Commission announces dual quality of food testing campaign
The question of dual quality of food products is one that the Commission takes very seriously. President Jean-Claude Juncker said on the occasion of the State of the Union speech: “I will not accept that in some parts of Europe, people are sold food of lower quality than in other countries, despite the packaging and branding being identical. We must now equip national authorities with stronger powers to cut out any illegal practices wherever they exist”. Commissioner Jourová announced this morning in Prague that the common testing methodology, developed by the European Commission’s Joint-Research Centre, with support of at least 16 Member States and stakeholders will be ready in April. This would allow Member States authorities to launch a coordinated testing campaign in May. The tests will involve the composition of a common basket of products which are marketed in most Member States and will include chemical and sensory testing. The aim is to present the first results by the end of 2018. Commissioner Jourová said: “We are continuing to roll out our action plan to put an end to the dual quality issue. The fact that 16 Member States are participating is a clear sign that this is not an East-West divide issue and that we will tackle it together. Also, the reform of EU consumer law, the ‘New Deal for Consumers’, that we’ll present in April, will also make it more difficult and costly for companies to mislead consumers. Consumers are in the driving seat. They should refuse to buy products they consider of lower quality. I also expect the industry to live up to their customers’ expectations and offer products of a samequality across the EU.” To tackle this issue, the Commission has already adopted guidance on how to apply and enforce the relevant EU food and consumer protection laws in September 2017. It also offered funding to support the enforcement actions of Member States. Commissioner Jourová met with industry representatives several times to ask them to stop unnecessary product differentiation practices, which do not correspond to specific market requirements. Some producers have already started to change their recipes in order to ensure the same products are sold across the EU. The details of the action plan are available online, as well as Commissioner Jourová’s speech.
European Investment Bank agrees first Juncker Plan project in Cyprus
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed the first infrastructure project in Cyprus under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. The EIB will provide €35 million to the Cyprus Organisation for Storage and Management of Oil Stocks (COSMOS) to build a 210,000 tonne privately-owned storage facility. The Juncker Plan-backed project will focus on enhancing energy efficiency and it will improve Cyprus’s energy security by increasing the amount of reserve oil stocks held in the country. Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The EU’s Energy Union strategy aims to make energy more secure and affordable. This first EFSI project in Cyprus with COSMOS will help us meet those goals. I encourage more project promoters in Cyprus to contact the EIB with their investment proposals in order to continue boosting growth and creating jobs.”
Juvenes Translatores: Winners of the EU translation contest for schools announced today
The European Commission announced the winners of its annual translation contest ‘Juvenes Translatores’ today. A total of 28 secondary school students, one from each of the European Union Member States, will be awarded a trophy and a diploma after competing with over 3 300 participants from across the continent. The winners will be invited to Brussels on 10 April 2018 to receive their trophies from Commissioner Günther Oettinger, responsible for Budget and Human Resources. “My congratulations on your achievement. Well done for taking on the challenge and proving your talents in all 24 EU languages. Learning languages is a skill that is vital for your careers and personal development. It is amazing to see so many talented young people. Multilingualism defines us as Europeans”, said Commissioner Oettinger. The names of the winners are in the following press release
State aid: Commission approves public compensation for electronic data boxes service in the Czech Republic
The European Commission has found public support to Czech Post for the provision of an electronic data boxes service in the Czech Republic for the period 2018 to 2022 to be in line with EU State aid rules. The electronic data boxes service is an advanced electronic communication channel for (i) internal communication within the public administration, and (ii) for secured guaranteed communication between the public administration and citizens and companies. The Czech authorities consider the electronic data boxes service to be a service of general economic interest (SGEI). The use of the data boxes service will be free for users and Czech Post will be compensated for its provision by means of direct grants from the State budget. Since the annual compensation for the provision of this service exceeds €15 million, the measure was notified by the Czech authorities to the Commission under the 2012 SGEI Framework, which lays down the conditions that should be met by aid to be found compatible. The Commission concluded that the compensation to Czech Post is in line with EU state aid rules. More information will be available, once potential confidentiality issues have been resolved, in the public case register on the Commission’s competition website under the case number SA.47293.
Eurostat: December 2017 compared with November 2017-Industrial producer prices up by 0.2% in euro area Up by 0.1% in EU28
In December 2017, compared with November 2017, industrial producer prices rose by 0.2% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.1% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In November 2017, prices increased by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.7% in the EU28. Full text available here
Commissioner Hahn in Washington D.C.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations is today in Washington D.C. to discuss EU and US bilateral relation and common work in the EU neighbourhood. Commissioner Hahn will meet officials of the US administration including the Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, the Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs Fiona Hill, and the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker. Commissioner will discuss with the First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund David Lipton, and the Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva, how to enhance the common work between the EU and the International Financial Institutions. Commissioner Hahn will also participate in an informal roundtable discussion at the Hudson Institute. Photos and videos of the visit will be available on EbS.