Juncker Plan: €120 million for innovative Dutch SMEs
The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Aegon Asset Management have signed a guarantee agreement supporting a €120 million portfolio of loans for innovative Dutch companies. This InnovFin SME Guarantee agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Juncker Plan. Thanks to this EU support, Aegon will provide subordinated loans (loans which will be repaid after all other debt is repaid) to innovative SMEs and small mid-caps at favourable terms. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “The deal signed today brings exciting opportunities for small Dutch companies with innovative ideas they want to make a reality. With this fresh injection of €120 million into the Dutch SME eco-system, we are helping our small businesses to grow and create jobs.” Full press release is found here.
Commission adopts the Opinion on the Austrian Draft Budgetary Plan
The European Commission has today adopted its Opinion on the updated Draft Budgetary Plan (DBP) of Austria and found it to be broadly compliant with the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). In October last year, Austria submitted a DBP based on unchanged policies, which is an agreed practice for governments without full budgetary powers. The Commission called on Austria to submit an updated plan as soon as a new government takes office and received the document on 21 March. The assessment of the updated DBP is more favourable compared to the one in the autumn, which was based on a no-policy change DBP. This reflects the markedly improved economic situation and outlook, as well as the policy measures for 2018 included in the updated plan. Still, there is a risk of some deviation for 2018 as well as for2017 and 2018 taken together. The Commission therefore invites the authorities to stand ready to take further measures within the national budgetary process to ensure that the 2018 budget will be compliant with the SGP. The Opinion and related documents are available online.
Eurostat press release: February 2018 compared with January 2018 – Industrial production down by 0.8% in euro area – Down by 0.7% in EU28
In February 2018 compared with January 2018, seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 0.8% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.7% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In January 2018, industrial production fell by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.3% in the EU28. More information here
Statement by Commissioner Thyssen following the adoption of the revised Europass framework
Today, EU Member States adopted the Commission’s proposal to revise the Europass framework. The revision, which aims at simplifying and modernising the Europass CV and other skills tools for the digital age, will enable people across the EU to make their skills and qualifications more visible, and will help policy makers to anticipate labour market needs and trends. In reaction to the agreement of the Member States, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “I warmly welcome today’s adoption in Council of the revision of the Europass Decision. […] Europass has clearly demonstrated its added value as vehicle to communicate skills across the EU, but it has to evolve in parallel to challenges and opportunities in the digital age. Thanks to today’s adoption of our proposal to modernise Europass, the framework will offer an e-portfolio for storing and sharing information, tools for people to self-assess their skills and tools for describing formal and informal learning as well as qualifications. […] The Commission looks forward to beginning work on implementation of this new era for Europass in close co-operation with the Member States and stakeholders. I wish to thank all those involved for their commitment to ensuring better tools and services for skills and qualifications for our citizens.” With today’s agreement, the Commission has now delivered on all ten actions under the Skills Agenda for Europe, launched in June 2016. The state of play of the Skills Agenda is available here. The full statement is available online.
Commissioner Stylianides meets Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov to discuss rescEU, the EU’s comprehensive plan to strengthen its emergency response to disasters
Today Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides travels to Sofia to meet Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. During the meeting Commissioner Stylianides will present and discuss rescEU – the Commission’s ambitious plans to further strengthen Europe’s ability to deal with disasters in the framework of the European Civil Protection Mechanism. Bulgaria is already one of the 34 participating states to the European Civil Protection Mechanism and has both provided and received assistance during times of crises. The comprehensive proposal put forward by the European Commission in November 2017 is set to upgrade the existing mechanism in order to more effectively address natural hazards in Europe: floods, forest fires, earthquakes and epidemics. The Commission proposals foresees two complementary strands of action, targeting (1) a stronger collective response at European level via rescEU, and (2) stepping up disaster prevention and preparedness capacities. Administrative procedures will also be streamlined and simplified to reduce the time needed to deploy life-saving assistance. With the implementation of rescEU, Bulgaria, alongside the rest of the Member States, will be able to directly benefit from a strengthened European response to disasters.
Commissioner King in Zagreb to discuss security issues
Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King will be in Zagreb, Croatia today and tomorrow, where he will meet Minister for the Interior Davor Božinović and State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice Kristian Turkalj to discuss security issues including the fight against terrorism and cooperation on information exchange. In addition, Commissioner King will meet with members of the European Affairs and the Domestic Policy and National Security Committees of the Croatian Parliament. He will also participate, together with Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner Neven Mimica, in a working lunch with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
Migration: Commissioner Avramopoulos visits reception facilities in Greece
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos is in Greece today to visit reception facilities in Ritsona as well as rental accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees in Livadia funded by the Commission’s ESTIA programme together with the Greek Minister for Migration Dimitris Vitsas. A joint press point is scheduled to take place around 12:45 CET in the Ritsona facility and will be broadcast live by EbS.