30 Jun 2014
Daily Commission Newsbrief – 30th June 2014Brussels Daily
There is an improved performance across all consumer markets finds the 10th Consumer Markets Scoreboard published today. This improvement is particularly marked for goods markets, while services continue to be the main sources of dissatisfaction. The Consumer Markets Scoreboard tracks the performance of 52 consumer markets from second hand cars to holiday accommodation. The markets are ranked by consumers, in an EU-wide survey, based on 4 components: comparability of offers, trust in businesses, problems & complaints and satisfaction with businesses. Following the findings of this Scoreboard, the Commission services will launch two in-depth market studies: a market study on retail electricity and a behavioural study to enhance the reading and understanding, by consumers, of terms and conditions.
From 1 July 2014, the EU will cut the price caps for data downloads by more than half: down from 45 to 20 cents per megabyte (plus VAT). So it will be even cheaper to use maps, watch videos, check emails and update social networks while travelling across the EU. Phone calls and text messages will also become cheaper, which will help Europeans stay in touch with family and friends while they travel within the EU. Vice President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes said: “This huge drop in roaming charges will make a big difference to all of us this summer. But it is not enough. Why should we have roaming charges at all in a single market? By the end of this year I hope we see the complete end of roaming charges agreed – the Parliament has done their part, now it is up to Member States to seal the deal!”
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, will today underline the urgency of putting in place the right rules to protect the oceans at international level. Together with Trevor Manuel and José Maria Figueres of the Global Ocean Commission (GOC), she will co-host the conference “Re- energising the Oceans” on global ocean governance in Brussels today, which will be followed by a press conference at the European Commission’s Berlaymont press room at 12:30. The conference will debate around the fight against illegal fishing, an update of international ocean governance rules and the GlobalOcean Commission’s recommendations for ocean health. According to Commissioner Damanaki, “the EU has shown international leadership in fighting overfishing, fighting illegal fishing, and getting rules in place for sustainable growth on our oceans. But all this will not be enough if we do not update our rules at international level. There are important legal gaps which make that parts of the high seas is legal ‘no- man’s land’”.
Today, President Barroso is on official visit in Tirana, where he will meet with the country’s President Bujar Nishani, with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Parliament Speaker Meta and Democratic Party leader Basha. President Barroso will today be awarded the highest decoration of the Republic of Albania, The Order of the National Flag, by President Bujar Nishani. He receives this decoration for his successes over the last ten years, including in bringing South-East Europe closer to the EU. Previous recipients of the Order include Senator Hilary Clinton. The visit by President Barroso marks the EU’s decision, taken last week, to grant Albania the status of candidate country.
The EU labour market is gradually recovering and, for the first time since 2011, GDP, employment and household incomes are growing. However, long-term unemployment is still increasing and the situation of households with low incomes has not improved. These are some of the main conclusions of the European Commission’s latest Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review . The Review also highlights persistent challenges for women in terms of unemployment and under-employment and provides an update on recent trends in worker mobility, confirming higher employment rates for mobile workers and their increasingly higher levels of education. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor, commented “Many people are still experiencing serious difficulties in finding a job, in particular those who have been unemployed for a long time. As emphasised in the 2014 Country Specific Recommendations, Member States must do more to support job creation and combat social exclusion, notably through active labour market policies and greater social investment. Giving every young person a real chance in the labour market by implementing the Youth Guarantee is an urgent priority, and more needs to be done also to help the long-term unemployed”.
Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 0.5% in June 2014, stable compared with May, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, services is expected to have the highest annual rate in June (1.3%, compared with 1.1% in May), followed by energy (0.1%, compared with 0.0% in May), non-energy industrial goods (0.0%, stable compared with May) and food, alcohol & tobacco (-0.2%, compared with 0.1% in May).
According to a new survey, most European citizens think their own country is generating too much waste. The survey on the “Attitudes of Europeans towards Waste Management and Resource Efficiency” indicates that 96 % of respondents say it is important for them that Europe uses its resources more efficiently. Across the EU, nine out of ten respondents now sort paper/cardboard/beverage cartons (90 %), plastics (90%) and glass (88 %), at least occasionally, while three quarters sort household hazardous waste (79 %), metal cans (78 %), electrical waste (76 %) and kitchen waste (74 %). There are, however, major differences between Member States, with replies ranging from 99 % (paper in Austria) to 28 % (hazardous waste in Romania).
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani has announced that SMEs in Europe will soon have the opportunity to access up to €25 billion of additional finance supported by the COSME programme (the EU Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). The programme will allow financial institutions throughout Europe to provide enhanced access to finance to up to 330 000 SMEs.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “It is evident that public support continues to play a crucial role in enhancing access to finance for SMEs. Indeed, the existing EU support measures have facilitated SME survival, development and success across the EU. Even more importantly, the new EU financing initiatives for SMEs will continue in the future. We expect that the new COSME financial instruments will be finalised before the summer break. This agreement is an excellent example of how the EU can support small companies to finance their investments in order to grow and create jobs.”
The EU requested the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva to rule over a dispute concerning the Russian ban on imports of pigs and their genetic material, fresh pork and certain other pig products from the EU, purportedly because of a limited number of cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in certain areas of Lithuania and Poland, close to the border with Belarus. The EU believes that the Russian import restrictions are incompatible with the WTO. Extensive bilateral discussions over the last months with Moscow have not brought any results thus far. Given that there seems to be no solution forthcoming, the EU has decided to resort to the WTO’s dispute settlement procedures by requesting the establishment of a panel.
New Expert Group to support the competitiveness of Forest-based Industries
The Commission has set up today a new expert group: the Expert Group on Forest-based Industries and Sectorally Related Issues. The group will be instrumental in implementing the new strategy for the EU Forest-based Industries for the period 2014-20 to boost the competitiveness of woodworking, furniture, paper and printing sectors in Europe. It will provide a forum for consultation, discussion and co- operation between the Commission, Member States, and a broad range of sectoral stakeholders active in the entire value chain from the industry and civil society. European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: The sector has been severely impacted by the recent crisis. With around 3.5 million jobs and €500 billion worth of annual turnover, Forest-based Industries form an integral part of the re-industrialisation of the European economy. The group will thus play a key role in implementing the new EU sectoral strategy to reverse the negative trends. The first meeting of the new group is planned after the summer break. Details of the group’s meetings, including agendas and meeting reports, and membership will be published on the Commission’s Register of Expert Groups and Forest-based Industries website .
What Commissioners said
On Sunday 29 June, President Barroso has visited Serbia, where he visited the areas which suffered under the worst floods in over a century this May. President Barroso also met President T.Nikolić and Prime Minister A.Vučić, and said: “Today, I want to acknowledge the substantial progress Serbia has made on its path towards EU membership. We have entered a new phase in our partnership. I welcome the Government’s continued attention to improving the rule of law, fight against corruption and organised crime and also commitment fundamental rights, as well as to the reform of the public administration.”
Please also refer to SPEECH/14/520
SOURCE: European Commission – News from the Midday Briefing.