General Information

Daily News 07 / 04 / 2017

Schengen Borders Code: Systematic checks of EU citizens crossing external Schengen borders mandatory as of today 

As of today, Member States are obliged to carry out systematic checks against relevant databases on EU citizens who are crossing the EU’s external borders, in addition to the systematic checks already being carried out on all third-country nationals entering the Schengen zone. Proposed by the Commission in a direct response to the attacks in Paris in November 2015 and the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters, the new rules – adopted by the Council on 7 March – strengthen the management of our external borders. The revision ensures a good balance between the current security challenges and the need to avoid disproportionate impacts on traffic flows at border crossings. Alongside the ongoing roll-out of the European Border and Coast Guard, the reinforcement of the Schengen Borders Code reflects the EU’s joint commitment to preserving the freedom of movement within the Schengen area and ensuring the security of EU citizens. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

Booking your holidays online: Commission and consumer protection authorities act on misleading travel booking websites

The European Commission and EU consumer protection authorities launched a coordinated screening of 352 price comparison and travel booking websites across the EU in October 2016, as these services were among the most frequent consumer complaints according to the European Consumer Centres. They found that prices were not reliable on 235 websites, two thirds of the sites checked. For example, additional price elements were added at a late stage of the booking process without clearly informing the consumer or promotional prices did not correspond to any available service. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: “The Internet provides consumers with plenty of information to prepare, compare and book their holidays. However, if the reviews on comparison websites are biased or prices are not transparent, these websites are misleading consumers. The companies concerned need to respect the European consumer rules, just like a travel agent would. Consumer authorities will now require the websites to solve these issues. Consumers deserve the same protection online as offline.” Authorities have asked the websites concerned to bring their practices in line with EU consumer legislation, which requires them to be fully transparent about prices, and present their offers in a clear way, at an early stage of the booking process. A press release, a Q&A and a factsheet are available online. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

EU and Norway conclude negotiations to enhance trade of agricultural products 

The European Union and Norway came to an agreement which will facilitate bilateral trade in agricultural products, allowing EU exporters to reinforce their position on their 8th largest export market for agricultural products. Commissioner for agriculture, Phil Hogan, today said: “I welcome this agreement, which will facilitate trade between the EU and Norway. It will provide more market opportunities for our EU producers and contribute to the continuation of our EU agri-food export success. The EU is the number 1 agri-food exporter in the world with €130 billion of exports in 2016.” The agreement reached following two years of negotiations will grant mutual duty-free access for 36 tariff lines, including for example various types of live plants, corn for feed, various berries and fermented beverages such as perry and cider. As regards products such as meat, dairy, grains, vegetables and ornamental plants, the EU and Norway will grant each other tariff quotas. The draft agreements will now be forwarded to the relevant authorities in the EU and Norway, for scrutiny and formal adoption before their final entry into force. The exports of EU agricultural products to Norway have been steadily growing over the last decade and almost doubled during this period to €2.5 billion. Norway is a net importer of agricultural products and the agricultural trade balance is in favour of the EU. More information is available online.(For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

Plus de 48 000 producteurs laitiers européens ont réduit leur production grâce au programme lancé par la Commission européenne

Les résultats définitifs du programme européen de réduction de la production laitière révèlent que 48 288 agriculteurs à travers toute l’Union européenne ont réduit de manière volontaire leur production de lait de presque 861 000 tonnes d’octobre 2016 à janvier 2017, contribuant ainsi à une remontée des prix du lait. Lancé l’été dernier et financé par un budget de €150 million, ce programme est l’une des mesures phares mises en place par la Commission européenne pour faire face à la crise du secteur laitier. Les premiers résultats avaient déjà révélé une forte participation des producteurs laitiers à ce programme sans précédent. Le prix moyen du lait en Union européenne a augmenté de 31% depuis l’été dernier, jusqu’à atteindre 33,7 c/kg en février 2017. Les modalités du programme prévoient que les producteurs participants reçoivent €0,14 pour chaque kilogramme de lait non produit. Chaque Etat membre avait la possibilité de compléter cette somme avec des fonds européens distribués en juillet 2016 par la Commission européenne sous forme d’enveloppe nationale. Les chiffres de la participation à ce programme sont disponibles en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

Commission proposes €2.6 million from Globalisation Fund to support former Nokia workers in Finland

The European Commission has proposed to provide Finland with €2.6 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 821 former workers of Nokia Network Systems to find new jobs. The measures co-financed by the Globalisation Fund would help the former workers by providing them with career coaching and individual guidance; employment and business services; a variety of vocational trainings; services for new entrepreneurs and start-up grants; hiring incentives; training-related allowances; pay subsidy and contributions to removal costs. Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: “The global ICT sector constantly requires a new, educated workforce, as the life cycle of products and related software solutions is very short. Therefore, the competition between companies in this globalised sector is fierce. Today’s decision will help 821 former Nokia Network Systems workers to develop new skills for new job opportunities. By helping these workers to manage their difficult transitions, the Globalisation Fund proves its worth once again in mitigating the negative effects of changing trade patterns.” Finland applied for support from the European Globalisation Fund following the dismissal of 945 workers in Nokia and three of its suppliers and downstream producers. These job losses were the result of fierce competition between the Finnish ICT sector and its competitors. The total estimated cost of the package is €4.4 million, of which the Globalisation Fund would provide €2.6 million. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for approval. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into German plans for electricity capacity reserve

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether German plans to set up an electricity capacity reserve comply with EU state aid rules. The Commission has concerns that the measure may distort competition and favour power plant operators over demand response operators. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Reliable electricity supplies are crucial to a functioning economy and Germany has a legitimate interest to ensure security of supply for its citizens and businesses. It is our role to ensure that companies are granted state support only when it is truly necessary and in a manner that limits distortions of competition. We currently have a number of concerns regarding the need and design of the German strategic reserve. This is why we will investigate further and invite third parties to submit their views on the measure.” The Commission will now investigate further whether its initial concerns are justified. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives Germany and interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso  – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren  Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Concentrations: La Commission autorise la création par Bolloré Energy et Total Marketing France du dépôt Rouen Petit-Couronne

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, la création d’une entreprise commune de plein exercice, gérant le Dépôt Rouen Petit-Couronne, par Bolloré Energy et Total Marketing France. Toutes les entreprises sont françaises. L’entreprise commune sera chargée du développement et de la gestion du dépôt de produits pétroliers à Petit-Couronne (Rouen). Bolloré Energy est active dans le secteur du stockage d’hydrocarbures et de la distribution de produits pétroliers. Total Marketing France est actif au niveau mondial dans l’exploration, la production, le transport, le stockage et la vente de pétrole et gaz naturel, ainsi que dans le secteur du raffinage des produits pétroliers et de la vente au détail et en gros de produits raffinés. La Commission a conclu que l’acquisition envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problèmes de concurrence car elle aura un impact limité dans l’Espace Economique Européen. La transaction a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d’affaire M.8438. (Pour plus d’informations: Ricardo Cardoso  – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni  Tel.: +32 229 90526)

Commission addresses regulatory barriers for innovators by signing first Innovation Deal on water reuse

Today, the European Commission, together with 14 partners from national and regional authorities, universities, knowledge centres, innovators and end-users, delivers on its commitment to help innovators overcome perceived regulatory barriers by signing the first Innovation Deal on “Sustainable Waste Water Treatment Combining Anaerobic Membrane Technology (AnMbR) and Water Reuse”. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “The Innovation Deals is an instrument towards a more modern and responsive administration that helps innovators facing regulatory obstacles to innovation in the existing EU legislative framework. Implementing Innovation Deals shows that we are changing as an institution, from only setting rules to being pragmatic and pro-active in helping achieve policy objectives through innovation”. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “This first ‘Innovation Deal’ on water helps in our push for a circular economy. It comes as we are about to check how European water policy is working. We want our policy to be simpler to put in place and easier to use. The Innovation Deal helps us do this”. The Innovation Deal will explore solutions to overcome the perceived barriers, what the impacts and consequences of the solutions may be and which stakeholders should be involved. The Commission may decide to start follow-up actions. More information in the News Alert will be available here from 13.00 and you can find more information on Innovation Deals here. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 2 298 01 00; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 229 80379)




International Roma Day: Statement by First Vice-President Timmermans, Commissioner Thyssen, Commissioner Jourová and Commissioner Creţu

“Equal treatment and fundamental rights are the corner stones of the European Union. Roma have faced a long history of social exclusion and prejudice. Europe’s largest minority – with 6 million Roma living in the EU – continues to be discriminated against and marginalised. We are determined to continue the fight anti-gypsyism and to push for the full integration of Roma in all EU societies and countries. (…) As decided by Social Affairs Ministers in December 2016, the Commission will launch an evaluation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. This evaluation will assess the impact of the European and national instruments put in place so far and provide ideas on how to improve the strategy and make it more effective in promoting Roma inclusion. Integration and acceptance starts on an individual level, and we call on all EU citizens to acknowledge and embrace the equality of Roma and to recognise that Roma history and culture play a unique role.” The full statement is available online. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)




La Haute Représentante/Vice-Présidente Federica Mogherini se rend à Alger les 8 et 9 Avril

La Haute Représentante pour les affaires étrangères et la politique de sécurité/Vice-Présidente de la Commission européenne, Federica Mogherini, se rendra à Alger les 8 et 9 avril pour assurer le suivi du Conseil d’Association UE-Algérie qui a eu lieu le 13 mars 2017 à Bruxelles. Cette visite, à l’invitation du Ministre algérien des Affaires étrangères Mr Ramtane Lamamra, sera l’occasion de passer en revue les principaux dossiers qui constituent les Priorités de Partenariat dans les relations bilatérales UE-Algérie, telles qu’adoptées le 13 mars dernier. Cela sera aussi une opportunité pour explorer les moyens de renforcer davantage le dialogue et la coopération sur les défis régionaux actuels auxquels sont confrontés à la fois l’Europe et l’Algérie, en particulier en Libye, au Sahel, en Syrie, comme en matière de prévention et lutte contre le terrorisme et la radicalisation, ou sur les questions liées à la migration et à la mobilité. Lors de sa visite, la HR/VP rencontrera une série d’interlocuteurs, notamment le Premier Ministre algérien Mr Abdelmalek Sellal, le Ministre d’Etat, Ministre des Affaires étrangères et de la Coopération internationale, Mr Ramtane Lamamra et le Ministre des Affaires maghrébines, de l’Union africaine et de la Ligue des États arabes Mr Abdelkader Messahel. La HR/VP rencontrera également des représentants de la société civile et prononcera un discours à l’occasion du 30ème anniversaire du programme Erasmus à l’Université Algiers III. Toutes les opportunités de presse seront disponibles sur EbS. (Pour plus d’informations: Nabila Massrali  Tél.: + 32 229-69218; Lauranne Devillé  Tél.: +32 229-80833)


High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini travels to Lucca for G7

On Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 April, Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission will be in Italy to participate in the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Lucca. The focus of discussions will be on the main international issues of the day, including the situation in Syria, in light of recent developments and a week after the Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region. G7 participants will also discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the Middle East Peace Process, security in Asia, Iran, Africa, Iraq and Libya. Thematic topics for discussion include migration, maritime security, non-proliferation and disarmament, counter terrorism, climate change, peace and security in the framework of the United Nations, and cyber security. Whilst in Lucca, the High Representative will have several bilateral meetings, including with the Foreign Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, with whom she will discuss EU-Japan relations as well as the international response to repeated violations of UN Security Council Resolutions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The European Union adopted additional restrictive measures to complement and reinforce the sanctions regime imposed by UNSC Resolutions on Thursday 6 April. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel: +32 229 89359)


Vice-President Ansip in Düsseldorf, Germany for the meeting of G20 Digital Ministers

Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip is in Düsseldorf, Germany, today for the meeting of G20 Digital Ministers. For the first time, G20 Digital Economy Ministers adopted a declaration this morning on the key issues for digital transformation. The text “Shaping Digitalisation for an Interconnected World” recognises the relevance of digital for guaranteeing inclusive economic development and endorses many elements already outlined in the EU’s Digital Single Market strategy. For example, strengthening trust in the digital world to enable free data flows, helping people to develop digital skills to harness the potential of global digitisation for inclusive growth and employment, and digitising production for growth. The Vice-President’s speech ahead of the signing ceremony can be found here. This afternoon, Vice-President Ansip will take part in the G20 Ministers working lunch, concentrating on digital entrepreneurship, startups and Micro and Small Medium Enterprises. Yesterday evening, the Vice-President participated in the G20 Ministers’ Working Dinner, focusing on digital skills, training and education. On the sidelines of the G20 event, Vice-President Ansip will meet the Japanese delegation to recognise the good cooperation in the dialogue for data protection and data flows between the EU and Japan. The Vice-President will also discuss cooperation options with the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services of the Republic of South Africa, Siyabonga Cwele. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)


Commissioner Malmström in Poland to participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue and discuss EU trade policy

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström is in Warsaw today, where she is participating in a Citizens’ Dialogue at the Vistula University of Warsaw to discuss with students and others the benefits of the EU-Canada trade deal (CETA) for Poland. This dialogue is the 164th Citizens’ Dialogue with a Commissioner from the Juncker Commission, and is part of a CETA debate forum organised by a student team from the university. The event comes at a timely moment, as this agreement will soon enter into effect through provisional application following its approval by the European Parliament in February. This trade deal will bring new economic opportunities for Polish citizens and businesses by, for example, cutting nearly all tariffs for the roughly two thousand Polish companies currently exporting to Canada. It will create new economic benefits for farmers, food producers as well as car producers, and in sectors of the Polish economy such as cosmetics, fruit and vegetables, and luxury yachts. With 1.5 million Polish jobs depending on exports outside the EU, the Commissioner also set out in a speech the EU’s ambitious agenda of 20 ongoing trade negotiations, with partners such as Japan, Mexico and Southern American countries. In Warsaw, Commissioner Malmström is also meeting Mr Jerzy Kwieciński and Mr Tadeusz Kościński, Secretary and Undersecretary of State in the Ministry for Economic Development of Poland. Later, the Commissioner is visiting the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The Citizens’ Dialogue, for which the Commissioner is joined by Mr Tadeusz Kościński, is web-streamed as of 11:00 here. A program of the CETA Forum is available online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56 185; Axel Fougner  Tel.: +32 229 57276)

Commissioner Arias Cañete in Rome for G7 Energy Ministerial Meeting

As part of the preparations for the gathering of the G7 leaders in Taormina, Sicily, on 26-27 May, Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete will be in Rome from 9-10 April to represent the European Union at the G7 Energy Ministerial. The meeting will focus on energy security, including cybersecurity, natural gas and Ukraine; and on the new energy drivers such as renewables energy, sustainable alternatives fuels, energy efficiency and innovation in clean technologies. In the margins of the G7 Ministerial, Commissioner Arias Cañete will hold bilateral meetings with the US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr. Ahead of the meeting, Commissioner Arias Cañete said: “The clean energy transition is now an irreversible process at global level. Putting energy high on the G7 agenda is key to cooperating beyond borders, and sends a strong joint message for more energy efficiency, clean energy technology, and innovation research and development. The EU will cooperate fully for more clean energy as a means to enhance sustainable growth, social inclusion and climate action”. A member of G7 since 1977, the EU is fully committed to developing a European Energy Union in line with the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. To this extent, last November the European Commission presented a ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package (see IP/16/4009) in order to foster investments, unlock Europe’s growth potential and create jobs as the clean energy transition is changing global energy markets. The official press conference is expected to take place at 14:15 CET, see preliminary press programme. More information on the Italian G7 website. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen  Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)


The Commissioners’ weekly activities

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