JOINT STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF WORLD OCEANS DAY
On the occasion of the World Oceans Day (8 June), Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, made the following statement: “Today we celebrate World Oceans Day. This year’s theme, “Our oceans, our future” underscores the importance of oceans for ours and the generations to come. […] The world is coming to realize that our oceans need better care. Only strong international cooperation can deliver this. The EU has taken a lead in creating a stronger system of ocean governance including better managing the oceans, reducing human pressure and investing in science. […] Given the significance of oceans for our future, the EU will host the fourth “Our Ocean” Conference in Malta on 5-6 October this year. It will engage with the international community, including the private sector, to take further commitments for our oceans, in areas such as marine pollution, marine protected areas, climate change and sustainable fisheries, maritime security and the blue economy and blue growth. For taking care of our future, we need to take care of our oceans: it’s a global challenge that has to be addressed globally. The European Union is doing and will keep doing its part.” Full statement is available here.
COMMISSION WELCOMES DECISION OF 20 MEMBER STATES TO ESTABLISH THE EUROPEAN PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
Today in the Justice council, 20 Member States reached a political agreement on the establishment of the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Once in place, after the consent of the European Parliament, the independent EU public prosecutor will be equipped with the power to investigate and prosecute criminal cases affecting the EU budget, such as corruption or fraud with EU funds, or cross-border VAT fraud. It will be a strong, independent and efficient body specialised in fighting large-scale, cross-border financial crime. It will be able to conduct swift investigations across Europe and exchanging informationin real-time. Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Günther H. Oettinger, said: “We have zero tolerance for fraud against the EU budget. Every cent of it needs to be spent for the benefit of EU citizens. With a strong, independent and efficient European Public Prosecutor we are strengthening our efforts in protecting taxpayers’ money by ensuring a European approach to the criminal investigation and prosecution of criminal offences affecting the Union budget.” Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, added: “We have worked hard to bring as many Member States as possible on board and I am very glad that we now have 20 founding members of the European Public Prosecutor. This is a big success and it ensures that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office will be efficient from day one. It will complement the important work of Eurojust, the EU criminal justice agency, allowing it to dedicate more resources to the fight against terrorism, human trafficking or other crimes.” Every year at least 50 billion euro of revenues from VAT are lost for national budgets all over Europe through cross-border fraud. Transnational organised crime is making billions in profit every year by circumventing national rules and escaping criminal prosecution. In 2015, the Member States detected and reported to the Commission fraudulent irregularities for an amount of around EUR 638 million. National prosecutors’ tools to fight large-scale cross-border financial crime are limited. The new EU prosecutor will enable swift investigations across Europe and real-time information exchange. More information is available in the online press release and memo. A press conference will take place later today and can be followed here.
AVIATION: AN OPEN AND CONNECTED EUROPE FOR JOBS, GROWTH, INVESTMENT AND GLOBAL LEADERSHIP
The European Commission is today delivering on its ambitious Aviation Strategy for Europe by adopting a series of measures to further support open and connected aviation markets in the EU and beyond. These initiatives aim to safeguard competition and connectivity in aviation, facilitate investments in European airlines and enhance the efficiency and connectivity of European skies. This will reinforce the competitiveness of European aviation, which is a strong driver of job creation, economic growth and trade. Open and connected aviation markets offer better value flights to a greater choice of travel destinations worldwide. Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: “Our Aviation Strategy of December 2015 set an ambitious vision for the future of European aviation. Since then, we have worked hard to implement this vision jointly with all stakeholders. Today’s proposals aim at maintaining Europe’s leadership in international aviation, as well as at improving connectivity and airspace efficiency. A strong and sustainable European aviation sector is essential to support the EU’s economy and climate goals.” Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “We want to ensure that Europe remains a leader in international aviation, well connected to fast-growing markets, with efficient European skies. The success of European aviation is based on open and connected aviation markets. Our actions should deliver concrete benefits for passengers, workers and the aviation industry.” More information is available in a press release, in a Q&A and on the website of the Aviation Strategy.
“IN DEFENCE OF EUROPE”: PRESIDENT JUNCKER IN PRAGUE TO DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN DEFENCE
President Juncker is travelling to Prague today to talk defence following the Commission’s presentation yesterday of a Reflection Paper on the future of European defence and the launching of a European Defence Fund. Today, President Juncker will be awarded the Golden Commemorative Medal of the Charles University in Prague during a ceremony at which he will deliver a speech on the future of Europe. He will then meet Mr Milan Štěch and Mr Jan Hamáček, Presidents of the Czech Senate and the Czech Chamber of Deputies, respectively. On Friday, President Juncker will deliver a keynote speech, entitled “In defence of Europe” at the high-level Defence and Security Conference in which he will make the case for Europe to take its defence in its own hands. President Juncker will attend the conference alongside Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and NATO deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller, with whom he will hold a joint press conference at 11:45 CET on Friday. High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini and Vice-President Katainen will also deliver keynote speeches at the Defence and Security Conference, with High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini delivering a speech on the implementation of the EU Global Strategy in the areas of security and defence. Commissioner Bieńkowska will also be there to participate in a panel on European defence capacities. They will hold several bilateral meetings with their counterparts in the Member States. Vice-President Katainen will also engage in an exchange of views with members of the Senate of the Czech Republic. All speeches and the press conference with President Juncker will be broadcast on EbS.
EU’S LARGEST EVER EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME IN TURKEY REACHES FIRST REFUGEE FAMILIES
The EU’s largest ever humanitarian programme for education in emergencies, which aims to encourage some 230,000 refugee children to attend school in Turkey by the end of 2017, has started its first payments to refugee families. The ‘Conditional Cash Transfer for Education’ (CCTE) project receives €34 million in EU funding through the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey. It works by providing cash transfers every two months to refugee families whose children regularly attend school. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is in Ankara today to attend the project’s opening ceremony and said: “Refugee children have survived events that are unimaginable to most of us. That’s why investing in education is crucial and is a priority for the European Union. We want to help these children regain a sense of normality and give them opportunities for the future. I’m proud to announce that the programme is now fully up and running and already we’ve reached the families of 56,000 refugee children. I thank our partner UNICEF, as well as the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkish Government for sharing our commitment to make education a right for all.” Read the full press release here.
€86.6 MILLION FROM COHESION POLICY FUNDS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE METRO LINE 3 IN SOFIA
Today, the Commission adopted a new investment package worth €86.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to finance further works on the western part of the third line of the Bulgarian capital’s subway network. The funding will be used to build four new underground stations on a 4 km-long section, from the city centre (Zhitnitsa Street) to the Sofia Ring road via the Ovcha Kupel district, in the south-western part of the city. Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu said: “The metro in Sofia is used by over half a million people every day; it has become a part of everyday life in the city, and the inhabitants now enjoy a modern, accessible and comfortable public transport system, in addition to a reduction in travel times, air pollution and traffic jam in the entire capital. And all of this was made possible thanks to the significant financial support of the EU.” Last year, a first investment package worth over €368 million from the ERDF was adopted by the Commission to support the construction of the new line 3, linking the residential districts of Suhata reka, Hadzhi Dimitar, Krasno selo, Slaviya, Belite brezi, Lagera, Hipodruma to the city centre. When complete, this new line is expected to be 16 km-long with 19 stations, bringing the total Sofia subway network to 56 km of lines and 53 stations by 2020. Almost €500 million of EU funds was invested in expanding lines 1 and 2 in the 2007-2013 funding period, especially to ensure smooth connections to the Sofia Airport and the Sofia Business Park. More information on past and present EU investments in the metro in Sofia is available here and on the InvestEU website.
MIGRATION: COMMISSION AWARDS €58.21 MILLION IN EMERGENCY FUNDING TO SUPPORT ITALY
The European Commission has awarded an additional €58.21 million in emergency funding to Italy under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). The funding will assist the Italian Ministry of Interior in further improving reception conditions for asylum seekers. It will help provide accommodation, food, healthcare, legal information services and linguistic and cultural mediation to asylum seekers in 300 temporary reception centres in Northern Italy. A particular focus will be put on assisting vulnerable migrants, for example through dedicated services for children and new-born babies, distribution of basic hygiene items and psycho-social support. With this latest award, emergency funding for Italy now stands at €147.63 million in total. This comes on top of the €592.64 million already allocated to Italy under the national programmes for AMIF (€347.75 million) and the Internal Security Fund (€244.89 million).
THE COMMISSION LAUNCHES A NEW HORIZON PRIZE FOR FULL-PAGE TACTILE DISPLAY HELPING VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE
The European Commission announces today a new Horizon Prize granted under the EU’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation: the Tactile Display. This €3 million prize will be awarded to any entity (innovators, SMEs, universities and non-profit organisations acting alone or together with other entities) that will come up with the best tactile graphical display which will make digital information understandable and easily accessible for visually impaired users. The winning solution should convey digital information in braille, and through the use of touch illustrate graphics and charts, mathematical and spatial information, as well as simple maps. This technology should also be developed for educational purposes in supporting literacy among blind and visually impaired students, and improve the employability of people with visual impairments. It could also serve people who use vision and touch to operate machinery (e.g. pilots). The rules of contest are published here and you can find more info here.
MERGERS: COMMISSION CLEARS CWS-BOCO’S ACQUISITION OF SEVERAL RENTOKIL INITIAL BUSINESSES
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of several businesses of Rentokil Initial plc, a UK-based company, by CWS-boco, a German subsidiary of Franz Haniel & Cie. The businesses acquired by CWS-boco from Rentokil Initial relate to the provision of textile, cleanroom, washroom and dust mats services in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. CWS-boco is active in the provision of textile, cleanroom, washroom and dust mats services mainly in the EU. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the companies’ moderate combined market shares resulting from the proposed transaction, the presence of strong competitors, and the fact that a majority of market participants considers that there would be sufficient competitive pressure from other competitors post transaction. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8399.
COMMISSIONER BIEŃKOWSKA PARTICIPATES TODAY IN A CITIZENS’ DIALOGUE IN HELSINKI
Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, will participate today in a Citizens’ Dialogue at the European Commission Representation in Finland, in Helsinki, from 14:00 to 15:00 CET, and will discuss with participants the Future of Europe and globalisation, and EU Investments for Jobs and Growth. The Citizens’ dialogue will be webstreamed here and you can find more information here. This morning, in Helsinki, the Commissioner delivered a key note speech at Helsinki Chemicals Forum on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and gave a key note speech at the conference “Single market and competitiveness as drivers for growth and jobs in Europe and in Finland” within the European Semester framework. Later today she will meet Mr Jari Lindström, Minister of Employment, and a group of members of the Parliament.
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