EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 05 DECEMBER

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EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS - 05 DECEMBER
05 Dec 2017

EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 05 DECEMBER

Brussels, Brussels Daily

MAIN NEWS

EUROSTAT October 2017 compared with September 2017 – Volume of retail trade down by 1.1% in euro area – Down by 0.5% in EU28

In October 2017 compared with September 2017, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade decreased by 1.1% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.5% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In September, the retail trade volume rose by 0.8% in the euro area and by 0.2% in the EU28. More information here

 

VAT: Commission welcomes agreement on simpler and more efficient rules for businesses that sell goods online

The Commission welcomes today’s agreement on a series of measures to improve how VAT works for online companies in the EU. The new system will make it easier for consumers and businesses, in particular start-ups and SMEs, to buy and sell goods cross-border online. It will also help Member States to recoup the current estimated €5 billion of VAT lost on online sales every year. The agreement was reached by the Economic and Finance Ministers of EU Member States during their meeting in Brussels, only a year after the Commission made its ambitious proposals. Following the agreement, Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market,said: “This is a new step to boost e-commerce in Europe, a few days after reaching an agreement to end unjustified geo-blocking for consumers shopping online. Companies selling abroad online will deal with VAT in the same way as they do for sales in their own countries. This will also make public services more efficient and increase cooperation across borders.” Following the agreement, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “Brick by brick and piece by piece, a new VAT system is being built that is fit for purpose and within which internet companies operating across borders can thrive. At the same time, we are making sure that non-EU businesses do not get preferential treatment when selling to EU consumers – both directly and through online marketplaces. Today’s agreement also bodes well for the more fundamental VAT reform in the EU that is so urgently needed.” For more information please consult the press release and MEMO.

MiFID II: Commission adopts equivalence decision for derivatives trading venues in the United States

The European Commission has today recognised some US trading venues authorised by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as eligible for compliance with the EU trading obligation for derivatives. A derivative is a financial contract linked to the fluctuation in the price of the underlying asset or basket of assets to which it refers. Today’s decision will ensure that EU counterparties can continue to trade the most liquid derivatives instruments on US platforms. Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: “It is important that European firms can continue trading in derivatives on US markets. This is an excellent example how a safe, yet global, trading environment can be ensured in a spirit of open cooperation.” The CFTC is also working towards exempting certain EU-authorised trading venues from registration requirements in the US. This follows an agreement between the Commission and the CFTC on a common approach regarding certain derivatives trading platforms. It will enable EU platforms to offer trading services to US counterparties. See also the joint EU-CFTC announcement on mutual recognition of derivatives trading venues. Today’s decision takes the form of an implementing act, and will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

 

EU steps up its support to education for all with €100 million

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, announced today the EU’s additional contribution of €100 million to replenish the Global Partnership for Education.

The new funding comes on top of the €375 million already committed in 2014. This support will help to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, thus contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the objective of leaving no one behind.

At this occasion, Commissioner Mimica stressed this critical moment for all partners to work together, in order to reverse the current trend of declining assistance for education: “Our action can make a real change for the millions of girls and boys around the world, who are not going to school. The additional €100 million announced today will ensure that over 25 million additional children complete primary school or lower secondary school. I call on other actors and partners to follow and match our ambition. Only together can we ensure that all marginalised children, including the poorest, those in emergency and conflict situations, disadvantaged girls and children with disabilities receive a quality education and are empowered.”  More information here

 

French city Lyon rewarded with 2018 Access City Award for putting accessibility at the heart of its city life

On the occasion of the European Day for People with Disabilities, the European Commission today announced Lyon, France, as the winner of the Access City Award. The city was rewarded for its inclusive and universal accessibility.

Presenting the award, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility said: “This Commission is fully committed to putting people first and making social inclusion a top priority on the political agenda. With the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights on 17 November, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission agreed a social, inclusive Europe is the way forward. Making our cities and societies more accessible for people with disabilities is therefore a must. I thank Lyon, and all the other cities who have participated in this competition, for their efforts to make that happen. I hope the achievements of these cities can be an inspiration for many other cities, but also for all regional and national authorities.”  More information here

 

Commissioner Jourová addresses the 4th meeting of the High Level Group on combating Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of Intolerance

This afternoon Commissioner Jourová addresses the 4th meeting of the EU High Level Group on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance dedicated to the prevention and responses to racism against minorities.  Ahead of the meeting, Commissioner Jourová said: “Minorities still experience racism and harassment, including online, on a daily basis. We set up two years ago the Code of Conduct to combat online hate speech, but the work is not over. I welcome the new guidance we prepared in consultation with the High Level group on hate speech recording, as well as the guidelines to better train police forces and judges to deal with hate crime.” At the meeting, Commissioner Jourová will call on national authorities to fully transpose and enforce the Framework Decision on combating racism and the Victims’ Rights Directive. According to the upcoming EU Agency for Fundamental Rights’ EU Minorities and Discrimination Survey, Roma, sub-Saharan Africans and North Africans continue to suffer high levels of hate-motivated harassment in their daily lives. This survey will be presented tomorrow at the conferenceReality bites: Experiences of immigrants and minorities in the EU“.  More information on the High Level group can be found online.

 

Entrepreneurship key for disadvantaged persons to integrate into the labour market, joint Commission-OECD report shows

Policy measures that facilitate entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups are key to tackle social exclusion and help boosting jobs, indicates the publication ‘The Missing Entrepreneurs 2017’, a joint report by the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published today. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “Europe has been on the path to recovery for a while now since the crisis, but we must make sure this recovery is inclusive and leaves no one behind. This report shows again that entrepreneurship and self-employment are great means to include disadvantaged groups, and as policy makers we need to give them the necessary tools, such as access to finance, the possibility to develop the right skills and the occasions to form the necessary entrepreneurial networks.” Particularly women, young people, migrants, the unemployed and seniors still face several barriers to starting their own business. For instance, in 2016, only about 10% of working women were self-employed, compared to 17.5% of men. And even though they overall show a broad interest in self-employment, only 4.1% of working young people (15-24 years old) were self-employed.Many EU Member States are therefore actively introducing new policies and programmes to support business creation and self-employment for disadvantaged social groups. An example is the SELFIEmployment initiative for young entrepreneurs in Italy, in particular young people who are not in education, employment or training. The initiative is supported by the EU Youth Guarantee and provides training and coaching on business plan development, followed by credit and mentoring in a second phase.In Germany, the project Business Creation for Female Migrants is supporting women from all ethnic backgrounds with mentoring, individual business consultations, workshops, and networking activities. And in 2016, the European Investment Fund and the Co-operative Bank of Karditsa in Greece signed the first guarantee agreement to improve access to credit for micro-enterprises under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). More information will be made available here.

 

Commission ready to work further to build a better governance in the EU telecoms market  

Yesterday the Ministers in charge of Transport, Telecommunications and Energy issues have adopted a general approach on the role of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC Regulation). As part of its Electronic Communications Code proposal, the Commission proposed to reinforce the Agency in order to ensure consistent and predictable application of the rules throughout the Digital Single Market, limiting current fragmentation and inconsistencies. Both Vice-President for Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel were participating in the Council meeting. Vice president Ansip and Commissioner Gabriel said: “There is a general acknowledgment that BEREC would play a more prominent role in ensuring a consistent application of the Code of communications. Therefore we regret that the Council decided to revert to the old structure of BEREC. The good thing is that we can now proceed with the trilogues in negotiating the Electronic Communications Code. We still trust that in these final negotiations we will all agree to equip BEREC with the necessary tools to play a leading role in fostering the digital single market throughout the EU.” The ministers at the Council discussed other key digital and telecoms files, including progress made in designing the future telecom rules, comprising a better coordination of radio spectrum waves. An overview of the Digital Single Market is available in the state of play factsheet; additional factsheets on the need for investment in new networks can be found here and for a better coordination of radio spectrum waves here. The recording of yesterday’s press conference following the Council is available here.

 

Mergers: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture by innogy and EEX

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture by innogy AG, controlled by RWE AG, and European Energy Exchange AG, controlled by Deutsche Börse AG, all of Germany. The joint venture will develop and operate an online price comparison and intermediary platform for German retail energy suppliers in the business-to-business segment. innogy is a European energy company active in infrastructure, supply and renewable energy. The RWE group is active in generation, transport, trading and supply of electricity and gas as well as water and district heating. European Energy Exchange develops and operates exchanges for energy and commodity products. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the joint venture’s limited activities in the EEA. The transaction 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.8691

  

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Nine historical sites selected for the European Heritage Label

Ahead of the launch of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 at the European Culture Forum in Milan, nine sites celebrating or symbolising the fight for European ideals, values, history and integration have been selected to receive the European Heritage LabelLeipzig’s Musical Heritage Sites (Germany); the Dohány Street Synagogue Complex (Hungary); Fort Cadine (Italy); Javorca Church (Slovenia); the former Natzweiler concentration camp and its satellite camps (France and Germany);  the Sighet Memorial (Romania); the Bois du Cazier (Belgium); the Village of Schengen (Luxembourg) and the Maastricht Treaty (The Netherlands). Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “The European Union is built on the values of peace, freedom, tolerance and solidarity. These values must not be taken for granted; we have to work for them every day. All the sites on the European Heritage Label list promote these values and remind us of all those who fought to establish and preserve them. I look forward to celebrating the nine sites that will be added to the list during the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018.” An independent panel set up by the Commission selected the new sites from 25 candidates preselected by participating Member States. This brings to 38 the number of sites which have been chosen to receive the Label. The Commission will formally designate the sites in February 2018, and an award ceremony will be held in March 2018. More information about the nine sites is available online. 

 

Commissioner King in Berlin

Today, Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King is in Berlin, Germany where he will meet Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière to discuss issues related to security, anti-radicalisation, information exchange and the interoperability of information systems. Commissioner King will then meet Hans-Georg Maassen, President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. This morning, the Commissioner participated in an event organised by the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, where he spoke at a panel discussion on “What Kind of Union? The Future of the European Project”. The event can be watched online.

 

Vice-President Katainen in Helsinki to attend Finland’s centenary celebrations

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, visits Helsinki, Finland from Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 December to attend celebrations marking Finland’s 100th year of independence. On Tuesday 5 December he attends the centenary celebratory plenary session at the Parliament of Finland; delivers a keynote speech at the Future of Europe Youth Convention, organised by Finnish Youth Cooperation organisation Allianssi; meets Mr Ilkka Suominen, honorary Chairman of the National Coalition Party; and Mr Mika Ihamuotila, Executive Chairman of Marimekko. He attends the Independence Day reception of the National Coalition Party. On Wednesday 6 December, Finland’s Independence Day, Vice-President Katainen attends the Independence Day Reception of the President of the Republic of Finland.

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