|25 years of the Single Market: Commissioner Bieńkowska participates in a Citizens’ Dialogue in Maastricht
Tomorrow, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska will engage with some 200 students in Maastricht (The Netherlands) to discuss: What benefits does the Single Market bring to you? What future do Europe’s citizens want for the Single Market? Is the Single Market fit for the digital age and is it sustainable? The debate takes place against the backdrop of the debate on the Future of Europe initiated by President Juncker and coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Single Market, one of Europe’s greatest achievements. The Commission has been delivering on the Single Market Strategy – a roadmap to unlock the full potential of the Single Market and make it the launch pad for European companies to thrive in the global economy (see press release on the most recent initiative). More broadly, the Commission is acting to further develop the Single Market with a focus on energy markets, the digital single market, fair labour markets, less fragmentation in financial markets, and fighting tax avoidance. The Citizens’ Dialogue takes place in Maastricht from 11:00 to 12:30 CET and can be watched live here. Join #EUdialogues
COLLEGE MEETING: Commission publishes guidance on upcoming new data protection rules
The Commission publishes today guidance to facilitate a direct and smooth application of the new data protection rules across the EU as of 25 May. With just over 100 days left before the application of the new law, the guidance outlines what the European Commission, national data protection authorities and national administrations should still do to bring the preparation to a successful completion. Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “Our digital future can only be built on trust. Everyone’s privacy has to be protected. Strengthened EU data protection rules will become a reality on 25 May. It is a major step forward and we are committed to making it a success for everyone.” Vĕra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, added:” In today’s world, the way we handle data will determine to a large extent our economic future and personal safety. We need modern rules to respond to new risks, so we call on EU governments, authorities and businesses to use the remaining time efficiently and fulfil their roles in the preparations for the big day.” While the new regulation provides for a single set of rules directly applicable in all Member States, it will still require significant adjustments in certain aspects, like amending existing laws by EU governments or setting up the European Data Protection Board by data protection authorities. The guidance recalls the main innovations, opportunities opened up by the new rules, takes stock of the preparatory work already undertaken and outlines the work still ahead of the European Commission, national data protection authorities and national administrations. Today, the Commission also launches a new practical online tool to help citizens, businesses, in particular SMEs, and other organisations to comply and benefit from the new data protection rules. A press release, Q&A and factsheets are available online. Commissioner Jourová’s press conference can be followed here.
COLLEGE MEETING: Security Union – Commission follows up on terrorist radicalisation
Today, the European Commission reports on progress made towards an effective and genuine Security Union, including priorities like countering radicalisation, enhancing cybersecurity and protecting public spaces. As security is identified as a key priority in the Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2018-19, the Commission is also setting out a number of measures to be taken over the coming months to strengthen support to Member States and speed up EU work. The Commission will continue to drive progress ahead of the September informal leaders’ meeting on security, announced in the Leaders’ Agenda. Commissioner for Home Affairs, Migration and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Security remains a key challenge for Europe and a number one priority for the EU, as reflected in the EU Institutions’ Joint Declaration for 2018-19. We must continue to make use of this strong momentum and deliver concrete results for our security, collectively. We need to do more to keep European citizens safe both offline and online. Fighting terrorist propaganda online remains an area where there is a clear urgency to act. The Commission will act if needed and all options remain on the table.” Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “Over the past year we have intensified efforts to close information gaps, fight radicalisation, scale up cyber resilience, and protect our public spaces. This comprehensive approach is bringing results: but we need to keep the momentum going to ensure a genuine, effective Security Union. We must deal with the terrorist problem at its heart – the radicalisation that can drive people in Europe to violent and extremist ideologies. We will continue working with experts, policy makers and internet companies on this vital issue – there is much still to do.” A full press release and factsheet on the Security Union are available online.
COLLEGE MEETING: Space policy: Galileo Security Monitoring Centre back-up site moves to Spain
Today the Commission adopted a decision to transfer the back-up site of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre from the United Kingdom to Spain. The Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC) is a technical infrastructure which plays a key role in ensuring the security of the EU’s satellite navigation programme Galileo, including its Public Regulated Service (PRS). As a consequence of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, the GSMC’s back-up site needs to be relocated. Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: “Europe’s satellite navigation system Galileo has already been delivering high quality services for over a year now. With today’s decision the Commission is taking the necessary operational steps to ensure business continuity and preserve the security of the Galileo system.” Six Member States (Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain) submitted proposals which the Commission assessed according to objective technical, security, financial and programmatic criteria. On 18 January 2018, representatives of 27 Member States in the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Programmes Committee voted in favour of the Commission proposal to relocate the back-up site to Spain. With today’s formal decision, the Commission is launching the process for the transfer. The new site will become operational in the coming months. Galileo is a key component of the Commission’s Space Strategy, as underlined by Commissioner Bieńkowska in her speech at the 10th Conference on EU Space Policy. The strategy focuses on fostering new services, creating business opportunities, promoting Europe’s leadership in space and maintaining Europe’s strategic autonomy. More details are available in a press release here. Further information on the Galileo programme can be found in several videos and publications.
EUROSTAT: Tourism in the EU – Number of nights spent in the EU up in 2017… – … with substantial increase in Latvia, Slovenia and Croatia
In 2017, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in the European Union (EU) is expected to have reached more than 3.2 billion, up by 5.1% compared with 2016. Since 2009, there has been a steady increase in the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in the EU, notably driven by the rise in the nights spent by non-residents of the country visited. Full text available here
EUROSTAT: Third quarter of 2017 – Seasonally adjusted government deficit down to 0.3% of GDP in the euro area – Down to 0.6% of GDP in the EU28
In the third quarter of 2017, the seasonally adjusted general government deficit to GDP ratio stood at 0.3% in the euro area (EA19), a strong decrease compared with 1.0% in the second quarter of 2017. In the EU28, the deficit to GDP ratio stood at 0.6%, a decrease compared with 1.2% in the previous quarter. A press release is available here.
EUROSTAT; Third quarter of 2017 compared with second quarter of 2017 – Government debt fell to 88.1% of GDP in euro area – Down to 82.5% of GDP in EU28
At the end of the third quarter of 2017, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA19) stood at 88.1%, compared with 89.0% at the end of the second quarter of 2017. In the EU28, the ratio also decreased from 83.3% to 82.5%. Compared with the third quarter of 2016, the government debt to GDP ratio fell in both the euro area (from 89.7% to 88.1%) and the EU28 (from 82.9% to 82.5%). A press release is available here
Latest developments in Romania: President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans express concerns
President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans have today issued a public statement on the latest developments in Romania regarding the independence of Romania’s judicial system and its capacity to fight corruption. The Commission statement notes, “The independence of Romania’s judicial system and its capacity to fight corruption effectively are essential cornerstones of a strong Romania in the European Union. The irreversibility of the progress achieved so far under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism is an essential condition to phase out the Mechanism…the Government and the Parliament should ensure full transparency and take proper account of consultations in the legislative process on the justice laws… a process in which the judicial independence and the opinion of the judiciary is valued and given due account, also drawing on the opinion of the Venice Commission, is a prerequisite for sustainability of the reforms and an important element in fulfilling the CVM benchmarks…The Commission calls on the Romanian Parliament to rethink the course of action proposed, to open up the debate in line with the Commission’s recommendations and to build a broad consensus on the way forward. The Commission reiterates its readiness to cooperate with and support the Romanian authorities in this process…The Commission warns again against backtracking and will look thoroughly at the final amendments to the justice law, the criminal codes and laws on conflict of interest and corruption to determine the impact on efforts to safeguard the independence of the judiciary and combat corruption.” The full statement is available online here.
Antitrust: Commission fines Qualcomm €997 million for abuse of dominant market position
The European Commission has fined Qualcomm €997 million for abusing its market dominance in LTE baseband chipsets. Baseband chipsets enable smartphones and tablets to connect to cellular networks and are used both for voice and data transmission. LTE baseband chipsets comply with the 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard. Today’s decision concludes that Qualcomm held a dominant position in the global market for LTEbaseband chipsets over the period investigated (i.e. between at least 2011 and 2016). Qualcomm has abused this market dominance by preventing rivals from competing in the market. It did so by making significant payments to a key customer on condition that it would exclusively use Qualcomm chipsets. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager,in charge of competition policy, said: “Qualcomm illegally shut out rivals from the market for LTE baseband chipsets for over five years, thereby cementing its market dominance. Qualcomm paid billions of US Dollars to a key customer, Apple, so that it would not buy from rivals. These payments were not just reductions in price – they were made on the condition that Apple would exclusively use Qualcomm’s baseband chipsets in all its iPhones and iPads. This meant that no rival could effectively challenge Qualcomm in this market, no matter how good their products were. Qualcomm’s behaviour denied consumers and other companies more choice and innovation – and this in a sector with a huge demand and potential for innovative technologies. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules and why we have taken today’s decision.” Commissioner Vestager’s press conference can be watched here. A press release is available online here.
Integration of migrants: Commission presents toolkit to help Member States make the best use of EU funds
Today the Commission is publishing a toolkit to help national and regional authorities design strategies and projects to integrate migrants and identify available EU resources.It will help set up local integration strategies supported by EU resources used in synergy, still in the current 2014-2020 budget period. The toolkit identifies five priorities for holistic and efficient long-term integration strategies: reception; education; employment; housing; and access to public services. It lists the most pressing challenges under these five priorities and suggests adequate support measures, each one of them matched with the right EU fund. Member States and regions have a wide range of EU funding instruments at their disposal that can support different types of projects in the field of integration – from providing language classes and healthcare upon arrival to helping migrants find a job, a home to live in and a place in society. A full press release is available here. The toolkit will be presented this afternoon in the European Economic and Social Committee, in the presence of Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Crețu. The programme of the event, which is open to the press, is available here.
MEDIA programme: EU funded films nominated for Oscars; second EU Film Contest launched
Seven EU-funded films will compete in the 90th Academy Awards ceremony. In the last years, many films supported by the EU’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme brought home Oscars, including Amour, La Grande Bellezza, Ida, Son of Saul or Slumdog Millionnaire. This year once again the EU-funded films are present across the various categories. MEDIA supported film Call me by your name directed by Luca Guadagnino is nominated in four categories including “Best Picture” and “Actor in a leading role”. Amongst the five EU supported films shortlisted in the “Foreign Language Film” category, two received a nomination: The Square and On Body and Soul (Teströl és lélekröl). MEDIA programme supported the distribution of the Palm d’Or winner The Square in 30 countries with over €1 million. The development anddistribution of the Berlin Golden Bear winner On Body and Soul was supported with €700,000. In the “Animated Feature Film” category, Loving Vincent and The Breadwinner will compete; while Revolting Rhymes is nominated in the “Short Film Animated” category and Faces Places (Visages Villages) is nominated in the “Documentary” category. By its innovative techniques, Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted feature film. Every one of the 65,000 frames of the film has being hand-painted by 115 professional oil painters to bring the paintings of Van Gogh to life. The Oscars awards ceremony will be held in Hollywood on 4 March 2018. Read the full overview of MEDIA programme related Oscar nominations here. The MEDIA programme launched yesterday additionally the second edition of the EU Film Contest to promote Europe’s unique diversity of films in an accessible way to a wide audience. Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said: “I am proud to see that the MEDIA programme is bearing fruits and European films are so well recognised. Through the EU Film Contest I hope that we will reach many people, among them the next generation of filmmakers, who will continue this tradition and create many new European masterpieces.” Participants can test how much they know about European films for a chance to experience the behind the scenes of Cannes Film Festival and discover the European audiovisual industry at work. More information is available here.
Mergers: Commission refers the acquisition of Pini Polonia by Smithfield to the Polish competition authority
The European Commission has referred the proposed transaction between Smithfield Foods of the US and Pini Polonia of Poland to the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) at its request. Both companies are active in the slaughtering of pigs in Poland. On 27 November 2017, Smithfield and Pini Polonia notified the proposed transaction to the Commission. On 15 December 2017, UOKiK requested that the Commission refer to it the assessment of the proposed transaction. The evidence gathered by the Commission confirmed that the proposed transaction would only affect competition as regards the slaughtering of pigs in Poland, where Smithfield and Pini Polonia are currently the two largest market players. The Commission therefore decided to refer the proposed transaction to UOKiK, which will deal with the case under Polish national law. A full press release is available in EN.
Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in Sofia: Commissioners Avramopoulos, Jourová and King to discuss migration, border management and judicial cooperation
Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos, Věra Jourová and Julian King will attend an informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Sofia, Bulgaria on 25 and 26 January. On Thursday, Commissioners Avramopoulos will join Home Affairs Ministers to exchange views on the reform of the Common European Asylum System and, together with Commissioner King, on next steps to strengthen the EU’s external borders.Over lunch, participants will discuss global efforts to manage migration under the future Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. A press conference is scheduled to take place after the meeting at around 16:00 CET and will be broadcast on EbS. On Friday, Commissioner Jourová will update Justice Ministers on the establishmentof the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and discuss the Brussels IIa Regulation on cross-border matrimonial matters and parental responsibilities. She will present to ministers the results of the 3rd monitoring of the Code of Conductcountering illegal online hate speech and the Commission guidance on the General Data Protection Regulation. Finally, they will discuss justice aspects of Artificial Intelligence. A press conference will take place around 13:00 CET and will be web streamed. 64; Christian Wigand Tel.: +32 2 29 62253)
Commissioner Neven Mimica in Rome to discuss the future of Italian development and cooperation policy
Today, the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, will be in Rome for the first National Conference on Development and Cooperation. Closer cooperation and joint-up action between the EU and its Member States is one of the cornerstones of the new European Consensus on Development. Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Mimica commented: “A regular dialogue between the European Union and our Member States on development and international cooperation is indispensable to tackle major global challenges. Poverty, gender inequality, migration and mobility, and the protection of human rights are just a few examples where more joint-up action is needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Today we are already working with Italy in 35 developing countries, covering all continents. I want to see us step up this common effort further, to increase our collective impact and to support effectively our partners’ sustainable development strategies.” The two-day event, hosted by the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will see a number of high level attendants, including the President of the Central African Republic, Mr Faustin-Archange Touadera
Commissioner Gabriel in Budapest for Regional Digital Summit and Citizens’ Dialogue
Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel will be in Budapest, Hungary tomorrow to participate in the 2nd Regional Digital Summit as well as in a Citizens’ Dialogue on fake news and digital Europe. The Citizens’ Dialogue will start at 15:40 CET in the House of the European Union in Budapest. The event will be livestreamed here. The Commissioner will additionally meet Hungary’s Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga and hold a discussion with Secretary of State for European Union Affairs Szabolcs Takács. The Commissioner will also meet Hungarian stakeholders to discuss illegal content online. At the Regional Digital Summit, Commissioner Gabriel will deliver a speech and participate in a ministerial panel discussion on digital economy. At noon, the high-level guests of the Summit will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the development of regional urban mobility platform.