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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 21 / 05 / 2019

Brussels, 21 May 2019

rescEU: EU establishes initial firefighting fleet for next forest fire season

To prepare for the risk of forest fires during the upcoming summer, the Commission is launching today the first fleet of firefighting aircraft under the new rescEU system to tackle natural disasters. So far seven firefighting airplanes and six helicopters will be part of the rescEU fleet during an initial transition period, and the Commission is working together with the participating countries to add extra assets in the coming weeks. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "rescEU is a concrete response, a European response, to help our many citizens who face the threat of natural disasters. We were all shocked, as Europeans, when many people lost their lives in the last years due to forest fires from Portugal to Greece. European solidarity must be about protecting citizens and helping each other in difficult times. rescEU offers practical solutions and puts European solidarity firmly into action."Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides added:"Forest fires do not wait. To save lives and protect citizens, the EU and its Member States joined forces and made rescEU a reality. With rescEU, we have an extra “safety net” at times of crisis. I am very proud to see our European forest fire fighting fleet becoming a reality this summer. I would like to thank each and every participating State that has contributed to this fleet – preparing us in the best way possible for this year's fire season.” Europe has witnessed severe natural and man-made disasters in recent years: forest fires, floods, storms and earthquakes resulted in loss of lives - more than 100 in 2018. To better protect citizens in need, rescEU reinforces the Union's collective ability to prevent, prepare and respond to disasters that affect our societies as of now. The press release and a MEMO are available online. Photos of the Emergency Centre are available, as well as a video of the EU's Copernicus programme and a factsheet on the EU's emergency centre.(For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


European Border and Coast Guard: Launch of first ever joint operation outside the EU

Today, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, in cooperation with the Albanian authorities, is launching the first ever joint operation on the territory of a neighbouring non-EU country. As of 22 May, teams from the Agency will be deployed together with Albanian border guards at the Greek-Albanian border to strengthen border management and enhance security at the EU's external borders, in full agreement with all concerned countries. This operation marks a new phase for border cooperation between the EU and its Western Balkan partners, and is yet another step towards the full operationalisation of the Agency. Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, present in Tirana, Albania, at the launch ceremony said: "With the first ever deployment of European Border and Coast Guard teams outside of the EU, we are opening an entirely new chapter in our cooperation on migration and border management with Albania and with the whole Western Balkan region. This is a real game changer and a truly historical step, bringing this region closer to the EU by working together in a coordinated and mutually supportive way on shared challenges such as better managing migration and protecting our common borders.” The full press release and the speech by Commissioner Avramopoulos are available online. The recordings from the official launch, including the joint press conference are available on EbS. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud - Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 22986764; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)


Aviation Strategy for Europe: Commission signs landmark aviation agreements with China

The European Union and China have signed an agreement on civil aviation safety and a horizontal aviation agreement to strengthen their aviation cooperation.The agreements follow up on the EU-China Summit of 9 April and will serve to boost the competitiveness of the EU's aeronautical sector and enhance overall EU-China aviation relations. This marks yet another key deliverable under the Juncker Commission's Aviation Strategy for Europe – designed to generate growth for European business, foster innovation and let passengers profit from safer, cleaner and cheaper flights. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "In an increasingly unsettled world, Europe's partnership with China is more important than ever before. The EU firmly believes that nations working together makes the world a stronger, safer and more prosperous place for all. Yesterday, we took a first big step in this direction by signing two aviation agreements with China that will create jobs, boost growth and bring our continents and peoples closer together. Yesterday's agreements show the potential of our partnership and we should continue on this path of cooperation. For it will always be in unity that we find strength." Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “China is one of the European Union's most important strategic partners and we attach a lot of importance to our excellent relations on transport matters. We are mutually interested in better connecting Europe and Asia and making it easier to move goods, services and people between Europe and China. That applies to aviation, too. Yesterday's agreements will boost the European Union's trade in aircraft and related products, and ensure the highest levels of air safety.” A full press release, a MEMO and a factsheet with more information are available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Stephan Meder - Tel.: +32 229 13917)


EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation: €10 million in support of social entrepreneurship in Italy via the European Investment Fund and Banca Valsabbina

Banca Valsabbina and the European Investment Fund (EIF, part of the European Investment Bank Group) have signed a social entrepreneurship guarantee agreement worth €10 million in Italy under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). Social enterprises will benefit from loans up to €500,000. The average financing amount will be around €140 000, allowing Banca Valsabbina to support around 70 new projects.Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, stated: “Thanks to EU funding under our EaSI programme, Banca Valsabbina will develop new lending activities worth €10 million to finance social enterprises in Italy, many of whom face difficulties in accessing credit from traditional bank finance due to a perceived higher risk profile or insufficient collateral. Ensuring equal opportunities, inclusion, and access to labour markets by supporting social enterprises demonstrates our commitment to building a fairer Europe and strengthening its social dimension.” The EU financing allows for the EIF to guarantee 80% of the loss on each loan up to an estimated maximum total loss for the entire portfolio. The EaSI Guarantee agreement will enable Banca Valsabbina to offer loans with smaller collaterals from the social enterprises when the loan request is being submitted and apply a lower interest rate on the sums disbursed. The European Commission's Programme for Employment and Social Innovation is a funding programme designed to promote a high level of quality and sustainable employment, to guarantee adequate and decent social protection, to combat social exclusion and poverty and to improve working conditions across Europe. More information is available in this press release. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Report: EU is a crucial partner for Armenia's reform agenda

Today, the European Union issued its annual report on developments in Armenia and EU-Armenia relations over the past year. The report, which covers the period between June 2018 and early May 2019, comes ahead of the EU-Armenia Partnership Council on 13 June 2019. The report finds that Armenia has stepped up its efforts to reinforce and enhance its partnership with the EU, and that Armenia consistently acknowledged the significant role the EU can play in the smooth implementation of the country's reform agenda. However, the reform process remains at an early stage. The government's roadmap for the implementation of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement will be an important instrument in advancing reform plans. "The European Union has been and will continue be the biggest supporter of the Armenian government's ambitious reform plan, which is consolidating democracy, the rule of law and promoting human rights in the country", said the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini. ”Armenia is an important partner for the European Union, and together we are focussed on implementing our wide-reaching bilateral agreement, as well as delivering concrete results within the Eastern Partnership. We always keep firmly in mind that our aim is bringing tangible benefits to our citizens.Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: “The EU and Armenia are strong partners and we stand ready to support concrete reforms, including in the area of justice and education, which are key for the people. The swift implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement offers new economic opportunities for all Armenian citizens." The report also covers specific sectoral cooperation between the EU and Armenia over the past year, such as the strengthening of trade and economic ties, progress in the area of connectivity, and increased opportunities for student and academic exchanges. The full press release and an EU-Armenia relations factsheet are available online. For more information on the Eastern Partnership, please visit the website. (For more information: Maja Kocijančič, Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski, Tel.: +32 229 89359; Alceo Smerilli, Tel.: +32 229 64887)


Économie circulaire: la Commission se félicite de l'adoption finale par le Conseil de nouvelles règles sur le plastique à usage unique visant à réduire les déchets plastiques marins

Le Conseil de l'Union européenne a adopté aujourd'hui les mesures ambitieuses proposées par la Commission européenne pour lutter contre les déchets marins provenant des dix produits en plastique à usage unique les plus fréquemment retrouvés sur les plages européennes ainsi que des engins de pêche abandonnés et des produits en plastique oxodégradable. Les règles sur les articles en plastique à usage unique et les engins de pêche envisagent différentes mesures devant s'appliquer à des produits divers et placent l'UE à la pointe de la lutte mondiale contre les déchets marins. Lorsque des solutions de remplacement sont aisément disponibles et peu coûteuses, les produits en plastique à usage unique seront exclus du marché, comme les couverts, les assiettes et les pailles. Pour les autres produits, l'accent est mis sur la limitation de leur utilisation par une réduction de leur consommation au niveau national, sur les exigences en matière de conception et d'étiquetage, et sur les obligations incombant aux fabricants en matière de gestion et de nettoyage des déchets. Le Premier vice-président Frans Timmermans, chargé du développement durable, s'est exprimé en ces termes: « La société européenne ressent l'urgence de s'engager et de faire tout ce qui est en son pouvoir pour mettre un terme à la pollution plastique dans nos océans. L'Union européenne répond à cet appel clair de ses citoyens. Nous avons pris des mesures ambitieuses en introduisant des règles concrètes pour réduire l'utilisation de plastiques à usage unique. Les nouvelles règles adoptées aujourd'hui nous aideront à protéger la santé de notre population et à préserver notre environnement, tout en favorisant une production et une consommation plus durables. Nous pouvons tous être fiers du fait que l'Europe établisse de nouvelles normes ambitieuses, montrant la voie au reste du monde. » Le vice-président Jyrki Katainen, chargé de l'emploi, de la croissance, de l'investissement et de la compétitivité, a ajouté: « Dans une économie moderne, nous devons réduire la quantité de déchets plastiques et nous assurer de recycler la plupart des plastiques utilisés. Des modes de production plus innovants et durables apporteront de nouvelles opportunités aux entreprises européennes, en renforçant leur compétitivité, leur croissance et la création d'emplois. Une fois mises en œuvre, les nouvelles règles permettront non seulement de lutter contre la pollution par les plastiques, mais feront également de l'Union européenne le leader mondial d'une politique du plastique plus durable, faisant ainsi progresser notre économie circulaire. » Karmenu Vella, commissaire pour l'environnement, les affaires maritimes et la pêche, a conclu en déclarant: « Les pailles et les fourchettes en plastique ne sont que des petits objets mais elles peuvent causer des dommages importants et durables. La législation sur les plastiques à usage unique traitera 70% des déchets marins, évitant ainsi des dommages environnementaux qui coûteraient autrement 22 milliards d'euros d'ici 2030. L'Union européenne a donné suite rapidement et efficacement à une proposition présentée par la Commission il y a à peine un an. En fin de compte, il s'agit de la législation européenne dans ce qu'elle a de meilleur: elle répond à la demande populaire, bénéficie à la planète ainsi qu'à ses habitants et ouvre véritablement la voie au reste du monde. » Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Enrico Brivio – Tél.: +32 2 295 61 72; Ana Crespo Parrondo – Tél.: +32 2 298 13 25)


25 winners of the European Heritage Awards/Europa Nostra Awards announced

Today, the European Commission and Europa Nostra, the leading European heritage network, have announced the winners of this year's European Heritage Awards/Europa Nostra Awards, funded by the EU's Creative Europe programme. The 25 laureates from 16 countries have been recognised for their accomplishments in conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport stated: “Our cultural heritage is our joint resource, a legacy from the past on which to build our future. It has its place in people's hearts and in their daily lives – and is crucial in fostering a sense of belonging. The European Year of Cultural Heritage that we celebrated in 2018 highlighted this important role. Now it is our task to keep promoting it in the years to come. This year's winners of the European Heritage Awards/Europa Nostra Awards are playing their part in these efforts with their engagement and the quality of their work, and I warmly congratulate them.” Following the Notre-Dame fire in April, a Special European Heritage Award will be given to the Paris Fire Brigade, which helped to save this European monument from complete destruction. All prize winners will be honoured at a high-level European Heritage Awards Ceremony, co-hosted by Commissioner Navracsics and the President of Europa Nostra, Plácido Domingo, on 29 October in Paris during the European Heritage Congress. More information on the award winners can be found here(For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Eurostat: Les prix de l'énergie à usage domestique en hausse dans l'UE par rapport à 2017

Dans l'Union européenne, le prix de l'électricité facturé aux ménages a en moyenne augmenté à 21,1 euros les 100 kWh (+3,5%) entre le deuxième semestre 2017 et le deuxième semestre 2018. Néanmoins, le niveau des prix de l'électricité facturé aux ménages n'était que de 0,1 euro supérieur à celui du deuxième semestre de 2015, l'ancien sommet du prix de l'électricité des dix dernières années. Parmi les États membres de l'UE, le prix de l'électricité à usage domestique était compris, au deuxième semestre 2018, entre 10 euros les 100 kWh en Bulgarie et plus de 30 euros les 100 kWh au Danemark, en Allemagne et en Belgique. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tél.: +32 229 56186; Lynn Rietdorf – Tél.: +32 229 74959)






Black Sea ministers to endorse Common Maritime Agenda

Ministers from seven Black Sea countries – Bulgaria, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine – are meeting in Bucharest today to endorse the Common Maritime Agenda for the Black Sea. With this, the Black Sea region joins the rest of the sea basins bordering the EU in setting a basin-wide initiative for more, and more sustainable, economic growth. The Common Maritime Agenda – the first of its kind in the region – is the result of a process initiated and backed by the European Commission. Between 2015 and 2018 alone, the European Union has supported the region's blue economy, which represents all economic activities related to our oceans, seas or coastal areas, with more than 13 million euros. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “Today the Black Sea region has taken a step towards a new type of sea basin strategy – one based on workable cross-border projects. This will push the region's blue economy forward sustainably. The countries that share the shores of the Black Sea can make this a success and the European Commission will continue to offer its full support." Black Sea countries will pursue three goals: healthy marine and coastal ecosystems; a competitive, innovative and sustainable blue economy; and fostering investment in the blue economy. More information on the Ministerial Conference here (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 2 295 61 72; Ana Crespo Parrondo – Tel.:+32 2 298 13 25)


Commissioners Navracsics and Thyssen participate in Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council

On Wednesday and Thursday, 22-23 May, Commissioner Tibor Navracsics will represent the European Commission at the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council. On Wednesday, EU EducationMinisters are expected to adopt two Council Recommendations presented by the Commission in 2018 that are at the heart of the ambitious vision to create a European Education Area by 2025. The first is on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages with the intention of raising the ambition for foreign language learning in schools so that students can achieve a competence level allowing them to study or work abroad. The second is on high quality early childhood education and care to help provide better learning and development opportunities for all children. In the presence of Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, Ministers are also set to adopt Council conclusions on Upskilling Pathways, a flagship initiative part of the Skills Agenda for Europe. This framework helps adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and gives adults a second chance to obtain qualifications. YouthMinisters are expected to adopt Council conclusions on young people and the future of work. A Council Resolution establishing guidelines on the governance of the EU Youth Dialogue is also on the table for adoption. On Thursday, CultureMinisters are set to adopt conclusions on young creative generations and on cross-border circulation of audiovisual works andco-productions. A Council Resolution on EU Member States' representation at and coordination prior to World Anti-Doping Agency meetings and conclusions on access to sport for persons with disabilities are down for adoption at the SportCouncil. Press conferences will take place on both days and can be followed live on EbS. (For further information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 2 295 61 84)




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


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