Agreement reached on better protection of consumers
Last evening, the European Parliament and Council reached a political agreement on the Commission’s proposal to improve the EU-wide cooperation mechanism for consumer protection. These new rules will introduce a quick and more efficient cross-border cooperation mechanism between the national enforcers. They will have faster tools to react in a joint action when illegal practices are reported by consumers in at least two thirds of the EU countries. “Strengthened cross-border enforcement is crucial in the digital age where harmful practices can be replicated easily in many countries with just one click,” said Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. “Enforcement authorities will gain modern tools to protect consumers online, such as the power to remove online shopping scams, as well as in any case of EU-wide infringement of consumer rights.” For the first time in the case of widespread illegal commercial practices, authorities will be able to accept commitments from traders that they will provide remedies to the consumers affected. Further work on compensation will be carried out as part of the EU consumer legislation review. Another change is the creation of a new EU-wide market alert system to detect new threats more rapidly. It will include evidence sent by consumer and trade associations. This is a significant step towards a fairer and more efficient enforcement of consumer laws across the EU. Today’s agreement is another concrete deliverable of the Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy. This legislation is part of the Commission’s efforts to update consumer rules.Today’s agreement will now need to be formally endorsed by the European Parliament, Council and Commission. The Member States will then have up to 24 months to make sure their consumer authorities are ready to meet the new standards. Further details are available in the factsheet.
Migration: President Juncker at the High Level Conference in the European Parliament
Yesterday, President Juncker addressed the participants of the High Level Conference on Migration in the European Parliament. In his opening speech, the President reminded: “Our migration policy is guided by two fundamental European principles: responsibility and solidarity. That is why I made it clear during the European election campaign, together with others, that we cannot abandon a country if the well-being of its people is at stake. Where a country sits on a map of the world cannot be the sole factor in determining how much responsibility a country should bear in the refugee issue.” Recalling the European Union’s role in the protection of its external borders, President Juncker said that “more than 1,600 European border guards are currently supporting the national guards”. President Juncker also reiteratedthe importance of the principle of solidarity: “solidarity is not a one-way street […] every country must take its fair share of responsibility”, adding that “if there are some who refuse, the Commission must also honour its own responsibilities.” President Juncker also welcomed the newly-established cooperation with countries of origin and transit, notably in the form of the Partnership Framework with Africa. €200 million will be mobilised in 2017 for migration-related activities in North Africa: in Libya but also in Egypt and Tunisia, the President explained. The full speech is available here and a recording of the press conference by President Juncker, President Tajani and High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini is available on EbS.
Juncker Plan: EUR 50 million for Italian SMEs
The Juncker Plan has backed a European Investment Fund (EIF) loan agreement with Valsabbina, an Italian bank, to unlock EUR 50 million for an estimated 150 small businesses. This agreement was made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI is the central pillar of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Italy is among the top beneficiaries under the European Fund for Strategic Investments. I am glad that today’s agreement will facilitate access to finance for more Italian companies to invest in research, innovation and job-creation. I wish the beneficiaries of this transaction every success.” As of June 2017, the Juncker Plan is now expected to trigger over EUR 33 billion in investments in Italy and EUR 209 billion across Europe. A full press release is available here.
EU announces €85 million as Uganda faces world’s fastest growing refugee crisis
Uganda is now facing the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis, due to a continuous and unprecedented influx of people fleeing conflict in neighbouring South Sudan among others. The country is now hosting over 1.27 million refugees and asylum seekers. “To help Uganda deal with this unprecedented situation and support the most vulnerable refugees, the European Commission has today announced €85 million in humanitarian aid and longer term development assistance. Many refugees have fled conflict in South Sudan, seeking sanctuary from violence, hatred and hunger. Uganda’s example of helping vulnerable people cope with displacement is an example for the whole region and the world. However, no country can deal with such a high number of refugees on its own. The EU funding announced today will help our humanitarian partners working in Uganda bring some relief to those who have lost everything”, said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The announcement comes as Commissioner Stylianides is attending the Uganda Solidarity Summit on refugees taking place in Kampala on 22 and 23 June, on behalf of the European Commission. Read the full press release here.
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Huber Silica by Evonik, subject to conditions
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation Evonik’s acquisition of Huber Silica. Evonik and Huber Silica are both manufacturers of speciality chemicals, including precipitated silica, a chemical used in tyres, toothpaste, defoamers, paints and coatings. The Commission’s investigation concluded that the transaction, as notified, raised competition concerns in the markets for: (i) precipitated silica for toothpaste and for defoamer applications; and (ii) hydrophobic precipitated silica, which is used in several products including defoamers, paints, coatings, food and feed additives. To address the competition concerns, Evonik and Huber Silica offered to divest several of their activities related to these markets. The Commission therefore concluded that the proposed merger, as modified by the commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns. The full press release is available online in EN
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of DONG E&P by INEOS
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of sole control over DONG E&P of Denmark, by INEOS of the UK. DONG E&P is engaged in the exploration and production of hydrocarbons. INEOS is a global manufacturer of petrochemicals, speciality chemicals and oil products, with some activities in the upstream oil and gas sector. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns given that the companies’ activities overlap to a limited extent and that a number of alternative suppliers would remain in the market after the merger. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8473.
Commissioner Hahn at the Third Eastern Partnership Youth Forum
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations will represent the Commission at the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Youth Forum which is taking place in Warsaw on 22-23 June. The EaP Youth Forum will bring together over 300 youth leaders, youth workers and youth policy makers from EU Member States and the EU’s six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The Forum, organised by the European Commission and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the run up to the Eastern Partnership Summit (Brussels, November 2017), will provide a unique opportunity to discuss policies and programmes dedicated to young people. Ahead of his participation in the Forum, Johannes Hahn said: “Active, critical and responsible citizenship among young people is key in addressing the challenges we face in the European Union and our Eastern Neighbourhood. I look forward to lively discussions with young people at the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum in Warsaw! The resulting recommendations will be instrumental in shaping our youth policies: I expect youth to figure prominently among the issues to be discussed at November’s Eastern Partnership Summit“. The full press release is available online. Videos and photos of the visit will be available on EbS.
Commissioner Moscovici in Spain on 22-23 June
Commissioner Moscovici is in Madrid, Spain where he will later today deliver a speech at the Nueva Economía Forum. The Spanish minister for Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Mr Luis de Guindos, will introduce the Commissioner and they will meet bilaterally in advance of the event. This afternoon, the Commissioner will also go to the Spanish Parliament to meet the Mixed Committee for the EU and the Committee for the Economy and Competitiveness. Tomorrow, Commissioner Moscovici will be in Seville, where he will meet Ms Susana Díaz, President of the Andalucía region, Ms Maria-Jesús Montero, Regional minister of Andalucía for Finance and Administration, and Mr Antonio Ramírez de Arellano, Regional minister of Andalucía for the Economy and Knowledge. The Commissioner will then visit Aerópolis, the only science and technology park in Europe exclusively devoted to the aerospace industry.
Commissioner Jourová on official visit to the Middle East
Commissioner Jourová will travel to Israel and Palestine from 22 to 26 June, where she will be the first European Justice Commissioner to visit. The aim of the visit is to strengthen cooperation in the fields of justice and gender equality. Today, Commissioner is in Ramallah, where she meets Palestinian authorities including Minister of Justice, Dr Ali Abu Diak and the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Haifa Al Agha. The Commissioner will then participate in a roundtable on gender equality and the fight against violence against women. She will also meet EUPOL COOPS, which is the EU Co-ordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support. On 25 and 26 June, Commissioner Jourová will exchange views with Israeli authorities including President Reuven Rivlin, Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, and Minister for Social Equality, Gila Gamliel. The aim of the meetings is to reinforce the EU-Israel cooperation on data protection, fight against anti-Semitism and online hate speech. Commissioner will then participate in the 11th High-Level EU-Israel Seminar on Combatting Racism, Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism. Finally, she will deliver a keynote speech on “Justice, freedom and tolerance in cyberspace: building trust and addressing risks” at the 2017 Cyber Week in Tel Aviv.
NEWS IN FULL
DAILY NEWS 22- 06 -2017-