15 Dec 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 15 DECEMBERBrussels Daily
Eurostat: Labour costs highest in the financial and insurance sector
In 2012, average hourly labour costs in the whole economy (excluding agriculture and public administration) stood at €24.2 in the EU28 and €29.3 in the euro area (EA18). However, this average masks significant differences between EU Member States, ranging from €3.4 in Bulgaria to €40.1 in Denmark. Compared with 2008, hourly labour costs in euros in 2012 had increased by 10.9% in the EU28 (or +2.6% annually) and by 11.8% in the euro area (or +2.8% annually). In both the EU28 and the euro area, hourly labour costs in 2012 were lowest in the “accommodation and food service activities” sector (€14.4 in the EU28 and €16.9 in the euro area) and highest in the “financial and insurance activities” sector (€41.2 in the EU28, €48.5 in the euro area). Eurostat press release
Eurostat: EU28 real agricultural income per worker down by 1.7%
Compared with 2013, EU28 real agricultural income per worker has decreased by 1.7% in 2014 according to first estimates issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. These estimates are based on data supplied by the national authorities in the EU28 Member States. Between 2005 and 2014, EU28 real agricultural income per worker is estimated to have increased by 34.4%, while agricultural labour input fell by 24.6%. The decrease of real agricultural income per worker in 2014 is the result of a fall in real agricultural income (-4.0%), partly compensated by a reduction in agricultural labour input (-2.3%). The decrease in EU28 real agricultural income is mainly the result of a fall in the value of crop output (-6.0%) and animal output (-0.9%), combined with a decrease in real terms for input costs (-3.6%). Eurostat press release.
EU Investment Offensive: Vice-President Katainen kicks off investment roadshow
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, today launched a 28-country roadshow to promote the EU Investment Plan, worth more than €300 billion, and to explain the new opportunities open to governments, investors, businesses, as well as regional authorities, trade unions and communities. The roadshow kicks off today in Romania. Vice-President Katainen said: “Our message is very clear: we are working to a very tight timeline to get new investment flowing into cash-starved business ventures, start-up firms, into infrastructure investments like transport or broadband and new schools and hospitals. We are taking to the road to build on the strong political support we have already received and to explain to the public and private sector how they can get involved.” Vice-President Katainen will meet Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Finance Minister Ioanna-Maria Petrescu and EU Funds Minister Eugen Teodorovici. He will participate in a conference called “An investment boost to Europe” to promote the opportunity to around 100 potential investors and businesses and with the participation of the National Bank of Romania. He will also debate the EU’s drive towards jobs and growth with students and academics at Bucharest University of Economic Studies, with a particular focus on support for young people to get a decent job. He will conclude his time in Bucharest with a visit to the EU-funded project LuminaLed at Microelectronica, a research facility for research and the production of LED for car manufacturers. Read press release.
EU backs 328 top early-career researchers with €485 million
The European Research Council (ERC) has selected 328 excellent scientists to receive its prestigious Starting Grants, worth up to €2 million each. The awarded €485 million support a new generation of top researchersin Europe developing so-called “blue sky research”: ambitious high-risk, high-gain research in any field. The projects selected cover a wide range of topics including research on wearable electronic textiles, detection of bacteria by smell, and combatting cancer related inflammation. Grants are awarded to researchers of 38 nationalities, hosted in 180 institutions across Europe. Germany, the UK, France, the Netherlands are in the lead in terms of hosting grantees. Among the grantees, there are also 18 researchers coming to Europe to carry out their ERC funded projects with the grant, including 13 returning Europeans. See press release.
Antitrust: Commission announces launch of market tests in investigations in the online hotel booking sector by the French, Swedish and Italian competition authorities
The European Commission announces the launch of market tests in antitrust investigations by the French, Swedish and Italian competition authorities in the online hotel booking sector. The three national competition authorities have concerns that so-called “parity clauses” in contracts between online travel agent Booking.com and hotels may have anti-competitive effects, in breach of EU and national antitrust rules. Booking.com has proposed commitments to remedy these concerns, which – if the market tests confirm their adequacy – the national competition authorities can make legally binding on Booking.com. The Commission is coordinating the national investigations but has not opened its own investigation. Read press release here.
Joint statement on the police raids and arrests of media representatives in Turkey
On Sunday 14 December, Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, issued the following statement: “The police raids and arrests of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey today are incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy. We expect that the principle of presumption of innocence will prevail and recall the inalienable right for an independent and transparent investigation in case of any alleged wrongdoing, with full respect of the rights of the defendants. Coming only a few days after our visit to Turkey, together with Commissioner Stylianides, which has underlined the importance of EU-Turkey relations, this operation goes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of and which are the core of reinforced relations. We recall that any further step towards accession with any candidate country depends on the full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights. We will convey our concerns to the Council, which will on Tuesday discuss enlargement policy, including Turkey. We expect that the strong EU commitment given by our Turkish counterparts during our visit to be translated into deeds.”
Lima outcome keeps climate talks on track for Paris Agreement
On Sunday 14 December, the European Union welcomed the outcome of the United Nations climate conference in Lima as a step forward on the road to a global climate deal in Paris next year. The conference agreed on two deliverables, the Lima Call for Climate Action and the draft elements text for the 2015 Agreement. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy said: “The EU came to Lima to lay the ground for negotiations in Paris. Now, we are on the way to Paris. And although the EU wanted a more ambitious outcome from Lima, we believe that we are on track to agree a global deal in Paris next year. The EU has taken a constructive approach throughout the last two weeks and has shown itself willing to build bridges and compromise where possible. The EU particularly builds on its own experience of overcoming differences and finding common ground. Our ambitious 2030 climate and energy package is proof of this.” See press release
Signing ceremony between the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Ukrainian authorities for the loan for the modernisation of the Ukrainian gas transmission system
On 15 December the agreement will be signed by the Vice-President for Energy Union, Maros Šefčovič, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Klimkin and Riccardo Puliti, Managing Director, Energy & Natural Resources at the EBRD. The signing will take place at 11h30 CET in the European Commission’s Berlaymont building, room S/9.
Commissioner Malmström’s travels to Paris on Monday 15 December Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström is in Paris today. She gave a speech on trade policy at Université Paris-Dauphine, followed by a discussion with students. In addition, she is meeting with Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Matthias Fekl, representatives from civil society and others.