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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 23 / 03 / 2017

Brussels, 23 March 2017

The Treaties of Rome at 60: President Juncker participates in anniversary celebrations and leads discussion on the future of the EU at 27

President Juncker will be in Rome, Italy on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 March to participate in events marking the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome – an occasion which paved the way for the creation of the European Union as we know it today. Tomorrow afternoon, President Juncker, accompanied by Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen, will attend an extraordinary meeting of EU social partners and EU institutions in the Palazzo Chigi, hosted by the Italian Prime Minister, to reaffirm the importance of Europe's social dimension and to pave the way for progress on the European Pillar of Social Rights, as well as reflect on the social dimension of the EU within the framework of the White Paper on the future of the European Union. In the evening, President Juncker, along with Heads of State or Government of the European Union, will have an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis in Vatican City before having a working dinner with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Nicola Alemanno, the Mayor of Norcia – theItalian town devastated by an earthquake in October 2016 and where the European Commission is contributing to reconstruction efforts. On Saturday, President Juncker will participate in the official ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome which takes place in Campidoglio. There he will join Presidents Tajani and Tusk as well as Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, and Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy to deliver a speech. The 27 Heads of State or Government and the Presidents of the Institutions will then sign the Rome Declaration– in the room where exactly 60 years ago the Rome Treaties were signed. The Rome Declaration will feature the Union's past achievements, present the challenges it faces and pledge to work for unity at 27 and strengthen common action in key policy areas, to the benefit of citizens. In that regard, it follows the presentation of the Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe published on 1 March, which sought to kick-start discussions on what future Europeans want for the European Union. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

 

Consumer Financial Services Action Plan: Better products and more choice for European consumers

The European Commission is today presenting an Action Plan that sets out ways to provide European consumers with greater choice and better access to financial services across the EU. This Plan seeks to prise open national barriers as only 7% of consumers currently buy financial services from another EU Member State. All consumers should be able to choose freely from a wide range of financial services available across the EU and get the best value for their money while being confident that they are well protected. In a genuine Single Market, the distinction between domestic and foreign providers should no longer matter. Financial service providers should also be able to reap the benefits of the EU's entire market.Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: "European consumers and firms should be able to take full advantage of a true Single Market for financial services. Consumers should have access to the best products available across the EU, not just within their own country. At the same time, we want to explore the full potential of the technology that's out there. If harnessed well, it has the potential to change for the better the financial industry and the way people access financial services." This initiative is being launched in cooperation with Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, and Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. At the heart of today's launch is a focus on technology, given that innovative online services will drive progress towards a more integrated market for financial services. To that end, we are also publishing a consultation on technology and its impact on the European financial services sector (so called ‘FinTech') to spur our work in this area. For more information on the Action Plan see full press release, MEMO and factsheet available online (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini - Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

Digital Day in Rome: commitments on high-performance computing, connected mobility, and a new framework for interoperable digital public services

Today in Rome, seven Member States signed a joint declaration on high-performance computing and 29 European countries signed a letter of intent on cross border experiments on cooperative, connected and automated mobility. The declaration on high-performance computing outlines the plan to establish an integrated world-class infrastructure capable of at least 1018 calculations per second (so-called exascale computers). This will be available across the EU for scientific communities, industry and the public sector, no matter where the users are located. The Digital Day, a one-day Commission conference on the EU's digital future, brings also news for digital public services: the Commission presents today the new European Interoperability Framework which will help public administrations to coordinate their digitisation efforts. This will contribute to reducing bureaucracy, for example when requesting certificates, enrolling to services, or handing in tax declarations. Discussions continue this afternoon on stepping up EU cooperation to digitise industry (more information will be available here as of 16:00 CET) and on jobs and skills in the digital era (more information will be available here as of 17:00 CET). Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "To secure Europe's digital future, Europeans need digital skills. We also need to digitise our industry, make sure researchers and startups have access to data and first-class technologies. We need to connect transport and make sure mobility knows no borders in the EU. Today, we are making important steps forward to make this happen." The Vice-President's full statement can be found here. The Digital Day is part of the celebrations of the 60 years of the Treaties of Rome and a contribution to the debate on the Future of Europe initiated by the White Paper presented by President Juncker earlier this month. Read more in the press release and follow the debate via livestream. The sessions are interactive, with the possibility to engage on Facebook or on Twitter via #DigitalDay17 and @DSMeu. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)

 

Corps Européen de Solidarité: à la veille du sommet de Rome, la première volontaire arrive sur le terrain

L'Europe, qui célébrera samedi à Rome les 60 ans de ses traités fondateurs, s'emploie plus que jamais à préparer son avenir commun et celui de sa jeunesse. C'est dans ce contexte que l'UE a vu la première jeune volontaire du Corps Européen de Solidarité, Manon, une Française de 22 ans, arriver cette semaine à Budapest, en Hongrie. D'autres participants devraient suivre très prochainement. Dans le cadre de l'initiative Volontaires Interreg, l'un des programmes qui participe au Corps Européen de Solidarité, Manon sera chargée de faire connaitre au grand public les résultats du programme de coopération Danube, afin d'encourager la coopération transfrontalière en Europe. Au-delà des projets conjoints de recherche, de protection du patrimoine culturel ou d'intégration sociale, ce sont bien les valeurs européennes d'échange, de solidarité et d'unité que la jeune volontaire va promouvoir. Tibor Navracsics, commissaire chargé de l'éducation, de la culture, de la jeunesse et du sport, a déclaré: "Je suis ravi de voir la première volontaire du Corps Européen de Solidarité commencer son projet. Beaucoup de jeunes Européens sont prêts à apporter leur contribution. J'encourage les organisations à leur offrir des opportunités." La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Creţu, a ajouté: "En mettant à l'honneur les valeurs originelles de notre Union, le Corps Européen de Solidarité façonne l'identité européenne de demain. Je suis fière que la politique de Cohésion puisse contribuer à sa réussite." Depuis son lancement en décembre dernier, plus de 25 000 jeunes Européens se sont inscrits auprès du Corps Européen de Solidarité. Depuis l'ouverture, il y a deux semaines, de la base de données aux organisations, plus de 2200 participants ont été contactés par 36 organisations, dont 19 qui ont déjà reçu une offre concrète. (Pour plus d'informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tél.: +32 229 56169)

 

Commission, data protection and consumer protection authorities look into issues with connected toys and apps

Today, the European Commission is hosting a first joint workshop with Member State authorities in charge of enforcing EU laws on data protection (Data Protection Authorities) and consumer protection (the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network) in Brussels. The aim is to ensure that traders of digital products such as connected toys or apps comply with EU law. Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová,said: "While technological developments and new digital products are enriching our daily lives, EU citizens rightly expect that their products are, first of all, safe. In particular, when it comes to the most vulnerable. For example, more and more children are playing with connected toys. Their parents must be able to rest assured that these toys are safe for them to play with and that their privacy is respected." A team of scientists from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and international experts have published a study analysing both opportunities and risks associated with internet connected objects such as dolls, teddy bears or watches. While the study highlights these toys' potential to expand educational opportunities, it warns against their ability to record, store and share information about their users, which raises concerns about children's safety, privacy and social development. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the JRC, said: “It is easy to see why internet connected toys are attractive to children, but we should not ignore the implications that their use could have for their safety and privacy. The study led by the Joint Research Centre not only highlights areas where further analysis is needed, but also makes practical recommendations for policymakers on how to better deal with the opportunities and risks related to internet connected toys for children." (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel. +32 229 62253; Johannes Bahrke – Tel. +32 229 58615)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Zenith by Bridgepoint

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Zenith by Bridgepoint, both of the UK. Zenith is an independent provider of vehicle leasing, outsourcing and fleet management services to corporate customers in the UK. Bridgepoint is a private equity group focused on investing in established European middle market businesses in a broad range of sectors, including consumer/retail, business services, industrials, financial services, healthcare and media. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the parties' limited combined market shares resulting from the proposed transaction. 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.8395. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of a Radisson Blu Centrum hotel in Warsaw by Mitsubishi Estate Group and the Carlson Group

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over PHD Polska sp. z o.o. of Poland by Europa Capital LLP of the UK and Rezidor Hotels APS Danmark of Denmark. PHD Polska is the owner of the building in which the Radisson Blu Centrum Hotel is located. Europa Capital's ultimate parent is the Mitsubishi Estate Group of Japan, which operates internationally in real estate sectors with its main focus on Japan. In Europe, it is present through Europa Capital. Rezidor is an operator of, among others, the Radisson Blu Centrum Hotel in Warsaw and it's ultimate parent is the Carlson Group of the USA. The Carlson Group is a global hospitality and travel group, with several travel brands including Radisson Blu, Radisson and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. 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.8373. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Meridiana by Qatar Airways and Alisarda

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Meridiana fly S.p.A. of Italy, by Qatar Airways of Qatar and Alisarda of Italy. Meridiana is an airline that operates scheduled and charter passenger services and cargo services to destinations in Europe and Northern Africa and some destinations in the Americas and Asia. Through its subsidiaries, it is also active in aircraft maintenance services as well as tour operating and travel agency services. Qatar Airways is a full-service airline that operates international scheduled passenger air and cargo services. Alisarda is a holding company already controlling Meridiana. The activities of Meridiana and Qatar Airways overlap in a number of routes where at least one of the two parties flies indirectly (with a stopover) and the other directly or indirectly, mainly out of Milan and Rome. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, as the companies' activities on the overlapping routes are very limited or these routes have a very low traffic density. 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.8361. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Atlas Elektronik by Thyssenkrupp

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the remaining shares in Atlas Elektronik GmbH, by Thyssenkrupp Technologies Beteiligungen GmbH, both of Germany. . Atlas Elektronik provides naval systems, in particular sonar systems and combat management system solutions for submarines, surface combatants and mine counter vessels, as well as naval weapons and naval communication systems. It is currently owned and controlled by Thyssenkrupp (51 %) and Airbus OS (49 %). Thyssenkrupp is active in the production of submarines and surface naval vessels, as well as in the production and trading of materials (including steel), industrial and capital goods and the provision of engineering solutions for industrial processes and services. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns. Despite the existing vertical relationships between Atlas Elektronik's naval systems and Thyssenkrupp's submarines and surface vessels, the proposed acquisition does not bring any substantive change to competition in the markets, given that Thyssenkrupp already controls Atlas Elektronik. 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.8393. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Jean Monnet seminar: debating the future of Europe

Today and tomorrow, the Jean Monnet seminar "The future of Europe: a commitment for You(th)", organised by the Commission, will be held in Rome as part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. The discussion will focus on the future of the EU in light of the current challenges facing the Union as well as the engagement of the young generation in the European project. The seminar will also look into how the EU is portrayed in the media as well as in academia, and how to better reach out to citizens. Jean Monnet seminars, which take place regularly, focus on topics of great relevance to the EU, encouraging dialogue between the academic world and policy-makers. The seminar in Rome will bring together over 100 participants, including Jean Monnet professors, but also European, international and national policy-makers, journalists, representatives of civil society and youth associations, as well as students. Launched in 1989, the Jean Monnet programme is today part of Erasmus+. By supporting short modules, chairs and centres of excellence, it promotes the study of and research on EU integration More information on the programme is available here.The seminar will be web streamed online. You can participate in the discussion on Twitter using the hashtags #EU60 and #EU60JeanMonnet. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel. +32 229 58615; Joseph Waldstein – Tel. +32 229 56184)

 

Vice-President Katainen in Finland for European Semester country visit

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, is in Finland today and tomorrow to discuss the future of Europe, European Defence and the economic situation in the country. The Vice-President will engage in an exchange of views with Members of the Finnish Parliament and participate in a meeting with social partners. He will also meet Mr. Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland and Mr. Mika Lintilä, Minister for Economic Affairs. The Vice-President will deliver the keynote address at a European Commission seminar on the European Defence Action Plan. Finally, he will take part in a Citizens' Dialogue event which will focus on the Commission's recently launched White Paper on the future of Europe. The visit takes place in the context of the European Semester, the economic policy coordination cycle of the European Union. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

 

Commissioner Malmström in Portugal to discuss future of Europe and EU trade agenda

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström is in Lisbon today, where she is participating in a Citizens' Dialogue on the future of Europe and the ways ahead for the EU trade policy. On the eve of the 60 year celebrations of the Treaties of Rome, this event gives citizens the opportunity to exchange views with the Commissioner on the evolution of the EU in the years to come, following the publication of the Commission's White Paper on the future of Europe on 1 March.The dialogue will also cover the challenges of the intensive EU trade agenda. Later today, the Commissioner will engage in a debate on the EU-Canada trade deal in the Portuguese Parliament, together with Secretary of State for European Affairs, Margarida Marques, Canada's envoy for the trade agreement with the EU, Pierre Pettigrew, as well as representatives of political parties. As part of the visit, Commissioner Malmström is also attending a hearing at the Portuguese Parliament with members of the committees for European Affairs, Economy and Foreign Affairs, and is meeting with Secretary of State for Trade Paulo Ferreira and Secretary of State for European Affairs Margarida Marques. EbS photo and video will be available. The Citizens' Dialogue will be web-streamed here at 13:00 Brussels time, and a recording will be available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56 185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)  

 

La Commissaire Crețu visite la ville de Charleroi, en Wallonie

Demain,  la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu se rend à Charleroi, dans la région wallonne de la Belgique. Elle rencontrera M. Paul Magnette, Ministre-Président de la Wallonie et bourgmestre de la ville de Charleroi et visitera deux projets soutenus par la politique de Cohésion: le Parc Scientifique et Technologique de l'Aéropole, qui accueille centres de recherches, incubateurs et entreprises dans des secteurs à haute valeur ajoutée (aéronautique, numérique, biotechnologies…) et le "Quai 10", un centre éducatif et culturel dédié à l'image animée et interactive, au cœur de la ville. "Je me rends à Charleroi pour réaffirmer le soutien sans faille de la Commission à la reconversion économique de la région, au vu notamment de la situation de Caterpillar. Nous sommes prêts à mobiliser les outils européens nécessaires pour accompagner la Wallonie dans sa transition vers une économie de la connaissance, durable et diversifiée. Les projets soutenus par l'UE que je vais visiter en sont d'ailleurs de bons exemples. Et parce que le futur de l'économie wallonne est aussi lié aux futurs investissements de l'UE, je viens également discuter de la politique de Cohésion après 2020 avec Monsieur Magnette et les représentants de la région," a déclaré la Commissaire avant sa visite. La Wallonie bénéficie de plus de 680 millions d'euros au titre du Fonds Européen de Développement Régional (FEDER) jusqu'en 2023. Près de 7000 petites et moyennes entreprises et startups wallonnes devraient recevoir le soutien du FEDER durant cette période. (Pour plus d'informations: Jakub Adamowicz –Tél .: +32 229 50595, Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tél .: +32 229 56169)

 

Commissioner Bulc in Sofia to present transport investment opportunities

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc is in Sofia today and tomorrow where she participates in a conference on transport investment, which brings together public and private institutions involved in transport financing and planning. The objective of the event is to help countries in the region to make the best use of the opportunities offered by the Commission's Investment Plan for Europe to enhance their transport network. Boosting infrastructure investment is also vital to stimulate the recent economic recovery and better integrate the region to the internal market, important priorities of the Juncker Commission. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "Public grants will not be enough to deliver on our vision for seamless, intelligent and sustainable mobility. With the Commission's Investment Plan for Europe, we want to offer innovative solutions such as blending funds to mobilise additional private financing. This is particularly important in the cohesion countries where we still need more work to bridge the infrastructure investment gap with other parts of Europe. Boosting investment is also vital to strengthen the region's competitiveness and stimulate the recent economic recovery." More information is available here and on the website of the conference. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)

 

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

MEX/17/741


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