04 Feb 2015
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 04 FEBRUARYBrussels Daily
Commission launches work on Energy Union
The Commission today launched work on the Energy Union, which is a fundamental step towards the completion of single energy market and reforming how Europe produces, transports and consumes energy. The Energy Union with a Forward-looking Climate Change Policy is one of the key political priorities of the Juncker Commission. After more than 60 years from the founding of the Coal and Steel Community, the Commission today drew a plan for reorganising European energy policies and kicked off work for European Energy Union. The Energy Union framework strategy is scheduled for adoption on 25 February. This strategic policy document will be accompanied by the “Road to Paris” Communication spelling out the EU’s intended climate contribution as well as a Communication reporting on EU’s progress towards the minimum electricity interconnection target of 10%. Vice-President Šefčovič will present the state of play today at 12:30 CET in the Commission’s press room; his intervention will be live broadcast. Read press release here.
Juncker Commission makes 1 billion euro available for the young unemployed
Today the European Commission proposes to make 1 billion euro from the Youth Employment Initiative available as early as this year. This change will increase by up to 30 times the pre-financing Member States receive to boost youth employment – reaching up to 650 000 young people and helping them get into work, faster. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue said: “With today’s proposal, the Commission sends a clear signal that youth employment continues to be high on our political agenda. We will advance around 1 billion euro to support the work of Member States in helping to get young people back into work, to return to education or get a traineeship. In doing so, they are not only able to contribute to the economy and society through their skills and dynamism, but they also regain their dignity.” Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: “Our young people need jobs and they need them now. It is unacceptable that today more than one young person out of five on the labour market cannot find a job. By making more funding available sooner, we can get more young people back to work: I am determined to make this happen.” Commissioner Thyssen will be in the Commission’s press room today at 12:00 CET to present the proposal, her intervention can be followed via live broadcast. Read press release, key facts about the EU Youth Guarantee and a Q&A on accelerated pre-financing for the Youth Employment Initiative are available online.
Antitrust: Commission fines broker ICAP € 14.9 million for participation in several cartels in Yen interest rate derivatives sector
The European Commission has fined the UK based broker ICAP € 14 960 000 for having breached EU antitrust rules by facilitating several cartels in the sector of Yen interest rate derivatives (YIRD). In December 2013, the Commission already imposed fines on a number of major banks that decided to settle the case with the Commission. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: “Today’s decision to fine the broker ICAP sends a strong signal that assisting companies in their cartel activities has severe consequences. It marks the successful completion of our antitrust investigation in the Yen interest rate derivatives sector – but not the end to our efforts to fight anticompetitive practices in financial markets.” Read press release here.
State aid: Commission accepts commitments from France on fiscal exemptions for certain maritime chartering services in France
The European Commission has closed an in-depth investigation opened in 2013 to examine whether changes to French tax rules for maritime companies were in line with EU state aid rules after France offered commitments addressing the Commission’s concerns. The Commission had concerns that also giving favourable fiscal benefits to certain vessels sailing under non-EU flags would run counter the objectives of EU maritime transport policy. France has now committed to ensure that French tonnage tax payers flag at least 25% of their tonnage in the EEA. This addresses the Commission’s concerns. Read press release here.
State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Portuguese guarantee scheme
The European Commission has authorised the prolongation until 30 June 2015 of a guarantee scheme for credit institutions in Portugal. The scheme was initially approved in October 2008 and prolonged several times, the last time in July 2014. The Commission found the extension of the measures to be in line with its guidelines on state aid to banks during the crisis. In particular, the extended measure is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. During the application of the extraordinary crisis rules for state aid to banks, the Commission is authorising guarantee schemes on banks’ liabilities for periods of six months. Each prolongation is based on a review of the developments in financial markets and the scheme’s effectiveness. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.39991.
EUROSTAT – Volume of retail trade up by 0.3% in both euro area and EU28
In December 2014 compared with November 2014, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade1 rose by 0.3% in both the euro area (EA18) and the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In November retail trade rose by 0.7% and 0.9% respectively. In December 2014 compared with December 2013 the retail sales index increased by 2.8% in the euro area and by 3.2% in the EU28. The average of retail trade for the year 2014, compared with 2013, rose by 1.3% in the euro area and by 1.9% in the EU28. Read full press release.
Commissioner Arias Cañete delivers key note on Europe’s energy security challenges to Atlantic Council
On the margins of his high-level visit to the USA, Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete held a speech at the Atlantic Council on Europe’s energy security challenges: ”La Unión hace la fuerza”. He said: “Today, the global energy map is being redrawn. Global energy demand will increase by over one third by 2040. Much of the growth will come from emerging economies, with China and India alone accounting for half. The European Union meanwhile will decrease our share of global energy demand – from 12% today, to 8% by 2040. But while the overall importance of the EU on global energy markets will decline, global energy markets will be increasingly important for the EU. Why? Largely because of the decline in our domestic production of fossil fuels. We will offset this decline with growth of domestic renewable energies and through energy efficiency measures. I can say with this confidence, because we already have clear binding targets for the year twenty-thirty: a 40% reduction in Green House Gas emissions; a 27% improvement in energy efficiency; and 27% of renewable energy in our energy mix. But this will not make us energy independent overnight. Europe’s oil dependence is double what the US’s was just before the 1979 oil crisis. For gas, we import a third of what we use from Russia.” Arias Cañete recalled that Europe’s response will be the creation of an Energy Union. On 25 February 2015 the European Commission will present details of the Energy Union built on 5 dimensions. Read full SPEECH.
The Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, and the Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, will participate in a high-level conference on the European Energy Union to be held in Riga on 6 February 2015. The conference is a first step in building a true European Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy, based on solidarity and trust between EU countries. The Energy Union will help tackle the energy and climate challenge Europe faces today by completing the internal energy market, making Europe more energy efficient, by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and by developing new, groundbreaking energy technologies. The event will convene EU energy ministers, representatives from the EU institutions and international organisations, academia and other prominent energy policy makers. The conference will hold ministerial level in-depth discussions on the Energy Union’s key dimensions and its action plan, as well as an open session for stakeholders. Based on the discussions, the Commission intends to present its plan for the European Energy Union on 25 February which will then be discussed at the meeting of EU energy ministers on 5 March. The Conference is co-organised by the European Commission and the Latvian Presidency.