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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 30 / 01 / 2019

Brussels, 30 January 2019

COLLEGE MEETING: Sustainability: Commission presents a reflection paper on a more sustainable Europe by 2030

As part of the debate on the future of Europe, launched with the Commission's White Paper of 1 March 2017, the Commission is today publishing a Reflection Paper on a Sustainable Europe by 2030. Announced as a follow-up to President Juncker's 2017 State of the Union Address, today's Paper forms part of the EU's firm commitment to deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. By reviewing the breadth of challenges for Europe and presenting illustrative scenarios for the future, the Paper seeks to steer the discussion on how these goals can be best achieved and how the European Union can best contribute by 2030. Building on what has been achieved in recent years, these scenarios highlight that further action is needed if the EU and the world are to secure a sustainable future in the interest of citizens' well-being. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Sustainable development starts and ends with people, it is about making our economy and society sustainable and prosperous at the same time. We do this so we can uphold our way of life and upgrade the well-being of our children and grandchildren when it comes to equality, a healthy natural environment, and a thriving, green and inclusive economy. Our task is nothing less than to secure our planet for all people. Europe can and should lead the way.” Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “Sustainability is part of Europe's DNA. It is about making sure that future generations will have the same or better opportunities than us, whilst respecting the limited resources of our planet. The Investment Plan for Europe helps by bringing the private sector on board and the Action Plan for Sustainable Finance facilitates creating a new market for sustainable investments. By modernising our societies in an inclusive manner, fully embracing circular economy and reaping the benefits of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, we can strive for climate neutrality and ensure our planet is in a better shape for our children.” The full press release and a factsheet are available online. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229-56153).


COLLEGE MEETING: Brexit Preparedness: European Commission adopts “no-deal” contingency measures for Erasmus+ students, social security coordination rules and the EU budget

Given the increasing risk that the United Kingdom may leave the EU on 30 March this year without a deal (a “no-deal” scenario), the European Commission has today adopted a final set of contingency proposals in the area of the Erasmus+ programme, social security coordination and the EU budget. This follows the calls by the European Council (Article 50) in November and December 2018 to intensify preparedness work at all levels, and the adoption on 19 December 2018 of the Commission's Contingency Action Plan, including several legislative measures, and last week's contingency proposals for EU fisheries. They are in addition to the extensive preparedness work that the Commission has been engaged in since December 2017, as set out in previous preparedness Communications. Today's measures would ensure that in the event of a “no-deal” scenario: Young people from the EU and the UK who are participating in the Erasmus+ programme on 30 March 2019 can complete their stay without interruption; EU Member State authorities will continue to take into account periods of insurance, (self) employment or residence in the United Kingdom before withdrawal, when calculating social security benefits, such as pensions; and UK beneficiaries of EU funding would continue to receive payments under their current contracts, provided that the United Kingdom continues to honour its financial obligations under the EU budget. This issue is separate from the financial settlement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. A full press release is available here. President Juncker will speak at the European Parliament at 15:30 today. Follow live here. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein– Tel.: +32 229-93265; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229-91382; Daniel Ferrie – Tel.: +32 229-86500)


COLLEGE MEETING:Commission appoints senior manager in its Budget department

The Commission has today decided to appoint Ms Nicole Smith to the position of Director for “Budget execution” in its Directorate-General for the Budget. Ms Smith, a British national, joined the Commission in 2001 following some 13 years of experience in the financial management of health services in the United Kingdom, including with management responsibility. In the European Commission, she held a variety of positions in the areas of financial management, accountancy and audit. She has been a Head of Unit since 2010. Since 2017, Ms Smith is Head of Unit “Audit and Internal Control” in the Commission's Directorate-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229-93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)


Plan Juncker: 375,5 milliards d'euros d'investissements mobilisés pour l'Europe

A la fin de décembre 2018, le plan Juncker devait générer 375,5 milliards d'euros d'investissements en Europe, comme le montrent des chiffres du groupe Banque européenne d'investissement (BEI). Le vice-président en charge de l'emploi, de la croissance, de l'investissement et de la compétitivité Jyrki Katainen a déclaré: "Le Plan d'Investissement continue de rapidement créer des emplois et de la croissance en Europe. Il s'agit d'une réussite collective de la Commission, de notre partenaire stratégique le groupe BEI et, bien entendu, des promoteurs de projets et des investisseurs sur le terrain, qui font le succès du Plan d'Investissement tous les jours." Les opérations approuvées jusqu'à présent dans le cadre du Fonds européen pour les investissements stratégiques (EFSI) – au cœur du plan Juncker – représentent un volume de financement total de 70,4 milliards d'euros dans les 28 États membres. La BEI a approuvé 514 projets d'infrastructures soutenus par l'EFSI pour un montant de 52,9 milliards d'euros, tandis que le Fonds européen d'investissement a approuvé 517 accords de financement pour les PME d'une valeur de 17,5 milliards d'euros. 858 000 petites et moyennes entreprises vont bénéficier de ces accords. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tél.: +32 229 56153; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tél.: +32 229 56169)


EU-U.S. trade talks: European Commission publishes progress report

The European Commission has today published a report on the implementation of the 25 July 2018 Joint Statement agreed by Presidents Juncker and Trump. In line with the Commission's commitment to transparency, the report provides a detailed overview on the state of play of the talks so far. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström, who heads on the EU side the Executive Working Group launched by the Presidents in July 2018, said: "Trade discussions and negotiations in which the EU is involved have to be transparent and inclusive and the ongoing talks with the United States are no exception. After publishing the Commission's draft proposals for negotiating mandates, today we are making available this detailed report. It is all out there for everyone to see what we are discussing and, as importantly, what we are not discussing. For instance, we are not proposing any negotiations with the US to reduce or eliminate tariffs on agricultural products. It is my firm intention to ensure the highest level of transparency throughout this process." The report was sent today to the European Parliament and Member States and is available online. For more information see the full press release. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska - Tel.: +32 229 51383)


Fighting animal diseases and plant pests: €154 million earmarked for 2019

For 2019, the Commission decided to allocate about €154 million to the fight against animal diseases and infectious diseases of animals that can be transmitted to humans as well as to support plant pests surveys. "The fights against African Swine Fever and Xylella are daily examples of the EU's actions on diseases and pests which represent concrete threats to the income of our citizens and the key economic sectors. The sums awarded today illustrate how serious we are on these issues. These funds will be used by Member States' authorities to help them react swiftly tackle outbreaks that could have a serious impact on animal and human health, economy and trade", said Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.In the animal health area, €141 million was awarded to support the implementation of the 142 approved programmes for eradication, control and surveillance of diseases, in particular African Swine Fever (which represents a big threat to EU economy) or animal diseases transmissible to human such as bovine tuberculosis, rabies and salmonellosis in poultry. In the plant health area, the EU has committed more than €13 million for the survey of 62 plant pests in 24 Member States in 2019 (this represents 817 individual plant pest surveys), with the greatest part of the funds going towards the fight against Xylella fastidiosa, one of the most dangerous plant pests in the world. More details available online: National Veterinary Programmes and Survey Programmes. (For more information: Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 91269; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)


European Commission welcomes the European Chemicals Agency opinion on restricting microplastics intentionally added to products

In the framework of the EU Plastics Strategy, at the request of the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has assessed the health and environmental risks posed by intentionally added microplastics and has concluded that an EU-wide restriction would be justified.The report covers a variety of sectors, from cosmetic industry to agriculture and construction. It reviews the available scientific information on the hazards of microplastics, identifies their uses and emissions, and tries to assess their risks in these areas. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: “I am happy to see that work on restricting microplastics intentionally added to products is progressing. The EU is the first to address all microplastics intentionally added in products, and not just microbeads used in cosmetics. This is part of our comprehensive approach to tackle microplastics, which are potentially harmfulfor marine life, and enter our food chain, with yet unknown impacts on human health.” Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said: “The EU is committed to reduce microplastics and ECHA's investigation is an essential first step to tackle microplastics that are intentionally used in products. There are alternatives available to replace microplastics - we need close cooperation with industry to achieve a true circular plastics economy”. The microplastics within the scope of the restrictionhave a wide range of consumer and professional applications across multiple sectors. They are used in cosmetic products, detergents and maintenance products, paints, inks and coatings, construction materials and medicinal products, as well as in other products used in agriculture and horticulture and in the oil and gas sectors.Following today's publication, the reportwill be scrutinised by ECHA Committees, including a public consultation for 6 months. Sectors affected by the restriction should follow the process closely and submit their contribution during the public consultation. The ECHA Committees will formulate their opinions and send them to the European Commission, expected in spring 2020.The European Commission can then propose to amend the REACH Regulation. More information is available here(For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Lucía Caudet - Tel.: +32 229 56182; Daniela Stoycheva - Tel.: +32 229 53664; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Ahlsell by CVC Capital Partners

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Ahlsell AB (”K3”) of Sweden, by CVC Capital Partners (”CVC”) of Luxembourg. K3 distributes installation products such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing products, electrical products, as well as tools and supplies to wholesale and retail customers. CVC manages investment funds and platforms. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because CVC does not control any company that is active in the same product and geographic market, or in a product market that is upstream or downstream from a product market where K3 is active. 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.9218. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Eurostat: Statistiques sur les finances publiques: engagements conditionnels et prêts improductifs dans les États membres de l'UE

Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne, publie aujourd'hui des informations sur les engagements conditionnels et prêts improductifs des administrations publiques de l'UE pour l'année 2017. Cette publication inclut les données sur les garanties publiques, les passifs liés aux partenariats public-privé enregistrés hors bilan des administrations publiques ainsi que les passifs des entités contrôlées par l'État (sociétés publiques) classées en dehors du secteur des administrations publiques. Ces engagements sont dits conditionnels au sens où ils sont uniquement des risques financiers potentiels. Ils peuvent devenir des passifs effectifs, si certaines conditions sont remplies. Les prêts improductifs (actifs publics) pourraient quant à eux se traduire par des pertes pour l'État en cas de non-remboursement de ces prêts. Ainsi, ces données constituent une avancée importante dans la transparence accrue des finances publiques dans l'Union européenne en dressant un portrait plus complet des impacts potentiels sur la position financière des États membres. Un communiqué de presse Eurostat est à votre disposition en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tél.: +32 229 58615; Letizia Lupini – Tél.: +32 229 51958)






Commissioner Jourová delivers keynote speech at Data Protection Conference

This afternoon, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová, will deliver a keynote speech at the 'Computers, Privacy and Data Protection Conference' (CPDP), taking place in Brussels. The Commissioner's speech will be the starting point of a panel discussion on the General Data Protection Regulation, which entered into force about 8 months ago. Ahead of the Conference, Commissioner Jourová said: "Privacy and data security are no longer only a European affair. They are becoming truly global issues debated around the world, from Asia to Latin America, from Davos to G20. This should not come as a surprise as the world is facing similar challenges when it comes to the digital economy. Europe is well equipped to play a key role in this debate and promote the gold privacy standard globally." The Commissioner's entire speech will be published here. CPDP is a non-profit platform gathering academics, lawyers, practitioners, policy-makers, industry and civil society from all over the world, offering them an arena to exchange ideas and discuss the latest emerging issues and trends. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)



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