|International Women’s Day 2018: Women’s empowerment matters for the future of Europe
On International Women’s Day 2018, the Commission has released a report on gender equality that highlights where we need to do more to ensure that we achieve real change when it comes to ensuring equality between men and women. Notably the report shows that while European women are better educated than men, they remain largely under-represented in decision-making positions in companies and still earn 16 % less than men on average across the EU. The Juncker Commission has made tangible efforts to address gender equality, including a proposal to improve the work-life balance of working families, an Action plan to tackle the gender pay gap, as well as calling to end violence against women through funding and awareness-raising actions, but we need to do more. First Vice-President Timmermans said today: “The issue of gender equality is high on the agenda, but progress is still slow on the ground. To achieve real change for women we need to turn awareness and intentions into action. That means adopting the new legislation the Commission has proposed on work-life balance, joining the Istanbul Convention and implementing the policies we have already agreed on to tackle the gender pay gap and fight violence against women.” Commissioner Jourová added: “Gender equality is not just about women. It is about our society, our economy and our demography. We want to guarantee that women are truly equal to men in front of the law. We will also continue work to empower women, so they can make their own choices when it comes to their careers and their families.” An additional study on women in the digital age published today shows that more women in digital jobs could create an annual €16 billion GDP boost in the EU. However, only 24.9% of women in higher education graduate in tech-related fields. To increase the participation of women in the digital sector, Commissioner Gabriel outlined today an initiative to increase women’s participation in the digital sector and said: “Women and girls cannot be left out of the digital transformation of our economy and our society. Our ‘Women in digital agenda’ will be about enabling, empowering, encouraging and motivating women and girls to close the gender digital divide.” The conclusions of the annual Fundamental Rights colloquium dedicated to ‘women in turbulent times’ are available online. See here for the statement published ahead of International Women’s Day 2018.
Sustainable finance: Commission’s Action Plan for a greener and cleaner economy
The European Commission today unveiled its strategy for a financial system that supports the EU’s climate and sustainable development agenda. As our planet increasingly faces the unpredictable consequences of climate change and resource depletion, urgent action is needed to adapt to a more sustainable model. Around €180 billion of additional investments a year are needed to achieve the EU’s 2030 targets agreed in Paris, including a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions. This is why, on the basis of the recommendations set out by the High-Level Expert Group on sustainable finance (HLEG), the Commission today set out a roadmap to boost the role of finance in achieving a well-performing economy that delivers on environmental and social goals as well. Today’s Action Plan on sustainable finance is part of the Capital Markets Union’s (CMU) efforts to connect finance with the specific needs of the European economy to the benefit of the planet and our society. It is also one of the key steps towards implementing the historic Paris Agreement and the EU’s agenda for sustainable development. You can find the full press release, MEMO and factsheet online.
March infringements package: key decisions
In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission (‘Commission’) is pursuing legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law. These decisions, covering various sectors and EU policy areas, aim to ensure the proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.
The key decisions taken by the Commission are presented below and grouped by policy area. The Commission is also closing 161 cases in which the issues with the Member States concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further. For more detail on all decisions taken, consult the infringement decisions’ register. View also the Press Release and Memo
FinTech: Commission takes action for a more competitive and innovative financial market
The European Commission today unveiled an Action Plan on how to harness the opportunities presented by technology-enabled innovation in financial services (FinTech). Europe should become a global hub for FinTech, with EU businesses and investors able to make most of the advantages offered by the Single Market in this fast-moving sector. As a first major deliverable, the Commission also put forward new rules that will help crowdfunding platforms to grow across the EU’s single market. Today’s Action Plan envisages to enable the financial sector to make use of the rapid advances in new technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and cloud services. At the same time, it seeks to make markets safer and easier to access for new players. This will benefit consumers, investors, banks and new market players alike. In addition, the Commission proposed a pan-European label for platforms, so that a platform licensed in one country can operate across the EU. The Action Plan is part of the Commission’s efforts to build a Capital Markets Union (CMU) and a true single market for consumer financial services. It is also part of its drive to create a Digital Single Market. The Commission aims to make EU rules more future-oriented and aligned with the rapid advance of technological development. You can find the full press release, a MEMO on Fintech and one on crowdfunding as well as a factsheet online
Western Mediterranean: a management plan to fortify the fishing sector of the region
Today the Commission has proposed a multi-annual plan for fish stocks in the western Mediterranean Sea. The proposal covers demersal fish stocks, i.e. fish that live and feed at the bottom of the seabed, and bring a significant income to the fisheries sector in the region. Catches for these stocks have significantly decreased by around 23% since the early 2000s. At this rate more than 90% of the stocks assessed would be overfished by 2025. Without the collective pooling of effort foreseen by this plan, around 1 500 vessels would be at financial risk by 2025. Today’s proposal aims to restore these stocks to levels that can ensure social and economic viability for the fishermen and the more than 16000 jobs that depend on it. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: “Today’s proposal for a multi-annual plan is a direct follow-up to the MedFish4Ever Declaration from 2017. It aims to reach a healthy level of fish stocks needed to prevent a loss of jobs and to sustain important economic sectors that depend on fisheries. It brings us one step closer to making Mediterranean fisheries more sustainable. We need to act, and we need to act with urgency. Only then can we secure our common objective to allow fisheries to sustain fishermen and the economy for years to come”. The Commission’s proposal is now submitted for discussion to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. A press release is available online.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of GKN by Melrose
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of GKN Plc by Melrose Industries PLC, both of the UK. GKN is a global engineering group and its activities are focused on automotive and aerospace industries, powder metallurgy systems, and wheels as well as structures for off-highway vehicles. Melrose acquires manufacturing businesses and provides management services with the view of profiting from their eventual sale. Currently, Melrose has two operating businesses: (i) Brush Electrical Machines that provides products and services for the energy sector; and (ii) Nortek Inc that manufactures air management products, heating and cooling systems, wireless security, home automation and personal safety systems. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies are not active in the same markets and there are no vertical links between their activities. 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.8814.
A Europe that Protects: Joint statement by the Commission and the Committee of the Regions at EU Mayors’ Conference on the security of public spaces
Today, at the EU Mayors’ Conference “Building Urban Defences Against Terrorism”, jointly organised by the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu and the President of Committee of the Regions Karl-Heinz Lambertz, issued a joint statement reaffirming the importance of improving the security of citizens across the EU through the protection of our public spaces and the prevention of radicalisation. “Considering the cross-border and transnational nature of terrorism, we stress the need for cooperation to fight this scourge at all levels of governance: local, regional, national and EU-wide. By uniting our efforts, we intend to do our utmost to protect our citizens in public spaces. We underline the value of the joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions as an important step further to promote cooperation against terrorism at local level. […] We therefore invite all representatives of cities from the European Union to join the common effort to address terrorism and radicalisation and make our cities safer for our citizens.” The full statement is available online. The press conference of Commissioners Avramopoulos and King, the Mayor of Mechelen, Mr Bart Somers on behalf of the European Committee of the Regions, and the Mayor of Nice, Mr Christian Estrosi can be followed on EbS. The opening and closing remarks by Commissioners Avramopoulos, King and Creţu will be available online together with additional information on the EU’s work to protect public spaces and the fight against radicalisation.