22 Nov 2017


Brussels, Brussels Daily


Eurostat: Economic accounts for agriculture – Total agricultural output in the EU down by 2.8% in 2016 compared with 2015 – Decrease due to falls in both animal and crop output

The economic accounts for agriculture show that total agricultural output in the European Union (EU) stood at €405.0 billion at basic prices in 2016, down by 2.8% compared with 2015. In 2016, the equivalent of 59% of the value of agricultural output generated was spent on intermediate consumption (input goods and services), while gross value added (i.e. the value of output minus the value of intermediate consumption) was the equivalent of 41% (or €165.7 bn).  More information here


New rules extend marketing standards for free range eggs hit by avian flu restrictions

Producers of free range eggs will be allowed to continue to market their products as such even if their hens have restricted access to open-air runs because of influenza outbreaks following further changes to EU egg marketing standards.

An initial EU-wide standard from 2008 allowed egg producers to continue to market their products as free range even if their hens had no open-air access for up to 12 weeks. The latest change, which comes into force on 25 November 2017, will extend this period to 16 weeks.

The changes to the rules come as a direct response from the European Commission to concerns raised by EU hen farmers about the potential economic losses for free range farms. In times of high risk of avian influenza EU-wide veterinary rules require hens to be kept indoors in order reduce the risk of infections from migratory birds, but this is directly at odds with EU rules on free range eggs which state that laying hens must have continuous daytime access to open-air runs.

The marketing standards already allowed eggs to be labelled as free range even if birds were kept indoors as a result of EU-wide measures, but the 12 week derogation was considered too short in the face of the prolonged nature of the influenza outbreak across the EU in 2016. This meant that eggs normally marketed as free range had to be sold as ‘barn eggs’ if the hens were kept indoors for more than 12 weeks, leading to economic losses for farmers. More information here

EU leads international efforts to ensure sustainable tuna stocks in the Atlantic

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas, has concluded its Annual Meeting in Marrakesh on 14 – 21 November. Dominating the negotiations was the stock of Eastern Atlantic tuna for which, following a widely recognized improvement in their stock compared to a decade ago, ICCAT agreed to a gradual increase in the total allowed catches (TAC) reaching a maximum of 36,000 ton in 2020 (28,200t in 2018 and 32,240t in 2019). The increase reflects the outcome of action led by the European Union and the sustained efforts by fishermen and the fishing industry, in the last decade. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: “Our experience of recent years is that concerted efforts by all parties can secure rapid progress towards more sustainable fisheries. We now need to continue our work towards a long-term management regime for Eastern Bluefin tuna as proposed by the European Commission.” Based on an EU-proposal, for the first time in ICCAT history, Harvest Control Rules were adopted for the Northern albacore and a quota increase of 20%. Harvest Control Rules are the latest generation of science-based approaches to effective fisheries management and provide guidelines on how much fishing can take place according to the state of the stock. Moreover, ICCAT adopted measures to freeze the fishing effort on the stock of Mediterranean albacore and adopted Recommendations reducing the TACs for Northern and Southern Atlantic swordfish, as tabled by the EU. Finally, important steps were taken to protect sharks in the North Atlantic, including the Norther shortfin mako. As member of ICCAT, the European Union is represented in the negotiations by the European Commission. More information here.


European Semester Autumn 2018 Package: Striving for sustainable and inclusive growth

The Commission today sets out its views on the EU’s economic, fiscal and social priorities for the year ahead, building on the guidance from President Juncker‘s 2017 State of the Union address and on the latest economic data from the Commission’s Autumn 2017 Economic Forecast. The 2018 European Semester cycle of economic governance starts against the backdrop of robust economic activity in the euro area and the EU, record high employment rates and unemployment rates declining towards pre-crisis levels. As all Member States contribute to this strong growth momentum, the priority now is to make sure that this lasts and brings benefits to all members of our societies. Structural reforms should focus on creating the conditions to boost investments further and to increase real wage growth to support domestic demand. A press release and memo are available online. The remarks of Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Thyssen and Commissioner Moscovici at the press conference will be available online soon. Further information is available on the European Semester and DG ECFIN websites.


Women in management: Commission moves closer to its target of at least 40%

The European Commission is steadily moving towards meeting the target set by President Jean-Claude Juncker of ensuring that, by the end of the current mandate, at least 40% of its middle and senior managers are women. According to the latest data, female managers at all levels have reached a total of 36% on 1 November 2017, up from 30% at the beginning of the mandate. Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger, in charge of human resources and budget, said: “Gender-diverse management is more effective and achieves better results. The Commission owes the best to the EU citizens, which is why we have to lead by example. We are on the right path and we will continue making targeted efforts until our female colleagues are well represented at all management levels.” More details are available online.


Drones: Commission coordinates sector-wide efforts to offer commercial services in 2019

The European Commission, national authorities and the industry today endorsed the “Helsinki Declaration” aiming to deliver advanced drone operations safely and securely in Europe. This Declaration was adopted at a high-level conference on drones organised jointly by the Commission and the Finnish authorities. It identifies three priority areas for sector-wide cooperation in order to ensure that safe commercial drones operations are up and running by 2019. Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said “The Commission is focussing on a clean and quiet, safe and secure development of drones. The months ahead will be crucial, but I am confident that the Helsinki Declaration will give us the necessary impetus. It sets out a clear and common strategy endorsed by the entire sector. Let’s now turn words into reality!”.As a first step, the Commission is calling on the European Parliament and the Council to agree on its proposal from December 2015 establishing an EU-wide framework for drones. This constitutes an important deliverable under the Aviation Strategy aiming to give a boost to European aviation. More information is available here.


Antitrust: Commission fines five car safety equipment suppliers €34 million in cartel settlement 

The European Commission has fined Tokai Rika, Takata, Autoliv, Toyoda Gosei and Marutaka a total of €34 million for breaching EU antitrust rules. The companies took part in one or more of four cartels for the supply of car seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to Japanese car manufacturers in the European Economic Area (EEA). All five suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case. Takata was not fined for three of the cartels as it revealed their existence to the Commission. Tokai Rika was not fined for one of the cartels as it revealed its existence to the Commission. The five car component suppliers addressed in this decision coordinated prices or markets, and exchanged sensitive information for the supply of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to Japanese car manufacturers Toyota, Suzuki and Honda in the EEA. The cartel may have had a significant effect on European customers, since around one out of every eleven cars sold in Europe is produced by a Japanese company. Furthermore, all the Japanese car companies affected by the cartel have manufacturing plants in the EEA. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “Seatbelts and airbags protect lives every day and are essential in all cars in the EU. The five suppliers fined today colluded to maximise their profits from the sale of these components. This may have raised the costs of these car parts for a number of manufacturers selling cars in Europe, potentially affecting consumers. We do not accept cartels that affect the European consumers, even if the cartel is organised outside Europe.” The press release in available online in here



Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Paysafe by CVC and Blackstone

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Paysafe Group PLC of the UK by CVC Capital Partners of Luxembourg and the Blackstone Group L.P. of the US. Paysafe is active in the provision of online and mobile payment processing services. CVC provides advice to and manages certain investment funds and platforms. Blackstone is a global alternative asset manager. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because there are only minor horizontal overlaps or vertical relationships between the activities of Paysafe and a number of companies owned by one of its parents, CVC. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8640.





Commissioner Mimica participates in the #YouthTakeover

Tomorrow morning, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica will symbolically hand over his social media accounts to Upendo Abisai, a 23-year old woman from Tanzania. This comes one week before the 5th African Union–European Union Summit 2017 in Abidjan, which will focus on “Investing in youth for a sustainable future” as its central theme. Ms Abisai is a fellow of the African Union-European Union Youth Plug-In Initiative. This EU-funded initiative has allowed a group of 36 young people from Africa and Europe to jointly develop recommendations for African and European leaders that they will present in the form of a Youth Agenda. Commissioner Mimica said: “I am happy to welcome and learn from Upendo, as well as the other fellows of our Youth Plug-in Initiative. Their participation and their contributions are key for the AU-EU Summit which takes place next week. Their work will contribute greatly to the future of our partnership with Africa.” Ms Abisai will spend the morning shadowing Commissioner Mimica in his work. They will meet with journalists, and conduct a live Twitter Q&A from the Commissioner’s account between 10.30 and 11.00. She will touch upon issues related to the priority themes of the Youth Plug-In Initiative: business, job creation and entrepreneurship; education and skills; government, political and democratic inclusion; culture and arts; peace and security; environmental preservation and climate change.


Commissioner Thyssen co-hosts first European Business-Education Summit

Tomorrow 23 November, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, will host the very first Business-Education Summit, together with Etienne Davignon, President of CSR Europe, a European business network for Corporate Social Responsibility This high-level event will gather together 650 participants, including Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, around 50 CEOs of several companies as well as representatives of youth organisations, civil society and national and EU policy makers. It will be an opportunity to take stock of the accomplishments of the Pact for Youth initiative, a mutual engagement of EU and business leaders, in close collaboration with youth representatives, aiming to set-up business-education partnerships to improve the chances for young people of getting a job. Ahead of the Summit, Commissioner Thyssen said: “At the Social Summit in Gothenburg last week, European leaders proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights. The first principle of the Pillar is the right to Education, Training and Life Long Learning. Business is an essential partner to teach the right skills through traineeships, apprenticeships and on the job training. The Pact for Youth has built a bridge to harness the divide between education and business, and I hope it will continue to do so.” Mr Davignon added: “Throughout Europe, the partners of the Pact for Youth have provided a critical mass of practical examples of how enterprises collaborate with schools and colleges, to the benefit of students at various stages of their education, teachers, employees, and their business. Our ambition is clear, to better equip youth for the future of work by making business-education partnerships the new norm in Europe.” Since its launch in November 2015, the Pact has helped to form 23,000 business-education partnerships and create 160,000 new opportunities for young people in Europe. The Business-Education Summit will also be an opportunity for participants to explore new ways to boost youth employment in the years to come. More information about the Summit can be found here. Tomorrow at 11:30, a press statement with Commissioner Thyssen and Mr Davignon will take place in the Commission’s Charlemagne building. The press statement can also be followed online.


Commissioner Navracsics to announce the winners of the first #BeInclusive EU Sport Awards

At the very first #BeInclusive EU Sport Awards ceremony in Brussels this evening, Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, will present the three winners with their awards and a prize of EUR 10,000 each. Ahead of the event, Commissioner Navracsics said: “With the #BeInclusive EU Sport Awards, I want to highlight and reward outstanding work and commitment in promoting social inclusion through sport across Europe. Sport is a powerful tool for breaking down barriers and building a more inclusive society, and I want to give recognition to that.” The Awards were launched in June and the competition was open to all organisations established in the EU – public or private, commercial or not-for-profit – that have successfully developed sport projects aimed at social inclusion of ethnic minorities, refugees, people with disabilities or any other group facing challenging social circumstances. The initiative is part of the Commission’s efforts to promote the values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education, both formal and non-formal, as set out in the so-called Paris Declaration. Projects were evaluated according to their impact, replicability and innovation. Nine projects were shortlisted with the three best projects being unveiled this evening. The names of the winners will be available here later along with information on all the projects.


Commissioner Avramopoulos in Morocco to discuss cooperation on migration and border management

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will be inHOBBSAL Morocco on 23-24 November to discuss cooperation on migration and border management. He will meet among others Moroccan Minister of the Interior Abdelouafi Laftit and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita.


Commission appoints senior managers in its departments for agriculture and for environment

The Commission has today appointed two Directors – Ms Veronica Manfredi and Mr Michael Niejahr – in its departments for the environment (DG Environment) and for agriculture and rural development (DG Agriculture), respectively. It has also appointed Mr Thomas Verheye to the position of a Principal Adviser in its department for the environment. Ms Manfredi, an Italian national, joined the European Commission in 1999. Between 2002 and 2011, she consecutively worked in the private offices of Commissioners Bolkestein – then in charge of internal market and fiscal affairs – and Kallas – first in charge of administration and then, of transport. Ms Manfredi has been Head of the Consumer and Marketing Law Unit in the Commission’s justice department since 2011. She will take up her new position of Director “Quality of life” in DG Environment at a date that will be set later. Mr Niejahr, a German national, is taking up his new position of a Director “Legal, Institutional and Procedural Matters” in DG Agriculture as of 1 December. Mr Niejahr joined the European Commission in 1993. He has worked in the area of agricultural law since 1998 – first in the Commission’s Legal Service and then in DG Agriculture, where he first became Head of Unit in 2005. Mr Niejahr is currently leading DG Agriculture’s agricultural law team. Mr Verheye, a Belgian national, will become a Principal Adviser“Green finance and investments” on 1 December in DG Environment. After jobs in the International Monetary Fund and in the private sector, Mr Verheye joined the European Commission in 1996 and DG Environment in 2002. Mr Verheye first became Head of Unit in 2011. He is currently Head of Unit in charge of green finance and economic analysis in DG Environment.

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