21 Nov 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION DAILY NEWS – 21 NOVEMBERBrussels Daily
Commission announces important milestones for investing in Europe’s regions from 2014-2020
Corina Creţu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, announced this week important steps in the deployment of the European Structural and Investment funds for the 2014-2020 budgetary period. First, the adoption of the Partnership Agreement with Ireland concludes the round of negotiations with all EU Member States; the 28 Partnership Agreements are now adopted, setting out the strategic plans and investment priorities for Regional policy throughout Europe for the next decade. In addition, three major programmes were also adopted: the first of Europe’s cross border cooperation (or INTERREG programmes), worth €444 million, between Germany and the Netherlands, and the first of the UK’s regional operational programmes, which unleashes an investment package worth €406 million and €1.8 billion respectively to East Wales and to West Wales and the Valleys. Commissioner Creţu also announced a new deadline for the submission of the Member States’ Operational Programmes, set on 24 November 2014, as well as the creation of a new task force within the DG for Regional and Urban Policy to help certain Member States with their absorption of EU funds from the last budgetary period before the end of 2015. The task force will also look at the longer term challenges of avoiding slow implementation in the new programmes for the 2014-2020 period. See the press release and fact sheet
Fifteenth report on practical preparations for the euro: Lithuania’s preparations well on track overall
Today, the Commission has adopted its fifteenth report on the practical preparations for the changeover in Lithuania, assessing the progress made up until the end of September 2014. It is only a few weeks to go until Lithuanians start using euros to pay for everyday transactions in their country. On 1 January 2015, Lithuania will become the 19th member of the euro area, which will then encompass all three Baltic States. In order to address consumers’ concerns about price increases and abusive practices during the changeover period, a campaign called the ‘Memorandum on Good Business Practice upon the Introduction of the Euro’ was launched in August. See memo which presents an overview of this progress.
New EU-Eurojust report reveals organised crime groups behind environmental crimes
A new report by the EU’s body for judicial cooperation, Eurojust, reveals that organised crime groups are behind cross-border environmental crime. At the same time, paradoxically, despite huge profits from these crimes, statistics show that environmental crime is seldom prosecuted by national authorities. Commissioner Vera Jourová commented: “One of my priorities as a Commissioner is to build the citizens’ trust in the judicial systems of the EU. And one of the elements in building this trust is to prosecute, and to make sure that serious criminals actually are put behind the bars. At the same time, you must safeguard the citizens’ rights and the Rule of Law, when issuing orders for searches and seizes. This is why it is crucial that prosecutors are involved from the start when fighting cross-border crimes. Environmental crime is threatening human life, health, and natural resources. These crimes affect the whole of society. They must therefore be targeted with the same seriousness as other criminal offenses.” The President of Eurojust, Ms Michèle Coninsx, and the leader of Eurojust’s Project Team on Environmental Crime, Mr Leif Görts, commented: “This report is an alarm call for practitioners and policymakers about the serious impact of this relatively new and increasingly frequent crime type. Organised crime groups are active in environmental crime since the penalties are low. This situation calls for cross-border action and for the correct organisational structures to be put in place in the Member States.” The report has been presented on Friday 21 November at 10am by the President of Eurojust, Ms Michèle Coninsx, and the leader of Eurojust’s Project Team on Environmental Crime, Leif Gorts in the Commission’s press room. Watch the presentation on line. See press release by Eurojust
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of UK airport operator NDH1 by Macquarie and Ferrovial
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Airport Holdings NDH1 Limited (“NDH1”) by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Europe) Limited (“Mirael”), both of the United Kingdom, and by Ferrovial Aeropuertos S.A.U. (“Ferrovial”) of Spain. NDH1 owns and operates Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports. Mirael manages funds. Ferrovial is active in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of transport, urban and services infrastructures. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because of the operation’s limited impact on the existing market structure. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7398.
Social inclusion of migrants in the EU28: Non-EU citizens twice as likely to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion as nationals in 2013
In 2013 in the EU28, almost half (48.7%) of non-EU citizens aged 18 and over were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, while the levels for citizens of the reporting country, referred to as “nationals”, and for citizens of another EU Member State were much lower (22.8% and 28.1% respectively). The pattern was very similar for the severe material deprivation rate, one of the three elements contributing to being at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In 2013 in the EU28, 1 out of every 5 non-EU citizens aged 18 and over (20.7%) was severely materially deprived, meaning that they had living conditions constrained by a lack of resources such as not being able to afford to pay their bills, keep their home adequately warm, or take a one week holiday away from home. The share was 8.9% for nationals and even lower for citizens of another EU Member State (7.4%). See Press material
Commission approves “Westfälischer Pumpernickel” as a new Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
The Commission has approved the addition of a new German product to the register of Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs). “Westfälischer Pumpernickel” is a pure rye bread, produced in the Westphalia-Lippe region. Its unique baking process, lasting for 16 hours or more, gives the bread its typical bittersweet flavour, its dark brown crumb and its very long shelf life. The denomination will be added to the list of more than 1,200 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products.
Commissioner Hahn addresses Members of the Parliament of Montenegro
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn is currently visiting Montenegro where he spoke in front of members of the European Integration Committee of the Parliament of Montenegro. He said: “Enlargement has the same priority as before and we are firmly committed to the European perspective of Montenegro. The challenge for us all is in the next five years to make the best use of the time available – together the EU and Montenegro in partnership – to prepare the country for accession. To ensure that the necessary reforms are undertaken and that the results of these reforms are made tangible for the people. Not in five years. Not when Montenegro joins the EU. But as soon as possible.” See full speech