General Market

Speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker on the occasion of the award of the Golden Commemorative Medal of the Charles University in Prague

Dobrý den.



Professors, students, presidents,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to stand in front of you in this Great Historical Hall, in one of the oldest universities in Europe and one that has been graced by so many great minds and leaders over the centuries.

I am humbled to receive the gold medal of your University and to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ban Ki-moon, Joachim Gauck, Angela Merkel, Wolfgang Schäuble and others.

But as a Luxembourger I feel an extra sense of national pride to receive this award from the Charles University. This is because it was founded by and bears the name of none other than a fellow Luxembourger. You did not know that, but I am telling you. Charles IV was not only the King of Bohemia and later a Holy Roman Emperor. He was also a member of the House of Luxembourg. He was proud of his dual heritage — even if he spent more time here in Prague than in the then Duchy of Luxembourg, which he gave in fact to his brother! Would he have spent more time in Luxembourg, the Charles University would be located in Luxembourg, but fortunately for you he spent more time in Prague.

In many ways this shows the true European roots of this University are real, a University whose history has also often matched Europe’s. It was split up into German and Czech sections in the 19th century before coming back together in 1945. Its students and academics later played a leading role in the “Velvet Revolution” which paved the way for the end of one party rule and which paved the way for the creation of this great Republic.

The students of history in this room will know that our past helps us to understand the future — and that is what I want to speak about today.

[Standing up for Europe]

Europe is first and foremost a Union of people and shared values. We trust and must defend peace, democracy, tolerance, solidarity every day. This University showed the true meaning of that when it stood in solidarity with the Central European University in its time of need.

That makes me proud of being European — something many people have become reluctant to say. Europe is and will remain the love of my life. But when I travel to other parts of the world, I see that they are far prouder of Europe than we are.

As we look to our future, we should not be shy about what our Union has helped us achieve. We have reconciled our history and geography by bringing together parts of Europe that were previously divided by an Iron Curtain. Anyone who goes to the south of this country can still see a part of the fence and watchtower that so visibly divided this continent for so long. Europe has helped to stabilise democracy and defend the rule of law. We have got rid of internal borders, helping to bring Europeans together and making life easier for millions of people. We have the highest levels of social protection in the world and provide shelter for the most vulnerable. We are a positive global force, investing in other parts of the world, leading the fight against climate change and helping to make the world a safer and a better place. Now more than ever a strong Europe is good for the world.

We have a duty to preserve and consolidate this legacy. To protect it against those who seek to divide us or to dismantle our Union. Europe’s future must be about having the courage of our convictions. It must be about rediscovering that pride and that sense of purpose.

Earlier this year in Rome as we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the European Union, a new Europe of 27 vowed to do just that. To take Europe’s destiny into our own hands. To move forward together and build a safer, a stronger Union. A more social, a more sustainable Union. A more prosperous Union. And a Union that stays united.

That is more important than ever at a time when our relative weight in the world is on the decline. In 1900, Europe accounted for around 25% of the global population. By 2060, it will account for only 5%  – or even less. No single Member State will have more than 1% of the world population by then. That shows how much we will need each other if we are to prosper in the future in a changing and uncertain world around us.

[The Future of Europe]

Maybe this line of reasoning does not speak to those of you, in this auditorium, whose average age is likely less than the number of years I have spent in office. Maybe this does not speak to you as it does to your grandparents’ generation — my parents’ generation — who turned a post-war cry of ‘never again war’ into a political programme.

That is okay. But that is in fact, everything. It is all that generation ever wanted: that our lives would be so rooted in peace, in stability, that you might take it for the norm.

Europe is the greatest place in the world to live in. To be born in post-war Europe, and after the fall of the Iron Curtain, is to have won the lottery of life.

But what I would like to ask you, to ask us, is: what are you, what are we doing with it? What legacy will you, what legacy will we leave the next generation? Because Europe’s future will be of your design. It is you writing the history books of tomorrow.

You might have heard a lot of politicians these days talking about ‘The Future of Europe’. I am a little bit guilty of this. But in reality it is you who should be doing the talking. It is, after all, your future we are talking about. The ballot box is one. But there are also many debates being organised. The Commission that I have the honour of presiding has already held around 250 debates with people across Europe and debated with over 500 national Parliaments, social partners and there are many more to come. Vice-President Katainen will come back in autumn to have a Citizens’ Dialogue with the students of this university – at least the rector promised me to invite him and the Vice-President promised me to respond positively to his invitation, so it has to be done.

We have seen many different views expressed already. Some are pushing for a refocused Union that does less more efficiently. Others are satisfied with the status quo, while some would like much closer integration across the board.

In this country, as with some of your neighbours, much of the talk has been about the so called “multi-speed Europe”. I do not like that wording. I prefer calling it the Europe of different speeds, which is not the same. Because whatever the speed, the direction is one.

This is, as the rector said, already something that exists in Europe — look at the ‘Schengen’ border-free zone or the euro area. It is also not something to fear and not something that should be seen along “new” / “old” Member State lines. I hate, by the way, the expression “new” Member States, because being part of a team for more than 10 years is not new. So I will call them the “most recent” Member States.

The “most recent” Member States are actually the ones driving more cooperation in certain areas, not the ones being left behind. The Czech Republic is a staunch supporter of the Single Market. And the Czech Republic for example is signed up under enhanced cooperation to the European Patent rules when other countries including founding members of the European Union chose not. I am also delighted that the Czech Republic is one of the 20 countries part of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to help tackle fraud against EU funds, or cross-border VAT fraud.

This shows that when enough countries want to move forward together on a certain issue, they can choose to do so. Nobody is left behind as cooperation remains open to all our countries. And the “most recent” Member States are clearly advancing at a youthful gallop.

What is important is that we all go in the same direction, even if we do not go at the same speed. Different speeds are better than standstill. And what is important is that Europe lives up to the expectations of its people.

[A Union that delivers for Europeans]

When it comes to the debate about where Europe goes next I hope you will agree with me that there are some things Europe should not do. It should not regulate the flow of toilet flushes or the height of children’s swings, for example.

I hope you will agree with me too, that there are some things that Europe must, imperatively, do and do better.

We have to do more to manage our external borders better and deal with migration effectively. This is something where I am convinced that only by acting together we can advance. The EU’s migration policy has already helped us save over 500,000 lives since 2015 and reduce arrivals from Turkey by 98% in one year.

Europe’s common Border and Coast Guard is up and running with a rapid reserve pool of at least 1500 agents ready to assist the 100,000 national border guards. We have deployed more than 800 customs officers and police officers in Italy and more than 300 of them in Greece.

The Member States of the Union also collectively took a decision to show solidarity with Italy and Greece and to relocate refugees.

It saddens me that the Czech Republic has only relocated twelve people last year and none since. And I was very displeased to read in the press that the Czech government is considering to halt relocations entirely.

I am trying to understand national sensitivities around this matter. But more than just a principle, solidarity is a state of mind that goes to the very heart of what the European Union is about. Solidarity is also not a one-way street. Those who want to benefit from solidarity, such as in the form of EU cohesion funds, must be prepared to show solidarity. For me the Czech Republic and the Czechs are very European. So it must be European in migration too.

Jointly agreed rules must be respected — pacta sunt servanda. As the guardian of the Treaties, the Commission watches over this — with the common European interest in mind. I sincerely hope that, as in so many other cases, the European reason, spirit and values will prevail and that the Czech government will re-consider its course so that we do not have to resort to legal infringement procedures, what we will do if nothing changes.

On the global stage, a united Europe is more important than ever. As others turn inwards, we have continued to show the world that Europe is committed to fighting climate change and to free, fair and rules-based global trade. Our agreement with Canada and advancing negotiations with Japan show our commitment to trading on a level playing field with partners around the world.

Tomorrow I will be speaking alongside Prime Minister Sobotka, a good friend of mine, as Europe decides how it can work better together on defence.

Three quarters of Czechs have said they are in favour of a common European security and defence. These are the issues that matter for Europeans and these are the issues we must work on — now and in the future.

Mr Rector,

What I want to say is what we owe to all the students that pass through these halls is this European commitment. We must leave them a Union they can be proud of and can improve on.

When I look around a University such as this one I am more than hopeful for Europe’s future.

And I would like – and this is not demagogy – to dedicate my award to you: to the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow. May your hope guide us forward.

I would like to finish on that note with the words of my good friend Václav Havel, he said:

“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good”.

Europe is good. We must work for it.

Thank you.

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)


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)


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 Government

Press release – Debate with Council President Tusk on putting “Europe first” in 2017

Brexit, EU relations with the US and Russia, migration, economic and social progress, and the defence union were the key political challenges for 2017 debated by MEPs, Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday. Mr Tusk briefed MEPs on the outcome of the December 2016 meeting of EU heads of state or government.

Click on speakers’ names to watch the individual statements

European Council President Donald Tusk said that progress was being made on curbing migration, but also called on Parliament to support close collaboration on internal and external security issues and on higher defence spending. On Brexit: “Ms May’s speech yesterday proves that our unified position on the single market and four freedoms has finally been understood by London. They should also understand there will be no pick-and-choose”, said Mr Tusk. “We took note of the Prime Minister’s warm words on EU integration”, he added.

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen urged that “Unity is more important than ever before” as “we have been challenged from outside but also from within.” He stressed the importance of EU institutions and of the art of compromise in the “post-truth era”, confirming that Commission chief negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier will cooperate closely with the European Parliament. Mr Katainen also advocated deepening the single market in the field of defence, increasing the number of joint military purchases, helping third countries to fight migrant smugglers, and making EU societies more socially resilient.

Manfred Weber (EPP, DE) underlined the UK’s contradictory stance on Brexit – leaving the single market while at the same time demanding a free trade deal – and deplored UK threats. “Who will pay for the tax deficits that will result from the dumping plans of the UK government? In the end, ordinary people.” As for the recent statements by US President-elect Donald Trump, Mr Weber said that “We also have powerful tools, like state aid rules. If in the US they say ‘America first’, than we have every right to say ‘Europe first’”, he insisted.

Péter Niedermüller (S&D, HU) noted that migration is still one of the most serious issues facing the EU. He underlined the tremendous pressure on some member states and demanded support and solidarity from others. In his opinion, member states that fail to show solidarity should “face the consequences”.

Anna Elżbieta Fotyga (ECR, PL) reported that American troops are arriving in Poland under NATO auspices and called for unity among governments in facing security challenges such as terrorism and Russian aggressiveness.

Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE) said “We are looking for a fair agreement with the UK not one where being outside the EU is more interesting than being inside.” On US President-Elect Donald Trump’s investiture, he predicted that 20 January would be a turning point – for the EU-US relationship and inside the EU. Europe needs to speed up the building of a Defence Union and invest more in its common border and coast guards.

João Ferreira (GUE/NGL, PT) pointed out that in the first 15 days of 2017, more than 200 people had drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe and complained for the “inhuman reception” given to those who do make it to the EU. On terrorism, he complained that “security” is being used as a pretext to restrict citizens’ rights.

Green group leader Ska Keller (Greens/EFA, DE) called the Council conclusions “meagre at best”, noting that “We have the Brexit, we have Trump, we have refugees freezing to death in Europe, we have the rise of the far right, the conflicts in our neighbourhood, so many issues to address and solutions to find. (…) I do not expect the Council to save us all, but I do expect a meaningful contribution. We only have one Europe and it needs us”, she concluded.

Migration and security go “hand in hand”, said Paul Nuttall (EFDD, UK) criticising “dangerous and reckless policies” that “allow jihadists to enter the EU.” This view was echoed by Vicky Maeijer (ENF, NL), who denounced recent terrorist attacks in Germany and called for “more sovereignty” for member states and “less [EU] diktat”. Mr Nuttal also said the UK should leave the single market to avoid having to pay a “membership fee” or comply with EU rules.

Mr Tusk thanked MEPs for their clear and broad support for the future common strategy on Brexit – “our unity is an important signal” he said. Asked for an institutional reaction to a recent interview with Mr Trump, Mr Tusk replied that there would be all too many opportunities to react in the future. “It could be our daily work, I’m afraid”, he added.

“Let’s not let others define what Europe is about,” Mr Katainen replied to comments about Mr Trump and the future of US-EU relations. “Europe’s fate is in our hands”, he said, stressing that EU institutions must represent “common sense” and focus on delivering more prosperous and secure Europe.

Procedure: European Council and Commission statements


#euco #migrationEU, #security, #Russia, #Brexit @JunckerEU @eucopresident

General Government

Daily News 07 / 12 / 2016

Investing in Europe’s youth: Commission presents measures to improve opportunities for young people and launches European Solidarity Corps

The European Commission is today launching the European Solidarity Corps, just two months after President Juncker announced it in his State of the Union address and as a first deliverable of the priorities for action identified in the Bratislava Roadmap. As of today, young people between the ages of 18 and 30 can sign up for new opportunities to make an important contribution to society across the EU, and to gain invaluable experience and acquire valuable skills at the start of their career. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The European Solidarity Corps will create opportunities for young people willing to make a meaningful contribution to society and help show solidarity – something the world and our European Union needs more of. For me, this has always been the very essence of what the European Union is about. It is not the Treaties or industrial or economic interests that bind us together, but our values. And those who work as volunteers are living European values each and every day.” At 13:00 today, Vice-President Georgieva will officially launch the European Solidarity Corps under the Skyshelter Dome at the Schuman roundabout.In addition to the European Solidarity Corps,the Commission is also presenting a series of measures to boost youth employment, improve and modernise education, more investment in skills of young people, and better opportunities to learn and study abroad. Today’s proposals bring together at EU-level for the first time different types of action with a single goal: to improve opportunities for young people. The measures will be presented by Commissioners Thyssen, Stylianides and Navracsics following today’s College meeting. More information on the entire package can be found in the following press release and memo. More detailed information on the European Solidarity Corps can be found here. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083)

Ententes: la Commission inflige des amendes d’un montant total de 485 millions € au Crédit Agricole, à HSBC et à JPMorgan Chase pour participation à une entente concernant des produits dérivés de taux d’intérêt en euro

La Commission européenne a infligé des amendes pour un montant total de 485 millions € au Crédit Agricole, à HSBC et à JPMorgan Chase pour leur participation à une entente concernant des produits dérivés de taux d’intérêt en euro. Les banques se sont entendues sur des éléments de la fixation du prix des produits dérivés de taux d’intérêt en euro, et ont échangé des informations sensibles, en violation des règles de l’UE concernant les pratiques anticoncurrentielles. Contrairement à Barclays, à Deutsche Bank, à RBS et à Société Générale, avec lesquelles la Commission est parvenue à une transaction concernant la même affaire d’entente en décembre 2013, Crédit Agricole, HSBC et JPMorgan Chase ont choisi de ne pas régler cette affaire par voie de transaction avec la Commission. Cette dernière a donc poursuivi son enquête à leur égard selon la procédure normale applicable en matière d’ententes. La décision d’aujourd’hui marque la fin de la première des différentes enquêtes ouvertes au sujet d’ententes dans le secteur des services financiers. Mme Margrethe Vestager, commissaire chargée de la politique de concurrence, a déclaré à ce propos: «Un secteur financier sain et concurrentiel est indispensable pour soutenir l’investissement et la croissance. Les banques doivent respecter les règles de concurrence de l’UE au même titre que n’importe quelle autre entreprise exerçant ses activités dans le marché unique.» Un communiqué de presse est disponible en ligne en EN, FR et DE. La conférence de presse du commissaire Vestager est disponible sur EbS.Voir aussi la déclaration du commissaire Vestager. (Pour plus d’informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Fitness Check of Nature legislation: Commission considers options for improved implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives

Today the College held an orientation debate on the next steps of the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives. These Directives are vital for Europe’s nature conservation policy and as such, their implementation needs to be improved. This was one of the findings of the extensive evaluation the Commission has been carrying out since late 2014 in which it has been consulting citizens and stakeholders across all EU Member States. Today First Vice-President Timmermans, Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Vella, presented the key findings of this evaluation to the College and discussed the next steps. The challenges and problems identified primarily relate to the insufficient management and lack of adequate investment in the Natura 2000 network of protected sites, as well as to local deficiencies such as delays, unnecessary burdens for project permits and lack of adequate different assessments in regulating individual species. The evaluation identified the need to improve the implementation of the Directives and their coherence with broader socio-economic objectives, including other EU policy areas such as energy, agriculture and fisheries. On the basis of today’s Orientation Debate, the Commission will develop an Action Plan to correct the deficiencies encountered in the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives. The Action Plan will contain a series of concrete measures such as holding regular meetings with mayors and other local authorities to assess implementation challenges and help Member States take the necessary corrective action. Moreover, the Plan will design, in partnership with Member States and relevant stakeholders, appropriate implementation guidelines for regional actors, reducing unnecessary burdens and litigation, and incentivising national and regional investment in biodiversity. The Committee of the Regions will be closely involved in the follow-up of today’s orientation debate and Commissioner Vella with First Vice-President Timmermans and Vice-President Katainen will inform the College regularly about the progress on addressing the problems and shortcomings identified by the Fitness Check. (For more information: Enrico Brivio– Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)

Securing Europe’s external borders: European Border and Coast Guard Agency launches rapid reaction pool of border guards and equipment

Today the European Border and Coast Guard Agency is launching the rapid reaction pool of border guards and equipment. As of today, the Agency will be able to deploy equipment and a standing reserve of at least 1,500 border guards and experts at short notice to support Member States in emergency situations at the EU’s external borders. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: “As of today, there should no longer be shortages of staff or equipment for the operations of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. This is an important milestone in the roll-out of the Agency and will ensure, at all times, that sufficient support is available to help Member States in cases where the common external EU border is placed under strong pressure.” Launched on 6 October, in record time and less than a year after it was first proposed by the Commission, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will ensure the effective application of strong common border management standards and provide operational support and intervention where necessary to promptly respond to emerging crises at the external borders. The Agency will now be able to draw on 1,500 experts committed by EU Member States and Schengen associated countries that can be deployed within five working days. The border guards and experts of the rapid reaction pool will be in addition to the officers deployed in regular Agency operations at the EU’s external borders. The Agency currently has 1,200 officers deployed in operations at EU external borders. As of today, the Agency will also have at its disposal the necessary technical equipment that can be used in rapid intervention operations, including vehicles, vessels and aircrafts. You can find a press release by the European Border and Coast Guardhere. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

L’Union européenne renforce son soutien au Burkina-Faso avec 800 millions d’euros

M. Neven Mimica, Commissaire européen pour la coopération internationale et le développement, est aujourd’hui à Paris pour participer à la Conférence internationale sur le Burkina Faso pour le financement du Plan national de développement économique et social (PNDES). Le Plan national pour le développement économique et social jette les bases pour la mise en œuvre des objectifs du nouveau gouvernement à l’horizon 2020. La Commission européenne compte l’appuyer avec un important soutien de 800 millions d’euros. Le Commissaire Mimica a fait la déclaration suivante : «Nous sommes aujourd’hui réunis pour discuter du Plan national pour le développement économique et social, plan que le Gouvernement du Faso présente à la communauté internationale. Il s’agit d’un Plan ambitieux qui doit mener à la consolidation de la démocratie et au développement durable du pays. L’Union européenne soutiendra à hauteur de 800 millions d’euros les efforts entrepris afin que la population du Faso voit rapidement les effets d’une stabilité retrouvée et bénéficie des dividendes de la paix.» Lors de cette conférence, le Commissaire Mimica va signer trois conventions de financement, dont deux appuis budgétaires, pour un montant de 205 millions d’euros.(Pour plus d’informations: Carlos Martin – Tel: +32 229-65322, Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft, subject to conditions

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft. The decision is conditional on compliance with a series of commitments aimed at preserving competition between professional social networks in Europe. Microsoft and LinkedIn are mainly active in complementary business areas, except for minor overlaps in online advertising. The Commission’s investigation under EU merger rules focused in particular on three areas: (i) professional social network services, (ii) customer relationship management software solutions, and (iii) online advertising services. In the professional social network services market, the Commission was concerned that Microsoft would use its strong market position in operating systems for personal computers and productivity software to strengthen LinkedIn’s position among professional social networks. This would make it harder for new players to start providing professional social network services in the EEA. To address those concerns, Microsoft offered a series of commitments which will apply in the EEA for a period of five years and will be monitored by a trustee. These commitments address the competition concerns identified by the Commission. Regarding customer relationship management software and online advertising services, the Commission’s concerns were not corroborated. The Commission therefore concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “A growing number of Europeans subscribe to professional social networks. These networks are important for professionals to connect and interact and to find new career opportunities. Today’s decision ensures that Europeans will continue to enjoy a freedom of choice between professional social networks.” A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella – Tel.: +32 229 86801)

Une personne sur quatre âgées de 15 ans ou plus dans l’Union européenne est un fumeur

Alors qu’un peu plus de trois quarts (76,0%) des personnes âgées de 15 ans ou plus vivant dans l’Union européenne (UE) ne fumaient pas en 2014, 19,2% fumaient quotidiennement du tabac et 4,7% en fumaient de manière occasionnelle. En d’autres termes, près d’une personne sur quatre (24,0%) âgées de 15 ans ou plus dans l’UE était actuellement fumeur en 2014. La proportion de fumeurs actuels varie selon le sexe, avec une proportion plus importante d’hommes fumant (28,7%) que de femmes (19,5%) dans l’UE en 2014. Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissaire européen à la santé et la sécurité alimentaire, a déclaré: “Les taux élevés de fumeurs dans l’Union européenne, et les preuves que les jeunes Européens continuent d’en payer le prix de leur santé constituent une de mes plus grandes préoccupations. Les données qu’Eurostat publie aujourd’hui démontrent à nouveau la nécessité des mesures fortes adoptées à l’échelle de l’Union européenne pour encadrer les produits du tabac et que les pays de l’UE doivent mettre en œuvre depuis le 20 mai de cette année. Ces nouvelles mesures comprennent des images d’avertissement relatives aux conséquences du tabac sur la santé humaine, ainsi que l’interdiction des arômes et de divers paquets attrayants. Elles visent à décourager les jeunes de fumer et à faire en sorte que les citoyens de l’UE de tous les âges soient pleinement conscients des effets nocifs du tabagisme.” Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel. +32 229 87624)


Second EU Internet Forum to counter terrorist content and hate speech online

Tomorrow, the European Commission will host the second EU Internet Forum with the participation of Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos, Věra Jourová and Julian King. The Forum will bring together the Commission, Member States, EUROPOL, the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) and Internet companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube. The meeting will push for further progress on reducing accessibility to terrorist propaganda online and empowering civil society to increase the volume of effective alternative narratives on the Internet. The participants will also discuss a tool developed by the Internet industry to create a shared database to help identify potential terrorist content on social media and prevent its reappearance on other platforms. The Commission and Internet companies will sign a joint statement on curbing terrorist content on the Internet. The Commission will also report on progress made in addressing the surge of xenophobic and racist online hate speech. A press release from the launch of the EU Internet Forum is available online and a press point with Commissioners Avramopoulos and King will take place tomorrow in the VIP corner at 15:30. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423; Kasia Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

Commissioners Avramopoulos, Jourová, King and Stylianides to attend the Justice and Home Affairs Council

Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos, Věra Jourová, Julian King, and Christos Stylianides will attend the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on 8-9 December 2016. On Thursday, Justice Ministers will discuss the latest development regarding the directive on the fight against fraud to the EU’s financial interests (the so-called PIF directive), the digital content directive part of the digital contract proposal and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office proposal (EPPO).  Discussions over lunch will focus on the code of conduct on countering illegal online hate speech. Finally, the Commission will report on the follow-up to the June Council conclusions on improving criminal justice in cyberspace. On Friday, Home Affairs Ministers will discuss the Commission proposals for a reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), including the reform of the Dublin mechanism, the establishment of a European Agency for Asylum and the proposals to create a common procedure for international protection in the EU, uniform standards for protection and rights granted to beneficiaries of international protection and the further harmonisation of reception conditions in the EU. Over lunch, the application of the principles of responsibility and solidarity in the context of the EU’s migration and asylum policy will be discussed. Home Affairs Ministers are also expected to agree on a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the Eurodac regulation and possibly on the Entry-Exit System. Furthermore, Ministers will discuss the fight against terrorism, including policy options as regards foreign terrorist fighters, the cooperation between law enforcement agencies and electronic communication service providers and the management of the consequences following terrorist attacks including by strengthening Civil Protection measures. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 22962253; Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229-65322)

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