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Daily News 

04 / 04 / 2017


Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region kicks off today

The Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region (#SyriaConf2017), hosted by the European Union and co-chaired with Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Nations, is taking place today and tomorrow (4–5 April). Ahead of the main Conference event tomorrow, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will hold today a series of bilateral meetings and will also meet with the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. They will hold a joint press point at 16:00 CET, live on EbS. Thematic sessions are also taking place today, focusing on various aspects of international support provided in response to the crisis in Syria and the region. Commissioner Stylianides opened (speech here) the thematic session "Humanitarian aid Inside Syria – Needs challenges and the way forward" this morning, more information on this side event will be made available later today here. Later in the afternoon, Commissioner Hahn will address the "Supporting the resilience of host countries and refugees" session. The interventions by the Commissioners are available live on EbS. All thematic sessions will feed into the main discussions tomorrow. Tomorrow, the main Conference event will bring together ministerial representatives from over 70 delegations, from the EU and the region, but also the wider international community, the United Nations, major donors and civil society, and humanitarian and development organisations. The Conference will begin with the arrival of the delegations at 7:30 CET; a ministerial meeting and the session on “Supporting the future of Syria“, which HR/VP Mogherini will chair, will take place in the morning. It will be followed by a live press conference by all co-chairs at +/- 13:00 CET. Commissioner Hahn and Commissioner Stylianides will then co-chair the afternoon sessions on “Supporting the region and the refugees-implementation of London commitments and the way ahead” and  “Syria - humanitarian assistance and resilience” respectively. All media opportunities will be transmitted here. For more information on the Conference, including the indicative programme, media advisories, and background information, visit the website. For more information on EU response to the Syria crisis, see here. For more information on the outcome of today's sessions, see here and here (available at the end of the day). (For more information: Nabila Massrali – Tel.: + 32 229-69218; Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322 ; Lauranne Devillé – Tel.: +32 229-80833; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: + 32 229 64887; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.:+32 229 69140)


EU sends emergency assistance to help Colombia cope with landslides

The European Commission has immediately mobilised €150,000 for emergency relief assistance to Colombia as the worst landslides in years have struck the country. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: "The European Union stands by the people and authorities of Colombia at this difficult time. We have reacted immediately to support humanitarian organisations working in the affected areas, by providing emergency funding and support. Our thoughts are with all those affected and the first responders working around the clock to save lives." Organisations implementing EU humanitarian aid supported operations in Putumayo are mobilised in the affected area and already providing first relief. Field staff from the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department are also being deployed to the affected area. On Saturday, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides issued a statement expressing solidarity with the people of Colombia and reiterating the EU's readiness to help. With more than €229 million in humanitarian aid since 1994, Colombia is the largest recipient of European Commission's assistance in Latin America. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


State aid: Commission investigates alternative to divestment commitment for Royal Bank of Scotland

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the alternative package proposed by the UK authorities is an appropriate replacement for the commitment for the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to divest Williams & Glyn (also known as "Rainbow"), required as part of its restructuring plan. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "RBS is the leading bank in the UK SME banking market and received significant state support during the financial crisis. The Commission is now seeking the views of all interested parties on an alternative package proposed by the UK to replace RBS's commitment to divest Williams & Glyn. We can only accept this proposal, if it has the same positive effect on competition as the divestment of Williams & Glyn would have had. This is important for fair competition." This opening of an investigation does not prejudge its outcome. The Commission will carefully review the responses received before taking a final decision on whether or not to accept the alternative plan, which if accepted would allow RBS to meet its final commitment under the state aid decision and swiftly close the case. A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


State aid: Commission approves Finnish compensation scheme for indirect ETS costs

The European Commission has approved a Finnish support scheme to partially compensate energy-intensive companies in certain sectors for higher electricity prices resulting from indirect emission costs under the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). This benefits companies in specific sectors that are especially exposed to international competition: The state aid aims to avoid an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions due to shifts of production outside the European Union, where they may face less environmental regulation. The scheme will cover the period from 2016 to 2020. Finland will grant to relevant companies compensation of 40% of the eligible costs for the period in 2016-2018 and 37.5% of the eligible costs for the period 2019-2020. Beneficiaries will still bear part of the ETS costs, so they have an incentive to limit their electricity consumption. The budget of the scheme is approximately €149 million. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.44378. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of a shopping centre in Finland by Megatrends and Allianz

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of NRF (Finland) AB, which ultimately controls the Kamppi Shopping Centre, by Megatrends European Holdings S.à.r.l. of Luxembourg and Allianz SE of Germany. The Kamppi Shopping Centre is located in Helsinki and has 121 commercial tenants who operate retail shops, cafés and restaurants. Megatrends is an investment vehicle ultimately owned by the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, a reserve life insurance company. Allianz is the ultimate holding company of the Allianz Group, a multinational financial service provider active in the insurance and asset management business. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of its limited impact on the market structure. 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.8420. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)


Eurostat: Le volume des ventes du commerce de détail en hausse de 0,7% dans la zone euro et dans l'UE28

En février 2017 par rapport à janvier 2017, le volume des ventes du commerce de détail corrigé des variations saisonnières a augmenté de 0,7% tant dans la zone euro (ZE19) que dans l'UE28, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. En janvier, le commerce de détail avait progressé de 0,1% dans la zone euro et de 0,2% dans l'UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)


Eurostat: Plus de trois millions d'hectares de vignobles dans l'UE dont près de 80% destinés à la production de vins de qualité

En 2015, l'Union européenne (UE) comptait 2,4 millions d'exploitations cultivant 3,2 millions d'hectares (ha) de vignes. La surface moyenne par exploitation se situait ainsi à 1,3 hectare, avec néanmoins d'importants écarts d'un État membre à l'autre. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)





Digital Europe by 2025: Commission launches video contest for young people

In the context of the broad debate launched by the Commission's White Paper on the Future of Europe, young Europeans are being invited to look ahead at how Europe can reach its full digital potential. The Commission' video contest Digital Tomorrow invites young people between the ages of 16 and 25, who live in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, to create a video on their digital vision for the year 2025. Videos can focus on any digital topic, from smart cities or robotics, to digital democracy. They can be fictional stories, animations, or video blogs. The contest gives participants the opportunity to share their vision and thoughts on the future of digital policies at a moment when the Commission reviews progress of its Digital Single Market strategy of 2015, in May this year. The five winners of the contest will be invited in June to the Digital Assembly in Malta, where they can present their ideas and discuss them with European policymakers. More details on how to participate and upload a video are available here(For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Inga Höglund – Tel.: +32 229 50698)


La Commissaire Crețu en Grèce

La Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu est en Grèce de demain à vendredi. Demain la Commissaire sera à Athènes, où elle s'adressera au Parlement national et rencontrera le Ministre et le Ministre délégué en charge de l'Energie et de l'Environnement, Georgios Stathakis et Sokratis Famelos, ainsi que le Ministre de l'Économie, du Développement et du Tourisme Dimitris Papadimitriou et le Ministre délégué en charge des fonds de la politique de Cohésion, Alexandros Charitsis. Le soir, la Commissaire Crețu participera à un dialogue citoyen, sur le thème du futur de l'Europe, sur la base du Livre Blanc de la Commission, et sur le futur de la politique de Cohésion. Vous pourrez le suivre en direct ici. Jeudi et vendredi, la Commissaire visitera des projets cofinancés par l'UE; elle inaugurera notamment, aux côtés du Premier Ministre Alexis Tsipras, le tunnel de la vallée de Tempi, dernier tronçon de l'autoroute qui traverse le pays pour relier Athènes à Thessalonique. "Un projet herculéen et hautement symbolique du soutien de longue date de l'UE à la Grèce, puisque la construction de cette autoroute a commencé dans les années 90 avec les fonds de la politique de Cohésion," a commenté Corina Crețu avant sa visite. Elle ajoute: "C'est la cinquième fois que je me rends en Grèce depuis le début de mon mandat. Dans mon domaine de compétence, je me suis personnellement engagée à accompagner la Grèce sur le chemin de la croissance et à veiller au développement de chaque région. Le Nouvel Élan pour l'Emploi et la Croissance en Grèce a porté ses fruits et a accéléré l'utilisation stratégique des fonds européens. Mais il est temps que je retourne sur le terrain pour voir ce que l'on peut améliorer pour garantir le succès des investissements de l'UE, qui alimentent immédiatement l'économie réelle du pays." Retrouvez plus d'informations sur les Fonds Structurels et d'Investissement Européens en Grèce ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tél.: +32 229 56169)


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