EU institutions welcome the end of roaming charges in the EU
As of tomorrow, 15 June 2017, roaming charges in the EU will no longer apply. On this occasion, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani and Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union stated: “The European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier. The end of roaming charges is a true European success story. From now on, citizens who travel within the EU will be able to call, text and connect on their mobile devices at the same price as they pay at home. Eliminating roaming charges is one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU. Over the last 10 years, our institutions have been working hard together to fix this market failure. Each time a European citizen crossed an EU border, be it for holidays, work, studies or just for a day, they had to worry about using their mobile phones and a high phone bill from the roaming charges when they came home. Roaming charges will now be a thing of the past. As of tomorrow, you will be able to remain connected while travelling in the EU, for the same price as at home.” The full statement by the three EU institutions is available here. An overview of the new roaming rules is available on the roaming website. Details on how roam like at home works in practice are available in all official EU languages in the frequently asked questions, general factsheet, detailed factsheet as well as a recent MEMO.
June 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 101 cases in which the issues with the Member States concerned have been solved without the Commission needing to pursue the procedure further. More information here
Juncker Plan backs loan to support environmentally-sustainable projects in Poland
The Juncker Plan has backed a European Investment Bank loan agreement with Bank Ochrony Środowiska, a bank specialising in supporting environmentally-friendly projects, which will unlock EUR 75 million for small and medium-sized businesses in Poland. Some 40% of this amount is expected to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and waste management projects. This agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI is the central pillar of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said: “The European Fund for Strategic Investments is playing an important role in facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized businesses across Europe. Over 16,000 Polish businesses are already set to access EFSI-backed loans which will allow them to grow, innovate and hire new employees. Today’s agreement is especially encouraging, given that it supports projects which will contribute to creating a greener, more sustainable future.” The Juncker Plan is now expected to trigger over EUR 6.4 billion in investments in Poland and EUR 194 billion across Europe. For the latest figures country-by-country, see here. A full press release is available here.
Energy Union: the EU Cohesion Policy invests to improve energy security in Poland
€112.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund will be invested in the construction of a 167 km-long natural gas pipeline between the cities of Lwówek and Odolanów, in the Polish region of Wielkopolska. The EU-funded project also includes the construction of interconnections in Krobia, Kotowo, Lwówek and Odolanów, and of supporting infrastructure. Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu said: “This project directly contributes to the implementation of the Energy Union, by improving Poland’s energy security. It will also help provide households and businesses with additional and affordable gas sources and as such boost economic competitiveness in the country and the neighbouring regions.” The Lwówek – Odolanów pipeline will connect the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in the city of Świnoujście, in North-West Poland, to the existing gas transmission, storage and distribution infrastructure. It was defined as a project of common interest (PCI) and has the potential to export gas to Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. As such, it is an important part of the North-South gas interconnections in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe. In the 2014-2020 period, €69 billion under the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds are supporting the EU’s Energy Union targets. More information on the contribution of the ESI Funds to the Energy Union is available here.
EU boosts cooperation with key international partners to support its foreign policy objectives
The European Commission has adopted the Annual Action Programme 2017 (AAP 2017) of the Partnership Instrument, approving 19 new projects totalling more than €87 million. These projects will increase the impact of the European Union and help to achieve our objectives across a number of policy areas. A particular focus of this year’s Action Programme is climate action, clean energy, biodiversity and green diplomacy. The European Union has recently reiterated its full commitment to implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate action, and therefore to the promotion of secure, affordable, climate-friendly and sustainable energy sources. As a global leader in this field, the European Union will implement projects with partners in Asia and Latin America to enhance environmental resilience, to increase energy efficiency, and to assist the transition towards low carbon economies. Other priority areas of EU foreign policy, such as migration management and trade, are also reflected in the AAP 2017, in particular through supporting dialogue and cooperation on migration and mobility with India, and engaging with civil society in trade policy-making processes. Funding under the Partnership Instrument will also go towards fighting inequality, promoting responsible business and championing decent work opportunities in Latin America, notably for women and young people, as well as actions to support the European Union’s own public and cultural diplomacy. A full press release is available online.
Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigations into Nike’s, Sanrio’s and Universal Studios’ licensing and distribution practices
The European Commission has launched three separate antitrust investigations into whether certain licensing and distribution practices of Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios illegally restrict traders from selling licensed merchandise cross-border and online within the EU Single Market. The Commission will investigate whether the three companies, in their role as licensors of rights for merchandising products, may have breached EU competition rules by restricting their licensees’ ability to sell licensed merchandise cross-border and online. These practices may ultimately harm consumers by preventing them from benefiting from greater choice and lower prices, both online and offline. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “The Commission is investigating whether Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios are restricting cross border and online sales of merchandising products. We are going to examine whether the licensing and distribution practices of these three companies may be denying consumers access to wider choice and better deals in the Single Market”. The full press release is available online in here
Eurostat: First quarter of 2017 compared with the fourth quarter of 2016 – Employment up by 0.4% in both the euro area and in the EU28 – +1.5% and +1.4% respectively compared with the first quarter of 2016
The number of persons employed increased by 0.4% in both the euro area (EA19) and in the EU28 in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2016, employment increased also by 0.4% in both areas. Commenting on the figures, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: “Employment has never been as high as now in both the EU and the euro area. Job creation has been the top priority of this Commission and our efforts are paying off: Since the Juncker Commission took up office in 2014, about 6.9 million jobs have been created. But we can’t stop here, as too many people are still excluded from the labour market. We need to act jointly so all Member States could enjoy the same progress. This is why the European Pillar of Social Rights is so important: its aim is to help Member States grow more closely together, towards better working and social conditions for all.” A Eurostat press release is available here.
High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioner Vella co-host a high-level event on EU Arctic Policy in Oulu (Finland), 15-16 June
On 15-16 June, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini will co-host, together with the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Timo Soini, a high-level event on the European Union’s Arctic Policy in Oulu, Finland. The conference, featuring speakers from both EU and non-EU countries, will look at innovative approaches to addressing the challenges confronting the Arctic. Commissioner Vella said: “The European Union has a deep understanding that environmental and climate protection brings not just green benefits, but geopolitical stability. On the Arctic, just as on the Paris Agreement I can assure you that the EU is solid. That is something that will not melt under any political heat.” High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will speak to the press alongside the Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä at 16:30 and Commissioner Vella and Minister Soini will hold a press conference at 18.30, both at the Oulu Music Hall and available on EbS. In the morning of the 16 June, there will be the high-level Arctic Stakeholder Forum and in the afternoon the annual Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ Dialogue. The full programme of the Conference is available here. Live streaming of the conference is available online, and for the ‘1st panel session: The Arctic is local and global – increasing expectations’ and for the ‘2nd panel session: The Arctic – a Northern light for innovation’, both on 15th June, on EbS. For more information on the EU’s Arctic policy, visit the website.
Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Thyssen attend Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Council
Tomorrow, 15 June, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will attend the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Council (EPSCO). First, Ministers will hold a policy debate on the 2017 European Semester, and adopt Council conclusions on strategies for making work pay following the informal meeting of EU Social Affairs and Employment Ministers on 3 April, and the Court of Auditor’s special report on youth unemployment. Ministers are also expected to adopt a general approach on the Commission’s second proposal to better protect workers from cancer-causing chemicals under the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. Several progress reports will also be discussed, including on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive as well as the proposed revision of the coordination of social security systems, on equal treatment, on women on company boards, and on the accessibility requirements for products and services as proposed under the Commission’s Accessibility Act. During lunchtime, Ministers will also hold a first informal debate on the European Pillar of Social Rights. A first press conference will take place at 12:45, with Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Thyssen and Minister for European Affairs and Equality of Malta, Helena Dalli. At the end of the Council meeting, a second press conference will take place, foreseen around 18:30, with Commissioner Thyssen, Maltese Minister for Education and Employment, Evarist Bartolo, and Maltese Minister for Family and Social Solidarity, Michael Falzon. Both press conferences can be followed here. More information as regards the Council agenda is available here.
NEWS IN FULL
DAILY NEWS 14 – 06 -2017-