Future of EU finances – Commissioner Oettinger visits Portugal and Austria
Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger, in charge of Budget and Human Resources, is visiting Portugal and Austria on 9 and 11-12 February, respectively, as part of his tour across EU Member States (#MFFtour27) aimed at gathering views on the future of EU finances and the EU’s multiannual budget post-2020 (#EUbudget). In Portugal, the Commissioner will meet with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of Infrastructures, Mr Pedro Marques and Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ms Ana Paula Zacarias. Commissioner Oettinger will attend the Conference with CES “What expectations for the future of EU finances?”. He will also meet Prime Minister António Costa and Minister of Finance, Mr Mário Centeno. In Austria, Commissioner Oettinger will meet Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Ms Karin Kneissl, Federal Minister within the Federal Chancellery for the EU, art, culture and media, Mr Gernot Blümel, Federal Minister of Finance, Mr Hartwig Löger, and Federal Minister for Sustainability, Agriculture and Tourism, Ms Elisabeth Köstinger. He is also meeting the President of the Parliament (Nationalrat), Mr Wolfgang Sobotka, and is participating in a discussion there. The Commission kicked off this debate on 28 June 2017 with the publication of its Reflection paper on the future of EU finances, available in all EU languages. Stakeholders’ views will be taken into account when preparing the next MFF, to be presented in May 2018. See a speech “A Budget Matching our Ambitions” given by Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger at the conference “Shaping our Future” on 8 January 2018.
Juncker Plan reaches €264.3 billion in mobilised investment, with 589,000 SMEs set to benefit from financing
The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) – the core element of the Investment Plan for Europe – is now expected to trigger €264.3 billion in investments, following the latest transactions to be approved by the European Investment Bank (EIB) Board of Directors. This represents around 84% of the original target: mobilising €315 billion of investment by summer 2018. The deals which will benefit from the EU budget guarantee now amount to €53.2 billion in financing and are located in all 28 Member States. So far, 366 infrastructure and innovation projects – representing financing of €40.4 billion – have been approved under the EFSI. In addition, 370 financing agreements – worth €12.8 billion – have been approved for smaller companies (SMEs). Thanks to these agreements, around 589,000 SMEs are expected to benefit from improved access to financing. As of February, the top five countries ranked in order of EFSI investment triggered, relative to GDP, are Greece, Estonia, Bulgaria, Portugal and Spain. More information available here
Emergency calls to 112: more accuracy of caller location
The EU celebrates on Sunday, 11 February the day of the Single European Emergency Number 112. Calling 112 is free of charge in all EU Member States thanks to EU legislation that was introduced in 1991. As announced last year, emergency calls to 112 are increasingly more effective with the introduction of Advanced Mobile Location (AML) service. Every year, about 300,000 people who call the emergency services cannot describe their location, because they may not know where they are, or are too young or too injured to communicate. In these situations, knowing the exact location of the caller can help emergency services to react quickly and save lives. Calls from mobile phones in countries supporting the Advanced Mobile Location service are expected to send a significantly more accurate caller location information to the emergency service. This accuracy of Advanced Mobile Location that traces the call within a perimeter of less than 100 meters can help to improve the efficiency and response time of the emergency centres. Seven countries have introduced this service: Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania and United Kingdom now deploy the Advanced Mobile Location. More information on the uptake of Advanced Mobile Location service is available here and in the latest 112 implementation report.
Driving battery production in the EU: 2nd meeting between the Commission and Member States on the European Battery Alliance
On Monday 12 February, the European Commission will host the second high-level meeting on the European Battery Alliance. Political representatives of interested Member States and the European Investment Bank will participate. The meeting builds on the announcements made during the first meeting in October when representatives of EU industry and the Member States agreed to work together to create a full value chain of batteries in Europe. The meeting aims to flesh out Member States’ political commitment to the establishment of large-scale battery cells production capabilities in Europe, to discuss present activities, including emerging industry-led cross-border projects, and to pool and blend support instruments at the national as well as European level. Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič who will host the meeting said: “The estimated potential of this market in Europe is enormous – as of 2025, could reach €250 billion annually, as our battery cell demand is expected to amount to 200 GWh, and 600 GWh globally. The scale and speed required means that no single actor can do it on its own. The European Battery Alliance is providing an umbrella for these prospective partnerships throughout the value chain.” Batteries represent a key enabler in the context of the Energy Union. Their development and production play a strategic role in the ongoingmodernisation of European industry and economy. A press point with Vice President Šefčovič on the outcome of the meeting will take place in the Berlaymont VIP corner at 16:00 CET, and Europe by Satellite will transmit it live.
European cooperation on supercomputers accelerating: Cyprus 15th country to join
The European effort to build and deploy the next generation of supercomputers accessible everywhere in Europe and capable of at least 1018 calculations per second is moving up a gear. Cyprus became earlier this week the 15th country to participate by signing the European declaration on high-performance computing (HPC). Supercomputers are at the core of major innovations in many areas such as personalised medicine, energy saving or smart urban planning. They also hold great potential for job creation and competitiveness of the European economy. With this signature, Cyprus announced its intention to join the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, once it will be adopted by the Council of the European Union. This Joint Undertaking is a legal and funding instrument aiming at pooling the European and national resources to build and deploy across Europe supercomputers that would rank among the world’s top three by 2022-2023. The EuroHPC declaration was originally launched in March 2017 during the Digital Day and signed by France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Since then another eight countries have joined: in addition to Cyprus also Belgium, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Greece, Croatiaand the Czech Republic. Other Member States and countries associated with the Horizon 2020 framework programme are encouraged to participate in the initiative. Read more about European supercomputing initiative here and in our recent press release, Q&A and factsheet.
Commission reports on progress under global commitments for sustainable urban development
Today at the World Urban Forum in Malaysia, the Commission takes stock of what was achieved under the three commitments put forward by the EU and its partners 15 months ago, at the UN Habitat III conference.Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “Much like the fight against climate change, the EU is ready to lead the way for clean, safe and prosperous cities around the globe. Europe and its partners are delivering fast on these three concrete commitments, which contribute to shaping the cities of tomorrow.” Significant progress has been achieved under the three commitments; city-to-city cooperation is now flourishing across continents, important steps have been taken towards a single definition of cities at global level and the EU is showing the world the way to sustainable urban development with the ongoing implementation of its Urban Agenda for the EU. The three commitments contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. A full press release is available here.
Commission proposes €2.1 million euro from Globalisation Adjustment Fund for former Goodyear workers in Germany
The European Commission has proposed a €2.1 million contribution from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 646 workers in Germany previously employed at the tyre manufacturer Goodyear find new jobs. Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: “EU solidarity is key in tackling the challenge of finding new jobs for many people with the same skills who are being made redundant at the same time, in the same geographical area. The proposed support from the EU’s Globalisation Adjustment Fund will help these workers to adapt their skills and facilitate their transition to new jobs or help them set up their own enterprises”. Germany applied for support from the Globalisation Adjustment Fund following the dismissal of 646 workers at Goodyear, following the complete shutdown of Goodyear’s production plant in Philippsburg in Baden-Württemberg. The measures co-financed by the Globalisation Adjustment Fund will help the concerned workers by providing them with job search support, peer groups and workshops, measures to increase their skills, advisory services towards business start-ups, mentoring after reintegration into employment, and training allowances. The total estimated cost of the package is €3.6 million, of which the Globalisation Adjustment Fund would provide €2.1 million. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for approval.
EU co-chairs Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq and renews commitment to Iraqi people and government
The European Union will co-chair the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, in Kuwait from 12 to 14 February 2018. The three-day event aims to mobilise additional international support for Iraq at this crucial time in the history of the country, following the territorial defeat of Da’esh in 2017. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “Iraq is at a crossroads in its history – it is now crucial to act quickly and rebuild the country with the participation of all the components of Iraqi society. The EU will remain a key partner to Iraq and the Iraqi people in reconstruction, stabilisation and longer term sustainable development”. In response to the latest crisis the EU has delivered over €650 million in humanitarian, stabilisation, security and development assistance, as well as in supporting the political reform agenda. On Wednesday 14 February, High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will co-chair the high level segment of the Conference, along with the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al–Jaber Al-Sabah, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, UN Secretary General António Guterres and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. She will also participate at the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition against Da’esh on Thursday 13 February. On Monday 12 February, Commissioner Stylianides will chair a session focussing on the important remaining humanitarian and protection priorities in Iraq and on the essential links towards early recovery and mid-longer term assistance. Commissioner Mimica will chair a specific session on the governance and accountability aspects of reconstruction. More information and audio-visual coverage will be available on EbS. A factsheet on overall EU support to Iraq can be found here and on EU actions to counter Da’esh here.
Commissioner Avramopoulos in Albania
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will be in Tirana, Albania on Sunday and Monday (11 – 12 February) where he will meet with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati and Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj. Discussions will focus on cooperation on migration, security and border management. A meeting with Archbishop Anastasios is scheduled to take place on Sunday evening. A joint press point with Minister of Interior Xhafaj will take place on Monday around 09:30 CET and will be available on EBS.