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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 07 / 03 / 2019

Brussels, 7 March 2019

International Women's Day: Commission speaks up for women across the world and publishes 2019 Gender Equality Report

Ahead of International Women's Day, taking place each year on 8 March, the Commission is speaking up for women's rights in Europe and abroad, by issuing the following statement: “Europe ranks among the safest and most equal places for girls and women in the world. […] But […] Also in Europe women are still facing challenges, inequalities and threats in their everyday lives: abuses and harassment, lower wages, fewer job and career opportunities. And that is unacceptable. […] Many of the remaining inequalities are linked to the place of women at work. The EU's new rules on Work-Life Balance will contribute to getting more women at work by giving families a real choice on how to organise their professional and private life. […] Women remain underrepresented in politics. In the upcoming European elections, we would like to see more women across the EU not only voting, but standing and succeeding as candidates. The Commission also calls for more women to be represented in the highest level of all EU institutions, including as Commissioners. This Commission has been leading by example: today we have 9 female Commissioners and women account for almost 40% of our managers. […] Gender equality is also at the core of our continuous engagement with partner countries worldwide. […] We are committed to giving all women and girls equal access to health services, education and economic empowerment, and the opportunities to shape their own future.” The full statement can be found here. Today, the Commission has also published its 2019 report on equality between women and men in the EU, under the responsibility of First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Jourová. The good news is that Europe is making progress; however, we must speed up change. A press release with more details on the report is available online. Also today, as part of the Women in Digital programme, the Commission is organising the second Women in Cyber event to raise awareness about the need of women in cybersecurity. Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, is also opening the Pioneers exhibition, which was organised in collaboration with Europeana, the Commission's digital platform for cultural heritage, and celebrates innovative European women who have made significant contributions to art, science and society. Finally, tomorrow, Commissioner Avramopoulos will be at Europol in The Hague, the Netherlands, where he will meet Europol staff and Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol, with whom he will also jointly pay tribute to women in law enforcement. For more information on the Commission's action in the field of gender equality, click here. Eurostat data on the gender employment gap is available here, on women in managerial positions here, and statistics on women in national parliaments and governments here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

Alliance Afrique-Europe : La Commission européenne s'engage en faveur d'un secteur agroalimentaire africain durable

La Task Force pour l'Afrique rurale a présenté aujourd'hui son rapport final, qui se veut être un programme pour le secteur agroalimentaire et rural pour la nouvelle "Alliance Afrique-Europe pour des emplois et des investissements durables ", dévoilée par le Président Jean-Claude Juncker dans son discours sur l'état de l'Union en 2018. Le Commissaire à l'agriculture, Phil Hogan, a déclaré: « La politique de l'agriculture et du développement rural montre la voie à suivre en matière de coopération politique UE-Afrique. La Task Force Rural Africa est au centre de ce travail. » Le Commissaire au développement, Neven Mimica, a dit : « C'est un jour très important pour l'Alliance Afrique-Europe. C'est maintenant à nous de nous unir, de donner suite à ces précieuses recommandations et de concevoir des solutions qui peuvent répondre à nos attentes à tous : une transformation rurale positive et un secteur agricole et agroalimentaire inclusif et durable. » Josefa Sacko, Commissaire à l'agriculture de l'Union Africaine (UA) a dit : « Le rapport de la Task Force reconnaît la nouvelle réalité de l'Afrique et de l'Europe en tant que partenaires mondiaux sur un pied d'égalité. Il démontre que les agriculteurs et l'industrie alimentaire devraient travailler main dans la main pour saisir les nouvelles opportunités que la zone de libre-échange continentale africaine offrira et aussi pour construire les marchés régionaux nécessaires à la sécurité alimentaire à long terme de l'Afrique. » Lancée en mai 2018 par la Commission européenne, la Task Force a été créée pour fournir des conseils sur le renforcement du partenariat Afrique-Europe dans l'alimentation et l'agriculture. La Commission européenne assurera le suivi et la mise en œuvre de plusieurs actions recommandées par ce groupe, dont le lancement immédiat d'un programme de jumelage et d'échange entre les organisations agricoles africaines et européennes ; d'une plateforme UA-UE pour l'agri-business ; et de centres d'innovation pour soutenir les agro-entrepreneurs africains. Un communiqué de presse est en ligne ainsi que le rapport complet, et une fiche d'information visuelle. Le point presse du Commissaire Hogan, de la Commissaire Sacko et de M. Tom Arnold, le président de la Task Force, qui a eu lieu ce matin est visible en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Daniel Rosario – Tél.: + 32 229 56185; Clémence Robin - Tél.: +32 229 52509)

 

Procédures d'infraction du mois de mars: la Commission prend des mesures en vue d'une mise en œuvre complète, correcte et en temps utile du droit de l'Union dans l'intérêt des citoyens et des entreprises

Pour aider les citoyens et les entreprises à tirer pleinement profit du marché intérieur, la Commission européenne noue un dialogue permanent avec les États membres qui ne respectent pas le droit européen et, au besoin, ouvre des procédures d'infraction à leur égard. Les décisions prises aujourd'hui, dans le cadre des décisions régulières d'infraction, comprennent 69 lettres de mise en demeure, 66 avis motivés et 7 renvois à la Cour de justice de l'UE. Elle clôt également 103 dossiers en cours lorsque l'État membre concerné, en coopération avec la Commission, a résolu le problème et assuré le respect du droit de l'Union et que, dès lors, une saisine de la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne n'est pas nécessaire. Un résumé des principales décisions et les références des communiqués de presse correspondants figurent ici. Les aspects essentiels des procédures d'infraction de l'UE sont énoncés ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Uldis Šalajevs - Tel.: +32 229 67560)

 

Capital Markets Union: Commission welcomes agreement on new rules to further improve access to capital markets for smaller businesses

The Commission welcomes the political agreement reached yesterday by the European Parliament and Member States on new rules that will further help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to finance their growth, innovate, and create jobs. A key element of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) agenda, the new rules will ensure that smaller businesses in the EU have access to diversified sources of financing at each stage of their development. In particular, the revised rules will make it cheaper and simpler for SMEs to access public markets through the so-called 'SME Growth Markets', a new category of trading venue dedicated to small issuers. Listing on stock exchanges can give a significant boost to SMEs, including a reduced dependence on bank funding, a broader investor base, easier access to additional equity capital and debt finance, and a higher public profile and brand recognition. Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “Given their importance for the EU economy, we need to make sure that SMEs enjoy the best possible financing conditions to grow and innovate. The political agreement is an important step in making the rules on SME's access to capital markets fit for that very purpose. These measures will enable SMEs to develop and prosper without being hindered by unnecessary costs and red tape, while preserving a high level of market integrity and investor protection". Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "I wish to thank Parliament and Council for acting swiftly to reach a political agreement which demonstrates how important SMEs are for the Capital Markets Union. The measures agreed will help funnel more investment into Europe's SMEs, fostering innovation, jobs and growth". The proposal provides for targeted amendments to two key pieces of financial services legislation, namely the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) and the Prospectus Regulation. Find a press release online. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

Capital Markets Union: Commission welcomes agreement on sustainable investment disclosure rules

The Commission welcomes the political agreement reached by the European Parliament and EU Member States today on new rules on disclosure requirements related to sustainable investments and sustainability risks. The agreed rules will strengthen and improve the disclosure of information by manufacturers of financial products and financial advisors towards end-investors. First proposed by the Commission in May 2018 as part of the Sustainable Finance Action Plan and the Capital Markets Union, these rules are an integral part of the EU efforts, under the EU's sustainable development agenda and the carbon neutrality agenda, to connect finance with needs of the real economy. They also support the 2012 United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement targets. The new regulation sets out how financial market participants and financial advisors must integrate environmental, social or governance (ESG) risks and opportunities in their processes, as part of their duty to act in the best interest of clients. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: "The EU is fully committed to implementing the Paris agreement and leading the global fight against climate change. Thanks to today's agreement, we are making sure that the financial system works towards this goal. The new rules on disclosures will enable investors and citizens to make more informed choices so that their money is used more responsibly and supports sustainability." Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The Paris Agreement is a massive investment opportunity. We need to seize it. Today's agreement will help Europe's financial sector position itself as a leading global destination for investments in green technologies." Find a press release online. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into tax treatment of Huhtamäki in Luxembourg

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether tax rulings granted by Luxembourg to Finnish food and drink packaging company Huhtamäki may have given the company an unfair advantage over its competitors, in breach of EU State aid rules. The Commission's formal investigation concerns three tax rulings issued by Luxembourg to the Luxembourg-based company Huhtalux S.à.r.l. in 2009, 2012 and 2013. The 2009 tax ruling was disclosed as part of the "Luxleaks" investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2014. Huhtalux, which is part of the Huhtamäki group, carries out intra-group financing activities. It receives interest-free loans from another company of the Huhtamäki group. These funds are then used by Huhtalux to finance other Huhtamäki group companies through interest-bearing loans. The three tax rulings issued by Luxembourg allow Huhtalux to unilaterally deductfrom its taxable basefictitious interest paymentsfor the interest-free loans it receives. According to Luxembourg, these fictitious expenses correspond to interest payments that an independent third party in the market would have demanded for the loans that Huhtalux receives. However, Huhtalux does not pay any such interest. These deductions reduce Huhtalux's taxable base and, as a result, the company is taxed on a substantially smaller profit. At this stage, the Commission has doubts that this tax treatment, as endorsed in the Luxembourg tax rulings, can be justified. The Commission is concerned that Luxembourg has accepted a unilateral downward adjustment of Huhtalux's taxable base that may grant the company a selective advantage. If confirmed, this would amount to illegal State aid. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives Luxembourg and interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: "Member States should not allow companies to set up arrangements that unduly reduce their taxable profits and give them an unfair advantage over their competitors. The Commission will carefully investigate Huhtamäki's tax treatment in Luxembourg to assess whether it is in line with EU State aid rules." The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE, FI. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Astuti - Tel.: +32 229 55344)

 

Antitrust: Commission accepts commitments by Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Sky on cross-border pay-TV services

The European Commission has made commitments offered by Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Sky legally binding under EU antitrust rules. These address the Commission's concerns regarding certain clauses in these studios' film licensing contracts for pay-TV with Sky UK. These clauses prevented Sky UK from allowing EU consumers outside the UK and Ireland to subscribe to Sky UK's pay TV services to access films via satellite or online. They also required NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. to ensure that broadcasters other than Sky UK are prevented from making their pay-TV services available in the UK and Ireland. Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. have now committed not to apply these clauses in existing film licensing contracts for pay-TV with any broadcaster in the European Economic Area (EEA). They have also committed to refrain from (re)introducing such clauses in film licensing contracts for pay-TV with any broadcaster in the EEA. Similarly, Sky will neither apply existing clauses nor (re)introduce new ones in its film licensing contracts for pay-TV with Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Eurostat: Croissance du PIB et de l'emploi dans la zone euro et dans l'UE28

Au cours du quatrième trimestre 2018, le PIB corrigé des variations saisonnières a progressé de 0,2% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,3% dans l'UE28 par rapport au trimestre précédent, selon l'estimation publiée par Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. Au cours du troisième trimestre 2018, le PIB avait augmenté de 0,1% dans la zone euro et de 0,3% dans l'UE28. En comparaison avec le même trimestre de l'année précédente, le PIB corrigé des variations saisonnières s'est accru de 1,1% dans la zone euro et de 1,4% dans l'UE28 au quatrième trimestre 2018, après respectivement +1,6% et +1,8% au troisième trimestre 2018.En ce qui concerne l'emploi, le nombre de personnes ayant un emploi a augmenté de 0,3% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,2% dans l'UE28 au quatrième trimestre 2018 par rapport au trimestre précédent. Au troisième trimestre 2018, l'emploi avait progressé de 0,2% dans les deux zones. Par rapport au même trimestre de l'année précédente, l'emploi a augmenté de 1,3% dans la zone euro et de 1,2% dans l'UE28 au quatrième trimestre 2018 (après +1,4% et +1,3% au troisième trimestre 2018). Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 50055; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Annikky Lamp - Tel.: +32 229 56151; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commissioner Stylianides holds Citizens' Dialogue at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Tomorrow, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will take part in a Citizens' Dialogue at the University of Ljubljana. The event will take place at the Faculty of Social Sciences from 11:00 until 12:30 and is open to all interested citizens. The Citizens' Dialogue will be live streamed here. Prior to the Citizens' Dialogue, Commissioner Stylianides will also officially open the Slovenian Development Days and meet the Slovenian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Miro Cerar. On 9 March Commissioner Stylianides will visit the Training Center for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, in the context of the launch of rescEU, the reinforced European system of response to natural disasters. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

 

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

MEX/19/1592


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