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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 31 / 03 / 2016

Brussels, 31 March 2016

Road Safety: new statistics call for increased effort to save lives on EU roads

The 2015 road safety statistics published today by the European Commission confirm that European roads remain the safest in the world, despite a recent slowdown in reducing road fatalities. 26 000 people lost their lives on EU roads last year, 5 500 fewer than in 2010 but similar to 2014. In addition, the Commission estimates that 135 000 people were seriously injured on European roads.  EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said "Every death or serious injury is one too many. We have achieved impressive results in reducing road fatalities over the last decades but the current stagnation is alarming. If Europe is to reach its objective of halving road fatalities by 2020, much more needs to be done. I invite Member States to step up efforts in terms of enforcement and campaigning. For its part, the Commission will continue to act where it can bring a clear European added-value." More information can be found in a press release available in all EU languages. It notably contains aggregated and country-specific statistics. Further information is also available in a road safety fact sheet in DE, EN and FR and in a factsheet on cycling safety. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – +32 229 50595; Tel.: Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 69143)


EU-India Summit – leaders agree on a joint statement [updated on 31/03/2016 at 12:11]

Yesterday, the European Union and India held their 13th Summit on 30 March in Brussels, and took steps to deepen their political and economic cooperation. International security, migration, trade and sustainable development were top of the agenda. President Juncker, President Tusk, and Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, participated. High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini, and the Minister of Commerce and Industry of India, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, also attended. The EU and India have agreed a Joint Summit Statement in which the leaders strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Brussels on 22 March 2016 as an unacceptable affront to our open democratic societies and extended their deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. The EU and India will remain united and firm in the fight against hatred, violent extremism and terrorism. The leaders reconfirmed their commitment to give new momentum to the bilateral relationship endorsing the EU-India Agenda for Action 2020 as a common roadmap to jointly guide and strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership over the next five years.  It encompasses a wide range of areas for cooperation such as foreign and security policy, trade and investment, economy, global issues as well as people to people contacts. The Summit also launched two initiativeson climate change and sustainable development,: a new Water Partnership that promotes technological and scientific progress in water management, and a Clean Energy and Climate Partnership for renewable sources of energy. A press release is available here. (For more information: : Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)


Cyprus successfully exits its financial assistance programme today

Today, the financial assistance programme for Cyprus formally concludes after three years. This programme was designed to achieve three main objectives: stabilise and reform the Cypriot financial sector, ensure sound fiscal consolidation, and implement reforms to support competitiveness and growth. Thanks to the efforts of the Cypriot authorities to implement the necessary structural reforms, confidence has returned and a lot has been achieved: growth is picking up, the banking system has further healed and the fiscal outlook has remarkably improved. Ahead of this milestone for the Cypriot economy, Vice-President Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said: "I commend and congratulate Cyprus on its commitment to do what was needed in terms of structural reforms to turn the economy around and to return to economic growth and job creation. Cyprus has implemented the programme with clear determination and positive results: financial stability is restored, unemployment is declining and we expect Cyprus to continue to grow in the coming years." Commissioner Moscovici, responsible for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, added: "This is a good day for Cyprus and for Europe. With the conclusion of the programme, the country has moved beyond the crisis. Through efforts by the Cypriots and with the support of the European and international communities, the Cypriot economy has returned to growth and the country is now in a stronger position. We are confident that Cyprus will be able to face any remaining challenges." The European Commission is ready to support Cyprus in achieving sustainable economic growth. With the programme at an end, Cyprus will be reintegrated into the regular cycle of Economic Policy Coordination – i.e., the European Semester – and subject to Post Programme Surveillance as foreseen by the Two-Pack Regulation. It will also continue to benefit from support in implementing ongoing reforms from the Commission's Structural Reform Support Service. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: + 32 229 71607)


Commission awards €1.14 million in emergency assistance for voluntary return of irregular migrants from Italy

The European Commission has awarded €1.14 million in emergency assistance to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to set up an Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration scheme for Italy. This scheme targets irregular migrants wishing to return from Italy to their country of origin. It will provide information on voluntary return options and assist migrants with the return process. The IOM will support the migrants' reintegration in their countries of origin through assistance with housing, education, vocational training and employment, which will dissuade them from making further irregular journeys. This award of €1.14 million is provided under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and serves as bridge funding until Italy sets up a permanent voluntary return scheme as part of its national programme under AMIF. The total emergency assistance awarded to Italy since 2014 has now reached €22 million. This is on top of the €593 million Italy has been allocated for the period 2014-2020 for its national programmes under AMIF (€348 million) and the Internal Security Fund (€245 million). (For more information: Natasha Bertaud - Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst - Tel.: +32 229 86764; Tim McPhie - Tel.: +32 229 58602)


Start-up Initiative: Commission launches consultation on how to improve the environment for start-ups in Europe

What obstacles do entrepreneurs face when they try to start up and expand their businesses in the Single Market? What actions are needed at EU level to facilitate the creation of start-ups? The Commission is today launching a public consultation to hear the views of entrepreneurs and start-ups, as well as all other stakeholders, on how to improve the environment for start-ups in the EU. The consultation launches the Start-up Initiative announced in the Single Market Strategy which aims at creating favourable conditions for entrepreneurs to start up and scale up their businesses in the EU. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said: "Start-ups and scale-ups should exploit the full potential of the Single Market. We want to collect as much as possible new ideas from stakeholders on how to improve the environment for innovative start-ups throughout their lifecycle. We need to create the best conditions for European entrepreneurs to take risks, invest, grow and become competitive on a global scale." Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, also EU's SME Envoy, will launch the Start-up Initiative with a TEDxBinnenhof Talk in the Hague in the afternoon: While Europe can already rely on a strong and dynamic start-up ecosystem, many of these start-ups are facing obstacles when scaling up across Europe and beyond. It is a matter of competitiveness and innovative capacity for Europe to make sure that the Single Market is the launch base of our start-ups into the global competition. We are interested in the views of all, and in particular the start-up community, to achieve this and break down these barriers within the Single Market." The consultation will help to identify possible solutions and, if needed, design new policies to help businesses grow. The goal is to create serial entrepreneurs who will reinvest when they succeed, try again when they fail, and support a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout. As foreseen in the Single Market Strategy, the Commission will also take action to sim­plify VAT requirements and put forward a proposal on business insolvency, to give honest entrepreneurs who fail a sec­ond chance as well as to facilitate early restructuring – a public consultation on insolvency frameworks is currently ongoing. The consultation on the Start-up Initiative will be open until 30 June. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Heli Pietilä – Tel.: +32 229 64950)


European Commission appoints new Head of Representation in Warsaw

Today, the European Commission appointed Marek Prawda (PhD) as the new Head of the European Commission Representation in Poland. Dr Prawda will take up office on 1 April 2016 and brings over twenty years of diplomatic experience to the post. A career diplomat, Dr Prawda has served under different Polish administrations both in Warsaw and abroad since the early 1990s. His first posting was in 1992, as First Secretary to the Embassy of Poland in Bonn, German. Since then, Dr Prawda has served as Deputy Director in Bonn, Director of the Department of Western Europe for Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador to Sweden, Director in the Secretariat of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador to Germany. Most recently he served as Permanent Representative of Poland to the European Union. A press release is available online, also in FR, DE and PL. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265)


Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Xchanging by Computer Sciences Corporation

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Xchanging plc of the United Kingdom by Computer Sciences Corporation of the US. Xchanging provides business processing, technology and procurement services internationally for customers in the accounting and procurement, financial services and insurance sectors. Computer Sciences Corporation provides IT services across a range of industries covering chemicals, energy and natural resources, financial services, healthcare, agriculture and manufacturing, public sector services and technology to customers in the private and public sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, in particular because of the limited overlaps between the companies' activities resulting from the transaction. 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.7937. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)


EUROSTAT: Euro area annual inflation up to -0.1%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be -0.1% in March 2016, up from -0.2% in February, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, services is expected to have the highest annual rate in March (1.3%, compared with 0.9% in February), followed by food, alcohol & tobacco (0.7%, compared with 0.6% in February), non-energy industrial goods (0.5% compared with 0.7% in February) and energy (-8.7%, compared with -8.1% in February). A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)


EUROSTAT: EU's top trading partners in 2015: the United States for exports, China for imports

In 2015, the United States (€619 billion, or 18% of total EU trade in goods) and China (€521 billion, or 15%) continued to be the two main goods trading partners of the European Union (EU), well ahead of Switzerland (€253 billion, or 7%) and Russia (€210 billion, or 6%). Trends observed over recent years are however very different for these top trading partners of the EU. After recording a significant and almost continuous fall until 2011, the share of the United States in EU total trade in goods has begun to increase again to reach 18% in 2015. The share of China has doubled since 2002, rising from 7% to 15% in 2015. Since 2013 the share of Russia in total EU trade in goods has declined sharply to 6% in 2015. The share of Switzerland remained almost unchanged at 7% over the entire time period.A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)




Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis welcomes adoption of Animal Health Law, another weapon in the fight against animal diseases and antimicrobial resistance

"I welcome the adoption of the new Animal Health Law by the European Parliament and the Council on the basis of the Commission's proposal. The new law that comes into force on 20 April paves the way for a more efficient system to combat transmissible animal diseases. These diseases, like foot and mouth disease or bluetongue, can have a devastating effect on our livestock production. Others, such as avian influenza, or certain newly emerging diseases, also have the potential to affect human health. The new law provides a single, comprehensive animal health framework to replace the series of complicated rules which have accumulated over the years. Compared with the system currently in place, the new Animal Health Law provides simpler and clearer directions for national authorities so they can focus on the main priorities when combating animal diseases. The adopted legislation also clarifies the division of responsibilities between animal keepers, traders, veterinarians, and national authorities and puts in place better notification and surveillance tools to fight animal diseases. This in turn should lead to fewer epidemics in EU countries, and help them reduce their social and economic effects thus ensuring the competitiveness and safety of EU livestock production. The new legislation also recognises the importance of recent emerging issues, such as antimicrobial resistance, and sets out a better legal basis for monitoring animal pathogens which are resistant to antimicrobial agents. This will be supplemented by two further proposals - on veterinary medicines and on medicated feed - currently being negotiated in the European Parliament and Council. I would like to thank both the European Parliament and the Council. Today's agreement will allow us to improve our handling of animal disease outbreaks, thus ensuring that the economic impacts of disease on our agriculture are lessened to the greatest extent possible, and that we protect growth and jobs in a sector which is key also to EU food safety and food security." For the full text of the proposal and detailed Q&As see here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Aikaterini Apostola - Tel.: +32 229 87624)




HRVP Mogherini at nuclear security summit in Washington, 31 March – 1 April

On behalf of President Juncker and accompanying the President of the European Council, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini will attend the 4th Nuclear Security Summit which will take place in Washingtonon 31 March – 1 April 2016. The main purpose of the Summit is to engage leaders to work together and reinforce their commitments to securing nuclear materials.  Continuing a process launched by President Obama in Prague 2009, the Summit provides an international framework for discussion of nuclear threats and actions to enhance nuclear security. The Summit provides an opportunity for the European Union to emphasise, at the highest level, its commitment to and achievements in the domain of nuclear security with special emphasis on regional and international cooperation. In the margins of the summit, she will also participate in a E3/EU+3 Heads of States' meeting to review the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. (For more information see the EEAS and NSS Summit website; or contact Catherine Ray – Tel.: +32 2 29 69921; Nabila Massrali – Tel.: +32 2 29 69218)


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