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)



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)

General Information

Daily News 18/12/2015

President Juncker welcomes European Council progress on protecting the EU’s external borders and commitments to safeguard Schengen

Progress was made last night on the management of the refugee crisis, in particular on the protection of the EU’s external borders. The European Council notably agreed on the importance to protect Schengen as a major achievement of the European Union, including by ensuring systematic security checks at its external borders with relevant databases, and to address deficiencies as regards hotspots, relocation and returns. Leaders also agreed to rapidly examine the Commission’s proposals of 15 December 2015, including the European Border and Coast Guard, the targeted revision of the Schengen Borders Code, a voluntary humanitarian admission scheme for refugees from Turkey, and travel documents for returns. In the press conference following the first day of the summit, President Jean-Claude Juncker welcomed a broad positive response from leaders on the Commission’s proposals for a European Border and Coast Guard and the commitment to adopt all texts under the Dutch Presidency of the Council, by the end of June 2016. He also reiterated the need for implementing swiftly the decisions already taken and to reach agreement on the list of safe countries. He reminded of the Commission’s intention to come forward with proposals on a revision of the Dublin system and on legal migration in the first half of 2016. The European Council also held a substantive political exchange of views on UK plans for an EU membership referendum after which they agreed to work closely together to find mutually satisfactory solutions in all four areas by the 2016 February European Council. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)


Investment Plan for Europe: €200 million for SMEs in Estonia

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Sihtasutus KredEx (KredEx) have signed the first COSME agreement in Estonia, benefiting from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. The agreement will allow Kredex to support €200 million of loans and leases to more than 900 SMEs with limited collateral in Estonia over the next three years. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “As I saw during my visit to the country in June, Estonia is a frontrunner when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship. This agreement being signed today by KredEx with the EIF is good news for over 900 SMEs who will receive financing for their businesses. Estonia can also benefit in the context of the investment plan from infrastructure projects and in particular cross-border ones.” (For more information see press release or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

Space: Third successful Galileo satellite launch this year

Two further Galileo satellites were successfully sent into orbit from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guyana on 17 December. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, who attended the launch on site, said: “Over the past nine months we have had three successful launches of Galileo satellites, bringing the total number of satellites now in orbit to 12. There is reason to be proud of Europe’s technological excellence. Next year, we will present a European Space Strategy to further improve market opportunities for companies benefiting from space applications.” Galileo is the EU programme to develop a global satellite navigation system. It will provide more accurate positioning and timing information that can be used for products such as in-car navigation devices and mobile phones. Its services will make road and rail transport systems safer and help respond to emergency situations. Galileo’s global Search and Rescue function will be the first in the world to integrate almost real-time localisation of distress calls. This will help to save lives and reduce rescue workers’ exposure to risk. The Commission plans to ensure the gradual provision of initial Galileo services already as of 2016; the full services will be available by 2020, using the full Galileo network of 30 satellites and their supporting ground stations. Watch the lift-off of the satellites here (European Space Agency). (For more information: Lucía Caudet –Tel.: +32 229 56182; Heli Pietilä – Tel.: +32 229 64950)

Commission leads by example on energy and resource efficiency

Following the presentation of an ambitious Circular Economy package at the beginning of the month and the historic climate deal in Paris last week, the European Commission is marking ten years of reducing its own environmental footprint. Thanks to European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (“EMAS”) – one of the top environmental management tools in Europe – the European Commission is continuously reducing its environmental impact. For example,  since 2005 in Brussels it increased energy efficiency by 65%, and made better use of natural resources (by using 59% less water, 58% less paper and generating 28% less waste), while reducing CO2 emissions by 88%. Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva in charge of budget and human resources said: “The ambitious climate deal reached at COP21 in Paris needs everyone to take the right measures. At the European Commission we have reduced our environmental footprint substantially will continue to do so in the years to come.” By the end of this year, most Commission sites – covering 92% of its office space – should be applying the EMAS standards. Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, in charge of overseeing EMAS, said: “As the European economy begins the transition to a more circular economy I am delighted that the Commission can hold its head up high and say we are committed to following our own advice.” More information is available under the following link. You can learn more about EMAS here. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

Have your say on how to strengthen the European cybersecurity industry through a public-private partnership

Today the Commission launches a public consultation on how to best set up a partnership between public authorities and private actors to strengthen European cybersecurity capacities. Such a partnership would include a wide range of actors, from innovative SMEs and national security agencies to producers of components and equipment, critical infrastructure operators and research institutes. Along with other potential policy measures, this initiative would help the European cybersecurity industry to develop and address today’s challenges. It builds on last week’s political agreement on the first EU-wide cybersecurity rules (press release), and is a core element of the Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy. When established, the public-private partnership (PPP) would pool industrial and public resources to improve Europe’s industrial policy on cybersecurity and build trust between Member States and industrial players. This consultation runs until 11 March 2016 and seeks views on cybersecurity risks and threats that people and businesses in Europe are facing, cybersecurity market conditions, potential technical priorities for the PPP on research and innovation and other possible supporting measures for the industry. More information can be found here and an overview of EU initiatives related to cybersecurity can be found here(For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Mercedes Gómez Vicente – Tel.: +32 2 29 13336)

Commission launches public consultation on long-term and sustainable investment

The European Commission launched today a public consultation on long-term and sustainable investment to assess how investors integrate long-term factors, such as environmental, social and governance issues, into investment decisions, and what obstacles may prevent them from doing so. Long-term and sustainable investment is key for competitiveness and growth and can contribute to making our pension systems more sustainable. It can also help achieve the EU’s policy objectives linked to the transition to low carbon and climate resilient economy and to the respect of fundamental rights. This public consultation follows the Communication on Long-Term Financing of the European Economy, which emphasized the importance of environmental, social, and good governance issues (‘ESG investments’) for the longer-term sustainable performance of companies and investors. The Action Plan on building a Capital Markets Unionpresented in September 2015 also reiterates the importance of ESG investments.The consultation is available here and will be open until 25 March 2016. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)


Commission hosts 9th Seminar on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Antisemitism

The 9th EU-Israel Seminar on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Antisemitism, which took place in Brussels on 16 – 17 December,  brought together about 30 representatives from the Foreign Ministry of Israel, the European Commission, the External Action Service and the Fundamental Rights Agency as well as technology experts and NGOs. The EU and Israel agreed to continue to work closely together in combatting Antisemitism, in particular through tackling hate speech online by exchanging experience in the field of technology and best practices. Commissioner Věra Jourová said: “The European Commission is extremely concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism and a general increase of hatred-based violence. I am happy that today we come together to look for common solutions for a very worrying phenomenon. We are focusing on what unites us: the fight against racism, against xenophobia, and in particular against Antisemitism. The recent terrorist attacks in Europe confirm the need for a comprehensive EU response to terrorism and security threats, taking account of all available tools. We must address the root causes of terrorism and of extremism. And this starts with prevention. We are working to ensure that the EU response to extremism does not lead to the stigmatisation of any one group or community.” More information available here (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Melanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

State aid: Commission approves additional aid for Cypriot cooperative banks on the basis of an amended restructuring plan

The European Commission has approved additional state aid of €175 million in favour of the Cooperative Central Bank Ltd. in Cyprus and its subsidiaries in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission concluded in particular that the additional restructuring measures that the bank committed to implement will ensure that the bank becomes viable in the long-term whilst distortions of competition will be minimised. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Repeated state aid for a bank, while its competitors compete on their own merits by finding capital on the market, can create serious distortions of competition. It is therefore crucial that Cooperative Central Bank restructures so that it in the future it can cover potential capital needs by raising money from private investors. It will then be in a position to contribute to the recovery of the Cypriot economy on a sustainable basis.” The press release is available online in EL, EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel. +32 229 56182; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


EUROSTAT: Foreign citizens accounted for fewer than 7% of persons living in the EU Member States in 2014

On 1 January 2014, the Member States of the European Union (EU) had 506.8 million residents, of which 472.8 million were nationals (citizens of the reporting country) and 34.1 million foreign citizens, this latter group consisting of 14.3 million citizens of another Member State and 19.8 million non-EU citizens. It should be noted that persons who acquire citizenship in a Member State are no longer counted as foreign citizens in that country. On the occasion of today’s International Migrants’ Day, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, publishes a small selection of data on foreign citizens living in the EU Member States. A larger range of data broken down by country of citizenship as well as by country of birth is also available in the Eurostat database. A Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

EUROSTAT: EU28 current account surplus €19.8 billion

The EU28 seasonally adjusted external current account recorded a surplus of €19.8 billion in October 2015, compared with a surplus of €19.7 billion in September 2015 and a surplus of €10.8 billion in October 2014, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In October 2015, compared with September 2015, based on seasonally adjusted data, the surplus of the goods account grew and the deficit of the secondary income account fell. The surplus of the services account decreased, and the surplus of the primary income account remained almost unchanged. The 12-month cumulated current account for the period ending in October 2015 recorded a surplus of €178.8 billion, compared with €73.3 billion for the 12 months to October 2014. The deficit of the goods account moved into surplus, the surplus of the services account increased and the deficit of the secondary income account fell slightly. The surplus of the primary income account moved into deficit. These data are subject to revision. A Eurostat press release can be found here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)


High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini travels to Kazakhstan for Central Asia Ministerial and bilateral visit

Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, will on Monday 21 December travel to Astana, Kazakhstan where she will chair the 11th EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting and sign the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Press statements following the Ministerial are scheduled to take place at 16:20 (local time) and following the EPCA signature at 18:00 in the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photos and footage of both events will be available on Europe by Satellite. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel. +32 229 86570; Adam Kaznowski – Tel. +32 229 89359).


Calendar: 21 December 2015 – 10 January 2016

The Commissioners’ weekly activities