General Market

Daily News 14 / 06 / 2017

EU institutions welcome the end of roaming charges in the EU 

As of tomorrow, 15 June 2017, roaming charges in the EU will no longer apply. On this occasion, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani and Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union stated: “The European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier. The end of roaming charges is a true European success story. From now on, citizens who travel within the EU will be able to call, text and connect on their mobile devices at the same price as they pay at home. Eliminating roaming charges is one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU. Over the last 10 years, our institutions have been working hard together to fix this market failure. Each time a European citizen crossed an EU border, be it for holidays, work, studies or just for a day, they had to worry about using their mobile phones and a high phone bill from the roaming charges when they came home. Roaming charges will now be a thing of the past. As of tomorrow, you will be able to remain connected while travelling in the EU, for the same price as at home.” The full statement by the three EU institutions is available here. An overview of the new roaming rules is available on the roaming website. Details on how roam like at home works in practice are available in all official EU languages in the frequently asked questions, general factsheet, detailed factsheet as well as a recent MEMO. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524;Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel. +32 229 67083; Johannes Bahrke – Tel. +32 22958615)

President Juncker addresses the plenary of the European Parliament on the Commission’s preparations ahead of the European Council on 22 and 23 June 2017

This morning President Juncker addressed the Plenary of the European Parliament ahead of the next European Council on 22 and 23 June, in which he covered the Commission’s ongoing work in the areas of defence, security, climate change, migration and solidarity among EU Member States. He stressed the importance of common work on defence and security through all tools provided by the Treaties, especially following the recent terrorist attacks: “In Europe, determination will always triumph over fear” he said, repeating that such attacks “will not undermine our resilience”‘. He highlighted the Commission’s reflection paper on the future of European defence of last week stressing that “whichever road we go down, our ever closer partnership with NATO will remain the cornerstone of Europe’s defence and security”.  President Juncker reiterated that “global security requires much more than solely efforts on military expenses”, namely that “European and global stability also depend on our efforts in development cooperation and in the fight against climate change”. Addressing the issue of migration, President Juncker recalled the European Union’s role in the protection of our external borders through the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard saying that “never have our external borders been as well protected as today“. Stressing the importance of solidarity in migration, he underlined that it cannot be “a one-way street”. Member States have to play their role. The fact that they are not, is therefore why the Commission has launched infringement procedures – not to sanction Member States, but to ensure the application of jointly agreed European Union law, the President explained. The full speech is available here. President Juncker also addressed the European Parliament this morning, following President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the COP 21 Climate Agreement. President Juncker said that this is “more than a sad event. It is a sign of abdication from common action in dealing with the fate of our planet. […] We are disappointed and we regret the decision”. President Juncker underlined that “the abandonment of Paris by the U.S. administration will not mean the end of the Agreement.”  Reiterating that the EU will not renegotiate the Agreement, President Juncker said “We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is the time for action, now it is the time for implementation”, adding that the European Union “will step up our climate diplomacy and collaboration with other partners”. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Arias Cañete will co-host a major gathering with his Chinese and Canadian counterparts to implement Paris and accelerate the clean energy transition. The full speech of President Juncker is available here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

Procédures d’infraction du mois de juin: la Commission prend des mesures en vue d’une mise en œuvre complète, correcte et en temps utile du droit de l’Union européenne dans l’intérêt des citoyens et des entreprises

Pour aider les citoyens et les entreprises à tirer pleinement profit du marché intérieur, la Commission européenne noue un dialogue permanent avec les États membres qui ne respectent pas le droit européen et, au besoin, ouvre des procédures d’infraction à leur égard. Les décisions prises aujourd’hui, dans le cadre des décisions régulières d’infraction, comprennent 12 lettres de mise en demeure, 25 avis motivés et un renvoi à la Cour de justice de l’UE. Elle clôt également 101 dossiers en cours lorsque l’État membre concerné, en coopération avec la Commission, a résolu le problème et assuré le respect du droit de l’Union et que, dès lors, une saisine de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne n’est pas nécessaire. Un résumé des principales décisions et les références des communiqués de presse correspondants figurent ici. Les aspects essentiels des procédures d’infraction de l’UE sont énoncés ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Uldis Šalajevs – Tel.: +32 229 67560)

 

The Commission welcomes the European Parliament’s approval of its proposal to increase EU financial support following natural disasters

Yesterday the European Parliament gave its green light to the Commission’s proposal to provide special EU support to disaster-stricken regions, by covering up to 95% of the costs of the reconstruction works. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: “Natural disasters can occur anywhere and anytime and EU citizens need to know that in times of need, the EU cares and is ready to step up its support. I very much welcome the vote of the European Parliament, as it means the proposal will soon enter into force and Member States will be able to activate this mechanism as soon as they need it.” The Commission proposed this amendment to the Cohesion policy Regulation in the wake of the earthquakes which struck four regions in Central Italy in 2016. President Juncker had announced that the EU would stand by Italy and its citizens, and help fully reconstruct the areas damaged, including the Basilica of San Benedetto in Norcia. But with this proposal, any Member State affected by a natural disaster will be able to activate this form of EU support. Member States struck by earthquakes, floods or severe droughts and forest fires can activate this special EU support from day one of a disaster, and for disasters that have occurred since the beginning of the current programming period, i.e. 1 January 2014. This would supplement EU Solidarity Fund assistance and provide a quick and efficient EU assistance to regions in distress. The proposal now has to be formally approved by the Council before entering into force. Commissioner Crețu issued a statement when the European Parliament and the Council had reached a provisional agreement on the proposal. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Juncker Plan backs loan to support environmentally-sustainable projects in Poland

The Juncker Plan has backed a European Investment Bank loan agreement with Bank Ochrony Środowiska, a bank specialising in supporting environmentally-friendly projects, which will unlock EUR 75 million for small and medium-sized businesses in Poland. Some 40% of this amount is expected to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and waste management projects. This agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI is the central pillar of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said: “The European Fund for Strategic Investments is playing an important role in facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized businesses across Europe. Over 16,000 Polish businesses are already set to access EFSI-backed loans which will allow them to grow, innovate and hire new employees. Today’s agreement is especially encouraging, given that it supports projects which will contribute to creating a greener, more sustainable future.” The Juncker Plan is now expected to trigger over EUR 6.4 billion in investments in Poland and EUR 194 billion across Europe. For the latest figures country-by-country, see here. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

Energy Union: the EU Cohesion Policy invests to improve energy security in Poland

€112.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund will be invested in the construction of a 167 km-long natural gas pipeline between the cities of Lwówek and Odolanów, in the Polish region of Wielkopolska. The EU-funded project also includes the construction of interconnections in Krobia, Kotowo, Lwówek and Odolanów, and of supporting infrastructure. Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu said: “This project directly contributes to the implementation of the Energy Union, by improving Poland’s energy security. It will also help provide households and businesses with additional and affordable gas sources and as such boost economic competitiveness in the country and the neighbouring regions.” The Lwówek – Odolanów pipeline will connect the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in the city of Świnoujście, in North-West Poland, to the existing gas transmission, storage and distribution infrastructure. It was defined as a project of common interest (PCI) and has the potential to export gas to Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. As such, it is an important part of the North-South gas interconnections in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe. In the 2014-2020 period, €69 billion under the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds are supporting the EU’s Energy Union targets. More information on the contribution of the ESI Funds to the Energy Union is available here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

EU boosts cooperation with key international partners to support its foreign policy objectives

The European Commission has adopted the Annual Action Programme 2017 (AAP 2017) of the Partnership Instrument, approving 19 new projects totalling more than €87 million. These projects will increase the impact of the European Union and help to achieve our objectives across a number of policy areas. A particular focus of this year’s Action Programme is climate action, clean energy, biodiversity and green diplomacy. The European Union has recently reiterated its full commitment to implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate action, and therefore to the promotion of secure, affordable, climate-friendly and sustainable energy sources. As a global leader in this field, the European Union will implement projects with partners in Asia and Latin America to enhance environmental resilience, to increase energy efficiency, and to assist the transition towards low carbon economies. Other priority areas of EU foreign policy, such as migration management and trade, are also reflected in the AAP 2017, in particular through supporting dialogue and cooperation on migration and mobility with India, and engaging with civil society in trade policy-making processes. Funding under the Partnership Instrument will also go towards fighting inequality, promoting responsible business and championing decent work opportunities in Latin America, notably for women and young people, as well as actions to support the European Union’s own public and cultural diplomacy. A full press release is available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)

 

Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigations into Nike’s, Sanrio’s and Universal Studios’ licensing and distribution practices

The European Commission has launched three separate antitrust investigations into whether certain licensing and distribution practices of Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios illegally restrict traders from selling licensed merchandise cross-border and online within the EU Single Market. The Commission will investigate whether the three companies, in their role as licensors of rights for merchandising products, may have breached EU competition rules by restricting their licensees’ ability to sell licensed merchandise cross-border and online. These practices may ultimately harm consumers by preventing them from benefiting from greater choice and lower prices, both online and offline. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “The Commission is investigating whether Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios are restricting cross border and online sales of merchandising products. We are going to examine whether the licensing and distribution practices of these three companies may be denying consumers access to wider choice and better deals in the Single Market”. The full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Eurostat: First quarter of 2017 compared with the fourth quarter of 2016 – Employment up by 0.4% in both the euro area and in the EU28 – +1.5% and +1.4% respectively compared with the first quarter of 2016

The number of persons employed increased by 0.4% in both the euro area (EA19) and in the EU28 in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2016, employment increased also by 0.4% in both areas. Commenting on the figures, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: “Employment has never been as high as now in both the EU and the euro area. Job creation has been the top priority of this Commission and our efforts are paying off: Since the Juncker Commission took up office in 2014, about 6.9 million jobs have been created. But we can’t stop here, as too many people are still excluded from the labour market. We need to act jointly so all Member States could enjoy the same progress. This is why the European Pillar of Social Rights is so important: its aim is to help Member States grow more closely together, towards better working and social conditions for all.” A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

 

Eurostat: La production industrielle en hausse de 0,5% dans la zone euro

En avril 2017 par rapport à mars 2017, la production industrielle corrigée des variations saisonnières a augmenté de 0,5% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,2% dans l’UE28, selon les estimations d’Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. En mars 2017, la production industrielle avait progressé de 0,2% dans la zone euro et de 0,3% dans l’UE28. En avril 2017 par rapport à avril 2016, la production industrielle a augmenté de 1,4% dans la zone euro ainsi que dans l’UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)

 

 
ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioner Vella co-host a high-level event on EU Arctic Policy in Oulu (Finland), 15-16 June

On 15-16 June, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini will co-host, together with the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Timo Soini, a high-level event on the European Union’s Arctic Policy in Oulu, Finland. The conference, featuring speakers from both EU and non-EU countries, will look at innovative approaches to addressing the challenges confronting the Arctic. Commissioner Vella said: “The European Union has a deep understanding that environmental and climate protection brings not just green benefits, but geopolitical stability. On the Arctic, just as on the Paris Agreement I can assure you that the EU is solid. That is something that will not melt under any political heat.” High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will speak to the press alongside the Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä at 16:30 and Commissioner Vella and Minister Soini will hold a press conference at 18.30, both at the Oulu Music Hall and available on EbS. In the morning of the 16 June, there will be the high-level Arctic Stakeholder Forum and in the afternoon the annual Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ Dialogue. The full programme of the Conference is available here. Live streaming of the conference is available online, and for the ‘1st panel session: The Arctic is local and global – increasing expectations’ and for the ‘2nd panel session: The Arctic – a Northern light for innovation’, both on 15th June, on EbS. For more information on the EU’s Arctic policy, visit the website. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen attend Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Council

Tomorrow, 15 June, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will attend the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Council (EPSCO). First, Ministers will hold a policy debate on the 2017 European Semester, and adopt Council conclusions onstrategies for making work pay following the informal meeting of EU Social Affairs and Employment Ministers on 3 April, and the Court of Auditor’s special report on youth unemployment. Ministers are also expected to adopt a general approach on the Commission’s second proposal to better protect workers from cancer-causing chemicals under the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. Several progress reports will also be discussed, including on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive as well as the proposed revision of the coordination of social security systems, on equal treatment, on women on company boards, and on the accessibility requirements for products and services as proposed under the Commission’s Accessibility Act. During lunchtime, Ministers will also hold a first informal debate on the European Pillar of Social Rights. A first press conference will take place at 12:45, with Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Thyssen and Minister for European Affairs and Equality of Malta, Helena Dalli. At the end of the Council meeting, a second press conference will take place, foreseen around 18:30, with Commissioner Thyssen, Maltese Minister for Education and Employment, Evarist Bartolo, and Maltese Minister for Family and Social Solidarity, Michael Falzon. Both press conferences can be followed here. More information as regards the Council agenda is available here. (For more information:Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

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

General Information

Latest daily news

EU institutions welcome the end of roaming charges in the EU 

As of tomorrow, 15 June 2017, roaming charges in the EU will no longer apply. On this occasion, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani and Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union stated: “The European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier. The end of roaming charges is a true European success story. From now on, citizens who travel within the EU will be able to call, text and connect on their mobile devices at the same price as they pay at home. Eliminating roaming charges is one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU. Over the last 10 years, our institutions have been working hard together to fix this market failure. Each time a European citizen crossed an EU border, be it for holidays, work, studies or just for a day, they had to worry about using their mobile phones and a high phone bill from the roaming charges when they came home. Roaming charges will now be a thing of the past. As of tomorrow, you will be able to remain connected while travelling in the EU, for the same price as at home.” The full statement by the three EU institutions is available here. An overview of the new roaming rules is available on the roaming website. Details on how roam like at home works in practice are available in all official EU languages in the frequently asked questions, general factsheet, detailed factsheet as well as a recent MEMO. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524;Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel. +32 229 67083; Johannes Bahrke – Tel. +32 22958615)

President Juncker addresses the plenary of the European Parliament on the Commission’s preparations ahead of the European Council on 22 and 23 June 2017

This morning President Juncker addressed the Plenary of the European Parliament ahead of the next European Council on 22 and 23 June, in which he covered the Commission’s ongoing work in the areas of defence, security, climate change, migration and solidarity among EU Member States. He stressed the importance of common work on defence and security through all tools provided by the Treaties, especially following the recent terrorist attacks: “In Europe, determination will always triumph over fear” he said, repeating that such attacks “will not undermine our resilience”‘. He highlighted the Commission’s reflection paper on the future of European defence of last week stressing that “whichever road we go down, our ever closer partnership with NATO will remain the cornerstone of Europe’s defence and security”.  President Juncker reiterated that “global security requires much more than solely efforts on military expenses”, namely that “European and global stability also depend on our efforts in development cooperation and in the fight against climate change”. Addressing the issue of migration, President Juncker recalled the European Union’s role in the protection of our external borders through the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard saying that “never have our external borders been as well protected as today“. Stressing the importance of solidarity in migration, he underlined that it cannot be “a one-way street”. Member States have to play their role. The fact that they are not, is therefore why the Commission has launched infringement procedures – not to sanction Member States, but to ensure the application of jointly agreed European Union law, the President explained. The full speech is available here. President Juncker also addressed the European Parliament this morning, following President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the COP 21 Climate Agreement. President Juncker said that this is “more than a sad event. It is a sign of abdication from common action in dealing with the fate of our planet. […] We are disappointed and we regret the decision”. President Juncker underlined that “the abandonment of Paris by the U.S. administration will not mean the end of the Agreement.”  Reiterating that the EU will not renegotiate the Agreement, President Juncker said “We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is the time for action, now it is the time for implementation”, adding that the European Union “will step up our climate diplomacy and collaboration with other partners”. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Arias Cañete will co-host a major gathering with his Chinese and Canadian counterparts to implement Paris and accelerate the clean energy transition. The full speech of President Juncker is available here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

Procédures d’infraction du mois de juin: la Commission prend des mesures en vue d’une mise en œuvre complète, correcte et en temps utile du droit de l’Union européenne dans l’intérêt des citoyens et des entreprises

Pour aider les citoyens et les entreprises à tirer pleinement profit du marché intérieur, la Commission européenne noue un dialogue permanent avec les États membres qui ne respectent pas le droit européen et, au besoin, ouvre des procédures d’infraction à leur égard. Les décisions prises aujourd’hui, dans le cadre des décisions régulières d’infraction, comprennent 12 lettres de mise en demeure, 25 avis motivés et un renvoi à la Cour de justice de l’UE. Elle clôt également 101 dossiers en cours lorsque l’État membre concerné, en coopération avec la Commission, a résolu le problème et assuré le respect du droit de l’Union et que, dès lors, une saisine de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne n’est pas nécessaire. Un résumé des principales décisions et les références des communiqués de presse correspondants figurent ici. Les aspects essentiels des procédures d’infraction de l’UE sont énoncés ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Uldis Šalajevs – Tel.: +32 229 67560)

 

The Commission welcomes the European Parliament’s approval of its proposal to increase EU financial support following natural disasters

Yesterday the European Parliament gave its green light to the Commission’s proposal to provide special EU support to disaster-stricken regions, by covering up to 95% of the costs of the reconstruction works. Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: “Natural disasters can occur anywhere and anytime and EU citizens need to know that in times of need, the EU cares and is ready to step up its support. I very much welcome the vote of the European Parliament, as it means the proposal will soon enter into force and Member States will be able to activate this mechanism as soon as they need it.” The Commission proposed this amendment to the Cohesion policy Regulation in the wake of the earthquakes which struck four regions in Central Italy in 2016. President Juncker had announced that the EU would stand by Italy and its citizens, and help fully reconstruct the areas damaged, including the Basilica of San Benedetto in Norcia. But with this proposal, any Member State affected by a natural disaster will be able to activate this form of EU support. Member States struck by earthquakes, floods or severe droughts and forest fires can activate this special EU support from day one of a disaster, and for disasters that have occurred since the beginning of the current programming period, i.e. 1 January 2014. This would supplement EU Solidarity Fund assistance and provide a quick and efficient EU assistance to regions in distress. The proposal now has to be formally approved by the Council before entering into force. Commissioner Crețu issued a statement when the European Parliament and the Council had reached a provisional agreement on the proposal. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

Juncker Plan backs loan to support environmentally-sustainable projects in Poland

The Juncker Plan has backed a European Investment Bank loan agreement with Bank Ochrony Środowiska, a bank specialising in supporting environmentally-friendly projects, which will unlock EUR 75 million for small and medium-sized businesses in Poland. Some 40% of this amount is expected to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and waste management projects. This agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI is the central pillar of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said: “The European Fund for Strategic Investments is playing an important role in facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized businesses across Europe. Over 16,000 Polish businesses are already set to access EFSI-backed loans which will allow them to grow, innovate and hire new employees. Today’s agreement is especially encouraging, given that it supports projects which will contribute to creating a greener, more sustainable future.” The Juncker Plan is now expected to trigger over EUR 6.4 billion in investments in Poland and EUR 194 billion across Europe. For the latest figures country-by-country, see here. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

Energy Union: the EU Cohesion Policy invests to improve energy security in Poland

€112.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund will be invested in the construction of a 167 km-long natural gas pipeline between the cities of Lwówek and Odolanów, in the Polish region of Wielkopolska. The EU-funded project also includes the construction of interconnections in Krobia, Kotowo, Lwówek and Odolanów, and of supporting infrastructure. Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu said: “This project directly contributes to the implementation of the Energy Union, by improving Poland’s energy security. It will also help provide households and businesses with additional and affordable gas sources and as such boost economic competitiveness in the country and the neighbouring regions.” The Lwówek – Odolanów pipeline will connect the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in the city of Świnoujście, in North-West Poland, to the existing gas transmission, storage and distribution infrastructure. It was defined as a project of common interest (PCI) and has the potential to export gas to Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. As such, it is an important part of the North-South gas interconnections in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe. In the 2014-2020 period, €69 billion under the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds are supporting the EU’s Energy Union targets. More information on the contribution of the ESI Funds to the Energy Union is available here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

EU boosts cooperation with key international partners to support its foreign policy objectives

The European Commission has adopted the Annual Action Programme 2017 (AAP 2017) of the Partnership Instrument, approving 19 new projects totalling more than €87 million. These projects will increase the impact of the European Union and help to achieve our objectives across a number of policy areas. A particular focus of this year’s Action Programme is climate action, clean energy, biodiversity and green diplomacy. The European Union has recently reiterated its full commitment to implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate action, and therefore to the promotion of secure, affordable, climate-friendly and sustainable energy sources. As a global leader in this field, the European Union will implement projects with partners in Asia and Latin America to enhance environmental resilience, to increase energy efficiency, and to assist the transition towards low carbon economies. Other priority areas of EU foreign policy, such as migration management and trade, are also reflected in the AAP 2017, in particular through supporting dialogue and cooperation on migration and mobility with India, and engaging with civil society in trade policy-making processes. Funding under the Partnership Instrument will also go towards fighting inequality, promoting responsible business and championing decent work opportunities in Latin America, notably for women and young people, as well as actions to support the European Union’s own public and cultural diplomacy. A full press release is available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359)

 

Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigations into Nike’s, Sanrio’s and Universal Studios’ licensing and distribution practices

The European Commission has launched three separate antitrust investigations into whether certain licensing and distribution practices of Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios illegally restrict traders from selling licensed merchandise cross-border and online within the EU Single Market. The Commission will investigate whether the three companies, in their role as licensors of rights for merchandising products, may have breached EU competition rules by restricting their licensees’ ability to sell licensed merchandise cross-border and online. These practices may ultimately harm consumers by preventing them from benefiting from greater choice and lower prices, both online and offline. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “The Commission is investigating whether Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios are restricting cross border and online sales of merchandising products. We are going to examine whether the licensing and distribution practices of these three companies may be denying consumers access to wider choice and better deals in the Single Market”. The full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Eurostat: First quarter of 2017 compared with the fourth quarter of 2016 – Employment up by 0.4% in both the euro area and in the EU28 – +1.5% and +1.4% respectively compared with the first quarter of 2016

The number of persons employed increased by 0.4% in both the euro area (EA19) and in the EU28 in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2016, employment increased also by 0.4% in both areas. Commenting on the figures, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: “Employment has never been as high as now in both the EU and the euro area. Job creation has been the top priority of this Commission and our efforts are paying off: Since the Juncker Commission took up office in 2014, about 6.9 million jobs have been created. But we can’t stop here, as too many people are still excluded from the labour market. We need to act jointly so all Member States could enjoy the same progress. This is why the European Pillar of Social Rights is so important: its aim is to help Member States grow more closely together, towards better working and social conditions for all.” A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

 

Eurostat: La production industrielle en hausse de 0,5% dans la zone euro

En avril 2017 par rapport à mars 2017, la production industrielle corrigée des variations saisonnières a augmenté de 0,5% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,2% dans l’UE28, selon les estimations d’Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. En mars 2017, la production industrielle avait progressé de 0,2% dans la zone euro et de 0,3% dans l’UE28. En avril 2017 par rapport à avril 2016, la production industrielle a augmenté de 1,4% dans la zone euro ainsi que dans l’UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)

 

 
ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioner Vella co-host a high-level event on EU Arctic Policy in Oulu (Finland), 15-16 June

On 15-16 June, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini will co-host, together with the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Timo Soini, a high-level event on the European Union’s Arctic Policy in Oulu, Finland. The conference, featuring speakers from both EU and non-EU countries, will look at innovative approaches to addressing the challenges confronting the Arctic. Commissioner Vella said: “The European Union has a deep understanding that environmental and climate protection brings not just green benefits, but geopolitical stability. On the Arctic, just as on the Paris Agreement I can assure you that the EU is solid. That is something that will not melt under any political heat.” High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will speak to the press alongside the Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä at 16:30 and Commissioner Vella and Minister Soini will hold a press conference at 18.30, both at the Oulu Music Hall and available on EbS. In the morning of the 16 June, there will be the high-level Arctic Stakeholder Forum and in the afternoon the annual Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ Dialogue. The full programme of the Conference is available here. Live streaming of the conference is available online, and for the ‘1st panel session: The Arctic is local and global – increasing expectations’ and for the ‘2nd panel session: The Arctic – a Northern light for innovation’, both on 15th June, on EbS. For more information on the EU’s Arctic policy, visit the website. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen attend Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Council

Tomorrow, 15 June, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will attend the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Council (EPSCO). First, Ministers will hold a policy debate on the 2017 European Semester, and adopt Council conclusions onstrategies for making work pay following the informal meeting of EU Social Affairs and Employment Ministers on 3 April, and the Court of Auditor’s special report on youth unemployment. Ministers are also expected to adopt a general approach on the Commission’s second proposal to better protect workers from cancer-causing chemicals under the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. Several progress reports will also be discussed, including on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive as well as the proposed revision of the coordination of social security systems, on equal treatment, on women on company boards, and on the accessibility requirements for products and services as proposed under the Commission’s Accessibility Act. During lunchtime, Ministers will also hold a first informal debate on the European Pillar of Social Rights. A first press conference will take place at 12:45, with Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Thyssen and Minister for European Affairs and Equality of Malta, Helena Dalli. At the end of the Council meeting, a second press conference will take place, foreseen around 18:30, with Commissioner Thyssen, Maltese Minister for Education and Employment, Evarist Bartolo, and Maltese Minister for Family and Social Solidarity, Michael Falzon. Both press conferences can be followed here. More information as regards the Council agenda is available here. (For more information:Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

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

General Market

Daily News 16 / 05 / 2017

President Juncker consults the European Parliament on Mariya Gabriel as Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society

President Jean-Claude-Juncker interviewed today Mariya Gabriel, the candidate proposed by the Bulgarian Government for Commissioner to replace former Member of the Commission Kristalina Georgieva. On this basis, President Juncker confirmed the competencies of Mariya Gabriel required under Article 17(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) to become candidate for Commissioner and announced his intention to allocate the Digital Economy and Society portfolio to her. A Mission Letter sent today by President Juncker to Mariya Gabriel details her main tasks and responsibilities as Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society. Following today’s interview of Mariya Gabriel and the announcement by President Juncker of the portfolio allocation, the process will now follow Article 246(2) TFEU and point 6 of the Framework Agreement between the European Parliament and the European Commission. An exchange of views between Mariya Gabriel and the relevant Committee of the European Parliament is expected to take place in the coming weeks. Read the full press releaseavailable in all EU languages here. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

Commission calls on Member States to meet obligations under the EU’s emergency relocation and resettlement schemes and sets out new approach on interoperability of information systems on borders and security

Meeting in Strasbourg, today the College of Commissioners will adopt two reports on the EU’s emergency relocation and resettlement schemes and on progress made towards an effective and genuine Security Union. The first report will take stock of actions taken by Member States over the last month to fulfil their commitments under the relocation and resettlement schemes. On the European Agenda on Security, today’s report will provide an update on the state-of-play with regards to the important work being carried out to improve security in the EU, and at its borders through better data management and the interoperability of information systems. Full press material will be available online at the start of the press conference in Strasbourg with Commissioners Avramopoulos and King which will be livestreamed here.(For more information:  Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 299 63444)

Commission registers European Citizens’ Initiative on reducing the wage and economic differences

The European Commission has today decided to make a partial registration of a European Citizens’ Initiative which invites the Commission to propose “Legal acts that clearly demonstrate the EU’s intention to eliminate wage inequalities between Member States and which – to achieve this objective – allow for a more efficient cohesion of these states“. The formal registration of this Initiative on 22 May 2017 will start a one-year process of collection of signatures of support by its organisers. Should the Initiative receive one million statements of support within one year, from at least seven different Member States, the Commission will have to react within three months. The Commission’s Decision makes clear for which kind of legal acts the signatures may and may not be collected in this case, dependent on the competences set out in the Treaties. More information is available in the press release available here. (For more information:Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

“Lower Saxony in Europe and Europe in Lower Saxony”: speech by President Juncker at the Lower Saxony Landtag

As part of his discussions with regional parliaments and local authorities, President Juncker was in Hannover, Germany yesterday to mark the 70th anniversary of the Parliament of Lower Saxony. Speaking about the importance of national and regional parliaments, President Juncker declared: “Nations are not temporary inventions of history, their presence is permanent. And the same applies to regions. We can only construct Europe with and not against them”. The President also stressed that “it is important that the European Commission (…) remains in intensive dialogue with national and regional parliaments” and invited the Lower Saxony Parliament to be involved in European politics even more and to participate in the debate about the future of Europe. In his speech, the President addressed a wide range of issues, from EU migration policy, to the Digital Single Market, Capital Markets Union, Energy Union, the Juncker Plan and our single currency, the euro. Speaking about the social dimension of Europe, he said: “We have to pay more attention to the concerns of Europeans in social matters. (…) We must again turn back to those, for whom Europe was invented. Dreaming cannot be forbidden”. Finally, President Juncker alsospoke about the benefits Member States derive from the European Union, notably though the EU budget. “In Europe there are no net payers and net recipients. In Europe, all Member States are net recipients because without Europe they would be net payers,” he said. The full speech in German is available here, and a recording can be found on the EbS website. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

Commission welcomes European Parliament vote on extension and reinforcement of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Juncker Plan

The Commission welcomes the vote by Members of the European Parliament’s Budgets and Economic and Monetary Affairs committees to agree their position on extending, expanding and reinforcing the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the so-called “EFSI 2.0”. The proposal seeks to extend the EFSI’s duration and enhance its financial capacity. The target of investment mobilised is to be increased from EUR 315 billion by 2018 to at least half a trillion euro by 2020. The proposal also places a greater emphasis on additionality and aims to further enhance the EFSI’s transparency and geographic balance. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The European Fund for Strategic Investments has already proven to be an important tool to boost investment, support jobs and spur growth across all 28 Member States. The extension of the EFSI represents an opportunity to build on that success. I look forward to continue working with Members of the European Parliament and Member States in the weeks to come to secure a final agreement.” The Commission now calls on the Parliament and Member States to continue working towards the final adoption of the EFSI 2.0 proposal as quickly as possible to the benefit of public and private promoters driving investment projects in Europe. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

 

Juncker Plan: EUR 80 million for Italian SMEs

The Juncker Plan has backed a European Investment Fund (EIF) agreement with Banca Popolare Pugliese, an Italian financial intermediary, to provide EUR 80 million in financing to innovative Italian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps over the next two years. The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Juncker Plan, was a crucial factor in making this loan agreement possible. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The Investment Plan has already proven to be a success and Italy is amongst the Plan’s top beneficiaries. I am delighted that, with today’s agreement, even more Italian small and medium-sized businesses will gain access to the finance they need to innovate, grow, hire new employees and expand their activities.” The Juncker Plan is now expected to trigger over EUR 31 billion in investments in Italy and EUR 183.5 billion across Europe. For the latest figures country-by-country, see here. A full press release is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

 

Commission introduces new measures to fight poaching and end trade in raw ivory

The Commission is moving to end the export of old raw ivoryas of 1 July, with the adoption of new guidance on the EU rules governing ivory trade. Today’s decision, foreseen in the EU Action Plan against wildlife trafficking, will help to prevent that legal ivory trade fuels international ivory trafficking, which has risen significantly over the last decade. The Commission will also grant new financial support of € 2.25 million to the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to help with the implementation of the decisions on international wildlife trade agreed at the CITES Conference of Parties in October 2016. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said: “Fighting international ivory trafficking is a battle we can’t afford to lose. By ending the export of ivory tusks and other raw ivory we are living up to our responsibility. And we are delivering on the next commitment in our Action Plan against wildlife trafficking. Our financial support for developing countries will strengthen their capacity to implement the CITES Convention. This is essential to achieve progress in the fight against poaching and for sustainable wildlife trade.” A press release and Q&A on the new guidelines are available online.(For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: + 32 229 93321)

 

Aviation Safety: Commission clears all airlines from Benin and Mozambique from EU Air Safety List

The European Commission updated the EU Air Safety List, the list of non-European airlines that do not meet international safety standards, and are therefore subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union. The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Aviation Strategy adopted by the Commission in December 2015. Following today’s update, all airlines certified in Benin and Mozambique are cleared from the list, while four individual airlines are added (Med-View, Mustique Airways, Aviation Company Urga and Air Zimbabwe). Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “I am glad that we are able to take all carriers from Benin and Mozambique out of the air safety list. Their reforms have paid off. This is also a signal to the 16 countries that remain on the list. It shows that work and cooperation pays off. The Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency are ready to assist them and raise the safety standards worldwide”. More information is available in a press release in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6 91 43)

European Commission marks the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

Ahead of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people are our parents, our children, our siblings, our friends, our neighbours and our fellow Europeans. Let’s treat them as such. It’s time we put an end to the widespread discrimination against LGBTI people together.”Commissioner Věra Jourová added: “No matter who you love or who you are, everyone should enjoy the same rights and be protected from discrimination in the same way. We call on Member States to unblock discussions on the Equal Treatment Directive which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in education, social protection and access to goods and services.” Last year, the Commission published a list of actions to advance LGBTI equality, which sets out the EU’s activities in this field for 2016-2019. Outside the EU, engaging in same-sex relationships is still considered a crime in more than 70 countries. You can find online a statement by High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherini. For the first ever, the Commission will organise, under the responsibility of Commissioner Günther Oettinger,an event for European Commission staff on the occasion of IDAHOT tomorrow, on the theme of ‘Inclusion and Identity in the Workplace: an asset for all of us’. To show the Commission’s support for diversity and for LGBTI equality, the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters and the headquarters of the European External Action Service will be lit up tonight in the colours of the rainbow flag. A factsheet on advancing LGBTI equality is available online, as well as the first testimony in the series of #EU4LGBTI stories – Roberto & Andrea. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: + 32 229 67083; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

EUROSTAT: Le PIB en hausse de 0,5% tant dans la zone euro que dans l’UE28

Au cours du premier trimestre 2017, le PIB corrigé des variations saisonnières a augmenté de 0,5% dans la zone euro (ZE19) ainsi que dans l’UE28 par rapport au trimestre précédent, selon l’estimation rapide publiée par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. Au cours du quatrième trimestre 2016, le PIB avait crû respectivement de 0,5% et 0,6%. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Juliana Dahl – Tel.: +32 229 59914)

 

EUROSTAT: Excédent de 30,9 milliards d’euros du commerce international de biens de la zone euro

D’après les premières estimations pour le mois de mars 2017, les exportations de biens de la zone euro (ZE19) vers le reste du monde se sont établies à 202,3 milliards d’euros, en hausse de 13% par rapport à mars 2016 (178,9 mrds). Les importations depuis le reste du monde ont quant à elles été de 171,4 mrds d’euros, en hausse de 14% par rapport à mars 2016 (150,7 mrds). En conséquence, la zone euro a enregistré en mars 2017 un excédent de 30,9 mrds d’euros de son commerce international de biens avec le reste du monde, contre +28,2 mrds en mars 2016. Le commerce intra-zone euro a progressé à 168,1 mrds d’euros en mars 2017, soit +12% par rapport à mars 2016. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations:Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska- Tel.: +32 229 Kinga 51383)

STATEMENTS

Statement by Commissioner Stylianides on the Ebola outbreak in the Northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management and EU Ebola Coordinator Christos Stylianides has issued a statementfollowing the declaration of an Ebola outbreak in the Northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo: “The EU is fully committed to provide all support necessary. The national authorities, with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the European Commission’s experts in the country as well as international medical NGOs, have set in motion initial measures to respond to the situation. The European Commission’s Emergency response Coordination Centre (ERCC) is taking necessary preparedness measures for a potential EU intervention in case the European Medical Corps and logistical capacities would be needed. In these early days of the outbreak our priority must be to maintain close and efficient coordination with the national authorities, the WHO, EU Member States, international partners and NGOs on the ground. (…) In this regard we are in close contact with our Member States. This new outbreak is a stark reminder that we can never let our guard down. (…)” The full statement is online here. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322, Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Le Commissaire Moedas à l’inauguration de SESAME, “un projet phare de la diplomatie scientifique”

Le commissaire en charge de la recherche, de la science et de l’innovation Carlos Moedas a participé aujourd’hui à la cérémonie d’inauguration de l’accélérateur de particules SESAME (“Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East”), à Allan, en Jordanie, en présence de sa Majesté le Roi de Jordanie et des représentants de 17 pays partenaires, ainsi que de l’UNESCO, de l’AIEA et du CERN. Le Commissaire a souligné le fort engagement de l’Union européenne dans ce projet, centre de recherche le plus avancé du Proche-Orient et symbole de la collaboration pacifique entre les pays de la région. “SESAME est la preuve la plus incontestable que la diplomatie scientifique est synonyme d’excellence et représente un outil incomparable pour améliorer les relations entre les pays, les régions et les cultures en promouvant la paix et la stabilité dans la région. La science est un langage universel qui permet d’ouvrir des canaux de communication et de construire des relations de confiance. Je suis fier que l’Union européenne apporte son soutien à ce projet phare de la diplomatie scientifique“, a déclaré le Commissaire. Demain, mercredi, le commissaire Moedas continuera sa visite au Proche-Orient et rencontrera à Jérusalem le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Netanyahou et le ministre de l’Economie Eli Cohen. Après une rencontre avec des étudiants à l’université Ben Gourion de Beer-Sheva, il visitera le Cyber Teck Park de la ville. Il participera le soir à une réception en l’honneur des 10 ans du Conseil européen de la recherche (ERC). Plus d’informations sur SESAME et l’engagement de l’UE ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 229 80379)

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

General Market

Daily News 19 / 04 / 2017

President Juncker and Members of the Commission at the IMF/World Bank Spring meetings in Washington DC

As of tomorrow, President Juncker and several Members of the Commission will travel to Washington DC (USA) for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings on 20-22 April. President Juncker, Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Hahn, and Commissioner Moscovici will represent the Commission at different events hosted in that framework. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meetings will also be held in the margins. President Juncker will meet, among others with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres. He will also have a working dinner with Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Mr. Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank; Mr. Rolf Wenzel, Governor of the Council of Europe Development Bank; Mr. Jin Liqun, President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asian Development Bank; Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, and Mr. Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank. The other Members of the Commission present in Washington also have a variety of high-level bilateral meetings, speaking engagements and other commitments. A more detailed calendar is available here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153)

Commission renews cooperation for sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean

Today, the European Commission launches a new initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean region that will increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Millions of holiday makers have a happy association with the Western Mediterranean. Like the millions more who live across the region, they understand the fragile link between conserving national habitats and traditions and ensuring economic viability. Blue economy is important for each of the countries involved and they have recognised the strength of working together.” The initiative is an example of EU’s successful neighbourhood policy as five EU Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta) and five Southern partner countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) will work jointly on their shared interests in the region. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: ”This new regional initiative recognises and taps into the economic potential of the Mediterranean Sea and its coast lines to further enhance economic growth, contribute to job creation and eventually the stabilisation of the region. It is an important step towards closer coordination and cooperation among participating countries.” The enhanced cooperation is particularly timely as just three weeks ago the Commission secured a 10-year pledge to save Mediterranean fish stocks in the Ministerial MedFish4Ever Declaration. Among others, the initiative’s targeted actions include cooperation between coast guards, response to accidents and oil spills, habitat conservation, biotechnology, data sharing, marine knowledge and coastal tourism. For more information on the priorities and specific actions of the initiative a full press release and MEMO are online. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Iris Petsa – Tel.: + 32 229 93321)

 

Commission launches public consultation on how excise duties are applied to alcoholic beverages

The European Commission has today launched a public consultation on how excise duties are applied to alcohol and alcoholic beverages (“excise duty structures”). EU excise duty rules for alcohol aim to prevent trade distortions in the Single Market, ensure fair competition between businesses, and reduce administrative burden for businesses. Concretely, the rules define product categories, methods to charge the duty and provide for reduced rates and exemptions from excise duty. However, these rules have not changed since 1992 and a recent Commission report has recommended clearer tax rules to support small producers of alcoholic beverages and to fight the sale of dangerous counterfeit alcohol. The Commission is also keen to reduce costs for smaller businesses. In December, EU Finance Ministers requested that the Commission carry out the necessary studies to prepare a possible legislative proposal to revise the common rules. The aim now is to identify ways to alleviate the administrative burden for both Member States and business, while reducing distortions in the internal market. Excise duties are indirect taxes on the sale or use of specific products. They are usually applied as an amount per quantity of the product – e.g. per 1,000 litres in the case of alcohol. Revenues from excise duty go directly to the coffers of EU Member States. The consultation will run until 7 July 2017 and is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: +32 229 87183)

 

Eurostat: Mars 2017: Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro en baisse à 1,5% – Celui de l’UE en baisse à 1,6%

Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro s’est établi à 1,5% en mars 2017, contre 2,0% en février. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,0%. Le taux d’inflation annuel de l’Union européenne s’est établi à 1,6% en mars 2017, contre 2,0% en février. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,0%. Ces chiffres sont publiés par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. En mars 2017, les taux annuels les plus faibles ont été observés en Roumanie (0,4%) ainsi qu’en Irlande et aux Pays-Bas (0,6% chacun). Les taux annuels les plus élevés ont été enregistrés en Lettonie (3,3%), en Lituanie (3,2%) et en Estonie (3,0%). Par rapport à février 2017, l’inflation annuelle a baissé dans dix-sept États membres, est restée stable dans six et a augmenté dans cinq autres. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tél.: +32 229 56153; Juliana Dahl – Tél:+32 229-59914)

Eurostat: Février 2017: Excédent de 17,8 milliards d’euros du commerce international de biens de la zone euro – Excédent de 1,7 mrd d’euros pour l’UE28

D’après les premières estimations pour le mois de février 2017, les exportations de biens de la zone euro (ZE19) vers le reste du monde se sont établies à 170,3 milliards d’euros, en hausse de 4% par rapport à février 2016 (163,2 mrds). Les importations depuis le reste du monde ont quant à elles été de 152,6 mrds d’euros, en hausse de 5% par rapport à février 2016 (144,9 mrds). En conséquence, la zone euro a enregistré en février 2017 un excédent de 17,8 mrds d’euros de son commerce international de biens avec le reste du monde, contre un excédent de 18,2 mrds en février 2016. Le commerce intra-zone euro a progressé à 149,1 mrds d’euros en février 2017, en hausse de 5% par rapport à février 2016. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations:Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Kinga Malinowska- Tel.: +32 229 Kinga 51383)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

First Vice-President Timmermans on a visit to Romania

Tomorrow, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will travel to Bucharest, Romania, where he will participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue to exchange views with Romanians on the White Paper on the Future of Europe and the 60-year anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. During the visit, the First Vice-President will meet Prime Minister Sorin Mihai Grindeanu, the Minister of Justice, Tudorel Toader, and the Minister of the Interior, Carmen Daniela Dan to discuss progress in bringing forward the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) reform. He will also discuss these matters with representatives from the Romanian Parliament including the Speaker of the Senate, Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea. These meetings will be followed by a joint discussion with members of the Justice and European Affairs Committees of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. The First Vice-President will also attend a meeting with the leaders of parliamentary opposition parties and will further discuss the CVM with the relevant partners and stakeholders in the field of justice. A joint press conference with the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior and First Vice-President is scheduled for 13:00 (local time). The Citizens’ Dialogue will take place at 17:30 (local time) and will be followed by a press doorstep. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

La Commissaire Thyssen rencontrera les autorités et partenaires sociaux belges dans le cadre du Semestre européen

Demain 20 avril, la Commissaire responsable de l’emploi, des affaires sociales, des compétences et de la mobilité de travailleurs, Marianne Thyssen, sera en Belgique dans le cadre du Semestre européen, le cycle annuel de surveillance budgétaire et socio-économique européenne. Le matin, elle rencontrera d’abord le Premier Ministre Charles Michel et le Vice Premier Ministre Kris Peeters. Cette rencontre sera suivie d’une conférence de presse qui sera diffusée ici. Le discours de la Commissaire sera publié ici. La Commissaire Thyssen participera ensuite à un échange de vues au parlement fédéral avec les comités budgets et finances et affaires sociales et avec le comité d’avis sur les affaires européennes. Son discours sera publié ici. L’après-midi est réservé à une rencontre avec les Ministres régionaux et communautaires de l’emploi et à une discussion avec les partenaires sociaux interprofessionnels au sein du Conseil national de travail et du Conseil central de l’économie. L’objectif de cette journée de rencontres est de préparer les recommandations spécifiques par pays que la Commission européenne proposera en mai au Conseil. (Pour plus d’informations: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

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