08 Oct 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 08 OCTOBERBrussels Daily
In the Enlargement package adopted today, the European Commission has outlined the enlargement strategy 2014, assessed the progress made over the past year by the countries wishing to join the EU in the Western Balkans and by Turkey, and the challenges ahead.
Presenting the annual Enlargement Package, Commissioner Štefan Füle said: “Five years ago, we set out to strengthen the credibility and the transformative power of enlargement policy. We put a particular emphasis on three pillars: rule of law in 2012, economic governance in 2013 and this year, we’re setting out new ideas to support public administration reform, and strengthening of democratic institutions. Today, this approach is bearing fruit. The process is credible and is bringing concrete results through reforms that gradually transform the countries concerned, improving stability in our immediate neighbourhood. It also makes the countries better prepared for the EU entry and for the responsibilities of the membership”.
The press material will be available here .
The European Commission has found revised UK plans to subsidise the construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset to be in line with EU state aid rules. During the in-depth investigation (see IP/13/1277), the UK has agreed to significantly modify the terms of the project financing. As a result, the state aid provided will remain proportionate to the objective pursued, avoiding any undue distortions of competition in the Single Market. The modifications also reduce UK citizens’ financial contribution to the project.
Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia, in charge of competition policy, said: “After the Commission’s intervention, the UK measures in favour of Hinkley Point nuclear power station have been significantly modified, limiting any distortions of competition in the Single Market. These modifications will also achieve significant savings for UK taxpayers. On this basis and after a thorough investigation, the Commission can now conclude that the support is compatible with EU state aid rules.”
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will press EU leaders to live up to their budget commitments at a special summit on employment in Milan today (see MEMO/14/565). He will underline the importance of the EU’s €1 trillion budget to help fund practical and effective ways to combat unemployment, in particular youth unemployment, for example through the Youth Guarantee, to which all Member States have signed up. Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs László Andor, who will attend a meeting of EU labour ministers before the summit, will discuss ways to further accelerate and improve implementation of the Youth Guarantee . The summit is organised by the Italian Presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers and will be followed by a press conference, to be broadcast live on EbS .
The EU’s main fund to help Member States to tackle unemployment is the European Social Fund (ESF), worth over €10 billion every year. Member States are planning to spend over €40 billion from the ESF in the 2014-20 period on measures to support implementation of the Youth Guarantee (including access to employment, improving public employment services and education). The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), worth €6.4 billion in 2014-15, is available to top-up ESF money in Member States where regional youth unemployment rates exceed 25% (currently 20 countries), to help implement the Youth Guarantee.
Ahead of the high level conference on ‘The Europe 2020 poverty target: lessons learned and the way forward’ taking place in Brussels on 9 October, the Commission publishes a MEMO on poverty and inequalities, presenting the latest figures and trends. The MEMO also sets out the EU’s action in this field and outlines the EU funds that are available to support Member States’ efforts to tackle poverty and inequalities. László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, will give the opening and closing addresses at the conference.
Latest short-term agricultural outlook: record harvest and increased milk production expected
The Commission’s latest “short-term agricultural outlook” has just been published, looking at market prospects for the rest of 2014. The report indicates a record EU cereal harvest (317 million tonnes) this year, following on from a very good crop last year. In the dairy sector, two years of high prices both at EU and world level have resulted in strong increase in milk production, with deliveries in 2014 expected to reach a record of 146.4 million tonnes (+3.7%). The recent decline in dairy prices has been exacerbated by the Russian import ban imposed in August 2014, and the report indicates that much of the milk previously used to produce cheese destined to Russia will be channelled into SMP and butter. See http://europa.eu/!QG77Gp
The European Commission has today launched the pilot website of the European Bioeconomy Observatory, marking the latest evidence of progress towards making the European Bioeconomy Strategy a reality. The Observatory is the first attempt to gather and present in one place vital data about the development of the bioeconomy. It will be a critical resource for policy-makers, business people and other stakeholders designing the policies and investments at national and regional level. The pilot website is being launched at a major conference in Turin organised by the Italian Presidency of the EU, which aims to shift the focus from developing the concept of the bioeconomy to its practical delivery on the ground. An innovative bioeconomy is vital for the re-industrialisation of Europe and could produce 1.6 million new jobs by 2020 and 90.000 by 2030 in the maritime and bio-based chemical sectors alone. The European Bioeconomy Panel and the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research will release new reports at the conference, with the latest thinking on how to realise the potential of Europe’s bioeconomy.
The winners of the 2014 European Union Prize for Literature were announced today at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The award recognises the best new and emerging authors in Europe. This year’s winners are: Ben Blushi (Albania), Milen Ruskov (Bulgaria), Jan Němec (Czech Republic), Makis Tsitas (Greece), Oddný Eir (Iceland), Janis Jonevs (Latvia), Armin Öhri, (Liechtenstein), Pierre J. Mejlak (Malta), Ognjen Spahić (Montenegro), Marente de Moor (The Netherlands), Uglješa Šajtinac (Serbia), Birgül Oğuz (Turkey) and Evie Wyld (United Kingdom). The European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) is open to countries participating in Creative Europe, the EU funding programme for the cultural and creative sectors. Each year, national juries in a third of the countries -13 this time – nominate the winning authors. Authors’ biographies and synopsis of the winning books: MEMO/14/567 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Acvil by EQT Infrastructure and Inmomutua
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Acvil by EQT Infrastructure and Inmomutua. EQT Infrastructure is an investment fund based in Guernsey. Inmomutua is a Spanish company that operates and manages real estate assets. Acvil is a provider of car parking services in Spain and Andorra. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns as EQT Infrastructure and Inmomutua are not active in any markets in which Acvil is active. The operation 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.7380 .
The latest annual report on public access to documents, adopted today, shows that the European Commission dealt with more access to documents requests than ever before during 2013. There were 6,525 requests – a rise of 8.5% on the 6,014 document requests in 2012. This compares with just 450 requests when the current rules entered into force in 2001. The Commission handles around twice as many requests as the Council and European Parliament combined, and grants access in more than four out of five cases.
Justice and Home Affairs Council 9-10 October 2014 in Luxembourg
European Union Justice and Home Affairs ministers will meet in Luxembourg on 9-10 October 2014. The European Commission will be represented by Martine Reicherts, the EU’s Justice Commissioner and Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. The main agenda items for Home Affairs ministers includethe follow-up on the Conclusions on Foreign fighters of the European Council of 30 August 2014, the migratory situation in the Central Mediterranean and the task Force Mediterranean, and in the margins of the Council the signature of a mobility partnership between the EU and Jordan. The main agenda items for Justice ministers include the EU data protection reform and the right to be forgotten, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, the presumption of innocence Directive and the free circulation of public documents.
What Commissioners said
Commissioner Johannes Hahn highlights the role of Regional Policy in tackling climate change and energy security: 38 bn EUR of EU investments to support the low carbon economy in 2014-2020
Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy Johannes Hahn has underlined the key role Cohesion Policy will have over the next ten years in helping the European Union to meet its key goals from job creation, growth to sustainable development. Speaking on the second day of OPEN DAYS, European Week of Regions and Cities, he drew attention to the particular issue of energy dependancy which he said had become more pressing in the light of events in Ukraine.
He said: “I am particularly encouraged by the investments allocated to the low carbon economy. This is the only specific area where our reform has introduced minimum mandatory thresholds for Member States. On the basis of this alone the minimum allocation would have been some 23 billion EURO. However, energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources have become even more important in the current climate. As a result, we now have some 38 billion EURO allocated to supporting the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy…. It is almost double of what we have for the 2007-2013 period and with the contributions of national co-financing and private investment it is expected to rise even more”.
The full paper on the positive impact of Cohesion Policy on Climate and Energy Security, issued by the Directorate General for Regional Policy and Urban Development is available on Commissioner Hahn’s website under the following link .
“Italy and the EU Agency Frontex are making good progress in preparing the joint operation Triton, coordinated by Frontex. The main elements have now been agreed and Frontex has sent out a call for participation to EU Member States. So many desperate people are trying to cross the Mediterranean, fleeing conflict and war. The EU and its Member States need to respond and take action to save lives. With the launch of the Triton operation, tailored to the needs and requests defined by the Italian authorities, the EU can show concrete solidarity to Italy, by reinforcing its border surveillance and supporting its humanitarian efforts. I therefore hope that Member States will now heed Frontex’s call for equipment and guest officers, so that Triton can be up and running soon. The Mediterranean is a European sea and a European responsibility.” […]
Full Statement by Commissioner Malmström on operation Triton: STATEMENT/14/302
Frontex Joint Operation ‘Triton’ – Concerted efforts to manage migration in the Central Mediterranean: MEMO/14/566