Brussels Daily
17 Oct 2014


Brussels Daily

EU strikes a comprehensive trade deal with East African Community

Negotiators from the EU and the East African Community (EAC) finalised today a new comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between both regions. The agreement will provide legal certainty for businesses and open a long-term perspective for free and unlimited access to the EU market for products from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. “The East African Community region stands out for its dynamism, and ambition to develop as an integrated region. The comprehensive partnership agreement we have just reached is the best way in which we can support EAC’s aspirations”, said EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht. “We have concluded two other development-oriented partnerships with African regions this year. It’s a source of my personal satisfaction also to see East Africa benefiting from the opportunities that Europe wants to offer. I hope that these EPAs will be signed and implemented soon.”

EU and Singapore conclude investment talks

The European Union (EU) and Singapore have concluded the negotiations of the investment part of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA). This marks the successful conclusion of the negotiations of the entire EUSFTA, following the initialling of the other parts of the agreement in September 2013. ‘The conclusion of this chapter marks a very important step in our partnership with Singapore, strengthening our investment relations’, said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. ‘Now, we have a comprehensive agreement which is a gateway to this important region in Asia. It will help boost economic growth, investment and job creation in the EU. It will help opening the door for Europe to the ASEAN market with 600 million consumers.

Trafficking in human beings 2010-2014: eradicating the slave trade

The European Commission today presents a mid-term report of the 2012-2016 EU strategy, accompanied by the statistical report on victims and traffickers for the years 2010-2012. The Commission is also reporting on the use of the Directive on residence permits to non EU victims of human trafficking.

To mark the 8th EU Anti-trafficking day on 18 October 2014, the Commission is today taking stock of all coordinated efforts which have been made during the 2010-2014 European Commission mandate towards the goal of eradicating human trafficking. With the adoption of the EU Anti-trafficking Directive in 2011, courts all over Europe are now judging crimes relating to human trafficking as equally severe, with common prison sentences, and EU countries are obliged to provide proper support to victims. Also, in the EU 2012-2016 Strategy on Trafficking in human beings, the EU has set out 40 concrete and practical measures against trafficking in human beings, putting the protection and rights of the victims at the forefront.

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, said: “When I took office as Commissioner in charge of Home Affairs almost five years ago, one of my main priorities was to work towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings. Back then, eradicating trafficking was not high on the political agenda and there was a lax attitude towards the crime in many countries. Today, we can be proud over what has been achieved to prevent this slave trade of our time. We have moved from words to real action. We must continue our work tirelessly, in Europe and beyond our borders. We owe it to the women, men, girls and boys who, as we speak, are being kept against their will and exploited in appalling conditions. Every victim of human trafficking is a victim too many.”

Other news

President Barroso participates in 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit

Today, President Barroso is attending the second day of the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit . In a retreat session, which has started at 9.30am, leaders discuss in a more informal manner under the heading ‘Enhancing Dialogue and Cooperation between Europe and Asia and Future direction of ASEM’. This session includes non-traditional security challenges such as piracy and maritime security and transnational crime, as well as regional and international matters.

Following a short closing ceremony, a press conference will be held at the end of the meeting (appr. 13:00 CET, exact timing to be confirmed). President Barroso’s speaking notes will be made available afterwards. At the end of the summit a Chair’s Statement, including a list of ASEM initiatives and the ASEM work programme 2014-2016, will be issued as well.

European Commission adopts ‘Partnership Agreement’ with Austria on using EU Structural and Investment Funds for growth and jobs in 2014-2020

The European Commission has adopted a “Partnership Agreement” with Austria today, setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds throughout the country. Today’s agreement paves the way for investing €3.9 billion for rural development and €1.24 billion in total Cohesion Policy funding over 2014-2020 (including European Territorial Cooperation funding). Austria also receives €6.96 million from the Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy. See also: MEMO/13/331

EU Budget 2014: Commission adopts draft amending budgets 4 and 6

The Commission has adopted its draft amending budget 6 (DAB 6) for 2014 today. Though the overall GNI-based own resource does not increase, DAB6 proposes to amend Member State’s GNI contribution to the EU budget based on the latest data on the evolution of Member States’ wealth.

Also, yesterday the Commission proposed to modify the draft amending budget 4 to take into account EUR 374 million worth of fines, which have become definitive, and interests.

The net impact on national treasuries of all draft amending budgets tabled by the Commission this year is virtually nil as additional revenues from fines and interests amount to EUR 3.85 billion. For more details, see the full text of the draft amending budget 4 and 6 here.

First estimation of European aggregates based on ESA 2010: level of EU and euro area GDP shift upward, growth rates almost unaffected

For the first time today, Eurostat has released figures on GDP based on the ESA 2010 methodology. It covers changes in annual GDP levels and growth rates with a particular focus on 2010, the reference year for the detailed analysis of the revisions. A first ESA 2010 based estimation of annual and quarterly main European GDP aggregates and already available Member State data can be found in the Eurostat on-line database .

As a consequence of the changes, the average annual difference between the level of GDP in current prices under ESA 2010 and ESA 95 over the period 1997-2013 amounted to +3.4% in both the euro area2 (EA18) and the EU282. In the United States, the implementation of the 2008 SNA, the international methodological counterpart of ESA 2010, resulted in an upward revision of 3.6% in the level of GDP in 2012.

For more information, see our press material (STAT/14/157 and MEMO/14/594) and watch the technical briefing on EbS .

Social Inclusion and Financial Fair Play in focus for Vassiliou and EU Sports Ministers in Rome

On 20-21 October, Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will take part in the Informal Meeting of EU Sport Ministers in Rome, organised by the Italian Presidency of the EU. Key topics include sport and social inclusion, UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules and the need to promote better governance in sport. The Commissioner will underline the importance of sport in society and the role it plays in encouraging social inclusion, especially among immigrants and disadvantaged groups. Together with UEFA President Michel Platini, she will also take part in a discussion on the new Financial Fair Play rules, aimed at increasing transparency and competition in football. On 21 October the Commissioner will open the first meeting of representatives from national ‘focal points’ set up to encourage physical activity among all age groups. The Commission is joining forces with the World Health Organization (WHO) to set up the focal points’ network. Better cooperation to enhance health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) is one of the objectives of the first-ever EU Council Recommendation on sport. The new network will help implement the monitoring aspects of the Recommendation and improve the collection of national data on physical activity. To find out more, please visit Androulla Vassiliou’s website or the European Commission’s website on sport. Androulla Vassiliou’s website ; European Commission: Sport website .

Fees and grants for students widely differ across Europe

Levels of student tuition fees, grants and loans continue to highlight stark differences across Europe, according to a report published today by the European Commission’s Eurydice network. The report, covering 33 European countries, reveals that fee systems have remained relatively stable across the continent, despite some notable exceptions. Germany is the only country to recently abolish tuition fees, despite introducing them only in 2007.

August 2014 compared with July 2014: Production in construction up by 1.5% in euro area; up by 0.5% in EU28

In August 2014 compared with July 2014, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector grew by 1.5% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.5% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In July 2014, production in construction grew by 0.3% and 0.4% respectively. In August 2014 compared with August 2013, production in construction fell by 0.3% in the euro area and by 0.8% in the EU28.

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Shire by AbbVie in pharmaceutical sector

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Shire Inc. of Ireland by AbbVie Inc. of the US. AbbVie is a biopharmaceutical company active worldwide in the discovery, development, manufacture and sale of pharmaceutical products. Shire is also a pharmaceutical company active globally in the manufacturing and sales of pharmaceutical products used in rare disease, neuroscience, gastrointestinal diseases and internal medicine. AbbVie and Shire commercialise respectively Humira and Mezavant pharmaceutical products used in the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis (“UC”) and Crohn disease (“CD”). Humira is a biological product used in the treatment of patients presenting severe symptoms of UC and CD. Mezavant is most commonly used to maintain remission in UC, even though the product is also prescribed for the treatment of CD. The Commission found that the products have different therapeutic indications and mechanism of action, present very different prices and are distributed to the patients through different channels. The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns since Mezavant and Humira do not compete with each other. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission’s public case register under the case number M.7339 .

EU increases development support to Nepal and Bhutan

European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, has announced that the EU development programmes for Nepal and Bhutan will triple in the 2014-2020 period in comparison with the allocation from the previous years. The announcement was made as the Commissioner begins a visit to both countries and it shows that the EU has taken note of the efforts both countries have made to fight poverty and implement constitutional reforms.  In the course of his visit, Commissioner Piebalgs will meet several authorities and discuss with them the priorities for our cooperation in the coming years. He will also visit EU-funded projects on the ground and meet the beneficiaries of EU support.

EU-Japan trade talks take place next week

The 7th round of EU and Japan free trade negotiations starts on Monday (20/10) in Brussels. The discussions this week will cover market access for goods, non-tariff measures, trade in services, investment, public procurement and protection of intellectual property including geographical indications.

A photo opportunity will take place on Monday, at 2.30 CET, at MCE Conference Centre, rue l’Aqueduc 118, 1050 BRUSSELS with participation of Chief negotiators, Mr Mauro Petriccione, Deputy Director-General for DG Trade of the European Commission, and Mr Yasumasa Nagamine, Vice-Minister of the Japanese Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

EU-China Joint Committee takes place on Saturday, 18 October, in Brussels

The 28th EU – China Joint Committee will be held on Saturday 18 October in Brussels. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng will chair the annual event. The Joint Committee is a regular event on the EU – China trade meetings’ calendar. The meeting will focus on a number of issues on the bilateral trade agenda with a focus on investment and how an ambitious EU-China investment agreement would underpin the internal reforms announced by China. On the multilateral agenda the two sides will discuss the lack of progress on implementing last year’s Bali agreement and in particular the deal on trade facilitation. Both sides will discuss possibilities of a constructive solution to this issue, which would allow the World Trade Organisation to move forward on the preparation of the post-Bali work programme. In addition other issues on the agenda could include the ongoing plurilateral discussions such as the Information Technology Agreement, green goods and the Trade in Services Agreement.

EU & Japan researchers join forces to deliver the 1 Gigabit Olympics

The European Commission and Japan are announcing today four research projects developing new technologies for high-speed networks in highly-dense user areas. Joint investments amount to €12 million and more than 40 partners are involved. Researchers will notably deliver more than 1 Gigabit bandwidth for each member of the crowd at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, right in time for the 2020 Olympics.

What Commissioners said

Opening remarks by President Barroso at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

Yesterday, on Thursday 16 October, President Barroso said at the opening of the 10th ASEM in Milan:” Europe and Asia were closely linked in the past and I’m sure they will remain so in the future. Much in our respective civilisations can be attributed to ancient economic, political and cultural interactions.

So, our inter-dependence is not new. Now, however, the speed of inter-action is different. We have moved from slow-motion to top gear. We are living through a period of accelerated transformation.

And, one of the most impressive transformations of this period is the remarkable economic and political rise of Asia. To this Europe has responded by intensifying our relations with the whole continent.

The ASEM process embodies this commitment and is the proof that we matter to each other.”

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – statement by Commissioner László Andor

Today, on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I would like to express my solidarity with all those around the world that are exposed to poverty and social exclusion. In the EU an estimated 124 million people are currently at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This is another clear indication why the EU must find new ways to resolve the eurozone crisis on a sustainable basis. In 2010, as part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU’s Member States committed themselves to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. However, Europe has moved away from this target, with seven and a half million more people living in poverty or social exclusion across Europe since the adoption of the strategy. Worryingly, it is the living conditions of children and young people that have deteriorated the most, which puts their future in jeopardy and risks perpetuating a cycle of poverty between generations. This is unacceptable in European societies, and demands vigorous action to better ensure decent living standards for everyone in the EU.


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