency support for Albania floods

Following a request for assistance from Albania after heavy flooding in the country, the Commission has helped mobilise water pumps, power generators and other flood response items through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The EU responded swiftly to the request for assistancethanks to offers of assistance from Austria, France, Slovakia and Slovenia.Albania has also received support from the EU's Copernicus satellite system which provided maps to the national civil protection authorities. An EU Civil Protection team is being deployed today and tomorrow to facilitate the reception of assistance and cooperation with Albanian authorities. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: "We stand in solidarity to help the Albanian people and authorities at this time. Let me thank the strong support of our Member States who have provided valuable emergency supplies through our EU Civil Protection Mechanism. This is EU solidarity in action."The Commission's 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre is closely monitoring flooding across Europe. Photos and video stockshots of the Emergency Centre are available, (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


EU Syria Trust Fund: New €150 million assistance package to support Syrian refugees and host communities adopted

The Board meeting of the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis adopted new projects totalling €150 million to support refugees and their host communities in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Serbia. Projects will support the most affected municipalities in the region, agricultural livelihoods and food security, school construction, the upgrading of waste-water systems in areas with high refugee concentration, as well as refugee protection, research and advocacy. The newly adopted assistance package brings the overall amount of projects committed under the Trust Fund to €1.2 billion. EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn commented: "The actions adopted today by the EU Trust Fund will substantially boost local service delivery and economic development for refugees and host communities in the region. With €223 million mobilised by the Trust Fund for Lebanon and Jordan this year alone, the European Union continues to demonstrate its resolve to respond to the needs arising from the Syria conflict, and stand side by side with the refugees and the countries hosting them under difficult conditions". The full press release is available here. (For more information: Maja Kocijančič – Tel.:+32 229 86570; Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.:+32 229 64887; Lauranne Devillé – +32 229 80833)


he European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 takes off

Today, the celebrations for the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage are kicking off at the European Culture Forum in Milan.The European Year of Cultural Heritage will put the spotlight on Europe's wealth of cultural heritage, showcasing its role in fostering a shared sense of identity and building the future of Europe. Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, who officially launched the Year today, said: "Cultural heritage is at the heart of the European way of life. It defines who we are and creates a sense of belonging. Cultural heritage is not only made up of literature, art and objects but also by the crafts we learn, the stories we tell, the food we eat and the films we watch. We need to preserve and treasure our cultural heritage for the next generations. This year of celebrations will be a wonderful opportunity to encourage people, especially young people, to explore Europe's rich cultural diversity and to reflect on the place that cultural heritage occupies in all our lives. It allows us to understand the past and to build our future." The purpose of the European Year of Cultural Heritage is to raise awareness of the social and economic importance of cultural heritage. Thousands of initiatives and events across Europe will provide the possibility to involve citizens from all backgrounds. The aim is to reach out to the widest possible audience, in particular children and young people, local communities and people who are rarely in touch with culture, to promote a common sense of ownership. A press release, Q&A, and a Spotlight brochure are available online. The Commission has also published today a special Eurobarometer on Cultural Heritage as well as 28 country specific factsheets on the results. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel. +32 229 56184)


European Solidarity Corps: one year since the launch

Today is the first anniversary of the creation of the European Solidarity Corps. One year since the European Commission launched the European Solidarity Corps, 42,745 young people from all Member States have signed up. 2,166 of them have started their placements with 1,434 organisations. Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Günther H. Oettinger, said: "Young people will work on key projects, make life-long friendships and do something good for our society under the quality label of the European Solidarity Corps." Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics,said: "I am delighted that so many young people around Europe believe in solidarity and are committed to volunteering, training or working to support others. One year after the launch of the European Solidarity Corps, many of them are already making a difference, bringing relief and hope to those who need it. We now need to see a swift adoption of the dedicated legal base and budget for the coming years to make the potential benefits of the European Solidarity Corps a reality." Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, added: "Participating in the European Solidarity Corps is not only a great way to show solidarity, it also allow young people to develop new skills and brings an added value to one's CV. I hope our proposal for a stronger Solidarity Corps will be adopted soon so that we can increase opportunities for our European youth even more." A press release and a factsheet are available online. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Vers une chaîne d'approvisionnement alimentaire plus équitable: la consultation publique confirme la demande d'action au niveau européen

Une très large majorité des contributions à la consultation publique lancée par la Commission européenne s'est prononcée en faveur en faveur d'une action au niveau de l'UE pour remédier aux pratiques commerciales déloyales dans la chaîne d'approvisionnement alimentaire. Publiée hier par la Commission, l'analyse des réponses obtenues par le biais de la consultation ouverte d'août à novembre a confirmé l'existence de pratiques commerciales déloyales dans le secteur agro-alimentaire. Le Commissaire à l'agriculture, Phil Hogan, qui participait hier à la réunion du "Forum pour une chaîne alimentaire plus performante", a déclaré: "Les agriculteurs récoltent les miettes de la valeur ajoutée créée par la chaîne d'approvisionnement alimentaire dans l'Union européenne. La Commission compte répondre à ce problème en proposant en 2018 de nouvelles mesures pour améliorer le fonctionnement dans ce secteur. Ces propositions auront pour objectif de renforcer la position des agriculteurs sur le marché et de les aider à se protéger des chocs à l'avenir."Plus de 1500 réponses ont été recueillies d'un large éventail de participants: agriculteurs et leurs représentants, industries du secteur agro-alimentaire et distributeurs, administrations des Etats membres, et consommateurs et leurs représentants. Une étude d'impact sera réalisée sur base des réponses obtenues, pour ensuite aboutir à des propositions législatives lors du premier semestre 2018. Plus d'informations sont en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)


Applications open for first "EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade" award

The Commission today opened the application period for a new Fair and Ethical Trade award for EU cities. The initiative is part of the EU's broader efforts to ensure responsible supply chains that respect human rights, labour rights and the environment. The award aims to highlight the importance of the role played in that respect by cities. Candidates - EU cities with populations above 20,000 inhabitants - should demonstrate their involvement in grassroots activities creating awareness, incentives and producing specific impact supporting fair and ethical trade schemes. Commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström said: “The award will recognise all the positive and innovative work done by cities across the European Union. In doing so, it will encourage others to follow their lead. It can also be a means to raise awareness of the kinds of policies that have the most impact at the local level. Fair and ethical trade schemes have converted consumers' awareness into tangible benefits for producers and workers in developing countries”. The selection process will offer cities the opportunity to showcase what is being done to raise awareness about fair and ethical trade at city level and participants will, at the same time, learn from the approaches of other cities and local authorities through the exchange of good practices, ideas, initiatives, and innovations. The award ceremony will take place on 27 June 2018. The winner will obtain the European Commission's financial support, as well as technical assistance from the International Trade Centre, the co-organiser of the award, to further its activities in the area of fair and ethical trade. For more details about the initiative and the application process see a dedicated website. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)


Un nouveau soutien de la Commission aux régions européennes travaillant ensemble sur des projets de haute technologie

Aujourd'hui, la Commission annonce quels sont les partenariats interrégionaux qui bénéficieront d'un soutien sur mesure dans le cadre d'une nouvelle action pilote financée par l'UE pour développer des projets innovants dans des secteurs prioritaires tels que les mégadonnées, la bioéconomie, la gestion efficace des ressources, la fabrication avancée ou la cybersécurité. La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu a déclaré: «Les régions disposant d'atouts concurrentiels compatibles pourront présenter leurs projets sur une vaste scène commune. Grâce à un soutien approprié de l'UE, leurs bonnes idées se transformeront en produits innovants, parmi lesquels vous trouverez les prochains champions européens de l'innovation.»Suite à un appel à manifestation d'intérêt lancé par la Commission en septembre 2017, huit partenariats interrégionaux ont été sélectionnés, avec une ou plusieurs régions coordinatrices en tête. Pour tout savoir sur ces partenariats vous pouvez consulter ce communiqué de presse et cette fiche d'information. (Pour plus d'informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


European Commission to intervene before the US Supreme Court in the Microsoft case

The European Commission has decided today to submit, on behalf of the European Union, an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in Case No. 17-2, United States v. Microsoft Cooperation. This case raises the question whether, under the US Stored Communications Act, US courts can require a US-based service provider to produce the contents of a customer's email account stored on a server located outside the United States, in this case Ireland. Given that the transfer of personal data by Microsoft from the EU to the US would fall under the EU data protection rules, the Commission considered it to be in the interest of the EU to make sure that EU data protection rules on international transfers are correctly understood and taken into account by the US Supreme Court. The amicus brief will not be in support of either one of the parties. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


State aid: Commission approves public funding to promote shift of freight from road to rail in Bolzano region, Italy

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules an Italian scheme to support the shift of freight traffic from road to rail in the Province of Bolzano. The measure will further EU environmental and transport objectives, whilst maintaining competition in the Single Market.The Italian scheme, which has an overall budget of €9 million and will run until 2019, aims to increase the share of rail and intermodal freight transport through the Brenner Corridor, an international transit route across the Alps linking Germany, Austria and Italy. The public support will be provided to freight transport services carried out by railway companies and multimodal operators along the Alto Adige/Südtirol section of the transport corridor between Brenner and Salorno, comprising 120 km of railway and 116 km of motorway. The aid takes the form of a subsidy to railway companies and multimodal transport operators that carry freight, ultimately reducing prices for end customers. The level of support companies can receive is based on the reduction in the external costs (pollution, noise, congestion and accidents) achieved by rail transport compared to road transport. A full press release is available in EN, DE, FR, IT. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)


State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Polish bank guarantee scheme

The European Commission has authorised under EU State aid rules a prolongation of the Polish bank guarantee scheme until 31 May 2018. The scheme provides State guarantees for different types of solvent credit institutions in Poland. The Commission found the prolongation to be in line with its 2013 Banking Communication because it is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The scheme was initially approved in September 2009 and has been prolonged several times since then, the last time in July 2017. The Commission is authorising guarantee schemes on banks' liabilities for successive periods of up to six months in order to be able to monitor developments and adjust conditions accordingly. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.49404. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of OKD by Prisko

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of OKD Nástupnická a.s. by Prisko a.s., both of the Czech Republic. OKD is active in the production and supply of hard coal in Central Eastern Europe. Prisko is a state-owned enterprise whose main activity is the management of assets of the Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic. The Czech State, through the Ministry of Finance, also owns the majority controlling stake in Czech electricity supplier ČEZ. ČEZ procures hard coal for some of its electricity plants in the Czech Republic. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given OKD's moderate market position in the production and supply of hard coal in Central Eastern Europe, the existence of alternative hard coal suppliers in particular in Poland, and the pre-merger planned gradual closures of OKD's mines. 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.8687. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)


Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture between ZV, MAGURA, BFO and Unicorn

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture by Zukunft Ventures GmbH ("ZV"), Gustav Magenwirth GmbH & Co. KG ("MAGURA"), Brake Force One GmbH ("BFO") and Unicorn Energy GmbH, all of Germany. The joint venture will be active in the research, development, production and supply of anti-lock braking systems and drive systems for light electric vehicles, such as e-bikes, pedelecs or e-scooters. ZV, controlled by ZF Friedrichshafen AG holds interests in innovative start-ups and technology companies in the field of mobility. ZF Friedrichshafen is active worldwide in drive and gear technology as well as active and passive security technology. MAGURA, controlled by MAGENWIRTH Technologies GmbH, develops, produces and supplies hydraulic brake systems and other high-tech components for bicycles, e-bikes, pedelecs and motorbikes. BFO is active in the development of brake systems for two-wheeled vehicles. Furthermore, it develops e-bikes for the German automotive industry. Unicorn Energy, controlled by Preiß Beteiligungs-GmbH, is active in the development of drive systems for light electric vehicles. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given that the companies' activities do not overlap in the EEA. 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.8478. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)


Eurostat: GDP up by 0.6% in both the euro area and the EU28

Seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.6% in both the euro area (EA19) and the EU28 during the third quarter of 2017, compared with the previous quarter, according to an estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the second quarter of 2017, GDP grew by 0.7% in both areas. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 2.6% in both the euro area and the EU28 in the third quarter of 2017, after +2.4% in both zones in the second quarter of 2017. A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Juliana Dahl – Tel.: +32 229 59914)


Eurostat: Le ratio recettes fiscales/PIB en légère hausse tant dans l'UE que dans la zone

Le ratio global recettes fiscales/PIB, autrement dit la somme des impôts et des cotisations sociales nettes en pourcentage du PIB, s'est élevé à 40,0% dans l'Union européenne (UE) en 2016, en hausse par rapport à 2015 (39,7%). Dans la zone euro, les recettes fiscales représentaient 41,3% du PIB en 2016, soit légèrement au-dessus du taux de 41,2% de 2015. Le ratio recettes fiscales/PIB augmente donc de nouveau dans les deux zones après le léger recul enregistré l'année précédente. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Patrick Mc Cullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)




Stepping up support for security and sustainable development in partner countries

The Commission and the High Representative welcome today's adoption of the proposal on Capacity Building in support of Security and Development (CBSD), to improve the European Union's support to security and sustainable development in partner countries. The addition ofCBSD, as a new type of assistance, to the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) will allow the EU to support partner countries more effectively in building their capacity to prevent and manage crises on their own. High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini said: "Investing in the security of our partner countries, at their request, is in the EU's and our partners' interests. The EU is not only a political actor and an economic partner, but also a critical security provider, notably in Africa. We have already trained more than 30.000 policemen and women, soldiers, judges: with this new measure, we'll now be able to complete our support by providing them the necessary tools to perform their duty. This will help empower our partner countries to tackle their own security, governance and stability, essential prerequisite for a sustainable development." Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Mimica added: "There can be no real development without ensuring stability and people's security. In order to achieve sustainable development, the EU will assist partner countries in providing effective and accountable security services to their citizens, which are consistent with democratic norms, good governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights." The addition of CBSD assistance to the IcSP will allow supporting military actors, in exceptional circumstances, and only in cases when the military performs a development objective, in our partner countries. See a full press release here and a memo with more information here. (For more information: Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 229 69921; Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Esther Osorio – Tel.: + 32 229 62076; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)


Commissioner Vella travels to China to strengthen maritime ties

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, is participating in the first EU-China Blue Industry Cooperation Forum in Shenzhen City, China. Commissioner Vella will meet with Administrator Wang Hong to discuss ways to reinforce their cooperation beyond 2017, in particular their intention to upgrade their bilateral maritime cooperation to an EU-China Ocean Partnership. The Partnership would strengthen cooperation in key areas of ocean governance, such as the implementation of ocean-relevant Sustainable Development Goals, capacity building, promoting conservation and sustainable ‘blue growth', maritime research, international fisheries management and the fight against Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Before traveling to Shenzhen, Commissioner Vella discussed EU-China cooperation in the fight against illegal fishing with Vice-Minister Yu, responsible for fisheries affairs, in Beijing. Furthermore, in the margins of the Commissioner's visit, the EU and China will celebrate the successful conclusion of the 2017 EU-China Blue Year, a series of activities and events aiming to foster closer ties between both blocks on ocean matters. The EU-China Ocean Partnership is part of the EU's Ocean Governance Initiative. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)


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


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