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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 18 / 09 / 2018

Brussels, 18 September 2018

Commission presents comprehensive approach for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation

The European Commission today put forward a first set of ideas to modernise the WTO and to make international trade rules fit for the challenges of the global economy. The concept paper published today sets out the direction of this modernisation effort in three key areas: updating of the WTO rule book, strengthening of the monitoring role of the WTO and overcoming of the imminent deadlock on the WTO dispute settlement system. It will be presented to EU partners in Geneva on 20 September during a meeting on that subject convened by Canada. Presenting the Commission's concept paper, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: "The WTO is indispensable in ensuring open, fair and rules-based trade. But despite its success, the World Trade Organisation has not been able to adapt sufficiently to the rapidly changing global economy. The world has changed, the WTO has not. It's high time to act to make the system able to address challenges of the today's global economy. And the EU must take a lead role in that." The EU remains a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system. For that reason, the European Council of 28-29 June 2018 gave the European Commission a mandate to pursue WTO modernisation to adapt it to a changing world, and to strengthen its effectiveness. The EU already started to engage with key WTO partners – e.g. with the US and Japan, in the framework of the trilateral discussions and with China, in the dedicated working group set up during the latest EU-China Summit, as well as with the members of the G20, last week – and will continue discussing these first ideas with various WTO partners in the coming weeks with a view to preparing concrete proposals to the WTO. For more information, see the full press release and the EU concept paper on WTO reform. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska - Tel.: +32 229 51383)


République centrafricaine: l'UE débloque 26.5 millions d'euros en réponse à la crise humanitaire régionale

La Commission européenne a alloué une aide d'urgence de 26,5 millions d'euros aux familles vulnérables touchées par la crise humanitaire en République centrafricaine qui affecte également les pays voisins. Ce soutien intervient alors que 2,5 millions de personnes, soit la moitié de la population du pays, ont besoin d'assistance et que la crise provoque des départs de réfugiés vers les pays voisins. "L'UE est très investie dans le soutien aux familles vulnérables en République centrafricaine et dans les pays voisins. Notre aide humanitaire va fournir des biens de première nécessité tels que de la nourriture, de l'eau, ainsi qu'un soutien à l'agriculture et des soins. Les opérations d'aide dans le pays sont souvent entravées pour des raisons de sécurité. Il est essentiel que les travailleurs humanitaires puissent apporter de l'aide en toute sécurité; ils ne doivent pas servir de cible." a déclaré le commissaire chargé de l'aide humanitaire et de la gestion des crises, Christos Stylianides. La Commission soutient également les services humanitaires aériens des Nations Unies pour acheminer l'aide à travers le pays. Depuis 2014, l'Union européenne et ses États membres ont mobilisé plus de 500 millions d'euros d'aide humanitaire pour la crise régionale en République centrafricaine. Le communiqué de presse complet est disponible en ligne. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


The European Union strengthens its support to media freedom and young journalists in the Western Balkans

The EU stepped up its support to media freedom and development in the Western Balkans, with a focus on media accountability, funding, capacity building, regional cooperation and young journalists. This was confirmed at the second EU-Western Balkans Media Days conference on 17-18 September in Skopje. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations,said: “Protecting and safeguarding fundamental rights such as media freedom are of crucial importance, also for further progress on the EU path. While our Western Balkans Strategy has triggered a new dynamic for the EU integration of the region, we haven't seen much progress in the area of media freedom. To boost progress also in this area, this year's Media Days put a strong emphasis on education and training of young journalists and on actions that strengthen media literacy, foster reconciliation and support the independence, protection and economic sustainability of a vibrant media scene". The full press release, the factsheet – EU support to media in the Western Balkans and the leaflet EU Enlargement package 2018 - Freedom of expression, information for society and media are available online. Commissioner Johannes Hahn's opening speech and closing remarks, as well as his remarks at the press conference with Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, are also available. Photos and videos are on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijančič – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.:+32 229 64887)


EU provides emergency aid for victims of Tropical Cyclone Mangkhut in the Philippines

The Commission has mobilised an emergency aid package worth €2 million to bring support to the victims of Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines. "The EU is supporting those in need in the Philippines, many of whom are suffering the devastating effects of the cyclone. Our contribution will provide shelter, emergency relief items distribution, water and sanitation, food security for the most vulnerable among those who have lost their homes," said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The EU will fund partner humanitarian organisations already working in the affected areas and will address the most urgent needs of the communities stricken by the typhoon. Copernicus, the European Commission's emergency satellite mapping service, is providing mapping of the most affected areas. A Commission humanitarian expert has also been deployed to the disaster area to assess the needs on the ground. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigation into possible collusion between BMW, Daimler and the VW group on clean emission technology

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether BMW, Daimler and VW (Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche) colluded, in breach of EU antitrust rules, to avoid competition on the development and roll-out of technology to clean the emissions of petrol and diesel passenger cars. In October 2017, the Commission carried out inspections at the premises of BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Audi in Germany as part of its initial inquiries into possible collusion between car manufacturers on the technological development of passenger cars. The Commission's in-depth investigation focusses on information indicating that BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, also called the "circle of five", participated in meetings where they discussed inter alia the development and deployment of technologies to limit harmful car exhaust emissions. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "The Commission is investigating whether BMW, Daimler and VW agreed not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel passenger cars. These technologies aim at making passenger cars less damaging to the environment. If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers." At this stage, the Commission has no indications that the parties coordinated with each other in relation to the use of illegal defeat devices to cheat regulatory testing. The Commission will carry out its in-depth investigation as a matter of priority. The opening of a formal investigation does not prejudge its outcome. A full press release is available in EN, FR,DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Eurobarometer on rail satisfaction: Europeans increasingly satisfied with passenger rail services

According to a Eurobarometer survey published today, 66% of Europeans are satisfied with the frequency of trains. Punctuality and reliability are also well received, with 59% of users satisfied. Moreover, 55% of Europeans are satisfied with the provision of information during the journey, particularly when facing a delay. These figures all represent significant improvements on the results of a similar survey carried out in 2013. The survey also provides an insight into travel habits. Four out of five (80%) Europeans travel by train, and they are most likely to use the train for suburban trips (67%). More than three quarters (78%) never make international trips by rail. Significant room for improvement remains: only 38% of Europeans are satisfied with complaint handling mechanisms, and the accessibility of rail services for persons with reduced mobility requires further work. For example, only 41% of Europeans expressed satisfaction with assistance provided by station staff for persons with disabilities or persons with reduced mobility. The figures also show a need to strengthen the enforcement of passenger rights.  The survey also shows that 75% of Europeans find that buying train tickets is easier and 62% are happy with the availability of tickets for the journeys using several trains and transport, illustrating the value of continued efforts to promote multimodality – the use of different modes (or means) of transport on the same journey – therebyincreasing the attractiveness of rail services. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Stephan Meder – Tel.: +32 229 13917)


New report shows women's underrepresentation in the audiovisual media sector

Today, the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA) will present its report on the representation of women in the audiovisual media industry to European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel, confirming that women are currently underrepresented on-screen and in the audiovisual media industry more widely. The report explores theon-screen representation and portrayal of women, the stereotypes of female characters in advertising as well as women's off-screen representation. It is based on the responses to a survey of 31 audiovisual regulators primarily from within the EU, including some members of the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA). The report shows that there is a willingness among many regulators to address the issue of gender representation in the sector and stresses the potential role of media regulatory authorities in supporting this trend. Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said: "I would like to congratulate the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities for this inspiring first report that provides us with a clear idea of women's representation in the audiovisual sector. The valuable data should allow us to strengthen our action across the EU to achieve a gender balanced audiovisual sector. I trust that by working together, by enabling and ambitious initiatives, we could in the near future see more women in leading positions." The report also highlights the need for more comprehensive data in this area and the sharing of best practices as well as lessons learnt. The findings will feed into the Commission's work for growth and gender equality in the digital sector. Further details are available here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund Tel.: +32 229 50698)


Making Science Cool: European Union Contest for Young Scientists to reward Europe's rising stars in science [Updated on 18/09/2018 at 12:33]

This afternoon, the European Union Contest for Young Scientist (EUCYS) will announce the winners of this year's contest at an awards ceremony in Dublin. The ceremony, which starts at 14:00 GMT, is the culmination of 3-days of activities that celebrate and promote the achievements and cooperation of young scientists and give them an opportunity to compete with the best of their contemporaries. This year's contest, which marks its 30th edition, has brought together over 130 students from 38 countries in Europe and beyond. Together, they have presented a total of 88 projects, covering a wide range of scientific fields from, in the hope of impressing the international jury and winning one of the prestigious prizes. These include awards of up to EUR 7000 for the best projects and many opportunities for the teams to visit top science centres around the world to learn from the world's best scientists. The award ceremony of #EUCYS2018 will be covered live on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and more event materials will be available on YouTube and Flickr. A news alert will be available here once the winners are announced. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko Tel.: +32 229 87278)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Link by Abry Partners

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Link Mobility Group ASA, of Norway by Abry Partners II LLC, of the US. Link is active in the mobile communication sector, specialising in mobile messaging services, mobile solutions and mobile intelligence, across different industries and sectors. Abry Partners is a company which manages private equity funds. The funds managed by Abry Partners hold interests in a broad range of businesses focusing on media, communications, business and information services. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of the absence of horizontal overlaps or vertical links between the 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.9024. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)




Commissioner Avramopoulos in Greece to discuss migration management

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos will be in Athens, Greece tomorrow where he will meet Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece. Meetings are also scheduled with the Minister for Migration Dimitris Vitsas and the Minister for Civil Protection Olga Gerovasili. Discussions will focus on migration management, including the reception conditions and current challenges on the Greek islands. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)


Commissioner Navracsics promotes the European Year of Cultural Heritage in the Czech Republic

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport, will travel to Kroměříž tomorrow to give a keynote speech at a conference on ‘the Birth of the Modern Central European Citizen', one of the highlights of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage in the Czech Republic. The conference, which is organised by the Palacký University Olomouc with the Museum of Art in Olomouc, will bring together politicians, policy makers and leading figures from the cultural heritage sector. Commissioner Navracsics will use the occasion to promote the European Year as a means of putting the spotlight on the history and cultural heritage of Central European countries. The conference takes place on the eve of the official opening of the exhibition ‘Years of Disarray/Between Anxiety and Delight', a collection of art examining and exploring the origins of what it is to be a Central European. With the label of the European Year, the exhibition will tour the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary until 2020. The Commissioner's speech will be available online at around 16:00(For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Commissioner Gabriel meets in Brussels with EU Code Week ambassadors

Commissioner Gabriel met this morning in Brussels with EU Code Week ambassadors ahead of the 6th edition of the EU Code Week – a yearly grassroots movement that promotes programming and wider tech knowledge. The Code Week will take place this year from 6 to 21 October 2018 with tens of thousands of activities promoting computer language and coding mainly in the EU but also beyond. In the recent years many countries outside the EU have joined or even replicated the initiative, with events taking place for example also in Albania, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Ukraine, the U.S. and Yemen. Also this year more than a million people are expected to participate in the interactive events, including children, parents and teachers. Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said after the meeting with the ambassadors: "Grassroots events such as the Code Week are essential in helping children to discover the exciting world of computer programming and tech. This year, we are putting special focus on involving more schools in the event and are grateful to our committed Code Week ambassadors for promoting the initiative in their home countries. I especially want to encourage teachers all across Europe to give their students a possibility to discover the vast potential of coding, as it helps develop 21st century competences such as computational thinking, problem solving, creativity and teamwork." The Code Week is offering free resources and new training materials for teachers that want to prepare lessons on coding, with a dedicated EU Code Week Schools page available in many languages. Last year, 1.2 million people in more than 50 countries around the world took part in the EU Code Week. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund Tel.: +32 229 50698)


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


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