|Security Union: Commission presents new measures to better protect EU citizens
The Commission is today presenting alongside its 11th Security Union Report a set of operational and practical measures to better defend EU citizens against terrorist threats and deliver a Europe that protects. The measures aim to address vulnerabilities exposed by recent attacks and will support Member States in protecting public spaces and help deprive terrorists of the means to act. The Commission is also proposing to further strengthen the EU’s external action on counter-terrorism — including through Europol — and is recommending the EU open negotiations on a revised Passenger Name Record agreement with Canada. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The new actions announced today will help Member States to deprive terrorists of the means to carry out their evil acts and will also better protect our public spaces, and thus our way of life.“ Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Terrorism knows no borders. We will only be able to fight it effectively if we do so jointly – both within the EU and with our partners on a global scale.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “As terrorist tactics change, we are stepping up our support to Member States in meeting these threats: helping protect the public spaces where people gather, while cutting off terrorists’ access to dangerous bomb-making materials, and sources of finance.” A press release and Q&A as well as a factsheet on protecting public spaces will be available at the start of the press conference with Commissioner King, which follows the readout of the College meeting and which will be broadcast live on EbS.
EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: First review shows it works but implementation can be improved
Today the Commission has published the first annual report on the functioning of the EU- U.S. Privacy Shield. It shows that in its first year of operation this framework has ensured adequate protection and safeguards for personal data transferred from the EU to the U.S. All the necessary administrative structures and procedures have been put in place in the U.S., including new redress possibilities for Europeans. Safeguards regarding access to personal data by U.S. public authorities are in place. However, the implementation of the framework can be improved further. Vice-President Ansip said: “Making international data transfers sound, safe and secure benefits certified companies and European consumers and businesses, including EU SMEs.” Commissioner Jourová added: “Our first review shows that the Privacy Shield works well, but there is room for improving its implementation. The Privacy Shield is not a document lying in a drawer. It’s a living agreement that both the EU and U.S. must actively monitor to ensure we keep guard over our high data protection standards”. The 2017 report suggests a number of ways in which this can be done, including awareness raising for EU individuals about how to exercise their rights under the Privacy Shield and more proactive and regular monitoring of companies’ compliance with their Privacy Shield obligations by the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as stepping up cooperation between privacy enforcers, amongst other measures. A press release with more information will available here when the press conference starts, as well as Q&As on the Privacy Shield.
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed merger of Celanese’s and Blackstone’s acetate tow activities
The Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of an acetate flake and acetate tow joint venture by Celanese and Blackstone. The Commission has concerns that the transaction may reduce competition in the acetate tow market, where the joint venture would be a new market leader in an already highly concentrated market. After its initial investigation, the Commission considers that the only two remaining major competitors would not exert sufficient competitive pressure on the merged entity, while the industry is characterised by high barriers to entry. Moreover, the Commission has preliminary concerns that the proposed transaction would make tacit coordination between tow suppliers more likely. The full press release is available online in here
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Maple by Borealis, Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan Board and SSE
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over Maple Topco Limited of the UK by Borealis European Holdings B.V. of the Netherlands, ultimately controlled by the Omers Administration Corporation of Canada, Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan Board (OTPP) of Canada and SSE Plc of the UK. Maple is active in meter asset provision to energy suppliers in the UK. Borealis is a manager for Omers which is the administrator of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System Primary Pension Plan. OTPP is the administrator of Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan. SSE is an energy company with operations in the UK and Ireland. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the limited overlap between the companies’ activities. 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.8623.
EU Anti-Trafficking Day: Stronger action needed to fight trafficking in human beings
To mark the 11th EU Anti-Trafficking Day, the European Commission is today calling for a renewed commitment to eradicating trafficking in human beings. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Every day, women and girls, men and boys, EU and non-EU citizens, are exploited by unscrupulous traffickers for profit. On EU Anti-Trafficking Day, we are reminded of the gravity of this heinous crime, which often has strong links with cross-border organised crime and takes advantage of irregular migration routes. It is imperative that all authorities and stakeholders strengthen their work on prevention by untangling the complex chain of trafficking, reducing demand, following the money and ensuring better access to justice for the victims. We stand ready to further support our Member States and cooperate more closely with our international partners in working towards eradicating trafficking in human beings.” The Commission will shortly publish its priority actions to address trafficking in human beings. These will build on the ongoing work, taking stock of the achievements of the EU strategy 2012-2016 and ensuring the continuation of efforts, including coordination with stakeholders and increasing the knowledge base.
19 October Commissioner Andriukaitis – Citizens’ Dialogue in Bucharest
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, is on official visit to Romania on 19 – 20 October. During his official visit, he will meet with the Prime Minister of Romania, Mr Mihai Tudose, as well as Mr Petre Daea, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Later on Thursday, he will hold a Citizens’ Dialogue together with Mr Florian-Dorel Bodog, Minister of Health, in Bucharest at 17:30 EEST, which can be followed live. In addition to health and food safety topics, Commissioner invites citizens to discuss general issues related to the European Union. Citizens and media can attend the debate in person.
Commissioners Creţu and Navracsics at the Danube Strategy annual forum
Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu and Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, are in Budapest today and tomorrow to attend the 6th annual forum of the Danube macro-regional strategy, entitled “A secure, connected and prospering Danube Region”. Commissioner Cretu said: “To me there is no greater priority than better connectivity in the region, encompassing land transport and navigability. This is key to unlock the full potential of the Danube Strategy. Political commitment and coordination are crucial here.” Commissioner Navracsics said: “The concerns of people in the Danube region range from air quality to traffic congestion and from energy security to water quality. The work of the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, such as a new dashboard offering better access to data, enables authorities across the Danube region respond to their citizens’ concerns more effectively.” The Danube Strategy is one of the four macro-regional strategies. It was launched in April 2011, gathering nine EU countries (Austria, Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria) and five non-EU countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine). The ministers in charge of the Strategy will tomorrow adopt a joint statement setting out principles and priorities for the future – regional energy security, infrastructure development and clean connectivity, which can be boosted with an optimised use of EU funds. Also at the forum, the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, for which Commissioner Navracsics is responsible, will present the latest addition to the Commission’s Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies, the Territorial Dashboard. This tool visualises data for all EU regions – on the economy, education, employment, health, energy or transport – in a user-friendly way. This will help regional authorities of the Danube region to target investments where they are most needed and where they can have the greatest impact.