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European Commission - Daily News

Daily News 20 / 11 / 2018

Brussels, 20 November 2018

High-Level meeting between members of the European Commission and the Georgian Government to take place tomorrow

On Wednesday, the Commissioners, headed by President Jean-Claude Juncker will meet members of the Government of Georgia, led by Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, in Brussels. This high-level meeting takes place in the context of flourishing relations between the European Union and Georgia, both on a bilateral basis and in the context of the Eastern Partnership initiative. The EU-Georgia Association Agreement, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, entered into force in July 2016 and is the basis for Georgia's political association and economic integration with the EU, and the key reform process that the Government is undertaking. Tomorrow's meeting is expected to focus on the overall progress in the relationship, while sessions focussing on three sectoral clusters, namely economy, trade and connectivity; education, research, innovation and culture; and justice and internal security, will bring together the relevant members of the Juncker Commission and of the Georgian government to outline concrete ways of increasing and enhancing cooperation in these specific areas. President Juncker and Prime Minister Bakhtadze will speak to the press at 14:00 from the Berlaymont VIP corner. Coverage will be provided by EbS. For more information on the EU's relations with Georgia, consult the dedicated factsheet or the website of the EU Delegation. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel: +32 229 89359; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)


Le président Juncker à Las Palmas, Espagne, pour la conférence annuelle des régions ultrapériphériques

Le président de la Commission européenne Jean-Claude Juncker, accompagné de la commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu, se rendra jeudi et vendredi à Las Palmas, dans la région espagnole des Canaries, à l'occasion de la conférence annuelle des régions ultrapériphériques, ces neuf régions situées à des milliers de kilomètres du continent européen. Jeudi, le Président s'entretiendra avec Sa Majesté le Roi d'Espagne Felipe VI et participera au dîner officiel de la Conférence des régions ultrapériphériques. Le lendemain, le président Juncker prononcera un discours lors de la session d'ouverture de la Conférence annuelle des régions ultrapériphériques, que vous pourrez suivre en direct sur EbS. Cette visite du président Juncker et de la commissaire Crețu intervient un an après le lancement de la nouvelle stratégie de l'UE pour les régions ultrapériphériques qui a été présentée en Guyane l'an passé par le président Juncker, aux côtés du président de la République française Emmanuel Macron. Ce partenariat renforcé met notamment en place un accompagnement personnalisé pour ces régions, en coopération avec les États membres auxquelles elles appartiennent, pour les aider à miser sur leurs atouts uniques, créer des opportunités pour leurs habitants et tirer parti de la mondialisation.(Pour plus d'informations: Margaritis Schinas – Tél.: +32 229 60524; Johannes Bahrke, Tél.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr- Tél.: +32 229 56169)


The European Union shapes its ambitious strategy on India

Today, the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have adopted a Joint Communication that sets out the EU's vision for a strategy to strengthen cooperation and the partnership with India. "India is a key player in our interconnected world", said High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini. "We want to further reinforce our political, economic and people-to-people ties with India in order to address together global challenges, to promote together economic growth and to expand together business opportunities. The EU and India are committed to seize opportunities to support and promote effective multilateralism and solutions whenever peace and stability are in danger." The Commission and the High Representative are proposing that the European Union engages more regularly with India as an emerging global power and with a key role in the current multipolar world. Implementing effective multilateralism and global economic governance, as well as working jointly for international peace and stability will be among the EU's most pressing objectives with India. In addition, the Joint Communication addresses the challenge of sustainable growth and modernisation, where the European Union will look to work with India more closely both on the bilateral agenda, as well as to tackle global challenges such as climate change, ocean governance, and a rules-based global trade regime. The Joint Communication, which proposes that the EU considers the possibility to negotiate with India a Strategic Partnership Agreement, is available online. A full press release, a detailed memo and a factsheet are also available. (For more information: Maja Kocijančič – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski - Tel.: +32 229 89359)


Commission welcomes Council position on European Defence Fund

The Commission welcomes the partial general approach on the European Defence Fund (EDF) reached yesterday by the Council. The Fund is a major initiative in the field of defence aiming to encourage cooperation in developing the technologies and equipment needed to address common defence and security challenges. The Fund was first announced by President Juncker in September 2016 at his State of the Union address. In June 2018, the Commissionproposed a €13 billion European Defence Fund for 2021-2027 to provide the financial firepower for cross-border collaboration in defence research and development projects for state-of-the-art, interoperable technology and equipment in areas such as encrypted software and drone technology. The Council adopted its position (partial general approach) on this proposalyesterday. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said:"I welcome progress made by Council on our proposal for a European Defence Fund as part of the next long-term EU budget. The Fund is a game changer towards more defence cooperation in Europe and European strategic autonomy. Once the European Parliament has adopted its position too, I invite the co-legislators to start discussions in order to reach a common position without delay". The Fund will provide €4.1 billion to directly finance competitive and collaborative research projects, in particular through grants. Beyond the research phase, €8.9 billion will be available to complement Member States' investments in defence products by co-financing the costs for prototype development and the certification and testing phases. Projects developed in the context of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) or involving SMEs and Mid-Caps that are deemed eligible will be able to benefit from higher co-financing rates. The Commission also proposed that up to 5% of the budget should go to supporting disruptive technologies for defence. This provision is particularly important to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the EU industry. The approach adopted yesterday is labelled as "partial" as the financial and other horizontal aspects of the fund will depend on the overall agreement on the next multiannual financial framework. (For more information: Lucía Caudet - Tel .: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)


EU Plastics Strategy: Commission welcomes voluntary pledges from industry to boost the market for recycled plastics and encourages further action

Following an EU-wide pledging campaign as part of the European Plastics Strategy, today the European Commission has given a preliminary assessment which shows that EU industry is significantly committed to recycling plastics - at least 10 million tons of recycled plastics could be supplied by 2025 if the pledges are fully delivered. However, on the demand side, only 5 million tons are expected so far, demonstrating that more will be needed to achieve the objective of a well-functioning EU market of recycled plastics. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said: “To get to a circular plastics economy, it is essential that more recycled plastics find their way into new products. While we are very grateful for the variety of contributions we received from different industry representatives, more needs to be done." Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said: "The pledging exercise clearly shows that big part of the European industry is committed to use plastics in a more sustainable manner. To be able to reap benefits in full, we need to develop a well-functioning market for recycled plastics." The main pledges received came from plastics recyclers, industry associations for Expanded Polystyrene and brand owners mainly for PET packaging (see list of pledgers). While the official pledging exercise announced in the Plastics Strategy is now closed, we are well aware that more companies are preparing their commitments – which we strongly encourage. The Commission will now analyse the pledges in more detail and publish the results in the first quarter of 2019. The Commission will continue to strongly encourage initiatives that contribute to boosting the market of recycled plastics in the EU and will cooperate with stakeholders to facilitate close stakeholder collaboration across the supply chain to achieve this objective. A first stakeholder meeting will be organised early 2019.  A press release is available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Daniela Stoycheva - Tel.: +32 229 53664)


Commission publishes annual report on SME performance at occasion of major SME assembly

From 19 to 21 of November the SME Assembly takes place in Graz, Austria. The SME Assembly is the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. The Commission has published at this occasion its Annual Report on European SMEs. The report shows clearly that the strong recovery of European SMEs continues and their contribution to growth in value added and employment is higher than expected. Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger, responsible for Budget and Human Resources, delivered this morning a keynote speech at the assembly: "The EU budget offers generous support to SMEs – the backbone of the European economy - so they create and realise opportunities for the people. For EU's next long-term budget, we have proposed a dedicated €4 billion programme to enable Europe's SMEs to take full advantage of a well-functioning Single Market. Further €2 billion under the InvestEU Fund will offer even more options to these companies. A timely agreement on the next MFF will guarantee that these ideas become a reality to the benefit of thousands of entrepreneurs and millions of Europeans" Federal Minister for Digitalisation and Business location of Austria Margarete Schramböck and Minister for Economy for the Austrian region Steiermark Barbara Eibinger-Miedl also spoke at the assembly. The SME assembly always takes place once a year during the European SME Week, a Commission-coordinated pan-European campaign that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Europe. The Single Market remains the key market for SMEs. 80% of all exporting SMEs sold their products inside the EU, while less than half sold to markets outside the EU, and slightly more than a quarter did both. SME exports of goods have increased by 20% since 2012. Today in the evening, the award ceremony of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards takes place, rewarding organisations that promote entrepreneurship and small business across Europe. See here for the programme of the SME assembly. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Victoria von Hammerstein – Tel.: +32 229 55040)


Fonds Fiduciaire d'Urgence pour l'Afrique: adoption de cinq nouveaux programmes pour la région du Sahel et du lac Tchad

La Commission européenne a adopté cinq nouvelles actions dans la région du Sahel et du bassin du lac Tchad pour un montant de 141 millions d'euros. Ces nouvelles actions sont adoptées au titre du Fonds Fiduciaire d'Urgence pour l'Afrique et s'ajoutent aux 165 mesures approuvées depuis décembre 2015. Toutes visent à promouvoir les conditions d'une migration sûre et ordonnée, à lutter contre les déplacements forcés et la traite d'êtres humains, à relever les défis de la stabilité, ainsi qu'à créer des conditions économiques propices au développement local. Le commissaire en charge de la coopération internationale et du développement, Neven Mimica, a déclaré: "Ces nouveaux programmes, d'une valeur de 141 millions d'euros, mettent particulièrement l'accent sur d'importantes opportunités pour les jeunes. Ils aideront également nos partenaires du G5 Sahel à renforcer le développement et la stabilité dans les zones frontalières, ainsi qu'à sauver plus de vies et à lutter contre les trafiquants qui profitent des difficultés des personnes vulnérables. Nous poursuivons également nos actions pour aider les pays partenaires à mieux gérer les migrations et à mettre en place des registres civils. Ces besoins ne diminuent pas et les ressources du fonds fiduciaire de l'UE s'épuisent rapidement". Le communiqué de presse complet est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tél.: +32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tél.: +32 229 92256)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control of Brookfield Brazil Retail Fund by PSPIB, Brookfield, QuadReal and BREP

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Brookfield Brazil Retail Fundo de Investimentos em Participações Multiestratégia ("Brookfield Brazil Retail Fund") of Brazil by Public Sector Pension Investment Board ("PSPIB"), Brookfield Asset Management Inc. ("Brookfield"), QuadReal Property Group Limited Partnership ("QuadReal"), all of Canada, and BREP Brazil Private Limited ("BREP") of Singapore. Brookfield Brazil Retail Fundindirectly owns and operates shopping centres in Brazil. PSPIB is a pension investment manager of various public sector pension plans in Canada. Brookfield is a global asset management group focused on investing in real estate, infrastructure, renewable power, and private equity. QuadReal, belonging to the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation ("BCI"), provides real estate asset management and related services to the BCI. BREP, belonging to GIC Realty Private Limited ("GIC Realty"), is involved in the ownership of real estate assets held by GIC on behalf of the government of Singapore. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because Brookfield Brazil Retail Fund has no actual or foreseen activities within the European Economic Area. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.9077. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Support for the euro is at record high among citizens in euro area

The Eurobarometer survey published today shows that support for the euro among citizens in euro area Member States is at a record high for the second year in a row. The survey reveals that 74% of citizens in the euro area say that having the euro is a good thing for the EU as a whole. This is the highest level since this question was first asked in 2010. Nearly two-thirds of citizens (64%) believe that having the euro is a good thing for their country. The trend since 2002 shows the proportion of respondents who think having the euro is a good thing for their country has consistently increased each year since 2007. It reached the highest level ever in 2017 when it increased by eight percentage points on 2016, and has been maintained at that level this year. 27% of citizens say that the euro makes them feel more European than before. Whilst this is still the minority view, this is the highest figure since 2007. 69% of citizens believe that there should be more coordination on economic policy among euro area Member States. This represents an increase of two percentage points on the 2017 figure. More than three-quarters of citizens (78%) agree that there is a need for significant reforms to improve economic performances. The Commission regularly conducts surveys measuring public perceptions of the euro among citizens living in the euro area Member States. This is the seventeenth such survey since 2002. The full publication is available here. More information on the Eurobarometer is available here. (For more information: Christian Spahr – Tel.: +32 229 50055; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151; Enda McNamara – Tel.:+32  229 64976)


Digital broadband projects awarded to boost investments in high-capacity networks

Yesterday evening Commissioner Mariya Gabriel in charge of the Digital Economy and Society awarded the best five projects from Denmark, France, Poland, Sweden and the UK who won the European Broadband awardsthanks to their innovative models of financing, capacity to rollout at reduced cost, and their impact on territorial cohesion. This year's edition of Broadband Day events, which run until the end of today, brings together project promoters, financing bodies, telecom operators and regulators and focuses on how to optimise broadband deployment across Europe and the future for very high capacity networks and 5G connectivity. Commissioner Gabriel said: “To bring tangible benefits to both citizens and businesses, premium infrastructure is essential and at the centre of our Digital Single Market. To this end, we need to pull our forces together to foster public and private investments in high-speed digital networks now and in the post-2020 period." Last week an important legislative step was accomplished to boost public and private investments investment in high-speed and high-quality networks in every corner of the EU with the European Parliament's vote in favour of establishing a European Electronic Communications Code and a body of European regulators for electronic communications.  Furthermore, in the context of the post-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework, the Commission has proposed €3 billion for digital connectivity infrastructure. As such, the digital strand of Connected Europe Facility finances digital connectivity infrastructure such as setting up very high capacity broadband networks, supporting key projects aligned with the 2016 Gigabit Society Strategy and providing very high quality wireless connectivity to local communities. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.:+32 229 67083; Marietta Grammenou- Tel.:+32 229 83583; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)






Commissioner Gabriel participates to high-level roundtable aimed to boost the use of blockchain technology in the EU

Today, the European Commission is organising an EU Blockchain Roundtable in Brussels,bringing together industry leaders, innovative start-ups and policy makers in order to develop a strategy on how to harness the potential of the blockchain technology. Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel, who will attend the Roundtable, said: “If governments and industry work together, we can ensure that Europe emerges as a trusted leader in blockchain innovation. This will transform digital services and is a major opportunity to increase user confidence." Many governments and companies are already exploring the potential of this technology, across a wide array of sectors, such as energy, healthcare, financial services, supply chain management, manufacturing, transport, education, creative industries and public services. Earlier this year, the European Commission launched the European Blockchain Partnership, in which 26 EU Member States, as well as Norway, have joined so far. One of the main goals of this Partnership is to develop a European Blockchain Services Infrastructure that will support the delivery of cross-border digital public services, with the highest standards of security and privacy. More information on the Roundtable can be found here. Furthermore, the Commission has launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum with the support of the European Parliament as well as a study on the feasibility of an EU public blockchain infrastructure to develop cross-border services. Blockchain technology is also a key part of the FinTech Action plan as well as of the priorities for the Digital Europe Programme proposed under the next EU long-term budget for 2021-2027 (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.:+32 229 67083; Marietta Grammenou- Tel.:+32 229 83583; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)


Le commissaire Stylianides au Global Positive Forum à Paris

Le commissaire en charge de l'aide humanitaire et de la gestion de crises, Christos Stylianides,se rend aujourd'hui à Parispour participer au Global Positive Forum et rencontrer divers parties prenantes et dirigeants. Le Commissaire se concentrera sur la thématique de l'innovation dans le domaine de l'aide humanitaire comme moyen de faire face au cas de millions de personnes, forcées à quitter leur domicile et à fuir les conflits, la violence, ou les catastrophes naturelles. (Pour plus d'informations: Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tél.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tél.: +32 229 69140)


Commissioner Jourová to attend High Level Conference of the Austrian Presidency on the fight against Antisemitism in Europe

Tomorrow, Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality will attend the High Level Conference ‘Europe beyond Antisemitism and anti-Zionism – securing Jewish life in Europe' in Vienna, convened by theAustrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Commissioner Jourová will participate in a panel discussion with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, MEP Manfred Weber, Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress and David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee on the theme “A Europe free of Antisemitism and anti-Zionism – the role of the European Union and beyond”. The Commissioner will give an overview of the latest steps taken by the Commission to prevent and fight all forms of Antisemitism. (For more information Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Commissioner Hahn at the EU-Majalat Forum 2018 - enhancing cooperation between the EU and civil society organisations from the Southern Mediterranean

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn will participate tomorrow 21 November at the EU-Majalat Civil Society Forum 2018. The Forum aims at further strengthening the dialogue between the EU and civil society from the Southern Mediterranean region while addressing the most pressing regional challenges. Ahead of it Commissioner Hahn said: “The EU believes that societies are stronger when civil society is empowered and vibrant. However, in some parts of this region, the space for civil society is shrinking. Today's dialogue with the EU is a signal of our support for civil society in the Mediterranean, but also a great opportunity to discuss challenges where the voice of civil society is crucial to future EU cooperation activities”. The EU-funded regional programme "Majalat" is organising on 20-21 November in Brussels a forum gathering EU representatives and about 150 participants from NGOs, trade unions, business associations, and think-tanks from the Southern Neighbourhood countries. Participants will debate on governance and rule of law; migration and mobility; economic development and social dialogue, and security and countering violence. More information is available here. (For more information: Maja Kocijančič – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.:+32 229 64887)


Commissioner Hahn at the Annual Forum of the Alpine Strategy dedicated to empowering the young generations

Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn will take part today in the second annual forum of the Alpine macro-regional strategy, (EUSALP Annual Forum) where the participating countries and regions will discuss how to involve young people in shaping EU's current and future policies. The second EUSALP Annual Forum is organised by the Austrian region of Tyrol, which holds the current EUSALP Presidency, and the European Commission. The event, which will gather some 800 stakeholders from all levels of government and youth representatives, takes place in Tyrol's capital Innsbruck. TheAlpine Strategyisone the EU's four macroregional strategies - policy frameworks which encourage countries located in the same region to work together to address common challenges. The Forum will focus on topics like the protection of the environment and the future of EU funding, which are of key importance for the region. The first edition of the forum took place in Munich, Germany, in November 2017. More information about the event is available here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke, Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr, Tel.: +32 229 56169; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.:+32 229 64887)





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


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