| Building a stronger Europe: new initiatives to further boost role of youth, education and culture policies
Following the presentation of a first set of measures in January, the Commission tables today a second package of initiatives to advance work on the European Education Area by 2025, reinforce the cultural dimension of the European Union and bolster youth participation. The initiatives aim to enhance learning mobility and educational opportunities, empower young people, in particular to encourage them to participate in civic and democratic life, and harness the potential of culture for social progress and economic growth in Europe. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the Commission for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Following last year’s Leaders Agenda meeting on education, culture and training at the Gothenburg Social Summit and in follow up to the December European Council conclusions, the Commission swiftly presented a number of initiatives. Today, we take a second step focusing on further learning mobility, youth, early childhood education, learning of foreign languages and culture – all important building blocks for the future of Europe.” Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: “Education, culture and youth policy have a central role in building a resilient, competitive and cohesive Europe for the future. Along with the first package adopted in January, the proposals we are putting forward today will help to pave the way towards the European Education Area while strengthening a European identity and empowering people, especially young people.” A full press release, a Q&A, three factsheets on education, youth and culture as well as initial results of a new Eurobarometer on the European Education Area are published online.
EU mobilises international support for The Gambia
A total of €1.45 billion was mobilised by the International Conference for The Gambia, co-chaired by The Gambia and the European Union. The reinforced political and financial support by the international community will assist The Gambia in continuing its democratic transition, building on strong democratic institutions, the respect of human rights and the rule of law, and sustainable and shared economic growth. The EU alone increased its support by €140 million, raising the total of its development assistance to €365 million for the period 2017-2020. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, whoco-chaired the conference together with the President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, in Brussels today, said: “The Gambia is showing to the world that freedom and democracy are about real people and real lives. After the presidential election in 2016, neighbours and the international community stood with the Gambian people. We stood on the side of freedom and democracy. Two years on, we continue to stand by your side. Today the EU is proud to announce €140 million to invest in opportunities for the Gambian people and further strengthen democracy”. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, added: “When people of a country decide to overturn a two-decades long dictatorship, this is a choice to commend. This is what happened in The Gambia one year and a half ago. When new authorities commit to profoundly reform the country and put it on the path of democracy and development, the international community has to answer their call. This is what happened today in Brussels. Out of the €1.45 billion that were pledged today, the EU has committed additional funding of €140 million until 2020, which adds to the €225 million mobilised since the beginning of the transition in 2017. Because nothing is more important today than showing to the people of The Gambia that democracy brings quick and tangible dividends.” The full press release, a factsheet and HR/VP Mogherini’s opening remarks at the Conference are available online.
Juncker Plan: €100 million under Investment Plan for energy efficient homes in Germany
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a €100 million long-term loan with Vivawest, a German real estate company, to build 900 energy efficient homes in North Rhine-Westphalia. The loan is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Juncker Plan. The overall investment expected to be triggered by this EIB loan is more than €250 million. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “I am delighted that the European Fund for Strategic Investments continues to target investments in the low carbon economy across the EU. This new agreement with Vivawest will benefit many thousands of local residents in the form of energy-efficient homes while having a tangible positive effect on the environment.” Full press release is found here.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Egyptian joint venture by Cargill and ADM
The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the joint acquisition of National Vegetable Oils Co (“NVOC”), a joint venture based in Egypt, by Cargill and Archer Daniels Midlands (“ADM”), both of the US. NVOC produces and sells crude soybean oil, soybean meal and soybean hulls in the Egyptian market and is currently solely controlled by Cargill. Cargill is active in the international production and marketing of food, as well as in agricultural and risk management products and services. ADM is a processor of oilseeds, corn, sugar, wheat and other agricultural commodities, and a manufacturer of vegetable oils and fats, vegetable protein, meal, corn as well as other value added products and feed ingredients. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the joint venture will have no or negligible activities in the European Economic Area. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case registerunder the case number M.8856.
Commissioners Avramopoulos, Jourová and King in Sofia for EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová and Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King are in Sofia today and tomorrow to participate in the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting. They will represent the EU together with the Bulgarian Minister of the Interior Valentin Radev and Minister of Justice Tsetska Tsacheva on behalf of the Bulgarian Presidency, who will be also joined by the Austrian Federal Minister of the Interior Herbert Kickl and Federal Minister of Justice Josef Moser from the incoming Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The U.S. will be represented by the Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Claire Grady and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The meeting, which is held twice a year to advance transatlantic cooperation in the area of justice and home affairs, will focus on EU-U.S. cooperation on counterterrorism, cooperation in cyberspace, including access of judicial authorities to electronic evidence, transnational organised crime, including the fight against money-laundering and terrorism financing, as well as migration, border management and the ongoing work to achieve full visa reciprocity.
European Commission and African Union Commission to meet on 23 May
On 23 May, members of the European Commission and the African Union Commission will meet in Brussels for the 9th Commission-to-Commission Meeting, co-chaired by President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and the African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat. The two Commissions will discuss how to reinforce their cooperation in order to tackle common global challenges. They will also follow-up more concretely on the Abidjan Summit, based on agreed priorities such as peace and security, governance, investment, sustainable development, migration and education. A press point at the VIP Corner is scheduled for 15:35 with President Juncker and President Faki Mahamat. Europe is Africa’s closest neighbour and main partner in foreign investments, trade, security, remittances and development, and humanitarian assistance. The Juncker Commission has stepped up cooperation with its African partners, launching a range of innovative new tools and financing to boost investment in the continent. More information is available in a factsheet on the Africa-EU Partnership.
Commissioner Hahn travelling to Kyiv, Ukraine
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations is in Kyiv today 22 May and tomorrow 23 May, to reiterate the EU strong support for the Ukrainian reform process, and to assess progress in this regard. Ahead of the visit Commissioner Hahn said: “It is with great pleasure that I am travelling to Ukraine once again. I will be focussing on how Ukraine can attract the foreign investment necessary to further increase economic growth. This will require that the fight against corruption is sustained and intensified. I will also review EU support to Ukraine’s decentralisation process which I believe is one of the most successful and significant of the many reforms carried out in Ukraine so far.” Commissioner Hahn will meet with Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Deputy Prime Minister Hennadiy Zubko with whom he will discuss the Ukrainian decentralisation process. The Commissioner will also meet representatives of Ukrainian and EU business in order to initiate improvements to the business and investment climate. Commissioner Hahn is keen to support the government in its bid to increase investment in Ukraine; he will insist with all his interlocutors on the imperative of maintaining and intensifying the fight against corruption, not least through the establishment of a specialised anti-corruption court. Photos and videos of the mission will be available on EbS.
Commissioner Navracsics joins 10th anniversary celebrations for the European Union Prize for Literature
This evening, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, will attend an event in Brussels to celebrate ten years of the European Union Prize for Literature which is awarded annually to new and emerging authors, recognising literary talent from all corners of Europe. This special anniversary, which takes place during the European Year of Cultural Heritage, is being marked in a different way. All previous winners of the Prize were invited to submit an original short work of fiction focusing on the topic ‘A European Story’. 36 winners from 26 countries took up the challenge and shared their European stories which will be presented at this evening’s event at which time they will be available here. Commissioner Navracsics said: “For the past ten years, the EU Prize for Literature has recognised 108 talented authors from 37 different countries for their outstanding works of fiction. We are proud to have such a great number of excellent laureates who represent Europe in their diversity. I would like to thank the 36 participants in this year’s special contest. Each of their stories, written in 23 different languages, has a distinct perspective, style and syntax, but they all tell a European story.” A professional jury made up of selected personalities from the world of art and literature will now proceed to select a winner. The public will also have the opportunity to vote online for their favourite work. Both awards will be presented at a special ceremony in Vienna in November during the Austrian Presidency of the EU and alongside the Vienna Book Fair.
Vice-President Katainen meets federal ministers in Berlin
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, is in Berlin today to discuss with several ministers and senior officials the future of Europe, defence, investment, competitiveness, deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union and the new Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027. He will also attend a Citizens’ Dialogue on the future of Europe and global megatrends. Vice-President Katainen will have a working lunch with Mr Olaf Scholz, Federal Minister of Finance, to discuss the new Multiannual Financial Framework and deepening of the EMU; he will meet Ms Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Minister of Defence, to discuss the future of European defence; as well as Mr Helge Braun, Head of the Federal Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Tasks, to discuss the future of Europe. The Vice-President will deliver a speech and participate in a short Q&A session on the European Defence Action Plan with senior officials of the Ministry of Defence. Finally, Vice-President Katainen will participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue in “Erlebnis Europa” (Experience Europe) to discuss tomorrow’s Europe and global megatrends, with a particular focus on the circular economy and Artificial Intelligence.