EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 18 DECEMBER

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EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS - 18 DECEMBER
18 Dec 2014

EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 18 DECEMBER

Brussels Daily

President Juncker appoints Dr Edmund Stoiber Special Adviser for Better Regulation; First Vice-President Timmermans announces reform of the Impact Assessment Board

Today, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, appointed Dr Edmund Stoiber as Special Adviser on Better Regulation. President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “EU citizens need the EU to focus where it can make a real difference to their lives, not to interfere in every detail; EU businesses need the space to innovate and grow, not get tied up in red tape. Edmund Stoiber has helped the Commission on this quest for seven years now, identifying unnecessary burdens on business, and helping the Commission improve the business environment. Considering his commitment, experience and expertise, he is the right man to advise us on fighting overregulation and red tape and give growth and jobs a real chance in Europe. This Commission is committed to being bigger and more ambitious on big things: and smaller and more modest on small things.” First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “I welcome Dr Stoiber as a Special Adviser and I am looking forward to working with him on reducing administrative burdens to boost jobs, growth and investments in the EU.” On the reform of the Impact Assessment Board First Vice-President Timmermans stated: “In addition, as part of the strengthening of the Commission’s approach to better regulation, the Commission will transform the Impact Assessment Board into a Regulatory Scrutiny Board, including two external members. All members will be independent, working full time exclusively for the Board and be transparently selected on the basis of their expertise. The mandate of the Board will be extended to include the review of major retrospective analyses.” Read the press release here.

OTHER NEWS

Intelligent Transport Systems: Commission improves dissemination of traffic information to EU road users

Today the European Commission has adopted new rules to upgrade the current traffic information services (Real-Time Traffic Information services), in order to improve the dissemination of traffic information to EU road users. This upgrade will help provide road users across the EU with more accurate, accessible and up-to-date traffic information for their journeys. Real-time traffic services provide information about expected delays, estimated travel times, information about accidents, road works and road closures, warnings about weather conditions and any other relevant information. Such information can be delivered to drivers through multiple channels: variable message signs, variable speed limits, radio traffic message channels, smartphones, navigation devices, etc. For more detailed information click here.

State aid: Commission turns state aid modernisation into action and calls for better cooperation with Member States to boost growth

The European Commission has for the first time approved state aid evaluation plans for two different aid schemes in the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. It will enable both countries to provide aid of more than €6 billion in total to spur investment and development. The aid schemes can now run until 2020 without requiring further Commission approval. This was made possible by the new General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER), which as part of the Commission’s State Aid Modernisation (SAM) Initiative, greatly extended the scope of aid exempted from prior notification to the Commission. Commissioner in charge of competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, said at the High Level State Aid Forum with Member States today, “Evaluating the impact of large state aid schemes will provide part of the groundwork for designing better state aid measures. We need to promote good aid, stamp out bad aid and ensure transparency of where the money goes and what its impact is.” See press release here.

Eurostat: Production in construction up by 1.3% in euro area

In October 2014 compared with September 2014, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector grew by 1.3% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.4% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In September 2014, production in construction fell by 1.0% and 0.3% respectively. In October 2014 compared with October 2013, production in construction grew by 1.4% in the euro area and by 1.5% in the EU28. Read Eurostat press release .

Eurostat: Euro area job vacancy stable at 1.6%

The job vacancy rate in the euro area (EA18) was 1.6% in the third quarter of 2014, stable compared to the previous quarter and up from 1.4% in the third quarter of 2013, according to figures published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The job vacancy rate in the EU28 was also 1.6% in the third quarter of 2014, stable compared to the previous quarter and up from 1.4% in the third quarter of 2013. Read Eurostat press release. 

STATEMENTS

Statement by Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva, following the adoption of the 2015 EU budget and amending budgets for 2014

“This was a very important decision taken by the Parliament, which provides the resources that are so needed in our economies, so we can fund the competitiveness of Europe, provide jobs to our people, and help families that are in need at home but also elsewhere. […]This is a budget of responsibility; it is a tight budget that reflects the tight fiscal conditions in our Member States. It is therefore also a very focused budget, focused on the priorities that we have established in the new Commission. It is directed towards investments in competitiveness, for instance supporting the innovative nature of our businesses. It is also a budget where tight controls on spending will allow us to achieve the best possible results.” Read statement.

Commission welcomes political agreement reached by European Parliament and Council on capping inter-bank fees for card-based payments

The European Commission welcomes the political agreement reached today by the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission proposal for a Regulation on Interchange Fees for Card-based Payment Transactions. The Regulation intends to introduce maximum fees for consumer debit and credit cards, makes it possible for retailers to accept only consumer cards, and establishes transparency rules for all transactions. Read statement.      Commissioner Vestager said: “This legislation is good for consumers, good for business, and good for Europe. It will lead to lower prices and visibility of costs for consumers. It reduces a ‘tax’ levied on business by banks in the form of interchange fees, and releases the brakes that have so far held back innovation.” Commissioner Hill said: “Thanks to the adoption of this Regulation, we have taken a big step towards a Single Market in card payments and towards a new generation of fast, convenient and user-friendly payment technologies. It will cut the cost of payments substantially for merchants, especially SMEs and that in turn should lead to a fall in consumer prices. And it offers banks a stable and sustainable business.”

Commissioner Avramopoulos on occasion of International Migrants Day

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos made a statement on the occasion of ‘International Migrants Day’: “On International Migrants Day, we are reminded that migrants are an important part of our daily lives. Migration has helped us grow stronger economically, culturally and socially. Legal migrants in the European Union have become a significant factor in European societies and our labour markets. Even though at times of economic crisis and of high unemployment levels it is not easy to make the case for migration, we need to change the narrative; we need to highlight the positive impact of migration. Our biggest challenge is the rise of xenophobia. Fuelled by populists across Europe, the misperceptions created by xenophobic rhetoric are threatening the core values of our societies.” See statement.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Commissioner Malmström travels to Geneva on Thursday 18 December

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström is in Geneva today to meet WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo for the first time. Her meeting with the Director-General and other representatives from key WTO countries comes just after the recent breakthrough of the Bali trade agreement paving the way for a conclusion of the Doha Round.

Commissioner Hill visits Frankfurt on 18 December

Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and CapitalMarkets Union Jonathan Hill is in Frankfurt today to attend a meeting of the European Systemic Risk Board. During his visit, he will also meet Vítor Constâncio, Vice-President, and Yves Mersch, Member of the Executive Board, of the European Central Bank; and Gabriel Bernardino, Chairman of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority.

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