03 Dec 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 03 DECEMBERBrussels Daily
Investment in broadband essential for the EU and its regions
Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger received yesterday Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of the German Land Baden-Württemberg. Both highlighted the importance of investment in digital infrastructures to connect all Europeans. “We cannot wait”, the two politicians said. “Broadband is one of the key areas of the Investment Offensive presented last week by President Juncker”, Commissioner Oettinger stressed. Minister-President Kretschmann underlined the need for strong data protection rules and a skilled workforce to make the most out of digital technologies. “To lead on the global stage, EU cooperation – beyond national interests – is needed”, he said. You can watch the press point here
College meeting: Visit by the Latvian government and orientation debate on Commission’s work programme
The College met with the Latvian government today, to exchange views and prepare the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union which will start with 1 January 2015. Following this meeting, President Juncker and Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma will hold a press point at 14:30 CET (exact timing tbc); the press point will be live broadcast via EBS. Besides the meeting with the Latvian government, the College held an orientation debate on the Commission’s work programme.
Ukraine: EU disburses €500 million in EU Macro-Financial Assistance Today, the European Commission, on behalf of the EU, paid a loan of €500 million to Ukraine as part of the EU Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) facility for the country. This disbursement adds to the €860 million disbursed since May under the two ongoing EU MFA programmes. This leaves €250 million remaining under the first MFA programmes for Ukraine. Commissioner Moscovici said: “Europe is delivering on its commitment of solidarity to Ukraine. We are providing essential financial support at a time of extraordinary economic and social challenges for the Ukrainian people. In turn, it is vital the country maintain the momentum of reform so as to create the conditions for sustainable prosperity for all Ukrainians.” Read the press release.
Commission staff concludes the sixth Post-Programme Surveillance mission to Hungary
Following the conclusion of the 2008-2010 EU balance of payments assistance programme in November 2010, European Commission staff conducted a sixth and possibly final post-programme surveillance mission to Hungary from 25 to 28 November 2014 to review recent economic and financial developments and policy initiatives. Overall, the mission welcomed the fact that on the back of a strong economic recovery, Hungary recorded one of the highest GDP growth rates in the EU over recent quarters. See fact sheet
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of S-Oil by Saudi Aramco
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of S-Oil of South Korea by Saudi Aramco of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco is engaged in the exploration, production and marketing of crude oil and in the production and marketing of refined products. S-Oil produces and markets refined products. Both companies sell their products in the European Economic Area (EEA). The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because of the limited overlaps between the companies’ activities. The operation 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.7396.
Poverty: Commission adopts Polish programme to use €473 million from Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived
The European Commission has today approved the Polish Operational Programme to use the new Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). Poland will receive €473.36 million in the period 2014-2020 to support the provision of food assistance to people at risk of poverty and social exclusion. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, commented: “I welcome the adoption of this operational programme for Poland, which will help the country to tackle its high rate of severe material deprivation. I also highly value the particular attention paid to large families and homeless people suffering the greatest difficulties. I believe that the FEAD will play a key role to help Europe’s most vulnerable citizens get a foothold in society and make a significant contribution to our fight against poverty”. See press release
EUROSTAT: Volume of retail trade up by 0.4% in euro area
In October 2014 compared with September 2014, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade rose by 0.4% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.7% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In September retail trade fell by 1.2% in both zones. In October 2014 compared with October 2013 the retail sales index increased by 1.4% in the euro area and by 2.0% in the EU28. See press release
European Commission helps mutual trust with enhanced judicial training
Legal practitioners in the EU need to have trust in each other’s legal systems so that cross-border judicial proceedings work smoothly. All legal professionals must be aware of EU law aspects of their daily work to apply the law correctly, from judges, prosecutors, lawyers and notaries to court staff and bailiffs. This third edition of the report on European judicial training is timely: in its June 2014 conclusions the European Council recognised that it is necessary to enhance training for legal practitioners. “Citizens need to have trust in judicial systems across the EU so that they can work, purchase goods and services and carry out business freely across borders,” Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said. “The European area of Justice has developed substantially over recent years and significant new legislation has been adopted. This is why I’m giving a renewed push to the training of legal practitioners so that the new legal instruments are used in practice and deliver results for the benefit of citizens and business.” In 2013 more than 94,000 legal professionals were trained in EU law or the national law of another EU Member State. This is more than in previous years and exceeds the European Commission’s annual target of training 5% of legal practitioners in the EU per year (around 70,000). The goal is to train half of all legal professionals in EU law by 2020 (IP/11/1021). Training for around 22,000 participants on EU law or the law of another Member State was co-funded by the EU in 2013.
European Day for People with Disabilities: announcement of the winner of the 2015 Access City Award
On the occasion of the European Day for People with Disabilities, the European Commission is pleased to be able to announce the winner of the 2015 Access City Award. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility underlined: “People with disabilities should be able to fully participate in society. Job creation and accessibility are top priority for the European Commission and I am personally committed to taking action in these areas.” The Access City Award is one of the actions foreseen in the EU disability strategy that aims at making Europe barrier-free. The Award aims to encourage cities with at least 50,000 inhabitants to share their experience and to improve accessibility for the benefit of all. Since 2010, 189 EU cities have participated in the 5 editions of the Access City Award. The name of the winning city will be announced at 14h30, more information will be available here.
Life expectancy in the EU still on the rise: launch of the “Health at a Glance: Europe 2014” report
EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis and Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Angel Gurría issued today the following joint statement on the report “Health at a Glance: Europe 2014”: “We are delighted to unveil the comparative data on health and health systems covering all 28 EU Member States contained in the Health at a Glance: Europe 2014 report. The report highlights key trends in health status, health spending, health inequalities, health determinants and health care resources as well as quality of care and access to care. It also explores the impact of the economic crisis on health. This state-of-play on Europe’s health is an important input for public debates on policies to improve population health and health system performance across Europe. The beginning of a new Commission mandate, when EU added value to common health concerns is being discussed, is an opportune moment to release this data. Our hope is that the Health at a Glance report will help stimulate further actions so that European citizens of all socio-economic backgrounds can enjoy longer, healthier and more active lives”. Read the full statement.
High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioner Mimica attend Afghanistan Conference in London
High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Neven Mimica will participate in the London Conference on Afghanistan on 3 and 4 December. The Conference comes at an important time for Afghanistan as a new Government led by President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah takes office and international combat troops withdraw. The Afghan Government is expected to set out its plans for the major economic and political reforms needed for continued progress in Afghanistan. The international community is expected to offer its continued political and financial support to the new Government.
Ministers to meet with ambitious agenda at Justice Council tomorrow
Věra Jourová, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender will represent the European Commission for the first time at the Justice Council on 4 December. Justice Ministers from the EU Member States are set to reach a political agreement on the modernised rules for insolvency, which once adopted by the European Parliament, will make cross-border insolvency proceedings in the EU more efficient and effective. On the reform of EU data protection rules (IP/12/46), Ministers are expected to clinch another partial agreement on rules for the public sector and advance discussions on the one-stop-shop, signalling the gathering momentum for the completion of the negotiations by 2015. The Commission hopes Ministers willreach a general agreement on the Small Claims proposal (IP/13/1095) as well as on proposals for the procedural rights of citizens in criminal trials (IP/13/1157). Finally, a partial agreement should be reached on the Eurojust reform. The public debates and the press conference can be followed here
Preparation of the Competitiveness Council, 4-5 December 2014
At the Competitiveness Council, taking place on 4-5 December in Brussels, ministers from EU Member States will discuss topics related to the internal market, industry, research and space. The European Commission will be represented by Jyrki Katainen, Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, and Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. On Thursday 4 December, Commissioner Bieńkowska and ministers will discuss the future of the Single Market, exploring priorities and actions to further develop the Single Market, and will debate industrial competitiveness, including the role of the Competitiveness Council. A report will be presented on the status of implementation of the Small Business Act, and the Council is expected to adopt conclusions on smart regulation, customs risk management and strengthening the tourism industry by leveraging the EU’s cultural, natural and maritime heritage. Vice-President Katainen will present the EU Investment Plan to ministers, with a particular focus on deepening the Single Market. On Friday 5 December, Commissioner Moedas will discuss with ministers optimal ways to align research and innovation with the values, needs and expectations of society. The Council is expected to adopt several sets of conclusions: on the establishment of a Partnership in Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area, referred to as “PRIMA”; on the progress made by the EU towards achieving a European Research Area; and on the key role that research and innovation have in lifting growth and creating jobs. The Presidency will present the Research and Innovation Initiative for Blue Jobs and Growth in the Mediterranean (the BLUEMED Initiative). An exchange of views will also be held on the future development of EU space programmes and infrastructure. A press conference will be held at the end of the discussions on both days of the Competitiveness Council. The public debates and the press conferences can be followed by video streaming.