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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 13 / 03 / 2018

Brussels, 13 March 2018

President Juncker addresses the European Parliament on the guidelines on the framework of future EU-UK relations and on preparations ahead of the European Council meeting of 22 and 23 March 2018

Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg this morning, President Juncker highlighted that further clarity is needed from the UK to reach an understanding on the future relationship, when he said: "As the clock counts down, with one year to go, it is now time to translate speeches into treaties; to turn commitments into agreements; broad suggestions and wishes on the future relationship to specific, workable solutions." The President added that this is especially important with regards to Ireland. "Both the United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed that there should be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement must be preserved in all its dimensions. And life for citizens on both sides of the border should be the same as it is today", President Juncker said, underlining the unity within the European Union and the 27 Member States when it comes to Ireland. "For us, this is not an Irish issue. It is a European issue", he said. "It is all for one and one for all – that is what it means to be part of this Union". The full text of President Juncker's speech is available online here. The European Commission published the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on 28 February. More information is available here. In a second intervention in the European Parliament today, and following his recent tour of the Western Balkans, President Juncker said that the March European Council is about focussing on building a stronger, more democratic and united Union. Addressing the US decision to impose restrictions on steel and aluminium, President Juncker underlined that in the run-up to the Council, the Commission will continue to make the point that exports from the European Union are clearly not a threat to the United States' national security: “We will defend our workers, we will defend our industry, and we will do so respecting the rules that the world agreed to under the WTO", he said. Ahead of the Spring European Council, which will have a strong focus on economic affairs, President Juncker underlined that strengthening the European Union means investing in the architecture of our Economic and Monetary Union, and that now is the time do this as Europe's economy grows; this includes completing the Banking Union, and developing the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund, he said, stressing that "this is a means to creating the conditions for a better, more prosperous and fairer life for all our citizens". The full text of the speech is available online here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)


COLLEGE MEETING: Commission adopts proposals for a European Labour Authority and for access to social protection: delivering further on the European Pillar of Social Rights

Today, the European Commission is taking more concrete new initiatives to further deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights. More specifically, the Commission presents its proposal for a European Labour Authority, as announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, as well as an initiative to ensure access to social protection for all workers and self-employed. These initiatives are accompanied by a Communication on the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which will be closely linked to the European Semester of policy coordination. Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: "Europe is now steadily growing and employment is on the rise, but we have to ensure that growth is more inclusive to the benefit of all. This package sets out a number of steps to make that happen: by making sure the rules for people to live and work across the European Union are well known and enforced, by following up on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, pushing the broader momentum for social rights, and by focusing on access to social protection. A stronger social Europe is a more sustainable Europe." Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, added: "Our work to ensure fair labour mobility culminates in today's proposal for a European Labour Authority. This is essential for a well-functioning European labour market. It will help citizens and businesses on the move find the right information and strengthen cooperation between the Member States to enforce fair and effective rules. And with our proposal on access to social protection, we are working with Member States to make sure that nobody is left behind. Our aim is to ensure that people have access to adequate benefits no matter how the new world of work evolves." Commissioner Thyssen's press conference on the topic can be watched here. More information is available in this press release, as well as in a detailed memo on the European Labour Authority and a second memo on the Recommendation for access to social protection for workers and self-employed. The main points of the proposals are summarised in a factsheet on the Labour Authority and one on access to social protection. Finally, you can find an update on the implementation of the Pillar of Social Rights in this factsheet. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


RÉUNION DU COLLEGE: Une nouvelle conseillère juridique principale nommée au service juridique de la Commission européenne

Aujourd'hui, la Commission européenne a nommé Mme Brunhilde Elisabeth Schültke au poste de conseillère juridique principale au service juridique de la Commission européenne; elle entrera en fonction à compter du 16 mars. Mme Schültke, d'origine allemande, est actuellement Experte confirmée dans l'équipe qualité de la législation (depuis décembre 2014) et Chef d'unité faisant fonction (depuis septembre 2017). Mme Schültke a rejoint la Commission européenne en 1990, au sein du Service de Traduction. Elle est par la suite entrée au Service juridique en 1994, où elle a acquis une importante expérience en occupant des postes tels que juriste-reviseur de 1994 à 2007 et Cheffe de secteur de 2007 à 2014. Mme Schültke a aussi travaillé au Ministère Fédéral Allemand de l'agriculture. (Pour plusd'informations: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265, Maria Tsoni – +21 229 90526)


Commission welcomes adoption of far-reaching new transparency rules for tax advisers in the EU

The Commission has welcomed the political agreement reached by EU Member States today on new transparency rules for intermediaries - such as tax advisers, accountants, banks and lawyers - who design and promote tax planning schemes for their clients. The decision was taken by EU Economic and Financial Affairs ministers at their meeting in Brussels this morning. First proposed by the Commission in June 2017, the new measures build on a multitude of ambitious rules to fight tax avoidance and to boost tax transparency already agreed at EU level under the Juncker Commission. Once in force, tax intermediaries who provide their clients with complex cross‑border financial schemes that could help avoid tax will be obliged to report these structures to their tax authorities. In turn, EU Member States will exchange this information with each other, further increasing scrutiny around the activities of tax planners and advisers. Following the agreement, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “The new rules agreed today confirm the EU as the world leader in tax transparency. EU tax administrations will now have access to the information they need to put an end to the aggressive tax planning schemes eroding their tax bases. I warmly congratulate Member States who have again reaffirmed their commitment to more openness and better cooperation, facilitating fairer and more effective taxation throughout the EU." A press release, updated MEMO and factsheet are available. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: + 32 229 87183)


Fonds européen de la défense: la Commission salue le vote du Parlement européen qui ouvre la voie aux négociations avec le Conseil

La Commission salue le vote aujourd'hui du Parlement européen lui permettant d'engager des négociations avec le Conseil en vue d'un accord sur le Programme européen de développement industriel dans le domaine de la défense (EDIDP), un pilier du Fonds européen de la défense annoncé par le Président Juncker en septembre 2016 et lancé en juin 2017. Le rapport du Parlement a été adopté par la commission parlementaire ITRE (industrie, recherche et énergie) le 21 février dernier et finalement voté aujourd'hui par les députés européens réunis en plénière à Strasbourg. Le Conseil a lui validé son approche générale en décembre dernier. Le premier trilogue est prévu pour le 15 mars 2018. La Commission travaillera avec les colégislateurs pour parvenir à un accord au plus vite, afin de pouvoir lancer les premiers projets capacitaires dès 2019. Avec cette proposition, l'Union européenne souhaite en effet encourager les entreprises européennes à coopérer pour le développement conjoint d'équipements et de technologies de défense cofinancé par le budget européen (500 millions d'euros en 2019 et 2020). Certains projets, sous la bannière de la Coopération structurée permanente (PESCO), pourraient bénéficier, sous conditions, d'un plus fort pourcentage de co-financement. Le volet "recherche" du Fonds, qui bénéficie de 90 millions d'euros au titre de l'exercice 2017-19, porte déjà ses fruits avec ses premières conventions de subvention. Le programme de travail et les financements pour 2018 viennent par ailleurs d'être publiés, les appels d'offre suivront. Notre fiche d'informations est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucía Caudet - Tél.: +32 229 56182; Maud Noyon - Tél.: +32 229-80379; Victoria von Hammerstein - Tél.: +32 229 55040)


Bright and bold innovators to receive €94.25 million EU funding to scale uptheir businesses [updated on 15/03/2018 at 16:48 CET]

57 small and medium-sized companies have been selected for funding under the Horizon 2020 European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot, which aims to nurture breakthrough innovation. The companies, which underwent face-to-face interviews with a jury of innovators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, will receive a total amount of €94.25 million. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “With the European Innovation Council pilot, we set out to support high-flying entrepreneurs with breakthrough ideas and a clear ability to create new markets. This very first group of innovators certainly has that potential.” Examples of the projects include a 3D printer for food, an innovative treatment for breast cancer, multi-active cardboard packaging that extends the shelf life of vegetables by 40% or a new type of biodegradable bioplastic. Projects can expect to receive between €0.5 million and €2.5 million, however companies can request higher amounts when applying, duly justified, to ensure their innovation activities can yield market-mature results. The companies will also benefit from free business coaching and business acceleration services. Most companies come from the fields of health, engineering and information & communication technology (ICT), and are based in Spain (13), the Netherlands (6), followed by France and Finland (both 5) and thirteen other countries. The funding comes from the SME Instrument, which has been brought under the umbrella of the EIC pilot. The EIC pilot was launched in 2017 bringing together the parts of the research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 that provide funding, advice and networking opportunities for those at cutting edge of innovation. More information is available in a news item. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040; Maud Noyon – Tel. +32 229-80379)


Trade: China remains chief concern in latest EU report on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights

The European Commission published yesterday its latest report on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in countries outside the EU. The report helps the Commission to update its list of "priority countries" and to focus its efforts and resources on the specific areas of concern with the aim of protecting European companies and consumers from counterfeiting and piracy worldwide. The report also highlights a particular problem with counterfeit pharmaceuticals and copyright piracy. China continues to be the top priority for the EU because of persistent and longstanding problems. More than 80% of the seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods come from China or Hong Kong. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "Today's report highlights just some of the problems that EU companies and consumers face both in Europe and worldwide. Intellectual property theft – such as counterfeiting and piracy – stifles innovation and erodes confidence with our trading partners. This is a particular problem in China which still accounts for the vast majority of seized counterfeit and pirated goods, although some progress has been made. I hope that this report, along with our upcoming Counterfeiting and Piracy Watch-List, will be an incentive for other countries to act on this issue in their own jurisdictions." This report is one of a number of initiatives that the Commission is undertaking to protect EU intellectual property and consumers. A public consultation was recently launched to help identify the Commission's new Counterfeiting and Piracy Watch-List, which will highlight both on and off-line marketplaces outside the EU where counterfeiting, piracy or other forms of intellectual property abuse are common practice. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Kinga Malinowska – Tel: +32 229 51383)


Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture by ELG Haniel and Iberinox

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture by ELG Haniel GmbH of Germany and Iberinox 88 S.A. of Spain. The joint venture will be active in the trade of raw materials for the steel industry. ELG Haniel and Iberinox are both active worldwide in the trade of raw materials for the steel industry. Following the transaction, the joint venture will take over Iberinox' business with the exception of the activities of its subsidiary Acerec, which will continue its current business unaffected by the proposed concentration. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the limited market shares of the parent companies. 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.8606. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Robyg by Goldman Sachs and Centerbridge

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Robyg S.A. of Poland by The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and Centerbridge Partners L.P., both of the US. Robyg S.A. is active in the construction and sale of flats and commercial real estate in Poland. The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is active in global investment banking, securities and investment management. Centerbridge Partners L.P. is active in investment management, focused on private equity and distressed investment opportunities. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited impact it would have on the market. 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.8816. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Concesionaria Mexiquense by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and IFM Investors

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Concesionaria Mexiquense S.A. de C.V. ("Conmex") of Mexico by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec ("CDPQ") of Canada and IFM Investors Pty Ltd of Australia.  Conmex is active in the building and operation of the group of toll roads that which form the Mexiquense Beltway in Mexico. CDPQ is a global institutional investor which manages funds mainly for public and para-public pension as well as insurance plans. IFM Investors is a global investment manager with assets under management across infrastructure, listed equities, private capital and debt investments. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns in the European Economic Area because Conmex solely operates in Mexico and in markets unrelated to those in which CDPQ is active. 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.8811. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Sarantopoulou - Tel.: +32 229 13740) 


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