Brussels Daily
19 Jul 2017


Brussels Daily


European Commission launches Knowledge Centre to provide scientific evidence on bioeconomy

On 20 July, the European Commission will launch a new Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre to better support EU and national policy makers and stakeholders with science-based evidence in this field. This online platform will not primarily generate knowledge, but will collect, structure and make accessible knowledge from a wide range of scientific disciplines and sources on the bioeconomy, the sustainable production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into valuable products. The Knowledge Centre is being created by the Commission’s in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre, in cooperation with Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, said: “The Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre builds on the Joint Research Centre’s expertise in knowledge management, offering policy makers relevant information in a timely manner and a format that is easy to use. It is the fourth Knowledge Centre launched by the Commission in the last two years, after the ones on migration and demography, territorial policies and disaster risk management, and another important step in further strengthening the sound evidence base we need to tackle the societal challenges facing the EU.” Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, added: “The launch of the Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre marks an important step in bringing the different policy areas of the bioeconomy closer together. In order to face global and geopolitical challenges, a coherent strategy needs an excellent knowledge hub, in particular to address questions cutting across the policy areas of the bioeconomy family.” The bioeconomy represents a significant part of the EU economy, with potential for growth through innovation in agriculture, forestry, bioenergy and biomass but also in chemicals, materials, waste management and others. The Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre will support the European Commission in the review of the 2012 Bioeconomy Strategy, taking into account new political and policy developments, such as the COP21 Paris agreement, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the Circular Economy Package. 

EU enhances its partnership with Costa Rica

Today, on an official visit in Costa Rica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica confirms the EU’s commitment to support the country’s sustainable development and economic growth. Commissioner Mimica will meet President Luis Guillermo Solís to discuss a variety of issues, such as governance, innovation and science, as well as Costa Rica’s role in regional programmes on economic integration,citizen security, and climate change. Commissioner Mimica will present the EU’s new approach to development cooperation, as laid out in the European Consensus on Development. At this occasion, he commented: “The new European Consensus opens new possibilities for cooperation on development policy with higher middle income countries such as Costa Rica. EU-Costa Rica relations are moving away successfully from the old donor-recipient mentality, towards a more modern relationship based on genuine cooperation and a dynamic partnership of equals. We have a lot to learn from Costa Rica’s experience as a country in transition.” Commissioner Mimica will also sign a bilateral joint declaration on gender equality with the Second Vice President of Costa Rica, as well as re-launch the social dialogue on gender equality and empowerment of women to contribute to economic growth in the country and speed up progress towards all sustainable development goals. The Commissioner will also announce a €3.5 million contribution from the Latin America Investment Facility to preparatory studies on water and sanitation for Costa Rica. This contribution helps to mobilise up to €121 million in investments. Attracting additional public and private finance will help to ensure equal access to clean water and sanitation for all and drive economic growth in the country.


Diversity and inclusion: European Commission acts to reach at least 40% women in its management and launches comprehensive strategy

A new Diversity and Inclusion Charter and fresh action to reach at least 40% women in management by 2019 are two key features of the Commission’s new human resources strategy. The purpose is to create a better workplace for all – including women, staff with disabilities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex (LGBTI) staff and older staff. Concrete steps will be taken to make best use of the talent of all of the Commission’s employees. Commissioner Gunther H. Oettinger in charge of budget and human resources said: “We want our staff to be valued and accepted, irrespective of their age, gender, sexual orientation or disabilities. If we build on this diversity, we will be more innovative and deliver better results for our citizens. More information is available in the press release and MEMO.


European Commission expresses grave concern about the clear risks for the independence of the judiciary in Poland and urges the Polish Government to put its new laws on hold

On the invitation of President Juncker, First Vice-President Timmermans presented to the College the latest developments with regard to the Polish judiciary and the Rule of Law dialogue, which is ongoing between the Commission and Poland since 13 January 2016. The Commission has grave concerns about four legislative acts recently proposed in Poland: the law on the National Council for the Judiciary; the law on the National School of Judiciary; the law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation; and the law on the Supreme Court (three of which have been adopted by the Polish Parliament, one of which has entered into force, two of which are still subject to the signature of the President and one of which is under discussion in the Parliament). If implemented in their current form, these laws would have a very significant negative impact on the independence of the judiciary and would increase the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland. The College of Commissioners today held a first in-depth discussion on these new developments, expressed its serious concerns, and looked into the legal and political options available to the Commission to act upon these concerns, as guardian of the Treaties, including a third Rule of Law Recommendation to the Polish government and the possibility of infringement proceedings for violation of EU law. The option of triggering Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union was also part of the discussion. The College of Commissioners agreed to revert to this issue in its meeting next week on the basis of a comprehensive legal analysis and any observations the Polish authorities and other interested parties and European or international organisations may submit. The Commission urges the Polish authorities to put the new laws on hold and re-engage in the ongoing Rule of Law dialogue with First Vice-President Timmermans in an attempt to address the serious concerns expressed.


Security and defence: Significant progress to enhance Europe’s resilience against hybrid threats

The Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini report today on actions taken and next steps to implement the 2016 Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats, delivering on President Juncker’s commitment to build a European Union that protects. Significant progress has been made. The EU has improved its awareness and the information exchange between Member States on these growing security threats, which often combine conventional and unconventional methods, ranging from terrorism and cyber-attacks to disinformation campaigns or media manipulation. But more remains to be done, as the nature of hybrid threats continues to evolve. High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini said: “Hybrid threats are a major security concern for the European Union, its Member States and our partners. We are working to improve the awareness of the threats through the EU Hybrid Fusion Cell, to monitor and counter illegal online content and propaganda with our Strategic communication task forces, to enhance the capacities of third countries and to step up our cooperation with NATO. This is at the core of our Global Strategy adopted last year. The safeguard of our society is a priority for the EU.” Vice-President Katainen added: “Following our proposal for a European Defence Fund and the reflection paper on the Future of European Defence, we are taking further steps towards a Security and Defence Union. Increased co-operation to address hybrid threats will make us more resilient. The EU adds value by assisting Member States and partners, relying on a wide range of existing instruments and programmes. Our approach brings together the key actors while fully respecting their different roles and responsibilities.” Commissioner Bieńkowska added: “Cooperation in security and defence is not an option – it’s a must. Europe faces more hybrid, unconventional security challenges than ever. That is why, as the report shows, we are responding an unprecedented level of cooperation between the EU, Member States and NATO to improve resilience, address strategic vulnerabilities and prepare coordinated responses.” You can read the full press release here and watch the press conference by Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Bieńkowska live on EbS.



EU document security: Commission urges Bulgaria to implement rules on e-passports and e-residence permits

The Commission today addressed a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria for not having established a Single Point of Contact as required by EU document security legislation. The establishment of such contact points is mandatory. They allow for the exchange of information necessary to access the fingerprint images stored on e-passports and e-residence permits for third country nationals. By not implementing this important part of the EU document security legislation, Bulgaria prevents other Member States from securely accessing and verifying the fingerprints stored on the chips in Bulgarian passports. All Single Points of Contact should have been operational by 20 May 2012. This procedure replaces an earlier one on the same matter which has since been withdrawn for procedural reasons. If Bulgaria does not act within the next two months, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion, the next stage in the infringement procedure.


Commission launches public consultation to evaluate strengths and challenges of the EU’s actions for Roma integration

Today, the European Commission has launched a public consultation to assess the implementation of the first EU Roma integration strategy called EU framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020, adopted in 2011. The main aim of the Framework is to promote social and economic inclusion of Roma while at the same time fight discrimination. EU governments are in the midterm of its implementation, so with this public consultation, the Commission wants to take stock of results achieved so far and to identify areas where more needs to be done to help the Roma people. Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová, said: “I want to use the consultation to identify weak points of our actions. I stand by those who are excluded or left in the margins, so I want us to make very concrete and effective steps to improve the situation of the Roma people.” The public consultation will help the Commission to build a better and more efficient strategy also beyond 2020. The consultation includes questions on how European and national policies have contributed to a better integration of Roma in society. It also assesses the effectiveness of legal and funding instruments that have been put in place to support Roma inclusion half way into their implementation. All Roma and non-Roma citizens, civil society and international organisations, businesses and institutions from the EU and enlargement countries are welcomed to respond by 25 October 2017 to the public consultation.


European Investment Bank and Cohesion Policy funds working together for better connectivity in Romania

The Commission welcomes the signature of a new European Investment Bank (EIB) loan of €1 billion, intended to cover the Romanian national contribution to the “Large Infrastructure” Cohesion Policy programme for investments in strategic transport projects under the Romanian Transport Master Plan. The majority of these projects will be implemented in the less-developed regions of Romania and/or on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “The development of a strategic transport network in Romania will greatly benefit trade and tourism and will directly fuel the real economy. But equally important is the positive impact of faster connections, safer roads and more sustainable transport systems on the everyday life of citizens. This is why I’m glad to see Cohesion Policy funds and EIB resources being pooled for better connectivity in Romania.” More information is available in this press release on the EIB’s website.


First quarter of 2017 compared with first quarter of 2016-House prices up by 4.0% in the euro area-Up by 4.5% in the EU

House prices, as measured by the House Price Index, rose by 4.0% in the euro area and by 4.5% in the EU in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. These figures come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.   Full text available here


Eurostat: May 2017 compared with April 2017-Production in construction down by 0.7% in euro area-Down by 1.1% in EU28

In May 2017 compared with April 2017, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector decreased by 0.7% in the euro area (EA19) and by 1.1% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In April 2017, production in construction grew by 0.3% in the euro area andby 0.2% in the EU28Full text available here


The European Union steps up its support for investigations into war crimes and accountability in Syria

The European Union announced it will provide €1.5 million to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in Syria.  More information here



Vice-President Katainen in Bulgaria

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will visit to Bulgaria on Thursday and Friday. He will engage in a series of meetings with senior political leaders including President Rumen Radev, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Mr Vladislav Goranov, Minister of Finance. He will participate in an exchange of views at the Bulgarian National Assembly and in a Citizens’ Dialogue on the future of Europe. He will deliver a keynote address at a conference on investments and the EU budget hosted by Ms Iskra Mihaylova, Chair of the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament, participate in a panel debate on education and skills in Bulgaria, hosted by Eva Maydell, Member of the European Parliament, and visit an EU-funded project.


Commissioner Hahn in Algeria to reaffirm EU support for economic diversification

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations is in Alger, Algeria today and tomorrow to reiterate the EU support to the country in differentiating its economy. Ahead of the mission, Commissioner Hahn said: “The European Union will continue to support Algeria in its efforts to diversify its economy and modernise its business environment. The EU-Algeria Partnership Priorities adopted earlier this year put a strong emphasis on economic matters. It is now time to translate these priorities into concrete actions and reforms“. Commissioner Hahn‘s visit takes place four months after the adoption of the EU-Algeria Partnership Priorities, which marked a new era in the political relations between the two partners. The EU is a key partner for diversification of the Algerian economy with 18 projects in support of economic growth totalling over €200 million covering a wide range of sectors ranging from agro-industry to promoting renewable energy. Moreover, the EU is also supporting Algeria in its efforts to improve the business climate, to reform vocational training and to ensure regulatory convergence to facilitate access to the EU market. The Commission is launching a Twinning project on expertise sharing in the field of information and communication technologies. Through this project, the EU will support the competitiveness of Algerian companies and will create new avenues for growth. This comes one week after Algeria adhered to the Partnership on Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA). More details of the visit are available online. Photos and videos of the visit will be available on EbS.



DAILY NEWS 19 – 07 -2017-

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