09 Dec 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 09 DECEMBERBrussels Daily
Eurogroup’s endorsement of the Commission’s Opinions on the Draft Budgetary Plans
Yesterday the Eurogroup endorsed the EC opinions on the draft budgetary plans. Commissioner Moscovici pointed out during the press conference that “budgetary decisions in the euro area are now discussed openly by Member States in a clearly defined framework, taking the Commission’s assessment as the starting point, is, very positive and important. It shows how far we have moved in recent years towards a more integrated and thus a stronger Economic and Monetary Union.” He also recalled that the EC will monitor the progress made with respect to the implementation of the Draft Budgetary Plans and additional commitments.
Investment Offensive for Europe: EU Task Force identifies 2,000 potential projects worth €1.3 trillion
Today, the EU Task Force on Investment published a report showing that there is significant potential for investment in Europe. It identifies around 2,000 projects across Europe worth some €1.3 trillion of potential investments, out of which over €500 billion worth of projects could potentially be implemented over the next three years. Many of these projects are currently not being realised due to financial, regulatory or other barriers. Vice-President Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Today’s report shows there are huge investment needs and viable projects that could lift economic growth and open up more job opportunities in Europe. There has been a severe disconnect between the available investment and credible projects on the ground. We are now taking a big step to restore investor confidence and connect the two.” Any project identified by the Task Force will have to be assessed thoroughly before being considered for finance. The central idea is to provide a pipeline of trustworthy projects which will restore investor confidence and unlock private sector investment to complement finance from Member States and the EU. For more information, a press release is available here.
Commissioner Moscovici welcomes Council agreement on measures against tax avoidance and unfair tax competition
The European Commission welcomes two breakthrough agreements reached by the Council today towards combating corporate tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning. The Council has given its political backing to the anti-abuse clause of the Parent Subsidiary Directive and to the mandatory exchange of information between EU tax authorities. “I applaud the two milestone decisions taken by Finance Ministers today, which open up a new front in our fight against corporate tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning,” said Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. “Current events require us to step up our efforts against corporate tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning on all fronts. We are committed to pushing through this agenda as rapidly as possible. To this end, we confirm our commitment to extend the automatic exchange of information to tax rulings, with a legal proposal to be presented in early 2015.” The full statement is available here.
Commissioner Moscovici’s remarks on Greece further to the Eurogroup Statement
The Eurogroup has published a statement on Greece which confirms that the Eurogroup would be favourably disposed to a request by Greece for a technical extension of 2 months of the current EFSF programme. During the Eurogroup Press Conference, Commissioner Moscovici reiterated the EC committment to supporting Greece in taking forward the reforms’ process and explained the reasoning behind the programme’s extension: “We have been engaged in intensive discussions in recent days with the Greek authorities and with the IMF and ECB. Our approach has been firm but constructive, open but determined. Our aim is to conclude the current review with a credible, balanced set of reforms and fiscal measures to help strengthen Greece’s economic recovery. On the one hand, there has been clear progress in a number of areas. On the other hand, this progress has not been as rapid as could have been hoped – or as would have been necessary to allow for a conclusion of the review in the coming days. (…) That’s why it has been agreed in principle, pending formal confirmation by Member States, that there will be a technical extension of the EFSF programme for two months. I really welcome this decision which in my view seems to be the wisest that was possible to take.” The statement of the Eurogroup on Greece is available here. Commissioner Moscovici’s remarks on Greece and on other issues discussed during the meeting are available here.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over a training centre for pilots by Singapore Airlines and Airbus
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Airbus Asia Training Centre (“AATC”) of Singapore by Singapore Airlines Limited (“SIA”), also of Singapore, and Airbus S.A.S. (“Airbus”) of France. AATC provides pilot training services to airlines mainly in the Asia Pacific Region. SIA provides passenger and air cargo transportation services. Airbus manufactures and sells aircraft. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because of the limited activities of AATC within the territory of the European Economic Area (EEA). The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7381
Eurostat: Cloud computing services used by one out of every five enterprises in the EU28
Instead of building their own IT infrastructure, enterprises have the possibility to access computing resources hosted by third parties on the internet. This shared pool of resources is most commonly known as “cloud computing”. As cloud computing services are delivered online, enterprises must have internet access to be able to use them, which was the case in 2014 for almost all enterprises (97%) employing 10 persons or more in the EU28. But only a fifth (19%) of them used cloud computing services. The highest shares of enterprises using the cloud were observed in Finland (51%), Italy (40%), Sweden (39%) and Denmark (38%). Most of these enterprises were active in the information & communication sector (45%). Enterprises relied on a cloud solution mainly for their e-mail services (66%) and for file storage (53%). Those enterprises using cloud services reported that the risk of a security breach was the main factor limiting a larger use of the cloud. The Commission is committed to facilitating the use of digital services, improving their quality and ensuring security through the creation of a Digital Single Market. Press release.
EU increases humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees in Turkey
With growing numbers of refugees from Syria seeking sanctuary in Turkey, the European Commission is stepping up its assistance with an additional €10 million in humanitarian funding both inside Turkey and inside Syria via cross-border assistance from Turkey. The funding is announced as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides visited a camp for Syrian refugees in the border town of Kilis, south-central Turkey, and attended a distribution of EU-funded aid for refugees. A press release is available here.
Statement by Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission for Budget and Human Resources, on the political agreement on 2015 budget proposal
An agreement has been reached on the EU budget for 2015, and certain amendments to the 2014 budget, including a substantial reinforcement of the level of payments in the 2014 budget. Representatives of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union concluded talks in trilogue format yesterday evening, coming to a deal after the European Commission had put forward a new draft budget proposal for 2015 on Friday 28 November 2014. The budget deal strikes the right balance between budget discipline on the one hand and promoting growth oriented expenditure on the other hand. Read the statement online.
International Anti-Corruption Day
The 9 December marks the 12th International Anti-Corruption Day. On this occasion Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos made the following statement: “Corruption erodes public trust and damages the EU’s credibility while, at the same time, costing the economy around 120 billion euros per year. Across Member States, the effectiveness of anti-corruption policies can be quite different. So it is our duty to continue the fight against corruption. It is not power that corrupts people but people who corrupt power. Efforts must be stepped up, and the Commission will be there, pushing Member States to take further action. Transparency and good governance are the pillars of our democratic values and the essence of the European project.” The Commission unveiled its first anti-corruption report on 3 February this year which showed that Member States have taken many initiatives in recent years. While results remain uneven, the Commission is convinced that more should be done to prevent and punish corruption. A second anti-corruption report will be published in 2016.
Juncker Commission to take oath of independence at the European Court of Justice
On Wednesday 10 December, President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Members of the College of Commissioners are taking their formal oath of office in Luxembourg, at the Court of Justice of the EU. For press accreditation please contact Juan Carlos González Álvarez at the Court of Justice of the European Union at Tel.: +352 4303 2623 and Mobile: +32 477 174900
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini visits Lebanon High Representative/Vice-President of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, will travel today to Lebanon where she will meet with Lebanese Prime Minister Tamam Salam and Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil. HRVP Mogherini will also meet with Cardinal Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros al-Raï. Building on the strong EU-Lebanon partnership, the HRVP will discuss with her Lebanese interlocutors the situation in the country, in particular with regard to the security challenges. She will also discuss the situation in the region, particularly the ongoing crisis in Syria and Iraq and the Middle East Peace Process.
Commissioner Mimica to participate in meeting of African, Caribbean and Pacific Ministers in Brussels
Today, Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development will address the Committee on Development Finance of Ministers from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, which is held in Brussels. The EU has close development relations with the 78 ACP countries, which are laid down in the Cotonou agreement. The Commissioner will have an exchange of views about the programming of the 11th EDF, Ebola, and the future of the ACP-EU partnership. On the sidelines of the meeting Commissioner Mimica will co-sign the National Indicative Programme for Vanuatu for 2014-2020, with Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Meltek Sato Kilman Livtunvanu. The programme defines the amount and priorities of bilateral EU cooperation with the country for the coming years.