Brussels Daily
10 Oct 2014


Brussels Daily

10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit

The 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit will take place in Milan, 16-17 October 2014. The Summit will be chaired by President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who will represent the European Union together with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. It will be hosted by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Government of Italy. The Summit will also bring together Heads of State and Government from 51 Asian and European partners and the ASEAN Secretary General.

President Barroso said: “The ASEM Summit is the moment when Europe and Asia get together. This 10th edition in Milan will be a key opportunity to further strengthen our ties. As two of the most important stakeholders of the global order we have a shared responsibility to shape a more prosperous, sustainable and fairer world. A lot can be achieved if we reinforce our economic and trade cooperation as well as promote our partnership on the environment, social issues, culture, education. At this Summit we must underscore the significance of connectivity between our continents to achieve our common goals. ASEM is more than an official meeting; it is an encounter of people, ideas and projects”.

Please also refer to MEMO/14/582 for additional information.

Commission adopts detailed prudential rules for banks and insurers to stimulate investment in the economy

The European Commission has today adopted delegated acts under the Solvency II Directive and the Capital Requirements Regulation which will help promote high quality securitisation, ensure that banks have sufficient liquid assets in testing circumstances and introduce international comparability to leverage ratios.

Today’s package is part of the ongoing calibration of the regulatory framework to ensure that it enables the financial sector to effectively support the real economy, without jeopardising financial stability. It is also part of the overall objective of the European Commission to boost jobs, growth and investment. As President-elect Juncker announced in his Political Guidelines of 15 July , he intends to mobilise up to € 300 billion in additional public and private investment in the real economy over the next three years by proposing an ambitious Jobs, Growth and Investment Package during the first three months of the mandate of the next European Commission. See also MEMO/14/578 , MEMO/14/579 and MEMO/14/580 .


Other news

President Barroso welcomes the Prime Minister Nguyen Tang Dung of Vietnam

This Monday, President Barroso welcomes the Prime Minister Nguyen Tang Dung of Vietnam for a working lunch at the European Commission. Leaders will discuss Vietnam’s domestic situation including human rights, economic recovery in the EU, state of play of the FTA negotiations, PCA including ratification process. Regional issues, in particular the Asia-Europe Summit, ASEAN, South China Sea/East Sea, Ukraine and Middle East.

After the working lunch, President Barroso and the PM of Vietnam will together witness the signing of the cover letter of the EU-Vietnam Multiannual Indicative programme for 2014-2020 by Cssr Piebalgs and the Vice-Minister for Planning and Investment, Mr Nguyen Chi Dung.

President Barroso visited Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City last August.

Economic reforms in EU increased in 2008-14 – BEPA survey

An independent survey for the European Commission has shown that economic reforms in the EU have picked up in pace and intensity over the last six years, with the most intense reform activity concentrated in countries implementing adjustment programmes. The report, by the Bureau of European Policy Advisors, found that particular progress was made on reforming budgetary rules, financial markets, the business environment, pension systems and EU-level economic governance. As an illustration, out of a total of 258 country-specific recommendations to Member States in 2011 and 2012, 78% were implemented, at least partially, in the space of a year.

Ahead of the survey’s launch, Commission President José Manuel Barroso said, “Today’s survey clearly shows an accelerated pace of economic reform since 2008, which is having a clear impact. We are seeing the first signs of improvement, but we cannot say we are out of the crisis until we have effectively tackled unemployment, particularly among our young people, where the threat of a lost generation stills casts a long shadow. I hope this report reassures citizens that changes and reforms, although painful at times, offer us all a more secure future. I hope this strengthens the resolve of political leaders to stick to their reformist path, for the good of their citizens and the future of Europe.”

Read the survey in full:

Commissioner Piebalgs to sign development programmes for Belize, Lesotho, Togo and Zambia

European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will sign today the National Indicative Programmes (NIP) for development cooperation with Belize, Lesotho, Togo and Zambia in the 2014-2020 period, which amount to €869 million. The signing ceremony with representatives of those countries will take place in the margins of the annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington. Commissioner Piebalgs said: “The programmes that we will sign are the fruit of close cooperation with the four partner countries and reflect their own policies, strategies, and needs as they have defined them. I am particularly pleased to see that energy and governance are key priorities for these countries, as clear drivers for sustainable development and growth. Our support will target EU resources where they are most needed and most effective.”

Code Week EU kicks off tomorrow!

European Code Week 2014 kicks off on 11 October with over 1500 events bringing the digital world to life across the EU and countries from Norway to Turkey.  Seven European education ministers have already incorporated compulsory coding into their school curricula, with another five countries offering it as an option in schools. This is particularly timely, as reports show Europe could soon have one million unfilled jobs because Europeans lack the digital skills to fill them. Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “Coding is the new literacy – a fundamental set of skills for girls and boys alike. It’s not a boring computer science lesson; it’s a way to make all subjects more interesting. So join an event near you and boost your understanding of the digital world.”


Choice of Court Convention: EU businesses receive a major boost for international trade

EU Justice Ministers today approved a decision ratifying the 2005 Choice of Court Agreements Convention . The Convention promotes trade by clarifying the rules governing international trade disputes, where the parties involved have chosen a competent court. “This is the external dimension of ‘Justice for Growth’: a great example of how justice policy serves to boost economic growth and job creation by creating the right conditions for European businesses to flourish in their trading with non-European partners,” said EU Justice Commissioner Martine Reicherts.

The European Commission assesses the situation of visa non-reciprocity with certain third countries

The European Commission adopted today a report assessing the situation of non-reciprocity with certain third countries in the area of visa policy. Visa non-reciprocity refers to instances where citizens of a non-EU country enjoy visa-free travel to the EU, yet this country requires EU citizens of certain Member States to obtain visas for travel to its territory. This is the first report since the entry into force of the revised visa reciprocity mechanism in January 2014. Not all third countries’ nationals must have a visa in order to travel to the Schengen area for a short stay. The EU has a common list of countries whose citizens must have a visa (“the negative list”) and of countries whose citizens are exempt from that requirement (“the positive list”). It is therefore logical that, in the spirit of solidarity, the EU also seeks that third countries on the “positive list” grant a visa waiver to citizens of all EU Member States. For this reason, a visa reciprocity mechanism has been set up. Read the Visa reciprocity report .

EU Solidarity Fund: Commission moves to help Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria after May’s major floods

EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, has today announced an aid package worth nearly €80 million proposed by the European Commission for Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria after flooding disasters struck the countries in May and June 2014. The proposed aid of €60.2m to Serbia, €8.96m to Croatia and €10.5m to Bulgaria is to help cover part of the emergency costs incurred by the public authorities in these three countries due to the disasters. In particular, it will help to restore vital infrastructure and services, reimburse the cost of emergency and rescue operations, and help cover some of the clean-up costs in the disaster-stricken regions. Serbia, which is currently in negotiations to join the EU – and therefore eligible for the Fund – suffered the worst of the damage.

President Barroso in Milan for the Asia-Europe Meeting and Business Forum

From Wednesday to Friday, President Barroso will travel to Milan to take part in a series of high level events.

On the 15 October, President Barroso will commence his ASEM encounters in Milan with a meeting and a dinner with the PM of China. The next morning, he will have an informal breakfast meeting with ASEAN leaders.

Afterwards, President Barroso will speak at the closing ceremony of the in the Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF), together with President Van Rompuy and the Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan and Italy. The AEBF is expected to attract around 300 high-level business representatives and CEOs from Europe and Asia. The overall theme of the AEBF will be “Enhancing business relations to foster economic integration between Europe and Asia”. The 2014 edition will take stock of the previous fora to ensure continuity of the process, while consolidating existing partnerships and addressing new paths of economic cooperation. The event will provide a unique opportunity for Asian and European business leaders to network and exchange views on economic and investment relations. This is the ideal platform to engage with political leaders from Europe and Asia on how to best meet today’s and tomorrows’ challenges.

In the afternoon, President Barroso takes part in the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit – which takes place on 16-17 October. The Summit will be chaired by President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who will represent the European Union together with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. It will be hosted by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Government of Italy. The Summit will also bring together Heads of State and Government from 51 Asian and European partners and the ASEAN Secretary General.

ASEM will be an excellent opportunity for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe, as ASEM partners represent approx. 60% of world population, GDP and trade.

The overarching theme of ASEM10, “Responsible Partnership for Sustainable Growth and Security” aims to capture the key objectives for this Summit:

ASEM partners need to be responsible in addressing current challenges, whether regional or global.

ASEM is about partnership between Europe and Asia.

Economic and trade cooperation is a vital part of sustainable growth in Europe and Asia.

Security is a prerequisite for further development and the issue has gradually taken increased importance on the agenda of the ASEM process.

The summit is expected to be followed by a press conference on Friday afternoon.

Preparation of Economic and Finance Ministers Council

On 14 October in Luxembourg, Vice-President Katainen, Vice President Barnier, Commissioner Šemeta and Commissioner Dominik will participate in the meeting of the EU’s Council of Economic and Finance Ministers. On the agenda are two important legislative proposals: first the Council will try to reach political agreement on a proposal extending the scope for the mandatory automatic exchange of information. It will also debate a proposal to restructure the taxation of energy products and electricity. It will be also updated on the progress made on the banks’ contribution to the resolution funds’ front. As to non-legislative activities, the Council will discuss measures in support of investment as well as research and innovation, as sources of renewed growth. It will be informed of the outcome of Meetings that are currently taking place in Washington, namely: G20 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ meeting and annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group. The Commission will also inform the Council on the situation of payments in the EU budget.

Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 13-14th October 2014

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of October 2014 will take place in Luxembourg on 13-14th October 2014. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki and Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolos. A press conference will be held at the end of the discussions on Monday late afternoon (for Agriculture) and Tuesday lunchtime (Fisheries). The public debates and the press conferences can be followed by video streaming: . Over an official lunch, Ministers will discuss issues related to the Climate and Energy 2030 policy framework ahead of the October 23/24 Summit.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Dutch cable TV operator Ziggo by Liberty Global, subject to conditions

Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Dutch cable TV operator Ziggo by Liberty Global. The approval is conditional upon the implementation of a commitments package. The Commission had concerns that the merger, as initially notified, would have hindered competition by removing two close competitors and important competitive forces in the Dutch market for the wholesale of premium Pay TV film channels, and by increasing Liberty Global’s buyer power vis-à-vis TV channel broadcasters, allowing it to hinder innovation in the delivery of audio visual content over the Internet (so-called over-the-top or “OTT” services). To address these concerns, Liberty Global offered to sell Film1, its premium Pay TV film channel. Liberty Global also committed to terminate clauses in channel carriage agreements that limit broadcasters’ ability to offer their channels and content over the Internet, and not to include such clauses in future channel carriage agreements for eight years. These commitments remove the Commission’s concerns.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Milford Haven refinery by Klesch Refining

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the Milford Haven Refinery and its ancillary assets (“Milford Haven”) of the UK by Klesch Refining Limited of the UK. Milford Haven refines crude oil into gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, jet fuel, LPG and propylene. Klesch belongs to the Klesch Group, that produces and trades chemicals, metals and oil. The Klesch Group owns and operates the Heide Refinery in Germany, which alsorefines crude oil into gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, jet fuel, LPG and propylene. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because the overlaps were very limited and the new entity would continue to face strong competition from a number of credible players. 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.7402 .


What Commissioners said

Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn tells EU Ministers in Milan that Cohesion Policy and Economic Governance must go hand in hand – backed by a sustainable budget

Addressing EU Ministers at the Informal Council Meeting on Cohesion Policy in Milan today, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, stated, “We have placed Cohesion Policy at the centre of the EU economic governance and European semester processes and the policy has become THE investment pillar of those processes. ” He added,”Investment in general and cohesion policy in particular, can only deploy their full impact under sound economic conditions. Investments in SMEs can only flourish if SMEs have access to credit. In a nutshell, cohesion policy and the EU economic governance process and the European Semester pursue the same objective: sustained and sustainable economic growth. This is why consistency and coordination between them is so crucial”. Referring to the Commission’s proposals to amend the budget in order to avoid systematic delays in payments to beneficiaries, the Commissioner appealed to the Ministers, “The Commission counts on your support and the support of the European Parliament to provide now the resources to fulfill our obligations. It is time for a sustainable EU budget, not for undermining EU action”.

Poverty: conclusions of the conference ‘The Europe 2020 poverty target: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward’

Speaking at the high-level conference on ‘The Europe 2020 poverty target: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward’, László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, urged Member States to improve their social welfare systems, set more ambitious targets to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion and ensure those targets can be reached. The conference took place in Brussels on 9 October, and gathered over 200 stakeholders from EU countries, including high-level policy makers, social partners, civil society, academics, social entrepreneurs and key actors in the EU institutions. See also MEMO/14/572 .

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