21 Nov 2017


Brussels, Brussels Daily


European Commission acts for better broadband in rural areas

In the margins of the ongoing Broadband Days, the Commission launched yesterday the Broadband Competence Offices and a toolkit for rural broadband. This toolkit consists of a 5 point action plan with concrete deadlines to bring more broadband in rural areas of the EU because currently only 40% of rural households have next generation access compared to 76% of total EU households. Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society,Mariya Gabriel, said in a joint statement after the launch event: “All EU citizens should be able to benefit from high-speed broadband connections. This is not the case today, especially in rural areas, which are less attractive to investors. This is why the Commission pays particular attention to good connectivity and supports the roll-out of broadband connections to 18 million rural citizens until 2020. The Broadband Competence Offices are an important step forward to bridge financing with potential investors, authorities and citizens. They must work on concrete issues and help on the ground with professional adapted advice to boost broadband investment. We also launched a toolkit on how best to accelerate this process and facilitate investments in rural areas. This toolkit will be finalised by mid next year.If we want to keep our rural communities strong and sustainable, while generating the additional benefit of reducing the burden on our cities, we need to do more, and we need to do it faster.” More details are available in the news item as well as in Commissioner Hogan’s speech from yesterday. Yesterday evening Commissioners Hogan and Crețu also awarded the five best European broadband projects. This year’s winners come from Finland, Greece, Italy, UK and Sweden. More information on EU financial support to digital technologies and broadband is available on the Cohesion Open Data Platform.

Commission proposes fishing opportunities in the Black Sea for 2018

The Commission today has tabled its proposal on catch limits and quotas for the Black Sea ahead of the December Fisheries Council, where EU Member States will agree fishing quotas for 2018. The proposal, which concerns Bulgaria and Romania, takes into account the best available scientific advice and is the outcome of this year’s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) Annual Session, which approved the first-ever multiannual management plan for the Black Sea. For sprat, the Commission proposes to maintain a catch limit of 11,475 tonnes; 70% is allocated to Bulgaria and 30% to Romania. For turbot, the Commission transposes in its proposal the quotas adopted in the GFCM management plan for turbot (114 tonnes for 2018 and 2019, 50% assigned to Bulgaria and 50% to Romania), including a 2-month closed period (15 April – 15 June) and limitation of fishing efforts to 180 days at sea per year.  Following the recent successful GFCM plenary, for the first time, the new management and control measures for two iconic Black Sea species will be implemented by all riparian countries. This marks remarkable progress in shifting towards an equal level playing-field in the region, and will also help to incentivise joint efforts to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Collectively, the Commission expects these measures to have a positive impact on stock recovery. The Commission’s proposal will be submitted for discussion and pronouncement by the Member States at the next Fisheries Council (11-12 December, Brussels), to be applied as from 1 January 2018. More information on the proposal here.


EUROSTAT: European SME Week 2017 – SMEs in the European Union generate half of the intra-EU trade in goods – With a slightly higher share for imports

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs – up to 249 persons employed) are considered as a driver of the economy of the European Union (EU), creating jobs and contributing to economic growth.  Full text available here


EU supports recovery and resilience in the Caribbean region with substantial financial support

The European Union reaffirms its commitment to support the Caribbean region in the aftermath of recent hurricanes Irma and Maria, as it will pledge substantial support during the High-level Donor Conference on the Caribbean in New York. At this occasion, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica said: “Caribbean countries have again been struck by deadly hurricanes. The European Union stands by the region, and our assistance package of €300 million will provide much needed support to accelerate recovery, strengthen resilience, and step up progress towards a sustainable economic path. The EU is supporting the region to reinforce its resilience to natural disasters and climate change.” In the margins of the conference, Commissioner Mimica will meet key Caribbean counterparts to discuss reconstruction efforts, EU support and overall bilateral relations. This includes the prospects for a renewed partnership after the Cotonou Agreement will expire in 2020. The Cotonou Agreement is the current legal framework for the relations between the EU and the Caribbean region. Finally, the Commissioner will also sign a new programme with the President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr Warren Smith. This programme will support the development of geothermal energy sources. The project will help these countries to reduce their dependence on energy imports and hence, promote clean energy sources and improve their energy security. A press release on the outcome of the High-level Donor Conference will be published at 15:00 here.



European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) hosts Annual Conference of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS)

On Wednesday 22 November, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, will participate in the 2017 Annual Conference of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) hosted by the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), the European Commission’s in-house think tank. The conference entitled ‘Global Trends to 2030: The Making of a New Geopolitical Order?’, brings together various renown speakers including Stefanie Babst, Head, Strategic Analysis Capability, NATO; Benoni Belli, Head, Policy Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil; Jon Finer, Former Chief of Staff, US Department of State; Hadeel Ibrahim, Founding Executive Director, Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference; Parag Khanna,Senior Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; Jeanette Kwek, Deputy Head, Centre for Strategic Futures, Singapore; Rob Wainwright, Executive Director, Europol, as well as many others from around the world. The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) is an inter-institutional collaboration between the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the External Action Service, initiated in 2010. It engages in strategic foresight, anticipates future challenges and opportunities, and examines global trends. The conference will take place on the 5th floor of the Commission’s Berlaymont building. To attend, register here.

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