|President Juncker at the EU-India Summit in New Delhi
On Friday 6 October, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, will represent the European Union at the 14th EU-India Summit in New Delhi. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini will also attend the Summit, which will be hosted by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. In a year when the European Union and India are celebrating 55 years of diplomatic relations, the Summit will provide an opportunity for leaders to review progress in many areas of the bilateral relationship and to discuss international and regional challenges. The 2016 Summit, held in Brussels, gave a new momentum to our Strategic Partnership through the adoption of a number of joint initiatives and declarations, including the EU-India Agenda for Action 2020. Leaders are expected to take stock of the implementation of this far-reaching agenda. The European Union is India’s largest trading partner and India the EU’s 9th, with the total value of EU-India trade in goods standing at €77 billion in 2016 and trade in services worth €28.4 billion. Leaders will discuss trade and economic relations, and will review the state of play and next steps towards relaunching negotiations for a free trade agreement. As regards global challenges of mutual interest, leaders will discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, effectively addressing migration and refugee challenges, as well as pressing issues such as the situation in the Korean Peninsula, Myanmar, eastern Ukraine, Afghanistan, and cooperation between the EU and India in the Indian Ocean and in Africa. A number of deliverables, including on investment facilitation, counter-terrorism, and research and innovation, are expected to be announced by the leaders at the Summit, who will hold a press point (available live on EbS) at 14:30 local time, 11:00 CET. After the Summit, also on 6 October, President Juncker will deliver the keynote address at an EU-India Business Forum, which will also be available live on EbS. With the European Union directly investing in and supporting the sustainable development of many Indian cities, including through loans of the European Investment Bank, President Juncker is expected to focus on the need for the European Union and India to take further steps to achieve their full economic potential. For more information on EU-India relations see the dedicated factsheet and the website of the EU Delegation.
Commission adopts initiative to boost apprenticeships in Europe
Today the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships. This initiative is part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe, launched in June 2016. It also ties in with the European Pillar of Social Rights, which foresees a right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning. The Commission has identified 14 key criteria that Member States and stakeholders should use to develop quality and effective apprenticeships. This initiative will help increase the employability and personal development of apprentices and contribute towards a highly skilled and qualified workforce responsive to labour market needs. More information here
Commission reports on employment and social situation in the EU: record high employment rates and signs of improvement for the youth
The EU remains on a firm path towards more employment and growth according to the latest Quarterly Review on Employment and Social Developments in Europe. Employment in the EU continues to grow at a consistent pace and in almost all Member States. Employment increased by 1.5 % in the EU and 1.6% in the euro area in the second quarter of 2017 compared tothe same period in 2016.There are 3.5 million and 2.4 million more people employed in the EU and euro area compared to last year. This means that 235.4 million people are now employed in the EU. This is the highest level ever recorded. The EU employment increase over the past four years has particularly benefited the younger generation. While youth unemployment is still too high in the EU, the rate decreased steadily and faster than overall unemployment: it now stands at 16.9 %, reaching a level lower than in 2008. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, commented: “Today’s results are encouraging. More people than ever before in Europe have a job and unemployment has reached a nine-year low. And we see 2.2 million more employees with permanent contracts compared to last year. We need to continue on this path and improve the economic and social conditions for all. With the European Pillar of Social Rights, we have our roadmap towards well-functioning and fair labour markets that are fit for purpose in the 21st century. We would like to see it proclaimed together by Parliament, Council and Commission at the Social Summit in Gothenburg on 17 November 2017.” The Quarterly Review also shows that the EU’s economy continues its expansion in all Member States with a growth of 2.4 % in the EU and 2.3 % in the euro area over the last year. This also translated in an improvement of EU households’ financial situation with greaterincome from work, while the increase in social benefits came to a halt. A full press release is available here.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of PharMerica by KKR and Walgreens Boots Alliance
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of PharMerica Corporation by KKR & Co. L.P. and Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (“WBA”), all three of the US. PharMerica provides long term care pharmacy, infusion therapy, and specialty pharmacy services in the US. KKR is a global investment firm. WBA operates retail pharmacies across the US and Europe, as well as across a global pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution network. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because PharMerica has no actual or planned activities in the European Economic Area. 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.8620.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Ursa by Xella
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Ursa of Spain by Xella of Luxembourg. Ursa produces insulation materials. Xella is a diversified building materials company and is owned by the private equity company Lone Star. The Commission concluded that the acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlaps between the activities of the companies. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8604.
European guidelines for telecom market regulation: results of public consultation
The Commission published today the results of the public consultation to revise the European guidelines helping national telecoms regulators decide when to intervene in telecoms markets. This is an important step to update the guidelines as soon as possible, since the previous guidelines were adopted in 2002 and do not reflect anymore the recent European case laws. The consultation collected responses from the National Regulatory Authorities, service providers and other stakeholders on the review of the Significant Market Power Guidelines: 54 stakeholders from 22 Member States provided input, in particular on market definition as well as single and joint significant market power. The Commission will present the draft guidelines to the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) this year. Once BEREC will give its comments on the draft, the Commission will finalise and adopt the guidelines in the first half of 2018. The updated guidelines anticipate also the implementation of the new European Electronic Communications Code, as the proposed provisions for the market analysis take into account the current situation on the national markets. The European Electronic Communications Code together with the guidance are key elements for building strong digital infrastructure for the Digital Single Market. Results of the public consultation are available here. More details on the Digital Single Market state of play are available in an overview factsheet and a timeline of the Commission’s digital proposals.
Joint statement by Commissioners Oettinger and Jourová on the European Parliament’s consent to establishing the European Public Prosecutor’s Office
Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger in charge of Budget and Human Resources and Commissioner Vera Jourová in charge of Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, welcome European Parliament’s consent to establishing the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. They declared: “We welcome today’s vote of the European Parliament, giving its green light to the creation of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office. A vast majority of Members of the European Parliament decided to endorse this historic step. An EU public prosecutor will help to better protect EU tax payer’s money. Existing EU bodies such as the EU Anti-Fraud office, OLAF, cannot prosecute in the Member States but have to hand over their files to national bodies. This can make it more difficult to pursue cross border cases and to bring cases to a timely conclusion. The new EU public prosecutor will do exactly that – make sure that criminals are brought to justice and that misspent money is recovered much more quickly. (…) As President Juncker said in his State of the Union speech, the new European Public Prosecutor can be a powerful tool to protect citizens even beyond its current competence for crimes against the EU budget. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office could also be tasked also with prosecuting cross-border terrorist crimes. Next year, the Commission will lay out the next steps on a future extension of the tasks of the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office. For now our immediate priority is to establish an independent, strong and effective European Public Prosecutor to fight crimes against the EU budget, and to get it up and running as soon as possible. Today’s consent paves the way for the Council to adopt the Regulation next week. “The full statement is available online.
Joint statement by Commissioners Navracsics and Moedas on the EU’s approach to maximise the impact of science
A study by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) published in Nature today confirms that EU researchers perform considerably well thanks to the scientific openness of European countries. The article shows a significant correlation between the degree to which a state cooperates with other countries in the field of research and the quality and success of its research. On the occasion of the publication Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, and Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “In research and innovation, cooperation across disciplines and countries is a must. That is one of the many areas where the EU has a clear added value as Member States perform exceptionally well thanks to the enhanced collaboration within the Union and with third countries. It unquestionably helps our researchers produce world changing science and our public and private sectors to improve people’s lives. In fact the EU-28 has maintained its share of the world’s top 10% most highly cited scientific publications, in the face of strong competition from China and elsewhere. Across five different locations in the EU 2000 researchers from the Commission’s Joint Research Centre support European policy makers with the best available science. We are particularly proud of the role played by the Commission’s research and innovation programmes Horizon 2020, and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, which has enabled more than 100,000 research fellows to work abroad since its launch 20 years ago. As two very recent examples, EU funded scientists have participated in the ground-breaking research that led to this year’s Nobel Prizes in Physics for the discovery of gravitational waves and in Chemistry for the development of cryo-electron microscopy. We warmly congratulate the researchers on their achievement.” More information on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions is available in this factsheet.
EU leads the way with ambitious action for cleaner and safer seas
The international Our Ocean Conference, co-hosted by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, is currently taking place in Malta, on 5 and 6 October. This morning, High Representative Mogherini on behalf of the European Union, announced an ambitious package of 36 EU-initiatives to foster healthier, cleaner, safer and more secure seas. In her opening speech, High Representative Mogherini said: “The sea is a global common. It is Our Ocean because it belongs to humanity, to each and every human being. We all have a responsibility to preserve what’s common – to preserve it as a treasure and avoid that it turns into a threat.” She added: “The European Union believes that a globalised world needs a more cooperative global governance. We believe in the power of diplomacy, we invest in it, we believe and invest in the power of common rules and international institutions. And it is difficult, actually impossible, to imagine a global governance without a cooperative oceans’ governance.” Amounting to over €550 million and launching complementary activities worldwide, the announcement underscores the EU’s determination to improve the situation of the seas. At the same time, as hosts, the EU seeks from the outset of the conference to set an example and send a strong message of encouragement to the rest of the world to step up and take action in the face of growing ocean challenges such as plastic pollution, protection of marine life, impact of climate change and criminal activities at sea. Over the comings days, the international community – governments and private sector alike – will come together to deliver on this objective. Detailed information on the 36 EU commitments can be found here. A live stream of the Our Ocean Conference and the press conference (at 12:00 CET) are available here. High Representative Mogherini‘s speech and Commissioner Vella‘s speech are available online.
Commissioner Thyssen visits Luxembourg and participates in a Citizens’ Dialogue
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen will travel to Luxembourg tomorrow and deliver a keynote speech on the Commission’s priorities in the employment and social field to the Luxembourgish Members of Parliament, followed by an exchange of views. The Commissioner will participate also in a Citizens’ Dialogue in Luxembourg. The exchange of views with citizens will focus on the Commission’s social agenda, including on posting of workers, social security coordination and the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Commissioner will also discuss these key topics with representatives of the social partners.