New measures to boost key and digital competences, as well as the European dimension of education
Only two months after the Gothenburg Summit on 17 November 2017, the European Commission has today adopted new initiatives to improve key and digital competences of European citizens and to promote common values and pupils’ awareness of the functioning of the European Union. They are intended to reduce socio-economic inequalities, whilst sustaining competitiveness in order to build a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the Commission for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Today’s initiatives aim at empowering individuals so that they can make the most of their lives and so that we can build fair, resilient economies and societies. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “Europe’s education and training systems need to give people from all backgrounds the right competences to progress and prosper professionally, but also enable them to be engaged citizens. We need to harness the potential of education to foster social cohesion and a sense of belonging.” Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for The Digital Economy and Society, added: “The digital skills gap is real. While 90% of future jobs require some level of digital literacy, 44% of Europeans lack basic digital skills. The Digital Education Action Plan we propose today will help Europeans, educational institutions and education systems to better adapt to life and work in increasingly digital societies.” The new proposals will also feed into the first European Education Summit which Commissioner Navracsics will host in Brussels on 25 January. A full press release, memo and factsheets are available online.
From waste to energy: the Juncker Plan and Cohesion Policy fund innovative energy sources in Lithuania
The Commission adopted two funding decisions to support the construction of a combined heat and power plant in Vilnius designed to produce electricity and heat out of biomass and municipal waste. The plant will help diversify the Lithuanian capital’s energy sources and support the transition towards a circular economy in the region. Over €139 million from the Cohesion Fund is now invested in the plant, in addition to a €190 million European Investment Bank (EIB) loan backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe, signed in December 2016. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said: “In Lithuania, the EFSI and Cohesion Policy funds are joining forces to support the circular economy; an innovative financing solution for equally innovative projects, turning waste to energy.” Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Crețu added: “This additional support from the EU won’t simply give the inhabitants of Vilnius a cleaner, greener environment to live in; they will also inspire new business ideas as the circular economy sector is abundant with opportunities for growth and innovation.” The Cohesion Fund grants are split into€90.8 million to build the biomass unit and €48.5 million for the municipal waste-to-energy facility. These projects, which should be completed in the course of 2019, will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by the waste sector in the country by roughly 10% as well as waste landfilling in the region. In line with the EU waste hierarchy, when waste cannot be recycled, recovering the energy embedded in it and injecting it back in the economy is the next best environmental and economic option while avoiding landfilling. Investments in treatment facilities for residual waste should nevertheless be granted in limited and well justified cases, where there is no risk of overcapacity and the objectives of the waste hierarchy are fully respected.
EUROSTAT: December 2017 – Annual inflation down to 1.4% in the euro area – Down to 1.7% in the EU
Euro area annual inflation was 1.4% in December 2017, down from 1.5% in November. In December 2016, the rate was 1.1%. European Union annual inflation was 1.7% in December 2017, down from 1.8% in November. A year earlier the rate was 1.2%. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
Full text available here
Celebrating Europe’s up-and-coming artists with the European Border Breakers Awards
This evening, ten emerging European artists will receive a European Border Breakers Award (EBBA) during a ceremony at the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival in Groningen, The Netherlands. Every year since 2004, these awards for popular and contemporary music, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme, recognise Europe’s best up-and-coming artists who have been successful outside their own countries with their first international release. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “Music is more than an industry or a creative sector – it is a language which speaks to millions across borders, irrespective of nationality or background. Music can help to tear down barriers and build bridges. That is why we must make the voices of our artists heard in Europe. My warmest congratulations to all this year’s winners!” This year’s winners represent a range of musical genres, from folk-influenced rock to electronic pop and dance music. Previous winners of the award include some of Europe’s best-known artists: Adele, Stromae and Dua Lipa to name just a few. The EBBA winners – announced in their respective home countries late last year – are selected on the basis of a combination of airplay, sales, live performances in Europe, and position in the European Border Breakers Charts. The Public Choice Award, to be presented tonight by a representative of the European Commission, also gave the public the chance to have its say via an online competition. Tonight’s ceremony will once again be hosted by TV personality and musician Jools Holland and will be broadcast via various TV and radio stations across Europe.
EUROSTAT: November 2017 compared with October 2017 – Production in construction up by 0.5% in euro area – Up by 0.6% in EU28
In November 2017 compared with October 2017, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector increased by 0.5% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.6% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In October 2017, production in construction fell by 0.3% in the euro area andby 0.5% in the EU28. Full text available here
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of European Bridge Travel by CEFC and Rockaway Capital
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over European Bridge Travel a.s. by CEFC Group (Europe) Company a.s. (“CEFC Europe”) and Rockaway Capital SE, all of the Czech Republic. European Bridge Travel is a holding company which provides tourism-related services via its subsidiaries, in particular the sale of package holidays operated by third parties, the on-line sale of air tickets and the brokerage of travel insurance. CEFC Europe belongs to CEFC China Energy Company Limited, a private company specialising in energy services and financial services. Within the EU, CEFC China Energy Company Limited is active on metals and engineering markets as well as in brewing, real estate rental and football club management, and is currently branching into financial and banking services. Rockaway Capital invests in existing companies and start-ups in the field of internet services, including e-commerce. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of its very limited impact on the market structure. 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.8759.
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides visits Austria and Germany to present rescEU, the EU’s plan to strengthen its emergency response
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides is travelling to Vienna today to meet with Ms Karoline Edtstadler, State Secretary and Mr Peter Goldgruber, Secretary General of the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, and representatives of the Austrian National and Federal Council. He will then travel to Berlin to discuss with German Minister of the Interior, Mr Thomas de Maizière. During his visit, the Commissioner will also meet with State Ministers of the Interior of the German Länder Hessen and Brandenburg, Mr Peter Beuth and Mr Karl-Heinz Schröter, respectively. The meetings are part of a series of discussions with Member States on the Commission’s new plans to strengthen the EU disaster management through rescEU. The proposal creates a reserve at EU level to be used when national capacities are overwhelmed, without replacing Member State capacities.
Commissioner Creţu to discuss future of EU finances in Slovakia
Tomorrow, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu will meet the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, in Bratislava. The discussions will focus on the next EU financial period and the future Cohesion Policy after 2020. Commissioner Creţu said ahead of her visit: “In Slovakia, EU funds account for over half of all public investments, therefore the added value of Cohesion Policy is well known. We are now entering a crucial phase in our discussion on the future of EU finances. As I often say, it’s not only about what budget we want; it’s especially about what Europe we want.” More information on EU funds in Slovakia is available on the Open Data Platform.
Commissioner Crețu visits Serbia
Tomorrow evening and Friday, Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Crețu will be in Belgrade, Serbia. She will meet with Mr Aleksandar Vučić, the President of Serbia, Ms Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister of Serbia and Ms Jadranka Joksimović, Minister of European Integration. “Serbia is already a very valuable and active partner in cooperation, especially in the context of the Danube and the Adriatic and Ionian macro-regional strategies,”said Commissioner Crețu ahead of her visit, “We support the European Union path Serbia has chosen.”
Commissioner Andriukaitis presents the European Reference Networks in Berlin
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, is on official visit to Berlin on 18-20 January. On Wednesday he will visitCharité Hospital where he will meet Mr Lutz Stroppe, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health, and will hold a Question and Answers session on European Reference Networks(ERNs) which are virtual networks involving healthcare providers across Europe. “I will be delighted to visit Charité Hospital in Berlin and to learn more about the activities and progress in Germany in the work of the European Reference Networks. This has been an important initiative I launched in March 2017 and I am very attentive to the course it takes. The European Reference Networks are an innovative example of structured and voluntary collaboration in the field of healthcare among all EU Member States and Norway, bringing a real added value to the patients across the EU” said Commissioner Andriukaitis before the visit.