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Daily News

08 / 02 / 2017

 

Relocation and Resettlement: Member States need to build on encouraging results

Today, the Commission adopted its ninth progress report on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken since 8 December 2016. During the reporting period, Member States have continued to increase their efforts on resettlement offering legal and safe pathways to 13,968 people so far. Regarding relocation, the overall positive trend has also been maintained with an additional 3,813 relocations taking place during the reporting period, and December seeing the highest monthly number so far (1,926). The total number of relocations now stands at 11,966. However, further efforts are still needed from Member States to sustain the progress made and reach the monthly targets set by the Commission of 1,000 relocations from Italy and 2,000 from Greece. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The past months have seen important progress on both relocation and resettlement. But for our efforts to match the scale of the challenge in both the EU frontline Member States as well as our neighbourhood, more needs to be done, and faster. Relocating all those eligible in Italy and Greece is possible but it takes political will, commitment and perseverance of all Member States to make it happen." press release and a factsheet are available. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

 

Pratiques anticoncurrentielles: la Commission inflige à trois entreprises des amendes d'un montant de 68 millions d'euros pour leur participation à une entente dans le domaine du recyclage des batteries automobiles

La Commission européenne a infligé des amendes d'un montant total de 68 millions d'euros à Campine, Eco-Bat Technologies et Recylex pour avoir fixé les prix d'achat des déchets de batteries automobiles, en violation des règles de concurrence de l'UE. Une quatrième entreprise, Johnson Controls, n'a pas été mise à l'amende parce que c'est elle qui a révélé l'existence de l'entente à la Commission. De 2009 à 2012, ces quatre entreprises de recyclage ont participé à une entente visant à fixer les prix d'achat des déchets de batteries automobiles plomb-acide en Belgique, en France, en Allemagne et aux Pays-Bas. Ce comportement visait à réduire la valeur des batteries usagées vendues comme déchets, au détriment des vendeurs de batteries usagées. Les entreprises touchées par l'entente étaient principalement des petits et moyens collecteurs de batteries et ferrailleurs. La majeure partie des contacts anticoncurrentiels entre les quatre entreprises de recyclage ont eu lieu sur une base bilatérale, principalement par des appels téléphoniques, des courriers électroniques ou des SMS. En vertu de la communication sur la clémence de 2006, Johnson Controls a bénéficié d'une immunité totale pour avoir révélé l'existence de l'entente à la Commission, tandis qu'Eco-Bat et Recylex ont bénéficié d'une réduction du montant de leur amende en raison de leur coopération à l'enquête de la Commission. Mme Margrethe Vestager, commissaire chargée de la politique de concurrence, a déclaré à ce propos: «Lorsque les marchés fonctionnent bien, nous pouvons plus facilement réduire les déchets et soutenir l'économie circulaire. Aussi ne pouvons-nous pas tolérer un comportement qui nuit à la concurrence. Les quatre entreprises sanctionnées aujourd'hui se sont entendues pour maximiser les bénéfices qu'elles tirent du recyclage des déchets de batteries, en réduisant la concurrence sur ce maillon essentiel de la chaîne du recyclage.» Pour plus d'informations voir la communiqué de presse en EN, FR, DE et NL. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

€1 billion to boost investment in European transport infrastructure

The European Commission is today launching a new and innovative way to finance key transport infrastructure projects in Europe. A call for proposals will seek to combine €1 billion of grants (Connecting Europe Facility - Transport) with financing from public financial institutions, the private sector or, for the first time, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe and a top priority for the Juncker Commission. Commission Vice-President responsible for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: "The mobility of the future must be clean, connected and competitive, and requires new ways of smart financing. Today's call for proposal is an important first step in this regard. We will build on it, this year, in our work to implement the Energy Union's Low-Emission Mobility Strategy for Europe." Commission Vice-President responsible for Jobs, Growth, investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said: "The European Fund for Strategic Investments was designed as a flexible tool to be used in combination with other EU funding sources so as to maximise their impact and help achieve Europe's broader policy objectives. I am delighted that, with today's initiative, the EFSI will complement the Connecting Europe Facility to help support the investment and jobs needed to build smart, sustainable transport networks." Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc added: "Achieving our vision for seamless, intelligent and sustainable mobility in Europe requires investments that public funds alone cannot provide. That is why we are launching an innovative solution to make the best of our resources, and unlock untapped private investments, with particular focus on Cohesion countries.Today's action is a sign of solidarity on the move." The call contributes to the implementation of the Commission's Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility, and also supports investments in "sustainable transport" in view of the upcoming road mobility initiatives which are to be launched later in the year. More information is available in a press release and in a factsheet on transport investment. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 69143)

 

Marché unique numérique: les négociateurs de l'UE s'accordent sur des règles permettant aux Européens de voyager avec leurs services de contenu en ligne à travers l'Union

En vertu de l'accord conclu hier soir par les négociateurs du Parlement européen, des États membres et de la Commission européenne, les Européens pourront bientôt profiter pleinement de leurs abonnements à des services en ligne pour regarder des films, lire des livres électroniques, jouer à des jeux vidéo ou écouter de la musique lorsqu'ils voyagent à l'intérieur de l'UE. Il s'agit du premier accord concernant la modernisation des règles de l'UE en matière de droit d'auteur proposée par la Commission au titre de la stratégie pour un marché unique numérique. Andrus Ansip, vice-président chargé du marché unique numérique, s'est félicité de l'accord obtenu à peine une semaine après celui sur les tarifs de gros de l'itinérance: «L'accord conclu aujourd'hui procurera des avantages concrets aux Européens. Toute personne qui a souscrit un abonnement pour suivre sa série préférée, écouter de la musique ou assister à des manifestations sportives à domicile pourra en faire autant lorsqu'elle voyagera en Europe. Il s'agit d'une nouvelle étape importante dans la suppression des obstacles au marché unique numérique». Le commissaire Tibor Navracsics, chargé de l'Education, de la Culture, de la Jeunesse et des Sports, a déclaré: « Les technologies numériques offrent de nouvelles opportunités pour apprécier le contenu culturel en voyage ou en déplacement, et les gens sont désireux de les utiliser. L'accord trouvé aujourd'hui ouvre de nouvelles perspectives pour les citoyens tout en protégeant les créateurs et ceux qui investissent dans la production de contenus culturels ou sportifs. Cette solution équilibrée est un signe encourageant pour nos efforts visant à construire un marché unique numérique qui offre de nouvelles possibilités à la fois pour les créateurs et les consommateurs ». Le communiqué de presse est disponible ici. Plus d'informations peuvent être également trouvées sur notre fiche d'information et MEMO. (Pour plus d'informations: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083 ; Inga Höglund - Tel.: +32 229 50698)

 

Employment and Social Developments Quarterly Review: 2.8 million more employees under a permanent contract

The winter edition of the Employment and Social Development in Europe (ESDE) Quarterly Review 2016, released today, highlights continuing economic growth in the EU, together with a steady decrease in unemployment. In December 2016, there were 1.8 million less unemployed people than the year before; including 1.3 million people less in the euro area. The strongest declines in unemployment were seen in the younger age groups (those 20-24 and 25-29 years old). In the third quarter of 2016, there were 940,000 more people in employment than in spring 2008. For the first time, all Member States in the EU achieved activity rates above 65%. In addition, in the year to the third quarter of 2016, the number of employees with permanent contracts grew by 1.8%. This represents an increase of 2.8 million employees, which is seven times higher than the increase in temporary contracts of 420 thousand (1.6% growth). Also the financial situation of EU households continues to improve in nearly all Member States, as real gross disposable household income continued to grow by a solid 2%. The improvement resulted from an increase in income from work, and a further increase in social benefits. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen commented: "With 1.8 million fewer people unemployed than a year before, and employment figures exceeding even the pre-crisis peak, this Commission shows once again that helping people to find a quality job is on the top of its agenda. This does not only have a positive impact on our economies, it also empowers and protects our European citizens against poverty and financial distress. But this does not mean that our work stops here. We will need to update and modernise our social model to fit today's challenges on the labour market and be fair to all generations. This goal will be at the heart of our upcoming proposal on the European Pillar of Social Rights, a key initiative to further improve job opportunities and economic and social conditions for all." (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

EU opening a new chapter of relations with The Gambia

Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, will pay an official visit to The Gambia tomorrow. He will meet the newly elected President Adama Barrow and his new Government, as well as announce significant support measures for the country. This visit is a clear signal of the EU's readiness to provide immediate financial and technical support to the democratic process in The Gambia and its dividends for the population in terms of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law. The EU will also step up its support to sustainable and inclusive development of the country in close consultation with the new authorities. Commissioner Mimica made the following statement: "The peaceful democratic change in The Gambia is the result of the determination of the Gambian people, as well as the regional and international coordinated efforts of the Economic Community of West African States. Gambians have shown commendable resolve, patience and courage during a period of high tension. The EU is fully committed to engage with President Barrow and his Government. We are ready to step up support to The Gambia in line with the priorities of the new Government, to open a new chapter in our relations." (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229-65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: +32 229 92256)

 

Commission and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) set up Affordable Housing Database

Today, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in joint action with the European Commission, is releasing the ' Affordable Housing Database' - a comprehensive database that analyses and compares the state of affordable housing across OECD and EU Member States. It is a useful tool for policy-makers to design and monitor efficient policies aimed at improving access to good-quality affordable housing and tackling homelessness and housing exclusion. The database reveals that, particularly in attractive metropolitan areas, house prices and rents are soaring, and that housing costs constitute the single highest expenditure item out of household budgets, representing a major financial burden for low-income households in most countries. Commenting on the release of the new Affordable Housing Database, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, stated: "The availability of reliable and comparative data is the first step in developing effective policies. That's why I warmly welcome the Affordable Housing Database. Access to affordable housing is key in reducing poverty and social exclusion, which is a top priority for this Commission and part of our work to prepare the European Pillar of Social Rights, aimed at further improving economic and social conditions for all." The database was co-financed by the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: +32 229 67094)

 

New map and data tool gives snapshot of exports to Canada from across the EU

Businesses of all sizes in towns and cities across the European Union export a wide range of goods to Canada, ranging from cookies from Sweden, medicines from Belgium, and hockey pucks from Slovakia, to tulips from The Netherlands, firefighting equipment from Austria, and agricultural machinery from France. These are some of the interesting and sometimes surprising facts found in "CETA in your town", a new interactive map and data tool published by the Commission today. This tool gives a snapshot of EU-Canada trade relations, by drawing on a subset of the many companies in cities and towns all over the EU that export to Canada, with examples of products they export. For each Member State, the tool also provides useful statistics on jobs linked to EU exports to Canada, as well as the number of companies that export to Canada and the share of those companies that are small and medium-sized businesses. These companies are among the first who will benefit from the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, which is expected to save exporters over €500 million a year in import duties. More information on CETA is available on the CETA website, and more information on EU-Canada trade relations is available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

Mergers: Commission approves joint venture between LSI, Marubeni and Metro Pacific Investment

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture in the Philippines by LSI Medience Corporation (LSI) and Marubeni Corporation, both of Japan, together with Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings Inc., of the Philippines.  LSI, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation, provides medical services worldwide (primarily in Japan). Marubeni is a wholesale provider of industrial and consumer goods, chemical and forest products, energy and metals, power projects and plants, and transportation and industrial machinery. Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, operates and manages hospitals in the Philippines. The joint venture will supply clinical laboratory services and clinical reagents to hospitals in the Philippines. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns since the joint venture will only be active in the Philippines. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8336. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Pentair's valves and controls business by Emerson

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the valves and control business of Pentair of the UK by Emerson Electric of the USA. Pentair designs, manufactures, distributes and services valves, actuators and instrumentation and automation products in industrial and energy projects worldwide. Emerson is a global technology and engineering company supplying products for Process Management, Industrial Automation, Network Power, Climate Technologies and Commercial & Residential solutions businesses. Emerson is also a manufacturer of valves, controls and instrumentation and automation products in a broad range of industrial sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the presence of several alternative competitors in the valves and controls markets in the European Economic Area. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8207. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control of NFP by HPS in insurance sector

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over NFP Holdings, LLC by HPS Group, LP, both of the US. NFP Holdings is a US insurance broker and has two small subsidiaries in the UK. It is currently solely controlled by Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC of the US, which will exercise joint control alongside HPS Group after the transaction. HPS Group is a global investment firm and Madison Dearborn Partners is a private equity investment firm. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, as there is only a very limited overlap between the companies' activities. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8345. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

State aid: Commission clears prolongation of Romanian export-credit insurance scheme

The European Commission has found that the prolongation of the Romanian short-term export-credit scheme was in line with EU state aid rules, and in particular with the 2012 Short-term export-credit Communication. The Commission concluded in particular that the kind of insurance cover provided by the scheme to exporters established in Romania is still unavailable in the private market. Indeed, private insurers are supplying exporters with various insurance products to cover the risk of non-payment by foreign buyers. However, there is a lack of insurance coverage for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) with a small export turnover; and for single export transactions (i.e. on a transaction-by-transaction basis as compared to insuring the entire export portfolio of a company). This is because private insurers are less interested in this type of transactions. In this context, the Romanian scheme allows the State to cover risks of single export transactions and risks incurred by SMEs with a small export turnover. The scheme is authorised until 31 December 2020. The Commission first approved the scheme in August 2014. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.46974. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

ANNOUNCEMENT

 

The High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos in Washington, D.C. this week

This week, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, and the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos will be in Washington, D.C. Today, Commissioner Avramopoulos is in Washington, D.C. to meet the new U.S. administration. He will reaffirm the bonds of a historic partnership between the EU and the US and will discuss the continuation and deepening of transatlantic cooperation on security matters, including the fight against terrorism and cyber threats, as well as the global challenges of migration. The meetings with John F. Kelly, US State Secretary of Homeland Security and Michael T. Flynn, White House National Security Advisor, will take place in Washington, D.C. this afternoon CET. Later today, Commissioner Avramopoulos will also meet Rudolph W. Giuliani, White House National Cyber Security Advisor in New York City. During her visit, which will take place on 9-10 February, HR/VP Mogherini will meet the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, White House Advisor, Jared Kushner, and U.S. National Security Advisor, Michael T. Flynn. She will also meet several U.S. Senators, including the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Bob Corker, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, and the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, Senator Ron Johnson. On Friday 10th February, the HR/VP Federica Mogherini will appear at the Atlantic Council to discuss how the European Union can build a strong relationship with the new U.S. administration. Coverage of the visit will be available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Adam Kaznowski – Tel.: +32 229 89359; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423).

 

Vice-President Dombrovskis visits London

Vice-President Dombrovskis will be in London, United Kingdom, on 9 and 10 February, when he will meet the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond. He will also deliver a keynote speech at an event on "Accelerating the Capital Markets Union" hosted by Bloomberg. The event will be livestreamed here. He will take the opportunity of this visit to meet senior representatives of the financial sector and discuss developments and opportunities in the FinTech sector with a number of experts in the industry, hosted by Innovate Finance. During his visit, he will hold meetings on the Capital Markets Union at London Stock Exchange Group, where he will also participate in the opening of the London market. His visit to London comes in the context of his regular dialogue with Member States on economic, social and financial issues. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)

 

La Commissaire Thyssen visite le Danemark et y participe à un dialogue citoyen

Cet après-midi, la Commissaire en charge de l'Emploi, des Affaires sociales, des Compétences et de la Mobilité des travailleurs, Marianne Thyssen, se rendra à Copenhague, au Danemark. Le but principal de cette visite sera de discuter de ses dernières propositions avec ses interlocuteurs danois, à savoir la révision de la Directive sur le détachement du travail, la révision des règles par rapport à la coordination des systèmes de sécurité sociale ainsi que le socle européen des droits sociaux. A son arrivée, la Commissaire rencontrera les partenaires sociaux danois. Jeudi, elle rencontrera d'abord des membres du Comité parlementaire des Affaires européennes et de l'Emploi. Ensuite, elle participera au Dialogue Citoyen, pour discuter de sujets tels que la création d'emploi, la pauvreté et le chômage des jeunes, la santé et la sécurité au travail, les personnes âgées au marché du travail, le développement des compétences, le tourisme social et le modèle social danois. Le dialogue sera suivi d'un point presse à 12h. Suivant le point presse, la Commissaire Thyssen aura un diner de travail avec le Ministre danois pour l'Emploi, Mr Troels Lund Poulsen. Et enfin, pour terminer sa visite, la Commissaire se dirigera vers la zone de construction du métro de Copenhague, pour y faire connaissance avec le projet 'Cityringen', un projet ambitieux de réseau de transport public. (Pour plus d'informations: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

 

Commissioner Johannes Hahn in Skopje for the Western Balkans 6 Ministerial Meeting

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations will participate at the Western Balkans 6 Ministerial Meeting in Skopje, on 9 and 10 February. Gathering Ministers of Energy and of Foreign Affairs from the region, the meeting will focus on cooperation in the energy sector - taking stock on progress made - and on ways to advance on the regional electricity market. Participants will also discuss the preparation of the Western Balkan 6 Summit that will take place in Trieste, Italy this July. In the margins of the WB Ministerial, Commissioner Hahn will also sign EU funded facilities with International Financial Institutions on energy efficiency and green economy measures for the WB region. The Commissioner will also meet with civil society representatives and hold bilateral talks with representatives of all parliamentary parties of the host country. Photos and video of the visit will be available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

 

Commission partners with business sector to crack down on wildlife crime

Today, a high-level conference in Brussels brings together experts from Member States and from the EU business sector, in particular dealing with exotic pet trade and with air transport, to prevent that Europe is used as a market, transit point or source for illegal wildlife products. Commissioners Julian King and Karmenu Vella will participate in the closing of the Conference, aiming to secure the commitment of the sector to step up against illegal wildlife trade and promote best practices. Commissioner Vella said: "One year after adopting the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, we can see its impact on the ground. Europe and its international partners are on the right track to eradicate wildlife trafficking, which threatens our biodiversity, costs lives and robs innocent people of their livelihoods. It's encouraging to see the business sector on board. Only with the commitment and cooperation of everybody involved can we fight this crime that is becoming more organized and more ruthless."  Commissioner King added: "Wildlife trafficking is highly lucrative. Its perpetrators are increasingly militarised and connected to transnational organised-crime syndicates. And, wherever organised crime thrives, you can be sure that terrorists are seeking to benefit too. Because of these links to transnational organised crime and terrorist organisations, wildlife trafficking has to be regarded as a very serious security threat. "The conference is web-streamed and more information is available here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa - Tel.: +32 229 93321)

 

9-10 February: Commissioner Andriukaitis meets representatives of Hungarian Government, attends Citizens' Dialogue in Budapest, Hungary

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, is on official visit to Budapest (Hungary) on 9-10 February. On Thursday, Commissioner Andriukaitis will meet with Mr Zoltán Ónodi-Szűcs, State Secretary for Health Care, and Dr Sándor Fazekas, Minister of Agriculture,and will hold a Citizens' Dialogue at Budapest Business School. This will be Commissioner Andriukaitis' third Citizens' Dialogue in 2017, and 135th Dialogue organised by the European Commission overall. Citizens and media can attend the debate in person; questions can also be submitted using the Twitter hashtag #EUdialogues. The event will also be livestreamed here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola - Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

 

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)