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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 23 / 11 / 2018

Brussels, 23 November 2018

Les régions ultrapériphériques et l'UE: un partenariat renouvelé et renforcé, un an après  

Aujourd'hui, à l'occasion de la conférence annuelle des régions ultrapériphériques et en présence de la commissaire Creţu, la Commission présente une série d'initiatives qui aideront ces régions à exprimer pleinement leur potentiel. Un an après le lancement de la nouvelle stratégie de l'UE pour les régions ultrapériphériques, ces initiatives, qui visent à promouvoir l'innovation, l'économie circulaire et la croissance bleue dans ces régions, accompagnent l'attention accordée à leurs besoins spécifiques dans les propositions de la Commission pour le prochain budget à long terme de l'Europe. Le président de la Commission européenne, Jean-Claude Juncker, a déclaré: «L'on connait désormais mon attachement aux régions ultrapériphériques, qui concentrent les richesses humaines et naturelles de notre Union. Laboratoires d'excellence et gardiennes de la biodiversité, c'est aussi dans ces régions que commence le futur de l'Europe.  Il y a un an, en Guyane, nous avons renouvelé le partenariat qui nous unit. Aujourd'hui nous parcourons encore les kilomètres qui nous séparent pour apporter à ces régions de nouveaux gages de soutien.» Ces initiatives comprennent notamment la modification des règles en matière d'aides d'État pour soutenir l'acquisition de nouveaux navires avec une possibilité d'aides plus élevées pour la petite et moyenne flotte, 4,3 millions d'euros pour promouvoir la recherche et l'innovation dans ces régions, ainsi que le lancement d'une task force pour fournir un soutien sur mesure aux îles Canaries  et relever le défi de la gestion des déchets dans l'archipel. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. Des fiches sur ces nouvelles initiatives, sur les mesures spécifiques aux régions ultrapériphériques dans la proposition de la Commission pour le budget européen 2021-2027, sur le Plan Juncker dans ces régions ainsi que sur le soutien de l'UE dans chacune des neuf régions sont aussi disponibles en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Johannes Bahrke, Tél.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr- Tél.: +32 229 56169)

 

European Open Science Cloud becomes a reality

Today, the Commission, Member States and the science community launch the European Open Science Cloud. The Cloud will provide a safe environment for researchers to store, analyse and re-use data for research, innovation and educational purposes. The Commission presents the governance structure and portal to EU science ministers and future users at an event of the Austrian presidency in Vienna. Under the EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, €600 million has been allocated to setting up the European Open Science Cloud by 2020. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “With the Open Science priority, we set out to change the way European science works. And the launch of the first Cloud portal today is a major milestone on that journey. The Cloud will give Europe a global edge in reaping the full benefits of data-driven science. Thanks to the commitment of scientists, the industry and the EU Member States we have seen an idea become reality in less than three years." Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, added: “The European Open Science Cloud will allow millions of researchers to store, manage, analyse and re-use vast amounts of research data in a trusted environment across technologies, disciplines and borders. It will unlock the value of big data by providing world-class supercomputing capability, high-speed connectivity and leading-edge data and software services for science, industry and the public sector. With its governance structure in place and an online portal accessible to all, today the European Open Science Cloud becomes a reality.” The Cloud was proposed in April 2016 by the Commission and thereafter developed in a collective effort by the European Commission, the Member States and the scientific community. This universal entry point has the potential to help 1.7 million researchers and 70 million professionals in science, technology, humanities and social sciences to access a growing volume of open data. Later today, the EU ministers in charge of research and science, delegates and other participants of the event are expected to adopt the Vienna declaration endorsing the governance structure of the Cloud and confirming their willingness to continue working together towards realising its full potential. More information can be found here. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.:+32 229 67083; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040; Marietta Grammenou- Tel.:+32 229 83583)

 

Le Plan Juncker et le fonds européen pour le développement rural investissent dans la région française de Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Le Fonds européen d'investissement (FEI) a signé aujourd'hui une convention de financement avec la région de Nouvelle-Aquitaine afin de créer un fonds de garantie régional cofinancé à hauteur de 30 million d'euros par le budget européen pour  le développement rural (FEADER) et la région et de six millions d'euros par le Fonds européen d'investissement stratégique (EFSI). Cela devrait générer 150 millions d'euros de prêts supplémentaires en trois ans pour les agriculteurs et le secteur agro-alimentaire de la région. Ce fonds nouvellement créé vise à faciliter l'accès des agriculteurs au financement et à soutenir la transition du secteur agricole vers des pratiques plus écologiques et de nouvelles activités.  En 2016, le commissaire à l'agriculture et au développement rural, Phil Hogan, avait lancé une initiative de financement européen pour l'économie rurale, visant ainsi à améliorer l'accès au financement pour les agriculteurs et les entrepreneurs ruraux. Le Fonds européen agricole pour le développement rural (FEADER) et le Fonds européen d'investissement stratégique (EFSI), qui est au cœur du plan d'investissement de la Commission Juncker pour l'Europe, sont les deux piliers de financement des projets découlant de cette initiative. D'autres fonds sont en cours de création dans le cadre de l'initiative FEADER-EFSI. Plus d'informations sont en ligne(Pour plus d'informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin - Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

EU steps up humanitarian support in Sudan

As millions of people continue to be in need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan, the Commission has announced an additional €18 million in emergency aid. This brings total EU humanitarian funding in Sudan for 2018 to €41 million. "The EU is committed to help people in need in Sudan. Our new funding will get emergency aid to those displaced by conflict and deliver nutrition treatment for malnourished children. We will also support humanitarian air services, so that aid can reach people in areas which are difficult to access.said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. All EU humanitarian aid in Sudan is closely monitored and provided only through NGOs, UN agencies and international organisations. Read the full press release here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32229 69140)

 

EU to promote sustainable development in Central Asia with €124 million

The EU announced today cooperation programmes that will promote sustainable development in Central Asia. This announcement comes as ministers from across Central Asia meet with senior EU officials at the EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting. A set of regional programmes, worth over €88 million, will support the private sector, trade and investment in the region, as well as help to protect the environment, tackle climate change and promote the rule of law. This support will be spread across six regional programmes, which will benefit Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Furthermore, a bilateral programme worth €36 million, will support effective and inclusive education policies in Kyrgyzstan. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: "These programmes worth €124 in total will support jobs and sustainable development in our partner countries across Central Asia. In particular, our bilateral programme will support the Kyrgyz Government in ensuring equitable and inclusive quality education for all. Together, we will work to create opportunities and shared prosperity, while protecting our planet for future generations." Read the full press release here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

Energy Union: Increased solidarity to prevent and manage electricity crises in the EU: Commission welcomes agreement 

A Political agreement on a proposal to improve the EU's risk preparedness in the electricity sector was reached yesterday evening between negotiators from the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "Today's deal is another major delivery in our transition to a clean and secure energy system Today's electricity markets are increasingly interlinked. With today's deal, Europeans will be better protected against black-outs. It will ensure that all Member States put in place appropriate tools to prevent, prepare for and manage crisis situations in the supply of electricity. Even when markets and systems function well, the risk of an emergency due to unforeseen circumstances cannot be excluded. Such situations can be managed more effectively through cross border co-ordination in a spirit of solidarity among neighbours." This deal means that five out of the eight legislative proposals of the 2016 Clean Energy for All Europeans package have been politically agreed by the co-legislators, after the agreements in the first half of 2018 on the Governance proposal, the revised Energy Efficiency Directive, the revised Renewable Energy Directive and the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive. It is clear progress and momentum towards completing the Energy Union and combatting climate change are well under way. The Juncker Commission, working under its political priority “a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy", is delivering. The full statement is available online. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Lynn Rietdorf – Tel.: +32 229 74959)

 

Single Market: Commission welcomes agreement on proposal to facilitate free movement of products

The Commission welcomes the provisional agreement on the Regulation on the Mutual Recognition of Goods reached yesterday by the European Parliament and Council. The new rules proposed by the Commission in December 2017 will improve the way the mutual recognition principle works in practice and make it easier for companies, especially SMEs, to sell their products across Europe. Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said: "Just yesterdaywith our Communication on the Single Market, we called on the Parliament and Council to show political resolve and make progress on important proposals to strengthen the functioning of the Single Market. It is great news to see the co-legislators have now reached a provisional agreement on mutual recognition, which is one of thecornerstones of the Single Market. I hope further progress can me made swiftly on other Commission proposals still on the table." The mutual recognition principle ensures that products not subject to EU-wide regulation can, in principle, move freely within the Single Market, if they are lawfully marketed in one Member State. However, this doesn't always work as it should and companies often face barriers, delays and extra costs. Under the new Regulation, companies will be able to use a voluntary declaration to demonstrate that their products meet all the relevant requirements in their country, making it easier national authorities to assess if mutual recognition should apply. The rules also establish a new and faster problem resolution mechanism for disputes between companies and national authorities and improve training and collaboration among national authorities. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040)

 

A Europe that protects: Stronger EU rules on new drugs start applying today

Today, the reinforced rules on new psychoactive substances (NPS) start applying across the EU. The new rules will allow Europe to respond much faster to the challenges posed by NPS. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Over the last ten years, the emergence of new psychoactive substances has presented major challenges to public health and safety. These are often highly toxic synthetic substances which become all the more dangerous in easily adapting and changing markets. This is why we need effective legal and operational tools to enable swifter action to ban these substances from the EU, in order to prevent serious health damage, and sometimes even death. The new EU rules will better protect our citizens across the EU from these dangerous drugs — in particular young people." The new rules introduce shorter deadlines from the moment a dangerous drug is identified to the moment it is banned. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) will continue to play a leading role in early warning and monitoring of NPS, and will initiate a scientific investigation into any new substance causing concern at EU level. The NPS can cause extremely serious health and social harms, including acute intoxications and deaths.  In 2017, 51 NPS were reported for the first time — a rate of around one per week, prompting the EU to ban a number of them. More information is available in the press release of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

 

Preliminary results of the 1st WiFi4EU call

The first WiFi4EU call for proposals was launched on 7 November at 13:00 (CET) and lasted until 9 November 17:00 (CET). The call has proved to be popular with over 13,000 applications on the WiFi4EU portal from all participating countries. As a result of this first round with the budget of €42 million, 2,800 municipalities will receive vouchers each worth €15,000. With this voucher, the municipality will be able to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot in public spaces, including town halls, public libraries, museums, public parks or squares. Following the applications, the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), the Commission's executive agency in charge of implementing the WiFi4EU programme, is now making the necessary checks of the admissibility and eligibility of the municipalities. The winners of this call will be announced in December. Three more WiFi4EU calls will be organised in the coming two years. For all four calls, the Commission makes available €120 million for up to 8,000 municipalities across the EU. The Commission is selecting municipalities on a "first-come, first-served" basis. For more details on the first call are available online. More general information on the initiative is available online in the factsheet. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184; Marietta Grammenou- Tel.: +32 229 83583)

 

Antitrust: Commission opens investigation into airline ticket distribution services

The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to assess whether agreements between booking system providers Amadeus and Sabre on the one hand, and airlines and travel agents on the other, may restrict competition in breach of EU antitrust rules. Amadeus and Sabre are leading worldwide suppliers of Computerised Reservation Systems, also known as Global Distribution Systems. The Commission will investigate whether certain terms in Amadeus' and Sabre's agreements with airlines and travel agents may restrict the ability of airlines and travel agents to use alternative suppliers of ticket distribution services. The agreements under investigation may breach EU competition rules which prohibit agreements between companies that prevent, restrict or distort competition within the EU's Single Market (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). The Commission will now carry out its in-depth investigation as a matter of priority. The opening of a formal investigation does not prejudge its outcome. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: "The liberalisation of the EU aviation market more than 25 years ago has brought significant benefits to EU citizens, including more choice and lower ticket prices. Our investigation into Amadeus and Sabre focuses on possible restrictions in competition in the market for airline ticket distribution services. We are concerned that such restrictions could create barriers to innovation and raise ticket distribution costs, ultimately raising ticket prices for travellers." A full press release is available in EN, FR, DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)

 

State aid: Commission finds no aid given to container terminal operators in Belgium's Port of Antwerp

The European Commission has concluded that reductions in compensation payments granted by the state-owned Port of Antwerp to two container terminal operators do not involve Stateaid within the meaning of EU rules. Between 2009 and 2012, PSA Antwerp NV and Antwerp Gateway NV did not to reach their yearly minimum tonnage requirements specified in their concession agreements. As a result, they would have been expected to pay compensation to the Antwerp Port Authority. However, instead of collecting the compensation due from the two companies, the Authority retroactively revised downwards their minimum tonnage requirements, hence substantially reducing the amount of compensation due by each of the two operators. Following a complaint from a competitor, on 15 January 2016, the Commission opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether the compensation reductions were in line with EU State aid rules. The Commission investigation found that: (i) In the context of the economic crisis a certain adjustment of the minimum tonnage requirements was justifiable since container volumes and traffic decreased in all major ports in Europe, (ii) PSA Antwerp NV and Antwerp Gateway NV were in a very specific situation compared to other operators active in the Port of Antwerp. As the concessionaires of a new area of the port (Deurganckdok), they were still in a start-up phase when the economic crisis started and were, therefore, in an even more challenging situation in the context of the economic crisis; (iii) The two concessionaires are key customers for the Port of Antwerp. The Port Authority was concerned that forcing the two concessionaires to pay the full amount of compensation could have had negative effects on the economic situation of the companies and put their relationship with the port at risk; (iv) The size of the reduction of the minimum tonnage requirements and the methodology applied to determine these adjustments for the two concessionaires were in line with what a private market operator would have used and applied. Therefore, the Commission found that the Antwerp Port Authority acted in the same way as a private market operator when reducing the minimum tonnage requirements for PSA Antwerp NV or Antwerp Gateway NV. and concluded that no State aid within the meaning of EU rules was granted to the two concessionaires. A full press release is available in EN, FR, DE, NL(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)

 

 

STATEMENTS

 

 

Stop violence against women: Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on 25 November, the Commission issued the following statement: "Violence against women is a grave violation of human rights and yet it is still widespread across the world. The perception that harassment or being violence towards women is normal and acceptable is wrong and must change. We all have the responsibility to say no, openly reject acts of violence or harassment, and stand by the victims (…) The European Union has put substantial actions in place to ensure violence against girls and women is ended once and for all. Our action is bearing fruit. Things have started to change. Over the last two years, we supported more than 1.5 million girls and women with services for protection and care related to female genital mutilation. 3000 communities, representing 8.5 million people, have publicly announced that they are abandoning this practice. On child marriage, the EU reached over 1.6 million individuals through initiatives designed to change attitudes and practices regarding girls' rights. (…) We are also working on concluding the EU accession to the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence and harassment against women, which provides victims with the right of protection and support. (…) The European Union will continue to work relentlessly towards this goal. A life free of violence is an inalienable fundamental right: depriving women and girls from freedom, means depriving the world from freedom." The European Commission building, the Berlaymont, and the European External Action Service's building will be illuminated in orange on Saturday and Sunday evening, to support the United Nations' campaign on the elimination of violence against women. The full statement is available here, as well as a Q&A.(For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Maja Kocijancic– Tel.: +32 229 86570; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 5865)

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

 

Commissioners Navracsics and Thyssen participate in Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council with key political decisions expected  

On Monday and Tuesday, 26-27 November, Commissioner Tibor Navracsics will represent the European Commission at the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council. Ministers are expected to take some important steps towards building a European Education Area by 2025. On Monday, EU Education Ministers will hold a policy debate on the European Education Area and are expected to adopt one of its building blocks, proposed by the Commission in May: a Council Recommendation on promoting the automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary diplomas. This will facilitate the recognition of qualifications earned abroad throughout the EU. In the presence of Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, Ministers are also set to agree a partial general approach on the future Erasmus programme, just six months after the Commission presented its ambitious proposal. Youth Ministers are expected to adopt a partial general approach on the European Solidarity Corps Regulation. A Council Resolution on the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027, setting out the objectives, guiding principles and key instruments for EU youth policy cooperation between the Commission and Member States, is also on the table for adoption. On Tuesday, Culture Ministers are expected to adopt a progress report on the Creative Europe programme post 2020, conclusions on the Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022 to guide EU cooperation on culture in the coming years, and on the strengthening of European creative content in the digital economy. They will also discuss how to tackle the spread of disinformation online given the importance of media pluralism, quality journalism, media literacy, transparency and accountability. (For further information Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 2 296 70 83; Joseph Waldstein Tel.: +32 2 295 61 84)

 

Commissioner Mimicain Rome to discuss agricultural innovation to achieve the SDGs

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica is today in Rome to participate in a Conference organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). During this "International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers", the Commissioner will emphasise how agricultural innovation and private investment can change lives in rural communities by creating jobs and growth – and get us closer to achieving the SDGs. The Commissioner will notably outline how, from a development perspective, the EU's vision for innovation supports inclusive and sustainable transformation in rural areas, adapted to local conditions. In addition, he will highlight the "Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture" (DeSIRA) initiative, which is aimed at addressing climate change in the context of research and innovation. The Commission launched this initiative last year. The Commissioner will also emphasise how new innovative financial instruments launched by the Commission can help encourage sustainable private investment in agri-food systems as a further means of driving rural transformation. During his mission to Rome, the Commissioner will also sign three contracts at a joint ceremony with the three Rome-based agencies: the FAO, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. In a nutshell, they address: (i) the root causes of gender inequalities in rural areas and empowering women (€5 million); (ii) investment support to enable sustainable private investments in agri-food systems with a strong development impact (€4 million); and (iii) global food security governance for achieving the SDGs (€3 million). (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

 

 

CALENDAR - Commissioners' weekly activities

 

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

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