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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 25 / 09 / 2018

Brussels, 25 September 2018

President Juncker addresses Nelson Mandela Peace Summit 

President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday - at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the United Nations Headquarters - paid tribute to Madiba and highlighted the importance of a true partnership with Africa, as outlined also during his 2018 State of the Union speech. President Juncker said: “Mandela venait d'un continent cousin, un continent jeune, noble et prometteur d'avenir. Cette Afrique avec laquelle l'Europe est liée par une communauté de destin. Ce continent voisin avec lequel nous voulons tisser des liens toujours plus étroits. Parce qu'une alliance entre nos deux continents, une alliance entre égaux, est la seule voie possible.” The Summit was called on the occasion of the centenary of Mandela's birth to reflect on the global peace, with political leaders committing to redouble the efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world. The full speech of President Juncker is available here and the political declaration adopted by the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit here. More information on the Europe-Africa Alliance as put forward by President Junckerhere. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Esther Osorio – Tel.: +32 229 62076)


EU@UNGA73 on Tuesday

President Jean-Claude Juncker, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will together with European Council President Donald Tusk attend today the opening of the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York. In the side-lines, President Juncker, accompanied by Commissioner Hahn, will also hold a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze. In the afternoon, in one of this year's EU flagship events, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will host the event ‘Fighting Plastic Pollution: A Global Race to the Top' with the UN Environment Programme. The event is part of the Commission's commitment to multilateralism and to the Sustainable Development Goals, and contributes to the implementation of the international dimension of the EU Plastics Strategy (live stream here at 16:00 local time, 22:00 CET). High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will convene for the second time the Global Tech Panel, bringing together global leaders from the private sector and civil society to foster new types of cooperation between diplomacy and technology. Vice-President Dombrovskis will address a World Economic Forum Summit on Sustainable Development to speak on mobilising capital markets towards ecological resilience. Commissioner Johannes Hahn will meet with Foreign Ministers of the Western Balkans to discuss next steps on regional integration. Commissioner Mimica will participate at an event by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) on 'Breaking the cycle between conflict and hunger - working toward Sustainable Peace'. Commissioner Stylianides will discuss gender-responsive Humanitarian Action in the Rohingya Refugee Crisis and address an event on delivering assistance in South Sudan. Commissioner Andriukaitis will have a number of events dedicated to health and will deliver a speech on Circulatory Health at the Harvard Club. EU audio-visual coverage of all these engagements as well as the press events and the bilateral meetings the EU high-level representatives held on Monday in New York and will hold on Tuesday can be found online on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Esther Osorio – Tel.: +32 229 62076)


Countries launch UN work to shut down global trade in torture tools

The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade - at the ministerial meeting in New York on Monday, co-chaired by Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström - agreed to step up the pace of its efforts and work towards a United Nations instrument, such as a binding convention, to stop the trade in instruments for torture and the death penalty. The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade is an initiative of the European Union, Argentina and Mongolia. In a further boost to its work, the Alliance also saw a further five countries joining, bringing the total to more than 60. "Systematic use of torture is a crime against humanity," said Commissioner Malmström. "We demonstrate our commitment to human rights and taking concrete steps to eradicating torture and capital punishment," she added. For more information, see a press release and the website of the Alliance. Photos and videos are available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Daniel Rosario –Tel.: +32 229 56185; Esther Osorio – Tel.: +32 229 62076; Kinga Malinowska –Tel.: +32 229 51383)


Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) annual report: record exchange of information helped to trace and remove affected products from the market 

The report on the use of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed published today shows that a total of 3832 notifications of food or feed risks were reported to the European Commission in 2017. 942 of these were classified as "alert", indicating a serious health risk for which rapid action was required. The type of risks mostly concerned salmonella in poultry meat as the most frequently reported issue in food checked at the EU border and mercury in swordfish in food checked on the EU market. Only a small percentage of the notifications in 2017 related to feed (6%) and food contact materials (3.1%). Also in 2017, a high number of notifications related to fipronil residues in eggs due to the illegal use of this substance as a biocide. It was the most intensive exchange of information in the history of RASFF and it helped to trace and remove the affected eggs from the market. Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, in charge of  Health and Food Safety said: "For almost 40 years now, this alert system has been a key tool to ensure that food put on the market in the EU is safe, can be traced, and quickly removed from the shelves if need be. Fipronil incident has led us to propose ways to further strengthen the system, making it more equipped to fight against fraud through coordinated actions by food operators and Member States' authorities in this area. Most of the improvements and concrete measures that Member States committed to are well on the way. I am looking forward to presenting the full report in the AGRIFISH Council in November''. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


Eurobarometer: 4 out of 5 EU citizens support private sector in development cooperation

The latest Eurobarometer survey shows that EU citizens increasingly view the private sector as having a greater role to play in international development, as well as seeing development cooperation as a means to address irregular migration. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “European citizens back our efforts to boost private investment in development cooperation, deliver gender equality and address the root causes of irregular migration. This shows that our proposal to deepen our economic relationship with Africa by focussing on private investment is on the right track with citizens. We should see this as a call to do more on development, and do it now”. Furthermore, the survey shows that gender equality is seen as a top priority, while development cooperation continues to maintain strong support. Find out more in our press release. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Journée européenne des langues: célébrer les langues en tant que patrimoine culturel

Demain (26 septembre), la Journée européenne des langues sera célébrée en Europe dans le cadre de l'Année européenne du patrimoine culturel. Les écoles, les instituts culturels, les bibliothèques et les associations organiseront divers événements, notamment des séminaires, des quiz, des conférences, des émissions de radio, des lectures de poèmes et des récits. À Bruxelles, la Commission européenne organisera une conférence publique sur l'éducation multilingue et l'expression culturelle le lendemain, le 27 septembre. Les participants discuteront des politiques et des pratiques en la matière et seront invités à écouter de la poésie, de la musique et des images et à explorer une exposition présentant des langues moins connues parlées dans l'Union européenne. Tout cela illustrera la richesse du patrimoine linguistique européen. Tibor Navracsics, commissaire chargé de l'éducation, de la culture, de la jeunesse et du sport, a déclaré: "Les langues sont au carrefour de la culture, de l'éducation et de l'identité. La promotion de la diversité linguistique fait partie de l'ADN de l'UE. Et l'apprentissage des langues est au cœur de nos efforts pour construire un espace européen de l'éducation d'ici à 2025. C'est pourquoi, en mai dernier, j'ai présenté une recommandation du Conseil visant à stimuler l'apprentissage et l'enseignement des langues. Cette année, l'UE a une occasion spéciale de célébrer les langues: la base juridique du multilinguisme, qui définit les langues officielles de l'UE et représente la raison d'être de la traduction et de l'interprétation dans l'UE, le règlement du Conseil 1/58, célèbre son 60ème anniversaire. À cette occasion, le commissaire Günther H. Oettinger, chargé du budget, des ressources humaines, de la traduction et de l'interprétation, a déclaré: "Dans l'Union européenne, nous devons pouvoir mieux comprendre, interagir et travailler les uns avec les autres. Travailler pour des citoyens dans 24 langues nécessite de nombreux héros invisibles. La Journée européenne des langues est une merveilleuse occasion de rendre hommage au travail de tous les traducteurs et interprètes dont les efforts inlassables contribuent à rendre l'Europe possible." La liste complète des événements dans les États membres de l'UE est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund Tel.: +32 229 50698; Andreana Stankova - Tel.: +32 229 57857) 


Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Slovak rail company ZSSK for obstruction during inspection

The European Commission has informed Slovak rail company ZSSK of its preliminary view that the company obstructed a Commission inspection by giving incorrect information and deleting data from a laptop. The inspection was part of an antitrust inquiry in the rail passenger transport sector. The Commission carried out inspections at the ZSSK premises in June 2016. The Commission suspected that ZSSK may have entered into anti-competitive agreements aimed at shutting out competing rail passenger transport operators from the market, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The purpose of the ongoing inquiry is to verify whether these concerns have any merits and need to be followed up. The power to carry out inspections is one of the Commission's most important investigative tools to detect infringements of the antitrust rules. The companies must provide full support to the Commission's inspectors. EU rules governing antitrust investigations require companies under investigation to submit to the inspection. Failure to do so can lead to the imposition of fines of up to 1% of their annual total turnover. The Commission takes the preliminary view that by this behaviour ZSSK may have infringed its obligation to comply with the inspectors under the antitrust Regulation 1/2003. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “Companies have the obligation to provide correct information when we investigate. Also during inspections. They should not tamper with the requested data in any way. Such behaviour would threaten the integrity and effectiveness of our investigations. We want to make sure that companies comply with our rules." The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE, SK. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)


State aid: Commission approves support to two highly efficient cogeneration plants in Germany

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, German plans to support the modernisation of a highly efficient cogeneration plant located in Munich and the construction of a new highly efficient cogeneration plant in Herne (Ruhr area). The two individual support measures are granted under Germany's 2016 Combined Heat and Generation Act (CHP Act), which the Commission approved under EU state aid rules in October 2016. Under the scheme, operators of highly efficient cogeneration plants receive a premium on top of the market price. The Commission found that Germany's support to the two plants will contribute to the EU's energy and environmental objectives without unduly distorting competition in the Internal Market, in line with the Commission's 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy. In this respect, cogeneration increases energy efficiency by recycling the heat from power generation for other uses, to the overall benefit of the environment. Germany had to notify the two support measures to the Commission individually, because both plants exceed the 300 Megawatt notification threshold set out in the Guidelines. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the State Aid Register under the case numbers SA.49371 and SA.49843. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Thorne by Kirin and Mitsui

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Thorne Holding Corporation ("Thorne"), of the US by Kirin Holdings Company, Limited ("Kirin") and Mitsui & Co., Ltd., both of Japan. Thorne develops, manufactures and sells high-end nutritional supplements, animal nutritional supplements and self-diagnostic tests for at-home detection of various health problems. Kirin is active in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and integrated beverage businesses. Mitsui is a trading house engaging in a number of worldwide commodity and other businesses. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because Thorne has a very limited current and foreseeable presence in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the companies are not engaged in business activities in the same products 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.9052. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Denmark joins European supercomputing collaboration

Denmark became the 22nd European country to sign the European declaration on high-performance computing with the aim to pool European and national resources to build and deploy world-class supercomputers in Europe. With the signature Denmark signalled its commitment to join the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking once it is established later this year. The aim of the initiative is to improve European supercomputing capacity and to reach the global top 3. High-performance computing is needed to process ever larger amounts of data and help researchers make scientific breakthroughs in many areas. For example, it is already improving people's lives in sectors such as healthcare, weather, clean energy, precision agriculture and cybersecurity. The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, which is due to begin operations before the end of this year, will cover the whole value chain from technology components to systems and machines, and to applications and skills. It will offer expertise and training with a particular focus on helping small and medium-sized companies. The EU's contribution in the cooperation project will be around €486 million under the current EU budget, which should be matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries. More information is available here, and more information on enhanced cooperation, to which the supercomputing initiative belongs, can be found in this factsheet. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund Tel.: +32 229 50698)


Helsinki and Lyon named European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2019

Yesterday evening Helsinki and Lyon were announced as winners of the first edition of the European Capital of Smart Tourism competition. The two cities have showcased how they can develop tourism sustainably, ensure accessibility to destinations, embrace the digital transformation and link tourism to cultural heritage. Throughout 2019 Lyon and Helsinki will be given EU wide visibility and will be provided with networking opportunities, exchange of best practice and expert support. Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: "Congratulations to Helsinki and Lyon for their successes. I believe that the European Capital of Smart Tourism initiative will help to establish a framework of exchange of good practices and cooperation between European cities. The tourism sector is very important for the EU economy so we all need to work together effectively to be competitive and grow in a sustainable way." In addition, four cities have been recognised for their outstanding achievements in accessibility (Malaga, Spain), sustainability (Ljubljana, Slovenia), digitisation (Copenhagen, Denmark) and cultural heritage & creativity (Linz, Austria). The winners, which will officially be rewarded at the European Tourism Day conference on 7 November 2018 in Brussels, have been chosen among a total of 38 cities from 19 EU Member States. With a contribution of 10% to EU GDP, the tourism sector plays a crucial role in generating growth and jobs, but still holds untapped potential – especially in the area of smart tourism. The European Commission aims to keep the European tourism sector ahead of the curve. More information is available in a news item. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040; Mirna Talko – Tél.: +32 229 87278)


Latest agri-food trade figures: solid EU export performance continues

The EU agri-food trade has remained largely stable according to the latest monthly report. EU exports have been holding firm at €11.5 billion and, though imports have overall slightly decreased, there has been a noticeable increase in goods imported from the US. This has been largely due to a rise in the value of soybean imports. Exports to Singapore and Japan grew considerably reflecting the strong performance of EU products on these markets during the last year. European wines continue to perform well on international markets, with exports growing by €82 million compared to the same period last year. Other sectors that have seen strong growth include spirits and liqueurs, as well as sugar. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185, Clemence Robin - Tel.: +32 229 52509)




Commissioner Crețu in Italy to present the Commission's post-2020 Cohesion Policy proposal

From Wednesday 26 to Friday 28 September, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu will visit the Italian regions of Liguria and Puglia. In Liguria on September 26, the Commissioner will meet mayors of the Western part of the region (Ponente Liguria). In Puglia on September 27 and 28, the Commissioner will meet Barbara Lezzi, Italian Minister for the South and Michele Emiliano, President of the Puglia region, with whom she will discuss the Commission's post-2020 Cohesion Policy proposal. The Commissioner will also visit EU-funded projects and participate to an event on Cohesion Policy and territorial investments in the city of Bari, as well as to the conference on "Italy 2030: the cities that shape the future of Europe". Commissioner Crețu said: "To Minister Lezzi, President Emiliano and all the local and regional stakeholders I will have the chance to meet, I will present our proposal for the 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy, under which we propose even more financial resources for Italian regions to grow, innovate and create a better future for their inhabitants." More information on the Commission's proposal for the future Cohesion Policy is available here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615, Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tel.: +32 229 56169)


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


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