The Commission has adopted a new policy framework today that aims to increase humanitarian funding for education in emergencies and crises to 10% of its overall humanitarian aid budget as of 2019. The policy also aims to bring children caught up in humanitarian crises back to learning within 3 months. “With humanitarian crises growing across the world, millions of children are at risk of growing up without education. We have a responsibility to act to prevent lost generations. Our new policy will allow us to help children better and quicker than before, even in the most difficult situations. To do so, we will strengthen cooperation with other donors and partners and better link our short and long term assistance. The EU is now a global leader in bringing children back to school. 8% of our humanitarian aid budget goes to education in emergencies this year, 8 times up from 2015. We aim to reach 10% in 2019,” saidCommissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides speaking in Brussels today. Today’s decision is a milestone in the Juncker Commission’s commitment to support millions of children whose access to education is being disrupted due to conflict, forced displacement, violence, climate change and disasters. The full press release is available here as well as a factsheet. Audio-visual coverage of Commissioner Stylianides’ presentation in the press room will be shown on EbS.
EU Green Week 2018 : helping cities to become better places to live and work
EU Green Week 2018 starts next week with the theme of helping cities to become better places to live and work. Showcasing policy developments on air quality, noise, nature and biodiversity, waste and water management, Green Week will promote participatory approaches to urban development, networking schemes, and tools for sharing best practices, engaging local authorities and citizens, and encouraging them to share their vision of a sustainable future. The week will officially open on 21/5 in Utrecht, Netherlands with a Citizens’ dialogue with Commissioner Vella. The Citizens’ Dialogue will take place at several locations in the city of Utrecht: Hof van Cartesius, The Griftpark, Botanical Gardens and on an electric bus travelling between these destinations. The high level EU Green Cities Summit will take place in Brussels, 22-24/5 and the week will close on 25/5 in Madrid. In addition, the programme also features events organised by partners around Europe, taking place from the end of April until mid-May. For registration to the Brussels conference and more information here.
Buying telecom services online: Commission and consumer protection authorities reveal misleading practices
Today, the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities published the results of an EU-wide screening of 207 websites offering fixed/mobile phone, internet, audio and video streaming services. The screening reveals that 163 of these websites could be infringing EU consumer law. Some of the most common issues identified are the advertisement of allegedly free or discounted packages that are in fact a bundled offer, the lack of a dispute resolution system, or the fact that these websites can unilaterally change the terms of the contract without information or justification to the consumer. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: “Consumers use their mobile phone or internet subscriptions every day and should be able to trust these services. This screening confirms, however, that a number of websites selling such services are misleading consumers by advertising fake discounts or not providing the full information necessary to make an informed choice. I expect the false and misleading information to be corrected as soon as possible to ensure the sector fully respects EU consumer rules.” The Commission has recently proposed a New Deal for Consumers which will further strengthen consumer’s hands towards traders using unfair commercial practices and reinforce the enforcement of EU consumer rules by authorities. A press release and a Q&A are available online.
How digital is your country? 2018 Digital Economy and Society Index shows Europe’s slow progress
Today the European Commission releases its 2018 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), showing that the EU is getting more digital, but progress remains insufficient for Europe to catch up with global leaders and to reduce differences across Member States. According to the index, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands scored the highest ratings and are among the global leaders in digitalisation. Ireland, Cyprus and Spain progressed the most (by more than 15 index points) over the last four years. However, some other EU countries are far behind these results. The measurements of digitisation in the EU show that connectivity has improved, but is insufficient to address fast-growing needs. Though it is more common for Europeans to use internet to communicate and the number of digital specialists in Europe is growing, the digital skill gaps still remain. Moreover, while businesses are becoming more digital, e-commerce as a whole is growing slowly. At the same time, the figures show that Europeans use more often public administration services that are available online. These results call for a quick completion of the Digital Single Market and increased investments in digital economy and society (as expressed in the Communication presented on Tuesday). More information on 2018 DESI can be found in the press release and Q&A, and on the Digital Single Market in a timeline and in two factsheets on the deliveries (here and here).
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control of DiscoverOrg by Carlyle and TA Associates
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over DiscoverOrg, by the Carlyle Group and TA Associates L.P., all of the US. DiscoverOrg is a provider of sales and marketing intelligence tools as well as services to companies. Carlyle Group is a global alternative asset manager. TA Associates is active in the fields of private equity investments through various funds in selected industries. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the lack of horizontal overlaps and vertical links between the activities of the companies. 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.8873.
European Union to co-host the International Conference for The Gambia
On 22 May in Brussels the European Union and the Government of The Gambia will jointly organise the International Conference for The Gambia. The conference will focus on confirming support to The Gambia in its democratic transition, as well as raising additional financial support for the implementation of its National Development Plan. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica will co-chair the conference together with the President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow. President Barrow will present the country’s reform agenda to high-level attendees from the European Union Member States, the international community as well as international organisations. Press statements will take place at 12:30 with Commissioner Mimicaand President Barrow at the VIP Corner and will be broadcasted live on EbS. In the margins of the conference, a Business Forum will take place on 23 May. The forum will bring together interested European, regional and Gambian business representatives for exchanges on sector specific strategies and projects during panel discussions on Energy & Infrastructure, Agricultural Value Chains, and Tourism. The European Union has provided strong political support to The Gambia in its democratic transition, and EU assistance for the period 2017-2020 currently amounts to a total of €225 million. A factsheet on The Gambia is available here.
Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete in Iran for closer energy ties [Updated on 18/08/2018 at 14:00]
On 19-20 May, Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete will be in Tehran for a series of high level meetings with the Iranian government. The objective of the mission is to show the EU’s continued support for the nuclear deal as well as its commitment to protect European investment in Iran, including in the energy sector. The Commissioner will meet with Foreign Minister Zarif, Vice-President and Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation Salehi, Vice-President Kalantari, responsible for environment and climate, the Minister of Petroleum Zanganeh and the Minister of Energy Ardakanian. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said: “The EU will continue strengthening energy relations with Iran. The European Union has repeatedly stressed that the lifting of nuclear related sanctions has not only a positive impact on trade and economic relations with Iran, but also and mainly crucial benefits for the Iranian people. Since the deal was signed in January 2016, it is delivering. In 2017, Iran’s trade with the EU stood at close to €20 billion, registering a 60% increase compared with the previous year. The EU stands united in ensuring that it continues to be delivered on. The EU is also determined to act in accordance with its interests and to protect its economic investments.” This will be the third time Commissioner Arias Cañete travels to Iran since the beginning of the Juncker mandate. This visit follows the joint energy agreements signed with Iran in 2016, including on nuclear energy, and the first-ever EU-Iran Business Forum on Sustainable Energy, opened by the Commissioner last year and which gathered more than 50 European energy companies and business associations. Following the conclusion and implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the EU and Iran have resumed bilateral relations and launched cooperation in energy (Joint Statement on Energy and Joint Statement on Nuclear Energy Cooperation).
Commissioner Stylianides travels to Cyprus and Spain
On 19 May Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will be in Cyprus to deliver a speech at the “Climate change International Conference in the Mediterranean and the Middle East: Challenges and Solutions” held in Nicosia. On 21 May Commissioner Stylianides will travel to Madrid to meet with Spanish Minister of Interior, Mr Juan Ignacio Zoido Álvarez, and members of the Spanish Parliament Commission for Home Affairs. Commissioner Stylianides willpresent and exchange views on rescEU – the Commission’s proposal to strengthen Europe’s ability to deal with disasters in the framework of the European Civil Protection Mechanism. Commissioner Stylianides will also deliver a speech at the independent Nueva Economía Forumon the challenges of Climate Change and EU’s rescEU proposal. As a participating state to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, Spain assisted European countries in need on several occasions, as in the case of supporting Portugal during the severe forest fire season in 2017.
Commissioner Gabriel travelling to Milan for a Citizens’ Dialogue and talks about digital transformation
Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel will meet in Milan, Italy on Monday local authorities, tech representatives and citizens to discuss progress of the Digital Single Market and digital transformation. On Monday morning she will hold a Citizens’ Dialogue in Politecnico di Milano together with MEP Patrizia Toia. In the afternoon she will meet municipality representatives as well as discuss 5G development plan for Milan with Vodafone Group. To encourage women’s participation in tech sectors, the Commissioner will host together with the mayor’s office a role modelling session “STEMinTheCity” for women interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies. She will additionally visit one of Milan’s top coworking spaces for digital innovators, the Talent Garden. Later in the evening the Commissioner will be honoured with the “Tecnovisionarie” Prize for her work in promoting women in tech. The award ceremony is organised by the Women&Technologies Association, focussing on the excellence of women in research, technologies, innovation and business.